6 of the Most Shocking Comic Book and Superhero Deaths
Over the years, much to the heartbreak — or sometimes, vexation — of fans, several beloved comic book characters have met their demises in particularly tumultuous story arcs. Perhaps one of the most notorious comic book deaths in recent memory was Archie Andrews. The freckle-faced, redheaded star of the Archie comic book series died taking a bullet in a 2014 issue of Life With Archie. However, Archie was just the latest in a long list of major comic book characters to meet a tragic fate. Here are six of the most shocking comic book deaths, including one that may be featured in Marvel’s upcoming superhero ensemble film, Captain America: Civil War.
1. Archie Andrews
Archie, who made his comic book debut 73 years ago, died when he jumped in front of a bullet for his friend, the openly gay Sen. Kevin Keller, who is pushing for increased gun control in their city of Riverdale. “It’s really not sad. Actually it’s inspirational,” Archie Comics publisher Jon Goldwater said of the death. “Because Archie does what you would want Archie to do. He takes the bullet for his friend, and he would do that for anybody.”
The issue, No. 36 in Life With Archie – which follows Archie and the rest of his gang later in life — is the second to last of the entire series. The last issue jumped forward a year and focused on paying tribute to the character. Still, fans should be comforted to know that Archie lives on in other Archie Comics series.
2. Clark Kent/Superman
Superman is killed in a 1992 comic book storyline that occurred in DC Comics’ multi-issue The Death of Superman. The death occurs in issue No. 75 of the series, when Superman and the lethal supervillian Doomsday engage in battle on the streets of Metropolis. By the end of the fight, both parties are severely wounded and end up succumbing to their injuries. The death sparked a huge and intense reaction from the world, which was depicted in the crossover story “Funeral for a Friend.” Of course, it wasn’t a permanent story line. After four new superheroes pop up, the original Superman returns in “Reign of the Supermen.”
3. Steve Rogers/Captain America
“The Death of Captain America” story arc appears in Volume 5 of Captain America and follows the superhero after he is taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody in the aftermath of the Civil War. While under the organization’s keep, he is assassinated by a brainwashed Sharon Carter on the orders of the Red Skull. His best friend Bucky Barnes takes his place after receiving a letter written by Steve Rogers, urging him to continue the Captain America legacy. Captain America’s death spurred a miniseries, called Fallen Son: The Death of Captain America, which details the various superheroes’ reactions to the loss. Steve Rogers eventually returns to take his place in Captain America: Reborn. It remains to be seen if Marvel will follow the comic book storyline in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie.
4. Bruce Wayne/Batman
Batman was seemingly killed by the evil Darkseid in issue No. 6 of the “Final Crisis” story arc. He manages to fatally wound the villain, but not before he’s struck with an Omega Beam that was thought to have killed him but actually sent him through time. The “Final Crisis” story happened almost directly after Batman was involved in another tangentially related death plot entitled “Batman R.I.P.,” in which the superhero is forced to fight for his sanity after Doctor Hurt and the rest of the Black Glove scheme against him. Batman ultimately survived both of the storylines.
5. Peter Parker/Spider-Man
Comic book fans were left in shock after Peter Parker died in The Amazing Spider-Man issue No. 700. In the issue, Parker loses to Dr. Octopus after the villain traps the hero’s mind in his own dying body. Fans were especially livid because the issue hit newsstands just days before the 90th birthday of Stan Lee, the former president and chairman of Marvel Comics. It wasn’t the first time Peter Parker died, though. He was also was shot and killed by the Punisher in the 160th issue of Ultimate Spider-Man in the Ultimate Marvel Universe. In that version, Miles Morales, a teenager of mixed racial descent, becomes the new Spider-Man.
6. Logan (born James Howlett)/Wolverine
Iconic X-Men member Wolverine got killed off in a four-part limited series titled Death of Wolverine. The series, written by Charles Soule and drawn by Steve McNiven, was released in September 2014. “[Wolverine] finally comes up against an adversary that he cannot win against, he cannot fight. What does that mean for this character who’s been around for hundred years?” Marvel executive editor Michael Marts said of the story line.