In the world of comic books, life is an extremely fleeting concept. Many of Marvel and DC's characters have gone and come back to life so many times that it has almost lost all meaning to readers. It has meant that the passing of any character is very hard to take seriously, no matter how well executed it is by the writers and artists working on the books. When it's become such a cliche that even characters within the stories are flippant about passing, given that it happens so often in their lives and rarely sticks for very long, you know a large element of drama has been lost. The saying used to be 'the only characters in comics who stay gone are Bucky, Jason Todd and Uncle Ben' and at least that stayed accurate for decades...until 2005, when both Bucky and Jason Todd were brought back to life as Winter Soldier and Red Hood respectively. To be honest, there is a crushing inevitability to Uncle Ben's eventual return as a supervillain that sometimes keeps us up at nights.
All of this means that an article about superhero/supervillain departures is immediately on shaky footing; and indeed, some of the characters in this list have already been resurrected in the same calendar year that they bit the dust! In the end, we've had to analyze things in terms of how well the stories of the characters' deaths were told and how impactful they were on the ongoing stories of the characters around them. Death can still be a very effective narrative tool if used correctly, but equally it can come off as a crass cash-grab very easily, as nothing inflates comic book sales figures like the demises of popular characters.
Here are 10 characters we hated losing in 2018 (and 10 whose deaths meant nothing).
20 HATED LOSING - WALLY WEST
Tom King and Clay Mann's Heroes In Crisis debuted at the end of September and proceeded to do what all event comics do: sell in huge numbers while simultaneously angering many fans with controversial story elements. We were introduced to Sanctuary, a mental health facility founded to help the heroes of the DC Universe deal with PTSD and the various harsh realities of crimefighting, at the same time that we were shown a massacre had taken place. One of the fallen was Wally West, who had made a triumphant return to continuity with 2016's DC Rebirth. The off-panel nature of the passing and the fact that no one in the main The Flash title mentioned it led many fans to believe Wally isn't really gone, but if he is, we're pretty upset to see him go.
19 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - ALL THE MINOR CHARACTERS KILLED IN HEROES IN CRISIS
DC originally hyped Heroes In Crisis as Tom King's exploration of superhero PTSD, but somewhere along the way, it became a murder mystery dealing with the carnage at Sanctuary. Three issues have been released so far and have shown a host of characters that met their end, but it's hard to ignore the fact that most of the victims are extremely minor in the wider context of the DCU. We're sure Lagoon Boy, Blue Jay, Citizen Steel, Hot Spot, Red Devil or Nemesis have their fans but it's hard for anyone who isn't a DC diehard to care at all about these people they've never heard of. Which then begs the question, did DC really need to end all these characters for shock value, if all it will do is upset a small group of fans but have no effect on the majority of readers?
18 HATED LOSING - ARSENAL
While Wally West's passing hasn't been addressed in any titles outside of Heroes In Crisis, the untimely demise of Roy Harper, aka Arsenal, has. We saw his funeral in Green Arrow #45, and Titans #27 opened with Donna Troy visiting his grave. So, at least as it currently stands in the DCU, Roy Harper is dead. And it's a bit of a bummer for such a storied character to be killed off in such an off-hand manner. It's likely that the story will flashback at certain points to show the reader more details of how Roy met his end, but as it is now it feels like his off-panel death was added to attempt to add weight to proceedings. Roy has always been a fairly important character, and even if his death is expanded upon or retconned, we think he deserved better than this.
17 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - ORION
Orion was created by Jack 'King' Kirby and first appeared in New Gods #1 in 1971. The second son of Darkseid, he and Scott Free were traded as children to be raised by the opposing sides in the war between Apokolips and New Genesis. It meant that Orion was instilled with a sense of honor, even though he constantly had to battle the anger that came from his brutal heritage. Orion's depiction in Tom King and Mitch Gerads' Mister Miracle focused a lot less on his good qualities, however, and he just came across as a needlessly furious bully at all times. So, when he passed at the hands of Darkseid in Mister Miracle #6, few fans will have mourned for him. He was a jerk, and we'd much rather read about Scott and Big Barda's beautifully depicted relationship!
16 HATED LOSING - THOR (JANE FOSTER)
Marvel has taken a lot of criticism in some fan circles over the last several years for making big changes to their A-list characters' status-quo's. One change that indisputably worked, however, was when Jane Foster wielded Mjolnir and became the Mighty Thor. Writer Jason Aaron, one of the best scribes the business has ever seen, made readers care about the story by first playing with some mystery as to exactly who had been worthy enough to pick up the hammer. Once it was revealed to be Jane, we found out that she was dealing with a serious medical issue and every time she transformed into Thor, it was undoing her chemotherapy. Even though Jane subsequently passed and was brought back to life, her time as Thor is now over and we'll miss it.
15 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - TRITON AND MOST OF THE INHUMANS
Death Of The Inhumans was a distasteful comic book whose sole function was thinning the ranks of the Inhumans. Marvel had been trying for a few years to make the Inhumans a property popular enough to rival their merry mutants, but it just never happened and sales were middling at best. Couple that with the failure of the MCU TV show and it felt like Marvel then simply resorted to the comic book industry sure-fire sales technique: death! Over the course of the five issue miniseries, countless Inhumans were taken out by villainous Kree soldier Vox and, by the end, the only characters of note left standing were Black Bolt, Crystal and Lockjaw. And if Marvel care so little about these characters, why should fans care at all about them anymore either?
14 HATED LOSING - POISON IVY
The last page of Heroes In Crisis #3 confirmed what fans had suspected due to the subtext of dialogue in #2; Pamela Isley, aka Poison Ivy, was also taken during the Sanctuary massacre. Arguably the most important passing in the series thus far, it will be interesting to see how Harley reacts going forward, as she and Ivy have long had a very close relationship in the comics. In fact, it has even been hinted that Harley might be responsible for her passing. It has undoubtedly upset some fans and we're also sad to see such an important character die, but this is one element of the series that we'll give the benefit of the doubt for now as it should lead to very compelling storytelling. But, equally, we'd be lying if we said we didn't want Ivy brought back to life pretty quickly!
13 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - ENCHANTRESS
Writer Rob Williams' run on Suicide Squad will end with January's #50 and, by and large, it has been one of the better DC Rebirth titles. Williams has written the book for the entirety of its Rebirth run and has always made sure to inject elements of zany humor into proceedings. The relationship between Killer Croc and The Enchantress has always been a good source of mirth, so you would think that her passing in #39 would have meant something to readers. When she was dragged down to hell and her human half (June Moon) cried out to Croc for help, it should have been heart-wrenching...but it wasn't. Perhaps her character and her interactions with Croc had been too one-note; a character mainly used as comic relief was hard to truly care about.
12 HATED LOSING - FLASH THOMPSON
The Amazing Spider-Man #800 was the penultimate issue of Dan Slott's decade-long run on the title and the finale of his huge 'Go Down Swinging' story. Norman Osborn's new Red Goblin incarnation (Green Goblin merged with the Carnage symbiote) attacked Spidey, leading to Flash Thompson heroically sacrificing himself in the process of combatting Osborn's attempted control of Peter Parker's family and friends using symbiote slivers. Flash, who had been both Agent Venom and later Anti-Venom, passed telling Peter that he was both his hero and his friend. It was a wonderful moment for a character who has had such development over the years. Peter Parker's high-school bully truly reformed, becoming a good man and a genuine ally and friend.
11 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - STINGRAY
Namor the Sub-Mariner is a complicated character with an even more complicated history in the pages of Marvel Comics. Generally presented as an anti-hero, he has been a member of both the Avengers and the X-Men over the years, despite harbouring a deep hatred for the surface world. However, in October's Avengers #9 he crossed the line into full-blown villain territory when he took out Stingray, a former Avenger. It was a bizarre moment that left fans wondering why this Namor was so much more villainous than the one that is a member of Jean Grey's team in X-Men: Red, and this confusion totally outweighed any sadness about Stingray's passing. An obscure character few could truly get emotional about, here he was merely used as a plot device.
10 HATED LOSING - TEEN CYCLOPS
2018's big X-Men universe event is Extermination, a miniseries in which a hunter from the future named Ahab has traveled back in time to take out the original time-displaced teenage X-Men team, who are attempting to return to their own timeline. The entire X-community rallied around the teens and hid Cyclops in the X-Men Red team's undersea Atlantean base. However, Ahab drove his flying fortress ship down into the depths and confronted the mutants, taking out Cyclops in the process. We were sad to see this version of Scott Summers bite the dust, as he was heroic and kind-hearted in a way the regular timeline's Scott hadn't been for years leading up to his own death in 2016's Death Of X. Man, X-Men continuity is complicated!
9 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - BLOODSTORM
Extermination #1 gave us two deaths. One of these was Cable being taken out by a younger time-traveling version of himself and the other was that of Bloodstorm, the vampiric version of Storm from the Mutant X universe. Just as she and the teen Scott Summers were about to confess their romantic feelings for each other, Ahab showed up and attempted to take down Scott. Bloodstorm intervened and was taken out on Ahab's silver-tipped harpoon for her troubles. While the character did have her fans, it's probably better for the X-Men universe to be streamlined at this point (which is essentially the reason for the Extermination storyline), as there are simply too many time-displaced or alternate universe doppelgangers to keep track of. Simplify, man!
8 HATED LOSING - CLAYFACE
James Tynion IV did some superb work during his DC Rebirth run on Detective Comics, but perhaps our favorite aspect was his reinvention of Clayface as a member of Batman's crimefighting team. This new version of Basil Karlo was a reformed villain who now wanted to do good in the world and he struck up a poignant relationship with Cassandra Cain, aka Orphan. When he lost control of himself and went on a rampage in Gotham, leading to his end at the hands of Batwoman, it was genuinely upsetting for fans as they had developed a real fondness for him. Tynion did eventually reveal in his final issue (#981) that Karlo had somehow survived, but it didn't lessen the impact of his supposed 'passing' at all. We hated losing him and were happy to see him alive!
7 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - ROBERT BRINK (NEW CHALLENGERS)
Overall, DC's The New Age Of Heroes titles haven't been anywhere near as much of a success as the company would have hoped. Created in the wake of Dark Nights: Metal, these titles all had top-level creators working on brand new or revamped characters and yet each one has flopped. Nowhere is this more obvious than in New Challengers, which reimagined the Challengers Of The Unknown and was co-written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Andy Kubert, yet has already dropped out of the Top 200 in sales. It was impossible for readers to become invested in a brand new character like Robert Brink, who we initially thought was going to be a Challenger. His passing in #1 was transparently written in to show that 'no one was safe' in the story.
6 HATED LOSING - SPIDER-MAN NOIR
Spider-Geddon, the sequel to 2014's Spider-Verse, launched in October and featured the passing of a major alternate universe Spider-Man in #1. In the first battle with the Inheritors, who have returned to feast on the life energies of the various Spider-people of multiple universes, Spider-Man Noir attempted to take out Morlun (who was feeding on him) by blowing him up. Unfortunately, only Noir perished in the blast and Morlun emerged more powerful. It was a surprising passing for a character who had starred in two well-received miniseries' in the past and is due to make his big screen debut in December's Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse animated movie, voiced by Nicolas Cage. We hope we'll see this version of Peter Parker again someday soon.
5 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - MASTER JAILER
Master Jailer first appeared in Superman #331 in 1979 and has enjoyed scattered appearances in the DCU ever since. He has stayed resolutely D-list, however, so when he made his first Rebirth appearance in Suicide Squad #45 it was hard to see him as anything other than cannon fodder. To be fair, this is a trope that is often used in that series, as the idea that anyone can go at any time is a selling point of any Task Force X comic. Still, four appearances in a crossover event (Sink Atlantis) that only lasted two months isn't enough to make readers engage emotionally with a character, and the thin backstory given to him (a criminal who wants to quit and simply be a father to his beloved daughter) was way too similar to Deadshot's deal. Don't care!
4 HATED LOSING - NAKIA
Lupita Nyong'o played Nakia in 2018's blockbusting Black Panther movie. A former member of the Dora Milaje (female special forces group that protects Wakanda), she had left her country to become an international spy. She was also a love interest for T'Challa. Her comic-book counterpart, however, bears very little resemblance to the movie; in fact, she is a villain named Malice who passed in August's Wakanda Forever: Avengers #1! The misguided and complicated Nakia stopped a Wakandan weapon named Mimic-27 that she had initially unleashed upon her sisters in the Dora Milaje, before passing from the Jufeiro herb she had ingested to make herself irresistible to men when she became Malice. She was buried with honor among her other fallen sisters.
3 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - OLD MAN LOGAN
October 31st saw the publication of Old Man Logan #50, the final issue of the series starring the alternate universe version of Wolverine originally introduced by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven in 2008. A dying Logan went head to head with Maestro, the title's version of the Hulk, while his healing factor failed him. He successfully managed to win the fight but then succumbed to his injuries and passed in a blizzard. It was a fitting swansong for the character... only it wasn't, because Marvel had already decided to squeeze some more money out of the concept by doing a 12-issue maxiseries entitled Dead Man Logan, in which he will tie up all his 'loose ends' before he goes. This decision infuriated fans, as Marvel undid a perfectly well-told story.
2 HATED LOSING - STAR-LORD
Sometimes crazy things happen that highlight the huge differences between Marvel's comics and their big screen movies. Avengers: Infinity War saw Thanos take out his beloved daughter Gamora on the way to gaining all six Infinity Stones. He then wiped out half the universe (including Gamora's Guardians Of The Galaxy teammate and romantic interest Star-Lord) with one click of his fingers. The world was dumbfounded. Infinity Wars #1 then inverted all of this, turning Gamora into a cosmic villain named Requiem on a quest for the Infinity stones, who eliminated her father Thanos and then defeated Star-Lord after kissing him goodbye! It's entirely possible that Gamora will resurrect Star-Lord once she has all six stones, but still. Not cool. We love Peter Quill!
1 GLAD THEY'RE GONE - THE JOKER (BATMAN: DAMNED)
Batman: Damned #1 was released on September 19th and it quickly courted controversy with its depiction of a certain bat-appendage. The outcry (and subsequent speculator boom that saw copies selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay) overshadowed the story, which was a loose follow-up to Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo's 2008 Joker graphic novel. That depiction of the Clown Prince of Crime is found perished at the start of Damned, and Batman teams with John Constantine to find the person who did the deed. It's an interesting setup and, if we're being honest, maybe the best use of Azzarello/Bermejo's interpretation of Joker; their version is too grim and downbeat, with none of the over-the-top yet scary charisma usually associated with the character.