Comic books and death have a tumultuous relationship. If a character dies, the reaction from the reader isn’t to mourn. It’s to ask how long until their resurrection. It has even gotten to a point where comic characters themselves are aware that dead doesn’t always mean dead when you are a superhero or supervillain.
DC Comics is no stranger to this, with heroes dying and coming back through a proverbial revolving door. There are some characters, however, that we wish would have gotten stuck in that door and stayed dead. There are also some we want to see push their way back through the door already.
10 Should Have Stayed Dead: Superman
This one is possibly both the most controversial and the most obvious on the list. That’s why it needs to be here. In 1992, DC made “The Death of Superman” into one of the seminal comic book events. Even non-comic fans rushed to stores to purchase the limited-edition Superman #75, which came with the black and red armband.
Can you imagine DC Comics (and DC Entertainment as a whole) sustaining in a world without Superman? While we are glad the Man of Steel is still around, he is on the list because the possibilities of where superheroes would be in 2019 without him are endless.
9 Should Come Back: Jonathan and Martha Kent
In 1986, John Byrne’s Man of Steel retconned the origin of Superman, bringing back Jonathan and Martha Kent to the land of the living. Previously, they appeared only in flashbacks during Clark’s time as Superboy.
In this new origin, they not only helped Clark grow with his powers but even helped design his costume. The New 52 brought about their deaths again without warning. With DC Rebirth and a new Superboy, it’s time that Jonathan and Martha were able to spend time with their grandson.
8 Should Have Stayed Dead: Jason Todd
Jason Todd became the second Robin after Batman caught him stealing the tires from the Batmobile (the WORST job pre-requisite). Readers didn’t take kindly to the heir to Dick Grayson’s throne, and after a fan vote, DC Comics killed off Jason by having him beaten with a crowbar by the Joker and blown up in a warehouse explosion.
After a trip to the Lazarus Pit, it turns out Jason had been resurrected and took the identity of the Red Hood after finding out the Joker was still alive. While Jason’s turn as the Red Hood has brought about some great character moments within the Bat-Family, it also shows anything Batman does eventually has zero consequence. You know, when you think about it.
7 Should Come Back: Injustice Shazam!
The world of the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game seems to be a bit of hallowed ground. In this particular universe, characters who die have (so far) stayed dead. From Lois Lane to Dick Grayson, it’s no wonder the heroes in this world always seem a little “off.”
One of the more brutal deaths in the series was Superman’s murder of Billy Batson, Shazam. Shazam disagreed with Superman’s methods, so rather than have a spirited debate with a 13-year-old, Superman burned through his eye sockets with heat vision. It would be years before any group of heroes had a chance to stand up to this version of the Man of Steel. The magic of a resurrected kid wizard would have been convenient.
6 Should Have Stayed Dead: Ted Kord
Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle, did not have the most pleasant of deaths. Max Lord shot him in the head as a response to Kord refusing to join the newly reformed Checkmate. This event started a domino effect that led to Infinite Crisis, 52, etc.
Now he’s back as the mentor to Jaime Reyes, the current Blue Beetle. While being the superhero father figure Jaime might need is the perfect role for Ted, it detracts from his sacrifice years before. It also retcons his friendship with Booster Gold, one of the most significant comic book relationships, platonic or romantic, of all time.
5 Should Come Back: Elongated Man (Pre-New 52)
This one is a little weird, but bear with us. Ralph Dibny died by the hands of Neron at the end of the weekly 52 series. He reunited with his murdered wife Sue, who died during Brad Meltzer’s classic Identity Crisis.
It would only have been a matter of time before forces within the DC Universe brought back arguably DC’s happiest couple (sorry Lois and Clark). With the New 52, their deaths disappeared, with Dibny appearing in the Secret Six. While it’s cool that he’s alive again, giving the Dibnys their rightful return would have been even better.
4 Should Have Stayed Dead: Barry Allen
During the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, Barry Allen gave his life to stop the Anti-Monitor from destroying all realities. In the years that followed, Wally West took the mantle of the Fastest Man Alive. He became a member of the Justice League and one of the world’s greatest heroes.
With Barry Allen’s return, West essentially became “the other” Flash, until he disappeared entirely following Flashpoint. His return during Rebirth once again relegated him to “second Flash” status. Barry Allen being alive not only takes away from his sacrifice during the Crisis but also tarnishes the legacy created by his successor.
3 Should Come Back: Arkham Series Joker
The Arkham Trilogy is not only a fantastic video game series, but a tremendous Batman story. From Arkham Asylum to Arkham Knight, Batman and his rogues gallery told a tale not seen much with superheroes: one with a beginning, middle, and end.
One of the greatest moments within the series was the death of the Joker at the end of Arkham City. The conclusion of Arkham Knight saw Bruce Wayne outed as Batman and seemingly killed (we all know he faked his death. C’ mon). A resurrected Joker (How? Comics, that’s how) would be the perfect reason for Wayne to return as the Dark Knight to a city that needs him.
2 Should Have Stayed Dead: Deadman
The reason for this one is simple. Deadman needs to stay dead, so he can continue to be Deadman. If he is no longer dead, he can no longer be Deadman.
He would then be called Aliveman. No-one wants to read a comic about a man (who is alive) trying to take over other people’s bodies. He can’t, because he is no longer dead. For Deadman to be Deadman, he has to be dead. A little on the nose, perhaps, but that's just the way it is. Even in the famously convoluted world of comic books, sometimes things are clear-cut.
1 Should Come Back: Laurel Lance (Arrow)
Laurel Lance was an attorney who took up the mantle of Black Canary following the “death” of her sister Sara. Fighting alongside Oliver Queen and the rest of Team Arrow, Laurel helped make Star(ling) City safe.
Following her death at the hands of Damian Darhk, Laurel’s friends had to contend with her evil doppelganger from Earth-2, Black Siren. With the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the book closing on the story, having Laurel reunite with her friends and family to fight the Anti-Monitor would be fitting closure for the character.