Over the years, there have been some pretty drastic things to take place within the DC Universe. The planet, galaxy, and universe itself have all hung in the balance at any given point, usually marking some major changes in direction for the publisher as well as their classic heroes.
However, while these “Crisis” events typically involve great feats and victories, they tend to also come with great tragedies. In each Crisis event, at least one character is essentially guaranteed to meet an untimely demise. Looking at some of the sadder losses in these events, here is our list of the 10 most heartbreaking things to happen during a DC Crisis.
10 Death of Hot Spot (Heroes in Crisis)
While Heroes in Crisis proved to have a rather controversial twist, it still had plenty of heartbreaking moments, even from the very first issue. One character death, in particular, stood out among others, especially in regards to the character, Hot Spot. During his confessional, Hot Spot reveals his catchphrase, “I’m just warming up.” he also notes that he doesn’t feel as if he’ll ever be a major hero, but hopes his catchphrase will make him more memorable.
Unfortunately, Hot Spot’s worst fear only comes into fruition a few panels later as Superman holds his body. Superman notes to others that Hot Spot is dead, but also notes that he can’t remember his catchphrase. Seeing Superman’s heart break in this moment further emphasizes the tragedy that befell the other people at Sanctuary, making this one of the saddest moments to happen in a DC Crisis event.
9 Death of Roy Harper (Heroes in Crisis)
Also in Heroes in Crisis, Roy Harper, long-time member of the Teen Titans, Titans, and former sidekick to Green Arrow, was revealed to be dead as well. Throughout his history, Roy had continually struggled with various addictions which often led him down a darker path. By the time he had decided to go to Sanctuary, it was a big step in Roy acknowledging his problem, and actively seeking help to get better.
Though Roy had been struggling for a while, what is particularly heartbreaking about his death was that things were finally starting to look up for him. Likewise, with Sanctuary intended to be a place of healing, it was incredibly sad to see so much death all at once.
8 Death of Superboy (Infinite Crisis)
Thanks to his role in the Teen Titans comics, comic readers grew very attached to Superboy after author Geoff Johns relaunched the title. Conners relationship with Cassie Sandsmark and Tim Drake made him a very complex and compelling character. Because of this, it was incredibly sad to see him meet his end at the conclusion of Infinite Crisis. In a last stand against Superboy Prime, Conner Kent made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure victory.
Not only was this sad because of his relationships with the Titans, but Dick Grayson was actually supposed to die in his stead. However, after fans got word that Dick Grayson would no longer be in the comics, there was such an immense backlash that DC Editorial swapped the characters out. While Dick Grayson is thankfully alive, Conner’s sacrifice is still just as tragic.
7 Loss of Hal Jordan (Zero Hour: Crisis in Time)
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time was intended to serve as a soft reboot of sorts for the DC Universe. While it didn’t do much aside from establish a timeline, the event still had some drastic repercussions going forward. After returning home to find his home city destroyed, Hal Jordan becomes mad and susceptible to Parallax’s influence.
In doing so, the rest of DC’s heroes must band together to take down one of their closest friends. In the end, Hal would technically die, remaining on Earth as a host for the Spectre, but no longer a Green Lantern. Considering all of Hal’s accomplishments over the years, it was very troublesome to watch him fall so far.
6 Death of Sue Dibny (Identity Crisis)
Many comic book fans are still unfamiliar with Elongated Man, or Ralph Dibny. With the ability to stretch himself much like Mr. Fantastic, Ralph was always considered one of the best and most pure members of the Justice League. Therefore, it was incredibly shocking when someone had violently murdered Ralph’s wife, Sue.
As the event that kicked off Identity Crisis, Sue Dibny’s death launched a massive investigation that completely changed the future of the Justice League. While most readers or fans may not even be familiar with her character, they still get a sense of just how important she and Ralph were to the League. Sue’s death and the events that followed make it easy to see why this single moment is one of the most heartbreaking things to happen during a DC Crisis.
5 Return of Barry Allen (Final Crisis)
Just because something is heartbreaking, doesn’t always mean that it’s for a sad reason. After Darkseid succeeded in taking over the planet in the pages of Final Crisis, many heroes were desperate for a way to overcome the challenge at hand. As things became even bleaker, Barry Allen of all people made his triumphant return as The Flash.
After Black Racer was sent back in time, Barry ended up running so fast that he literally ran himself back to life. Barry’s return would come to have drastic repercussions for the DC Universe going forward, but fans were still overjoyed to see the character alive once again. Though Barry certainly could have chosen a better time to come back, seeing him back in action still pulled at the heartstrings as much as any other event on this list may have.
4 Death of Jack Drake (Identity Crisis)
Towards the end of Identity Crisis, Jack Drake, Tim Drake’s father, would also meet an unfortunate end. One thing that had always set Tim apart from the Robins before him was that he wasn’t an orphan. By the end of the event though, Tim would, unfortunately, be just like the other young men who held the mantle of Robin.
Part of what made this so sad was that Jack, much like Sue, was just an average person who happened to be tangled in with superheroes, painting a target on his back. Though Jack was never really a major character, Tim held an incredibly large presence in the DC Universe at the time, meaning that the aftermath of Identity Crisis was felt across several other titles. Especially in Tim’s reaction, Jack’s death is certainly heartbreaking to witness.
3 Death of Supergirl (Crisis On Infinite Earths)
Kara Zor-El is often recognized as the cousin of Superman. As Supergirl, Kara came to have a great legacy of her own, doing well on her own and succeeding in stepping out of her cousin’s shadow. However, her Kryptonian abilities wouldn’t be enough to save her in this case. Most comic fans are familiar with the famous Crisis On Infinite Earths cover in which a crying Superman holds his cousin’s lifeless body.
As one of the bigger tragedies from the event, Kara’s death certainly packed a powerful punch. Though she would make a return several years later, this version of the character was still lost for quite some time, making her death one of the biggest things to happen in a DC Crisis.
2 Death of Barry Allen (Crisis On Infinite Earths)
Though it was nice to see Barry run himself back to life in Final Crisis, it was much more devastating to watch him die during Crisis On Infinite Earths. As the first of DC’s Crisis events, Crisis On Infinite Earths was an incredibly massive story with a very wide cast and vast repercussions. In fact, it was actually the first time the publisher pulled off a hard continuity reboot.
Towards the end of the event, Barry Allen sacrifices himself by running himself out of existence. Though he was never forgotten, Barry’s time as The Flash continued to echo throughout the universe for years to come, even all the way up until his return. Because he was such a beloved character, watching him die in such a manner was easily one of the saddest things to ever happen in comics, even aside from a DC Crisis.
1 Death of Batman (Final Crisis)
Of course, no death has been more shocking or had a greater impact that the death of Batman towards the end of Final Crisis. After greatly wounding Darkseid, Batman was hit with the villain’s optic blasts. Though it is later revealed that he was merely sent back in time, a body was still discovered and he was thought to be dead.
For a bit over a year, Dick Grayson had assumed the mantle of Batman. With Damian Wayne as his Robin, the new dynamic duo operated fairly successfully as Bruce’s substitute. While he would make his return just like every other comic character at some point, losing Batman, someone who had always done his best despite having no superhuman abilities, was easily the most heartbreaking and devastating thing to happen during a DC Crisis Event.