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Have Any Major Superheroes Avoided 'Officially' Dying?

Comic Book Questions Answered – where I answer whatever questions you folks might have about comic books (feel free to e-mail questions to me at brianc@cbr.com).

Reader Luy W. wrote in to ask, "Is there any mainstream hero that has not "died"? I mean individual "deaths" not something like "The earth exploded and everyone is gone" or "The timeline is gone".

Excellent question, Luy. Two years ago, another reader asked me a similar question only that one COUNTED stuff like the big scene in Secret Wars #11 where Doctor Doom kills all of the superheroes present on Battleworld...

So not stuff like that (or like the 2015 Secret Wars when the entire Marvel Universe was ostensibly destroyed and then brought back to life at the end of the crossover event).

No, we're talking superheroes who had "official" deaths. You know, deaths where the characters were actually treated in the comics by the other characters as though they were dead for more than, say, a story arc. Even if the character clearly wasn't going to stay dead, like Batman in Final Crisis (That one is tricky since we basically see Batman at the end of the series alive in the past, but I'm still counting it since he was treated in the comics as if he was actually dead). Luy, after all, specifically put dead in quotes, ya know?

We're also going to just look at DC and Marvel characters here, as independent creators are WAY more willing to kill off heroes, ya know?

However, a trick here (which was a problem that I had the last time this topic came up, as well) is "What do we do with Earth 1 and Earth 2 versions of heroes?" For years, DC had two different Earths, one for their "Golden Age" versions of their heroes and one for the "Modern" versions of their heroes, so you'd have two Supermen, two Wonder Women, two Batmen, etc. Do you count Earth 2 versions of the character dying as evidence of the character dying? I don't think you should, but you could make a case for it. And if you DO count Earth 2 versions of characters dying, what about when Crisis on Infinite Earths basically merged the two worlds together, with the Earth 2 versions of most of the people just ceasing to exist? Does THAT count as dying?

For the sake of this list, if we're talking a character that is on both Earth-1 and Earth-2, I will not count their Earth-2 death as a death.

Okay, with all of that in mind, I'll take a look at the top 10 of our 2015 reader vote for the Top 100 Marvel and DC characters and we'll see if any of the 20 superheroes on those combined lists has actually managed to avoid an "official" death (I'm going with the top 20 as I figure that's a fair way to qualify them as "major superheroes."

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