The 10 Most Ground Shaking Comic Book Deaths Ever Drawn on Paper
Death and comics go hand-in-hand. If comic books were a Big Mac, death would be the fries on the side. Publishers use it to sell more books and the world eats it up.
It often sends a state of shock and disbelief among its readers and is unparalleled in its ability to captivate an audience. Fans flock to the issues so that they may learn the who, what, where, how, when, and why of the story. And once this is learned, they talk about it until the character is resurrected.
There have been countless deaths in comics and to go over all of them would require more time than any of us have. Luckily, I have assembled a list of the most iconic comic book deaths to ever occur.
In saying that, I proudly present to you, The 10 Most Ground Shaking Comic Book Deaths Ever Drawn on Paper.
1. Captain America
So yeah..in case you didn’t know, Captain America is someone who has suffered from comic book deaths.
In 2007, Ed Brubaker did the unthinkable when he killed off a National Icon. This man, Steve Rogers, set the tone for what the America dream, person, and belief system stood for. He single-handedly carried the burden of all that was bad in the world and reminded us that there is good in it.
His death made news all across the globe. To say that it changed the importance of comics would be an understatement.
To put an end to the Civil War event that overtook the Marvel brand, Steve Rogers gave himself up to the authorities. He did so because he realized that the fighting was causing more harm than was doing good. As he walked up the steps to the courthouse, he was shot dead by what appeared to be his longtime enemy, Crossbones.
But it wasn’t Crossbones…
And then there was Superman.
Forget Captain America. The death of Superman brought fans to tears. Superman is the amalgamation of everything good…and he was gone.
This event changed the world of comic book collecting. Fans went out in droves to their local comic stores to snatch a copy of this book. They all did so in hopes that one day it would be worth an unimaginable amount of money. Of course, the world doesn’t work this way…but that didn’t stop the pandemonium.
In a battle suited for the WWE’s Royal Rumble, Superman and Doomsday left nothing off of the pages. The two destroyed everything around them and did so without remorse. Superman’s mission was to take down the behemoth. Unfortunately, Doomsday doesn’t work like that and can only die any particular way once…then he comes back to life.
With one punch perfectly timed, the two combatants crumbled to the ground. And the Earth mourned.
3. Bucky Barnes
No one stays dead in comics except for Uncle Ben and Bucky. Or at least, that’s how it used to be. In the same story as the one that took Captain America’s life, Bucky was ceremoniously brought back from the dead.
For years, the world thought that he perished at the hands of Nazi Germany. Ed Brubaker had other thoughts. Instead of leaving a dead man to peacefully exists as within the realm of comic book deaths, he retconned Bucky’s story to explain that rather than dying, he was found in the water and used by the Soviet’s as an assassin.
And he was good.
For obvious reasons, spoiler alert, Captain America returned and brought Bucky back to his rightful place as a soldier of the United States.
Ed Brubaker’s treatment of the character further proves that he is a master of the espionage genre of comics. If you haven’t read this story, go and read it.
4. The Wayne’s
Are there any comic book deaths that have impacted comics as much as the death of the Wayne’s have?
The comic book death of Thomas and Martha Wayne set off a chain reaction that no one could have predicted.
After witnessing the event, a young Bruce Wayne set out on a mission to cleanse the world of every piece of garbage known to man. And he did so in the most glorious and borderline violent ways possible. He has waged his personal war on Gotham City for over 70 years and doesn’t show any sign of stopping.
One night while returning home from the theatre, a small-time criminal who made the typical demands that a criminal would make approached the Wayne’s. Without hesitation, he pulled out his gun and shot the two parents where they stood. Almost immediately, Bruce vowed to get his revenge…and revenge he did.
This scene has made its way into comics, television, cinema, and just about every other form of media and doesn’t show any signs of stopping.
While Frank Miller was busy revitalizing and changing everything the world knew about Matt Murdock, he was also giving birth to one of the most well-liked characters in comic history.
Fans instantly fell in love with Elektra and it’s precisely this reason that makes her death so painful. Interestingly enough, she wasn’t meant to be more than a one-shot character.
Frank Miller killed Elektra and nobody saw it coming.
Watching Elektra take her rightful place as the Kingpin’s go-to assassin, Bullseye grew jealous and frustrated. That’s why, when he had a chance to prove himself as better, he did so. He capitalized on a moment of weakness and plunged Elektra’s sai into her stomach in one of the most gut-wrenching panels in comics.
Her death sent Matt Murdock and the rest of the world into a tailspin. And rightfully so.
6. Jason Todd
Is there a more gruesome death in any of the comic book deaths? Jason Todd will go down as one of the most hated characters not deserving of the fate they received.
In an effort to drum up sales and try something new, the executives at DC took it upon themselves to create a hotline that fans could phone into. And why would fans want to phone in? Simple. It was the fans who would decide the fate of Jason Todd.
And they wanted him dead.
So, in one of the most violent deaths ever recorded on the pages of a comic book, the Joker beat the life out of Jason Todd with a crowbar. And if that wasn’t enough, he exploded the warehouse that he and the mother he had recently reunited with were in.
Batman rushed to the scene but could only watch and his companion felt the full wrath of fans from around the world. In one of the most iconic panels in comics, Batman is shown carrying a bloodied and beaten Jason Todd out of the rubble.
7. Gwen Stacy
In a word? Heartbreaking.
The 1970’s was a time transformation for the United States. Behind it were simpler times and ahead of it lie political turmoil. The themes that faced the U.S. transcended into the mainstream popular culture. Marvel Comics began to act out against authority. Its efforts started when they dropped the Comics Code Authority stamp of approval from their comic books. This was the stamp that showed that the book housed no overt violence, drugs, sex or foul language. During this time, comics began to focus less on childish stories and more on mature ones. We began to see issues that discussed: Racism, Drugs, Poverty, Sex, etc…
As the story goes, Stan Lee (creator of Marvel Comics) was getting ready to head over to Europe for a business trip. Writer Gerry Conway, Editor Roy Thomas, and Inker John Romita Sr. approach him with the idea to kill off Gwen Stacy. In a hurry and wanting to leave, Lee gave them the green light. Unaware of what he just did, he left for Europe.
Following this, Gwen Stacy’s death suddenly made the readers think that perhaps it isn’t possible to always come out on top. Here was Spider-Man, the everyday good-guy, faced with a situation that he could not come out on top of. Gwen was destined to die no matter what happened. If he had jumped off to save her, he would not have caught up with her and when he shot out his web, the whiplash broke her neck.
And the world cried.
“We live on remembering and honoring the past, but always looking to the future. Good-bye, Kara… Linda Lee… Supergirl. I will miss you forever.” – Superman
Crisis on Infinite Earth…1985
Just look at the cover. A beaten, tattered, and helpless Superman carrying the body of his dead cousin. If you ever want to sell a comic book, this is the way to do it. This book featured the at the time, the most celebrity of deaths to ever take place in comics.
DC needed to reset Superman. They needed to shed over 50 years of continuity issues, and history. They wanted Superman to go back to being the only survivor of Krypton and to do this, Kara Zor-El had to bite the bullet.
And bite it she did.
A story unlike anything before it was scripted and Supergirl was at the forefront. In an attempt to defeat or at the very least, slow down the world-destroying Anti-Monitor Supergirl rushed into battle. What she didn’t predict was the result of the battle left her poisoned with too much of its deadly energy.
The one-time selfish hero, Doctor Light saw what was happening and grew inspired by her willingness to give her life. As she pleaded with him to remove her defeated cousin, the Anti-Monitor saw his opening and delivered her a killing blow.
Her last words were spent saying that she regretted nothing. As far as a comic book deaths go, this one is right up there.
9. No More Mutants
Marvel needed a way to reset its over-population of mutants. They had allowed the creators unparalleled creativity and as a consequence, the sheer volume of Homo Superior had grown to uncountable numbers.
Instead of creating an event in which a great battle ensues, they opted to have Scarlet Witch uttered the now immortal words, “No More Mutants.” And with those three words, the mutant population crumbled to a place it hadn’t been in 50 years.
What separates this story from so many others is that as it unfolded, the world thought that Magneto was responsible for what was happening. Let me back that up. The Avengers and the X-Men were deliberating exactly what to do with the far too powerful Scarlet Witch. Her powers had grown to unthinkable heights, and in fact, at this point, there was no limit to what she could do.
In an effort to save his sister, Quicksilver has her create a reality in which their father, Magneto ruled. The story is both compelling and kind of ridiculous, but it works. And for this reason, it deserves to be a part of the comic book deaths list.
10. Lori Grimes
And I cried like a baby…
Lori Grimes is the fictional character of the widely popular and successful Walking Dead series. She is the wife of Rick Grimes, Mother to Carl Grimes, and eventual Mother to Judith Grimes. While the comic and television show both handle the death in their own way, it is the comic version that is truly tragic.
Thinking that her husband is gone, she and his best friend, Shane have an affair. Soon afterward, Rick returns and Lori is found to be pregnant. Unfortunately, at this point, no one knows exactly who the father is and eventually, she gives birth to a baby named Judith.
The book continues on with the clan of humans eventually finding sanctuary inside a prison. This, like most other things in the book, does not last and a rival band of Humans comes looking to take over the sanctuary. While running away, Lori is shot in the back by a shotgun and tumbles to the ground…on top of Judith. She and Judith both die and the world is left in an utter state of shock.
Of all the deaths that have occurred over the years, nothing has been quite as bad or horrific as Lori Grimes.
That’s it, that’s all I have. That’s my version of the 10 most ground shaking comic book deaths ever drawn on paper.
Now I turn it to you. Do you agree? Disagree?
Tell me about it below.