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You Decide – Which Dead Marvel Character Would You Most Like to See Come Back?

With Nightcrawler’s return imminent in the pages of Amazing X-Men, we thought it would be interesting to see which dead Marvel hero you’d most like to see return.

Read on for the choices!

Jack of Hearts actually has returned to life already, so I guess he shouldn’t be eligible. Nomad was the last character cut from the list (there is a 20 choice limit for our polls), so I apologize to fans of Nomad for robbing him of the 16th place finish he would have received. Similarly, my apologies to White Tiger, Black Goliath and the female Yellowjacket for robbing them of their chance of finishing last in the poll.

50 Comments

When did Jack of Hearts come back?

2011′s Marvel Zombies Supreme.

At what time did Marvel have the highest amount of “heavy weights” dead and gone? On this list only Professor X qualifies, with honorable mentions ro Richard Rider and Ben Reilly.

Jean Grey surely counts (her dominating the voting so far is a good sign of that status).

Wish Spider-man (Peter Parker) was on the list too, Not likely he will be gone forever though, but the sooner we get rid of this “Superior Spiderman” nonsense the better.

When did Brother Voodoo die? Who’s the Sorcerer Supreme now? Dr. Strange?

– Jean Grey is an interesting case. One could argue that she’s already sort of “back” through All-New X-Men, but the adult Jean strikes me as a character without a good role in the X-universe right now. I get the sense that the desire to see her back is more a desire to roll back the Schism, the Morrison run, and pretty much everything since the franchise stopped doing Chris Claremont pastiches (a category that includes the later Chris Claremont runs). Fans love Jean, but are there really any good, original stories to be told involving her return right now?

— Professor X is also an odd case, a character who drifted in and out of relevance to the franchise of which he was once the cornerstone. Writers tried to spice the old guy up by playing up his manipulative tendencies, but went overboard and turned Xavier into a plain old bastard. Robbed of his moral authority — such as it ever was, what with the child soldiering and Jean-lust being there from the beginning — and yet needed as a reminder of the “noble” Silver Age morality the newer X-Men played against, he’s much more valuable as a symbol for the characters to position themselves with, against, or through than as a character…and so in death he’s become one. (Hell, Grant Morrison had him say as much about himself and Classic-Model Magneto around a decade back. He was right all along, you fools! You foolish fools!)

— Captain Mar-Vell…you know, there’s a vocal contingent that’s very mad at Marvel for all the resurrection teases and insists that Marv would be a great addition to Marvel’s cosmic books if restored to life. Sure, it’d undo one of the only great comic book deaths, and sure, it’d undermine a classic story by the character’s definitive creative team (a one-man show, in this case). But damned if they don’t want him back to do….something.

These are the same sort of people who for years demanded that Barbara Gordon be healed and become Batgirl again but don’t read her New 52 book. They want to know the character is back safe and sound int heir perfect status quo, but they don’t really want the imperfect contemporary stories about said character, who in plot terms has been awkwardly restored , Why the awkwardness? Because the restoration involves punching and zapping and cosmic magicking away the sorts of life experiences that make plots about punching and zapping and cosmic magic look kind of silly.

— Arsenic, Stature, and Doc Samson strike me as characters killed off for lousy reasons, but also characters who’d have no real home if they returned right now. The books they belonged to are either long gone or vastly changed, and unlike Jean, none of them were so central to any franchise that bringing them back also brings back some beloved era for the nostalgics.

That said, Samson was a good “utility” character, a guy who could pop up anywhere a book needed a neutral-to-sympathetic psychiatrist character; killing him off cost the shared universe something. But with the shared universe having given way to individual creative takes outside the big franchises, I suppose Doc is essentially a Peter David character at this point…which means he’ll likely be back eventually if David really wants him back.

— I genuinely don’t remember much about Sync, Skin, or Wallflower. Sorry, Their Fans.

— Eric O’Grady, Night Thrasher, and Genis-Vell all strike me as characters who worked when particular people wrote them — Kirkman, Nicieza, and Nicieza or PAD — but really struggled to stay distinctive elsewhere and ended up drifting quite a bit. I think they probably belong to their past publication runs more more than to posterity at this point.

— And then we have the “replacement plot” hangover characters, Phyla-Vell, Ben Reilly, and Thunderstrike, all of whom struggled to find identities of their own when the originals came back and all of whom have small but vocal fanbases. The problem for these characters is that the market just can’t support them, and that to make them commercially viable would usually mean sacrificing most of what makes said fans like them. Few people want to see them plugged into the “slightly bitter rival” or “spare tire” roles they’d gravitate towards if resurrected, and fewer still want to see them revamped into new and more distinctive identities. (Hello, ex-mutant incarnation of the New Warriors; we knew ye not at all and didn’t much care.)

On reflection, though, Phyla-Vell might make a good supporting cast member in the current Captain Marvel series. Actually, her mother Elysius would work well, too, and has the bonus of not resembling the main character quite so much.

— As offhand and unceremonious Echo’s death in Bendis’s Moon Knight was, it seemed to me that it happened for the same reasons as the deaths of Sentry, Brother Voodoo, Ares, and Victoria Hand (who might have done better than last place on this list, actually). All were characters Bendis brought into his Avengers run, usually as deliberately ersatz substitutes for other characters or as potential mainstays for the franchise. All of them were either altered dramatically or simply discarded to mark the next status quo change in the franchise, whether that was the end of the Dark Reign or just the transition from the Bendis setup of a franchise to the next writer’s setup.

These deaths exist at a sort of weird juncture between what Bendis does well — gritty noirish material where understatement or unexpected realism are meant to contrast with the colorful and absurd trappings of the superhero genre — and what he does badly — creaky, wheels-grinding leaps from plot to plot without much effort put into the mechanics or the details or specific plot points. If he can’t figure out what to do with a character or he needs to promote a new status quo, well, time to kill of the odd one out! If you want to see why Bendis writes tragic solo character pieces so well and writes ensembles of more than three characters at a time so poorly, the storytelling methods and structure around these deaths make a good set of case studies.

— I didn’t vote for Nova, but I want him back. Is he back yet? I voted for Professor X, and then realized I shouldn’t have for the reasons given above. Eh, whatever.

— Nomad’s an interesting case, given that a lot of his role as the former sidekick gone morally ambiguous was given to the Winter Soldier, a character far better suited to it. But then, Jack Monroe was created int he 1950s as a kind of second-rate Bucky Barnes substitute, so I suppose it’s no surprise that he kept landing back in versions of that role…even when he did so a little before Bucky himself got there.

— I don’t want Black Goliath back, per se, but I think the way his death was handled was awful and distasteful on *so* many levels.

When did Brother Voodoo die?

The first arc of the “Heroic Age” New Avcengers by Bendis.

Who’s the Sorcerer Supreme now? Dr. Strange?

Yes. rather tastelessly, it turned out that the deaths of severla characters, including Brother Voodoo, Jennifer Kale, and Victoria Hand — the latter two killed by Brother Voodoo’s vengeful spirit brother, who blamed the New Avengers for Jericho Drumm’s self-sacrifice in battle with a rogue Agomotto — were all just part of a “test” orchestrated by the Vishanti and the Ancient One to get Stephen back in the saddle.

You know how people say Women in Refrigerators and the deaths of minority characters are overblown? Here’s a story where a black guy and two women are killed off explicitly so that their deaths can show an old white man that he should never have left his old job and let the black guy take it. Tellingly, the one character “killed” in the arc whose resurrection was promised at the end was…Daimon Hellstrom. Jesus, Bendis, I know you didn’t intend it to read that way, but…

I voted for Phyla-Vell, which is apparently the equivalent of voting for the Green Party.

I would’ve voted for Nova but since Thanos and Peter Quill are back, I’m assuming he’ll be back again one day. Same for Professor X (someday, someone at Marvel is going to realize that Cyclops killing him was not a good idea). I have no idea why people want Jean Grey back.

The Quest for Stature would give the Young Avengers something to do somewhere down the road.

Mar-Vell should stay dead. Someone needs to be the Bucky for current era.

This is a tough one for me, because there’s nobody on that list I particularly want to see come back. There are a lot of characters on the list that I like, but I don’t see any compelling reason for them to come back, regardless of whether their deaths were any good (as they seldom are). And nobody seriously thinks that Professor X or Jean Grey will stay dead, so voting for them seems gratuitous.

I may have to vote for Brother Voodoo, just because hey, that guy’s awesome. Though really, he could carry on his work just as well dead as alive.

I hate hate HATE it when people claim that a poll is invalid because it doesn’t include their favorite character.

Is Banshee back? Because if not, this poll is totally invalid.

As much as I enjoyed Eric Masterson as Thunderstrike, I thought his death had meaning and wouldn’t want to see him back.
(I have a Thunderstrike Heroclix on my desk in fact)

Thanks for the info, Omar. From what you said, it really makes the whole idea of Stephen Strange renouncing the title of Sorcerer Supreme completely pointless. Of course, you gotta wonder had the “Dr. Voodoo” series been more successful would Dr. Strange have regained the title? Would Brother Voodoo have been killed? Or would they have killed him anyway?

See I would love to see Nomad on the list…but not Jack I want Rikki Barnes back dang it! :)

Maggot. That’s right, I want Maggot back. Screw all y’all, I liked him.

I voted for Skin (it was a toss-up between him and Synch, what can I say? I’m a “Generation X” fan), but honestly, my real vote is no one. In ANY comic universe. It makes it hard to give a shit when death means nothing.

Is Banshee back?

He’s currently revived in Uncanny Avengers. He might end up dead again when all is said and done, but I would tend to imagine that he stands a strong chance of remaining alive (as there’s little to be gained from killing him off again).

I dunno. Banshee’s been revived as part of a mashup of Kang’s Legion of the Unliving and the Horsemen of Apocalypse, and I doubt Sentry, at least, is coming back this way. Daken, who knows? And the Grim Reaper tends to do better as a dead man walking.

Would this poll have been better with a None and None of the above selection? I think so. None of these selections strike me as either having a realistic -in comic terms- chance of coming back. Or having any chance of coming back in a realistic fashion for that matter.

Bring back Uncle Ben, SpOck can be influenced by him to become a truly good person.

There we go, the worst idea that I could possible come up with.

“At what time did Marvel have the highest amount of “heavy weights” dead and gone?”

I have to think that there would be some point during the two year time period when Reed Richards and Dr. Doom were dead where somebody else major died. (Especially since it was the aftermath of Superman dying.)

My only other guess would be while Steve Rogers was dead, but I don’t think there was as many heavyweight deaths during that era, they mostly killed off the lightweights instead.

I’m submitting another write-in vote for Rikki Barnes as Nomad.

I would have voted for the female Yellowjacket: I felt that character had some potential

I really don’t understand the impulse to kill of characters Professor X and Doc Samson. They fill useful roles in making the Marvel U feel richer and you can leave them off to the side of any story without the reader asking why they aren’t involved with everything.

Jean Grey has basically had her role taken over by Emma Frost. It would be nice the Jean back, so that Emma could return to the dark side.

I just came down here to join the chorus in saying that I didn’t even know that most of these characters were dead.

Just for the record, I have no idea who Sync, Skin, Echo or Wallflower are.

Jean Grey? Seriously? Let the poor woman stay dead this time, OK? Same goes for Mar-Vell.

I voted to bring back Wallflower. She had so much potential, and I liked the love triangle between her, Wither and Elixir. At least she got sniped by Stryker instead of blown up on a bus like most of the other students that nobody gave a fuck about.

Wow, I am so out of the loop outside the X-Men. I had no idea almost half that list was dead…

That’s a lot of dead Captain Marvels. I wonder if Carol will join them before long. I imagine that only bearing the name Robin is more deadly.

Why isn’t there a vote for “no one”?
When Marvel COMPLETELY overturned their supposed ‘dead is dead’ rule and characters started coming back one issue after they died or just because they have a film coming out, I couldn’t buy into it anymore.
There seems to be even less effort put in to the reasons WHY a hero returns.

Of course these are franchise characters and the revolving door of death is something of a superhero comics staple, but death has become such an empty threat for a character now that the risk of donning a costume has gone beyond meaningless.
The superhero costume has become a guarantee of immortality in the Marvel Universe.
A universe without death is a universe without fear.

“At what time did Marvel have the highest amount of “heavy weights” dead and gone?”

Technically, right after Onslaught. Half of everyone was dead in the regular Marvel Universe.

” – Jean Grey is an interesting case. One could argue that she’s already sort of “back” through All-New X-Men, but the adult Jean strikes me as a character without a good role in the X-universe right now. I get the sense that the desire to see her back is more a desire to roll back the Schism, the Morrison run, and pretty much everything since the franchise stopped doing Chris Claremont pastiches (a category that includes the later Chris Claremont runs). Fans love Jean, but are there really any good, original stories to be told involving her return right now? ”

That would apply that Jean had a good role in the first place (aside from the Dark Phoeix Saga, and only the original)…:p

Why isn’t Banshee (Sean Cassidy) on the list? He’s a character I would like to see return to the X-Men’s roster. I didn’t know Nightcrawler was still dead. I’m glad he’s coming back, though. When was Echo killed? I missed that memo somehow; not that I was a big fan of hers.

I voted for the Prof. I don’t see how the writers could bring him back, or Jean Grey and Stature, whom I think has some potential. But if the writers can kill off Hawkeye, the Vision, Magneto, and a dozen other great characters, only to bring them back, I guess that they can find a way to return these three characters to the current Marvel universe.

Funny there are write in votes for Rikki Barnes as Nomad. When I looked over the list I couldn’t help but think that it was sorely missing Jack Monroe as Nomad. Man I miss that series by Fabian Nicieza. Oh well. Two of the other three that I was torn between are currently in the last two spots. Guess I know why all the series I like seem to get canned

That would apply that Jean had a good role in the first place (aside from the Dark Phoeix Saga, and only the original)…:p

She seems to have had some sort of role over the years that worked for the bulk of the readership, and in such cases it’s usually always more interesting to look at what functions rather than to look for dead wood to prune and burn. I liked thew way Morrison used her as one of the few X-Men capable of “passing,” but choosing not to. He de-glammed the pretty boys and girls of the franchise fairly effectively elsewhere, and played up Scott and Emma’s psychological damage quite a bit.

Even earlier, in the Simonson era of X-Factor and to a lesser extent the Silver Age, Jean was the only member who could have easily passed for human or even become a “model minority,” but nonetheless threw in her lot with an underground movement fighting (albeit not in terribly intelligent ways) for recognition and acceptance on its own terms. The Beast is visibly different or non-neurotypical, Scott is deeply traumatized and has a prosthesis in those ruby quartz glasses, Warren is either strapping down his wings and avoiding intimacy or he’s visibly different, and Iceman is either deeply immature or, in much of the X-Factor period, suffering from serious power incontinence.

Even in the All-New All-Different days, pre-Phoenix, Jean is superficially the All-American Girl archetype in an international team, still the X-Man most capable of passing but ultimately willing to die for her allies in the struggle. (This is, indeed, how she becomes Phoenix int he first place.) There’s a reason her corruption occurs via the Hellfire Club, who are a thuddingly obvious metaphor for The Evils of Successfully Passing Amid/Assimilating With Oppression; her first two deaths read as a deliberate surrender of the easy life and the power she could obtain by doing as the Hellfire folks do.

In those contexts, Jean is actually an interesting character in the dynamic, as someone who takes pride in her difference rather than in her sameness. Jean, more than any other main X-Man except perhaps represents a particular range of minority experience, one that tends to go unremarked in a lot of fiction precisely because it overlaps uncomfortably with spheres of mainstream privilege. She’s the bisexual, upper-middle-class WASP who could stay in the closet or circulate amid the privileged but comes out and marches in the Pride parade anyway; the high-functioning spectrum person who could easily pass for neurotypical in most circumstances but instead identifies as non-neurotypical and works against bias in concert with other people across the spectrum.

That’s a very hard character to write at all, so it’s not a surprise that it often doesn’t work and often becomes a non-minority minority character…but to leave that character out is to ignore an important range of experience that impacts the central allegory in the X-franchise. That’s why Emma has been reinvented as a similar sort of idea, a literal defector from the Hellfire Club of Privileged Passing Mutants who plays an edgier version of Jean’s role. (Ironically, the more of an outsider Emma becomes, the less she actually works as Jean 2.0.)

Why no option for no one ever?

Has there ever been a good ressurection story? Maybe the return of Superman but that’s about it.

You waste so much time hand waving and dancing to explain why Character X is back or wasn’t dead there’s no real room for a story.

If people want a character back, create a new one, a sibling/cousin/student/buddy or even a clone. Move forward not back.

Has there ever been a good ressurection story? Maybe the return of Superman but that’s about it.

Wonder Man in Avengers (Vol 1) #152 – 160?

Alfred Pennyworth in Detective Comics (Vol 1) #356?

James “Bucky” Barnes in Captain America (Vol. 5) #1?

Doctor Octopus in Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 1) #157?

Maybe not great ‘reads’ (I can see arguments either way), but it could be said all of them gave us back characters that now seem essential to their respective books

I agree, Mr. Kyoto, that constant ‘resurrection’ stories are a complete pain in the neck. However, I would hesitate to replace a dead character with another character entirely, or even with leaving certain characters dead. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attempted to kill off Sherlock Holmes, since he, at least, had become tired of Sherlock. There was such an outcry from fans of his work that Doyle relented and ‘resurrected’ Mr. Holmes.

Marvel writers encountered similar problems when they killed certain popular characters; hence the never ending cycle of tasteless ‘resurrection’ story arcs every fan has had to suffer through.

I would suggest that, instead of replacing a character or permanently killing them, the writers may want to take a cue from their fellows writing the television series and movies. When it looks like the comics are becomg tired-out and trite I would suggest that, instead of killing Professor X or Iron Man, what the writers should do is stop and reboot/make an alternate storyline.

This is what the most recent television shows and movies have done. The characters remain intact but the stories they play a part in are different. In the films, for example, Bucky Barnes is not Cap’s fifteen year-old sidekick. Instead, he’s Cap’s childhood friend and war buddy. Bucky’s trite origin story is changed and thus he becomes a much better character throughout the run of The First Avenger.

Another example of what I mean are the many spinoff comics series Marvel has written, such as the Ultimates comics. While I do not enjoy the character alterations in the Ultimate Comics, the characters do shed a lot of historical baggage in this series. In some cases I am tempted to say they shed too much. But the idea remains: relieve the characters of years of stories and give them a new platform from which to speak.

Yes, an end to these bland ‘resurrection’ stories would be absolutely WONDERFUL. But if we forget WHY the writers are constantly creating these terrible stories and provide them with no alternative that would please their masses of subscribers, they will not listen to us.

noticed that a comment mentioned Jennifer Kale’s death – I would rather have her back than any from this list
I’m not certain if Lifecry died or not, but if she did then she would probably be my first choice
…unless there is someone else who I don’t realise is dead…

Mithril Guardian – readers love years of continuity and hate characters being rebooted..especially when it’s only a partial reboot and even the writers don’t know what has changed and what is still the same (new 52)

Oh well…I’ll just enjoy the return of my favourite X-Man

Omar,

That’s a really interesting assessment of Jean Grey’s potential utility. Would you mind if I posted a blog response to it?

A write-in vote for Jack Kirby (as seen in e.g. Fantastic Four #10)

I would like the Avengers to come back.

That’s a really interesting assessment of Jean Grey’s potential utility. Would you mind if I posted a blog response to it?

Not a bit. Bear in mind it’s deliberately one-sided, more an effort to find the character’s utility than a thorough examination of the pitfalls and failings in employing such a privileged figure in an approach to minority representation.

I should have checked the comments before voting for Jack of Hearts. I thought he’d been offed yet again after returning in Marvel Zombies Supreme. (I should know. I’m the guy who updated his Wikipedia entry!) Otherwise, my vote would have gone to Richard Rider or Doc Samson.

I imagine that Professor X will be back someday soon just as Colossus and Nightcrawler, both of whom were killed off rather permanently. Jean Grey and Starlin’s Captain Marvel work better as dead characters due to the iconic status imposed on them through their respective demises. I wouldn’t want to have X-Men #137 or Marvel Graphic Novel #1 retconned once more given how high they ranked on the Best Stories list from last month.

There are others who should have been given a wider berth, though. Bill Foster and Jack Monroe come to mind, but I don’t see them returning anytime soon.

I see my comment is missing. Did I get involved in a flame war or something inadvertently? I don’t believe I said anything controversial… apologies if I did.

Mithril Guardian, I’ve heard it argued that Doyle being pressured into reviving Holmes was mostly myth: On the contrary Holmes was a dependable cash cow the author could write whenever he needed a little extra money. While I don’t remember the details, the author made a persuasive case.

I’d hate to see Mar-Vell back. He got a truly great death and I’d sooner see a woman in the slot.

I’m quite happy with Eric Masteron’s kid as Thunderstrike–I enjoyed the Youth in Revolt miniseries.

Brother Voodoo … I really enjoyed the series as a kid, but I think the character’s creator Len Wein was right when he said real-world magical systems don’t make a good basis for super-heroes.

I’m not sure any of these scream “Resurrect me! The MU needs me!” Which is not to say they couldn’t be done well–I certainly never thought Rocket Raccoon would be interesting–but I’d go with None of the Above.

@P. Boz – I don’t know, Robin’s seem to die a lot, but they seem to “get better” too, so it’s not that bad a title.

@Ed Boneske – Well, then technically wouldn’t the Infinity Gauntlet be the most at one time? Half the Universe was dead, as well as Thanos taking out the big hitters. Honorable mention to Secret Wars where Doom kills all the major characters with a bolt from the blue.

I think people get upset with stupid resurrections is getting the cart before the horse. People should be more upset with stupid deaths. How many really great deaths can you think of? Jean Grey, and…..? I mean, there’s some, but most of the time it’s lazy writing for shock value, where half the time they’re planning on the character’s return at the time they kill him or her. And the majority of those are done very, very badly. I think the complaint should be why can’t you find a better way to finish a big storyline without killing someone every single time. Like the only life changing events are death. (Especially when you’ve shown that’s not really all that life changing in your universe). Back in the early days bad guys “died” all the time. But no one thought when Dr. Doom fell off a cliff into a time vortex that it wasn’t likely that he’d be back, and there were opening for it. It’s all this false “no, really, he’s dead for good….see, here’s the body, and here’s the body being raped by the villain” that’s obnoxious. Peter Parker is “dead” no later than April for his new movie. We’re not stupid, stop treating us like the conventions of the storytelling aren’t obvious, and come up with better ways to create drama.

I agree with your assessment, M-Wolverine. The writers do seem to have become lazy, with no other idea of how they could hook readers into returning for more stories except to murder one of the heroes. And the deaths are, as you point out, getting worse.

This is a real shame, since there are many better ways to bring a dead hero back without the whole ‘he’s back from the grave’ plot line. They could make the hero disappear in an explosion and be thought dead, but in actuality the hero would be in a coma or have amnesia. To come back, all he would have to do is wake up or regain his memory. They could have the hero somehow escape out the ‘back door’ before said explosion and then have him keep a low profile for some reason, bringing him back a few months/years later. The writers could even have the hero decide to quit after surviving said explosion, letting everyone think he’s dead, then bring him back for some great emergency.

Honestly, it’s not that hard to find a way around the now standard phoenix-rising-from-the-ashes plot arc [pun intended?]. I would take anything – practically ANYTHING – over the phony ‘resurrection’ stories which the Marvel writers have been churning out for the past few years!!!

What’s amazing to me is that both DC and Marvel have had event storylines in recent years (Blackest Night and Chaos War) that were ultimately just free passes to resurrect whoever they wanted en masse in one fell swoop. Whoever they wanted to stay alive at the end of those, hey, no problem.

Of course, DC got a do-over of its entire universe just a few months later, so it hardly mattered.

Night Thrasher was one of my favorite characters growing up and my first comic was Night Thrasher #1. I liked him because he was pretty dark (compared to the other New Warriors) and had a bad ass costume. I hated how they killed Dwayne Taylor in the civil war. and though Donyell was pretty good as the second Night Thrasher I like Dwayne better. 2014 would be also be a great time to bring him back because there is a New Warriors comic comic coming out this year.

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