Poll Position: To die, perchance

We all know the cliche -- comics character dies, only to arise from the dead some time later, usually when sales decline. Captain America most recently fell into this category, but the majority of big names come up against it eventually. I tried to come up with someone in super-hero comics besides Gwen Stacey and Uncle Ben Parker who died and stayed dead, but I couldn't come up with much. Throw Norman Osborne as the original Green Goblin onto that list, and you quickly come to the conclusion that it's best to steer clear of Spider-Man.

But then, maybe that's one reason he stayed popular so long? Maybe.

Anyway, that brings us to this week's Poll Position, only one day late (appropriate when talking about death, amiright?! Although, why do they say "The late Jeff Hebert"? Of course you're late, you're dead -- you may never get there!):


Discussion after the jump.

  • Batman: Batman is epic. Batman is awesome. Batman is the best thing since bagels took mail-order jiu-jitsu lessons and learned to kick sliced bread's ass. Why would you want Bruce Wayne dead? Because he's awesom, epic, and the best thing since ... well, you get the idea. You could certainly argue that he's TOO big, that he looms over the comics industry like your mom at a stripper bar -- looming and unpleasant and so dominant it ruins all the fun. Yes, you could argue that, but Batman would kick you in the face, so you better not.
  • Iron Man: Would any of us really miss comic-book Tony Stark? I'll grant you, movie Tony Stark with the power of Robert Downey Jr. behind him is a great, fun, unmistakable character who would be hard to replace, certainly in my wife's affections. But comic book Tony Stark is kind of a jerk, and I don't think anyone would shed too many tears to see him go to his reward six feet under, and someone else to don the armor permanently.
  • Punisher (Frankencastle doesn't count): No way a normal dude can avoid that many bullets for that long. It's just not natural. As the most stubborn of the Nineties "Dark Hero" generation, I'd be happy to see him go. He's got a legion of imitators to carry the tradition on, after all, even if their skulls are on the inside instead of on their shirts.
  • Spider-Man: Newspaper strip Spider-Man could get hit by a bus tomorrow and I'd be happy. Whiny Tobey Maguire too, for that matter. But original Peter Parker comic book Spider-Man is still great. I think he's easily one of the most memorable, likable, identifiable, and genuinely interesting mainstream characters out there. I can't see anyone else donning that mask and being as compelling.
  • Superman: A comics world without Big Blue is not a world I would enjoy reading about. He's a tempting target because, like Batman, he's just so huge he overshadows everything else, but I don't think killing him off forever would be good.
  • Wolverine: Wolverine's almost as ubiquitous as Batman, but let's be real, he's too cool to kill off forever.
  • Wonder-Woman: On one hand, Wonder Woman is kind of a useless character. On the other hand, she's one of the few "big" female leads. On the other other hand (imagine I'm a Martian if you will), do we really need a feminist icon who's only identifiable because she's useless? The problem with Diana Prince is that she's never really had a strong identity, a sense of character beyond the costume. It was always just "We need a female super-hero. Here's one!"

For me, the perma-death of a mainstream character would have to bring something interesting to the table to be worthwhile. Just bumping them off for being annoying doesn't appeal to me, which basically means I'd take Wonder Woman and Punisher off the list. I still like Batman and Superman and Spider-Man too much to want them removed, I think their stories and characters are still interesting and readable. Plus, I don't think working through their replacements would hold my interest (proven, alas, with the turgid "Reign of the Super-Men" saga or whatever it was).

So for me, I'd vote for Tony Stark as Iron Man. I think the character was played out in the Sixties, pretty much, and doesn't bring anything fresh or new to the table. I'd like to see what someone new, permanently ensconced in the suit, would do and think and become.

What about you, who would you permanently knock off, and why?

29 Responses to Poll Position: To die, perchance

  1. TopHat says:

    I’,m sort of torn between IM and Wolverine.

    Iron Man has turned into an insufferable fascist A-hole after the Civil War fiasco, and I’m just so tired of seeing Wolverine all the time.

  2. CPrime says:

    I know someone who stayed dead.

    Jason Todd, the second Robin. Legend is that fans could call one of two 800 numbers. One would have Batman save him from the Joker. One would have him killed off. The kill off one won by less than 100 votes.

    Wait… wikipedia says they brought him back too. Dang it.

  3. CPrime says:

    Wait, when did Norman die?

  4. Kalkin says:

    I’d like to see Frank Castle kick the bucket. And especially, if it didn’t happen by the usual epic sacrifice theme, but as a meaningless, casual accident. Maybe he is going home and gets stabbed to death by an ordinary street punk. Better yet, if he was still in the process of making plans to attack some crime boss and he never even knew how close he was to dying. That kind of non-closure is so Punisher.

  5. gero says:

    Wolverine. The guy’s 160-some-odd years old, he needs to kick it already…

  6. EnderX says:

    Osborn committed a sort of accidental semi-suicide during the aftermath of Gwen Stacy’s death, CPrime. He was attempting to kill Spidey and instead managed to spike himself with his own glider.

    However, as has been said, tounge-in-cheek, of many a comicbook character: “He died. He got better.”

  7. John says:

    Punisher, hands down. Because he’s so freakin’ annoying.

  8. Mr.MikeK says:

    I gotta go with the Punisher. I hate, loath, and despise this whole “Frankencastle” nonsense. He’s a bit of an anachronism anyway, being left over from that whole “dark nineties hero crap” cliche. I would like to see it done in a way that would be significant for the larger Marvel U, but not the heroic sacrifice. Killed by Hitmonkey? No, too flavor of the month.

    Iron Man is possible, but I would like to see how they retcon him after the “disassembled” story line. Maybe he’ll be a little less of a jerk after being on the run.

  9. Sorry, folks, my kill is Superman. He’s so perfect as to be annoying.

  10. Tigerguy786 says:

    I’m torn. I think killing Superman or Batman permanently could be interesting but they are too important to the DC Universe (Superman to the WHOLE thing- ala Kingdom Come and Batman to the “underdog” heroes). Killing either of them for good would have HUGE repercussions no matter how they died.

    Wolverine…ugh…I don’t when I started hating him, but I don’t like him that much. Maybe it’s because his character seems so 2D, but nonetheless popular. I don’t know if he has enough influence in the Marvel-verse to have a huge impact.

    I guess that’s what it comes down to is the influence the death would have. If a comic is going to kill someone off for good, I’d like it to mean something. Tony Stark I guess would have enough influence but not so much that he dooms the rest of the universe. So yeah, I’m going to have to go with him. Spidey, I don’t think has the influence to be a major candidate.

    Now I’m stuck between Logan and Iron Man…*flips coin*

    Wolverine it is!

  11. TheNate says:

    The Punisher has to be close to dying of old age anyway. Not too many Vietnam vets out there are in bullet-dodging shape.

  12. amathakathi says:


  13. the creator says:

    I’m kinda stuck between the Punisher and iron man. Punisher is a guy with a severe mental problem shooting everyone who comited crimes while commiting so many himself. And Iron Man is a hypocrite and reminds me to much of a bored playboy who needed a hobby.

  14. Jeff Hebert says:

    You know, it’s funny, reading all these Golden Age comics, just how many of them are built on the “millionaire playboy” model. I guess in a way that goes waaay back to Robin Hood and the like. But I wonder if in part that’s why Superman remained so popular, as he was basically just a farm boy growing up and a working man reporter later on, despite his great powers. He chose to be one of the little guys, which it seems would be more appealing to a working-class nation coming out of the Depression.

    I don’t know enough history or sociology to say much of value here, but a lot of these characters started out rich.

  15. Danny Beaty says:

    Being rich means the hero can build (or buy) an arsenaland aquire a base of operations. It allows our hero to fight crime and not have to worry about missing work. He can patrol all night and not have to worry about punching the clock the next morning. It also gets him close to the police commisioner, mayor, governor, and anyone else with ties to law enforcement. Superman never needed any of the advantages money can buy.

  16. Kalkin says:

    That’s an interesting angle to superheroes – rich people extreme sport. I hadn’t thought about it before. Maybe golf just isn’t enough anymore. How come no real life rich boy hasn’t tried to become a costumed crime fighter?

  17. Me Myself & I says:

    I’m glad to see that I;m not the only one who coud do without The Punisher. He is defienately the biggest hypocrite of them all in my mind.

    I think it is easier for the writers to have their characters come from afluent backgrounds. It leaves entire sections of their characters lives that don’t even need to be explored. Unfortunately, tt also meens less character developement so the characters are less fleshed out (and in my mind, less interesting) as a result.

  18. CPrime says:


    Oh, I thought he meant he died again, like, recently. Like that was the end to Dark Reign.

  19. Danny Beaty says:

    Ever wonder what would happen if Bruce Wayne was not rich?
    Check out this neat little fan film (almost 17 minutes long) called “The Bat Man”.


  20. Paul says:

    What makes Batman any better than the Punisher…he is a normal guy who is crazy and is getting up there in age…sure Punisher kills his enemies…but who is more lame the hero who puts psychopathic murderers in jail/insane assylums only to have them escape and commit more murders or the psychopath who kills other pyschopaths and keeps them form killing again.

  21. X-stacy says:

    I chose Wolverine for the surprise value. They’ve basically established him as unkillable, so just think how startled all the fans would be if he got annihilated and simply failed to come back, month after month after month….

    It could even be played up in-universe, with the grieving process delayed a year or more by the fact everyone’s just waiting for him to return.

  22. darkvatican says:

    I’m tempted to say Wolverine because he’s so over-used by Marvel’s writers, but I have to go with Spider-Man. Peter Parker has been a superhero for over 10 yrs in his comic lifetime & he’s still the same weak-willed and pitiful loser he was back in the 70s. I would like to see him die. Permanently. o_0

  23. Gero says:

    Jeff, I hate to say it, but it looks like almost no one is with you on Iron Man. He’s in last place right now. I guess everyone just really wants Castle to die…

  24. Jeff Hebert says:

    I am the worldwide leader in being last, Gero.

    I wouldn’t mind Punisher going away, I just don’t think it would have much of an interesting impact on the world of comics.

  25. Kalkin says:

    Actually, I’ve always considered Iron Man to be a rather bland character and loosely attached to the Marvel universe. Sure he’s an avenger, but with so many of them around, they could work around Iron Mans role in the group and when he’s solo, Stark usually just battles with some guy who holds a grudge against him and Stark enterprises. His enemies seem to be specific only to him. Spider-man’s enemies fight other heroes, Fantastic four’s enemies (Doom) have fought other heroes, Wolverine’s enemies etc. but Iron Man’s enemies seem to me to form this isolated circle with no connection to the rest of Marvel world. I don’t remember e.g. Mandarin fighting anyone else, but Iron Man (and vaguely War Machine). I cannot remember Iron Man doing much else, except plots targeting him (before that whole Civil war thingy), but of course I’ve never been much interested in him. Wolverine, Superman, Batman and Spider-man all come against vengeance plots rather frequently, but usually they just fight to thwart the plans of villains that don’t target them directly. Their stories seem to have a lot more variation and connections to the surrounding world. If any of them disappeared, it would have a wide effect into the world. Most of Stark’s enemies on the other hand might just fall off the radar screen.

  26. Niall Mor says:

    I’m still pretty much a noob when it comes to comics. I’ve never read a Punisher comic, but from everything I’ve read about the character, I wouldn’t mind seeing him go. He’s just a hitman with a gun and a lousy attitude. Big frickin’ deal. What’s heroic about that? I much prefer the old school cape and tights crowd. Give people enough body armor and a big enough gun, and anybody can be a crime fighter. It takes real cojones to stare down the bad guys with nothin’ but funny-lookin’ pajamas and a righteous attitude. πŸ™‚

  27. Niall Mor says:

    Paul wrote:

    What makes Batman any better than the Punisher?

    Cooler costume? Neater toys? πŸ™‚

    Seriously, you have something of a point. I’ve never been much of a Batman fan either. Ever since the ’60s and that infamous TV show, it seems there are only two ways to play Batman: corny and campy or dark and obsessed.

  28. Gero says:

    It’s the money, Niall Mor. Batman is a billionare, Castle lives out of a garage…

  29. Kalkin says:

    That’s because Batman has been around for such a long time. There’s just not enough fresh ideas to go around anymore. Then one has to remember that Bruce Wayne does have a very constricted social circle to serve as a source of variating plotlines. On civilian side there’s only Alfred and that’s it. Every other social contacts he has are related to the crime fighting stuff. That fact alone ensures that Batman stories are rather one sided as opposed to say Spider-man, who has numerous civilian contacts to counter balance the crime fighting side. There are plenty more opportunities to create various plotlines with him.