10 most shocking deaths in DC Comics
Some of the most shocking deaths in comic book history belong to DC Comics. Part of this is due to the company’s long tradition, ushering in the Golden Age of Comics in 1938 with the Man of Steel himself, Superman. The deaths of these longtime beloved characters were completely unexpected to longtime readers.
From the death of Superman himself to the shocking but no less tragic deaths of lesser-known characters, DC Comics has made the final fates of some of its greatest heroes and villains the centerpiece of some of the greatest stories ever told about the pages.
One of DC Comics’ most shocking deaths comes at the end of one of its biggest stories, Guardians. The classic 1986 miniseries written by Alan Moore and drawn by Dave Gibbons ends with Rorschach threatening to turn the tide on Ozymandias’ plot to bring the world together through the murder of millions of innocent civilians.
Dr. Manhattan atomizes Rorschach to keep him from telling the truth and spoiling the fragile peace the act won in one of comics’ most shocking moments.
9 Green arrow
Oliver Queen has been one of DC Comics’ most important superheroes since he debuted in More fun comics # 73 in November 1941. The Green Arrow was an integral part of the DC Comics universe for decades until his death in the 1990s. He sacrificed his life to save the city of Metropolis from terrorists.
His death was a shock, but perhaps not completely unexpected given the times. Many characters, including Superman, had died or had been replaced by new heroes like Green Arrow was by his son, Connor Hawke.
Batman has fought against crime and injustice for decades, but in the pages of Final crisis in 2008, Batman was killed against perhaps DC’s greatest villain, Darkseid. Darkseid kills Batman with his powerful Omega Beams after Batman shoots the ruler of Apokolips with a radion bullet.
Radion is a particularly dangerous type of radiation for the new gods. The high cost of fighting Darkseid was no surprise, but Batman’s death was. Readers later discovered that he was not dead but had been transported back in time to the distant past.
7 Stephanie Brown
Stephanie Brown was a young character who quickly built an impressive resume within the Bat-Family. In quick succession, she was Robin, Spoiler, and Batgirl. She was also an alternate universe version of Batwoman. This is why his death in 2004 at Batman # 633 was a huge shock to the fans.
She died at the hands of the Black Mask in a brutal scenario not everyone was a fan of, and made worse by a retcon who revealed Brown had died due to his doctor’s inaction. She stayed out of the comics for a while, but has since found her way back to continuity.
6 Blue beetle
Blue Beetle is apparently set to become a movie in the DCEU, starring the modern version of Jaime Reyes’ character. But Jaime was not the first or even the second Blue Beetle.
It was Ted Kord, who suffered a shocking death at the hands of Wonder Woman 1984 villainous Maxwell Lord. In 2005, during the Infinite Crisis storyline, Kord discovers that Lord runs a shadow organization within the larger organization in the Justice League. Maxwell brutally executes Ted Kord.
5 Alfred Pennyworth
Alfred Pennyworth has been a constant presence in Bruce Wayne’s life since he was a child, so it was a shock to see him lose his life in the City of Bane story from a few years ago. Bane breaks Alfred’s neck under orders from an alternate version of Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father.
The ramifications of the shocking event still play out in comics today. Nightwing has just inherited all of Alfred’s sizable estate – billions of dollars – and uses it to help make the town of Bludhaven a better place.
4 Ferro Lad
Ferro Lad may not be as well-known as other heroes to comic book readers, but his death was no less a surprise. He died beating the Sun-Eater in Adventure comics # 353 in 1966. The shock was that Ferro Lad had only debuted a few issues before in issue 346.
Ferro Lad was able to transform into living iron, and he was interesting enough as a character to return in various forms in the following years. He returned as an alternate reality version of himself and a reinvented character in the later continuity, reappearing after the Hour H mid-90s event.
3 Jason todd
Jason Todd was the second Robin and the victim of one of the Joker’s most monstrous acts of violence. It’s also part of one of the most infamous moments in comic book history, with its fate left to fans who called a special hotline with their vote. While they played a role in his death, fans may not have expected DC to do so.
Jason died at the hands of the Joker in A death in the family from 1988 and was quickly replaced by the Tim Drake Robin. Todd would return several years later, his body resurrected by the Lazarus Pit. He is now the Red Hood and part of the Bat-Family.
2 Super girl
Before Jason Todd, DC Comics reset its sprawling continuity in the 1985 crossover Crisis on Infinite Earths. With all of DC’s many parallel worlds consolidated into one, that meant some characters were left out. One of them was Supergirl. With the Anti-Monitor destroying universe after universe in the story, Supergirl sacrifices her life to save her world, Earth-1.
Supergirl would be erased from the continuity for many years afterwards, but would return later in a series of different versions that eventually saw the return of the original Kara Zor-El.
Crisis on Infinite Earths also presented another major death in DC, in what was perhaps the most shocking at this point. The Flash died sacrificing his life to save the remaining worlds in the multiverse. He created a speed vortex so powerful that it drew energy from the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon.
Considering the importance of Barry Allen’s character at the time, his death came as a complete shock to readers and raised the stakes for the story significantly. Barry would be replaced by Wally West and would be absent from the comics for a long time before finally returning.
NEXT: Retro-Cast: DCEU’s Justice League Cast In The 1980s
Jupiter’s Legacy: 11 Major Differences From The Comics
About the Author