(SPOILER ALERT for those of you who aren’t big into comics)
Comics were initially created to entertain, to astonish. That being their main purpose, we have been caught off guard by their tales of tragedy and loss. There is no doubt that the kind of stories involving struggle and heartbreak have stuck with us ever since we laid our eyes upon them. Among the countless moments in comics that have caused us to clench our chests as we hold back the tears, I’ve selected a few. Are you ready?
5. The Death of Captain America (The Death of the Dream 2007)
After the events of Civil War, Cap is taken into S.H.I.E.L.D. custody where he is assassinated per the order of the Red Skull. Crossbones sniped the first Avenger, while Sharon Carter, who was brainwashed by Doctor Faustus, delivered the final blow, killing him. Despite Captain America’s odd return (that I’m sure we’re all grateful for) his apparent death still carries the same weight it did when it was first brought to our attention.
4. The Death of Jason Todd (Batman: A Death In the Family 1988-89)
To make a long story short, Jason Todd – who was the second Robin – was beaten to a bloody pulp by the Joker in a warehouse that exploded with him still inside. This story is extremely well-known, marking one of the saddest moments in Batman’s history. After the tragedy, Batman began to blame himself for the death of his protege. Guilt-ridden, the caped crusader carried on alone. He even turned down Alfred’s suggestion to involve Dick Grayson who was the first Robin.
3. The Death of Gwen Stacy (The Night Gwen Stacy Died 1973)
The Green Goblin abducts Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy, and lures Spider-Man to the Brooklyn Bridge. A battle between the two ensues, and the Goblin hurls Gwen off of the bridge. In an attempt to save her, Spider-Man quickly shoots a web that attaches to Gwen’s legs. Unfortunately, the whiplash she underwent when Spidey’s webbing stopped her so suddenly, was ultimately her cause of death. Around the time this issue was published, it wasn’t common for such a popular character to be killed off, nor was it likely for a hero to fail this miserably unless it was apart of their origin story. This hard hitting tragedy marked the end of the Silver Age of comic books, and the beginning of the darker, grittier Bronze Age.
2. The Death of Superman (The Death of Superman 1992)
Even though the Man of Steel came back to life, there’s no denying that this was one of (if not the) biggest death in the history of comics. Superman dies in the streets of Metropolis from his wounds after battling with a seemingly unstoppable being named Doomsday. This storyline gained national attention, leaving readers to mourn their fallen hero, and to mourn the death of the strongest superhero to have ever lived.
1. The Death of Peter and MJ’s Marriage (Spider-Man: One More Day 2007)
In possibly one of the saddest storylines to have ever been told, the long-lived love between Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson came to an end. Aunt May was shot, and stood on the line between life and death as she slowly faded away in a hospital bed. On his way to the hospital, Peter is approached by a little girl who says she has all of the answers to his problems, before running off. Peter pursues the little girl before encountering the demon Mephisto who says he can save Aunt May. But in return, he wants his marriage to Mary Jane.
After discussions filled with tears and heartache, Peter and Mary Jane agree to the deal as long as the memory of Peter’s identity – which was revealed to the public during the events of Civil War – is erased from the world. Mephisto then reveals to Peter and MJ the identity of the little girl who first approached Peter; it was their daughter who would now never exist because of their decision.
Finally, Mephisto changes history so that Peter and MJ never married, and no one remembers the face behind Spider-Man’s mask. Peter wakes up alone, once again living with Aunt May. Oddly, this story’s tragedy makes it a success. Even though it wasn’t popular in the eyes of the fans, plenty of famous storylines were birthed from the death of one of the most iconic relationships in comic book history.
What do you folks think?