DC Comics
DC Comics

8 Absolutely Ridiculous Ways Comic Book Characters have been Brought Back from the Dead

DC Comics
DC Comics

By Scott Meslow

You may have read headlines recently, at websites like the New York Post or Rolling Stone, reporting that Batman's beloved sidekick Robin will be killed off in a comic book scheduled to hit shelves tomorrow. You may have even been sad about it. But never fear, Robin fans; in comic books, death is a well-traveled country, from whose bourn many travelers return. And indeed, comics writer Grant Morrison is already hedging on the Boy Wonder's death. "You can never say never in a comic book," says Morrison. "Batman will ultimately always have a partner." If the series does attempt to revive the fallen Robin, it will be in very good (or bad) company. Here, eight of the most ridiculous ways that comic book heroes have been brought back from the dead:

1. Bucky Barnes

The demise of Captain America sidekick Bucky Barnes was originally introduced via flashback, and Bucky's death was a vital part of Captain America's character. Our hero long struggled to deal with his guilt over failing to prevent the boy's death — guilt that turned out to be misplaced. More than four decades later, it was revealed that a brainwashed Bucky had been operating as a Soviet assassin called the Winter Soldier all along. Since his resurrection as the Winter Soldier, Bucky has actually been "killed off" and come back again, with his apparent death in 2011's "Fear Itself" arc later revealed to have been prevented by an injection of something called infinity formula. 

2. Jean Grey

The best arc in X-Men history saw fan-favorite Jean Grey (then called Marvel Girl) die twice — first, as she guided a spaceship containing the rest of the X-Men back to Earth, which exposed her to fatal levels of radiation but allowed her to be reborn as the exponentially more powerful "Phoenix"; and second in "Dark Phoenix," when the immensity of her power corrupted her, causing her to destroy an entire galaxy and then disintegrate herself in a moment of remorse. It was a deft, moving story about the consequences of even the noblest person having too much power — so of course, it was retconned six years later, when it was revealed that "Phoenix" was a separate identity, and that the real Jean Grey had been healing in a protective cocoon on the ocean floor all along.

3. The Flash (Barry Allen)

Much like Bucky Barnes, the death of the second superhero known as The Flash gets an asterisk, because it was revealed 23 years after his "death" that he never died at all. Allen stopped a galactic supervillain called the Anti-Monitor from destroying the Earth by creating a "speed vortex" — better known to us mortals as "running really fast" — that converted his body into pure energy. But even though his nephew, Wally West, picked up the Flash mantle in his stead, Allen came back into being after gestating for 23 years in a deus ex machine called the "Speed Force."

4. Robin (Jason Todd)

Though many comic book characters have come and gone, only Jason Todd — the second Boy Wonder to serve as Batman's sidekick — has been killed off at the behest of fans. In 1988, DC Comics held a telephone poll asking fans whether or not Todd should be killed off, and by a margin of less than 100 votes, fans said yes. Todd's brutal demise in 1988's "A Death in the Family," in which the Joker beat Todd with a crowbar and left him to die in an explosion, provided one of the most memorable moments in the history of Batman comics. But in 2005, when Superboy punched the universe so hard that it created shifts in the real world — an action that, perhaps not coincidentally, allowed writers to muck around with the comic's continuity as much as they wanted — Todd was brought back to life, and has subsequently served as both supervillain and superhero.

5. Superman

When news broke that DC Comics planned to kill off Superman after a climactic battle with Doomsday in 1992, it made international headlines — despite the fact that DC always intended to bring him back. Superman's death paved the way for the introduction of a series of proto-Supermen, including a teenaged clone called the Metropolis Kid, a cyborg called The Man of Tomorrow, and an armor-clad metalworker called The Man of Steel (later played by noted thespian Shaquille O'Neal in a 1997 film called Steel). After a brief tussle over which of the new heroes was the "true" new Superman, it was revealed that Superman was alive because his body had been placed in a machine/lazy plot device called a "regeneration matrix" at his Fortress of Solitude.

6. Robin (Stephanie Brown)

Yes, another Robin has also been killed off, though her time in the ground was a lot shorter than Jason Todd's. Stephanie Brown was originally introduced as the daughter of a Batman villain called the Cluemaster, but became a fan favorite as the Spoiler, a superheroine who eventually became the girlfriend of then-Robin Tim Drake. When Tim retired, Brown convinced Batman to let her become the next Robin, but her short-lived tenure ended when the villainous Black Mask tortured her in an attempt to learn more about Batman. Though Brown was shown dying from her injuries in a hospital bed with Batman at her side, it was revealed four years later that she had actually faked her death to prevent more villains from using her against Batman. Though she subsequently had a brief tenure as Batgirl, Brown hasn't appeared in recent comics, with no explanation as to her whereabouts. So for all we know, she's dead again.

7. Captain America (Steve Rogers)

Following the same model that made the "death" of Superman a mainstream story, Marvel killed off its own defender of the American Way in 2007 when Captain America was the target of an elaborate assassination scheme by the supervillain Red Skull. Ironically enough, it was Bucky who stepped in to take the seemingly deceased Rogers' place, but less than two years later, Marvel revealed that the gun used to "kill" Rogers actually caused him to become unstuck in space and time, briefly allowing Red Skull the use of his body before he regained full control and resumed his superheroic duties in the present.

8. Spider-Man

Given everything you just read about comic book character "deaths," you'd think fans would blow them off by now — but the seeming "death" of Spider-Man in December 2012, which was also reported in mainstream news outlets, was so polarizing that some Spider-Fans made actual death threats against writer Dan Slott. In the controversial issue, Peter Parker switched bodies with the villain Doctor Octopus for reasons too ridiculous to explain — and that's saying something given some of the far-out explanations above. After they pulled off the switcheroo, the cancer-ridden body of Doctor Octopus succumbed to disease before Parker could switch back. Parker was then revealed to be alive in the very next issuefighting with Doctor Octopus' psyche as they both attempted to control his body.

This is how comic books work, ladies and gentlemen — so don't mourn too hard for our dearly departed Robin.

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May the Forks Be With You: This Is the Star Wars Dinnerware You Didn't Know You Needed

Art Deco meets space opera in a new collection of Star Wars-themed dinnerware, released just in time for May the 4th (Star Wars Day).

The collection comes from ThinkGeek, whose annual Star Wars Day sale has become a go-to source for movie merchandise, offering everything from a Chewbacca necktie to a Death Star waffle maker, because even Stormtroopers need to eat a balanced breakfast.

Dubbed the Lando Calrissian Accents Collection, it includes a bottle stopper and two different sets of porcelain salad plates with golden accents. One set features Lando’s name in Aurebesh, an alphabet that appears in Star Wars, while the other bears a detailed Art Deco design.

Also featured is a set of Han Solo highball glasses, so that the next time you break out the Solo cups, they won't be the red plastic variety that litter frat house floors. The design was inspired by the Millennium Falcon.

Solo-themed plates

Solo-themed highball glass

Solo-themed bottle stopper

The products are all officially licensed merchandise for the upcoming film Solo: A Star Wars Story, coming to theaters May 25.

Looking for other ways to celebrate Star Wars Day? We have a few suggestions for how to spend your day.

19 Unusual Socks for Snazzy Feet

Kick it in one of these pairs of cool socks.

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1. ART; $15.99

Make your feet a canvas with these artsy socks. This set of eight pairs features classics including van Gogh's Starry Night and Botticelli's Birth of Venus.

Find it: Amazon

2. BOB ROSS; $12

Look at all those happy little trees! It's impossible not to smile while wearing these Bob Ross socks.

Find it: Amazon

3. ALIEN VISITOR; $11.50

I want to believe—in fancy footwear. These alien socks are perfect for Ufologists and other conspiracy theorists who always have an eye on the sky.

Find it: Amazon


shark socks

These fun socks make it look like sharks are eating your feet.

Find it: Amazon

5. TAPATIO; $10

These socks are hot! Just like the hot sauce they show.

Find it: Amazon

6. LIBRARY CARD; $10.25

Out of Print makes a variety of book-themed products for bibliophiles—and, even better, they donate one book for each pair of socks purchased. This particular pair looks like the library cards you might have found in libraries back in the day.

Find it: Amazon


Here's another excellent selection from Out of Print. This pair of socks is dedicated to Where the Wild Things Are. The bottoms say "Let the Wild / Rumpus Start."

Find it: Out of Print

8. STUDIO GHIBLI; $12.50

Lovers of the films by Studio Ghibli will get a kick out of these striped socks. Each pair features a scene from a different movie: Spirited Away, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, and Howl's Moving Castle.

Find it: Amazon


These adorable socks have polka dots and giant dog faces on the front. Each pair comes with floppy ears that peek over the edge of the socks. The breeds include what looks like a Pomeranian, a Boston terrier, and a French bulldog.

Find it: Amazon

10. EINSTEIN; $12

These are the perfect socks to wear while filling up a blackboard with equations. The pair comes with a picture of Einstein sporting some cool shades.

Find it: Amazon


These fun socks feature a few constellations, including Ursa Minor and Orion.

Find it: Amazon

12. DOCTOR WHO; $14.95

Doctor Who Tardis Women's Knee High Socks

Doctor Who fans are going to want to get their hands on these knee high TARDIS socks.

Find it: Jet

13. POKEMON; $2.42

Pokemon Ankle Socks

Show off your love of Pokemon with Pikachu, Charmander, Psyduck, and Squirtle socks.

Find it: AliExpress

14. SAILOR MOON; $9.99

Defend the world against evil in the name of the Moon, with these Sailor socks. The pack of six comes with Sailor Moon, Sailor Mars, Sailor Mercury, Sailor Venus, Sailor Jupiter, and Chibiusa.

Find it: Amazon


According to the pilot in Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic book The Little Prince, the titular character probably hitches a ride off of his planet (B-612) and across the universe on a flock of birds. These Out of Print socks depict the pilot's drawing of the Little Prince taking to the skies.

Find it: Amazon

16. PENCILS; $10

Pencils are key for crosswords, drawings, and jotting down important notes. Celebrate the beloved writing utensil with these incredible socks.

Find it: Amazon


Stormtrooper socks

These cool socks look just like Storm Troopers from the Star Wars franchise. They fit shoe sizes 9–12.

Find it: Buckle

18. SUSHI; $19.99

Sushi socks

At first, this looks like a plush platter of sushi. When you unravel the "food," you'll discover it's actually two pairs of socks rolled to look like salmon and cucumber sushi.

Find it: Amazon

19. LEGO; $12

LEGO socks
Lord & Taylor

Stepping on LEGO bricks hurts, so protect yourself! We recommend this pair of LEGO-themed socks, plus a pair of slippers for good measure.

Find it: Lord & Taylor


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