Fans : Top Ten : 1997 : Characters Who Ought To Stay Dead

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Date: Feb 1, 1997
Next: Top Ten Unsavory RetCons
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Death is cheap in comic books. You're not much of a hero or villain if you haven't appeared to be dead at one time or another. Plenty of characters have returned from beyond with the feeblest of explanations. (Way back in Fantastic Four #8, the Puppet Master was killed when he fell out of a high-story window. And what was the explanation for his next appearance in Fantastic Four #14? "He got better.")

There's nothing wrong with this. It's comics! It's not just tolerated, it's expected! There are some characters, however, who, once dead, are better off staying dead. They have either expended their usefulness or run their creative course or become a symbol that outstrips their characterization or their death was so cool, there's no reason to mess with it.

But even these dear departed cannot always sleep easy. Think they would never dare revive Uncle Ben? That's what people thought about Norman Osborn or Jean Grey or Ma and Pa Kent, for that matter. Here are ten characters I don't ever want to see alive again. (Including a couple where it's already too late.)

  1. Peter Parker's Parents. What's that you say? They did this already, it turned out to be robots, it's an embarassing part of recent Spider-History, no writer with any sense would meddle with this again. You're probably right. On the other hand, the Untold Tales issue with Richard and Mary Parker was one of the best of the Flashback month. It might give somebody ideas. It better not.
  2. Uncle Ben. Surely everybody knows that the death of Uncle Ben is Peter's raison d'etre for Spider-Man. "With great power comes great responsibility", right? Don't count on it. Actually, I don't really expect Ben to rise up soon but I wish they would leave the poor guy alone. Let's not see a robot of him. And while we're at it, no more flashbacks. (Flashback month gave us more Uncle Ben than the whole previous thirty-five years.) No appearances in dreams. No hallucinations. No strangers that remind Peter of him. Let him do his job in peace.
  3. Aunt May. How many people out there read Amazing Spider-Man #196? The shocking death of Aunt May! I was stunned, I was impressed. They actually killed her off! Except, a couple of issues later, there she was. The whole thing was a sham. And a king-size disappointment. Do we really want to feel about Amazing #400 the way we feel about Amazing #196? Not me.
  4. Doctor Octopus. Am I the only fan in the world that was glad to see the good Doctor go? Am I the only one who felt he had lost all the oomph he had back in the Lee/Ditko days? Am I the only one who actually liked the new Doctor Octopus? I know it's too late to prevent the grave-robbing. It already, literally, took place in Amazing #425. But am I the only one who thinks this is a bad idea?
  5. Kraven the Hunter. You know, for years, no one thought Kraven the Hunter was cool at all. He made appearances in Marvel Team-Up, he made appearances in the West Coast Avengers, he made appearances in Marvel Chillers. Nobody cared. No, we know the real reason Kraven has been particularly cool lately. It's because he's dead. Bring him back to life and he wouldn't be cool anymore. I'm sure J.M. DeMatteis knows this but that last scene in the latest Chameleon story has me worried.
  6. The Grim Hunter. This guy was a mistake from the beginning. Every time someone wants to revive a villain who is indisputably dead, he just invents a replacement...usually a previously unknown son. (Call it the Baron Zemo syndrome.) The best thing about the Grim Hunter was that they got rid of him so quickly. The worst thing about him was that he made Kraven even cooler by comparison.
  7. Demogoblin. Now, I want all of you out there who felt that the clone saga was an unrealistic event for the Spider-verse to repeat after me: "Demogoblin, Demogoblin, Demogoblin." Can we all just agree to keep the demons out of Spidey? Unfortunately, it appears not. Rumor has it that Demogoblin will make his reappearance sometime next year.
  8. Harry Osborn. Did I think killing Harry off was a mistake? You bet. Should they bring him back again? Not with Norman lurking around.
  9. Spidercide. Remember, during the height of the clone saga, when this third Peter Parker showed up and there was actually an implication that Peter and Ben were both clones and this guy might be the original? Remember how cool that was? Remember how quickly they scuttled that notion and turned this Peter into some shape-changing psycho and remember how lame and disappointing that was? Let's never see this fellow again.
  10. Silvermane. Allow me to grandfather this one in. Way back in Amazing Spider-Man #75, Silvermane took a potion that made him younger and younger until he ceased to exist. The cover proclaimed "Death Without Warning" and had a great Romita Sr. drawing of Spidey overcome with the senselessness of it all. Little did he suspect that he would fight Silvermane about a dozen more times after that. Issue #75 and it's great cover got sort of cheapened as a result. ("Death without warning?" Death without death, is more like it.) Kinda sad, don't you think?

And Five That Should Come Back To Life

  1. Gwen Stacy. I've given my speech about restoring Gwen after the resurrection of Norman Osborn enough times. I don't need to repeat it here. Just bring her back!
  2. Seward Trainer. Seward's sudden death was one of many unsatisfying quick fixes that dominated the unpalatable "Revelations" storyline. He was too important a character in the whole clone saga to be dismissed in such a cavalier fashion. Killing someone like Trainer this quickly is as senseless as if they killed off someone like Lance Bannon this...uh, never mind.
  3. The Jackal. You're not going to tell me they brought this guy back after twenty years only to kill him off in some fall, are you? Naw, I thought not. But, when they do bring him back, could we please have the original? Not this genetically-engineered loser who looked like Jim Carrey in "The Mask".
  4. Ben Reilly. If only to finally present a storyline in which Ben and Peter are shown to be the same person. (Yeah, I sound like a broken record on this. No, I'm not giving up.)
  5. The Kangaroo. Hey, if there's going to be a Kangaroo bouncing around I want the original one back. He only burnt to a crisp in an atomic inferno. What's the big problem with that?