In a Little More Than 2 Years, Nearly Every Single One of My Favorite Comic Book Characters Has Been Killed
As a longtime comic book reader, I have my personal list of favorite characters. Everybody has one, right? Those characters that you love to read about and see pop up in new comics. For a lot of people, their favorite characters are big name superheroes, like Spider-Man or Batman. For me, I tend to prefer the smaller supporting characters. That’s just what happens when you read a lot of comics and are exposed to a lot of characters.
As such, when I started this blog back in 2011, one of my earliest Lists of Six was my top six favorite comic book characters of all-time. With the exception of one name, that list has remained pretty firm over the past eight years.
In the past two years and a couple months, nearly every character on that list has been killed. Several characters in my Honorable Mentions addendum have been killed. And a couple other characters I love have either been killed or nearly killed within this time frame.
I don’t…I don’t know what’s going on.
I don’t presume to think this is some sort of targeted attack on yours truly. I think this is just the unfortunate cost of loving minor comic book characters, the sorts of characters that can be chewed up and spit out as any given writer sees fit.
But damn, this has been pretty hard on the soul.
And I guess I just felt like listing them off, as if that would help me somehow. Let’s start with my favorite characters list:
Multiple Man was killed in Death of X #1 in October 2016.
He’s still dead. Multiple Man has returned to comics, replaced by one of his duplicates. And his character has been re-written as a feckless coward. So that’s some good salt in the wound.
The Mimic was killed in Extermination #5 in December 2018.
This one was really disappointing. He made a surprise appearance in Extermination after being out of comics for a few years. I knew from the moment he appeared that he probably wouldn’t survive the series, and I had to wait several months for those fears to be confirmed.
Phil Urich was killed in Amazing Spider-Man #797 in March 2018.
Phil was my favorite superhero as a kid, and the first comic I actively started collecting on my own, issue-by-issue. I endured years of him being transformed into an unrepentant villain before they finally put him out of his misery.
Tim Drake was killed in Detective Comics #940 in September 2016.
Thankfully, his death was a fake out. He survived and returned to service shortly thereafter. He’s even gone back to being just “Robin” instead of the far more ridiculous “Red Robin”. So there’s at least one happy ending in this list.
That’s it for my list of favorites. I listed “Robin” on that list as more of the concept of the character. Damian Wayne, the current Robin, is still alive…but if I’m being honest, he hasn’t really been ‘Robin’ in a long time. The concept of ‘Batman and Robin’ as a team is pretty dead. So does that count? Not to mention that Damian was killed in early 2013. So for a short while there, Robin was dead.
The Spot is also still alive, but he’s the one character I would probably take off my list of favorites. I’ve always been a big fan of the Spot, and will always be a big fan of the Spot, but there are characters I like better. Which is probably why he’s still alive.
How about some of those Honorable Mentions at the bottom of the page?
Mach X was killed in Thunderbolts #12 in April 2017.
The Scorpion was maybe killed in Venom Annual #1 in October 2018.
I’m not too sure about this one. It does appear that Venom kills the Scorpion, but then Scorpion has been showing up in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man recently. I may have to check and see if there’s an explanation.
Strong Guy was killed in Uncanny X-Men #12 in February 2019.
This is the most recent, and inspired this list. Strong Guy is Multiple Man’s best friend, and one of my favorite duos in comics. And now they’re both dead, and neither one particularly cares about the other these days. So just bleakness all around.
Avalanche was killed in Uncanny Avengers #1 in October 2012.
That happened a year after I started my blog and he’s still dead. The recent X-Men Gold comic introduced a new Avalanche, but I didn’t read it, and I’m pretty sure the character didn’t stick around. The X-Men have since ignored the new Pyro also, and he joined the X-Men towards the end of that comic. So that’s not looking good.
That’s the major list. Eight of my favorite comic book characters have been killed since I started this blog, most of them within the past two years or so. And only one of them has been properly ‘resurrected’ in that time. It’s just a little soul-crushing.
That’s not counting the time Stingray was nearly killed in a recent Avengers comic. Or the speculation that Simon Baz, my favorite Green Lantern, is probably going to be killed in Heroes in Crisis.
I don’t have any larger point to make. And I’m largely just whining. But c’mon. There’s only so much my soul can take. Is it really so wrong to have favorite comic book characters? Is there somebody specifically targeting me?
When will it stop?
All I really know is that Beta Ray Bill had better be very careful now that he’s a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. There’s almost no way he’s going to survive that comic.
I knew this was coming. From the very moment I found out the Mimic was going to appear in the Extermination comic, I knew his days were numbered. I held on to a little bit of hope that he’d somehow make it all the way to the end, that there was no reason to kill one of my all-time favorite comic book characters…but it was a fool’s hope.
At least he gets to go out like a badass.
That was the ending to Extermination #4, the previous issue from a couple months ago. We were all led to believe that was Young Cyclops…who gets immediately harpooned by Ahab. It was a big cliffhanger.
But in this week’s Extermination #5, we find out that was Mimic…who had somehow found the time to grab Cyclops’ visor off his head, shove Young Cyclops to the side and attack.
That’s not even how Mimic’s powers work. He doesn’t need the visor to use his copied Cyclops powers. They really just wanted that fake out kill to make people think Young Cyclops had been killed instead. But more on Mimic’s powers in a bit.
This has not been a good year for me. They killed Phil Urich. They nearly killed Strong Guy and Stingray. And now the Mimic is dead for no good reason. At least he died a hero.
And to think, all this time, his death was just waiting for us. Like Malcolm Reynolds said, about someone carrying a bullet for you and you don’t even know it. All this time the Young X-Men were around, their removal was going to involve killing the Mimic. Yeah, the original creators that brought them into X-Men comics probably didn’t plan it this way. I’m sure using the Mimic was just a quick fix idea that got thrown into the mix at this late stage. But the future is the future, and this was always going to happen this way.
But you want to know what the worst part is? The part that really sticks in my craw?
The creative team had to willfully ignore everything in this issue that would have normally let him live. Based purely on how his powers work, the Mimic didn’t need to stay dead by the end of the issue.
Mimic copies the powers of people in his proximity. He doesn’t need to touch them, like Rogue, he just has to be near them. He has some measure of control as to who he mimics and when, but it’s otherwise automatic. In fact, this is how he “came back to life” the last time he was “killed” back in the early 1970s. The Mimic automatically copied the powers of a nearby Wolverine and healed the radiation that had killed him.
And wouldn’t you know it, there were three Wolverines in the big fight in Extermination.
Honey Badger, X-23 and Old Man Logan are in the same scene, in close proximity to the Mimic. All he’d have to do is nothing, and his powers would automatically copy any of them and he’d heal the simple chest wound and be fine.
It’s not like Mimic was a major player in Extermination. It’s not like his death was crucial to saving the world or anything. It was a throwaway death so that Marvel could get a fake out cliffhanger in the penultimate issue. There’s absolutely no reason why there couldn’t be a throwaway panel at some point in the issue.
“Oh, hey, Mimic, you’re back?”
“Yeah, I just copied Logan over there and healed. I’m fine, thanks.”
Done and done.
But nah, Marvel decided to keep him dead. Because why not? Where’s the harm?
I’m not particularly bothered. It stinks that he’s dead, but death never sticks in comics anymore. Just this year, we’ve had Jean Grey and Multiple Man come back from the dead. This final issue of Extermination also brings another X-Man back from the dead. And there’s no way they’re going to keep Cable dead after he was killed earlier in Extermination.
So Mimic will be back someday. I just gotta wait for it.
I’ve been in a sour comic-reading mood for a couple weeks now because I’m pretty sure the Mimic is going to die. He’s one of my all-time favorite comic book characters and I don’t want him to die. The very minor hope that maybe, when he’s alive, he’ll show up in the background somewhere and have a nice scene or two is a strong hope.
Right now, he’s showing up in Extermination, which continues to tease his potentially imminent demise.
Likewise, my all-time favorite comic book character — Multiple Man — is in some weird revival limbo, and might end up being some kind of villain in the new Uncanny X-Men? That is also up in the air, enhancing my sour feelings.
I’m sure we’ve all been there, that we all have a favorite obscure X-character or two. Characters like Wolverine, Storm and Nightcrawler are great, but we all love us a Mimic or Multiple Man or two.
Fortunately, another comic this week had a short story that let me know that some of my other favorite obscure X-Men are alive and well, and if they’re not well, at least they’re getting solid character treatment.
That issue is Domino Annual #1, written by Gail Simone and a bunch of others in an anthology of short stories. One of the stories, written by Leah Williams, with art by Michael Shelfer, features Nightcrawler and Domino starting up a support group for odd-looking mutants. That is a wonderful idea, and I hope Gail Simone keeps the idea going in the regular series.
Among the dozen or so obscure X-characters featured in the support group, we find out that Maggott is not only alive again, but he’s been turned into a hipster.
I love Maggott! He’s great! Maggott is a perfect example that your mutant isn’t always going to be something as wonderful as a healing factor or all-powerful telepathy. Sometimes your digestive system is turned into a pair of slugs that can eat anything, then transfer the power to you.
It’s good to know Maggott is currently alive in continuity.
We also get a great scene featuring Stacy X, another favorite of mine. She still doesn’t have her powers following M-Day (even though most mutants have gotten their powers back), and that is really torturing Stacy.
It sucks that she’s feeling suicidal, but that is still some great character growth. And Gail Simone, if you want me to start really loving your Domino comic, which I already kind of enjoy? Feature more Stacy X struggling with depression, caused by the loss of her powers! And maybe give her her powers back? Beak is featured in this issue too, and he lost his powers the same way as Stacy X, but he has them back.
Basically, what I’m saying is: bring back Stacy X!
And don’t kill the Mimic!
This is my life as a fan of obscure comic book characters. Marvel killed one of my all-time favorite comic book characters earlier this year — Phil Urich — shortly after announcing a Multiple Man comic book, resurrecting another of my all-time favorite comic book characters. This past week or so, there were hints that the one, true Jamie Madrox was coming back from the dead for real…so of course that has to be met with Mimic showing up in the X-Men Extermination mini-series.
This is a preview for issue #2, which comes out this week.
Obviously, Calvin Rankin isn’t dead in those pages, he’s just subdued and will likely show up later to serve some purpose.
But c’mon, we all know how this ends. You don’t bring the Mimic out of comic book limbo like this if you’re not going to kill him somehow. That’s how comics work, and more importantly, that’s how my luck works.
(For example, this week also features the final issue of the New Mutants mini-series, where we’ll learn the final fate of Strong Guy. Considering he wasn’t part of that big Uncanny X-Men group shot, it’s not looking too good for him either.)
For those who aren’t paying attention, Extermination is the final story featuring the time-displaced teen X-Men. That guy up there shooting Mimic is a younger version of Cable, who has traveled back in time to kill people. He’s already killed adult Cable (a character who definitely won’t stay dead for long) and Bloodstorm, that alternate reality Storm who is a vampire, and who has randomly been a part of the teen X-Men comics for awhile. I dunno.
Suffice to say, however Extermination uses Mimic, I’m pretty much resigned to the fact that he’s probably going to die by the end.
There’s almost no point in getting excited for when my favorite comic book characters show up anymore…It’s far more likely that they’re going to be killed than it is for them to do something awesome. How messed up is that?!
I talk a lot on here about one of my favorite tropes in fiction: the Heel-to-Face Turn. Or, to drop the wrestling parlance, when a bad guy becomes a good guy. I just dig it for some reason. I like the idea that these villains, albeit bad people who do bad things, are still reasonable people who are capable of more than just playing their villainous role. When the chips are down, or when doing the right thing is on the line, these baddies turn out to be alright folk.
For counter example, I don’t particularly like the Joker. I know he’s probably the most popular super-villain in all of comics, and people adore this guy, but I just don’t really like him. I don’t like his straight crazy villainy. There’s little complexity to the character. He’s just crazy and he does crazy things; clever crazy things, sure, but still just crazy things. Count me out.
Give me a morally complex figure who can recognize the error of their ways or recognize the need to do the right thing in a given situation. Join me after the jump for my favorite Heel-to-Face Turns in all of fiction!