Comic books have been a vital part of cultural iconography for several decades. When radios and televisions were too expensive for leisure purposes, the low-priced comic books connected to youth and adults alike. With larger-than-life characters coupled with dramatic story telling, comic books are still a hot commodity in many companies. Despite being fiction, there has been several heartbreaking moments and even deaths that made the readers teary eyed. Take a look at the 15 most tragic deaths in comic books:
15. The Human Torch
Johnathan Storm had no idea what would happen when he would accompany his sister Susan Storm, scientist Reed Richards and pilot Ben Grimm in a space mission. Bombarded with cosmic rays, each of them became endowed with incredible powers.
Susan developed the power of invisibility, Richards developed the power of elongated stretches, Ben became a strong gigantic rock-skinned creature and as for Johnny, he had the coolest power of all as he could create and manipulate flames without burning himself.
With the alias of the Human Torch and founding Fantastic Four by having his fellow victims as superhero members, Johnny has saved the day countless times with his teammates and on his own as well.
However, his death was a matter of fighting alone too as when Annihilation Wave tried to break Fantastic Four’s Negative Zone portal to reach Earth, Johnny sacrificed his life in order to make sure that the Second Great Annihilation War does not happen. As he mentioned in his will, his friend Spider-Man joined the team after his death.
Cousin and occasional sidekick of Super-Man, Kara Zor-El is not as much of a reputed superhero but her involvement in various story lines have cemented her status as a force to be reckoned with and even got her very own line of comic books.
However, the beautiful yet strong superhero was strictly created to take advantage of the Superman comic books sales and not much thought was put in her role as a character. Therefore, DC Comics vice president and executive editor Dick Giordano had the idea of killing her off.
At least the writers had the courtesy of killing her off in a respectable way as in the Crisis on Infinite Earths story arc, Supergirl sacrificed her life so her cousin and his allies can escape from the antimatter universe created by the Anti-Monitor.
At the end of the heart pounding journey, the day was saved but with a heavy price as the grief-stricken Superman cried uncontrollably while holding the corpse of her dead cousin.
13. Archie Andrews
Two of the only non-superheroes on the list and still manages to sell his line of comic books as much as any other entry. Created by Bob Montana in 1941, the casual student from Riverdale High School is one of America’s most loved fictional characters.
His friendship with Jughead Jones and frequent on and off relationships with Veronica Lodge and Betty Cooper touched countless readers who strongly felt that his adventures can be related to them.
In the finale of the comic book series Life with Archie which features an adult Archie Andrews, the beloved comic book character was shot dead in Pop Tate’s restaurant while protecting his gay friend, newly-elected senator Kevin Keller who made some enemies due to his campaign against gin usage and for his activism for the rights of the city’s homosexuals.
CEO and publisher of Archie Comics, Jon Goldwater addressed the story by stating:
“It’s been an unbelievable week. It’s the most dramatic scene in the history of Archie Comics. It’s the death of Archie, it’s his demise.”
Goldwater further called it:
“The most important comic this company has ever published.”
Perhaps one of the biggest tragedies that Marvel Comics showcased to their fans. Peter Parker, the man behind the mask of Spider-Man, breathed his last in the story arc Ultimate Spider-Man.
As the intense battle with Norman Osborn aka the Green Goblin was reaching its end, Spidey feels that the fight is too much for him to bear despite being helped by Johnny Storm aka the Human Torch. Mustering up all his might, the hero throws a truck on his nemesis and it explodes. The impact kills the wounded Osborn but fatally damages the Spider-Man as well.
As the severely injured Peter lies motionless on the street, his friend Johnny Storm, girlfriend Mary Jane Watson and aunt May run to check him if he is alright.
Gathering up the very last ounces of strength he has left in him, Spider-Man dies with a smile on his face as he looks deep into the eyes of her beloved as while uttering final last words:
“It’s okay… I did it. Don’t you see… it’s okay. I did it. I couldn’t save him. Uncle Ben. I couldn’t save him… no matter what I did. But I saved you. I did it. I did…”
11. Lori Grimes
Portrayed by Sarah Wayne Callies in the post-apocalyptic horror drama The Walking Dead, Lori Grimes is one of the most watched characters on television but some of the fans might not be familiar with the fact that she is originally a character from the comic book of the same name. While the character died in the third season, her comic book counterpart died quite similarly in the 48th issue.
Her death was caused by a gunshot at the back during a prison assault lead by the Governor. To make matters worse, Grimes was at the time pregnant with her child Judith who died as well due to being crushed by her mother’s weight. Her sad demise causes her husband Rick and son Carl emotionally broken and heated friction between them as well.
10. Gwen Stacy
Peter Parker was merely a teenager when he was bitten by a radioactive spider that gave him superpowers and that is the age when hormones take control of the mind. Young and in love, the beautiful Gwen Stacy was the only thing in his mind besides crime fighting – a fact very well-known by Norman Osborn aka The Green Goblin.
Often known as the deadliest foe Spider-Man has ever encountered, the Green Goblin did not have any super strength like Spidey’s other terrifying villains like Venom or Carnage, but was a reflection of ultimate evil as he always struck Peter where it hurt the most: his close ones.
However, the Green Goblin crossed the line in the storyline The Night Gwen Stacy Died as he kidnapped her. While clashing with Spider-Man on a bridge, Goblin throws her off. Shooting a web strand on her legs, Spidey catches her but the whiplash effect breaks her neck; resulting in Peter Parker accidentally killing her.
A heartbroken Spider-Man cries over her corpse and vows to take revenge. Even though Parker later started a new relationship with their mutual friend Mary Jane Watson and eventually married her, he never forgot the memories shared with his first love Gwen.
9. Jor-El and Lara
One can only imagine how different the world would have been if the last son of Krypton was not sent to planet Earth. Some comic book characters are created to die and that is where Jor-El and Lara come in as the Kryptonian couple are the very representation of noble sacrifice.
Knowing that their home planet was on the verge of being destroyed, the couple put their newly born son Kal-El in a space capsule and set the coordinates for planet earth for his safety.
As their son departed, the two emotionally cried hoping that he will make his new planet a much better and safer place to live in. Crashed in Kansas, the capsule was found by farmers Johnathan and Martha Kent and the rest is history.
As Kal – named Clark Kent by his adoptive parents – grew, he questioned his existence but the holograms of Jor-El and Lara were occasionally there to guide him; signifying the impactful sacrifice of his parents.
8. Robin (Jason Todd)
When Batman witnessed Jason Todd, a young street orphan, successfully attempting to steal the tires of his Batmobile, he knew the kid was special. After helping the Dark Knight in catching criminals on one occasion, Batman was convinced to take him under his wing and train him to be his sidekick.
While he lacked the athleticism that Dick Grayson – the first Robin – had, Batman was able to utilize his rage as his motivating direction during when it came to fighting crime. Within six months, Jason became the second person to earn the right to become Batman’s sidekick Robin.
As Jason grew older, so did his anger as the Caped Crusader noticed that he was becoming violent more than usual. Unfortunately, it was his anger that took the best of him as his emotional decision to find his biological mother lead him to the Joker. Surprisingly, it was his own mother who lured him to the Joker in order to get him killed.
The Joker beat him mercilessly with a crowbar and left both of them locked in a warehouse filled with explosives. Unfortunately, Batman was not able to save them as both died in a blaze of fire. Following the tragic loss, the Caped Crusader cited it as his biggest failure and became very reluctant when it came to choosing future partners.