The Best Resurrections In Comic Book History

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Comic Book Resurrections

There are three constants in this world: death, taxes, and comic book resurrections. Many characters from the Marvel and DC universes and other comics have taken a dirt nap only to come back within the space of years, and sometimes it’s the space of months. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like the comic book version of Heaven has a revolving door in place of pearly gates.

A key example comes from the current Lazarus Planet storyline in DC. A battle between Batman and his biological son Damian Wayne has caused the air to be flooded with resin from the Lazarus Pit — the mystical wellspring that Damian’s grandfather Ra’s al Ghul, used to maintain his semi-immortality. This has transformed the DC Universe’s heroes in strange and often horrifying ways, leading to a “rebirth” of sorts. In that spirit, here are some comic book resurrections that stand out due to execution and how well they transformed the character.


Comic Book Resurrections

Perhaps the most infamous example of how fleeting death can be in comics is Superman. The Man of Steel meets a bloody end at the hands of Doomsday during the “Death of Superman” arc, leaving his friends and family shell-shocked. In the wake of Superman’s passing, a plethora of characters attempted to take up his mantle, including Hank Henshaw, the psychotic Cyborg Superman. Henshaw joined forces with the alien warlord Mongol to transform Earth into a new Warworld, but a resurrected Superman stopped them. The storyline is best known for introducing Superman’s black and white solar suit, which would later appear in Zack Snyder’s Justice League.

Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier

Reviving a character doesn’t just give them a new look but also new depth. A key example is the work that Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting did with Captain America’s former sidekick Bucky Barnes. Bucky had long been presumed dead in the same explosion that left the Sentinel of Liberty encased in ice. However, it was revealed that he had survived the explosion and was transformed into an assassin by the Russian government. As the Winter Soldier, Barnes used his cybernetic arm and martial arts skills to carry out espionage missions until Steve Rogers broke him free of his programming. The Winter Soldier storyline has been regarded as one of the best Captain America stories of all time and significantly influenced the Marvel Cinematic Universe — specifically Sebastian Stan’s portrayal of Barnes.

Jason Todd/Red Hood

Comic Book Resurrections

Barnes wasn’t the only sidekick to receive a darker and edgier update. In the same year the Winter Soldier storyline dropped, DC Comics published Batman: Under The Red Hood by Judd Winick and Doug Mahnke. The storyline resurrected Jason Todd, the second Robin, as the antihero Red Hood, who, unlike Batman, took a more lethal approach when it came to criminals. The most surprising thing about Todd’s comic book resurrection is that both he and Barnes have been accepted with open arms by Marvel and DC fans — a rare occurrence in the comic book world. Under The Red Hood would receive an animated adaptation with Supernatural alum Jensen Ackles voicing Todd, and the Red Hood would later lead the antihero team known as the Outlaws.


Comic Book Resurrections

Perhaps no other character in comic book history has embraced the tenets of resurrections more than Spawn. Image Comics’ hellish antihero was reborn due to a deal he made with the Devil, gaining superpowers but losing his memory of his past life. After battling the forces of Heaven and Hell, a weary Spawn attempted to kill himself…, or so he thought. The Spawn: Resurrection one-shot from Paul Jenkins and Jonboy Meyers revealed that Al Simmons was manipulated into killing himself by mysterious forces. A talking dog who claimed to be God (roll with it) convinced Simmons to return to the land of the living, armed with a powerful sword. The epic scale of Jenkins’ script, combined with anime-esque visuals from Meyers, recemented Simmons as Image’s premiere hero.

Tommy Oliver (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)

Comic Book Resurrections

The Power Rangers franchise turns 30 this year, and even though it’s had multiple incarnations over the years, the one that’s stayed in people’s minds is Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers. And that persists due to BOOM! Studios’ ongoing MMPR series, which moves the Rangers to a modern setting. During Kyle Higgins’ tenure on the title, the book entered the “Shattered Grid” storyline to celebrate Power Rangers‘ 25th anniversary. It kicked off when Green Ranger Tommy Oliver was stabbed in the back by his malicious alternate-universe counterpart Lord Drakkon. Tommy survived thanks to the powers of the Chaos Crystal and ultimately helped defeat Drakkon by shattering the world the power-mad Ranger had created for himself. It wasn’t just a high note for Higgins to end his run on — it’s also a testament to Tommy’s resilient spirit.

Scott Lang/Ant-Man

Believe it or not, there was a time when Scott Lang, aka the Astonishing Ant-Man, wasn’t a major player in the Marvel Universe. He was dead for a few years! When Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch’s Avengers: Disassembled started, Avengers Mansion was firebombed, and Lang was caught in the crossfire. His daughter Cassie would follow in his footsteps as the size-changing Stature, and she’d save his life alongside the other Young Avengers thanks to the magic of time travel. The latest trailer for Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania even hints that Lang might suffer a grisly fate at Kang the Conqueror’s hands.

Lazarus Planet: Alpha #1 is available now wherever comics are sold.

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