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Superhero No More: Three Heroes Who've Given Up the Craft

Matt asks an important question: what happens when a hero doesn't want to be a hero anymore? Is there any hope of them retiring with a bit of dignity?

Though we'd all like to think it, not everyone is cut out for having superpowers. There are numerous risks to both yourself and the people you care about, as well as the communities you live in. As we've seen, the public can turn on heroes at a moment's notice, providing them with an untold legion of stress that we can only we don't experience.

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However, retirement never seems to be permanent in comics. There always seems to be that moment where a creator needs a character to fill a role, but doesn't want to create a new one; instead, they'll take a hero out of mothballs, have them put on the tights and go out for one last blaze of glory.

Is there any hope for heroes wanting out of "the game?"

== TEASER ==

I did some research and found three characters who have, surprisingly, been able to walk about from the hero world with their dignity relatively intact. These are their stories.

Cissie King-Jones, "Arrowette"

Cissie had anything but a normal super-heroing career. Driven to "the game" in order to supplant her mother's legacy, Arrowette was featured in issues of Implulse, Supergirl and perhaps most prominently in Young Justice.

Cissie's powers were simple: she was an archer with a number of trick arrows, similar to Green Arrow. Her natural talent made her a valued member of Young Justice, where she battled supervillians like the maniacal Harm. However, after coming extremely close to murdering a criminal for killing someone close to her, Cissie retired, disgusted with herself. On her way out, however, she did take the chance to plant one on Tim Drake.

"Chicks dig the cape"

Since leaving hero-ing, Cissie became an Olympic Gold medalist in archery and maintained a close friendship with Young Justice teammates Wonder Girl and Secret. She also attended school with them and provided Wonder Girl with emotional support, serving as a "real world" anchor to Cassie. She still acts as a member of Cassie's supporting cast, firmly believing that being a hero was not a good choice for her, despite her former teammates' urging.

Abigail Boylen, "Cloud 9"

Cloud 9 was first introduced to us during the opening pages of Civil War: The Initiative, flying on her controlled cloud. From the outset, it was explained to us that she loved flying, and part of the reason why she got her hero license was to keep doing it. She attended Camp Hammond with a number of other recruits, showing her self-conscious side while changing among her other female recruits and a possible attraction to MVP due to a misunderstanding involving a shower.

However, this childish innocence was torn away quite abruptly, as she witnessed MVP's graphic death at the hands of inexperienced recruit Armory; this was compounded by the fact that MVP had been rescuing her before he died, giving Abby a sense of guilt that never really went away.

Zombie crushes: always a problem
Zombie crushes: always a problem

She was molded into a capable soldier during her time with the Initiative, learning to shoot a gun with deadly accuracy. She found in the war against the Skrulls during the Secret Invasion.

However, as soon as Osborn's regime was ousted from power and the Super-Human Registration Act was revoked, she tore up her hero's license (in front of Steve Rogers, no less), flew away on her cloud and stated she's be doing anything she wanted from now on. She was recently seen in Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt, rejecting an invitation into crowd control units.

Jack Knight, "Starman"

A reluctant hero, Jack Knight owned an antique shop until his brother's murder drove him into "the game." Jack's father, Ted, was the original Starman, and his brother, David, took up the mantle as well.

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Jack fought a number of supernatural and science-fiction threats, wearing street clothes and a pair of tank goggles. His approach to hero-ing was very practical, and James Robinson's run on Starman was lauded as a realistic approach to superhero-ing. He also spent time in the JSA for their first adventure, aiding in their search to find the child that would become Doctor Fate.

After a number of adventures, Jack was drugged and raped by the sister of David's killer. The sister, named Nash, gave birth to Jack's son in seclusion and informed him via post.

Jack's relationship with a woman named Sadie Falk also resulted in her pregnancy, leaving Jack to consider how his superhero-ing would affect his new family. After Nash was killed by her father, the supervillian known as The Mist, Jack took custody of his son and moved to San Francisco, to be with Sadie. He passed on his Star Rod to Courtney Whitmore, the heroine that would come to be known as Stargirl.

The Point

Each of these former heroes has done something incredible: they have gotten out of the superhero profession with dignity, grace and all of their limbs intact. Even with the terrible habit of heroes being killed off once their "use" has been run out, these characters have managed to resume normal lives.

I think it was Tony Stark who once said something to the tune of a superhero's retirement plan being their grave. This was during Bill Foster's funeral during Civil War, an event which still resonates through the Marvel hero community today.

I think a major factor in their ability to retire is that they served a purpose after they hung up the tights: Arrowette still had a role in Wonder Girl's life, Jack Knight passed the torch to Stargirl and Cloud 9 looks to have a role in Youth in Revolt. In my eyes, that's the true retirement plan, in a figurative sense - being able to fade into obscurity with dignity, knowing that their characters have closure and without any controversy.

Instead of having Arrowette be part of the revolving door known as the Teen Titans, or having Jack Knight be in the background of a giant crossover, we know that their stories are complete, and that they're happy where they are.

If anything, we should be happy that they got at least that.


Matt Demers is a Toronto columnist and a staff writer for ComicVine. You can follow him on Twitter, or his personal Tumblr. He always loves new followers!