Death and the Return of Characters: Jean Grey

  • 84 results
  • 1
  • 2
Avatar image for gmanfromheck
Posted by gmanfromheck (42370 posts) - - Show Bio

When it comes to comic books, Jean Grey is a character with a reputation. Her reputation is she dies…and then comes back. The death of characters occurs often these days in comics. It's gotten to the point that as soon as a character dies, we start counting down the days or issues until they return. It wasn't always this way.

No Caption Provided

In the 80s, death wasn't an overused plot device. When used properly and sparingly, we get to see a grand story about the danger and sacrifice superheroes may have to face. The death of Jean Grey in the Dark Phoenix Saga was one of these. Some would argue (especially if you listened to this week's podcast) that the return of Jean Grey ruined one of the best stories in comics.

The death and return of Jean Grey actually goes back to the 70s. After fighting Dr. Steven Lang and some new Sentinels in a space station, the X-Men and Peter Corbeau found themselves in a sticky situation when trying to return to Earth. Their shuttle had been damaged and the only way back was through a deadly solar flare. Jean made the decision to 'borrow' Corbeau's knowledge on flying the craft and figured her telekinetic powers could screen out the radiation of the solar flare while the others went into the shuttle's 'life-cells.'

Attempting to land at Kennedy Airport, the shuttle crash-landed and ended up in the Jamaica Bay. As the X-Men reached the surface of the water, they wondered where Jean was. They were surprised to witness the birth of Phoenix, Jean Grey's new form.

What resulted from this was Jean's struggle to contain the power of the Phoenix Force. Eventually when confronting the Hellfire Club, some manipulation by Mastermind caused Jean's mind to struggle even further with the power. Jean eventually became Dark Phoenix and the destruction she caused was catastrophic. Destroying a star in an inhabited system resulted in the death of the planet and the five billion inhabitants.

Even though Jean was able to regain control, she was still held responsible by the Shi'ar. The X-Men fought by her side to defend her but the result was still the death of Jean.

No Caption Provided

Jean sacrificed herself for the good of the universe. She allowed herself to fight to drain some of her power and set herself up to be taken out. It was a noble sacrifice and her death was felt for years.

Years later in THE AVENGERS #263, the team found a strange cocoon underwater with a strange energy source emanating from it. When they finally managed to retrieve it, Reed Richards was on hand to help analyze the strange object. This was when they discovered it was Jean Grey inside.

No Caption Provided

The story was, Jean was never actually Phoenix. The Phoenix Force essentially took her place and was so convinced it was Jean, it even had taken on her sense of morals when it came to sacrificing her life. With Jean having been in the cocoon ever since the shuttle crashed, all the stories between UNCANNY X-MEN #101-137 were essentially wiped out. The Dark Phoenix Saga lost some of its importance. It wasn't Jean Grey, the character many grew up with since the first issue of X-MEN. This was a cosmic entity pretending to be her. It wasn't Jean that died on the Moon. She didn't even die in the shuttle crash.

At least John Byrne was involved with both stories. He was the co-plotter during Phoenix's death and wrote the FF issue with her full return. While this may have diminished the importance of Jean/Phoenix's death, it did absolve her from killing billions. It also gave a semi-plausible way for her character to return from the dead.

No Caption Provided

This is the problem with comic book deaths. We often get grand, epic and heroic tales with a hero meeting a noble death. We see the other characters mourn over the loss. Then eventually the character manages to return and life goes on. The original story still exists. It just doesn't have that final powerful impact that it originally had.

The question remains if the Death of Phoenix is meaningless with Jean having returned. There were other stories that resulted from this. When is it okay for a character to return from the dead?

Let us know how you feel about the death and return of Jean Grey. Did you originally read the story when it first came out. Would you like to see discussion on other characters that died and returned?

Avatar image for thenexusrebound
#1 Posted by thenexusrebound (267 posts) - - Show Bio

To be fair Jean has stayed dead longer then most other 616 characters. I mean Cable was dead for less then a year before he popped back up again. When done right I don't mind a character coming back, I do feel there should be sometime though as well. I think several writers on the recent Off THEIR minds said it best there is escapism involved in comics and permanent death can be a buzz kill if your favorite character dies forever. It is a weird double edged sword, but I don't think Jean coming back cheapened the Dark Phoenix saga since it lead to some great stories.

Avatar image for necrotic_lycanthrope
#2 Edited by Necrotic_Lycanthrope (2501 posts) - - Show Bio

Death has been meaningless in comics since the Superman fiasco. It'll probably remain as such in big industry companies.

At least in more independent comics the decisions are more permanent. Like Robert Kirkman and the characters and story lines in The Walking Dead and Invincible.

Avatar image for ssejllenrad
#3 Posted by ssejllenrad (13097 posts) - - Show Bio

Jean Grey = Krillin

PF = Dragon Balls

On a related note, damn that Byrne artwork is sooooo fine!

Avatar image for jamdamage
#4 Edited by JamDamage (1195 posts) - - Show Bio

Some characters it does diminish when they come back. Some characters just shouldn't be killed because we know they're to big to NOT be brought back. Batman, Captain America come to mind. These are the type of characters that when they die, it just seems lame that they were even killed to begin with because of what they are. Batman is a regular guy. Killing him and reviving him was just lame. Captain America, even with a super soldier serum in his blood is another example. Superman is Superman. There had to be a way to bring him back. Green Lantern actually had a very cool way he came back. Some characters that return tho.......I don't know. Collosus should have stayed dead. As much as I love Nightcrawler, he'll be back too. The one character that should NOT come back because it will kill the whole story about how he died, and what he sacrificed is Ted Kord. His death had a HUGE impact because of what we learned. We learned that Max Lord made Ted look like a joke to a lot of other heroes when he wasn't. Blue Beetle and Booster Gold both. It might be the best death of a character story ever written where the reader, after reading the story wanted more Ted Kord but also wanted him to stay dead because of the impact the story had.

Avatar image for poncho
#5 Posted by Poncho (68 posts) - - Show Bio

I think deaths serve a great device to allow a character to take a break and allow for other characters to have the spotlight and fuel a character's development. How awesome was it to have Bucky take on the role of Cap? I hate Peter being dead right now, but if he had to die for us to get the Superior Spider-Man story I feel its completely worth it.

I don't see a character returning spoiling their original death. What another writer (or even the same writer) does with the characters should in no way effect your original opinion of a story as the only person who suffers is yourself.

As long as the death is used to generate good stories and not used JUST for the sake of selling books I'm fine with it. Who honestly wants Jeannie to stay dead? No one.

Avatar image for komickev
#6 Posted by KomicKev (131 posts) - - Show Bio

With multiple universes and parallel earths time travel and what-not, I think there is always a way to bring back a character (or at least a form of the character) without negating a "death" story. I was very satisfied with the death of Barry Allen and Wally West becoming the Flash for a good long time. When Bart Allen was introduced, I would have also been okay with Wally being killed off, if it was a really good story line, and Bart taking over. A Barry Allen Flash with slight modifications on another world could have worked for me.

Comics should evolve and grow and change with the times. Of course there are icons such as Superman, Batman, or Spider-Man who shouldn't be killed off (well, you know, Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker). But, put them in a coma for a year and let someone else don the tights? Sure! That's what worked with Knightfall. Bruce wasn't dead and most readers knew he'd be back eventually but they got to read some cool stories without the Bruce Wayne Batman for a while. While I'm not LOVING the current Spider-Man/Doc Ock story in "Superior Spider-Man", I can appreciate them taking a risk and doing something, you know, DIFFERENT.

Avatar image for darthfury78
#7 Posted by darthfury78 (1368 posts) - - Show Bio

And imagine if Peter Parker's death is permanent according to Dan Slott.

Avatar image for leokearon
#8 Posted by leokearon (1970 posts) - - Show Bio

It doesn't ruin the original story, it's not like Dark Phoenix is now a pile of poo, because Jean came back/never died in the first place. Dark Phoenix is still a great story and the impact is still there.

As for other characters for this topic:

1.Captain America and the magic time gun,

2.The death of Charles Xavier, (Not a Hoax, not a dream, this is for real! Expect to was a hoax and it was actually the Changeling)

3. The Death and Return of Superman

4.Batman dying in Final Crisis only to reveal the next issue he wasn't dead just back in time

Avatar image for Iceslick
#10 Edited by iceslick (862 posts) - - Show Bio

I wonder was those stories ever reconted back into continuity? Because I could have sworn Jean referencing those days when it was in the Phoenix Endsong storyline, the last time she died. Unless it was prove to be Madelyn Pyror I'm not to sure about this. So, Tony @g_man let me know if i'm right. I'm kind of confused. God, I hate plotholes!

Avatar image for foxxfireart
#11 Edited by FoxxFireArt (3641 posts) - - Show Bio

Death without consequence is meaningless. It's become little more than a publishing gimmick to boost sales. One of the reason I got tired of most mainstream comics is that nothing has lasting consequence. That includes character deaths. They became little more than illustrated soap operas. Why should I invest the time and money in a series that just runs in circles?</p><p>I never understood why everyone made such a big deal about the Human Torch death when no one was under the impression that he wasn't returning.</p><p>No one comes back from the dead, but comics do it so often that it's even a joke. If you're overcoming death. You've basically created gods as characters.</p>

Avatar image for carolina574
#12 Edited by Carolina574 (190 posts) - - Show Bio

Completely agree! Loved this story... Until she was brought back, by the way, just to be killed again.

Avatar image for wolverine1610
#13 Posted by wolverine1610 (257 posts) - - Show Bio

i think it would be cool if comic characters aged a little faster and died and stayed dead or got old, retired and were replaced with younger heroes

Avatar image for fantasyfreak
#14 Posted by fantasyfreak (79 posts) - - Show Bio

What I think you forget to bring up in this article(which by itself is fine) is what about when characters "sort of" come back? You know, as in the AoA Nightcrawler instead of the regular Nightcrawler, and pre-Phoenix Jean in All New X-Men? I think its an okay compromise, but I hear some people who are annoyed by it, since its not the "real" character.

Avatar image for marvelman1985
#15 Posted by MarvelMan1985 (156 posts) - - Show Bio

I think in some ways it does diminish the death story. Take Cypher of the New Mutants for instance. His death had such a huge impact on the team, it literally formed the team as we know today, and their road towards becoming X-Force way back when. I think his return was unnecessary and did not have any added value except to have a mutant whom could talk to computers in this day and age. Cypher had a lot more value as being the dead teammate then a living mutant. Just my opinion :)

Avatar image for bluelantern1995
#16 Posted by BlueLantern1995 (3237 posts) - - Show Bio

Her coming back wasn't and still isn't a problem for me, the problem is how it effected completely ruined him and we're still feeling the after effects. Jean's one of my favorite superheroines so of course I don't mind her coming back :D. The only question is how and is it necessary and/or meaningful to the audience.

Avatar image for iaconpoint
#17 Posted by iaconpoint (1491 posts) - - Show Bio

And I think that's where a lot of hate for Slott comes from. For him to say, "Well, Peter is dead for good," is an insult to our intelligence no matter if you like his story or not.

When the rebirth is written into the death, such as Batman, Cap or Johnny Storm, it's kinda cool. But when the death is supposed to be permanent and the death issue is emotional, like Aunt May, the return is cheap and so is the writer for not being able to come up with something new.

Avatar image for crimsonlord53
#18 Posted by Crimsonlord53 (1546 posts) - - Show Bio

It may just be me but part of the problem is the "Phoenix" aspect. A mythical beast that is reborn in the immolation of it's death. Just seem's that with a history like that to borrow from it was easy to bring jean back.

Avatar image for gmanfromheck
#19 Posted by gmanfromheck (42370 posts) - - Show Bio

What I think you forget to bring up in this article(which by itself is fine) is what about when characters "sort of" come back? You know, as in the AoA Nightcrawler instead of the regular Nightcrawler, and pre-Phoenix Jean in All New X-Men? I think its an okay compromise, but I hear some people who are annoyed by it, since its not the "real" character.

I didn't forget anything. As the title and final sentence suggests, this was ONLY about Jean. I left it as if there was interest, I could look at the death and return of other characters in future articles.

Avatar image for lurkero
#20 Posted by Lurkero (506 posts) - - Show Bio

I think Western comics should either adopt the model of some Japanese comics and make the afterlife a real thing (think DBZ) or Western comics should be written as vignettes instead of continuous stories.

What I mean by vignettes is that Batman could be established as a character and have a small set of characteristics that are constant, but each writer and artist is given the opportunity to tell their own Batman story without being tied to previous continuity. Marvel and DC often make paltry attempts to change continuity anyways, so why not make it official? In this sense, the major events of a story can have lasting consequences, but the audience may still get to see characters again in another story even if the character died according to one writer.

If I were Marvel or DC I might try out both approaches. The idea of seeing comic book characters fighting in the afterlife could be a great revenue source (probly already happened and I don't know it).

Other comic book publishers tend not to have a problem with characters dying because the characters are either not iconic or the story is not planned to go on for decades.

Avatar image for hushicho
#21 Posted by hushicho (47 posts) - - Show Bio

Killing off characters in general is usually a bad idea, especially if the story has unlimited scope like most Western superhero-genre comics. Inevitably a character is going to appeal to a writer that takes the reins of a series, and that character will inevitably return; it would be much easier and less cheapening if the character were simply incapacitated or seriously injured than a huge event made out of killing them off, which is additionally very tacky.

When any character is killed off, you lose readers because that character is always someone's favourite. Every character is someone's favourite, somewhere.

Frankly, I think that it's just weak writing using tactics like apparent character death in order to make some sort of sensationalised appeal to readers. It takes far more talent and skill to write a compelling story without using stunts guaranteed to have an emotional response...and one thing they never seem to consider is that the emotional response cultivated is not always a positive one. In fact, it almost never is.

Avatar image for veitha
#22 Posted by Veitha (4154 posts) - - Show Bio

The Phoenix was a way to make her more interesting then she originally was, then the writers started messing with the concept and now we have a teen Jean Grey and a redhead Messiah who looks exactky like her and more Phoenix Avatars than Claremont would have ever thought... If she stayed dead we wouldn't have had all that awfull stuff, but then without Jean Grey many of the mutants I like wouldn't be who they are today, so I'm happy she returned back after the Phoenix Saga, even if I've never liked her, but she could have stayed dead after her last death lol

Avatar image for kerrigan
#23 Posted by Kerrigan (266 posts) - - Show Bio

I have no problem with bringing back dead characters is it's done well and makes some narrative sense (the comic book version of sense, anyway).

The way Jean was handled felt like cheating. "No, see, it wasn't really her at all!" Bucky was done okay, and we got some cool Captain America stories from it. Thought bringing Jason Todd back was pointless. How many former Robins does a universe need?

What I don't like is Marvel's current trend of a big "death" every year or so. Cap, Johnny Storm, Prof X (what is that, now, 4 or 5 times dead for Xavier?), Nova, sort of Spidey, Nightcrawler.

Feels like a cheap shortcut to drama.

Avatar image for pspin
#24 Posted by pspin (1081 posts) - - Show Bio

Death in comics isn't always bad. I never read any comics with Jean alive until All-New X-men and I don't think it has lessened her death at all. Death in Marvel and DC comics are more about how other people handle them than the actual death. For instance every time Nick Fury "dies" people don't care because of LMD's and he has a habit of faking his death. On the other hand when people like Jean Grey or Nightcrawler die, it has an impact. So even if regular Jean comes back somehow, it won't lessen her death because other characters care about her.

Avatar image for nuec_sol
#25 Edited by Nuec_Sol (214 posts) - - Show Bio

It does cheapen the original stories a bit, but most of all it makes current and future stories lose suspense when you know when a character “dies” that they can easily comeback.

Avatar image for iceprince_x
#26 Edited by IcePrince_X (5092 posts) - - Show Bio

It was okay that they were able to reckon the death of Jean Grey as the Phoenix then...what I can not fathom how they destroyed the whole concept of the Phoenix after was pretty okay it landed on Madelyn Pryor and eventually Rachel Summers but with the whole concept of the shadow of the Phoenix, Phoenix Echo, White Phoenix of the Crown kinda made it weird. I liked it better explained during the Excalibur run and while Rachel Summers is hosting it.

For me, let Jean Grey be dead and maybe let the younger her stay on...yeah killing Hope Summers is now a good idea.

Avatar image for lorex
#27 Posted by lorex (1000 posts) - - Show Bio

Jean being found at the bottom of Jamaica Bay after the events of The Dark Phoenix Saga was cetainly creative way to bring a character back from the dead. A side effect of this was that it made it easier for creative teams to bring any character back from the dead. Later Superman returning from the dead made bringing back a dead character easy and almost a cliche as it has become today.

Avatar image for versusfranca
#28 Posted by versusfranca (4 posts) - - Show Bio

Jean is one of my favourite characters, obviously the whole phoenix saga has a special place in my heart and shelves.

Still, i do believe that her return took away a lot from the meaning of her death. Marvel didnt use much of intelligence to bring her back... sounded silly that the Avengers found her in the cocoon.

However, the current perspective of this young and fresh Jean Grey is amazing!!! Loving her more than ever.

Avatar image for quantomman
#29 Posted by QuantomMan (221 posts) - - Show Bio

i would like to see further discussions on characters.

I personally feel when done in a very interesting (standard for interesting: Jean Grey, Bucky, etc) way, then it makes a story very compelling and even gives you an emotional attachment at times.

I feel in recent times though (Human Torch, etc) deaths are becoming cliche and a way to sell comics. And it makes us, the reader, very callus towards comic book deaths to the point that we dont really care whether or not the character we've followed for years and grown to love gets off'd

Great article

Avatar image for br_havoc
#30 Edited by BR_Havoc (1752 posts) - - Show Bio

@wolverine1610: That did kind of happen with the JSA but then DC rebooted and made them all young again -_-

Avatar image for thomaselliot
#31 Edited by ThomasElliot (439 posts) - - Show Bio

I'm really not much of a fan of "Surprise, that wasn't them that died at all!". I find it hokey and poor and Marvel had a whole damn major event bringing back all kinds of characters because, surprise, they were alien doppelgangers!

BOO!!! I mean, f*** it, let's just get to the last issue and say it was all a dream while we're at it.

But the overall question if resurrection negates the importance of the death... its truly a case-by-case basis. You can't really blanket your opinion to cover all plots and characters. In the modern age, when there's a death, I'm pretty sure the first thought in everyone's mind is "I wonder when they'll come back?".

In another example, Barry Allen's return(s) were just as powerful as his death because he stayed dead for a long time. Its a really good example of how a character's death, afterlife, and resurrection were all very well done. Once we all 'learned' that Barry was actually stuck in the speed force... that was mind-tingling. He was technically ALIVE, but stuck. Wasn't everyone at that point hoping he'd one day find a way out? And bam... when he finally does, its to help save the world from another crisis?! Barry Allen's entire life is one of the few things that DC did right. It was only fitting that the previous DCU imploded and rebirthed at Barry's hands (yes, I know Pandora had a role, but Allen was the instrument). But think about it... the previous DCU was born from Crisis (where Barry died), he came back during Final Crisis where was integral to defeating Darkseid, and then New52 was born from Flashpoint.

Then you have Johnny Storm for example. Yeah, anyone think he wasn't coming back? When Bruce Wayne 'died', who actually thought he was dead and there wasn't some twist?

Avatar image for miss_garrick
#32 Edited by Miss_Garrick (1763 posts) - - Show Bio

Jean should NEVER have come back! It messed up way too many things. That whole Phoenix making a copy is LAME, and when Jean came back, Cyclops left his wife and infant son to be with her, which proves how much of a jerk he is. AND then it was revealed that Madeline was a clone by Sinister?!? LAME LAME LAME!!!!! I liked Madeline because she was NOT a Jean copy and was her own person.

Jean's return ruined so much, and it allowed Marvel to think: "Hey, we can totally get away with killing characters and bringing them back! We should do it all the time!" You shouldn't have encouraged them John Byrne!!

Avatar image for nappystr8
#33 Posted by nappystr8 (1548 posts) - - Show Bio

Jean coming back didn't bother me, considering we are talking about the Phoenix of all things. Death and rebirth is kind of what that character is all about. I can see how people who had been very invested in the Dark Phoenix Saga would have been upset by this retcon (it certainly threw me for a loop when I first read X-Factor #1), but it was a retcon that really does make a lot of sense. Jean has died again, and depending on whether certain stories are canon, come back again and died again. At this point, even she needs to stay dead. But the first time around? That resurrection worked.

Avatar image for redqueen
#34 Posted by RedQueen (1199 posts) - - Show Bio

I have to say I was never a fan of the whole Jamaica Bay retcon. I understand they wanted her character back, but I would have much preferred that her character was "laid to rest" so to speak. Saying that, many/all of the stories involving Jean Grey since her return would never have happened.. and I kind of enjoy her convoluted history.

Avatar image for fantasgasmic
#35 Edited by Fantasgasmic (1092 posts) - - Show Bio

Maybe it's because I didn't read the (Dark) Phoenix Saga until long after having read other POST-Phoenix stories, but a lot of little details always bugged me about it. With a name like Phoenix, it's clear the original plan was for her to die and come back, so I can't be mad about that, but theres just something off about a lot of it. From how she returned, to the existance of Madelyne Pryor to why the Phoenix turned evil, to how Jean became it.

I never read the Ultimate X-Men, but if they (or a new film series) ever modernized the story, I'd want to see it closer to this.

There is no alien "Phoenix Force." It's all Jean. The solar flare's radiation triggered Jean's secondary mutation. She's already an "omega level mutant" well now her powers are on overdrive. The fiery bird form is a manifestation of her psychic aura; the same as Psylocke's butteryfly, inspired by the solar flare that triggered it. And for a while she's good. She feels invincible. She's manic. But everyone is just so glad she's alive, they don't realize it. She's sure she the flare killed her and that she came back! That must be her new power, resurrection. She is a Phoenix! But secondary mutations are unstable. Beast couldn't stop his secondary mutation from turning his hairy blue form gradually more cat-like, but that mutation was purely physical. Jean's secondary amped up her telepathy.

Her dreams are becoming more troubled. Post-traumatic stress from the flare, the others suggest. She's not even aware of the voices consciously. Like a dog whistle she can't hear it, but it's there. She was susceptible to focused mental attacks before; now she's getting a constant barrage slowly, quietly, continuously, unbeknownst to her wearing away at her sanity. And with billions of voices quietly whispering into her subconscious, she's losing control of her mind. The Dark Phoenix is just Jean having a psychotic break. The Shi'ar hold her responsible for the system she destroyed, they don't have a concept of "not guilty by reason of insanity." Instead of sacrificing herself in a moment of lucidity, as Scott thinks, she is having another manic episode. She sacrifices herself ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED she'll come back. Her last word is still "SCOTT!" but followed by a thought box "I'll come back for you." And of course she NEVER DOES.

It's a bit different, instead of being a heart breaking story of noble sacrifice, it's a heartbreaking tale of the decline into mental illness, the loss of self, and the tragedy of both living with and losing a loved one with dementia.


Avatar image for phoenixofthetides
#36 Posted by PhoenixoftheTides (4665 posts) - - Show Bio

One of the main problems with comic stories is that heroism and epic sacrifice are often intertwined with death (i.e. the supreme sacrifice) and/or risk. Without either of those two elements, heroism becomes flaccid and there is no real sacrifice or epic quality to the "heroes". It becomes a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing (from Shakespeare's "MacBeth"). This was actually discussed in Greek myths - the gods and goddesses were said by some to only be heroic during the chaos of primeval age when they needed to tame monsters and natural forces. After this was done, and they attained immortality and omniscient powers, they no longer had any risk associated with their great deeds. After humans appeared with their "curse" of mortality, the ideal of heroes became identified with the fact that when they died, they could get rewarded in the Afterlife or exalted by other people. It was their lack of omniscient powers and their fragility that allowed them to be heroes.

Major comic book superheroes fall into the same category. They are all essentially gods. Death is no impediment, their attributes and traits are so far above the average human that even their heroic actions start to seem humdrum since its' not a difficulty for them, despite how much red ink is used to color a page, and ultimately they risk nothing.

Jean Grey's death occurred during a pivotal moment in Marvel's history. If you research the backstory of the creative vision and editorial mandate, a surprising fact emerges: Claremont and Byrne really believed that eventually, the X-Men's mainstays could and would retire to move on with their lives and some of them might not survive unscathed. There were numerous versions of the Dark Phoenix story: 1) One of which had Jean suffer a psychic lobotomy at the hands of the Shi'Ar leaving her without her powers and with the mind/feelings of an adolescent.

2) Another version had the events play out in the way they generally did, but Cyclops would leave the X-Men and after meeting Madelyne Pryor, would not come back except for the occasional mission (basically how Havok and Polaris were initially treated).

3) Still another version had the Saga have more to do with Jean undergoing the first secondary mutation, have her powers amplified and deal with having access to such a high power level in much the same way a drug addict had to deal with their highs and withdrawals. Ironically, there was an element of sexism in how Jean was treated, in that there are many high level male beings in Marvel, some of whom are human, who never seemed to have much problem containing their power, whereas she (and other high level superheroines) suffered mental instability or infertility. In fact, the reason she fought and beat Firelord was because she initially was supposed to do the same to Thor to prove her new power level but the editorial team didn't want his masculinity invalidated by being defeated by a heroine, so they used a character that had been referred to as being close to Thor in power as a stand-in.

Byrne and Claremont (and many of the other senior creators at the time) legitimately wanted the characters in the Marvel Universe, especially the X-Men universe, to be mortal and not be treated as untouchable icons the way the DC Big Three often were.

The return of Jean Grey from the bottom of Hudson Bay invalidated many high points from The Dark Phoenix saga but at its' core, it was a way to resuscitate the character, bring her back for X-Factor (the creative lead for that never wanted her to die in the first place) and at least say that because the cosmic being copied her intrinsic nobility, Jean deserved some of the acclaim for its' sacrifice. But the problems came into play when Marvel's heroes started to be elevated to an immortal status. If Jean came back, but repeated the same story as the Phoenix Saga in some form over and over again, this not only invalidates the initial sacrifice when the cosmic entity killed its own mortal form but also neutralizes any forward development for her character. Jean Grey as a character had years of development w/o the PF and as a character in her own right, but Marvel wants to tap into the nostalgia of the DP Saga and creators want to do their own take on the Phoenix Saga. The result is a lot of repetitive, cliched storytelling, redundant story arcs and a general malaise in regards to the Phoenix in the Marvel Universe as a whole.

There is no drama in knowing your "superhero" is not going to die, is engaging in "risky" activities with no possibility of death/injury and that the same storyline will be recycled in five or six years.

At the end of the day, the death of superheroes is boring because it means nothing. I'm not sure there is much of interest to talk about, because the act of death doesn't remain permanent for them, choosing death (via suicide, choosing a fate worse than death ((see: Cyclops becoming merged with Apocalypse)), or fighting an adversary beyond their means) carries no weight and since they come back anyway, there is no epic quality to anything they did.

Avatar image for stmichalofwilson
#37 Edited by StMichalofWilson (5527 posts) - - Show Bio

Again talking about Comic Book deaths and rebirths...>_<

Avatar image for kriminal
#38 Posted by kriminal (678 posts) - - Show Bio

im fairly new to comics being i didnt by them until i saw thor and captain america in theaters. i had to read the captain america death in trade. i was confused that one of the trades i bought steve rogers wasnt captain america. when i finally read his death along with civil war it was great. i dont feel it kills the story by bringing him back.

i still cried when peter parker died even though i know hes coming back. heros cant be immune to death and even if them coming back to life is corny its one or two story arcs and its back to normal

Avatar image for kid_apollo
#39 Edited by kid Apollo (959 posts) - - Show Bio

so this is something ive thought about alot in the last few years, and its something that ive tried to address in the books i write, not a whole lot of my big name characters die but when they do they dont come back. i like to think of my books as being as close to real life as possible. but then again i dont exactly write 'superhero' books. i came up with a tag line for me (eventual) comic label:



Avatar image for cap10nate
#40 Edited by Cap10nate (3628 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't mind death/rebirth of the characters. If there is a good story to be told, i want to read it.

Avatar image for blur99
#41 Edited by blur99 (374 posts) - - Show Bio

The article asks if anyone read it when it originally was release (1980).


I was to young for comics back then. Now the demise of characters is a lot different.

Avatar image for freeballer
#42 Edited by freeballer (66 posts) - - Show Bio

Does their return deminish the death story? not necessarily. Does bringing them back to soon? In my opinion, absolutely. There are times where they wait, but often they rush into resurrecting them or create lame storylines/characters to replace them; eg superman or spider-man (current). But whats an adequate amount of time? There's probably alot of opinions... Too fast, piss people off. Too late, piss people off. Do it wrong... Piss people off. Its a balancing act.....

I think when it comes to death/resurrection publishers/writers give their readers enough respect to do it right. It becomes gimmicky and obviously a ploy to boost sales.. and often times readers see that and stop reading.

(slott comes to mind, yet again with his "parker is dead" crap)

Its probably why I started reading some independent publishers, and "non superhero" books like walking dead. When they are dead, they're DEAD.

Rant over... I'm sure people have discussed and will discuss this at nausium anyways...

Avatar image for leokearon
#43 Edited by leokearon (1970 posts) - - Show Bio

@g_man: Here are a couple of ideas for future articles

1.Captain America and the magic time gun,

2.The death of Charles Xavier, (Not a Hoax, not a dream, this is for real! Expect to was a hoax and it was actually the Changeling)

3. The Death and Return of Superman

4.Batman dying in Final Crisis only to reveal the next issue he wasn't dead just back in time

Avatar image for shackle
#44 Edited by shackle (218 posts) - - Show Bio

The worst thing about comic "non-deaths" is the cynicism it instills in readers. When a character's death means nothing, neither does that character's life, and if the characters don't mean anything, why should we bother to read?

Avatar image for snootchie_bootchies
#45 Edited by snootchie_bootchies (148 posts) - - Show Bio

Will the "real" Jean Grey please stand up?

Deaths in comics is never easy, especially if its a character that we love and cherish. I remember when Ted Kord was killed. It got me so upset that I swore off of comics for a while. And Jamie Reyes; gotta say, it didnt help that some little upstart peckerhead replaced one of my favorite characters.

Some comebacks should be expected though. Superman, Batman, Captain America, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern- these are characters that you cannot expect to stay dead. Why? Someone else mentioned the magic word: revenue.

Yeah, some deaths are cheapened by time travel, magic, etc. But guess what? We all bought into it. Keep in mind that the big two are companies. While we would love for them to keep bringing out awesome character and spectacular story lines, their main goals is to make money. And they know that a death or a rebirth will generate revenue.

Avatar image for teerack
#46 Posted by Teerack (10554 posts) - - Show Bio

I think people complain about the return of characters too much. It's a lot better to have them come back in some way appose to just starting their history over.

If they didn't bring back people we could have missed out on Captain America, Superman, Batman, Winter Soldier, Hawkeye, and a ton of other characters that are really popular right now.

Avatar image for kapitein_zeppos
#47 Posted by kapitein_zeppos (360 posts) - - Show Bio

There are several types of comic book death.

1) Character dies, end of story

2) Character dies, comes back, both are well written and meaningful.

3) Character dies, comes back, one bit is well written and meaningful, the other is just a hackjob by an idiot who has no clue.

4) Character dies, comes back, publisher goes tadaa with a "ain't we darn smart or what ?" smirk and hopes you will buy more comics. Every instinct in your body tells you to stomp that arrogant smirk into the ground ...

I can live with 1 and 2, problem is that 95% of comic deaths end up being 3 and/or 4.

Avatar image for xaos
#48 Posted by Xaos (1126 posts) - - Show Bio

Death without consequence is meaningless. It's become little more than a publishing gimmick to boost sales. One of the reason I got tired of most mainstream comics is that nothing has lasting consequence. That includes character deaths. They became little more than illustrated soap operas. Why should I invest the time and money in a series that just runs in circles?</p><p>I never understood why everyone made such a big deal about the Human Torch death when no one was under the impression that he wasn't returning.</p><p>No one comes back from the dead, but comics do it so often that it's even a joke. If you're overcoming death. You've basically created gods as characters.</p>


Avatar image for lordrequiem
#49 Posted by LordRequiem (1358 posts) - - Show Bio

Please come back Sentry. You can't die so where've you gone?

Avatar image for fodigg
#50 Posted by fodigg (6241 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes it cheapens it. No it's not the end of the world or good stories, but I don't find deaths in mainstream comics anything more than irritating at this point. That's not how it should be.

Arguably it's Superman's fault. He wasn't the first, but he was the biggest.

Loading Video...

This edit will also create new pages on Comic Vine for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Comic Vine users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.