For costumed heroes, death is waiting around every corner. And sometimes Death, the Marvel Universe's own physical manifestation of the Grim Reaper, is literally waiting around the corner from you, with her on-again, off-again boyfriend Thanos. Still, the good thing about dying in a comic book is that it's rarely - if ever - permanent. In his essay "Dead And Recovering Nicely..." veteran superhero scribe Peter David bemoaned the fact that writers had shot themselves in the foot by bringing back fan-favourite characters too often, to the point that they've robbed themselves of the ability to tell meaningful stories about death - since there's always the unspoken postscript that whoever just carked it will be pushing up daisies for a month, three months tops.
"So-and-So is dead?" David writes. "No! Shock follows shock, as So-and-So returns (usually accompanied by a cover illo of the hero saying, 'It can't be! Youre dead!', thereby proving that super-heroes never read comic books or they wouldn't be surprised by this sort of thing)." We mean, he does have a point. Comic Book Death has become such a cliche at this point that that's actually the name of a genre trope. With all due respect to Mr David, however, we disagree with him on some points. In fact whilst it's often the fanboys' fervent connections to characters that will see them rise from their graves sooner or later, that same personal entwinement with an offed superperson can also make their demise incredibly poignant, dramatic, or upsetting, even if you know deep down it's not going to last.
Marvel Comics have got a fair old amount of deaths to choose from, and all. Whatever title you read - whether you voraciously consume everything the company publishes or have been a stickler for Spidey and Spidey alone for decades - death will have come to your little town at some point. Yet another thing that comic books have in common with soap operas (which David picks up on too) is the ingenious cruelty of killing off a beloved character. Even the most hardened, cynical of readers can't help but shed a tear when the Reaper comes for their favourite heroes, and they've had to endure a good fifty years of these so far!
Since we're masochists, we went into those archives to pick out the ten most tragic deaths in the history of Marvel comics.