There's been a lot of talk about comic book death this week (here's the spoileriffic reason why), and what makes such a death bad. Is it because the death is poorly plotted? Is it less than the character deserves? Do they go out like a chump? Or is it the way the deaths inevitably get retconned? To some extent, all of these things are true, which is why the Internet is chock full of comics fans trying to determine the worst superhero and villain deaths of all time.
Rather than wade into those well-trod grounds, we decided to take a look at some of the stupidest ways in which comic characters have died. But by no means is this list all-inclusive — feel free to add your suggestions in the comments.
In the utterly execrable Ultimatum, dozens and dozens of superheroes died, most in stupid, awful ways, none more awful than The Wasp. The Avengers discover her body being eaten by the Blob, who remarks "Tastes like chicken" in the most horrible, blatant attempt at shock value the comics world has ever seen. But it gets worse; Hank Pym, enraged at the Wasp's death, grows giant, picks up the Blob, and bites his head off in retaliation. A villain eating a supervillain? Cheap, exploitative and dumb. A "superhero" eating a supervillain in revenge? Still somehow worse.
2) Inability to Take Off Quiver
When Brian Michael Bendis decided to disassemble the Avengers, not everyone got equally glorious deaths. While the Vision was literally exploding with Ultron robots, Hawkeye's quiver manages to get shot by a random laser blast, setting off one of his explosive arrows. Rather than taking the quiver off — or, you know, shooting the goddamn arrow somewhere — he decides to jump on a Kree spaceship and blow up. The nobility of his sacrifice is somewhat offset by how completely unnecessary it was.
3) Run Over by Yellow Truck
The Green Lanterns are some of the most powerful warriors in the galaxy; they each wear rings that allow them to create anything their minds can imagine, and their only weakness is (occasionally) the color yellow. Squirrels are small rodents whose weakness are generally motor vehicles. Ch'p, while he looks like an Earth squirrel, is an alien whose courage and skills have caused him to be named a Green Lantern, whose powers helped him not a whit when he was run over by a yellow truck on the Green Lanterns' home planet of Oa.
4) Decapitated by a Distracted Superboy
I suppose having your head punched off by a superhero-gone-bad is technically a pretty cool way for a superhero to go; if you fight in an epic battle that ends with a super-being using his full power to punch you, making your head explode like a balloon full of tomato juice… well, you've probably achieved something, right? Unfortunately, the low-level DC heroine Pantha managed nothing except tapping the volatile super-putz Superboy Prime on the shoulder in his initial return during Infinite Crisis, causing the distracted Superboy to punch her, full-strength… and making her head explode like a balloon full of tomato juice. Sigh.
5) Falling onto Unconscious Rogue
Mr. Sinister is one of the X-Men's greatest enemies, having massacred the Morlocks, unleashed the Legacy Virus, and all sorts of other horrible things. But he died by falling onto an unconscious Rogue in Endangered Species. Sure, Rogue's life/power-absorbing abilities had been super-augmented for some ridiculous reason, and Mystique helped Sinister fall by pressing his face into the unconscious X-Man, but still. This is the supervillain equivalent of tripping, hitting your head on the edge of the coffee table, and bleeding out.
6) Eaten by Birds
During the madcap hijinks of Spider-Man: The Other — which should always be best remembered as the time Spider-Man ate a vampire's face — Spider-Man fought another recipient of the Spider-Totem named Miss Arrow (don't ask) who had Spidey's powers but was also made of spiders. After being battled to a standstill, Spider-Man lures Miss Arrow into an Aviary where she is eaten, spider by spider, by birds. If one were made of spiders, one would think one might be more cognizant of entering places full of creatures who consider you their primary source of nutrition. Of course, if you can fight (and mostly beat) Spider-Man, you might think you have the power to defeat a bunch of pigeons. Guess not.
7) Crashes in Spaceship While Wearing Ring That Allows Him to Fly Through Space without a Spaceship
When Abin Sur first crashed on earth and bestowed his Green Lantern ring to Hal Jordan before dying in 1959, no one thought anything of it. An alien crashes his spaceship on Earth? Could happen to anyone. But as the Green Lantern mythos grew, so did its powers, including the ring's ability to let its wearers fly through space… without a spacesuit. DC has tried desperately to make this incongruity make sense over the years, including Abin Sur being wounded and needing a ship, Abin Sur hearing prophecies his ring would fail him, Abin Sur once having his ring actually fail him, resulting in him hanging out in the vacuum of space, and it's still all very silly. Why DC hasn't just retconned Abin Sur into not coming to earth on a ship we'll never know.
8) Refused Medical Care
Stephanie Brown was popular as the young vigilante Spoiler, and equally popular during her brief tenure as Robin. There were only a few people who didn't like her, but unfortunately those people were Batman, Dr. Leslie Thompkins and DC. After being fired by Batman, Stephanie manages to get herself captured and tortured by Black Mask, only to die unceremoniously in a hospital bed, mostly off-panel, with Batman sitting beside her. To add insult to grievous injury, DC went out of the way to make her death even more meaningless, by revealing that one Dr. Leslie Thompkins could have saved Stephanie's life, but chose not to as a warning to other young sidekicks who wanted to fight alongside Batman. That warning: "I am a shitty doctor."
9) Sudden and Uncontrollable Claustrophobia
Mystek was an odd character with vague energy powers who kind of lucked her way into the Justice League Task Force after DC decided to drum up some buzz for her upcoming solo title. Unfortunately, DC changed their minds about said title, meaning Mystek was no longer needed in JLTF, where she was en route to a distant planet on a tiny spaceship. The solution? Decide Mystek has horrible, debilitating claustrophobia so that she shoots herself out an airlock into the cold vacuum of space, completely off-panel. After she, you know, accepted the confined spaceship trip in the first place.
10) A Really Tight Cape
As mentioned previously, Marvel's Ultimate comics' Ultimatum event was full of awful deaths, but none quite so mindbogglingly dumb as Ultimate Dr. Strange's head exploding from his cape getting too tight. Sure, the cape was helped along by the demon Dormammu, but for goodness' sake, he's Dr. Strange. Fighting Dormammu is pretty much his entire job description. If his mystical arts don't extend to keeping his own costume from becoming a choking hazard, what the hell can they do?