Five Best Comic Book Love Interest Deaths

Everyone knows that hanging around a superhero is dangerous--being his girlfriend, doubly so. The shelf life on those ladies--and the handful of gentlemen who hang around the female leads--is short enough, and tends to end badly enough that not only did Gail Simone rise to Internet fame after setting up a website dedicated to the phenomenon, but a recent issue of Savage Dragon saw Malcolm's girlfriend leave him for no reason other than "I know what happened to Gwen Stacy and I'm not stupid." Needless to say, there are spoilers ahead. But if you don't want to be spoiled and you clicked on this article then you're kind of asking for it. The specific titles for which there will be spoilers are Transmetropolitan, The Walking Dead, Identity Crisis, The Amazing Spider-Man and Strangers in Paradise. These characters, also, don't generally reappear. In a medium where resurrection is the norm, only one of the people on this list could get up and walk around again--and if she did, nobody would be happy. And yeah, usually the characters are offed in a meaningless way meant to heighten "drama," and they're rarely effective. But once in a while, the death is so well-done, or so unexpected, that it leaves a crater in the book and changes not just the lead character but the reader, as well. Here are a few...

Vita Severn - The savvy political operative with whom Spider Jerusalem fell in love, had a blind spot for Gary "The Smiler" Callahan, whose Presidential campaign she was hired to work on. At first she couldn't see his many flaws and, when presented with incontrovertible evidence by Spider that the man was bad news, she went nuclear--but (what seemed like) cooler heads prevailed and, in the interest of her career, she agreed to go on television with him to make the announcement that he would withdraw from the race. As she introduced The Smiler, though, an assassin shot her in the head. The emotive artwork of Darick Robertson perfectly captured the shock and pain on Spider's face, watching someone he loved cut down in what was supposed to be their mutual moment of triumph, and her death would not be in vain: her death in Transmetropolitan #18 had an impact that would be felt all the way until the series ended at #60, and motivated Spider to clean up his life and stop casually playing at his destiny--bringing down a sitting President.

Lori Grimes - There's a lot of hatred for Lori in the Walking Dead fandom, particularly among the TV audience who haven't had as many opportunities as the comic book readers have to see her be a little more sympathetic and three-dimensional. But her death was a shock that shook readers and really firmly established that it was true--anyone really could go at any time in this book. There was a sense among fans that Lori would never give birth--that the lead character in a zombie epic having a pregnant wife meant that she would give birth to a zombie and die, or that they'd be killed along the way, or something like that. Instead, she gave birth at the well-fortified hospital and for a moment, all seemed well. Then came The Governor's siege on the survivors, and both she AND the baby were killed in the ensuing melee. It was a shocking, crushing moment and both Rick and Carl never completely recovered.

Sue Dibny - Say what you will about the overall story of Identity Crisis and what it means for superhero spouses: that first issue is brilliant. It's character-driven, emotional and true--something that's rare in the bang-zoom world of action movies and superhero comics. And better? It's not about Batman. I love Batman, but hear me out. To the uninitiated, it's one of the first comics you can hand them to make them care about somebody who hasn't already had a movie come out, and given the depth and breadth of quality characters in the DC and Marvel catalogs, that's an important function.

Gwen Stacy - Arguably the definitive death in superhero comics, the loss of Gwen Stacy was so essential to the storytelling that it's more or less all many fans know about the character. That might change, of course, with the introduction of the character to the film franchise in this summer's Amazing Spider-Man feature film from director Marc Webb. Still, if Gwen doesn't survive the first installment of the rebooted franchise, fans will once again be left feeling like she's a somewhat disposable character who exists only to be "not Mary Jane" in the story of Spider-Man's life.

David Qin - Notable among the others on this list in that he didn't die in a surge of violence (and you can decide for yourself what that says about gender roles in comics, perhaps), David was a co-lead in Terry Moore's fantastic Strangers in Paradise but, arguably more importantly as the series wore on, he was one of the love interests for Katchoo and, later, Kasey. A plane crash about halfway through the life of the series was the first time fans became aware that David could potentially be lost, and eventually an inoperable brain tumor claimed the character. Moore had built up the prospect of a miracle cure for David in the months leading up to his death, but it never felt right for the character or the book, and even though it was hard saying goodbye to a beloved character, that option was probably better than the other, which was surrendering a piece of what made Strangers in Paradise so special in order to keep him around (for a look at how that kind of thing can go wrong and feel preposterous and self-serving, check out the final arc of Transmetropolitan).