2009 saw some of the most memorable deaths in the entertainment and political realms in recent memory. Icons, legends and established figures were taken from the world, some on the verge of a comeback and some in their prime. Comics have also lost some icons, not only this year but in the past decade. Death in the real world is a vastly different thing from that of the fictional world, with the prospect of return always a possibility where comics are concerned. With that in mind we look back at some of the more memorable losses in comics over the first decade of the new millennium. While not everyone who died is on this list, it hopefully covers those comic book deaths that were surprises, twists or the loss of those who were near and dear to the hearts and minds of readers everywhere for one reason or another. Wasp (Marvel, 2008) She was one of Marvel's original heroes, with her role as an Avenger established in the first issue of the series. She started out in a typically sexist portrayal for the 60's, but she began to emerge quickly as a smart and savvy member of several incarnations of the Avengers. Her death in Secret Invasion #8 staved off a Skrull victory, and in the end her willingness to die for humanity proved to be the ultimate reflection on her character and integrity as a hero. Kenneth Irons (Image/Top Cow, 2001) This antagonist of every possessor of the powerful Witchblade led to frequent battles with nemesis and bearer of the Witchblade Sara Pezzini. All of that came to an end however in the pages of Witchblade #75, when Irons met a bitter end at the hands of Joe Siry. Irons' mad quest for the Witchblade caused him over the years to commit awful acts, such as the sacrifice of his wife, and his death took down one of the biggest villains in the Top Cow universe. Sue Dibny (DC Comics, 2004) Regarded by many as the heart of the Justice League community for many reasons, Sue Dibny's shocking death in the pages of Identity Crisis #1 kicked off one of DC's most controversial stories in recent memory. What progressed was the reveal of more shocking crimes, team secrets and even more deaths, including the death of original villain Captain Boomerang, Digger Harkness. Sue's death was brought home once again in the painfully emotional last pages of Identity Crisis #7.
Goliath (Marvel, 2006) One of the earliest African-American superheroes, Dr. Bill Foster debuted in the mid-60's but became a hero years after his debut. One of only a handful of minority heroes in the 70's, Goliath (as he would eventually be named) was a powerful force off and on for years in the Marvel universe. His death at the hands of the Thor android during Civil War helped dive a further wedge between an already divided hero community. Cerebus ( 2004 ) Certainly one of the most unique comic book series and characters ever, Cerebus ran for 300 issues before concluding its run in 2004. Over that run Cerebus interacted with a variety of characters, forces, famous figures and even his creator. The series ends with Cerebus later in life and with the protagonist breaking his neck and seeing a vision of some sort of afterlife. His departure marked the leave of a different and definitive voice in comics. Hawkman and Hawkgirl (DC, 2009) DC comics never ceases to amaze when it comes to who they're willing to off in a company-wide event! This year saw the deaths of two well-known and well-established heroes, Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Their deaths in the pages of Blackest Night was made all the more bittersweet with their complicated romantic history over the years. Both of them have been noted members of the Justice League over the years, and their deaths leave the DC pantheon a little empty. Sabretooth (Marvel, 2007) He was part of one of the most well-known and vicious rivalries in all of comics history. His bloody, protracted battles with arch-enemy Wolverine helped to make the duo household names, and he was certainly one of the most savage and mysterious mutants around. He was shockingly beheaded by Wolverine in Wolverine #55, taken out by the Muramasa Blade, a weapon that blocks the healing factor. His death brought an end to a mutual hatred that lasted over twenty years. The Governor (Image, 2008) While he was only around briefly in the history of the Robert Kirkman-penned series The Walking Dead, this man became one of the most notorious villains in all of comics due to his sadistic behavior. The leader of a colony of survivors of the zombie plague, the Governor ruled with an iron fist and didn't hesitate to use violence to enforce his rule. When he met his doom in the pages of The Walking Dead #48, it brought an end to one of the shortest but most sinister legacies in all of comics.
Maxwell Lord (DC Comics, 2005) Perhaps considered as one of the biggest traitors in recent comic book memory, this one time "ally" of the Justice League and Justice League International was instrumental in the kick off to Infinite Crisis. His work on Batman's OMAC project brought him into conflict with the Blue Beetle, whom he killed. When he took control of Superman's mind, Wonder Woman saw no other choice but to kill him, setting off even more controversy and mistrust among the DC hero community. While this list is certainly not complete or exhaustive, it is certainly a reflection of some of the deaths that, so far at least, have yet to be reversed and that have had a significant impact on the hearts, minds and feelings of not only the characters in the books, but in many cases those who read them as well! Who will go in the next ten years? Who from this list may return? Only time knows for sure! Honorable Mention: Martian Manhunter, Aquaman, Golden Age Cheetah, Abomination, Mister Sinister, Banshee, Moira MacTaggert, Blue Beetle, Jonathan Kent and many others.