As the old saying goes, no one stays dead in the world of Marvel Comics except for Uncle Ben. But not every Marvel superhero (or villain) has been the recipient of a worthwhile resurrection. For every well-conceived revival that inspires engaging new storylines, there’s an equally confounding and frustrating one that inevitably makes readers ask why this character was even killed off in the first place. Marvel’s 50/50 track-record in character revivals is pertinent when you consider that starting in April, comic book fans will get a steady diet of resurrections. Peter Parker will be back and web slinging again in an All-New Marvel Now reboot of Amazing Spider-Man, while everyone’s favorite German mutant, Nightcrawler, who just recently returned to the land of the living in the pages of Amazing X-Men, will star in his very own solo series written by legendary X-Men scribe Chris Claremont. It is anticipated that both series will address what these characters missed while they were away playing dead for a few years. Then, if you turn your attention to Marvel’s cinematic universe, the first major Marvel comic book movie of 2014 is Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the sequel to 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. The Winter Solider is an adaptation of the mid-2000s comic book arc of the same name, and features (*spoiler*) the return of Cap’s long-dead World War II partner, Bucky Barnes. Time will tell if the returns of Peter, Nightcrawler and Bucky will be received with cheers or groans from readers and movie-goers. In the meantime, here are five Marvel resurrections that were done right, and five that sucked. Hopefully these can function as a measuring stick for you.
The death, return, death (again) and return (again) of Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, might sound a bit convoluted on paper, but it finds its way into the resurrections done right side of the ledger based on the unique circumstances of the revival, as well as some of the really interesting stories Hawkeye’s return generated. After Wanda, the Scarlet Witch, goes crackers and makes a Kree warship appear in Avengers #502, Hawkeye is killed during the ensuing battle when his quiver of exploding arrows catches fire and he sacrifices himself by grabbing onto a Kree soldier and flying into the engine of the aircraft. We don’t hear anything from Hawkeye for another six months when he is mysteriously resurrected in the House of M miniseries as part of an alternate reality created by Wanda. Hawkeye knows nothing about his death until the heroes receive a collective wake up call and discover that they are all living in this alternative timeline. Hawkeye confronts Wanda and shoots her in the back with an arrow before he is uncreated again and killed. What makes Hawkeye”s eventual resurrection special is the visual readers get in the last installment of House of M. As Captain America and the New Avengers are walking around the remains of their old Avengers Mansion, Cap discovers Clint’s costume, along with a newspaper article announcing Hawkeye’s death pinned to the wall with an arrow. After that teaser, Marvel made readers wait a few more months before bringing Hawkeye back for good. That moment comes in New Avengers (vol. 1) #26, when Hawkeye, once again, seeks out Wanda. The two share an intimate moment together, and Hawkeye is finally able to let go and move on with his (restored) life.