DC Comics’ 10 Saddest Moments, According To Ranker
Content Warning: This article is about assault and sexual assault.
From the eradication of an entire city to the infamous death of Jason Todd, DC Comics has never fared the game by bringing audiences some of the saddest and most tragic moments in the comic’s history. drawn. While many of these moments may stick in readers’ minds, some have a more devastating emotional impact than others.
Fans voted which of these moments were the most emotionally charged on Ranker, offering a list of fan sources of DC Comics’ saddest moments.
Death is rarely permanent in comic book universes, with a number of ways to resurrect those who have been mortally wounded. However, Geoff Johns’ run darkest night took common resurrection narratives and turned them on their head by reviving superheroes joining the Black Lantern Corps as zombies.
Thanks to Nekron, a creature that can reanimate the dead, many fan-favorite heroes have been slain and resurrected as Black Lanterns, only to be pitted against their still-living peers. It’s one of the biggest arcs associated with the Green Lantern Corps, and it’s extremely emotional due to all the losses, battles, and resurrections the Justice League and Teen Titans have faced.
The Death of Supergirl
DC has always struggled with continuity, and one of the events that was used to deal with that chaos was Crisis on Infinite Earths, an event featuring the Anti-Monitor attempting to destroy the many Earths of the DC Multiverse. Various heroes and villains worked together to stop the Anti-Monitor, resulting in an Earth with a single continuity.
During part of the Crisis, Superman, Supergirl, and Doctor Light confront the Anti-Monitor in his universe. To protect her cousin, Kara Zor-El rode into battle with the Anti-Monitor, destroying his solar sensor and injuring him. However, she was hit by a blast of anti-matter energy that killed her before she could escape. This event became one of the most iconic in DC history and broke the hearts of many fans when it remained permanent.
The Death of Superman
Many superhero fans find Superman boring and overpowered, but that doesn’t mean they’d rather have the world without him. 1992 brought fans The Death of Superman, a crossover event in which Superman fought Doomsday and lost. The comic received a lot of media attention, but remained controversial as the shocking death didn’t last long.
Even so, it made waves in the comic and real worlds. Members of the Justice League, political leaders, and even Lex Luthor took part in the mourning following his death, and many fans did the same. He received unprecedented media attention and remains heavily referenced in superhero media to this day, making a strong argument against those who find Superman unimportant.
Superman stops a suicide
Sometimes the vast mythos of the comic book world can make the characters feel too detached from the realities of life, as most people don’t have to worry about supervillains and alien invasions. This is especially true when it comes to Superman, as very few real threats stand a chance against him.
That makes it all the more impactful when the world’s most powerful superhero faces a very real threat that he can’t easily fix. Superman #701 features a woman attempting suicide. Rather than just stop him from jumping, Superman listens to him and tries to help him. It’s not a world-saving issue, but it’s one of the best and most moving because it’s so grounded in reality.
The death of Arthur Curry’s son
DC villains have done terrible things to their enemies, but most don’t compare to what Black Manta did in Adventure Comics #452. Black Manta kidnapped Arthur Curry Jr. (AKA Aquababy) and forced him in an inner tube that suffocated him to death.
Neither Aquaman nor Aqualad were able to save him in time, leading Aquaman to attempt to avenge his murdered son. The very real tragedy of losing a child changed Aquaman and resulted in his divorce from Mera. It was an unusually dark issue for 1977 and is one of the saddest moments in all of Aquaman comics.
The death of Jonathan Kent
Superman can save the world, but there are things even he can’t stop. By the early 2000s, Superman had become boring, capable of defeating any foe, so Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely looked for ways to humanize him. And there’s nothing more human than mourning a loss that you couldn’t stop.
In Superman All Star, fans have scoured their latest issues to find one of Superman comics’ most heartbreaking deaths. Superman lost three minutes in a battle against Chronovore, and once that time was up he found he couldn’t hear his father’s heartbeat. During those three minutes, Jonathan Kent died of a heart attack, and no matter how fast Superman flew, he couldn’t undo it.
The Paralysis and Implied Rape of Barbara Gordon
The Joker’s theory of life is that one bad day could make any man a bad guy, and he tested that theory on Commissioner Gordon by shooting Barbara Gordon and photographing her naked and bleeding. Barbara survived the attack but was paralyzed from the waist down, causing her to give up her time as Batwoman and become Oracle.
The killer joke is one of Batman’s most famous stories for this attack, with the Joker’s cruelty going far beyond its standard fare. While neither Jim nor Barbara let that moment define them, it left its mark on DC Comics fans as one of the most heartbreaking stories ever told.
The Death and Return of Jason Todd
Batman fans have never loved Jason Todd’s Robin as much as his predecessor Dick Grayson, so the writers decided to give audiences a say in his future. The Joker captured Jason and beat him with a crowbar, with the issue ending in a cliffhanger and a question: should Robin live or die?
Fans were able to call in to vote, and their votes resulted in a pretty impactful death to the comic. Jason Todd was officially killed in Batman #428, remaining dead for 16 years before returning to the Under the red riding hood bow. Jason Todd didn’t return as the impatient young Robin he once was, but as a more violent vigilante, gunning down those he deemed irredeemable and pushing Batman to finally kill the Joker.
The death of Barry Allen
To simplify the vast multiversal canon of DC Comics, they created the Crisis on Infinite Earths arc, which included the destruction of the majority of the known universes, resulting in a unified Earth. However, an event of this magnitude could not reasonably occur without causing casualties.
As the Antimonitor prepared to use the Anti-Matter Cannon on the Last Five Earths, Barry Allen created a speed vortex to absorb the energy. While he managed to save what was left of the multiverse, it also resulted in one of the greatest superhero deaths in comic book history, as Barry Allen’s Flash perished, not to return before 23 years.
Barry Allen remembers Wally West in DC Universe Rebirth
After all the chaos caused by the Breaking point arc, Wally West was brought back to DC Comics in DC Universe Rebirth. However, he was trapped out of time by Abra Kadabra, forcing him to watch the universe go on without him. Following Justice League #50, he was able to come back into the world for a few moments at a time and try to find those he loved.
However, there was just one problem: everyone had forgotten about him. He became despondent, and as the Speed Force attempted to bring him back, he visited his uncle, Barry Allen, to say goodbye. As he disappeared, Barry was somehow able to remember him and bring him home, in a powerfully emotional arc that covered everything Wally had lost and learned during his years in captivity.
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