?If we can say one thing for certain about comic writers, it’s that the normal rules of dying just don’t bother them. You die, you get resurrected, everyone dances, you go home. Everyone’s come back from the dead (except Uncle Ben) so many times it’s become a running gag. So laugh it up, chumps, you’re still gonna kick it eventually.
But there’s the group of heroes and villains who are just plain dead and they’re walking about like regular folks. That’s their schtick, they bit the dust and didn’t come back as perfectly good specimens of humanity. So to keep it straight when you run across one of these walking stiffs in the funny books, here’s a quick guide to some of the more notable good-looking corpses. Nit-pickers note: demons, angels, and spirits don’t count (sorry, Ghost Rider fans). Vampires, zombies, and ghosts do. Now come on in — this party is dead. In a good way.
15) I…Vampire (DC)
?Lord Andrew Bennett had the stylish vampire look going for him in the ’80s, doing everything a vampire does with style and grace. As far as undead go, he had nice threads and chicks a-plenty. The only baggage was the name his series got stuck with that follows him around to this day. No one calls him “Lord Andrew Bennett,” they say, “Oh cool, I…Vampire’s going to be back next issue.” It’s like your secret identity is “And the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
14) Hannibal King (Marvel)
?Van Wilder’s sexxxy character in Blade: Trinity was actually based on an existing comic vampire. His namesake was more private eye who ate people rather than mercenary who didn’t eat so many people, but creative license is what it is. In the comics, King teamed up with Blade and vampire hunter Frank Drake to form the Nightstalkers, a name that looks awesome carved into a desk.
13) The Spectre (DC)
?Yes, no demons, no angels, but the Spectre is a special case. He repossesses the dead and lives inside them until something bad happens and he explodes out of their bodies and tortures someone to death. He’s a good guy. So far we’ve seen the Spectre take over the corpses of policeman Jimmy Corrigan, pilot/Green Lantern Hal Jordan, and a second policeman, Crispus Allen. He’s got a thing for cops, we think.
12) Kid Eternity (DC/Vertigo)
?Imagine that you’re out on a boat, getting molested by a sea captain, when a submarine sinks the boat and you die. But you don’t go to Heaven or Hell, you get special permission to come back to life with the ability to summon the dead. Sounds pretty neat, huh? Except for the molesting, of course. This is the story with Kid Eternity, a lad formerly trapped in Hell who’s now romping around with the Teen Titans. He looks pretty good for a dead boy, but make no mistake — he’s gone to the other side, and it had nothing to do with the molesting.
11) The Marvel Zombie Universe/Blackest Night folks (Marvel/DC)
?Let’s just lump them into one number, since they’re so numerous and so similar. All the crunch of your favorite superheroes and villains who don’t get soggy in milk. You name ’em, they’ve popped up with a zombie grin on their face in some issue, demanding brains (if they’re Marvel Zombies) or hearts (if they’re Black Lanterns). Eventually some geek will get wise and have the two universes crossover in their slobbery, rotting fan-fic, and God help us, we might feature it on Topless Robot.
10) Cassidy (Vertigo)
?One of the finest vampires in comics, Cassidy was the bastard we loved to hate throughout Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher series. Hard drinkin’ (both varieties), hard livin’, and hard bonin’, Cassidy would routinely get the shit kicked out of him then go on to get sloppy drunk that evening. Those Twilight pussies could learn a thing or two from this Irish wake of a man-thing.
9) Gentleman Ghost (DC)
?Live fast, die young, leave a dapperly dressed corpse behind. Gentleman Ghost may be long worm food, but he still has the all-too human desire to steal things. He could spend his nights peeping on the JLA girls in the shower, but he decides to fight them instead. Dying may preserve your fashion sense, but it sure makes you dumb. Dude! Maxine Hunkel is just this side of fuck-able! GO!
8) Doorman (Marvel)
?Being in the Great Lakes Avengers is almost like being dead. No one calls you, no one writes, no one can remember the last time they saw you. But if you keep your head up and take your vitamins, you might luck out and be appointed an Angel of Death. Again, angel, but he still died so he counts. Doorman is more or less a lame and unusable character, but you don’t get much deader than an Angel of Death.
7) Elongated Man and Sue Dibny (DC)
?Poor little ghost couple. Ralph and Sue Dibny were a dynamite crime-solving couple, until the events of Identity Crisis and 52 slew both of them. Not letting their hobby of investigating mysteries die with their bodies, both became ghosts and started solving crimes. Granted, if you’re a ghost it’s hard to get people to notice the evidence you’ve found (see also: Patrick Swayze in Ghost, Bill Cosby in Ghost Dad), but they’re zombies now, thanks to Blackest Night, so heart-stealing beats out crime-solving. At least for now.
6) Solomon Grundy (DC)
?Zombie plant man! He died on a Monday, as he’ll tell you again and again, because he tends to repeat himself. Then he fell into a swamp and came back as an unkillable white zombie. A lot like Swamp Thing, except Swamp Thing isn’t a corpse, it’s a bunch of moss who thinks it’s people. Grundy definitely was a person, as last year’s confusing mini-series pointed out. He keeps being reborn in various forms, most of which are big white zombies with shag haircuts.
5) Zombie (Marvel)
?Marvel didn’t invent the word “zombie” but they sure copyrighted it when they introduced Simon Garth, Zombie. He was definitely the real deal, voodoo ceremonies and all. Recently he poked his moldy head up issues of Marvel Zombies 4, which are probably considered canon, but no one’s really 100% sure.
4) Dead Girl (Marvel)
?Peter Milligan maybe have written X-Statix‘s Dead Girl, but the Mike Allred illustrations are the first things you think of. She’s dead, she’s all decomposey, but she keeps coming back thanks to her mutant gene. Well, she used to for a while, until she caught a disease and really bought the farm. Only in comics can you recover from an explosion and then die from getting sick. Get your flu shots, people, that’s all we’re saying.
3) Resurrection Man (DC)
?Dear DC: BRING HIM BACK! You created an awesome character whose power is to die and come back with a different super power and you’ve kept him dead for years! He better show up during Blackest Night, or we’re crying foul. True, he’s a resurrecting superhero, not as much of an undead one, but he spends about half his time in the afterlife, so he’s on the list just due to the amount of time he’s not around the living. He definitely whups I… Vampire’s ass.
2) Dracula (Marvel)
?The king of all vampires has made appearances in almost every comic series at one point and fought everyone from Buffy to Jessica Biel. His solo series absolutely dominated the ’70s, where he fought Blade, who had an afro at the time. Dracula had long hair, so it worked well with the groovy spirit of the times. He pops up every so often, but not enough for our money. If you’ve got Dracula in your stable of villains, Marvel, let him loose!
1) Deadman (DC)
?Name says it all, doesn’t it? He’s a man (an aerialist in red spandex) and he’s dead (shot by a man with a hook for a hand as part of an initiation ritual). Boston Brand floats through the DCU at will, visiting with greater (Batman) and lesser (Tim Hunter) heroes and sometimes taking over their bodies. As creepy as he is, and he is creepy, especially in Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come illustrations, he has one major downfall: he found religion and talks on and on about it. Shut up about Rama Kushna already, dude. No one wants to take your damn literature.