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Superheroes We've Lost In 2023 So Far

There are only four certainties in life — death, taxes, superhero death, and the retconning of superhero death in future stories. The following victims of tragic, usually violent circumstances may all very well follow the trajectory of Superman after his murder at the hands of Doomsday in 1993's "The Death of Superman," as well as Jean Grey when she nobly sacrificed herself at the conclusion of 1980's "Dark Phoenix Saga." Jean's not even the only X-Man with a touch-and-go approach to the great beyond anymore. Most of her teammates have died and returned to life several times over ever since they moved to Krakoa and became functionally immortal in 2019's "House of X" and "Powers of X." 

And what about superheroes who die in alternate realities while their counterparts in adjacent dimensions remain among the living? What about heroes who die in one medium but remain upright and breathing in another? It's all profoundly confusing, but if we didn't enjoy being confused then we wouldn't be fans of superhero media, would we? Let's gaze upon the superheroes we've lost so far in 2023, mourn their passing, and anxiously await their inevitable return to glory.

Updated on May 31, 2023: As the year goes on, we'll keep you aware of all the heartbreaking losses in the superhero community. So be warned — there are major spoilers below.


In the world of the X-Men, Charles Xavier devised a compilated process to literally resurrect any member of homo superior who no longer resides among the living. Said process involves Cerebro automatically backing up the memories of every mutant on the planet, as well as Hope Summers, Tempus, Proteus, Elixir, and Egg all combining their powers. Wolverine fell out of a spaceship next to the Sun and was instantly incinerated? No problem. Hope and her crew, known as The Five, will make sure he's back and even better at what he does by the next morning. 

However, in order to bring a mutant back, Professor X and The Five have to remember that mutant existed, which creates a special problem for the member of Nightcrawler and David Haller's team of Legionnaires known (or should we say "unknown?") as ForgetMeNot, whose power is an inability to register in the memory of other beings. During "Legion of X" #10, in what what word-count restrictions force us to describe as a very elaborate Sentinel attack on Krakoa — in which Cain Marko temporarily merges with the Spirit of Variance and essentially battles killer robots as a Ghost Rider-Juggernaut hybrid — the remarkably unremarkable mutant sometimes called Xabi volunteers to be blown to bits in order to protect the island. 

The techno-organic being known as Warlock also perishes in the scuffle, but the surviving Legionnaires immediately begin laying plans to reassemble him. As far as Xabi is concerned, it's impossible to bring back a dead person if you don't remember they ever existed. 


In case anyone who watched "Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania" needs a reminder, whimsical sci-fi novelty characters like Veb the squishy guy and the glowing cylinder-headed Xolum are a dead giveaway that somebody from the "Rick & Morty" writing staff had a strong hand in Scott Lang's most contentious big-screen adventure. Jeff Loveness will get another MCU at-bat with "Avengers: The Kang Dynasty," which is more than we can say for poor dumb Xolum. 

Despite his lack of a backstory or really much of an identity beyond a warrior-like disposition, an alliance with the Quantum Realm rebels, and his aforementioned flashlight-for-a-head thing, audiences the world over felt a slight tug on their heartstrings when Kang popped Xolum's cranium like an overcharged florescent bulb. Granted, it might have been a very slight tug in most instances, but as far as "Quantumania" characters go, Xolum definitely does more to further the plot than Lord Krylar or Hope van Dyne, and they're both played by major celebrities. Xolum didn't deserve much better, but he definitely deserved a little better.


The MCU's infamously overworked digital designers did the best they could to turn Corey Stoll into a giant head with proportionately tiny arms and legs. Whether they pulled it off might be a matter for debate, but for reasons totally unrelated to the limits of modern special effects technology, MODOK — the Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing — isn't expected to appear in future MCU films. 

After Cassie Lang reminds Kang's most ridiculous henchman that it's "never too late to stop being a d***," MODOK takes her advice to heart and bites the big one while helping an army of giant ants vanquish the Quantum Realm's one-time Conqueror. With his dying breath, he looks into the eyes of former arch enemy Scott Lang and says, "At least I died ... an Avenger." While MODOK probably can't legitimately declare himself an Avenger and Scott probably doesn't have the clout to approve new members even if he wants to, MODOK's last-second face turn is enough to qualify him for this list. 


In this instance, when we say Shazam "died" this year, we actually mean a couple of different things. Since basically nobody saw "Shazam! Fury of the Gods" during its theatrical run in March, star Zachary Levi invited us all to question his judgement with some truly baffling PR blunders, and the entire live-action DC Universe is in the process of a highly publicized reboot overseen by James Gunn, the prospects for this iteration of "Shazam!" carrying on as a franchise look very slim. Incidentally, the character Shazam, aka Billy Batson, also fails to survive a battle against the film's ultimate antagonist, the goddess Kalypso, one of the daughters of Atlas. But Billy's death is very temporary; Wonder Woman makes a surprise cameo and brings him back to life in a scenario that makes Krakoan mutant resurrection look plausible by comparison. Incidentally, Wonder Woman probably doesn't have a third movie coming out, either.   


By splitting its 12-episode Season 4 in half, "Titans" made sure we wouldn't know if Jinx survived getting stabbed in the gut with a magic pitchfork in Episode 6 — which aired in 2022 — until 2023. It's here in Episode 7 that we learn Jinx does, in fact, expire. Rachel "Raven" Roth sends the fragments of Jinx's soul to be at peace in the afterlife, and that's apparently that. 

A recent addition to "Titans" who made her first appearance Season 4's Episode 3, appropriately titled "Jinx," the snarky magic user and "Teen Titans" adversary going back to Marv Wolfman's 1980s had a certain amount of "Red Shirt on 'Star Trek'" energy surrounding her before HBO Max announced this show wouldn't continue beyond this season anyway. Still, it's a drag Jinx won't be in the final six episodes. Or maybe it's for the best? Is being on "Titans" — a grim, live-action "adult" iteration of "Teen Titans" that never quite felt necessary — a good thing? A bad thing? Maybe it just is what it is. 


Hespera is a Greek goddess of nymphs; MODOK is a Lee 'n Kirby creation from their late-'60s phase, when they were learning just how many out-there concepts their readers would put up with. You wouldn't think Hespera and MODOK would have much in common, but in fact, they share a handful of distinctions. Both appear in poorly received 2023 superhero movies; both begin their stories in these films as baddies but switch sides and fight on behalf of order and decency before the credits roll; both perish at the conclusion of their respective, redemptive story arcs. 

Despite being played by Oscar winner Helen Mirren, Hespera is done in by her sister Kalypso, an even meaner nymph goddess. Let us note that Kalypso is portrayed by Lucy Liu, whom we must respectfully note does not yet have an Oscar. Makes you wonder about the judgement of the Academy, doesn't it? After all, if Helen Mirren is powerful enough to win best actress in a leading role, then how is it that she can be pretend-killed by the Oscar-less and therefore presumably less powerful Lucy Liu?

The Human Target

Tom King and Greg Smallwood's "The Human Target" starts with Christopher Chance downing a tumbler full of poisoned whiskey intended for the gullet of one Lex Luthor. The poison takes 12 days to conclude its victim. As you read this series, it always feels like there's a possibility — a chance, if you will — that The Human Target might evade execution. But nope: After 12 issues, he dies from the poison right on schedule. 

Anybody who's half-paid attention to DC Comics during the last six years knows King tends to set his 12-issue maxiseries in their own individualized Elseworlds-esque timelines. But whether or not the Human Target is considered canonically dead in the primary DC universe, this series deserves mention. The art channels the Justice League's self-satirizing 1980s incarnation through the prism of AMC's "Mad Men," which might look ridiculous were it not for Smallwood's evocative, sometimes melancholy sense of retro-cool. Meanwhile, King hasn't convinced us to care this much about a C-lister hero since he made his career with 2017's "Mister Miracle." The Human Target might perish, but he does so in unforgettable style.


Heading into director James Gunn's final installment of his "Guardians of the Galaxy" trilogy, plenty of fans were bracing themselves for a bloodbath. Dave Bautista and Zoe Saldaña have indicated a strong interest in moving away from Marvel, and in the trailers, Rocket Racoon and Star-Lord both look like they're in pretty rough shape. For all we knew, Gunn would blast the whole zany found family to oblivion on his way out the door just to give his new bosses at DC one less beloved franchise to compete with.

As it turns out, the Guardians themselves all survive the events of "Vol. 3," but Gunn found a totally unexpected way to break our hearts. In flashbacks to Rocket Racoon's early years as a living experiment in the High Evolutionary's space laboratory-slash-baby animal jail, we meet young Rocket's adorable cellmates and pals Lylla the otter, Teefs the walrus, and Floor the rabbit. One thing leads to another, and Rocket attempts an escape with the intention to bring his buddies — framed almost like a proto-Guardians team, at least from Rocket's perspective — to freedom with him. In a move that should instantly make the High Evolutionary one of the most despised MCU villains ever, he cruelly executes the kindhearted Lylla in front of Rocket, ensuring that she'll never get a chance to experience life outside of a cage.


Teefs the walrus also doesn't make it through the High Evolutionary's crackdown on Rocket's prison break. Like Rocket, Lylla, and Floor, Teefs anticipates a future life on a "new world" implicitly promised by the High Evolutionary, whom he refers to as "sire." Constantly jolly and joyful despite the fact that his lower half appears to have been replaced by metallic wheels for some confounding reason, Teefs name himself "Teefs" because his teeth are much larger than everyone else's. 

To get an appropriate level of justice for Teefs, Rocket would have to end "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" by murdering the High Evolutionary in a manner far, far too dark and sadistic for a PG-13 threshold of violence. Sure, High Evolutionary gets some comeuppance, but boy, does he ever deserve a million times worse. Thanos killed half of all living creatures in the universe, but we think even he would've stopped short of harming Teefs. Thanos feels kind of bad about hurling his daughter off a cliff, after all — he has some capacity for empathy. That's more than we can say for the miserable, awful, ironically lowest of the low High Evolutionary.


We know James Gunn reviewed Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's "All-Star Superman" to prep for his next major superhero project, but "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3" — particularly its inclusion of Floor the rabbit — suggests a familiarity with one of the other Morrison and Quitely collaborations from the 2000s. 

In "We3" — published by DC's Vertigo imprint (RIP) — a shadowy government agency converts a dog, cat, and rabbit into cyborg black-ops assassins, while the animals wish only to resume their original frolicking- and naps-oriented existences. Out of Rocket's friends from the High Evolutionary's cages, Floor appears to contain the most mechanical enhancements — she requires a sound converter around her mouth to form words and bounds around playfully on rickety, spider-like legs — and thus seems like an indirect resemblance to Pirate the rabbit from "We3." Floor, who whimsically names herself "Floor" out of a seemingly lack of better ideas, dies along with Lylla and Teefs. Like Rocket, we will probably never get over it.


During the last episode of "Titans," Superboy spends quite a while lying motionless on a table as his lungs and heart do positively nada. In the interest of full disclosure, let's note his comrades in the Titans never seem all that distressed about his apparent passing, and when Conner asks, "Wait, was I dead?" upon his surprise-ish comeback, nobody gives a definitive answer. Maybe Superboy doesn't die enough for the Titans to qualify it, but he dies enough for us. He sure looks dead for a hot minute.  

Probably the most interesting character in the final season of "Titans," Superboy leans into the Lex Luthor side of his genetic heritage throughout much of these 12 episodes. Naturally, he realizes the error of his newfound moral relativism and rejoins his chums when he starts to think he can't shut down Brother Blood, this year's big bad, on his own. This theory proves completely accurate — B.B. puts Conner's lights out, seemingly for keeps, with a hyper-charged magic bolt. Let this incident serve as a reminder to us all that Kryptonians are vulnerable to forces other than Kryptonite — particularly, magic.

Ms. Marvel

In 2022, Kamala Khan made her long overdue live-action debut in "Ms. Marvel," one of the better-received shows in the MCU's slate of Disney+ projects. Fall 2023 is looking like an even bigger deal for Kamala; once again played by Iman Vellani, she's co-starring in "The Marvels" alongside Teyonah Parris' Monica Rambeau and Brie Larson's Carol Danvers. With all this momentum and subsequent potential for marketing synergy, Marvel Comics has decided to ... kill Ms. Marvel off in an issue of "Amazing Spider-Man"? Yep. Not only does she get bumped off when she's on the cusp of her all-time height of visibility in mass media, she goes out as a supporting cast member in another hero's ongoing. And this information somehow fell into the hands of major news outlets weeks before its publication. This is all scanning as a bit strange, and we don't mean Stephen. 

Anyway, Kamala Khan — who's been interning for the lately reformed Norman Osborn — dies protecting her co-worker and friend Peter Parker's ex Mary Jane Watson from a thoroughly unremarkable supervillain. Some influencers predict Kamala — already a verified mutant in the MCU, let's remember — will simply enter the Krakoan resurrection protocols and make a surprise-ish return as the star of her own new series before the end of the summer, and jolly jeez, do we ever hope they're right.