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Superheroes we lost in 2019

The 2018 superhero body count was impressive, and 2019's butcher's bill promises to stack just as high, if not higher. Last year, the superhero victims didn't really give us impressive numbers until the summer with the epic kill counts of Avengers: Infinity War and Deadpool 2. Meanwhile, the ranks of the capes have already been seriously thinned in 2019, and the year's hardly started. As of this writing, the superheroes of the world are down by eight. That doesn't seem like a big deal until you consider by this time last year, our list would've included no one but Clayface (the reformed villain was killed by Batwoman in January 2018's Detective Comics #973).

Why the increase? Maybe it has something to do with the catastrophic Infinity War and everyone trying to copy its success. Maybe it's just that with superheroes still taking over media with no signs of slowing down, the increase in franchises will necessarily boost the numbers of the dead. Or maybe there is no mystery. Maybe it's just that the various filmmakers and comic creators know they don't have to keep any of them dead for very long anyway, so why not capitalize on the shock and drama?

Regardless of why they fell, here are all the superheroes who have fallen so far in 2019.

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Cosmonut (Suicide Squad #50) January 16, 2019

First appearing back in 2016's Suicide Squad #3, the bizarre Cosmonut was a member of Russia's Annihilation Brigade. The Brigade tried and failed to stop the Squad from escaping after they broke into the underground Temho-Metya Prison. But in the recent Suicide Squad #50, Cosmonut sacrificed himself for his old adversaries.

With the usually very non-super Amanda Waller rendered a giant, super-strong, mindless beast that could breathe fire, Harley Quinn and Rick Flagg were not much of a match for their boss. In a move uncharacteristic of any member of the Annihilation Brigade, Cosmonut saved his old enemies by holding off Waller. Quinn and Flagg eventually managed to find the rest of the Squad — including Killer Croc, who'd been presumed dead the since the previous issue — and restore Waller to a less Godzilla-esque form, but not in time to save Cosmonut. Before losing her powers, Waller melted his big metal hammer head.

In true Suicide Squad fashion, none of the Squadders memorialized poor Cosmonut's sacrifice, or even seemed to remember he was there.

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Painkiller/Khalil Payne (Black Lightning) January 28, 2019

Khalil Payne (Jordan Calloway) was a tragic character even before his death. A star athlete paralyzed by a bullet during a peaceful protest, Khalil fell under the sway of the power-hungry Tobias Whale (Marvin Jones III) who funded a surgery that let Khalil walk again and gave him special abilities. Whale treated Khalil like a son at first, and in return Khalil served Tobias as Painkiller. The former student went to his old high school and used his poisoned darts to attack random former classmates, eventually fighting and defeating Black Lightning (Cress Williams) himself.

But once Black Lightning survived the first season, Whale's treatment of Khalil turned ugly and abusive. It was partly because of this abuse that Khalil finally found the courage to turn on Tobias and run away with his ex-girlfriend Jen (China Anne McClain). Eventually dodging gang members and a would-be assassin, Khalil finally agreed to go home, turn himself in, and enter witness protection. Tobias had Khalil's transport hijacked and when he finally confronted his former protege, he ripped Khalil's cybernetic spine out of his back with his bare hands.

Khalil clung to life for most of the episode following Whale's brutal attack, but he didn't have long. Jen convinced her psychic teacher, Perenna (Erik Alexander), to ease Khalil's passing by psychically placing Jen and Khalil in a dream world where they were in the hallway of their high school, on their way to the prom Khalil would never see.

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Blindfold (Uncanny X-Men #11) February 6, 2019

February's Uncanny X-Men #11 was noteworthy for a number of reasons. The one most heavily promoted by Marvel was that it represented the first reunion of the newly resurrected Wolverine and Cyclops. But while it gave the X-Men back two of their favorite sons, it also stole away two of their lesser-known daughters. 

The first victim of Uncanny X-Men #11 (at least, the first one we see) was the young future-seeing Ruth, a.k.a. Blindfold. In the wake of almost all of the X-Men disappearing in previous issues, Blindfold was one of the few allies both Wolverine and Cyclops were able to contact while looking for survivors. Unfortunately, Ruth was suffering from bleak and disturbing images of the future. Uncanny X-Men #11 was split into three sections, with the first two telling the story from the points of view of Cyclops and Wolverine respectively, while the last was reserved for Blindfold. Her chapter is a purposely confusing and blurry part of the story, with the only clear thing being that Blindfold feels utterly hopeless facing what's to come. And so, in the first chapter, Scott Summers finds Ruth has committed suicide in her bathtub, cryptically writing "This is forever" on the wall in her own blood.

Ruth first entered the X-Men mythos courtesy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon and artist John Cassaday's game-changing Astonishing X-Men run, when Ruth — ironically, considering her end — predicted the tragic suicide of fellow Xavier student Wing. 

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Loa (Uncanny X-Men #11) February 6, 2019

The timeline of Uncanny X-Men #11 isn't a straight line. While Blindfold is the first mutant hero we see die in the issue, chronologically speaking the C-Lister Loa dies before her. 

It's a strange portrayal of a death, particularly for a superhero character, in that we see little of the events leading up to it and don't even know who killed Loa or how. Held hostage by Blindfold's random "memory" of what has happened, what is happening, and what's to come (Watchmen readers will likely be reminded of the screwy, random order in which Doctor Manhattan tells the story of his life); we find Velocidad and Blindfold standing over the corpse of Loa in the snow. We don't know exactly how she died or exactly who killed her.

Considering the events of the rest of Uncanny X-Men #11, which shows how anti-mutant groups like the Purifiers feel like happy ants at a picnic in the wake of the X-Men's disappearance, it seems likely some kind of mutant-hating group was responsible for Loa's death, but we don't know for sure. The feel of the issue, particularly Blindfold's chapter, suggests our confusion will be cleared up in the near future. 

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Sage (The Gifted) February 11, 2019

The 13th episode of The Gifted's second season, "teMpted," ended with Marcos, a.k.a. Eclipse (Sean Teale), killing the Inner Circle stooge Max (James Carpinello). Marcos had meant to capture and interrogate Max about the Inner Circle's plans, but Max fought back and forced Marcos to use deadly force. In the following episode, Inner Circle head Reeva (Grace Byers) searches for the traitor responsible for letting the Mutant Underground know how to find Max, and her aim proves to be as inaccurate as it is deadly.

Not knowing that Polaris (Emma Dumont) had learned to use her magnetic powers to hack computer systems, Reeva and the Frost sisters blame Sage (Hayley Lovitt), whose powers revolve around computer systems and whose digital signature they find when researching the surveillance cameras outside Max's quarters. Sage pleads her innocence, but Reeva is unconvinced. She uses her sonic powers with her usual mercilessness, murdering Sage.

Ironically, while Sage is innocent of betraying the Inner Circle in The Gifted, her comic book counterpart was a spy for Professor X, infiltrating the infamous Hellfire Club on his orders.

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Gotham (Batman #65) February 20, 2019

Neither mutants nor Marvel have a monopoly on superhero deaths, and this year's first DC Comics superhero death happened as a part of the mini-event "The Price." Told in alternating issues of Batman and The Flash, "The Price" acts as an offshoot of the mini-series Heroes in Crisis

Early in the current run of Batman, the Caped Crusader came across two heroes he thought might act as replacements in his mission to safeguard Gotham. The brother/sister team of Gotham and Gotham Girl idolized Batman while at the same time displaying powers similar to Superman. Batman ultimately learned the pair were too good to be true. They'd subjected themselves to experiments to gain their powers, and those powers were slowly killing them. Gotham (the dude, not the city) died and Batman did what he could to help Gotham Girl. But in "The Price," Gotham Girl returns with a plan for vengeance, a mystery benefactor, and her brother resurrected. 

Gotham's return is short-lived. In battle with the Flash, Gotham quickly overextends himself and again dies, literally exploding. We'll learn soon if his sister will join him in the void this time around, or if Batman will try once more to rehabilitate her. 

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Strong Guy (Uncanny X-Men #12) February 20, 2019

Marvel's mutants may not have a monopoly on superhero death in 2019, but if death were a contest, they'd definitely be the frontrunners. Blindfold and Loa weren't enough, so the following week in Uncanny X-Men #12, the former bodyguard and X-Factor member Guido, a.k.a. Strong Guy, fell protecting his allies.

Still looking for surviving X-Men, Cyclops and Wolverine learned that mutants were being imprisoned and used to power a new kind of Sentinel. Freeing Strong Guy, Mirage, and others from their Sentinel suits, Cyclops and Wolverine led a raid on the prison to free the remaining mutants. Among others, they found Magik and a few copies of Jamie Madrox, a.k.a. the Multiple Man. 

On their way out of the prison, one of the Multiple Man copies discovered he had been booby trapped with a bomb. Guido used his body and powers to absorb the blast and protect his allies. Unfortunately, already weakened by a techno-organic virus, Guido didn't survive the blast. Still being pursued, the X-Men were forced to leave their friend's massive body behind.   

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Reed Strucker (The Gifted) February 26, 2019

Gifted's season 2 finale giveth and it taketh away. While "oMens" ended with the unexplained resurrection of Blink (Jamie Chung), who was presumed dead two episodes previous (at the end of "calaMity"), it also killed off one of the series' earliest regulars. Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) sacrificed himself to kill Inner Circle leader Reeva (Grace Byers) and stop the mutant/human war Reeva hoped to spark.

Reed had struggled with his powers ever since he learned he was a mutant in the middle of Gifted's first season. When active, Reed's powers caused anything he touched to disintegrate, which unintentionally put his own safety and that of everyone around him in jeopardy a number of times. He'd managed to use his powers consciously once or twice, but for the most part they eluded his control. He went so far as suppress them with drugs in the second season, but eventually — knowing the drugs would run out anyway — stopped taking them. 

In the season finale, Reed used his lack of control to his advantage — or at least to the advantage of those he cared about. When the Mutant Underground raided the Inner Circle's headquarters to stop Reeva, Reed slipped past her security and confronted her on his own. Knowing Reeva's sonic powers would make his abilities even more unpredictable, Reed cut loose, utterly destroying the top floors of the Inner Circle's building as well as killing himself and Reeva in the process. 

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Hercules & Vision (Avengers: No Road Home #5) March 13, 2019

Some big changes to Marvel's comic book narrative have come courtesy of the weekly miniseries Avengers: No Road Home — a kind of sequel to Avengers' 2018 "No Surrender" storyline. The series started with the temporally confusing Avenger Voyager forming a makeshift Avengers squad composed of Hercules, Vision, Scarlet Witch, Rocket Raccoon, the Hulk, Hawkeye, and Spectrum to combat the return of the dark goddess Nyx. Before anyone realized she was a threat, Nyx and her powerful children slaughtered the Olympian gods — and in Avengers: No Road Home #5, she added the demigod Hercules and the android Vision to her list of victims. 

While Nyx battled one half of Voyager's Avengers squad in Omnipotence City — a cosmic gathering spot for gods of different pantheons — her son Hypnos assaulted the realm of Nightmare to capture one of the three soul shards Nyx needed to become too powerful to stop. It was in that realm that the Hulk overpowered Hypnos and broke his neck, killing him. Nyx sensed the death of her son and lashed out in rage and revenge. She told the Avengers they had no idea how merciful she'd been thus far and instantly transformed Hercules and Vision into ash — reminiscent of the fates of so many Avengers in 2018's Avengers: Infinity War

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Warpath (X-Force #4) March 13, 2019

The X-Force creative team enjoyed messing with fan expectations in March.

Most readers knew one of the team members would bite the dust by the end of X-Force #4. Previews of the cover showed the teenage Cable cradling what appeared to be a corpse, but with its face and most of its body covered. The obvious choice was the cyborg Deathlok, who appeared mortally wounded by the mutant-hunting Ahab in the previous issue, and X-Force #4 opens with the villain harvesting parts from the cyborg for his own arsenal. Deathlok got better, though, and the next hero to look like he might be on the chopping block was Shatterstar. Ahab nearly disemboweled Shatterstar with Wolverine-ish claws he'd taken from Deathlok, and the fact that Shatterstar has so far been relegated to the background for most of X-Force didn't make his chances seem great.  

But no, Shatterstar got better too and it looked like the cover might've just big one big tease. Ahab and his mutant-hating ally were both dead when finally, on the second-to-last page, an energy portal appeared behind Warpath and he was impaled through the chest by some kind of energized rod. Warpath collapsed to the ground and the final page revealed a splash of X-Force's old enemy Stryfe and his Mutant Liberation Front emerging from the portal — presumably ready to send the rest of X-Force to join Warpath in the afterlife.

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Scout, a.k.a. X-Assassin (X-23 #10) March 13, 2019

Ever since the 2018 premiere of the most recent volume of X-23 – the title starring Laura Kinney, the young female clone of Wolverine — Laura's sister/clone Gabby, a.k.a. Honey Badger, has been a regular fixture. For a few months it looked like a third sister might join the sorority of claw-happy sister-clones: In X-23 #7, Laura was attacked by a cybernetic assassin who ultimately proved to be another clone of Laura. 

Laura learned that her creator, Dr. Robert Chandler, was producing an army of cybernetic X-23 clones for the company Med-X-Tronics. Unlike Laura or Gabby, the cyborg clones' healing powers were compromised. While Laura investigated, Gabby spent as much time as she could with her new "sister," who said nothing, seemed almost comatose, and whose only name was the one Dr. Chandler gave her: "X-Assassin." 

When Laura was pinned down at Med-X-Tronics by dozens of her cybernetic clones, Gabby and X-Assassin came to the rescue. As Dr. Chandler tried to escape in a helicopter, X-Assassin directed Gabby to hit a button when the time was right. The cyborg clone boarded the helicopter, threw Laura free from it, and Gabby hit the button — causing X-Assassin to explode and killing Dr. Chandler along with her. 

The issue ends with Gabby mourning the loss of the sister she barely got to know. Based on an undefined anagram on her chest — T.U.O.K.S. — Gabby wrote down her choice for her departed sister's name: "Scout."

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Kid Loki (Asgardians of the Galaxy #7) March 13, 2019

While Marvel had a lot of reboots in 2018, one of its completely new series – Asgardians of the Galaxy – has proven to be one of the most fun. With a team of Asgardian and Asgardian-themed heroes forming to stop Nebula from bringing about universal Ragnarok, the Asgardians are led by the deadly Angela and their roster includes Skurge the Executioner, Valkyrie, Thunderstrike and Throg, Frog of Thunder (Thor, if Thor was a frog — no, really). 

The team also included the deadly Destroyer armor, and by the end of the first issue it was revealed that the armor was hiding and protecting Kid Loki, a younger and even more insufferable version who emerged as a result of the original Loki's death in the 2010 line-wide event Siege. However, since then an adult Loki has also come to exist in the Marvel Universe. 

There is some mystery behind how Kid Loki dies in Asgardians of the Galaxy #7, because it isn't a result of that issue's events. Angela finds Kid Loki lounging on the branch of a tree. He tells her he can't go with her because his older counterpart has dismissed the spell that brought him into being. Kid Loki simply vanishes into nothing. We never see the older version of Loki in the issue, so it's unclear when or why he dismissed the spell, but it may have something to do with Marvel's upcoming War of the Realms event.