It is said that there are only two things which are certain: Death and taxes. If you live in a comic book universe, however, there are three things: Death, taxes and resurrection. It used to be said that in comics only Barry Allen and Jason Todd stay dead, but since we have seen the resurrection of both of those characters in the last decade, you can't even say that anymore. Sometimes a character's return was part of the storyline the entire time, as was with Superman, and other times the resurrection of a beloved character is a welcomed development, especially if he's been dead for a few years. The following are characters that I feel should never have been resurrected, either because they had been replaced by a competent successor or because their resurrection did a disservice to their death.
These are in no particular order:
Back in the early to mid '90s, DC Comics was shaking up all of their characters in an effort to goose sales. Superman was killed and then resurrected as four different Supermen, Batman had his back broken by Bane and was replaced by Azrael, and Hal Jordan, distraught at the destruction of his city during the aforementioned resurrection of Superman story, is driven insane by his grief and his need to bring back his friends and family and those he had sworn to protect, but failed. He heads out to space, waging a one-man war against the Guardians and any Green Lantern who stands in between him and the power battery on Oa, which Hal is convinced will give him the power to remake Coast City and bring back everyone he lost. Seeing that Hal has been corrupted by his grief and that his intentions are to use the power for personal gain, which is a no-no, the Guardians dispatch the Green Lantern Corps to stop Hal from getting to Oa, prompting Hal to slaughter every GL who stands against him. Hal eventually makes his way to Oa where, as a last ditch effort to stop him, the Guardians free Sinestro from his prison to stand against the now-rogue Green Lantern. Jordan kills Sinestro and takes the power of the battery, becoming the supervillain Parallax, leaving Oa, the Guardians and the Corps to die out.
As the villain Parallax, Hal Jordan is recruited by Kyle Rayner, Hal's replacement and the only Green Lantern left at the time, to save the Earth after the sun burns itself out. At first Hal refuses, though his heart is eventually softened and he sacrifices himself to reignite the sun and save the planet, proving once and for all that he really was a hero deep down. The reason Hal should have been allowed to stay dead is because resurrecting him completely undid that sacrifice, which was probably the most noble death of any hero since, maybe, Barry Allen. Superman's death, while touching at the time, was ultimately just a cheap plot device and Green Arrow's death was fairly anti-climactic. Hal's death was epic. Not just the way he died, reigniting the sun of all things, but because of the redemption that came with it. After Hal's death he was brought back as the Spectre, a servant of God himself. Hal had his redemption through his death and bringing him back as Green Lantern was unnecessary, and it was a slap in the face to Kyle Rayner, who had carried the torch by himself and had done it quite well. And to top it all off, his fall to the (excuse me for saying it this way) the "dark side" was completely explained away by saying that Hal had been possessed by an being named Parallax, he wasn't himself Parallax. That not only undid his fall, but it completely took any power out of his redemption as well. Geoff Johns ruined the Green Lantern, and he started that ruination by resurrecting Hal Jordan.
First of all, Aunt May has died more than any other character in comics. Let the woman die! She's, what? 156 years old or something? She can't be enjoying it. Not only that, but Aunt May has been mostly unimportant to the Spider-Man mythos for quite some time. I mean, when Peter was in high school, and even college, she served a purpose, but once Peter and Mary Jane married, she was just kind of there. She's had some good moments, like when she discovered that Peter was Spider-Man (it's about freaking time, Aunt May!) and they had a very nice JMS-scripted heart-to-heart talk about it, but keeping her around certainly hasn't been worth all of the ridiculous hoops the writers have jumped through to bring her back at various times. Once, they even nuked the fridge by saying that the Aunt May who had died was actually an actress who had been surgically altered to look like Aunt May and that Aunt May was actually being held captive by villains. Come on, Marvel, your readership isn't this stupid! Not to mention that they went so far to keep May alive that they completely dissolved Peter's relationship with Mary Jane, by having him make a deal with the devil. Really? Peter is going to sacrifice his integrity and his life with the love of his life to save his aunt who may have only a couple years left anyway? Absolutely shameful.
Let me start out by saying that I thought the Death of Wolverine storyline was a monumental disappointment. The story itself really had no meaning, and the actual death of the character was both anti-climactic and without any real emotion. This is one of Marvel's most beloved characters and his death garnered absolutely no real feeling at all. It just was, and it was underwhelming. However, even though Wolverine's death itself was a disappointment, they have made such a big deal over at Marvel that they intend Wolverine to stay dead that they need to stick with that. They need to stay true to their word on this. Besides, there hasn't been the quintessential "death" in comics since they brought back Barry Allen and they need to have that. Make Wolverine a legacy character, find a way to give his meaningless death some meaning, but leave the dude dead. I think fans need a break from Wolverine for a while anyway.
I have no real issue with J'onn, but I also don't see where he has much of a place in the DCU except as a member of the Justice League, a role that can be filled by a number of different characters, and has basically been filled on the main Justice League team by Cyborg since the beginning of the New 52. Martian Manhunter just isn't a very interesting character as a whole. I'm personally really very indifferent to this character, but a lack of love for J'onn J'onzz isn't really why I think he should have stayed dead. He seemed to have been killed off in Final Crisis just so he could could be used as a Black Lantern in Blackest Night, which followed Final Crisis pretty much immediately, and then he was promptly resurrected at the end of Brightest Day... which was the immediate follow-up to Blackest Night. C'mon, man. Like Superman, the Martian Manhunter's death seemed to be nothing more than a means to an end, namely having one more dead hero to be resurrected by the black rings, and that was it. It was a plot device, but unlike Superman, there was really no emotion in it. The Justice League didn't really have time to mourn and his death wasn't really given any chance to have any lasting effects on the DCU. He was dead for a year and a half, and spent seven months of that as a Black Lantern. Because his death had no weight, his resurrection had no weight. Then there is the Elemental stuff they did with him after his resurrection which was just... not good. There was so much more they could have done with this character, or at least his legacy, if they had just left him dead until the New 52 reboot of the DCU.
As with Hal Jordan, this was the fault of Geoff Johns, and it was wrong on so many levels. First of all, the death of Barry Allen had lasting repercussions on the DCU and pretty much established a sort of tradition of something important happening with the Flash during every Crisis event. The most heinous thing that was accomplished by resurrecting Barry Allen, however, was that Wally West ended up being pushed out of the spotlight, and was relegated to being just another knock-off Flash. Wally had been the Flash for 20 years and had earned his right to be that character. And Wally has fans. He was such a popular Flash that he was even the version used for the Justice League cartoon. Wally had a personality that, originally, Barry just didn't have and he brought a whole new dimension to the character. And we got to see Wally evolve as the Flash, to develop and mature, while Barry stayed mostly the same and continues to mostly be that same character he was in 1959 when he was originally created. Now, I do like what Geoff Johns did with Barry after he was resurrected, I do like that he gave Barry a proper backstory and I do like the idea of the Reverse Flash going back in time to kill Barry's mother. In fact, I will go out on a limb and say that using time travel was probably the single most ingenious way of perpetrating a retcon that I have ever seen. That said, There really was no need for Barry to be brought back at all. It seems as though Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns have been conspiring to return DC Comics to the silver age, and that has always bothered me. Comic book stories should always be progressing, and not regressing.
Those are my five characters who should have stayed dead, do you have any picks I missed? Any I listed that you think their resurrections may serve a purpose I'm not seeing?
Let me know in the comments.