The DC Universe is a place filled with an incredibly large pantheon of fan-favorite characters — hero and villain alike. From the biggest names like Batman and Superman to the most obscure characters like the Nightmaster (RIP) and Kite-Man (hell yeah), there is a fan out there waiting for the next big appearance from his or her favorite DCU character. But with such a convoluted continuity, with so many new stories, reboots and relaunches, it might be hard for some to keep track of when and where certain characters were last seen, whether they were left alive or dead, and whether or not they seemed set to return sooner rather than later.
From the universe-altering shift of Flashpoint and the streamlined universe of the New 52 to the return of the old continuity (kind of) in DC Rebirth, it seems that some characters have managed to fall through the cracks. Some of these characters haven’t been seen or heard from in years, and while others are conspicuously absent from DC Rebirth, still more are surprisingly and even discreetly part of some big events currently unfolding in the DCU. Wherever they are, wherever they might be, here is a handy list of 15 DC characters who almost everyone believes are dead, but who actually aren’t.
Conner Kent may just be one of the most important and fan-favorite members of the Teen Titans. He has been a part of the super-team for a very long time, ever since the pre-Flashpoint days. During the New 52, Conner received a rejuvenated origin story and a new costume, but he still had a presence on the team. Some fans wished for him to return to his original status quo, but sadly that never happened.
After DC relaunched its entire line in Rebirth, many classic elements from the pre-Flashpoint continuity returned, like Wally West and the real Superman. But, for some reason, Superboy hasn’t been seen since the start of the relaunch. Instead, the son of Clark Kent and Lois Lane, Jon Kent, is the one currently wielding the Superboy mantle. However we recently had confirmation in Teen Titans and Superman that Connor exists somewhere (or somewhen), which means he is actually alive.
Although he was never the biggest or most well-known superhero, Plastic Man has proven his worth as a member of the JLA many times. This has made him a fan-favorite superhero, albeit one who has been missing from the DC Universe for quite a long time. Ever since the DCU was rebooted with the New 52, Plastic Man only had a cameo appearance.
With the character missing from DC Rebirth, some fans had all but forgotten about him, believing him a casualty of the multiversal shake-ups and timeline shifts. However, while we haven’t properly seen him in action yet, Plastic Man has finally returned in the pages of the current comic book event, Dark Nights: Metal. He may only be in the form of an egg right now, but we’re certain he will wake up sooner or later.
HAWKMAN AND HAWKGIRL
Both Hawkman and Hawgirl have died more times than anyone can count. The two have been stuck in an endless cycle of life, death and rebirth, and their constant comings and goings mean that it is very hard to keep track of where they are, and if they are alive or dead. The two characters have made sporadic appearances in various forms over the New 52.
Hawkman even starred in his own Rebirth series titled Death of Hawkman, a very foreboding title that lived up to its promise. But now, both characters are truly back in Dark Nights: Metal. Well, back, yes. Alive? That’s a bit more complicated. Kendra Saunders was taken over by dark forces to become Lady Blackhawk, and Hawkman was also turned into the monstrous Dragon of Barbatos, the Keeper of the Forge.
The mysterious Phantom Stranger has always been a staple of the pantheon of DC heroes. Although he is not the most well-known character, he is a recognizable figure and one that has proven crucial in many big events. Surely, a character as ancient, as powerful and as important as he should be involved in DC Rebirth and yet, the character has not been seen since the New 52.
Many have assumed that the Phantom Stranger was gone, that he had disappeared after his origin was revealed in the New 52. The character was conspicuously missing during the first two years of Rebirth, but now he was been seen, quite briefly, in the pages of Dark Nights: Metal, as a background member of the league of Immortal Men. Considering that Phantom Stranger is in fact immortal, it should come as no surprise to see him there.
The Justice Society of America was among the casualties of the shift from the pre-Flashpoint era to the New 52. In a bid to streamline continuity, DC made the Justice League the first and only super-team of this new timeline, removing the JSA’s involvement in the days of World War II. The team instead appeared in a contemporary manner on the New 52’s Earth-2 series.
This new iteration of the JSA was quite different from the one fans knew and loved, which made them all but certain that the original version of the team was dead. But, little by little, it seems like Rebirth is working to bring the JSA back. We have already seen Jay Garrick make a brief return before disappearing back into the Speed Force, and Johnny Thunder has been tasked with finding his old teammates.
Before Flashpoint and the New 52, Metamorpho was a member of the Outsiders, an ally of Batman and even a dependable Justice League member. His unique power-set made him a powerful crime-fighter, and he even made the ultimate sacrifice to protect his friends. But still, Metamorpho returned. What he couldn’t really survive however, was a continuity reboot.
With the onset of the New 52, Metamorpho was all but missing. He made a few cameo appearances, one as a potential member of the Justice League International, but we have not seen him receive a starring role since. The character was also missing from the Rebirth relaunch – that is, until the very recent Doomsday Clock series, where we learned that Rex Mason was given his metahuman powers by the US government.
Adam Strange has always been one for daring space adventures. The character had a starring role in the New 52’s Justice League United, and he even made the jump to Rebirth, where he received a co-starring role in the Death of Hawkman miniseries. Stuck in the newest conflict between the planets of Rann and Thanagar, Strange fought side-by-side with his friend Hawkman.
However, the duo discovered a ploy by the Justice League villain Despero to seize control of the powerful Nth metal. Hawkman made the ultimate sacrifice, while Strange was sucked into a pocket dimension. He hasn’t been seen since, with many assuming him to be dead. But he isn’t dead – not technically. He is merely lost. With the events of Dark Nights: Metal focusing on alternate realities and Nth metal, could Adam return sooner rather than later?
Superman’s Kryptonian father is a character who’s most famously known to be dead. After all, Jor-El bid his son farewell when he sent him on a rocket ship to Earth; Kal-El’s parents died when Krypton exploded. It’s a well-known fact, one that is believed by most, even those who have never picked up a comic book before. But, during Rebirth, we found out that that wasn’t exactly the case.
In fact, we learned that seconds before Krypton was destroyed, Jor-El was rescued by a mysterious force. The ordeal left him injured by kryptonite, and he later surfaced calling himself Mr. Oz. Although his next actions were villainous, it was revealed that Oz was actually being mind-controlled. Now, Jor-El has once again been taken by this mysterious presence, but one thing is certain: he is alive.
MARTIAN MANHUNTER AND MISS MARTIAN
The Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian are both beloved characters. As members of the Justice League and the Teen Titans respectively, the two have been a part of the DC Universe for a very long time. Manhunter was brought into the New 52 as a member of Stormwatch, but it wasn’t long before he was a part of the JLA. However, the character has not been seen since Rebirth started.
The case is even worse for Miss Martian. Although she was one of the most important members of the Teen Titans, she never made it past the Flashpoint event. The New 52 merely featured a cameo of the character, when we saw her on a photograph. Considering that it has been more than five years, many believe she is simply dead or forgotten. But both Martians are alive – they simply have yet to return.
Whether Vic Sage is the one under the faceless mask or Renee Montoya, The Question is undoubtedly a fan-favorite character. As a superhero, vigilante and detective, the Question has been featured in many DC Comics events. However, the New 52 shake-up changed things, and we saw a different kind of Question receive a new origin alongside the Phantom Stranger and Pandora.
While many didn’t particularly care for this origin, fans hoped that Rebirth would somehow bring the old Vic Sage back into continuity. But that hasn’t happened yet. The Question has been missing for a good long while, but it’s a mistake to believe that he is dead. His costume was glimpsed in a recent issue of Tom King’s Batman, meaning that we might see him pop-up soon.
THE LEGION OF SUPERHEROES
The Legion of Superheroes has always been an important aspect of the DC Universe’s past, present and future. The team hails from the 31st century, and they have traveled back in time, to both the past and present, to interact with the current heroes of the DCU. The Legion itself has been a part of DC continuity for an incredibly long time, and the team had its own title in the New 52.
However, all mentions of the team disappeared with DC Rebirth, leading many to believe them dead. But at least one member of the team isn’t dead: Saturn Girl. Currently, Saturn Girl is unstable, stuck in the present and locked up in Arkham Asylum. Her Legion ring was confiscated by the police, and she speaks vaguely about the future. She has a mission in mind, and we believe it may herald the return of the Legion.
Ray Palmer is a character that gained popularity thanks to his appearances in the various Arrowverse television shows. Ray had a long career as a superhero and fellow Justice Leaguer in the comics, but the New 52 changed all of that. His role as The Atom was fundamentally changed, and it would only be in the DC Rebirth Special #1 that we would truly see The Atom fans know and love again.
However, his appearance was short-lived. Since he was lost in the Microverse, Ray left a message to his successor, Ryan Choi, to follow in his footsteps. Ray was believed dead for a long time but Ryan, with the help of the JLA, eventually found him in the microscopic universe, alive and well — but locked in battle. Ultimately, Ray decided to stay in the Microverse as a hero. The Atom isn’t dead — he is simply somewhere else, microscopically so.
The lord of Apokolips, Darkseid, came to his shocking death at the hands of the Anti-Monitor in the “Darkseid War” storyline from Justice League, the comic book event that would effectively close out the New 52 era of DC Comics. The death of Darkseid was widely publicized, and the ramifications were felt even to this day, more than two years later, when Superman was elected as the new leader of Apokolips.
Because of that, many believe that Darkseid is dead. But, for those who have not been following the Wonder Woman series along, there came a very surprising development very recently. Darkseid had been reborn in an infant state, consuming the energy from Olympian gods to grow and gain power. Finally, when he killed Zeus, Darkseid returned to life, fully powered and fully evil.
Firestorm is a character we have not seen in the DC Universe ever since the end of the New 52. The character has been gaining in popularity, with his inclusion on The CW’s Legends of Tomorrow and as a playable character in Injustice 2, but he is still missing from the comics. Firestorm’s last big comic book event was Forever Evil, which was a considerable amount of time ago.
With the Rebirth relaunch, many fans hoped that Firestorm would return to prominence, but that has not yet happened. After being missing for so long, it’s easy to assume that the character is dead. While we can’t know for certain where both halves of Firestorm currently are, we are certain that they are still alive, and that the character will return to prominence once the timing is right.
Captain Marvel is a big part of the legacy of DC Comics. In fact, many longtime fans didn’t agree too much with DC when it renamed the character Shazam, re-introducing him with a new costume and a new origin as part of the New 52. The character featured primarily in his own back-up feature attached to the Justice League title, and he even joined the team for a while.
But with the arrival of the Rebirth relaunch, Shazam disappeared from the DC Universe. The character hasn’t been seen or mentioned since, leading some to believe that he was a casualty of the relaunch. But there is no sign that points to the fact that Shazam is dead. The character is immortal and, in fact, Black Adam, the superhero’s nemesis – who was also missing from Rebirth – very recently appeared in Dark Nights: Metal. Therefore, don’t be surprised if Captain Marvel soon follows.
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