Which superhero must die?

I’m planning a role-playing scenario set in the DC Universe where the heroes (members of the Batman Irregulars) are sent by Batman to investigate the murder of an established superhero.

The question is: who should the dead superhero be?

I should explain that this is set in the pre-52 version of the DC Universe (bar a few tweaks that aren’t relevant for this) complete with convoluted history spread over many decades. The key change is that events of Blackest Night mean that the dead stay dead. There are no crappy three-issue superhero “deaths” in my game; death is final.

Whoever the corpse on the floor is, this is it for that hero.

I’ve already discounted a few potential candidates:

  • The Big Three. Killing off Superman, Batman or Wonder Woman would be campaign-changing events and that’s too large a scope for a simple scenario. Besides, they’ve died too many times already. Killing them again is just no fun
  • Members of the JLA and JSA. Both the Justice League and Justice Society will want to investigate the deaths of their own members and not leave it to a two-bit group of Batman trainees.  Ex-members are fair game though.
  • No unpowered heroes. Any member of the bat-family could be killed by a sniper bullet, car accident or really bad dose of pneumonia. This needs to be a hero who is more than human. I want the players to be left asking How? as well as Why? 
  • Must have a secret ID. This is a murder mystery, and the first thing they will need to find out is who the victim is. The rules out any hero with a public identity.
  • Not Guy Gardner. Too obvious. He’s the guy everyone wants to kill, and for exactly that reason he should live. John Stewart or Kyle Rayner, on the other hand….
Goes without saying that I’m willing to break any and all of the above rules for the sake of a good story.
Any thoughts? Which DC superhero do you want to see six feet under?
Ladies and gentlemen, the floor is yours.

19 Comments on “Which superhero must die?”

  1. Batman.

    It’s totally the kind of thing that he’d do. He knew someone was close to tracking him down, so he set up clues and made arrangements for others to be able to find his killer.

  2. When you discount any hero that hasn’t been in the Justice League, JSA, and the Bat-Family, there really aren’t that many heroes left.

    You’re pretty much stuck with Donna Troy.

    Unless… What if it was a villain that was murdered? Why would Batman send this group of heroes to investigate one the death of one of his rogue’s gallery? (“In a tale we can only call ‘Who Killed Killer Croc?'”) Obvious answer: Batman has been set up. He’s being held prisoner by the Justice League/Checkmate/Whoever is S.H.I.E.L.D. these days in the DCU. And the Irregulars are the only people he can trust.

  3. Oh. Hey. How about this.

    Someone is killing off the Legion of Super-Heroes and dumping their bodies back in the 21st century in a deadly challenge to the world’s greatest detective. Corpses of unknown heroes, all of which have the same ring, (so they must all belong to a secret fraternity of heroes!) start showing up one right after the other.

    Bonus fun: Time Travel to the 31st Century!

  4. Dick Grayson – it’s “almost” Batman, but not quite, and he always struck me as one of the decent people in the superhero universe, therefore his death will should something on a personal level as well as the loss of just another mask.

    1. True :)

      I’m looking for a hero with a higher profile if possible – not someone who makes the players say “Who?” and scratch their heads.

      That said, he’s still in the running.

    1. Hour Man and Doc Midnight are both in the Justice Society, and they would investigate the death on on their own.

      Ambush Bug…… now there’s an idea….

    1. Geo-Force would be good, though isn’t his identity as Prince Markov pretty well known? One of the Outsiders would be a great candidate, and it would explain Batman’s involvement in solving the crime.

      All good stuff.

      Keep them coming, and thanks all!

  5. I like the villain idea, although if you really want to shake things up, what about Swamp Thing? Swampy is a pretty well known character, and can be quite a power house. He may be lacking in the secret identity department, but the whys and hows of the death could be interesting.

    Etrigan might be a good choice as well, especially if Jason Blood survives.

  6. There’s a few that I can think of with their own pros and cons:

    Captain Marvel:
    – Pro: Leaves room for a legacy based comeback
    – Pro: Death leaves the entire Marvel family depowered, leaving the PCs to step in.
    – Con: Recently been tied rather strongly to the JSA

    Robby Reed/H-E-R-O
    – Con: Runs into the obscurity factor
    – Pro: One civilian ID, 2 dozen or more missing heroes
    – Pro: Fun device for the PCs to get their hands on.

    Booster Gold:
    -Pro: Suddenly there is no one protecting the time stream!
    -Con: Device Based
    -Con: The current version hasn’t yet father’s Rip Hunter (Ok, might be a Pro… Time Ripple!)

  7. I am REALLY liking the “investigate the murdered villain” angle. Especially if it was one of Batman’s second-tier villains like Penguin…oh (stream of consciousness here) what about Harley Quinn? And especially since it’s Batman, Inc– what if someone is framing Bats for it to the point that he has to get the hell outta Gotham?

    Suddenly Gotham is sans its mightiest protector, Joker is tailing the investigators threatening them with super nasty things if they don’t find the killer and maybe even getting in the way when they first confront the killer, and the cops are all over the place trying to hamper the heroes’ investigations because they think that the heroes’ employer (Batman) did the deed. All kinds of complications.

  8. Many thanks for the all feedback and suggestions.

    I’m digesting and ruminating now, and will post up the scenario write-up when it’s done.

    Many thanks again!

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