Superhero stories have some pretty well-known tropes. One of these is the comeback story. Marvel and DC have told countless stories that have had characters, heroes, and villains alike, taken out of play. Sometimes they're killed, sometimes their books are canceled, and sometimes the characters lose popularity and just go away. Comeback stories bring these characters back in a variety of ways.

As with all things, sometimes these stories are simply bad and fail; sometimes, they're perfectly fine, but not remarkable; other times, they're amazing. Marvel and DC Comics have put out some brilliant comeback comics for heroes and villains, superhero tales that have stood the test of time.

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10 Thanos Quest

Thanos clenching his fists

Thanos has fought everyone, so it was only a matter of time before one of those fights ended in his death. Thanos got his hands on a Cosmic Cube and ended up battling the Avengers. He died in this fight, and it would be years before he came back to life. However, the book that brought him back would kick off his best run ever. Thanos Quest, by writer Jim Starlin and artist Ron Lim, sees the Mad Titan brought back to life by Mistress Death, and him going up against the Elders of the Universe to get the Infinity Gems.

This two-issue book follows Thanos as he figures out ways to defeat the oldest and most powerful beings in the universe, each armed with an Infinity Gem. Starlin and Lim show why Thanos is such an amazing villain, as he outthinks and fights beings who would otherwise destroy him. It's a great ride and leads directly into Infinity Gauntlet.

9 Infinity Gauntlet

Thanos uses the Infinity Gauntlet in Marvel Comics.

Infinity Gauntlet, by writer Jim Starlin and artists George Pérez and Ron Lim, chronicled the battle against the returned Thanos. However, the book also had some other pretty major returns. Writer Jim Starlin had brought back his greatest villain in Thanos Quest and Infinity Gauntlet, he brought back the ultimate cosmic Marvel hero — Adam Warlock — as well as Gamora and Pip the Troll.

Adam Warlock became the leader of the resistance against Thanos, playing a game of chess with Thanos that the Mad Titan didn't even know they were playing. Infinity Gauntlet is a legitimate classic, and Adam Warlock is a big reason why. Warlock had been gone for years, and his return showed a generation of fans who had never seen him before why he is an amazing hero.

8 Infinite Crisis

Power Girl standing before the Golde Age Superman, Lois Lane, and Superboy in DC Comics

Infinite Crisis, by writer Geoff Johns and artists Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Ivan Reis, and Jerry Ordway, took years to build, but it was more than worth the wait. Released to coincide with the twentieth anniversary of Crisis On Infinite Earths, the book brought back Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane, as well as Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime. Luthor and Prime are the villains of the story, manipulating everyone to create the perfect Earth.

The key to the book is Earth-2 Superman. DC's first superhero is amazing throughout, reminding everyone why Superman is such a great hero. An entire generation of readers learned to love Earth-2 Superman. Infinite Crisis is a brilliant event, and its return is part of what takes it to the next level.

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7 The Immortal Hulk

The Immortal Hulk Cover Art with the Hulk rising from the ground

The Hulk died in Civil War II, an occurrence that is generally considered the worst Marvel event in years — which is saying something when Secret Empire and Infinity Wars exist. However, most fans would say it was worth existing because it eventually gave readers the masterpiece that is The Immortal Hulk. Written by Al Ewing with art by Joe Bennet and multiple fill-in artists, The Immortal Hulk mixes the horror roots of the Hulk with the psychological storytelling of later years, with a soupçon of Ewing's trademark love of Marvel cosmology.

The Immortal Hulk is a fifty-issue epic that sees the Hulk deal with the truth of his existence, with the multiple personalities of Bruce Banner playing a huge role. The Immortal Hulk blew readers' minds and set the bar for the Hulk very high. It's generally considered the best Hulk comic since writer Peter David's run, and some enjoy it more than David's classics.

6 Captain America (Vol. 3) #1

An image from the cover of Marvel Comics' Captain America (Vol. 2) #1

Marvel has amazing supersoldiers, but Captain America is the best. However, the '90s were a bad time for Marvel's classic heroes, and Captain America suffered as well. In turn, writer Mark Waid and artist Ron Garney were put on Captain America, and fans were very happy. Then Heroes Reborn happened, and Waid and Garney were taken off the book with little to no explanation or warning. Heroes Reborn failed and Marvel decided to bring back Waid and Garney. It was a tumultuous time for the star-spangled hero.

Captain America (Vol. 3) #1 brought Captain America back to the Marvel Universe and pitted him against Lady Deathstrike. It's an action-packed banger of a story. Captain America (Vol. 3) #1 reminded people why Waid and Garney were an amazing Captain America team and how to do Cap right.

5 Avengers (Vol. 3) #1-3

avengers-perez-header

The Avengers have a history of triumph and tragedy. The middle years of the 1990s were a tragedy, one compounded by Heroes Reborn. That publishing initiative's failure led Marvel to bring in the greatest Avengers creative team of the last thirty years — writer Kurt Busiek and artist George Pérez. Avengers (Vol. 3) #1-3 brings the Avengers back to the regular Earth and then throws them back in time to battle Morgan Le Fay.

The '90s had some okay Avengers stories at the beginning of the decade, but nothing spectacular. Things then got terrible as time went on, so when readers got a story as great as the one in Avengers (Vol. 3) #1-3, they were pleased to have a well-written story centered on Earth's mightiest heroes. It's so brilliant, and still amazing nearly thirty years later.

4 JLA: New World Order

Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman in JLA: New World Order.

JLA: New World Order is a must-read for every comic fan. Before this soft reboot of the Justice League, the Justice League had been in a cycle of diminishing returns since the JLI years. Writer Grant Morrison had the perfect solution — bring back the classic Big Seven League. Morrison was joined by artist Howard Porter and they gave readers JLA: New World Order, which pits the returned League against a mysterious new group of heroes called the Hyperclan.

Morrison and Porter's JLA kicked off with a perfect story. It's gone down not only as a Justice League classic but also kicked off what is considered by many to be the best team comic run ever. It's casually brilliant, with a great twist and a wonderful last issue that is pure Justice League goodness.

3 Green Lantern Corps: Recharge

Kyle Rayner, Kilowog and Guy Gardner hold their Green Lantern rings high

The return of Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Rebirth reignited the Green Lantern mythos, but there was still a little further to go. Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, by writers Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, and Dave Gibbons and artist Patrick Gleason, brought back the Green Lantern Corps. Expanding the Corps from 3600 to 7200 members, it follows old favorites like Salaak, Kilowog, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner, and John Stewart along with entirely new Lanterns.

Recharge does everything a comeback comic needs to: it gives readers the old hits they want with enough new characters and ideas to make it a surprising comic and shows the power of the concept. Green Lantern Corps: Recharge is an amazing comeback comic, and it doesn't get the credit it deserves, usually overlooked for Green Lantern: Rebirth.

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2 Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne

The cover to Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne #1 from DC Comics

Grant Morrison's Batman run is amazing. Its first act existed to canonize everything in Batman history and ended with Batman's "death" in Final Crisis. Dick Grayson took over as Batman, but everyone knew Bruce Wayne would be back. Morrison did it in the most Grant Morrison way ever. Batman: The Return Of Bruce Wayne, by Morrison and artists Chris Sprouse, Frazer Irving, Yanick Paquette, Georges Jeanty, Ryan Sook, and Lee Garbett, moved Batman through time, pursued by a mysterious enemy and with a terrible destiny — to destroy the universe when he reaches the present.

The Return Of Bruce Wayne takes Batman through different time periods and story types. The art is amazing and Morrison works extremely well with each artist. It's a thrill ride like few others and is the most unique comeback comic ever.

1 Animal Man (Vol 1) #1-4

animal man issue 3 cover

Grant Morrison is a singular talent. American readers were introduced to them with Animal Man. Working with artist Chas Troug, Morrison took Buddy Baker, the titular Animal Man, and brought him into the modern day. The first four issues of the book introduced readers to the Baker family, Animal Man's new status quo, and how his powers had changed since readers last saw him.

Animal Man was a blank slate for Morrison and Troug, and they took advantage of that. Animal Man (Vol. 1) #1-4 is a wild ride of a superhero book, that finds a way to balance the kind of serious superheroics that was all the rage in the late '80s with a classic Silver Age feel, something that would become Morrison's stock-in-trade, all filtered through their gonzo imagination. Animal Man made Morrison a star; this four-issue story was meant to be a miniseries, but its success saw it become an ongoing, which says it all about how successful his comeback was.