July 13, 2024

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Slightly Misplaced Comic Book Heroes Case File #126: Resurrection Man

Sometimes a hero won't stay dead. Sometimes he can't.

Comic book heroes die rather frequently.  Many times they come back, especially if its someone with a large fan base.

But sometimes, sometimes, that’s actually the hero’s gimmick.  Such is the case for DC’s Resurrection Man


Mitch Shelley was a lawyer who had his life forever altered by finding himself infected with something called “tektites” at a place called “the Lab.”  The net result was that Mitch could die, but he wouldn’t stay dead for very long.  In fact, every time he came back to life, which could be done within seconds depending on how he died, Mitch would be reborn with a completely different set of superpowers.

This was done to improve certain types of characters.  Created by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, the writing team that among other things revived the Guardians of the Galaxy as the team we recognize today, the concept was to improve on a certain type of hero.  Abnett and Lanning were looking at a Marvel hero, Mr. Immortal of the Great Lakes Avengers for inspiration.

He’s obviously the one in the middle.

Now, the Great Lakes Avengers only pop up sporadically and are largely a joke team.  Many of the members have crappy powers, and they aren’t taken very seriously.  Mr. Immortal basically won’t stay dead.  If he’s killed, he revives very quickly fully healed, but the healing only kicks in if he dies.  Otherwise, he heals at a normal human rate.  That’s…not a very good superpower in many ways.

So, Resurrection Man gained new superpowers whenever he died.  What those powers might be or how powerful he’ll be is completely beyond his control.  And Mitch did acquire his fair share of enemies, most notably the Body Doubles, a pair of female hired killers who apparently love a challenge.

The Body Doubles doing what they do best: shooting things.

Now, there was a bit of speculation during Resurrection Man’s original, pre-Flashpoint series where it was thought he might be the latest incarnation of the Immortal Man, a hero who continually reincarnates in order to do battle with immortal caveman Vandal Savage.  It turned out that Mitch was not the Immortal Man as the real Immortal Man was being held is suspended animation by Savage.

But the real key was the new powers with every life.  The Immortal Man couldn’t do that, and while searching through his origins, Mitch ran afoul of Hitman and when Tommy Monaghan learned what Mitch was looking to do (break into the Lab), Hitman took it upon himself to continually kill Mitch until he came back with some really potent powers.  That apparently was heavy cosmic energy powers, so that actually worked.

It is worth noting DC tried to revive Mitch during the New 52, changing his origin from “lawyer” to “mercenary” and maybe implying some sort of supernatural origin was at least partially responsible.  That series failed to gain much traction, but considering that during the DC One Million crossover, Mitch was living in the far distant future acting as the Justice League’s master strategist, I think I preferred him prior to the New 52, even if his adventures were still by the same writers.

You may not be able to kill the man, but his series is completely up for grabs.