Rita Farr, Elasti-Girl
Life span: 1963-1968
Cause of death: she and her Doom Patrol teammates sacrificed their lives to prevent the Doom Patrol’s archnemesis, General Zahl, from murdering the residents of a small island fishing town (Zahl blew up their own island HQ in an explosion). Her two other teammates and mentor, Robotman, Negative Man, and Niles Caulder, survived (at least for awhile).
What’s wrong with how this was done? Well, at the time it was done, not much, really. Rita sacrificed her life out of noble causes, to save innocent lives from being murdered. Where things took a turn for the appalling and in fact, insulting, was when the other members of the Doom Patrol, the male ones at that, started coming back from the dead, and she, by sharp contrast, didn’t!
Now in fairness, I could certainly buy Cliff Steele/Robotman’s coming back, since he did, after all, get a new lease on his life as a cybernetic machine with a human brain (and there was a very good New Teen Titans story he co-starred in during 1981). Where DC Comics fumbled the ball was when they wrote Negative Man and particularly Niles Caulder returning from the grave. It was exactly that step that angered me, because, if Rita was left behind, then that’s why I find DC’s bringing back Negative Man and Caulder to be insulting to Rita’s own status, because if they can return, shouldn’t she be able to as well?
What’s good about how this was done? It’s that she’s served as a motivation for Beast Boy/Gar Logan, whom she’d been a custodian of when she married inventor Steve Dayton, who’d first tried to impress upon her by becoming Mento, a de-facto superhero, but on occasion went off the deep end, descending into madness, becoming a de-facto villain as well (which also made for some good storylines in its day). But it would’ve been a lot more effective if it hadn’t been for the astounding way that they gave the male team members of Doom Patrol a full green light, while keeping her in the grave.