WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Ravencroft #3 by Frank Tieri, Angel Unzueta, José Luis, Scott Hanna, Rachelle Rosenberg and VC’s Joe Sabino, available now.
The Ravencroft Institute might just be the most cursed place in the Marvel Universe, as the recently concluded Ruins of Ravencroft series attests to. Ostensibly, Ravenscroft is a mental hospital for the criminally insane of the Marvel Universe, and it usually holds bloodthirsty supervillains. As the latest Ravencroft series delves further into the asylum’s long history of pathological evil, Ravencroft #3 also details the death of Marvel’s most unlucky hero, D-Man.
While working as a guard at Ravencroft, Dennis Dunphy is fatally stabbed while on duty. Hired alongside other costumed adventurers like Taskmaster and Man-Wolf, the former D-Man was tasked with detaining the inmate Mr. Hyde when it was discovered the verbose supervillain hid away a shiv. When Hyde threatened Man-Wolf with it and tried to goad the guard into his lupine form, D-Man tried to restrain him and ended up with the screwdriver square in his chest.
It was only a matter of time before one of the faculty at Ravencroft became victim to such chaos, as the environment has bred it practically from its earliest days. Even taking more recent years into account and leaving aside ancient curses and death rituals, the Institute is best known for its relationship with Carnage. The bloodthirsty serial killer would have been right at home there even without a superpowered symbiote increasing his threat a thousand-fold, but Ravencroft has become especially notorious since it became famous for housing Carnage.
Since Dunphy debuted in 1985’s The Thing #28, by Mike Carlin and Ron Wilson, the hero’s life has almost seemed to invite that kind of misfortune on a regular basis.
Best known in the world of comics for his odd demeanor, peculiar smell, and bouts with homelessness and mental instability, D-Man has nevertheless managed to save the world with his courageousness and even defend it as an Avenger. It was in his role as an Avenger that he first died in 1988, when he was caught in a Quinjet that sank in the ocean after being bombed. Years after he came back, Hydra resurrected him and brainwashed him and Sharon Carter was forced to gun him down before he could turn his heroic legacy to villainy.
Not long after his resurrection, D-Man fell yet again during the symbiote attacks of Venomized. However, his recent stint at Ravencroft proved that he managed to somehow survive the symbiote encounter, even if he didn’t survive Ravencroft itself. Yet what’s perhaps most heartwarming about D-Man is that in spite of all the trials, tribulations, and outright deaths thrown at the character he always has a light of optimism to offer.
Just before his most recent death, he played a critical role in defusing a deadly standoff with the Punisher in Ravencroft’s halls. Though Frank Castle was prepared to go down in a hail of bullets for the satisfaction of taking some crooks with him, D-Man reasoned through the situation and talked Frank down. Reasoning with the Punisher is no easy feat, and only a humble guy like D-Man could pull it off.
Since Mister Hyde’s attack was intended for John Jameson, the Man-Wolf, there’s no doubt that there will be a share of guilt for Jameson to struggle with in the aftermath of D-Man’s demise. Mr. Hyde himself will certainly suffer repercussions, as tighter security and his lingering need for revenge on Jameson goes unsated. But if D-Man’s history is any indication, D-Man himself will be back to offer a shining light in a grim situation soon enough.
While he might be one of Captain America's partners and an Avenger, dying is just another day in the life of Marvel's most chronically unlucky hero.