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Urban legend tells of a drifter wandering the side roads and back streets of the USA, a man who won't - can't - stay dead. A Resurrection Man.
The legend is true. His name is Mitchell Shelley, and he's wandering the Earth, trying to do good by others where he can. Every time he dies, he comes back with a new superpower.
Mitch was originally the star of his own DC Comics ongoing back in the 1990s., created and written by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (later known for Annihilation, Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy). His first appearance was actually "Resurrection Man" vol. 1 #1 (May, 1997). The series lasted for 27 issues, from May, 1997 to August, 1999. Focusing on his search to discover the truth about himself and his powers. Since the end of his original series, Mitchell has had guest appearances in various titles. He returns to the spotlight in a new Abnett/Lanning series as part of DC's New 52 relaunch in September 2011.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: Turned out Mitch wasn't a very nice guy in his pre-Resurrection Man life, a corrupt lawyer deep in mob business. He seems to have been better in previous incarnations.
- The New 52 version was even less of a nice guy in his fomer life; he was running the nanobot project, and conducting illegal human testing.
- Arch Enemy: The Body Doubles are Mitch's most frequently reoccurring foes. Also, Vandal Savage, as he and Mitch have constantly clashed in the long span of their lives, up until the 853rd Century.
- The Atoner: A touch of this after he finds out who he used to be.
- Back From the Dead: Again, and again, and again...
- Badass Longcoat
- Badass Long Hair: in later issues.
- Body Surf: The Rider.
- The Cameo: Two panels of Abnett & Lanning's Elseworlds oneshot The Superman Monster, feature an (unnamed) actual resurrection man (i.e. a grave robber), with Mitch's shoulder-length hair and broad-brimmed hat.
- The Cape: Pretty much, even though he normally doesn't wear one.
- Civvie Spandex: Typically doesn't wear a costume, favoring a black hat, black coat, black shirt and whatever trousers he can grab.
- Discard and Draw: Every time he dies.
- The Drifter
- Evil Counterpart: Hooker, initially.
- Exiled From Continuity: An aversion in Mitch's first ongoing (when the Vertigo embargo was still in force), as the Dreaming's Cain and Abel show up in one issue.
- First-Episode Resurrection: Subverted. Mitch's resurrection abilities were already in place by the time we first met him.
- Gender Bender: One resurrection had Mitch come back as a woman.
- Ghost Memory: Mitch used to get flashes of his previous incarnations when he was little (and again when possessed by the Rider).
- I'm a Humanitarian: Hooker.
- Immortal Life Is Cheap: Naturally. One issue has a confused Batman trying to figure out why the same guy keeps getting murdered by Gotham City criminals. A crossover with Hitman sees Hitman repeatedly shooting him over and over until he gets a useful power. In the 853rd century, even Resurrection Man himself gets in on the act, wearing a gauntlet that lets him commit instant suicide.
- Inner Monologue
- Lovely Angels: The Body Doubles, a pair of bounty hunters.
- Meaningful Name: In Mitch's very first issue, the town where he discovers his powers, and decides how he's going to use them, is called Crucible.
- Missing Mom: Mitch's mother died when he was young.
- Mistaken Identity: Mitch, and the Forgotten Heroes, conclude he's the long-lost Immortal Man. As it turns out, he's not.
- Nigh Invulnerability: It may be possible to kill Mitch permanently. No-one's succeeded.
- Our Angels Are Different: And a bit peeved Mitch refuses to stay dead.
- Perma Stubble: Mitch.
- Quest for Identity: The first ongoing, and now the second.
- Rasputinian Death: Occasionally gets this from people trying to make sure he stays dead. It never works.
- Reality Warper: Mr Skism.
- Resurrective Immortality: Via resurrection, apparently thanks to nanotechnology. Mitch's soul has been around at least since Ancient Egypt (and he finds an image of Vandal Savage's origin familiar...). In DC One Million, Mitch survives until the 853rd century.
- Superpower Lottery: Anything from creating holographic butterflies, to shapeshifting, to pyrokinesis, to astral projection - typically, the circumstances of his death will shape the power (e.g. getting blown up in a nuclear explosion turned him into a living shadow).
- Walking the Earth
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Mitch is prematurely grey. While he can be handsome, he wouldn't qualify as bishonen.
- Your Cheating Heart: Mitch's wife wasn't happy to see him again - especially since she and her lover, Mitch's former partner, blew up his office in an attempt to kill him. Even pre-Resurrection Man, he was still hard to kill.
- ↑ Possibly because both are characters from older series that Gaiman integrated into his book instead of characters of his own creation.