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Off My Mind: Are Comic Book Deaths Cheap?
by Tony 'G-Man' Guerrero on
Even if beautifully written, the return negates it all.
What happens when a comic book character dies? Where do they go? Basically they just go to a comic book waiting room until they eventually and inevitably return. This is a pet peeve for most readers. I bring this up because last night, Marvel.com ran an article on the top ten Avengers deaths. Over half have already returned to the land of the living and it's probably just a matter of time until the others return.
It used to be when a character died, you actually felt something. The characters around also felt something. The death of Bucky Barnes was something that haunted Steve Rogers for decades. Even thought it's great seeing what Bucky has evolved into, his death doesn't have much meaning anymore. The death of Superman? He died fighting Doomsday. So what? He got better. I could sit here and list more like Batman, Barry Allen, Captain America, Hal Jordan, Clint Barton, Norman Osborn, Green Arrow, Jean Grey...okay, let's stop there.
The death of characters these days feel like stunts. It's unfortunate to the writer that pours their heart into writing a great and touching death only to have someone else revive that character later. Sure sometimes it's the same writer that erases the damage, but that's besides the point. Where does that leave us? If a character dies, why should we care? We're bound to see them return shortly. The death of Captain America was a bit shocking as Marvel managed to keep it under wraps. We didn't believe they would actually keep Steve dead. A couple years went by and we got great stories while he was gone. The day we knew was coming did come. Now Steve's death can be forgotten. The same can be said for Batman. With Bruce's death, we knew there was simply no way he would stay dead.
Perhaps it depends on how high profile a character is. Obviously the bigger the status of the character that dies, the shorter their time of death will be (although Barry Allen did remain dead for 23 years). In Siege #2 we saw the brutal death of an Avenger. It was shocking to see but we know the character will return. There's supposed to be a " noble death" coming up but should we be concerned over the fate of this character?
It's just unfortunate that death in comics have been used so many times. It makes sense that publishers wouldn't want their big characters to remain dead. I just wonder why bother in the first place? Does the death of a character still have the same or any impact these days? I say, let's see how long we can go without a character dying a cheap or noble death. In the end, they're just going to come back so there's no point in killing them off.