Marvel and the Comic Book Death

I realize as we are all comic book readers, that we must make certain allowances when delving into these extraordinary worlds where nothing is impossible. It is the very real fact that nothing is impossible which I feel makes us the readers find comfort within the pages we read and the titles we hold so dear. As we are reading things out of the realm of regular possibility, suspension of disbelief goes without saying. One aspect I am particularly addressing is the Comic Book Death.

I realize probably anyone reading this is rolling their eyes at the very discussion of comic book deaths, but I guess there's a specific aspect of it that kind of gets to me. I mean, if the topic itself warrants its own Wikipedia page, it goes without saying that it is as much an integral part of the comic book worlds we lose ourselves into as the characters themselves. I am a relatively new comic book reader, but I do understand that, time was at some point a comic book death meant something. It left an impact, it resonated with the reader, it furthered a story and its characters. And if done right, a subsequent resurrection, forgive the pun, breathed new life into the formerly dead character. Uncle Ben's death, Jason Todd's death, Jean Grey's (first) death, Bucky Barnes' etc all changed the way their respective teams, characters, titles and associations continued life afterwards. To be able to shock a reader with a sudden and powerful death would in itself be bittersweet because we would lose a character we came to know and would reaffirm one of the very reasons why we come to comic book worlds: to be amazed.

Most characters do come back from the dead, this is a fact. But basically this rant, is about how soon and why. Particularly with Marvel. I am not too familiar with all things DC, but it came to my understanding that Brightest Day resurrected characters after they had been down for a while and that it was done powerfully. Even Bruce Wayne's "death" was done very low key and tastefully with a following passing of the torch to Dick Grayson. Marvel however, I am familiar with. And several things I noticed about Marvel, is that 1. It's events aplenty, and 2. It's "forever changing the status quo as we know it" every other month and probably the most frustrating 3. A character death and almost immediate resurrection is to be expected.

Number 3 would be fine, as this is a world of comics, except this: A death has come to mean absolutely nothing beyond the scene itself where it takes place or as a means to wrap up the latest event. This does harm to the storytelling and the narrative being told in my opinion. Especially when done excessively. I mean I think its bad when readers have come to expect and their automatic reaction to a Marvel comic death as "Eh. They'll be back next year." Which typically they do. In my opinion I think if you are going to kill a character, do it for the right reasons and do it for the longterm effect, don't do it for the shock of the moment effect and later bring them back. It fractures continuity and it fractures smooth storytelling for the readers. Much like with Joss Whedon when he sent Kitty Pryde away in the bullet, Kitty was seen in other writer pages during Brubaker's Deadly Genesis and Kyle and Yost's New X-Men Childhood's End for example. What about Bucky Barnes' death in Fear Itself followed by his IMMEDIATE comeback? Or Thor's death in Fear Itself and Archangel's death in Uncanny X-Force, whereas they'll both be taking part in the Avengers vs. X-Men event. Pardonnez-moi? How are reader's supposed to really feel their death and feel its impact? How are we supposed to buy into the writer's intention of shocking us with death if they'll cheapen it by a resurrection quick on the heels of the death?

I'm not really wishing for no more comic book deaths, I mean its good stuff in some events and stories, I just wish they'd be done for the right reasons and for the impact of their deaths to matter. I also just wish that if a death is to occur, that a resurrection not happen a few issues later, yeah I'm lookin' at you Human Torch. What's worse is that when a death is done as epically and emotionally as Cable's in Second Coming or Johnny's in Three, it is merely undone a short time later with a resurrection. I don't know about other people, but it sometimes just angers me because it makes me think: what was the point? Maybe sometimes things should go like the successful Ultimate Universe (Earth-1610), wherein anything can happen, anyone can die and it sticks. The characters can be brought back..but give it some time, give it the proper treatment with the proper execution. If Nightcrawler (616) comes back anytime soon, I'm going to have a rage stroke , that death was beyond heartbreaking. It makes me appreciate deaths like Wasp's or Jean Grey's because they've stuck, their team members struggled and coped and were made stronger and moved on. It's when the team is finally in a place of closure following that character's death (years later) that you can bring them back and throw everyone for a tailspin. Have them reassess themselves and their world in its prospective. Have it challenge the characters and make them all the stronger or weaker for it and show their heroic and human sides simultaneously.

Except for that pain in the ass Phoenix Force. Obsessive much? Jesus, that thing needs to learn to move about separation anxiety. CLINGYYYY.


X-Men Drawbacks to Telekinetic Telepaths

At one point while you were reading these fantastical out-of-this-world comics filled with the coolest superpowers, it must have and I mean must have crossed your mind of what superhuman ability you would want. Even if it fluttered in your mind for the briefest of instances. In my case, as an avid X-Fan I always thought that the paired powerset of Telepathy and Telekinesis was the coolest, always useful and would love to have. I mean this paired powerset has been present in multiple mutants and superhuman characters. But I mean having these powers solely, not Vulcan style or Kid Omega style or Mister Sinister or Apocalypse, as these characters seem to have practically every power under the sun. I mean mutants who have only these two abilities as their bestowed genetic gifts.

The mutants who have this paired powerset as their natural basic gifts that come to mind are Jean Grey, Rachel Grey, Madelyne Pryor, Cable and Psylocke. I was thinking about how these gifts would be awesome and we've seen these characters use them so practically and imaginatively and oh so differently. Upon reading my X-Comics, the thought of what mutant superpower I would love to have was a no-brainer: the paired set of telekinesis and telepathy. This got me thinking though, would it be possible for any mutant in the Marvel X-Verse to have this paired set without any strings attached? I mean just to have TK and TP without accompanied baggage?

Consider this, the aforementioned five mutants who have TK and TP don't exactly just have these two abilities scot-free. Jean and Rachel have that pesky Phoenix Force to contend with along with Rachel's chronal-based abilities. Cable, born with Madelyne Pryor's (and Jean's by proxy) TP and TK has to use his powers to keep his T-O Virus at bay, never to be used freely without extreme caution. Madelyne's powers seem to run with Sinister and Vulcan's ability to do a whole lot more than thought, what with the magical abilities, teleporting, Phoenix shard, reality warping (?) and whatnot. And poor Psylocke, first the original powers, and then the Crimson Dawn powers and then the partial power switch with Jean and let's not even get started on the whole Japanese assassin body swap ordeal..Jesus. Poor Betsy. DID YOU KNOW SHE'S HAD 3 DIFFERENT HAIR COLORS AND 3 DIFFERENT SETS OF EYES?! Sorry sorry I apologize for the freakout..moving on..doesn't it seem you can't just be a baseline mutant telekinetic telepath without all the extra baggage? Straaaange. Still would be awesome to have those two powers., definitely would be my pick. What do you think? What would your picks be?


The Cohesion of the X-Men

It's no news that different writers on a single continuous arc or continuous hero team narrative tend to fracture the fluidity of the story in question as a whole. To be honest this is mostly a rant because as someone who has only very recently gotten into comic books, feeling hooked into a cohesive story does tend to make or break the deal. I started with my favorite superhero team the X-Men. The very first comic book I had read that made me delve into Marvel, was the House of M. I know, right? Talk about the worse place to start for a new reader. Which is fine, because I quickly got caught up on the characters and where they had been. I loved HoM. Following HoM, I chronologically followed the X-Men. I stopped myself after Decimation so I could truly get caught up on all my mutants. And here is where my rant begins.

I already was aware of the major facts about the X-Men, the members and their relationships and some of the major story arcs. So I decided to take one writer's arc and run with it. I started with Grant Morrison's New X-Men, a perfect place to start for any fledgling X-Fan in my opinion because it allows you to follow and begin anew without the convoluted clutter of the team's former history. Just as Morrison had intended it to be. I absolutely loved the whole Morrison NXM run and it allowed me to start my X-Journey perfectly. I soon made my way into the purposefully connected Astonishing X-Men by living god Joss Whedon. Talk about astonishing! I mean the guy was absolutely terrified of following Morrison's run (for good reason) but boy did he have nothing to worry about. Absolutely fantastic and flawless storytelling in the most amazing Whedon way. What I loved about NXM and AXM is that they flowed and were connected, almost jumping after each other directly. The mix-ups begin following HoM. I was as caught up as I needed to be when I returned to my X-Journey. And it's been..good..okay and sometimes even great. Not all the stories flowed into one another as smoothly, but I did the whole suspension of disbelief thing in reconciling some facts (such as Kitty's presence post-Giant Size Astonishing). I was good and hooked because I was getting my X fix, I love me some X-Men let me tell ya.

Sure some stories aren't as stellar as others, some are just filler adventures and some are just explorations and experiments. Which is fine, I was getting my X-Men and that makes me happy. It's just that after Morrison and Whedon's nearly decade-long combined run, both of which had amazing and very different styles and stories that amazingly flowed together, the stories that followed were all done by many different writers. Each writer, naturally, with their own style, goals and methods. My problem is that it fractures the story, sometimes the story gets stagnant or stale even. I mean I understand that it would be difficult to have a single writer stay on for so long on one title, or for a team like the X-men to revolve around one flagship title whereas they have several of them. I just wish all the different writers would collaborate fully when their turn comes up on the X-Men, or any title for that matter. It would be great if they worked on transitioning the stories smoothly and show consistency with the characters, the narratives and most importantly the quality. There needs to be writer discussion or writers bouncing off the last one's angle successively. I heard that Wolverine and the X-Men and the new Uncanny X-Men are showing a steady flow, which I hope is true even though I'm going to read them regardless. I haven't gotten that far, I'm still at 2010 when it comes to Marvel, as I am both new and partial to TPBs. I set out on reading a decade's worth of X-Men and I am beyond excited to get to Second Coming, I am but a book away (currently on Necrosha). Here's looking forward.