Death and Dismemberment in Comics

Posted by Liberty (9576 posts) - - Show Bio
Steel Hero?
I've been meaning to wright a blog about this for some time but after reading the book Steel the Indestructible Man #1 I just had to write it now. You see in the comic the hero Steel now known as Commander Steel is an ordinary man who suffers a broad trauma that ends with his bones, heart, joints, and skin altered and he even gets a new lung that allows him to hold his breath for over thirty minutes. The other things give him a virtually indestructible body. This is a comic written in 1978 about a hero in 1939. Here is the problem. He chooses to keep his abilities and recovery secret even though these scientific discoveries could help countless other Allied forces in World War II. Instead he stays state side fighting the handful of saboteurs in New York.
 Blue Prints
This is the crux to something I've been thinking about ever since Roy Harper lost his arm. It seems to me this story has been done. I can think of many, many characters who have lost a limb and got some sort of super-technological limb to replace it. Off the top of my head I can think of Roy Harper, Commander Steel, His grandson Steel, Cyborg, Lex Luthor, Risk, Booster Gold, Emil Hamilton, and even Aquaman. All of them lost an appendage and miraculously got (or in the case of risk could have got) a super-replacement without missing a beat. 

This brings up a few questions like... After all these advancements shouldn't there be more super-powered organs and limbs available to everyone? What kind of a hero would hide this advancement from the greater population when they could vastly improve the lives off so many other people? Cyborg was saved by technology that was suppose to be used according to the first issue of Tales Of The New Teen Titans to help veterans "whose bodies were destroyed in war."  That technology despite it's success was never used for the veterans it was intended to help.  Are these heroes inspirational to people with similar disabilities or are they too easily restored and thus an arrogant depiction and flat version of what it is really like to loose a limb or organ. 
To me there is too much death and dismemberment in comic books as it is. I don't like it when my favorite hero is killed. This is made worse by the weak resurrections and patch jobs that come later. I understand the characteristics of having a character die every once in a great while to establish an unsure world but dead heroes don't sell comics in the long hall so they always get resurrected. Death and dismemberment happens too much to the heroes in comic books. Death is not death and dismemberment is quickly overcome. So... What do you think?

#1 Posted by Captain13 (4338 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah, it doesn't make sense that heroes and villains have access to such advanced prosthetics while no one else does, but sometimes you just gotta ignore that stuff for the sake of the story. Comic book characters are supposed to be unique, so writers usually go to great lengths to make sure that they are (i.e. wiping out an entire planet's population for 1 hero, a scientist dies after making 1 super soldier, etc.).
I didn't like when Roy lost his arm either. It didn't make sense until I realized, the loss of Roy's arm was a outward reflection of his inner self. He lost a part of himself both figuratively and metaphorically. It's sort of compelling story-wise even though it doesn't make much sense when you think about it.

#2 Posted by Liberty (9576 posts) - - Show Bio
First, thank for reading my blog and posting.  I'm glad I didn't do it for nothing   Next, I thought you had a very poetic observation about Roy.  I am not the biggest Roy Harper fan however.  His case in particular didn't bother me as much as the quantity in comics especially in one universe.  When you have too much of the same thing it gets old hat.  I like the idea of Captain America getting the Super Solider serum and all the knowledge of how to make it gets lost.  That way there is only one.   What bothers me more is DCs Commander Steel.  He has the knowledge to do it again and, the scientist who did it is alive but, they don't share the knowledge even on the verge of the biggest global war the world has ever seen.  To me that makes him more of a villain than a hero.  It was like the Superman Doomsday movie when Lex Luthor has a cure for cancer but hides the evidence so that he can stretch small breakthroughs over years to gain more profit.
#3 Posted by Captain13 (4338 posts) - - Show Bio

Lol. I see what you're saying now. I guess I didn't fully understand because I don't know much about Commander Steel. It sounds very similar to how Cyborg and his friends at Star labs are only making bionic limbs for heroes and not the general public or even the military. If you want to like these guys again, you can try really hard to believe that this tech is experimental or that it's not compatible for everyone, but the truth is that these guys are probably d!cks. I don't think that stuff like that will be acknowledged story-wise though. The writers are just trying to move characters in a certain direction, even though not all the pieces fit together properly.
It would be interesting though if these tech suppliers actually had nefarious reasons for not sharing their tech with everyone, but that might be too much like Secret War.
Thank you for your insight of how technology works in comics, good sir.

#4 Posted by Liberty (9576 posts) - - Show Bio

I just edited my blog.  Check it out.  New and improved.

#5 Posted by Amegashita (3601 posts) - - Show Bio

  I was wondering why I hadn't responded to this blog and I just realized that it was because you wrote it before I even joined the vine.  Lol.  As for the subject in question, death and dismemberment is just a way to add some drama to a story, and we all know that.  When a villain cuts off a heroes arm, or when a hero is killed, it just goes to show how much of a "BAMF" they are.  Though, creatively, it fails on so many levels.  Though, it does kind of add an element of realism, since, if we think of being a hero in the way of being a soldier in war, many soldiers, throughout the ages have lost limbs and die.  In a way, the writers are saying, the fight the heroes are fighting is no different than any war before it.

#6 Posted by B'Town (2369 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't like when my heroes or villains for that matter are killed. On the otherhand, they are only comics and I fully EXPECT them to bring them back.

#7 Posted by Liberty (9576 posts) - - Show Bio
@B'Town: Bringing them back would be part of the problem.  Some characters have been killed and brought back multiple times and all we have is a bunch of weak stories. 
#8 Posted by IrishX (2791 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, having someone get killed or dismembered is not just a way to add drama as this is a world where many characters have very dangerous abilities and if people were not getting extremely hurt or killed I would be wondering what is wrong here. It also shouldn't surprise anyone that in this world of great powers that people should come back to life especially someone named Phoenix which is the embodiment of death and rebirth. 
I guess with getting Cyborg enhancements there should really be focus on losing your humanity as I would think that would be a very real issue for people. 
I'm surprised Steve Austin wasn't mentioned in the blog and it also made me think of Star Wars in which every other character gets their arm cut off by a lightsaber.

#9 Posted by Liberty (9576 posts) - - Show Bio
@IrishX: There is no argument that these things are important to this kind of story telling to make an unsure universe.  The problem is death is meaningless in a universe where everyone at anytime can come back at anytime.  Characters who died and were thought dead forever came back like Bucky amd Barry Allen.  When a character dies I don't get sad at the loss of a hero I get annoyed because I know they will be back usually in a weak loophole story that doesn't fit.. 
#10 Posted by GreenLantern555 (2260 posts) - - Show Bio

It's not available to everyone else to the extent that these heroes are getting this tech because a world full of super powered people would be the end. Certain people were lucky enough to get these advancements, and most, choose to fight for good. Just because someone didn't go and fight in  WW2 doesn't make them a bad person. The whole JSA were fighting in the war. CS wasn't really needed. He still did his part at home. Hell, someone had to be. Superheroes get advancements to be able to continue fighting and protecting. Roy Harper, though, I agree is an exception. I hate everything Roy stands for now. He used to be a great hero before Lian died. Now he is a piece of.... I enjoyed reading this though. Never really thought about it. Good blog.

#11 Posted by IrishX (2791 posts) - - Show Bio

Sorry I can't hit the reply button here at work or I would.


I completely understand and deaths that have had major historical impact and have been long lasting like Barry Allen should stay dead especially when there is a perfectly suitable replacement like Wally. 
That said it would really suck to not ever read another comic with Nightcrawler in it. (Luckily he's making appearances in Wolverine and Uncanny X-Force despite his demise)

#12 Posted by Liberty (9576 posts) - - Show Bio
@GreenLantern555: Thank you.  I would mention that you are right.  A person in not bad because they were stateside during World War II.  My grandfather was part of a crew that only flew one mission that was in the war zone.  This does not detract from his service as he went were he was sent.  I would never imply otherwise.  As far as CS.  He did not have to give his superpowers away and still reveal the methods that linked his prosthetic with organic tissue.  They did not have to be the best technology to help all of the people who have to live with these kinds of disabilities.  Even skin graphs that would replaced damaged skin from those who are victims of firs would mean the world to an uncountable amount of people.  I think holding this information secret is a big cloud over all his acts of heroism.  I say this and I really like the hero.  He is a Captain America knock off for DC what is not to like.  I just think that these kind of stories never look into the idea of what this impact will have on the comic universe in is being introduced into.
#13 Posted by Liberty (9576 posts) - - Show Bio
#14 Posted by mark5 (1220 posts) - - Show Bio

It does seem silly to withhold this type of technology to those who might need it. 

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