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View Full Version : Does death matter in comics anymore?



JonestheSpy
2009-07-05, 05:58 PM
Inspired by the "Batman is dead" thread. Seriously, we all know that Bruce Wayne will be back in a matter of time - and probably not too much time - right?

I suppose death might stick if it's a romantic interest or friend of the protagonist, when it can be "character develpoment", but that's about it. Even minor vilains and the like that I see killed in one story just seem to pop up again in another, and no one even mentions it.

To me, it all started going to hell when Marvel brought Phoenix back. I mean, she died at the climax of an amazing stroy, in a time when heroes almosy never ever were killed in action. Now it happens all the time, and it's just <shrug>, whatever.

Cracklord
2009-07-05, 05:59 PM
It does to Uncle Ben.
But to every one else it's a chance to have a relaxing sleep and a few days off.

Berserk Monk
2009-07-05, 06:05 PM
Depends on which comics:

Comics that have been around for decades and have used countless story arcs/writers/artist over the years (X-Men, Superman), no, death means about as much as someone getting a bad haircut: wait a few months and it'll be as if it never happened.

Comics with a finite lifespan that won't be update every decade (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) death does matter because those characters aren't coming back (except when Hollywood screws over Alan Moore).

This is why I can't get into comics. There are too many of them for each character. I'd love to get into Batman, but I don't know which comics from which decade to read. I mean, Tolkien didn't write a new LotR every decade. There aren't 20 different versions of the novel Mobby ****.

JonestheSpy
2009-07-05, 07:13 PM
Depends on which comics:

Comics that have been around for decades and have used countless story arcs/writers/artist over the years (X-Men, Superman), no, death means about as much as someone getting a bad haircut: wait a few months and it'll be as if it never happened.



Good point. I should have said "Mainstream superhero comics". There are lots of great comics out there that having nothing to do with caped vigilante power fantasies, and in pretty much all of them death is as final and as affecting as it is in real life.

WitchSlayer
2009-07-05, 07:15 PM
Bruce never died in the first place, although I wouldn't mind him not taking up the mantle again, I like **** as Batman

averagejoe
2009-07-05, 07:51 PM
To me, it all started going to hell when Marvel brought Phoenix back. I mean, she died at the climax of an amazing stroy, in a time when heroes almosy never ever were killed in action. Now it happens all the time, and it's just <shrug>, whatever.

To this day I argue that, from her name alone, no one really should have been surprised at this.


Good point. I should have said "Mainstream superhero comics". There are lots of great comics out there that having nothing to do with caped vigilante power fantasies, and in pretty much all of them death is as final and as affecting as it is in real life.

Or the death occurred in real life, e.g. Maus.

To answer your question, no. No it doesn't. Hasn't for a long time, really.

Trizap
2009-07-05, 07:58 PM
nah it doesn't really matter anymore, its just a temporary vacation to heaven
before they get back to work.

JonestheSpy
2009-07-05, 08:24 PM
Just to elaborate a little further, does it matter any more as a selling point? Even if no one really believes a character is going to stay dead - which is probably a universal viewpoint by now, is there anybody out in ootSformumlandia who would be more (or less) likely to buy a comic because some important character suposedly shuffles off the mortal coil?

averagejoe
2009-07-05, 11:07 PM
Just to elaborate a little further, does it matter any more as a selling point? Even if no one really believes a character is going to stay dead - which is probably a universal viewpoint by now, is there anybody out in ootSformumlandia who would be more (or less) likely to buy a comic because some important character suposedly shuffles off the mortal coil?

I really hope not, but have seen too much of people to completely discount it.

Dienekes
2009-07-05, 11:26 PM
Original question, no, it doesn't mean jack all.

And sadly for me it has affected my enjoyment of comics when I actually kept up with the monthlies. Now I find that in all comics, even discounting the deaths, the continuities are far too tangled. I now simply buy graphic novels that have good stories and take them as that, simply enjoying the characters and not trying to place them into something chronological, which has served me well so far.

Starscream
2009-07-05, 11:29 PM
I don't think it really affects sales by itself anymore. Most comic book fans simply roll their eyes when they hear about it.

I think the main selling point is seeing what happens without said characters around. It frees the writers up to do different stories, and that can be interesting.

I merely groaned when I heard that Batman bought the farm, but I'm still following the story because it's kind of fun to see how the writers are going to handle it, and how they are going to have the other characters handle it.

I'll still breathe a sigh of relief when he's back, though. I like my Batman comics to have Batman in them.

TheThan
2009-07-05, 11:45 PM
To this day I argue that, from her name alone, no one really should have been surprised at this.



Hahah,

no kidding, she's exactly what it says on the tin (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin)

raitalin
2009-07-05, 11:53 PM
I knew that Supes was coming back when they killed him. Even back then there was one rule of comic book death:

"No body stays dead except Bucky"

Then Bucky came back.

Now I have a friend that informed me they killed of Batman (I love comics but got out of the suckers game of keeping up with issues, now I stick to well-reviewed TPBs and graphic novels). My response is "Meh," but he's so sure this is the real thing he doesn't understand why I'm so nonchalant.

They can't even kill off characters for good that would make sense, like Aunt May (how freaking old is that broad?!?!)

Dienekes
2009-07-06, 12:30 AM
"No body stays dead except Bucky"


I thought it was "Nobody stays dead except Bucky, Uncle Ben, and Jason Todd."

Last I heard they're trying to find a way to raise Uncle Ben.

Jerthanis
2009-07-06, 01:14 AM
No, it doesn't matter anymore, and I don't think it needs to.

If someone were to write a movie that had Sherlock Holmes in it, and that role were played by a blond actor, would that mean that from then on, Sherlock Holmes was canonically blond? Probably not, same deal with death. There are characters, and there are stories... Comic Books aren't about the story singular, they are about the character. When you buy a comic book, it's not "The Adventure on Salsbury Island" (featuring Spider-Man) it's The Amazing SPIDER-MAN! Volume 3 Issue #331

That said, I'd read a comic about a major character death because it guarantees something will happen in that comic, and it won't be 26 pages of idle chatting about feelings.

factotum
2009-07-06, 01:31 AM
Saying "it doesn't matter anymore" implies that it ever DID matter, and that particular ship certainly sailed once they brought Jean Grey back from the dead and made up some codswallop about the one they thought was dead being a manifestation of the Phoenix Force...

zyphyr
2009-07-06, 01:45 AM
I thought it was "Nobody stays dead except Bucky, Uncle Ben, and Jason Todd."

Last I heard they're trying to find a way to raise Uncle Ben.

Simple enough... Zombie.

Avilan the Grey
2009-07-06, 02:34 AM
It doesn't really. Nowadays I merely roll my eyes (and stops buying the comic until it gets straightened out) at the Hack Writers and Executive Meddling that causes these:

Guy 1: "Let's write something the fans will never expect! I know! We'll kill him off!"
Guy 2: "But haven't we done that to him already? Not to mention his sister. And the only one of his girlfriends the fans liked?"
Guy 3: "...And then we were forced to Retcon that because the fans hated it..."
Guy 1: "Yes, but we never killed him while he was wearing this suit."
Guy 2: "Of course, that makes all the difference."

...Point about Phoenix though: They really should have stated that it was Jean, all the time, and her powers just can do that (it does make sense, with that name and all) instead of the horrible "explanation" they invented.

Oslecamo
2009-07-06, 04:07 AM
I thought it was "Nobody stays dead except Bucky, Uncle Ben, and Jason Todd."

Last I heard they're trying to find a way to raise Uncle Ben.

They already ressurected Bucky in case you didn't notice.

And also Todd.

So if they're gonna raise Ben, well, I think we can oficially declare Death should be fire from the Marvel universe.

Icewalker
2009-07-06, 04:23 AM
I think generally if the setting spans between multiple authors and is as much a franchise as it is a story, then canon, especially things like death, will be constantly in flux between books.

If it's a work by a single author or a small group, operating once, instead of working over a wide range of stories, then generally there is a single consistent canon.

Now I don't have the experience or knowledge to say this with any certainty, but it seems to be the trend.

EleventhHour
2009-07-06, 04:43 AM
Reading this thread gave me an idea for a silly comic, sadly I can't draw, but I'll share anyway ;

Grim (or Greg), the Reaper.


Yeah, you'd figure that a comic about the Grim Reaper himself could get pretty epic, but then you realize, even the most amazing of the super hero's can die (temporarily or pre-retconning) but this is the guy who does the job after thier dead. Superman puts up a fight? He's the Grim Reaper, you honestly can't win. The sole conflict of the story would be 'hevean' (Or other generic good place) trying to keep the souls away from 'hell' (Or other generic bad place). And Mister Grim just wanders through the middle collecting souls, and occasionally looking confused when some guy challenges him to a fiddle contest. And being incredibly frustrated when a trio of animated characters keep challenging him to ridiculous games (Animaniacs). Along with the exasperated sigh as another random hero (Or squirrel) goes back to living for no appearnt unfolding drama and other great reasons.

Ohgodtherats
2009-07-06, 04:51 AM
The only reason I got disenchanted with Death in Comic books was really the whole "Death of Superman" thing. Sure, we all say "Yeah, there was no way there were going to really kill him" but we had people talking to reporters on CNN doing interviews talking about why they were ending the Superman character. I guess it's one thing to do a promotional stunt to increase sales but the fact that Larry King himself was talking about it....
I don't know. Media Hype is one thing, flat out lying to reporters (and Larry King, I guess) shut me down somehow. Bah.

Does Death Matter in comics? Of course not. Sure, it's there for narrative urgency, but really? No one kills any character who's worth anything. Sure they might die but they'll be back one way or another. Considering how the storyline that "killed" Batman also featured the Zoo Crew (Including the infamous Yankee Poodle character) I can't imagine anyone thought it would stick.
But oh crap, I'm posting in the wrong topic now.
-Jared

kpenguin
2009-07-06, 04:54 AM
Death doesn't matter in Comics? Tell her yourself.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ec/Death_(DC_Comics).jpg

D'awww isn't she cute?

Ohgodtherats
2009-07-06, 05:00 AM
Don't tell Morrison. He's convinced Death is a guy who flies around in Ski boots.

Him and Neil Gaiman are going to throw down on the topic one day, if interweb drama is to be believed.

(Which it isn't but it's a fun visual.)

Oslecamo
2009-07-06, 05:21 AM
Death doesn't matter in Comics? Tell her yourself.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ec/Death_(DC_Comics).jpg

D'awww isn't she cute?

Well that explains everything. She's clearly slacking up big time on her job. How can you have time for tea Miss Death? Isn't there some ninja alien invasion going on wich should result in millions of casualities?

Avilan the Grey
2009-07-06, 05:39 AM
Well that explains everything. She's clearly slacking up big time on her job. How can you have time for tea Miss Death? Isn't there some ninja alien invasion going on wich should result in millions of casualities?

...I expect those space ninjas to also be robotic. Or at least pirates. Plus that the females look hot, and the males look hideous.

WitchSlayer
2009-07-06, 05:42 AM
Don't tell Morrison. He's convinced Death is a guy who flies around in Ski boots.

Him and Neil Gaiman are going to throw down on the topic one day, if interweb drama is to be believed.

(Which it isn't but it's a fun visual.)

Let's put it this way.
Neil Gaiman, who is a great writer, made cute Endless Death.
Jack freaking Kirby made the Black Racer.
Besides, it was dealing with the New Gods and it's already been shown there's several aspects of Death in DC.

J.Gellert
2009-07-06, 06:18 AM
No, death doesn't matter... But on the other hand, it'd suck if they went about actually killing off these characters.

Best thing: Don't kill them in the first place if you are going to raise them. Batman and the others are iconic characters. James Bond doesn't get cheap deaths and resurrections. Zorro doesn't either. So why would Jean Grey?

You don't need a death to maintain interest. Doubly so if you've already cheapened it yourself.

Avilan the Grey
2009-07-06, 06:55 AM
James Bond doesn't get cheap deaths and resurrections. Zorro doesn't either. So why would Jean Grey?

...Because she is the one character where such a ploy would be fitting.

Starscream
2009-07-06, 07:06 AM
D'awww isn't she cute?

Sure is. If by some bizarre twist Death really is a person, I hope either Neil Gaiman or Terry Pratchett got the characterization right.

I'll see your image and raise you a:http://www.geocities.com/area51/zone/9923/post3.jpg

Finn Solomon
2009-07-06, 07:46 AM
Death doesn't matter in Comics? Tell her yourself.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/e/ec/Death_(DC_Comics).jpg

D'awww isn't she cute?

I wouldn't mind spending an eternity with perky Goth Death. :smalltongue:

Dienekes
2009-07-06, 07:58 AM
They already ressurected Bucky in case you didn't notice.

And also Todd.

So if they're gonna raise Ben, well, I think we can oficially declare Death should be fire from the Marvel universe.

Yes I know they raised the other two, which is why saying Marvel is looking for a way to raise Ben was my (admittedly terrible) attempt at humor.

Revlid
2009-07-06, 11:37 AM
Counterpoint to those who say death no longer has any meaning in comics:
What about in the smaller books? Those stories where the main characters aren't one of the company headliners, and their secondary characters aren't well known and hallowed, making resurrection of either less likely (I'm looking at Runaways and Gert especially).

Basically, death matters if there isn't going to be an arbitrary resurrection. This requires either a certain amount of obscurity (Runaways, Blue Beetle, Iron Fist), or total author continuity (manga, Ultimate Spider-Man, Sandman, Watchmen, etc.). Most of all, it requires that the death be done well.

TheThan
2009-07-06, 11:43 AM
Counterpoint to those who say death no longer has any meaning in comics:
What about in the smaller books? Those stories where the main characters aren't one of the company headliners, and their secondary characters aren't well known and hallowed, making resurrection of either less likely (I'm looking at Runaways and Gert especially).

Basically, death matters if there isn't going to be an arbitrary resurrection. This requires either a certain amount of obscurity (Runaways, Blue Beetle, Iron Fist), or total author continuity (manga, Ultimate Spider-Man, Sandman, Watchmen, etc.). Most of all, it requires that the death be done well.

If the character stays dead, then its fine. but the problem is characters never stay deadů except uncle ben.

WitchSlayer
2009-07-06, 03:42 PM
I don't think origin characters really count, otherwise you should mention Jor-El and Lara, Thomas and Martha Wayne, and so on and so forth.

comicshorse
2009-07-06, 07:35 PM
Is Phoenix still dead ?
Cause if she is she's been dead for quite a bit now. Maybe the fans are happy with the Cyclops/ White Queen romance. Obviously the secret of superhero death, you just have to have nobody really care about you

Revlid
2009-07-07, 07:47 AM
If the character stays dead, then its fine. but the problem is characters never stay deadů except uncle ben.

Well, out of the comics I've mentioned, the characters that stayed dead include Gert and Alex of Runaways, as well as the villainous parents of the cast, Rorschach, the Comedian, and numerous side-characters of Watchmen, Dream himself as well as numerous others from Sandman, god knows how many manga characters, Harry and Norman Osborn, as well as Jean deWolfe from USM, and

More comic characters stay dead than you think. The only times death isn't an effective narrative tool is when it's used cheaply - when a character is tossed aside, or their death is treated as having no impact, or they're so obviously going to return that it's not even worth talking about.

And even then it can be done well - Gwen Stacy returned in the USM line, but because of author continuity it was planned in advance, and done very effectively - not only was her death treated well, but so was her non-arbritary return, leading to an effective story.

We all know Captain America will come back from the grave, and yet his death has been effective, and facilitated stories that could never be told in his lifetime - watching Bucky take on the mantle of the Captain and grow to understand that while he can never be Steve, he can try to uphold at least some of his ideals. Watching Tony Stark realise just how far his attempts to impose order have gone. Watching Thor reminisce with the spirit of his old firend, the King Arthur of America. Watching the world as a whole deal with the loss of the Great American Hero has turned up some truly awesome scenes.

By contrast, DC's Batman thing has been terrible so far. Not only was his death hackneyed and off-key, it was made clear it wasn't really a death from the get-go. And now practically the entire Bat-Clan and beyond are acting like ooc *******s over his death (Grayson's putting on the cowl? Wasn't a huge part of his character the fact that he'd outgrown the Bat, and that Tim was a more likely successor?), leaving any "great stories" that could be told... frankly unlikely.

Beyond the Neil Gaiman one, and that doesn't appear to be going anywhere quickly, unless the release schedule has changed when I wasn't looking.

Om
2009-07-07, 09:29 AM
This is why I can't get into comics. There are too many of them for each character. I'd love to get into Batman, but I don't know which comics from which decade to read. I mean, Tolkien didn't write a new LotR every decade. There aren't 20 different versions of the novel Mobby ****.That's one of the reasons why I don't read comics. I can appreciate the likes of Watchmen or Sandman but those that have been going for decades are simply soaps with superpowers