Death in mainstream comics is similar to death in daytime soaps.
- It boost ratings
- It’s are painfully temporary
- It’s a huge joke
I’m going to repeat that last one. Death in comic books is a joke. For the most part, the only characters that remain dead are the parents/siblings/friends of characters who’s deaths made the character become a hero or a villain; like Batman’s parents, or Spider-man’s Uncle Ben.
With that in mind, I’m going to rattle off a list of my top five favorite mainstream comic book characters in no particular order:
- Batman – Bruce Wayne
- Captain America – Steve Rogers
- Shadow Cat – Kitty Pryde
- Thanos – That’s his name
- Green Lantern – Hal Jordan
Now, I’m going to go back through that list and discuss their fates over the last three years (except where noted).
- Bruce Wayne – Killed by evil intergalactic conqueror Darkseid (Pronounced “dark side” for you non-geeks)
- Steve Rogers – Killed by his lover Sharon Carter, who was being mind-controlled and manipulated by a guy named Dr. Faustus
- Kitty Pryde – Sacrificed herself to save the Earth; she didn’t die, but she ended up being hurtled through space stuck in a giant bullet (I swear that was way less corny than it sounds)
- Thanos – Had his heart torn out when a guy named “Drax the Destroyer” (I love that name)
- Hal Jordan – Died reigning the Sun (happened about 16 years ago)
Finally, I’m going to go through that list one more time and discuss the tenure of their respective deaths.
- Bruce Wayne – Due to make a comeback really soon. I expect the rationalization for his return will be weak.
- Steve Rogers – Just made a comeback in Captain America Rebirth. He wasn’t dead, just lost in the time-stream! I know… it’s kind of weak.
- Kitty Pryde – Marvel announced her return with this teaser video. I have no idea how they will bring her back, but I hope it’s satisfying.
- Thanos – His return has been teased for an upcoming issue of Guardians of the Galaxy… will it happen? I don’t know, but it is inevitable, he’s too bad ass to stay dead.
- Hal Jordan – Was brought back to life about five years ago. He’s alive and well, and his book is highly entertaining.
Death and rebirth is common among comic characters, however Marvel and DC seem especially fond of slaying the characters that I truly enjoy reading. It’s been mighty annoying.
The most unfortunate part about death is that the rationalization for the inevitable return is usually pretty poor.
Either the character:
- Never actually died, he/she was a prisoner, lost in time, transported across the universe, et cetera
- Brought back by magic, God, or a demon
- Something broke the space-time continuum and the character’s return was a hiccup in reality (For example, this could be caused by a juvenile alternate reality Superman who punches a wall between universes. Like I’ve said, sometimes comics have a bad day)
I wish the pointless deaths would either stop, or stick. Either way, it’s a sad cliche that the industry hasn’t even tried to manage.