Saturday, August 27, 2005

Death in Comics

In trying (mostly unsuccessfully) to articulate my feelings regarding Blue Beetle's death in response to the ever-talented Brian Cronin (of Comics Should Be Good and Snark Free Waters, I came across what I believe to be cardinal rules for character death in comics.

1. Characters die for two reasons: to further the plot, or to add emotional significance.

2. Characters who die in service of one or the other alone tend to not stay dead very long.

3. Characters whose deaths lead to better stories than their lives would have, whose deaths are justified, tend to stay dead much longer.

Guy Gardner died in one panel in Our Worlds at War. He's alive and kicking now. Barry Allen, Gwen Stacy, and Uncle Ben, however, are not. Their deaths have been justified by the stories that have been told as a direct consequence of their deaths.

Is Blue Beetle's death justified? The ramshackle reunion of the JLI in OMAC Project suggests that the writers think so. In the long run, only time will tell. How many years did it take before John Ostrander (in Martian Manhunter) and Kieth Giffen (in JLA: Classified) justified Ice's death?

More on this later. I promise.

1 comment:

Brian Cronin said...

I do not think there is the slightest difference between Guy's death and Beetle's death, besides the fact

A. Beetle's death appears more permanent

B. No one is currenly ALLOWED to bring Beetle back.

Guy's death made no sense (as the "killing" blow was not one that should have been able to kill him), and Loeb did not appear to clear it with everyone, and certainly did not have an editorial mandate to do so, so Joe Kelly saved Guy, like, four months later.

Here, the death made sense (he was shot in the head. Fairly common sense that he would die from that), and there IS an editorial mandate that he NOT be returned (As Winick states, "I would be really pissed if he returned, but I figure, a decade from now, the next generation can do whatever they want.").

The problem with that, is that, forget the NEXT generation, writers were using Blue Beetle WHEN HE WAS KILLED OFF.

It is just an absurd waste of resources.