DEATH IN COMICS
I am about to discuss a major spoiler for the newest issue of Batman (#40) that hit shelves this week, so if you plan on reading this issue and don’t want a major event to be ruined then you should probably click off of this article…
After an intense battle, both Batman and The Joker have died.
I am really burned out and desensitized by major characters dying in comics produced by either DC or Marvel. They all come back. ALL OF THEM. Remember when The Joker beat Robin (Jason Todd) to death with a crowbar in the great 80’s story “Death in the Family”? He’s back. The Flash (Barry Allen) had one of the most meaningful deaths ever in the history of comics during Crisis on Infinite Earths. His death not only saved the universe, but paved the way for his nephew (Wally West) to take up the mantle of The Flash. Who cares now, because Barry has been brought back to life and is The Flash again.
Superman. Green Lantern. Green Arrow. Captain America. Spider-Man. Hawkeye. Nightcrawler. The death and inevitable return of a fallen hero has no appeal to me anymore because it is no longer special. When Superman died and returned it was a big deal. Now, publishers are always looking for ways to duplicate that success as it seems the death of a major character is the only way they know how to bring new readers into comics. They then follow up the death of a character with a resurrection story or a “surprise, they were never dead in the first place” tale to bring the hero back into their universe.
Does anyone think Bruce Wayne is going to stay dead? Is Jim Gordon taking over as a robotic Batman the clear future for the character? Let’s get real. It is only a matter of time before the big “Bruce Wayne returns” issue hits comic shops. A character, such as Bruce Wayne, is too valuable for DC to ever kill off permanently. Bruce Wayne IS Batman to all of society whether you are a diehard comic book reader or someone who has only seen the films.
I don’t understand why the publishers want to keep killing and bringing back these characters. DC and Marvel have some of the best writers in the world working on their titles who can craft new and interesting stories. They don’t need to be killing off characters to make the titles appeal to new fans. The men and women writing these books have stories in their heads that could make a fan of the Batman movies want to try the Batman comics. The publishers need to start marketing these alternative and new stories correctly, instead of always relying on death to hopefully draw new customers towards their monthly library.
Scott Snyder was the writer on Batman #40 that killed off Batman and The Joker. We may never know, truthfully, if it was his decision or one that was given to him by editorial. Snyder is one of the most gifted writers in the industry, and in my opinion, didn’t need to kill these characters to showcase his talents or to bring attention to the series. Batman and Joker will be brought back, either by Snyder or a writer that follows him.
Death in comics should be meaningful. To do that, the character needs to stay dead. Hitting the “reset button” on anyone who dies in comic books waters down the stories of their deaths. Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, the issue in which Barry Allen died, used to be one of my favorite issues. I read it all the time. Since Barry came back, I haven’t bothered. It isn’t monumental to me anymore.
I hope we won’t get any more of these major death issues in comics, but that is just wishful thinking on my part. The writers on comic books are too creative to have to use this played-out story, but the publishers will continue to see dollar signs in the death of their prize characters.
Follow Jeff on Twitter: @JeffLane22