Superhero Deaths Will Continue Until Morale Improves
DC just announced for the 30th Anniversary of landmark story “Death of Superman” that they are planning on killing off the entire Justice League (well, five members) in Justice League #75, which will be the final issue of this volume of Justice League.
Sad and Solemn moment. Alexa, play Taps
I am just tired of that worn out story beat. I understand that gets books in hands, but it’s so played out. Everyone has died at some point! Heck, it was worn out in the 90’s. It creates cheap heat for the book. You know the energy and emotion it brings to the story is often unearned and doesn’t last long. It\’s microwaved emotional gravitas. It’s Jeph Loeb crap.
We all know it won’t last for long and it’s just exhausting.
That said, Death of Wilbur from Mary Worth has captivated me. That has swarmed my twitter feed for the last two weeks. If you haven’t heard, Wilbur Weston is pretty terrible character for Mary Worth. Fans hate him. He was featured in a prominent story line where Wilbur fell off a yacht.
Turns out, he’s not dead. But for the week or so we thought he was dead? BEAUTIFUL. It was one of the best weeks on Twitter.
The story line was so popular King Syndicate made MUGS!
I debated buying a Mary Worth Mug in 2022 because of the story! So yeah “Death of ______________” stories work. I get it. I am not a fool. Though, that mug is tempting.
The issue is that “death” of stories were SO OVERPLAYED in the last 15 years of comics. Especially, when Marvel was on record of saying there was going to be a major character death every quarter because of the sales boost. I had to watch Cable and Nightcrawler die in the same event! It was not fun.
The deaths had impact, sure. They were ultimately reversed and left these moments feeling cheap.
That’s the best thing Jonathan Hickman did for the X-men was taking death off the table. In his interview with Jay and Miles on X-plain the X-men (Link here. Interview starts at the 1 hour mark), Hickman talks about how terrible death has become for the X-men. He wanted to remove that cheap narrative device that death presented. He was right for doing so. By taking away the easy way of death, it forced the writers to find other ways to raise the stakes. I must say after reading The Krakoan Era, I felt the stakes were high despite the utopian nature of it all. Just not that Utopia.
Yet, the bit in House of X #3 when the entire team was getting killed while storming the Orchis base? Beautiful. You see all of these wonderful character moments. Plus, we weren\’t fully aware of the resurrection protocols until the following story. It is such a great moment, but the deaths were shown to be pointless.
Si Spurrier and Bob Quinn”s Way of X really explores a society were death has no meaning. It has opened up new avenues of story telling.
A well done “Death” story can be great. There is something there in the emotional aftermath. The raw beauty of a decidedly human experience is something special. It resonates with us all. However, this is fiction and death is merely fleeting. The cheap ploy of killing the Justice League will get a boost and hopefully serve the overall larger story that Williamson is crafting. I think Infinite Frontier is promising. I can’t help but feel that DC is slow walking 5G—The stalled relaunch of core heroes where many would die or age out suddenly, resulting in legacies assuming the mantles—into a reality. Future State was a preview for those stories, and I am curious. I don\’t care for it to be like this though.
I grow tired of the needless death for sales. Forgo the cheap heat of death and instead embrace the other path. Which is just letting your heroes quit the team and move off to Alaska.