Monday, 18 January 2010

Comic Musings II - Death

comic musings


Mild spoilers, for things gone by are ahead I guess...

Justice League: Generation LostLooking at the silouette in the preview for Justice League: Generation Lost, I found myself hoping that it would be revealed to be Ted Kord, aka Blue Beetle. No disrespect to Jamie Reyes and his fans, but I would love to see Ted Kord back as Blue Beetle.

Let's do some text replacements on that last sentence. If we do:
"Jamie Reyes" => "Wally West"
"Ted Kord" => "Barry Allen"
"Blue Beetle" => "The Flash"
we get a sentence that I wouldn't agree with.
I think it comes down to who your interpretation of the character is. Equally we could have used "Kyle Raynor", "Hal Jordan" and "Green Lantern" above. (Or "Bucky", "Steve Rogers", "Captain America" if we put our Marvel hats on.)

In comics death, isn't that big a barrier to continuing stories, you only have to look at the cover to Blackest Night #5 to see some of the DCU characters that have died and returned.

A lot of how the return of a character is percieved is down to the manner of their death. Was it satisfying? Did the character go out well? If so, then the return is a harder sell. If it was unjust then a return is generally better recieved.
The other factor is how well the return was handled. It's perfectly possible to bring back the deadest of the dead in a satisfying, fan pleasing way. Bucky in Captain America for example, was one of the great unbringabackables. Hal Jordan was brought back via a very good story. For every Bucky and Hal Jordan however, there is a Jason Todd (Superboy's reality punch™), or a Kilowog (still not sure what happened there.).

Going back to Ted Kord, there is the arguement that bringing a character who died a "good" death (and Ted's was the best of deaths, in the Countdown to Infinite Crisis special) that it somehow cheapens the death story.

I haven't read Final Night since Hal Jordan came back, so I'm not sure how that sacrifice reads now with the Parallax retcons in place and I'm not old enough to have experienced Bucky's death, however around the weekend I was reading some X-Men comics. If you're interested I got through:

  • New X-Men: E is for Extinction by Grant Morrison
  • New X-Men: Imperial by Grant Morrison
  • New X-Men: New Worlds by Grant Morrison
  • New X-Men: Riot at Xavier's by Grant Morrison
  • New X-Men: Assault on Weapon Plus by Grant Morrison
  • New X-Men: Planet X by Grant Morrison
  • New X-Men: Here Comes Tomorrow by Grant Morrison
  • X-Men: Phoenix Endsong by Greg Pak
  • X-Men: Phoenix Warsong by Greg Pak
  • Astonishing X-Men: Gifted by Joss Whedon
  • Astonishing X-Men: Dangerous by Joss Whedon
  • Astonishing X-Men: Town by Joss Whedon
  • Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable by Joss Whedon
  • X-Men: Dream's End by Chris Claremont et al.

I've bolded the ones that are pertinent to our discusion. In Gifted Colossus returns from a pretty final death, returned by some unspecified Breakworld technology. That "pretty final death" is in Dream's End he dies: In "The Cure" (Uncanny #390) he sacrifices himself to cure the Legacy virus that threatened to wipe out mutantkind. As death's go, that's pretty meaningful. The final page is a splash page with text from his first appearance in Giant Size X-Men #1. Nice. In "One Tin Soldier Rides Away" (X-Men #110), Kitty Pride takes his ashes back to his native Russia in a touching tale.

You'll note that in the order I read them this time through, Colossus returned, before he died. Now did the fact he returned make his death any less satisfying or meaningful? In my opinion, no, as both were done well and that's the key.
I guess this has been a really long way of saying I want the Blue and the Gold back together without anytime travel nonsense like last time and that I still think Ted's death will be as good afterwards.

Personally, I think that this will be the return of Martian Manhunter as the cast for James Robinson's Justice League of America seems pretty nailed down for the foreseeable future, and if he's kicking around after Blackest Night, you can't see J'onn not being on a Justice League book.

Moving away from death, (a rule to live life by) more news from the upcoming Green Lantern movie reports that Sinestro may not be the villian of the piece in the first film, rather being set up for a possible sequel. Sort of how the Spider-man movies tried to do with Dr Connors aka The Lizard, until that franchise got a reboot (Yay another Spidey at school film :o\ ). Plus we get Tomar-Re, Kilowog. In Green Lantern that is, not Spider-man.


  1. While his return is still underway and not warmly greeted by you, how do you feel about Barry Allen's death? I always felt it was a good one, but was that because reading 'my' flash, Wally, frequently made reference back to Barry as the ultimate self-sacrificing hero till it just became that. I agree, ultimately the key factor of any death or return story is always, is it a good story? I personally think Kon-El has set the bar highest, death in Infinite Crisis and return in Legion of 3 Worlds, brilliant stuff.

  2. @Rickleton I don't think you get a bigger send off than Barry's death. He essentially birthed the modern dc universe that we both grew up reading.

    I think part of the problem with Barry's return is that it's been so long winded it's unbelievable, I mean how long has it been since DC Universe #0 that kicked off Final Crisis?