sábado, 1 de diciembre de 2012

Death in Comics, why doesnt it matter and why it should

I am a relatively new reader, I started reading comics just 5 years ago and i gravitated more on DC, so when i started asking "where to start?" i saw a lot of suggestions regarding Infinite Crisis, so i went to a store to only get infinite crisis and inside i saw this comic

So OBVIOUSLY I had to read this first, even as a new reader i understand this being a prelude will provide certain points to better understand IC and it was 80 pages for a very low price so its a no brainier
And I also need to say that I had never read or even heard of The Blue Beetle Ted Kord at the time.
So Imagine how surprised i was to really felt sad when he died at the end, there was this excellent story about a hero looking at a conspiracy to something bigger, and he manage to outsmart everyone, including batman, only to be captured and killed by one of his very own old friends, and his death became the very first in a line of events of epic proportions

Now my sentiments of Infinite Crisis are that it was a good book and a good event, but not great, but it was no where near as good as this comic was, maybe im a little Bias for it being my first comic but i just thought that the Death of Ted Kord was well done,and that it really matter, not even to mention that it really made Max Lord an awesome villain for me, I use him as an avatar because of this comic.
Where am I going with this?

well this is something i have been thinking lately because of Death of the Family and also because of other stuff that have been going on in Marvel

Now one of the things that is happening in Death of the Family in Batman is that allegedly a character will be cripple or will die, by sole process of elimination the higher candidates are Jim Gordon and Alfred or maybe someone else, and maybe it already happen as in Batman #14 it was implied that the Joker blinded Alfred with acid, but it was all made by sound, we cant see what happen , and it immediately reminded me of another scene of Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth in which the Joker allegedly blinds a woman name Pearl with a pencil while he is on the phone with Batman, when Batman arrives he discovers that Pearl is perfectly fine, its a very well done technique of horror which i have no doubt Snyder knew exactly how to pull since right now we dont know for sure if Alfred is fine or not, so we get into a perpetual state of concern for the character, it makes us care for him.
and It makes me think how this is the very first time that I had actually care for the death of a character since the New 52 started
however if it happens it will not the first death of in the new 52(not counting Resurrection Man for obvious reasons)
The first death in the new 52 happen in Justice League International #6 when Red Rocket died because of a terrorist attack that i really dont even remember why happen in the first place
when it happen the very first thought in my mind is "Why is he dead?"
dont get me wrong I liked the character, but i didnt care that he died, he was barely in the book, i cannot remember a single dialog from him other than "Dah" and i think he had a thing with fire which didnt even matter with his death cause Fire left the book entirely when he was gone.
the character was way more developed in Winick's JL:Generation Lost, he was new age communist, rejecting the capitalization of the new Russia and using a remodeled old soviet union RR suit, he was basically the communist Iron Man and he was still funny. mind you the Red Rockets are a very outdated concept and this was in no way was going to revitalized it, but it still had potential.
why did he died?
he wasnt important when he was in the book, and he wasnt important when he died, the plot coming from issue 6 was that the team was going after the terrorist but at the same time the terrorist were going after them, and they stop in France for some reason that had nothing to do with anything.but his death dead had nothing to do with this plot, it could had worked with him living
The final issue of JLI was his funeral, which is once again attacked by terrorist, then Batman becomes the hero of the book for the 12th time and saves everyone, and the poor red rocket sinks into the nothingness that is superhero limbo.
This is an example of one of the most commons uses of death for characters in comics lately:



the problem with this is that 9 out of 10 times is going to fail, specially if its done in the way that is done here, in a character that pretty much had no impact in the story before and after and i can pretty much name a very long list of deaths that had no meaning or impact just in DC and just in the last 5 years
I dont really talk much about Marvel cause i read very little and even thought its rare for me to drop a book from DC i have exactly the opposite effect on Marvel, its really hard for me to grab one, and even if i do its hard for me to keep going
But i really dont need to read much into it to know what happen
However I have read a lot of X-books, I started reading X-books, probably in one of the worst eras to even start reading on call DECIMATION, its the immediate fall out of House of M which left the entire world with only 200+ mutants, and no i havent read Morrison's X-men, its only very long list of things to read
and the bad thing about Decimation is that a TON of characters die, and die and die, and just keep dieing.
in one of the most famous scenes of this storyline, the New X-men that had been depowered go to a bus and the bus gets blown up by a group of zealots, I didnt read Young X-men, but the idea that a huge group of characters were depowered and then kill, seems, well Overkill
but that wasnt the biggest story of Decimation, the biggest story resolved around the revelation that there was a 3rd Summer brother, Vulcan(yeah remember that guy) and in this story marks the return of Professor Xavier, here, he cures his disability but loses his powers(because thats how it works) and then he recovers his powers later only to do...
that until his shocking and incredible DEATH
In Messiah Complex
only that he wasnt dead
and even though he was still alive, he still did nothing
and then he died once again in AvX #11, but this time for reals
Bendis said in an interview that his death was going make him more important now, I have no doubt of that since he was Barely important in the X-MEN anyways
but once again just like with Red Rocket the dead of Xavier had a huge problem, he really didnt matter in the book anyways, he appeared in chp 5 and then did nothing until he died, there is really nothing that make me care that he died and
as we saw in just the few years, if he wasnt important when he was alive, why would it be important that he is dead, other than using his brain for Nazi experiments.
this is what I call:



the core difference is that a death for shock value its not suppose to mean anything, its only suppose to shock, it doesnt really matter, but this type of Death is different, the writer actually wants you to think that this means something, But it really doesnt, and the reason why it has no meaning is cause it has no impact
I really felt nothing when Xavier died, mainly because i had already saw him died, but also cause he wasnt even important, he wasnt important in the X-men or Marvel for Years, it wasnt even important for AvX, and being such a high profile character, its just a matter of time before a movie comes out with Xavier Kicking ass and Marvel thinks "lets say it was a clone" and his death wont matter again
How sad it is that you can very easily draw a comparison between a character like Professor X, leader and creator of the X-men and Red Rocket
However there are 2 other forms of Death that i want to explore
The first is :


one of the comics that i think is the worst in the new 52 is Batgirl, its just plain disgustingly exploitative to me as well as poorly written, just the worst thing DC has to offer right now, and by far the worst issue yet is #8, I absolutely hate the issue for many many reasons but there is one particular scene that i find cheap and distasteful and that is the Death of Danny
In the Killing Joke, the original story goes like this, Barb was waiting for a friend to go to a Yoga class, this friend is name Colleen Reese, who live next door, the someone knocks the door and Barbara thinks is her so she rushes through open it and the Joker shots her. and its this person Colleen who finds Barbara.
Most ppl completely forget about Colleen cause she practically doesnt exist, she didnt appear in-panel and she is mentioned twice in the entire comic and never again in any other comic
In Batgirl #8 we get this character, he onky appeared in this issue and in the last one for a single panel, he is one of the henchmen of the Joker who came to her house to kidnap and mentally and physically torture her father(but couldnt do cause in the new 52 version of TKJ that didnt happen)
and at the end of the comic he dies and reveals that He called the police and effectively saved Barbara Gordon's life
the point is that you should feel sad that this character, this "villain with a heart of gold", this poor victim of the circunstances with an easy name to remember and absolutely 0 development or presence in the entire book and who just got a quick redemption by death and now is gone
This is the cheapest form of sentimental death possible.
It not only doesn't work in this specific case but in general its very easily perceive as manipulative, its like for example a kid dieing from cancer or a person committing suicide for depression, something that is created in the story only to die, and is always portray as sad and emotional.
this is not a death for shock, cause once again the idea is to impress the reader by having a character dieing fast without anyone seeing how that happen where did it came from, a death for shocks is only used to make the story move forward and its sudden, here this type of scene is just plain exploitative, manipulative and the fact that the only sentiment is entirely base in a retcon to the story that is suppose to be the most important story for the heroine, just comes as even more manipulative and more cheap.
Its practically everything that a good death tries to accomplish but without depth and of course without accomplishing anything.
this scene was just the equivalent of:
Dieing guy - "im dieing dude, btw, Im you long lost brother" *dies*
Hero - "NOOOOOOooo!!11!"
and finally and he most used by Marvel,


first i will say that pretty much the term of retcons comes from this particular death, the word retcon means RETroactive CONtinuity
basically, the fantastic Four kill doctor doom in issue 1, on issue 2 its reveal that it was a robot, or probably the most famous example the non-death of superman, he was just taking a supernap
and i want to comment on one of fastest retcons of deaths that i have experience
this one came From Wolverine #9 from Jason Aaron, I love Jason's writing and this story was pretty good, Wolverine's soul is send to hell and when returns he starts a killing spree starting with the person who personally send her to hell, Mystique
when this scene happen I was Shock, I was genuinely stun, I literally was like: "OMFG THEY KILL MYSTIQUE!"

and i had no reason to doubt the fact that she was dead cause Mystique was a very important character in the story so far and everything so far lead to her death, it really felt like the final goodbye to the sexy blue metamorpher
and then The Hand takes her body to revive her in the final page
I honest to god, felt like an idiot, how the hell did i fall for that.
Mystique is a character that i always liked in other mediums like TV and movies, but not on the comic, and the reason for that is cause Mystique is basically the ultimate betrayer, her only job is to betray everybody and if something bad happens, is because of her but other than that she has little to no motivation at all to do anything, and the only reason why she did this on this storyline was cause she hates Wolverine, simple and acceptable, but the idea that this finally waas going to catch up on her was interesting, and it let me down
Jason Aaron's Wolverine run was pretty good, and this issue was also good but the Non-death of Mystique really annoyed me, and its cause from every practical point, She didnt Die,
there is even a recent storyline in wolverine which once again Mystique is trying to take revenge on Wolverine to having kill her, but Why?
why does it matter, she was death like 5 minutes, i dont think it was even 5 pages
this is an example of that but the point is a quick resurrection, or "it wasnt me, it was a robot", "it was a clone"
it just comes down to the fact that Death doesnt really matter in comics, and its not suppose to matter when it comes like this



A very good and entertaining internet comic reviewer with a funny hat and a magic gun said once that, and im paraphrasing, Death should never be used in comics, but there has to be a death you need to make sure that it leaves a mark that its important, maybe even the most important moment for that character
which after all the points and examples that i just put here i practically translate to the following:

Death doesn't matter in Comics


But it should

There is always going to be the practical nameless victims in comics, you know, the countless characters that are civilians and are killed by the villains to present horror and stake the odds
but thats is not the same when we get to meet a character, know his name, and then it dies
It should not be just to impress the readers.
It should not be used for a cheap emotion.
It should not be used lightly.
and It should not be meaningless.
It should be the impossible high mark to earn, it has to be the greatest moment for that story, for that character because for us mere mortal humans, we dont have retcons in this life, we dont have lazarus pits or ninjas with resurrection spells, we understand that death is the final page of our book so its easy to see why ppl see deaths in comics with disdain and disappointment cause its one of those little thinks just breaks that illusion of fantasy and escapism that the comic has
It doesnt mean that death is bad
who doesnt remember the death of Barry Allen as one of the greatest moments of comic history
or the death of supergirl which some consider the best story of supergirl ever told
I shed tears when Captain Marvel died in Kingdom Come, one of the few comics that had made me cry
but ofcourse, it doesnt mean that all recent deaths and resurrections are bad just for being meaningless
I found the death and return of Johnny Storm extremely enjoyable, I just hated the idea that Marvel was just pushing it like this huge event to sell more comics
And i dont mind seeing a lot of stupid and silly things in comics like a character returning cause they transplanted its brain into a clone or a robot, or just coming back as an angel or a demon, or just a ghost, there is a lot of creativity in those kind of things
But its just like Gilbert "Fiddler's Green" from Sandman said

"It hurt, it was deeply unsettling and painful. However, it happened, Im dead"

Daniel and Gilbert

Death should have meaning, emotion and power.
and Sadly the last great death in comics was with the end of the Blue Beetle Ted Kord, and sadly is a death that is not even in continuity anymore
But if you want to check the last adventure of Ted Kord and havent done it yet you can actually read it for free in the Comixology site, right here

2 comentarios:

  1. Accurate words.
    Also in recent years it seems there has transitioned into some kind of system where seeing characters killed or maimed induces a Pavlovian salivation in the typical standard comic reader. Death, Violence, Excitment!
    Writers writing for instant emotional gratification. Feeling important in the moment, standing back then seeing the meaninglessness.
    ps death of Ted Kord one of the best comics i've ever read.

    1. well thanks for your comment, you are the first person to ever comment on a blog post of mine before, im glad you liked it.