Midtowners! Recently, Marvel announced the possibility of killing off one of its beloved characters, Wolverine. Death is a bad thing for us human beings in general, and it’s a tough subject to deal with, but in the world of comics, I think it’s a necessary part of a character’s lifespan. Sure, death in comics isn’t like death in real life, but in some ways it is. We’re going to look at death in comics, and see what results afterwards. I think you’ll be surprised as to how well it actually works out.

Of course, the most common death is the death of the supporting cast member, and there have been numerous deaths like that. Heck, Spider-Man is DEFINED by the deaths of Uncle Ben and Gwen Stacy. You can argue if these deaths are necessary, of if they’re a bit overused (Did Alex DeWitt, Kyle Rayner’s girlfriend, need to get stuffed in the refrigerator?). It’s a difficult subject, one that has caused many an internet debate. I don’t think I could solve that one, so let’s move on to main characters, and resurrecting long dead characters.

Resurrecting characters that have been dead forever may seem blasphemous at first, but the best example of it is probably the one that has a movie coming out: the Winter Soldier.

Winter Soldier is James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes, Captain America’s youthful sidekick. Originally, Cap and Bucky were active after the war through the 1950’s. When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby decided to reintroduce Cap in Avengers #4, they decided to retcon his tale into what we know: Cap and Bucky were strapped to a missile headed to America, and Bucky sacrificed himself heroically, while Cap fell to the frozen depths, preserving his life. That version has been upheld since then, and for a while, the popular saying was that only two Marvel characters would stay dead: Bucky and Uncle Ben. Enter Ed Brubaker.

Brubaker’s Captain America series started with a bang: Cap had to deal with the fact that not only was his former partner and best friend alive, but that he had been brainwashed by the Soviets to be a Cold War terror: the Winter Soldier. Bucky was responsible for countless assassinations and threats to the West, and had no idea that he was an Allied hero in World War II. The saga continued into Captain America’s own death, Bucky taking on the mantle of Captain America, and Bucky also embracing his life in the modern-day. And now, the second Captain America movie is one of the most anticipated of the year, and could very well be the best Marvel movie to date.

And that brings me to killing off a star character. We all joke about how killing off a character doesn’t mean they’re dead, and it’s not permanent. As soon as a character dies, we all internally (or externally) count down the days to said character’s return. All of that cynicism aside, I think it’s a great thing to do. Characters need to be rested. How long can a guy like Spider-Man sustain 4 or 5 titles? They killed off Peter Parker (sort of), and Superior Spider-Man has done pretty well for itself. Thor was put to rest around the time of Avengers Disassembled, and his absence was felt in series such as Civil War, and now he’s a bonafide movie icon. No matter what the character is, you need to change things up and not overwhelm the audience, so kill someone off for a little bit, make us miss the character.

What do you think? Should comic characters be shuffled off the mortal coil for a little bit for a breather? Or do you need to see your characters live? Is there someone you want to get rid of? Someone you want back? Leave a comment and let’s get a discussion going.

Until Next Time

–        Raph


One Response to “The Possible Death of Wolverine and Why Death (in Comics) is a Good Thing”

  1. Thanks for the look at death through comics. I do think there are times that a character needs to experience death as part of their development or be killed off and replaced by a new one (i.e. the death of Robin at the hands of the Joker). But there are some characters that have be defined by there ability to not be killed and struggle with the emotional and mental scars of killing someone or witnessing the death of someone dear to them (i.e. Wolverine, The Silver Surfer). Did we not just recently witness to the death of Wolverine and his fight back from Hell? Is he going to Heaven now? I am curious to what Marvel has up their sleeve with this being that two characters that we thought were dead (Sabertooth and Mystique) are now back and causing all sorts of trouble for Wolverine and the rest of the X-men. Will his death result in the resurfacing of Xavier or the cause the original X-men to be sent home? I just hope what ever they have instore for us is worth the crazy road they have been taking us down the last few years.

    Posted by Nick on 12/13/09 March 20th, 2014 at 9:23 pmReply

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