Over in the other thread, we've been discussing people (mostly heroes) who died during the Silver Age. Some of them, surprisingly enough, are still dead! That's as it should be, dead should mean dead, but it usually doesn't happen. But in a few cases, it absolutely should.

There used to be a term in fandom that I heard: Bucky-dead. It means a character whose death was so momentous, so memorable or so intrinsic to the stories that were told after the death that the person would never be brought back to life.

Sadly, that term either needs a new name or it needs to be eliminated altogether, on the basis that there is no character who some writer won't want to revive, and their editor will think that's a good thing.

Even so, here's my list of characters who I think should remain Bucky-dead:

 

1. Bucky.

2. Uncle Ben

3. Barry Allen

4. Gwen Stacy

5. Jonathan and Martha Kent

6. Thomas and Martha Wayne

7. Aquababy

8. Battling Murdock

9. Abin Sur

 

Any others? Anybody want to make a case that the MU or DCU would be better off with one of these characters alive instead? Anybody willing to bet their house on one of these that will NEVER be revived? Frankly, I don't think I am.

 

-- MSA

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Mr. Silver Age said:

No, I meant that the Earth-1 Superman lost a couple of great parents and a world that was an amazing place of wonders, and then he also lost his adoptive parents who brought him up right and then had to let him go. Even Superman can't make everything right and suffers losses.

Meanwhile, the New Earth version lost a couple of pretty creepy parents (the Non-Parents of the Year) and a cold, unfriendly looking world, and then he came to Earth and had his parents around for a long time and I guess still has his mom around. (Didn't Jonathan Kent die once before? Or was that just a near-death experience?). 

Now he's married to the girl of his dreams. It's a great life if you're Superman. I like the other guy better. But I guess I would.

-- MSA

 

 

...Well , as far as changes in a character's background , for pretty much all the Golden Age and at least maybe some of the Atomic Age , Krypton was , IIRC , painted as a " planet of Superman "...Not just in Action #1 , Superman #1 , the beginning of the daily Superman strip , and the beginning of the Sunday Superman strip , but for many years after..." Mort's World " was a decided retcon !!!

  There's a 40s story that I've never read that re-tells the origin and has Supie , through some time-machine vision/jump , discover for the first time that he is a Kryptonian !

  It might be interesting to Elseworlds-explore a Superman who thought he was a Earthling !

  Oh , and when I had the book of the first couple years' Superman Sunday strips , at least one strip strongly implied that the pre-teenage Clark Kent spent considerably more time in an insttution/orphanage of some kind than the usual version implies !!! ( It showed Young Clark rescuing a kid from a bigger  bully kid...with all of them wearing orphan's-style uniforms . )

Unfortunately, the old board is down; I wanted to link to a similar discussion we had about the Kents. Some posters took the view that having them around is a good thing, because it makes Superman more relatable, by giving him a good relationship with his parents; others took the view that it wasn't such a good thing, because it makes Superman less super, as he doesn't rely on his own judgment because he's always traipsing off to see Mom and Dad for advice.

 

I fall halfway between these views. Certainly, the notion of Superboy burying his parents, leaving the nest and becoming Superman is a poignant one ("With all my power, I couldn't save them!"), but it's kind of hokey that the mechanism was some made-up malady (Carribbean Fever Plague?) rather than just plain old age. I think the idea that having the Kents around makes him more "relatable" is dubious and stems from the unfortunate tendency to think that other superheroes should be like Peter Parker, whether that works for them or not.

 

But I just feel that you get more stories (and, potentially, more good stories) with the Kents than you do without them.

The Kents dying makes for good stories anyway...

 

:-)

Theoretically, I would have agreed with putting Bucky on the list.  Then I read the story.  Captain America has been one of the most consistently entertaining and excellent books of the past five years and there's no way I'm going to say that Ed Brubaker shouldn't have written it.
Mr. Silver Age said:

Are we all bemoaning the loss of the Human Torch and what a sad day it is today to see his life come to an end? I don' t think so. Reviving these long-dead guys makes it clear we shouldn't care when anyone dies, because they aren't really dead. Bucky proves that.

-- MSA

Again? But that trick never works!
Mr. Silver Age said:

I like to think that the story about Gwen dying because the only other option was marriage is apocryphal, as it shows such a lack of imagination it's embarrassing. The more obvious choice was to have Gwen learn who Spider-Man was and run off in horror, "never" to be seen again. Peter's life would once again be destroyed by Spidey, and Gwen would always be looming out there, poised for a return, much like the Goblin was so many times. The threat was more dangerous than the return.

Granted, Gwen would've returned at least once each time a new writer took over, but it could have had a lot of potential, reminding MJ that Peter had another love out there that could pop up at any time. Competing with a dead icon is tough, but competing with a woman Peter still loves who could show up is even tougher.

I think her death was so surprising and transformational that reviving her would be an insult. Needless to say, I think the clone story was stupid and the twins story was an abomination. YMMV-BIDI.


You may like to think that the story about Gwen dying because the only other option was marriage is apocryphal, but there are plenty of interviews with the principals involved -- Gerry Conway, John Romita, Roy Thomas -- that attest otherwise. I agree that it shows an embarrassing lack of imagination.

I suppose my championing the cause of Gwen Stacy was to somehow eliminate the atrocity of the "Bearing-Osborn-Seed" story out of existence. If Norman is alive, why not her, too? It would strip him of his greatest victory. Perhaps he lied about the twins. Hell, let's make them clones! What's the difference at this point! Gwen being alive and knowing the truth about Norman Osborn would make her dangerous and a target again. Let's see Peter agonize over if he should tell her his secret. Let Mary Jane have a real rival, one the fans know is actual competition. I would think that Silver Agers would want Gwen back, but I could be wrong.

My feelings on Barry's return and Wally's "demotion" have been mentioned before. That leads to Bucky Barnes. It is the best Captain America story in the last 10 years. It has been painstakingly and excellantly crafted. One of Marvel's finest. And it's a mistake and it won't last. No matter how hard they try to establish James Buchanan Barnes as the Captain America, Steve Rogers will take up the role that he was born and destined to have. The interesting part will be if Bucky lives or dies (again).

When they first had the Post-Crisis Kents alive, I wasn't thrilled about it but it grew on me. It gave Superman a family, a sanctuary and a stronger link to humanity. It also gave him a major difference from Batman. And who among us could not use advise from our parents even at our (advanced?) ages?

As for Phoenix and Jean Grey, THAT'S beating a dead, not dead, dead again, not not dead, dead cubed horse!  



Mr. Silver Age said:

I think having Jonathan and Martha Kent in the post-Crisis DC Universe was one of the best ideas to come from the 1980s revamp of Superman.

I have to agree with you there, but that's damning with faint praise. I think in the #2 slot is making Luthor an evil businessman, a chracterization everyone agrees is more plausible without damaging his underlying iconic image. After that? Certainly wiping out Kara was an awful thing. Although, I have to say, I'm glad they "scraped away the barnacles," as John Byrne put it, so they could immediately introduce innovations like Metallo, red kryptonite, Mr. Mxyzptlk and Bizarro.

I admit that I liked some of those Kent farm stories, but the Kents dying without Superboy being able to save them and then leaving for Metropolis is really striking and much more of a message. I mean, the guy's super powerful and can go back to his farm and his parents for advice. He apparently lost a couple who were raising him who were not exactly Parents of the Year. I think the SA version of both sets of parents is much better. The guy's got the perfect life.

I've mostly seen the past 25 years as a big What-If story, and my interest in a Superman married to Lois is pretty low. It's like reading the next three volumes in the Pride & Prejudice series. After Elizabeth-Lois marries Darcy-Superman, there's a lot less story there that's compelling. That chase is what the story's about!

Dave's right, Jor-El and Lara should be on my list. I think they are so intrinsically dead that it didn't occur to me to add them. Consider them added. But, of course, there's no such thing as being dead-dead, and they tried to ruin a great thing with Superboy #158. Fortunately, we Mopee-ized that story right out of our brains.

I think reviving Barry Allen was a horrible idea. He was a great character, but he had a great death, a death that resonated long afterward and was referred to regularly. His death affected how Wally worked, and that gap between Jay and Wally was poignant because there should have been another generation there, and it was gone. It proved that the job was dangerous.

The TV show especially showed that a young, frisky Flash is a nice counterpoint to the other heroes. He's not the same generation, and there's actually a reason for it. Barry's death served an ideal role.

I'm just not sure why they'd revive him. Is this guy who's been dead for 25 years so beloved by today's comics readers? I wonder how many of them actually ever read a Barry Allen story? OTOH, if it's a big number, then comics may have a different problem. Comics readers used to turn over every five years, now maybe they never turn over--or forget a plot point from decades ago.

Bucky should be dead. I don't care what stories they've told about him since, his having been alive all those years makes a mockery of every SA story where Cap bemoaned his death, objected when Rick Jones put on his costume, etc. And there were a lot of them. Why wasn't Cap out looking for him? There clearly was a chance he was still alive. That Cap was unable to save his partner was a major part of who he was, at least back when I was reading him.

Bringing back Bucky is a good idea only because everyone thinks it's such a bad idea--as the originator of the Bucky-dead term--that a writer decides he's so good he can beat those odds. Nobody reading comics had ever read a Bucky story. There were other ways to make Winter Soldier interesting besides trashing that relationship, which, of course, neither Marvel or the writer cares about if it brings in some bucks today.

I like to think that the story about Gwen dying because the only other option was marriage is apocryphal, as it shows such a lack of imagination it's embarrassing. The more obvious choice was to have Gwen learn who Spider-Man was and run off in horror, "never" to be seen again. Peter's life would once again be destroyed by Spidey, and Gwen would always be looming out there, poised for a return, much like the Goblin was so many times. The threat was more dangerous than the return.

Granted, Gwen would've returned at least once each time a new writer took over, but it could have had a lot of potential, reminding MJ that Peter had another love out there that could pop up at any time. Competing with a dead icon is tough, but competing with a woman Peter still loves who could show up is even tougher.

I think her death was so surprising and transformational that reviving her would be an insult. Needless to say, I think the clone story was stupid and the twins story was an abomination. YMMV-BIDI.

Jean Grey may be a good choice to be added, but I just don't feel it so much. Somewhere along the line before her revival, I gave up on the X-Men and haven't been back. She was revived awhile ago by now, so there may be a lot of fans who don't know she was dead once upon a time.

The problem today is that some of these characters are killed with the full intention of bringing them back shortly, or at least the knowledge that they won't be gone long. That's such a cheat on everyone. I just can't believe they really thought that Steve Rogers would never appear in a Marvel comic book again when they did their stunt.

Needless to say, it's hard to get excited about all the FF hype, considering most of them have been dead before at least once. I'm surprised that the media still falls for it.

-- MSA

 

 

 

...Well , perhaps the terminology you used here was a trifle unclear , than .

  FTM , when I said " post-Byrne " , I meant " at all times post-MOS #1 " while I suppose you may have thought that I meant just diring Byrne'd run and a couple of years thereafter .

  Actually , it does appear that the " real " - the original , Silver Age product - Kara IS fairly dead , as both the current DCU Supergirl (whom I rather like) and the " jusst-like " versio that PeterDavid introduced at the end of his 90s esries were not suppoed to be SA Kara !!!

  The David one ended up traveling to an alternate universe , marrying that reality's Kal-El ( Yep , first cousins COULD marry there . ) , following which they lived long enough to have a child who , IIRC , survived their , and most of their uni's , destruction and was last seen happily romping in outer space !

  FTM , I recall , around 2006 , DC running a four-part csoddover , " Return To Krypton " , more or less revisiting the Jerry Seigel-sritten story that I have thought might be at least a runner for greatest Superman story of all time - the 2006 on , again IIRC , ended up with Jor-El and Lara , on a not-exploded Krypton in their pocket universe , being shown taking young Kal out for a Sunday picnic , so to speak !

  Thank you for reminding me of the " official " name of to-day's DC Earth !

  BTW , I thought that the deaths of Kal-L - Earth-a Superman - and his Lois in Infinite Crisis were dramatically fitting and well-done !

 

 

Mark Ogilvie wrote: >> The writer looks at what was written, decides he can do it better or that it needs to be modernized because no one now would take the story seriously and suddenly there appears a new character with the same name, just more modern.  Bucky becomes a Ranger who kills

 

That's exactly right. All those who are saying it was worth it to resurrect Bucky because the stories were so good (and I read them all; they weren't THAT good) are missing one key point: that character isn't Bucky. Whatever personality characteristics Bucky had in World War Two are completely missing from the 21st Century character. It's not the same person, not at all.

 

Even more to the point: How can we possibly care whether or not this new "Bucky" survives whatever menace-of-the-month he's threatened by since we've been told that he can survive *anything* -- even the passage of time marked off in decades -- and still be just fine, thanks. There is no dramatic tension with this character whatsoever now.

Many discussion points:

ClarkKent_DC: But I just feel that you get more stories (and, potentially, more good stories) with the Kents than you do without them.

That's by definition, though, since adding two supporting members to the cast increases the potential story options. I think it makes Superman a weaker character with less humility and depth. The same can be said for making Spider-Man single. That creates lots more possibilities for good stories, but was it worth doing what they did to the character to open that door?

Chris Fluit: Captain America has been one of the most consistently entertaining and excellent books of the past five years and there's no way I'm going to say that Ed Brubaker shouldn't have written it.

I have heard people say that, and I haven't read the story, so I can't argue it. I'm just curious if making WS be Bucky was the only possibility for telling a story that good. Because, basically, we've told that this is Cap's long-time partner, we don't have that experience ourselves. None of us has ever read a Bucky story that wasn't  reprint or have a close connection to the character. I just wonder if there wasn't another way to do the same story without reviving him. 

Mark S. Ogilvie: I think Bucky should have stayed dead no matter how good the story was.  Same for Jean Grey.  Her death was a great story about noble sacrifice.

I agree. The idea of reviving him (or her) is bad, no matter the story. If the story is good, it may be a mitigating factor, but it's still a bad idea. It undermines too much of the MU for me. 

ClarkKent_DC: You may like to think that the story about Gwen dying because the only other option was marriage is apocryphal, but there are plenty of interviews with the principals involved -- Gerry Conway, John Romita, Roy Thomas -- that attest otherwise. I agree that it shows an embarrassing lack of imagination.

I don't have the interviews handy, so I wasn't sure exactly how they phrased it or how big a part of the argument that was. For all I knew, Conway went to Romita and Thomas (and let's not forget Stan) and said, "Is there a problem if I kill off Gwen," rather than "there are only two things possible to do with Gwen, and I like this one better than this one." I'd like to think that Roy, at least, could have offered some alternatives. Even Gerry may have considered other options and decided he liked this one best. If they did say there were only two things, it's sad.

Phillip Portelli: I would think that Silver Agers would want Gwen back, but I could be wrong.

Oooooh, no no no, no way, not ever. It is way, way easier to Mopee-ize the Spider Twins and Norman's resurrection and anything else Gwen connected than it is to use those as reasons to revive her. Reviving Gwen would be such a bad idea I can't even express its badness in words. Her death was longer ago and way more memorable than Barry Allen's -- some people use it to date the end of the Silver Age! It was a bad idea to revive Barry, and it would be many times worse to revive Gwen. Bad.

Emerkeith Davyjack when I said " post-Byrne," I meant "at all times post-MOS #1 " while I suppose you may have thought that I meant just diring Byrne'd run and a couple of years thereafter .

Nah, I use that terminology, too. I wouldn't even know where one stopped and the next started. He set the template that others built on, so it's all the Byrne Superman to me, at least for many years until it all blurs. It was irritating to hear them diss the SA Superman for so long for all the junk and baggage he had, only to then reintroduce all those little bits of business that are what makes Superman so memorable today. They had a terrible understanding of who he is and why he was popular. Those bits weren't dragging him down, they were making him unique.

There were no doubt earlier, different versions of Krypton and the Kents, but by now, thanks to the TV show and the cartoons, the SA version is the one everyone knows best and accepts, whether they read those comics or not. And I think it's pretty telling that, when any new show starts up, it's mostly based on Mort's concept, not the newest version (although there does seem to be a lot of the movie's Krypton thrown in, which I just don't get).

I think it's gonna be a long time before a Superman show begins with Clark and Lois married. Even Smallville may never get to that point, despite the engagement, unless it's in the last show. They understand that the wedding is the end of the adventure.

Actually , it does appear that the " real " - the original , Silver Age product - Kara IS fairly dead.

Yeah, see, that's not true. She never existed. We had that big, momentous scene in Crisis and that often-homaged cover, and then BLIP! she was never seen or mentioned again. That was terrible. The cartoon show did a credible job of introducing her and making her work.Establishing her should have been a key point of the Superman revival, because there was no chance that there would not be a Supergirl introduced some time. They should have controlled that better from the start, because what we got was a mess. Kara deserved much better.

Yep , first cousins COULD marry there.

Actually, first cousins can marry in many states today, and the thinking is that it should be more. Granted, the laws of Earth-1 said they couldn't do that, but clearly it wasn't something Kal and Kara wanted to consider anyway. I assume that's why she was made his first cousin in the first place. Otherwise, it is way too coincidental and nowhere near as interesting as other options.

-- MSA

 "It was irritating to hear them diss the SA Superman for so long for all the junk and baggage he had, only to then reintroduce all those little bits of business that are what makes Superman so memorable today."

 

Was there anything done away with in Crisis on Infinite Earths that hasn't been brought back in some way, shape or form?

 

There's nothing stopping me writing a Sherlock Holmes story in which Mrs. Bardell is revealed to be an alien who has been feeding on Watson's brains for years. (""My God, Mrs. Bardell! You've reduced him to - a gibbering idiot!" She withdrew her elongated tongue from Watson's ear and smiled strangely. I saw an evil gleam in the depths of her alien eyes. "And now - DESSERT!"") Nobody would care, because we think of Conan Doyle's Holmes as the "canonical" Holmes. In the case of comics we tend to treat anything the publisher puts out as canon, but we don't have to. 

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