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

Views: 646

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

The writer has to engage his own imagination, he has to convince readers to pick up the book, and he has to interest readers in the characters. If the Winter Soldier were a wholly new character, fewer readers would be interested. Making him Bucky was sensational: it's the reason we're talking about the book now. It allowed Brubaker to plug into the readership's existing connection with Bucky. It also allowed him to replace Captain America with a character who had legacy weight. It may be the idea was one that particularly activated his imagination, that it suggested themes and possibilities to him that he wouldn't have otherwise come up with.

On the downside, revisionist stories can rub long-time readers the wrong way. Sometimes the new writer can win them over, as Brubaker has done with some readers and as Alan Moore did on Swamp Thing. It makes a difference whether the new stuff is done well or badly.

On the other hand, not all long-time readers are equally attached to the same stories. Perhaps read A found the death of Barry Allen particularly moving, or (what is not the same thing) the story element of his having died heroically a moving one. Other readers may have lost interest in Barry by that point and never followed Wally's series. But perhaps they've been reading a Flash archive, and remembering how much they used to enjoy Flash stories at one time. So the idea of reading new stories about Barry has some appeal to them, even though they weren't champing at the bit to see them before the opportunity came along.

According to the figures at John Jackson Miller's Comichron website, in December Flash #7 and #8 were DC's ninth and eleventh best-selling titles for the month respectively. The books ahead of them were all Batbooks, GL books, or issues of Brightest Day. The two issues had estimated sales in the fifty-something thousands, but that was enough to put them into positions twelve and eighteen in the top 300. (#7 outsold all X-books other than Wolverine Best There Is #1. Some of Flash #8's sales might show up in the list for January.) In commercial terms, I think that suggests DC made the right decision. Bear in mind too that DC's previous two Flash reboots (Bart's assuming the mantle, and the return of Wally) both struck out.

Luke Blanchard said:

The writer has to engage his own imagination, he has to convince readers to pick up the book, and he has to interest readers in the characters. If the Winter Soldier were a wholly new character, fewer readers would be interested. Making him Bucky was sensational: it's the reason we're talking about the book now. It allowed Brubaker to plug into the readership's existing connection with Bucky. It also allowed him to replace Captain America with a character who had legacy weight. It may be the idea was one that particularly activated his imagination, that it suggested themes and possibilities to him that he wouldn't have otherwise come up with.

On the downside, revisionist stories can rub long-time readers the wrong way. Sometimes the new writer can win them over, as Brubaker has done with some readers and as Alan Moore did on Swamp Thing. It makes a difference whether the new stuff is done well or badly.


Thank you, Luke. The difference, as always, is in the execution. I might not like the results of any given effort (Gwen sleeping with Norman Osborn -- barf), but I wouldn't want to say that a writer is wrong for writing stories; that's what he or she is there to do.

On the other hand, not all long-time readers are equally attached to the same stories. Perhaps read A found the death of Barry Allen particularly moving, or (what is not the same thing) the story element of his having died heroically a moving one. Other readers may have lost interest in Barry by that point and never followed Wally's series. But perhaps they've been reading a Flash archive, and remembering how much they used to enjoy Flash stories at one time. So the idea of reading new stories about Barry has some appeal to them, even though they weren't champing at the bit to see them before the opportunity came along.


Thanks again, Luke. There's a huge difference between "I'm not interested in Barry Allen stories" and "By God, they should never, never, ever write a Barry Allen story again because I'm not interested in Barry Allen stories and I don't believe anyone else should be, either." Some people are interested, and their money is as green as anybody else's.

And at the end of the day, I don't think the cure for too many death stories or too many bad death stories is to declare "Dead means DEAD!" It's to be more careful about greenlighting them in the first place.

"By God, they should never, never, ever write a Barry Allen story again because I'm not interested in Barry Allen stories and I don't believe anyone else should be, either."

I'm not sure who said that here. I said it was a mistake to revive him because it makes me far less interested in the DCU to know that everything is up for grabs and nothing matters. Certainly, I'm well capable of avoiding every Barry Allen story they write that I don't want to read. I do it with Wolverine all the time, almost daily. Censorship isn't the goal, good sense and the long-term validity of the character is.

The problem is that these big events and revivals always attract immediate attention. If nothing else, readers have heard of these characters and want to see what they're about. Certainly, putting your best writers onto these revivals will attract their following as well as curiosity seekers. But that's true no matter where those writers were writing, and they have a bigger burden to carry when they take on these things.

But then the attention fades, and you don't have a story that goes away, you have a new canon, a new event that all later writers will have to deal with. The editors don't care, because they'll be there for a few years and move on, and they want that sales spike. It's the readers who have been following this stuff for awhile who end up having to deal with.

Bruce Wayne has a brother? Spider-Man has a clone? Hal Jordan's an alcoholic? A magic elf gave Flash his powers? Tony Stark wants super-heroes to register? Superman isn't hurt by kryptonite? Cool stories, lots of talk! But now we have to deal with it.

I want writers to tell good stories. I don't want them to tell stories by warping what past creators did. The readers who liked those stories don't want them changed, and the readers who didn't read them don't care. And I don't want death to be this week's sales gimmick--but I think that boat has sailed, and the publishers have to deal with a cynical readership.

I don't think any writer thinks he wrote a bad death story, or that his killing a hero so he could revive him wasn't justified. It was worth it to him, and if not everyone agrees, no big deal. But it is a big deal for those of us who are around afterward. And too often, that isn't the editor or writer.

That's why I think it's interesting that it's being questions whether DC and Marvel should write for their long-time readers. They should do that. They should think about what their story will mean for the character five or 10 years later, or whether readers who have seen every other member of the FF die three times over really wants or needs to see the Human Torch die.

But they don't write for those readers, and that's where they go wrong, because those readers seem to make up a significant part of the audience.

 

-- MSA

When Julius Schwartz was an active editor, he had a policy that if a writer wanted to revive a character, he had to create a new character for the same story. Hence the Toyman (of 1974) had to face Winslow Schott for the title in one of the first issues of Action Comics I ever bought.

 

At times, the comic book industry is just like any other venue of show business, where the atmosphere is a question of always trying to top each other and making a name for themselves without worrying about the repercussions that might arise down the road.

There has to be a balance between writing for the current fans and the long term readers while somehow attracting a potential future audience too, but dang if I know how to do that off the top of my head. 

...I haven't time to re-read this whole line , but , IIRC , MSA expressed an attitude towards Spidey being single again that differed from what he expressed at the time of the " Mephisto annulment " .

  I seem to recall MSA .

at that time , in USA TODAY even (!!!!!) , saying that he thought that Spider-Man being single ewas good , even if he might've had some reservations about the method , and he realized that those who grew up with a married Petey , or just those who liked him that way in general , would feel differently ( and that it did require junking/ignoring numerous stories ) .

  AS for " too many resurrections "...Of course , opinions DO differ , and for everyone who says " ______ should be dead forever ! " that same person may say " But not ______ (their personal favorite) ! Why , that character's an ICON !!!!!!!!!! He should ALWAYS be in..." (etc.) .

  Didn't the then-new medium amplify the years of complaints old fans had about Hal Jordan's disposal , even as Hal no-longer--GL status was softerned from killer villain to " redeemed villian " to...???

  Wasn't the junking of Kryptonite much accliamed , both by most fans of the day (whom tended to express little fondness for Mort's approach at that point , I do believe) and even by the MSM of the day ?

  As far as ch aracters forgetting things - Um , even pre-Mephisto , didn't Pete and MJ spend ages forgetting about their " child who was dead - or wait , kidnapped by Osborn's minions - um , anyway " ?

  I tjhink , actually , one problem Marvel has is that they're unwilling to set up a few regularly referred-to alternate worlds , feeling that<in progress>



Emerkeith Davyjack said:

...I haven't time to re-read this whole line , but , IIRC , MSA expressed an attitude towards Spidey being single again that differed from what he expressed at the time of the " Mephisto annulment " .

  I seem to recall MSA .

at that time , in USA TODAY even (!!!!!) , saying that he thought that Spider-Man being single was good , even if he might've had some reservations about the method , and he realized that those who grew up with a married Petey , or just those who liked him that way in general , would feel differently ( and that it did require junking/ignoring numerous stories ) .

  AS for " too many resurrections "...Of course , opinions DO differ , and for everyone who says " ______ should be dead forever ! " that same person may say " But not ______ (their personal favorite) ! Why , that character's an ICON !!!!!!!!!! He should ALWAYS be in..." (etc.) ....!!!!!!!!!!!

  Didn't the then-new medium of the Internet amplify the years of complaints old fans had about Hal Jordan's disposal , even as Hal's no-longer-a-GL status was softerned from killer villain to " redeemed villian " to...???

  Wasn't the junking of Kryptonite much acclaimed , both by most fans of the day (whom tended to express little fondness for Mort's approach at that point , I do believe) and even by the MSM of the day ? ( In their " Pow ! Bam ! Comics Are Relevant Now ! " pieces that alternated w/the Leonard Bernstein Radical Chic ones - ! )

  As far as characters forgetting things - Um , even pre-Mephisto , didn't Pete and MJ spend ages forgetting about their " child who was dead - or wait , kidnapped by Osborn's minions - um , anyway " ?

  I tjhink , actually , one problem Marvel has is that they're unwilling/highly resistant to set up a few regularly referred-to alternate worlds in the manner of pre-Crisis DC's Earth-2 , -3 , -s , etcetera , feeling " that's DC's thing and we don't do that ! "...Uumm , hasn't it been more-than-25 years since DC did that regularly , anyway ? DC , arguably , has a way of doing things FIRST that Marvel takes up later , does , to more general appeal , and receives more credit for anyway...Marvel has any number ofestablished altaverses , anyhow , as reading any relevant ( Whooper ! Not in that sense ! ) Marvel handbook will show you , anyhow.........

  Remember that John Byrne MARVEL: THE MISSING GENERATION (if that was its precise title) from a few years back that showed , in mainstream Marvel/Earth-616's 1960s , Thor active on Earth , violating the " The mainstream MU started with the FF's arrival in FF#1 , roughly ten years back !!! " dictum ???

  The first Donner film affected a lot of DC's post-Byrne versions of Superman's background and his trappings/settings , certainly...Isn't MSA on record as saying he's against Clark & Lois's , marriage ?????rriage ?????

IIRC , MSA expressed an attitude towards Spidey being single again that differed from what he expressed at the time of the "Mephisto annulment."

I don't know where it was that you got that impression, but I haven't changed my mind about it in any way. I think 1.) having a single Spider-Man is a great idea 2.) no matter how it was achieved. I know some people disagree with #1 and many more disagree with #2.

In this case, I think the ends justified the means, because I hated a married Spider-Man (as I do a married Superman), but I realize many people have now grown up knowing nothing else, and making that big of a change and saying that all the stories they read through their childhood never happened is a monstrous betrayal. I get that, but it doesn't affect me, because I hated that Spider-Man, and now I don't have to any more.

But man, did they screw it up six ways from Sunday. Not only were there better ways to do it than literally making a deal with the devil, but the way it was handled was mind-boggling clumsy for professionals who had worked on the storyline for more than a year. Unbelievable.

But I give them a pass because the result was just so right, if we forget how it happened, and I have. I would sum it up as saying Marvel wanted Spidey to be single in the worst way, and that's the way they did it. 

Didn't the then-new medium of the Internet amplify the years of complaints old fans had about Hal Jordan's disposal , even as Hal's no-longer-a-GL status was softerned from killer villain to " redeemed villian " to...???

I thought Hal's long strange trip had some interesting moments and had become a really tragic saga. He was unique in comics, and talk about a backstory! To just undo all of that and make him The Greatest GL of All again as if nothing had happened made a mockery out of all of that. Then bringing back Barry Allen really was the icing on the cake. I'm starting to feel like the DCU is something out of Pet Semetary.

I think , actually , one problem Marvel has is that they're unwilling/highly resistant to set up a few regularly referred-to alternate worlds in the manner of pre-Crisis DC's Earth-2 , -3 , -s , etcetera ,.

Well, DC has been unwilling to do that for 25 years, too, since that got "too confusing" for them. But they've finally realized that it made way more sense than their One World deal. Duh.

It's interesting to see the two approaches. DC occasionally restarts/reboots things, to cut back the baggage and give them chances to tweak their heroes for a new generation (until they discover nobody likes the new generation), whereas Marvel just keeps plowing ahead and hoping we're forgetting the previous 25 battles with the same villains or the other times the character died. Neither one seems to work all that well in the long run.

Periodical adventure heroes aren't designed to be read by the same readers for 25 years and remain fresh. That's an inherent problem they can't solve.

-- MSA

"I would sum it up as saying Marvel wanted Spidey to be single in the worst way, and that's the way they did it."

 

That's my favorite quote of the day. I may even post it on Facebook.

 

"I think , actually , one problem Marvel has is that they're unwilling/highly resistant to set up a few regularly referred-to alternate worlds in the manner of pre-Crisis DC's Earth-2 , -3 , -s , etcetera."

 

The "Ultimate" universe: Earth 1610

Squadron Supreme's universe: Earth 31916

Marvel Apes: Earth 8101

Marvel Zombies: Earth 2149

MC2 universe: Earth 982

 

Granted, there isn't a lot of cross-traffic between those universes and the mainstream Marvel universe (Earth 616) but those five are well-known to comicbook readers.

I'll cop to being largely indifferent to Spider-Man as a character, so that I was largely indifferent to whether the character was married or single. I will say that if they felt a compelling need to "un-marry" the character, there surely must've been a better way than by having him do a deal with the Mephisto.

 

I am marginally less indifferent to Superman as a character. The Earth-Two Superman was my favorite version of the character - I liked the idea of a Superman who'd been around a long time. But that's as may be.  As far as the "modern" Superman goes, I think I somewhat prefer the character married, because I think it's an interesting direction to take the character in.

Has anybody addressed Aquababy? No? (Wow, there's a shock.)

 

I'm not about to argue for his return -- I'd hope that's (ahem) water under the bridge. I just wanted to mention now, since the Internet wasn't around in 19-mumble-mumble, that I was surprised and disappointed when they killed him off.

 

No, no, not because I love rugrats. God no. But because Aquaman was so freaking dull to start with. As I have said before, Aquaman's powers -- swims fast, talks to fish -- don't make him a superhero, they make him a carnival act. And in the Silver Age, he was quickly (issue #18) hitched up to Mera, who was VASTLY more powerful than he was. She could move and shape water ... the medium they all happened to be in. That made her Green Lantern or Invisible Woman, if you think about it. As a boy I knew that, and smirked as I watched Bob Haney jump through hoops every issue to keep Mera from upstaging the headliner.


Then along came Aquababy, and shazam -- the uber-powerful wife problem was solved. She had to stay home! Plus, how many superheroes had kids? Aquaman spawning was a huge breach of "The Rules" for adventure fiction. Most heroes were single, most were orphans -- they almost had to be, because otherwise they're cads for abandoning their wives, or aging parents, or children to go adventuring. Very simply, if you're a superhero and have a kid, you have got to STOP being a superhero.


Except in special cases. The Fantastic Four leap to mind, because as has been demonstrated, the kids are safer at the Baxter Building than they ever could be anywhere else, and there's really no way to un-ring the bell with Dr. Doom and so forth. So they have to make the best of it.

 

And Aquaman was a special case, too, because he's a king. Of course kings have heirs. And of course kings don't stop being kings when they do. Nor do they stop having war with Spain or whatever. It was perfectly natural for Aquaman to be still be an underwater-superhero/king-protecting-his-kingdom after becoming a dad (although a good argument could be made against remaining in the Justice League).

 

So, to the young Captain, hip-deep in orphan superheroes, here was a chance to do something with a superhero that you couldn't do with other superheroes. And to a character I had no use for otherwise. Perfect! We can explore the concept of the superhero dad/husband, without losing someone I cared about -- Hal Jordan, say, or Peter Parker. It was win-win. For the first time in my (admittedly young) life, I was interested in Aquaman.

 

And then they blew it all up, took the traditional path of the angsty, solo hero that we've seen a zillion times. And with a character who -- wait for it -- swimsfasttalkstofish. Yawwwwwwwn.

 

So I'm not arguing to bring back Aquababy. I think that ship has sailed. But does anyone else think Aquaman was MORE interesting as a family man than not? Or am I the only one who was disappointed when they offed the little ankle-biter?

I was (ahem) four years old when Aquababy was killed. So, no. I'm not really missing him.

We did talk about Aquababy in the Brightest Day thread, with a varied range of opinions. It was shocking when he was killed and more shocking when they left Black Manta alive, to this day. That emphasizes the problem of having the major villains murder someone close to the hero. There are rarely repercussions that last.

I've seen Aquaman portrayed with more Mera-like powers in the Batman:Brave & Bold and Young Justice animated series. That makes sense, to boost his abilities more.

Barry and Iris were talking about having a baby when she was "killed" and Sue Dibney was pregnant when she was murdered. The Hawks never had any fledgelings. So Aquababy was a DC anomaly. Perhaps the heroes should follow Batman's example and have them out of wedlock!

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Welcome!

No flame wars. No trolls. But a lot of really smart people.The Captain Comics Round Table tries to be the friendliest and most accurate comics website on the Internet.

SOME ESSENTIALS:

RULES OF THE ROUND TABLE

MODERATORS

SMILIES FOLDER

TIPS ON USING THE BOARD

FOLLOW US:

OUR COLUMNISTS:

Groups

© 2021   Captain Comics, board content ©2013 Andrew Smith   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service