ComicsGeek, LiteraryGeek

Death in Comics.

Death. It is so final. Except in the comics.

Everyone dies it seems.

And they all come back.

Captain America.

Spiderman.

Superman.

Two Robins.

The list goes on and on. So many characters. Heroes, villains it does not matter. No one is safe. But as they say “no one stays dead in the comics, not even Bucky.”

A death should matter. It should be important. It should not simply be done to increase sales. As some kind of a sweeps ploy. These are characters that we develop relationships with, that we love or hate. Killing them and reviving them for no good reason is a waste.

“The Death of Captain Marvel” worked. It was wonderful, fresh. A hero dying not so much from the actions of a villain but from cancer, it brought humanity to the funeral of a friend. Jim Starlin set the table for many writers to follow.

“The Death of Superman” was done well. The unstoppable force meeting the immovable object. We all knew he would be back, but the death made sense. There were repercussions. New characters were born: Steel, Cyborg Superman, even a new unique Superboy. There was a sense of loss for all the characters in the DC universe. Superman came back as we knew he would, but the story still felt new.

For a time some deaths lingered. Bucky Barnes, Captain America’s sidekick, stayed dead for almost 40 years. Jason Todd, the second Robin, did not even last twenty years before returning to the land of the living. Their returns brought something new, new characters. Winter Soldier and a heroic Red Hood are wonderful, that never would have happened without their deaths and resurrection.

Recently we have had Captain America, Spiderman, Thor, the Human Torch, another Robin: all dead, will they all come back?

The question becomes who is next?

Maybe the question should be who hasn’t died yet?

In company wide crossovers the body count can get enormous, writers simply using characters they don’t care for as cannon fodder. Killing off perfectly good characters to try to create a sense of danger. What happened to crippling someone.

Maybe there is another way. As fans and writers we become desensitized to the carnage. Maybe we need a break. A moratorium on death. Give us time to step back and actually be surprised when someone does die.

There are creative people out there. Can we not find a way to create the same drama without the body count?

Should we not at least try?

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ComicsGeek

Grayson Discovered

This column had roots in my previous column regarding the announcement of the ongoing series Grayson. It is nice to see how a series matches up against your own expectations.

Dick Grayson has always been one of my favorite characters in all of comics. I think part of it had to do with the fact that while he was coming of age and moving on from being the first Robin to becoming his own hero as Nightwing, I was going through my own teenage years and discovering who I was. Grayson always seemed to be the bridge between Superman and Batman, more human than one and much more compassionate than the other.

I looked forward to this series, feeling that it was a brilliant and much needed change for the character. I do have friends who simply long for the days when Dick will once again don the (blue and black)Nightwing suit once again.

The new series is written by Tim Seeley and Tom King. I had no familiarity with either writer going in, I was flying blind. In five issues they have rewarded my blind faith with an excellent series. Just enough spy action, paired nicely with great character beats. In short order they seem to know Dick Grayson, the man behind the hero. That is important. Yes these are comics but it is not all about the shiny suits. The men(and women) in those suits are what we come back for every month.

It does not stop with Grayson. They have created a fantastic supporting cast for him in short order. There is the far away shadow of Bruce sprinkled in as a lifeline to his former life but the key are his new partners so to speak.

The ‘Helena Bertinelli’ they have crafted along with artist Mikel Janin’s depiction of her, she is the definition of the seductive spy, has been outstanding. After seeing this version I would be happy to never see another version of the Huntress ever again. The experienced spy mentor for Dick, but you can see an almost envy for the way Dick still looks at the world without her cynical-worldview.

On the other hand we also have Midnighter as a rival, regular guest star. I love Midnighter and I am glad he is being used well since Stormwatch is over. It is easy to write his use off as taking the Batman role, but I do no believe it is that simple. As much as many of us see Nightwing as almost an equal to Bruce in some ways it will always be a teacher/student relationship. In Midnighter, Dick has a rival, contemporary who is his equal. He questions Grayson’s motives for doing what he does, much as Grayson does himself. Midnighter has faith in his abilities, in his powers but Dick has his resolve. I look forward to when they fight together rather than each other.

As I mentioned before Mikel Janin takes care of the art. I first discovered Janin on Justice League Dark, he quickly became on of my favorite artists. Here he is asked to do less, no mystical monsters or group scenes, but he does so much more. The characters come alive within these pages. When I see his Grayson I cannot imagine anyone else drawing him.

It has been a great ride so far and I look forward to the journey every month. For those looking for Nightwing, he is still here leaping into the unknown.

Grayson simply left the mask behind.

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