Friday, 7 January 2011

Why Can't Superheroes Die?

So one of the Fantastic 4 is going to die and this time it's for reals... no returns... honest...

But seriously, how long will it last? How long before "Human Torch: Reignited" or "The Thing: Stoned Again"?

The whole resurrection thing got silly a long time ago. Back in 1992, the Death of Superman was a major move to reinvigorate sales and get mainstream media attention for comics (it worked). However, you can't just get rid of an such an iconic piece of American culture and it wasn't long before he was back from the dead. Many others have followed over the years including The Flash, Green Arrow and Captain America. I understand the need for continuity means that, a bit like Saturday morning cartoons, by the end of the issue/episode, everything tends to be neatly wrapped up and back to how it was at the start. The problem is that once the audience is on to the fact that main characters will never really die or change significantly (or if they do it won't last too long), any sense of peril or excitement is extinguished. Reading Final Crisis, did anyone actually go, "Oh my god, they killed Batman!" or was it more like, "Oh, I wonder how or when they'll bring him back,"?

Fortunately, it seems the teams at DC and Marvel realise this and are saying they'll do something about it. Now if the soon to be deceased member of the F4 is brought back, how will readers ever be able to trust Marvel again? I suppose the only way will be if they justify it by citing audience demand. DC's Blackest Night discussed mortality and resurrection extensively. After bringing back a whole heap of deceased characters, a conversation between Flash/Barry Allen and Green Lantern/Hal Jordan (both of whom have been "dead" at some point) suggests this is it... no more resurrections... when they're dead, they're dead... for reals... no returns... honest...

But seriously, how long will it last?

For that matter, how long will superheroes last?

73 years and counting and we still can't let them go...

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