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Post By
Evil G:DR

In Reply To
H Man

Subj: Re: Someone always has to die. That's the law around here.
Posted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 at 07:43:32 pm EDT (Viewed 69 times)
Reply Subj: Re: Someone always has to die. That's the law around here.
Posted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 at 02:28:56 pm EDT (Viewed 9 times)

Previous Post


    Quote:
    While most half-decent villains will (and should) eventually came back, back in the day, you could kill off a supporting-cast character or a lower-tier superhero, and stand a reasonable chance of the death sticking, especially if it had significant emotional impact, or "historical importance" as a moment in the stories of more important characters.


Right. And I have no problem with these little deaths. I understand the idea that these deaths can/should be about how the characters react and change, etc. The execution is just fundamentally flawed almost 100% of the time. I was flipping through back issues the other day, and I came across the funeral of Joseph. Now this was a different time, but I swear that guy got a more momentous send-off than Colossus and Nightcrawler put together. And he was both a clone and a blip on the radar. But to me, that's how you handle it, if at all.


    Quote:
    But on the other hand, it's all in the quality of how well it's done, isn't it? And if no-one ever died and there was no sense that anyone was in any actual danger, there'd be no sense of threat, nothing really at stake in any of the super-battles. So it's not "stop doing that", it's "do better".


Yes and no, for me. Maybe not quite "stop doing that" but more "do that a lot more judiciously" as well as doing it better. They just botch and botch. My biggest complaint is the baggage. The simplest characters are usually the best and tacking on deaths and resurrections only hurts characters unless those elements are woven into the character's new lives. Not like with Colossus and Nightcrawler, who will just go about their business as usual.

I specifically referenced Erik Larsen because he made a public stance against killing characters, describing them as "story engines" and arguing that no one death story is worth destroying an engine that can produce infinite stories. The stakes are so high, and so few characters die anyways, that we can suspend disbelief if almost nobody ever died ever.

Theoretically, a character's arc could close, and they served their purpose, and their death meant something. But the collaborative, ongoing nature of corporate comics makes it so easy to negate all that stuff. Furthermore, a rule of keeping deaths RARE and IMPACTFUL would make sense, except for the fact that Marvel would probably tell you Nightcrawler's death was both of those things, when in fact it was neither. Too much human error, too much collaboration, and too much self-importance of the creators for it to work in effect.

There's nothing to be done about it but talk in circles, but o well.

> > While most half-decent villains will (and should) eventually came back, back in the day, you could kill off a supporting-cast character or a lower-tier superhero, and stand a reasonable chance of the death sticking, especially if it had significant emotional impact, or "historical importance" as a moment in the stories of more important characters.

> Right. And I have no problem with these little deaths. I understand the idea that these deaths can/should be about how the characters react and change, etc. The execution is just fundamentally flawed almost 100% of the time. I was flipping through back issues the other day, and I came across the funeral of Joseph. Now this was a different time, but I swear that guy got a more momentous send-off than Colossus and Nightcrawler put together. And he was both a clone and a blip on the radar. But to me, that's how you handle it, if at all.

I am almost-entirely agreed with you, other than from where I'm standing, Colossus' death was the last time the books really got it right, with a lot of time being spent on showing different people mourning him in different ways in the immediate aftermath, and for some time after that (plus that time Sinister offered to clone him in return for...something I've forgotten). I care about Colossus about as much as I care about Fantomex, but they managed to convince me that the other X-Men (and Magneto as well) DID care about Colossus, and their pain was real.

But Nightcrawler? He and Cable both 'died' in the same story, AND the truth finally comes out about the secret death-squad that Scott and Logan have been running, and the dealing with the fallout from all of this is rushed through in one issue, with barely anyone getting any time to react to it all, and then we're leaping feet-first straight into the "Five Lights" saga instead of taking some much needed time-out.

> > But on the other hand, it's all in the quality of how well it's done, isn't it? And if no-one ever died and there was no sense that anyone was in any actual danger, there'd be no sense of threat, nothing really at stake in any of the super-battles. So it's not "stop doing that", it's "do better".

> Yes and no, for me. Maybe not quite "stop doing that" but more "do that a lot more judiciously" as well as doing it better. They just botch and botch. My biggest complaint is the baggage. The simplest characters are usually the best and tacking on deaths and resurrections only hurts characters unless those elements are woven into the character's new lives. Not like with Colossus and Nightcrawler, who will just go about their business as usual.

If I'm understanding what you're saying correctly, it's something like "you can kill Warlock off and bring him back and you don't really need to explain it beyond saying 'he's an alien robot', or Dracula, and you can just say 'he was already undead', but with Colossus or Nightcrawler, where, despite their powers, they were still just mortal humanoid guys, and having this whole death-and-resurrection saga being part of their backstory becomes this huge millstone around their necks", and I'm not sure I agree with that, because normally it's a case of "once they're back, we don't really talk about the death and return unless we have to", and repeat offenders for Actually Really Dying and coming back tend to annoyingly shrug it off like being dead was no big deal, rather than us getting potentially-interesting stories of them having to deal with being dragged back into the realm of the living, possibly against their will.

No, the problem there is that most resurrection storylines tend to just not be very good. The quick, painless "this character is back (or wasn't really dead in the first place), now here they are for Fighty Time" stuff tends to be reserved for villains, while dead heroes get brought back in storylines that are meant to be a big deal, and the deader they were, the more contrived the resurrection ends up needing to be, and all signs point towards the comics where this happens being bad ones.

> I specifically referenced Erik Larsen because he made a public stance against killing characters, describing them as "story engines" and arguing that no one death story is worth destroying an engine that can produce infinite stories. The stakes are so high, and so few characters die anyways, that we can suspend disbelief if almost nobody ever died ever.

If all characters were created equal, and had equal potential, he might be right. But some were created purely to die in someone else's story. Some are so bad that no sane person would miss them or want to bring them back. And sometimes a good death story can be better than the entire rest of a character's career (see: Kraven the Hunter).

An absolutist stance of "no-one should ever die in comics" is in it's own way as bad an idea as the current approach. It should just be something that's done less frequently, and the aftermath dealt with a lot more than anyone bothers to anymore.

> Theoretically, a character's arc could close, and they served their purpose, and their death meant something. But the collaborative, ongoing nature of corporate comics makes it so easy to negate all that stuff.

Well, yeah. There are plenty of characters that were created to die, they died for a reason, but for every Uncle Ben that actually stayed dead, there's a Wonder Man or a Quentin Quire, where some 'genius' thought it'd be a good idea to bring them back and now we're stuck with those oafs.

And Colossus really is a good example of a character whose death served as a close to his story. He'd just been...there...all the time, without really having a lot to do ever since he dumped Kitty for a dead alien back in 1982-ish. Losing his entire family over the course of 1992-3, getting brain-damaged, and joining Magneto's Acolytes seemed like the start of an exciting new direction for him, but they backed out of it almost immediately, and he spent the next few years on Excalibur, then returned to the X-Men, and in both cases, was just...there. I can remember a review of UXM #391 at the time had even described the issue as "Colossus finally gets around to killing himself."

And before anyone else says so, yes, just writing the guy out on a "meant to be permanent" basis would have worked just as well, especially if it had been done back in the early 1980s, because it's kind of tragic when a character becomes a popular team-book mainstay just because they're always there, even though they never really did anything for years and years.

> Furthermore, a rule of keeping deaths RARE and IMPACTFUL would make sense, except for the fact that Marvel would probably tell you Nightcrawler's death was both of those things, when in fact it was neither. Too much human error, too much collaboration, and too much self-importance of the creators for it to work in effect.

Nightcrawler's death served as the obligatory "it's a crossover, so someone's got to die, and it should be someone who's been around long enough that readers care about them" death, and as "Bastion's hardly been around since 1997-8, so he needs to kill someone so that modern readers understand he's a threat."

Whether we agree with their logic or not, those are probably the thought-processes of the people who worked on 'Second Coming'. Why was it Nightcrawler? Because he was the most important character no-one was doing anything with, and that no-one had done anything (positive) with in well over a decade. Readers would care that he was dead, but his being gone wouldn't impact the work the writers wanted to do, or the stories they wanted to write.

Also note how Nightcrawler had even been sidelined in terms of the usefulness of his power, having been replaced by Pixie, who someone at Marvel had decided to push as a big deal, "because no-one demanded it".

> There's nothing to be done about it but talk in circles, but o well.

Well, that or buy all the shares in Disney, it's the only way to seize control of Marvel and force them to fix things. And to also bring Mammomax back.


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