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Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Comic Book Character Deaths are NOT NEWS!

Just recently I read a New York Daily News article detailing the death of Marvel Comics Professor X.

I really wish newspapers would stop wasting time reporting on junk like this. Because it isn’t news.

Professor X has died twice already. It wasn’t news then. And it isn’t news now.

Forty years ago a comic book death meant something. When a character like Bucky, The Green Goblin, Gwen Stacy or Barry Allen died it meant something. It had an impact. Readers felt it for years on end and the ramifications of that death impacted dozens of stories in between.

In today’s comic book world death means nothing. In two or three years a character who was “killed” in the pages of one comic book event is miraculously bought back in another to save the day. It’s nothing more than a plot device meant to shock readers and drive up sales.

That’s why it’s not news.

Objectively looking at the major comic book universes of Marvel and DC, every character has “died” practically once or at least twice in some major event storyline over the past 30 years.

Do all those deaths warrant an article in the newspaper?


Comic book characters aren’t people. They’re properties owned by multi-national billion dollar corporations. When editors like Dan Didio have death lists on their desks for major story events it shows how little value the lives of these fictional characters have to their corporate owners.

Death in modern comics is nothing more been a gimmick used to drive up sales of a struggling book. A last ditch effort to force people to take notice of a title that’s about to go on the cancellation block or a character who’s popularity on the wane.

It’s attention whoring 101.

I find it funny that in all these news reported “deaths” of comic book characters none of the women get the big press. When Wasp, Jean Grey, and Sue Dibney died as part of recent comic book events like Secret Invasion, Warsong/Endsong and Identity Crisis there was no big page spread for them in a daily newspaper detailing the events of their demise.

No, those just came and went with no fanfare.

Even when an Iconic American female character like Wonder Woman was killed off in the pages of a John Byrne in the 90’s run there was no big media blitz talking about her demise the way they had national news blitz for the death of Superman a few years earlier at the hands of Doomsday.

I also find it funny that in all these news reported “deaths of African-American characters aren’t announced. Bill Foster the first major Black superhero characters created by Stan Lee. When he died in the pages of the Civil War event it just came and went.

But the death of Captain America was front page news for that event.

I guess women and minority comic book characters aren’t newsworthy. But that’s another story.

I really wish news outlets stop reporting on nonsense like this. It trivializes the craft of journalism.

Forty years ago the death of a comic book character in a comic wasn’t reported in the newspapers or on TV news broadcasts. Smart newspaper editors knew it wasn’t news.

And they were right.

That’s why the death of a character had an impact on the reader. That’s why people cared about the deaths of those characters when they read comics. That’s why those stories had an impact that lasted for years.

And that’s why people just roll their eyes about death in comics today.

If I were an editor-in-chief at a comic book company I’d put a moratorium on the deaths of major characters.

The death of a major character has been done so much in comics it’s lost it’s sting. It’s become a cop-out device for writers who can’t figure out an organic way to conclude a story. Can’t find a way to make this story have an impact on the reader? Just kill someone. That’ll shock the audience.

And if that doesn’t work then show graphic gory details of that death. Mutilations, decapitations, blood, blood blood. That’ll make people pay attention.

It’s hackneyed half-assed writing. And a good writer can do better than that. Even with a deadline.

There has to be a better way for the comic book industry to make the front pages of a newspaper. Because the death of a major character is not news. Comics coming back to Wal-Mart is news. Comics coming to Target is news. Comics coming back to a Supermarket chain like A&P or Ralphs is news.

Professor X dying for the third time in 40 years? That’s not news. Find another way to get attention for the 32-page floppy books.

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