Tag Archives: DC

July Bonus Review: Secret Six- Villains United

The original Secret Six goes all the way back to the late 60s and used a bunch of characters who most people wouldn’t recognise. The team was revived two decades later for its second arc. But we’re looking at the third incarnation from the mid 2000s written by Gail Simone. This particular collection includes Villains United #1-6, Villain United: Infinite Crisis Special #1 & Secret Six #1-6. 

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Story:

We open with a bunch of big name villains, including Deathstroke, Talia Al Ghul, Lex Luthor & Black Adam, gathering everyone they possibly can into a Society of villains. Their purpose is simple, prevent any heroes from crossing over the line and erasing their minds like they did to Doctor Light in a stupid retcon for a shit comic.

We’re introduced to the first of our major characters, Catman, when he refuses an offer from Doctor Psycho and Talia. Psycho is furious since Catman’s been basically a joke for years. We cut to a small group: Deadshot, Scandal Savage, Cheshire, one of Darkseid’s Parademons, Ragdoll & The Fiddler, fighting some H.I.V.E agents. They complete the operation and the Fiddler is deemed unworthy, resulting in Deadshot straight up murdering him. They need a sixth member, which turns out to be the aforementioned Catman. Now these six less than well known villains under the guidance of the mysterious Mockingbird find themselves at odds with a massive society of villains.

At least, that’s the first arc of the collection. The second deals with Vandal Savage deciding that it’s time for his daughter to pump out some babies. Because he wants those grandchildren. Neither she nor her girlfriend, Knockout, take kindly to the notion.

The writing in this  is, frankly, really stellar. Especially considering it’s working off of something as shit as Identity Crisis. In a sense, it’s the ultimate underdog scenario. Not only are these villains fighting against much bigger villains, but they’re villains who are largely regarded as C-list, at best. And the situations they find themselves in don’t have the usual, obvious comic solutions. Things happen that you would never expect especially if you’re used to comic conventions. I guess that’s the advantage of using unconventional characters. And these aren’t twists that come out of nowhere, Simone does a good job of building up to them. She just makes it vague enough that you aren’t sure what exactly the build up is for until you see it.

About the only thing I take some issue with is the use of character death. This is something I’m critical of in comics as a whole. I don’t like seeing characters die cheaply. I don’t like seeing them resurrected cheaply. In this case, we see quite a few characters killed off. To be fair, most of them are characters who weren’t being used and were unlikely to show up in anything else. In some cases, like The Fiddler, we even see their legacy passed on. I still can’t help but see it as taking part in a very negative trend, even if it handles it better than the vast majority of comics.

Characters:

Simone has a difficult task in this story. She has to build up these characters that you probably don’t give a shit about going into the story in a way that keeps them villainous but also makes them relatable enough for you to have some investment in what happens with them. Fortunately, Gail Simone is easily one of the best comic writers out there and she does a fantastic job of doing that.

The characters are heavily flawed. They do some very questionable things but they have enough complexity to them that they are interesting to read about and, perhaps more importantly, they have likeable traits. And one of them is a freaking nameless Parademon.

They also have strong dynamics. Deadshot and Catman start developing a strong friendship that neither one will likely ever call a friendship. Scandal and Knockout are kind of adorable in their relationship. The Parademon and Ragdoll have an interesting dynamic. Cheshire and Catman have a lot of intrigue betwixt them. And those are just the stand out dynamics. really, any two major characters who are part of the six together will have something interesting to their interactions.

Art: 

The artist changes throughout. We have Dale Eaglesham, Val Semeiks & Brad Walker for the pencillers. All three do great work. this is a well drawn series of comics. The colourists, including Paul Mounts, Rob Schwager & Guy Major also deserve credit because the colours in this are also damn good. The action sequences are dynamic with a strong sense of flow. The characters look great, it’s just strong work all around.

Final Thoughts:

Secret Six- Villains United is pretty phenomenal. Thirteen comics and they’re all great reads. I would certainly recommend it for any comic book fans and my final rating is going to be a 9/10.

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Ninja Batman:The Dark Knight sinks into the muck

I’ve talked about some Marvel related anime before with Blade & X-men. It seemed about time I looked at something DC related. This film came out in April & June of this year with a screenplay by Nakashima Kazuki and relative newcomer studio, Kamikaze Douga, handling the animation. So, how well does it portray the Dark Knight? Will it surpass Mask of the Phantasm as the best Batman animated film?

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Story:

We open with Bats headed for Arkham Asylum where the villainous Gorilla Grodd is conducting an experiment. Now, you may wonder why they would poach a villain from the Flash for this when Bats has such a stellar rogue’s gallery of his own. I don’t know, because no one cares about the Flash since they de-powered Wally West. The result of the experiment is Batman, Catwoman, the Arkham inmates and some other people who were nearby being sent to feudal Japan where The Joker, Penguin, Two Face, Poison Ivy & Deathstroke become warlords. You may wonder why Deathstroke is in this when he’s primarily a Titans villain and not insane so he should never have been in Arkham. Well, they poached him because no one cares about the Titans since the reboot gave it to one of the worst comic writers in history, Scott Lobdell. Yes, the same writer who portrayed Starfire as an emotionless sex robot. You may also  wonder how his villains all learned to speak Japanese but don’t worry about it. Grodd’s time machine has a universal translator function like the TARDIS. And now Bruce has to reunite with his allies and stop his villains before they can change history.

The big issue with this film is that it tries to throw in random, out of place, stupid shit because it’s popular in action anime. For example, the Gotham criminals all build giant robot bases that can combine into one massive giant robot base. Fortunately, the monkeys and bats are able to  coalesce into a massive humanoid form to combat it. It is, no exaggeration, one of the dumbest action sequences you will ever see. There’s also this ancient bat prophecy that the bat ninja clan follows which leads them and their massively conspicuous bat adorned vehicles to Batman. Because ninja were definitely known for their ostentatious displays.

Honestly, the final showdown in this doesn’t make much sense either. They basically set it up as a duel with Batman, master martial artist and hand to hand combatant, against the Joker, a man who’s dangerous because he’s unpredictable but who has very little skill in hand to hand fights. Yeah, this film had literally three characters who could reasonably match Batman in hand to hand combat; Deathstroke, Bane & Grodd. They only used the Joker because he’s the most famous Batman villain. Which isn’t good form for a narrative.

Characters:

They screw up quite a bit with the characters in this. First off, neither Deathstroke nor Bane should be here since they aren’t the types of insane villains who would go to Arkham. They’d go to a regular prison. Neither one gets used well either. They have very brief appearances and do basically nothing. The same could be said for Two Face, Ivy and Penguin. None of them serve much point. The film could have been much cleaner and less cluttered sticking with Grodd, Joker & Harley. But let’s talk about the various Robins for a moment. Honestly, there’s no reason for any of these guys to be here. They do basically nothing but go off to have ten second confrontations with the villains who do nothing. And it seems really counter to Damian Wayne’s character to have him befriend a little monkey.

Even the more major characters are off. The Joker doesn’t come across as particularly crazy in this. Then we’ve got Bruce. There’s this scene I actually kind of like where Bruce expresses uncertainty over how he’s going to manage trapped in the past without any of his usual resources. And I’m all for Batman being more humanised and less of a Mary Sue who can beat anyone in the galaxy with a week to prepare. The problem is that his “solution” is that he needs to learn to move and fight like a ninja. This is freaking Batman. He already knows how to move in the shadows, how to use gadgets to obscure his presence and how to fight as a world class master in any martial art. Batman doesn’t need to learn ninjutsu, he’s already an expert. I like the idea of showing his vulnerable, human side but that execution is rubbish.

Art:

The film does look pretty good. Some of the action scenes are kind of bad, especially the giant robots versus combined animals one. It also does suffer from some dumb art decisions like giving Bruce a monk’s hairstyle with a fucking bat cut into the middle. Even the goofy Adam West version would consider that too embarrassing. Still, the art style is pretty good, the film does have a nice visual aesthetic to it and when it has a strong action sequence, it does have a good spectacle to it.

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Sound:

The acting is pretty decent. Even without a strong script to work off of they did get some strong actors like Kugimiya Rie, Kakuma Ai, Ono Daisuke & Yamadera Kouichi. The music from Kanno Yugo is all right as well. It’s not his best.

Ho-yay: 

There isn’t any. Don’t expect the canon Harley Ivy relationship that they’ve had going in the comics for a while. Which is fine because this film probably wouldn’t have done a good job with it, like they don’t with most things.

Final Thoughts:

Ninja Batman is a pretty pitiful attempt at showcasing the Dark Knight. It doesn’t know how to use a lot of the interesting characters it has in its cast. It doesn’t know how to tell a compelling narrative. Bottom line, it’s a bad film that has some decent spectacle moments. My final rating is going to be a 3/10. Next week, Garo: Honoo no Kokuin.

October Bonus Review: Blackest Night

Death is cheap in Western super hero comics. It’s like there’s a revolving door between the worlds of life & death that the popular, marketable heroes & villains can just pass through whenever they like. Turns out, fans aren’t the only ones who noticed this. In mid-’09 an event started based on the idea that the doorway had been left open deliberately. All for nefarious purposes. The event ran for almost a year and had a huge number of tie-ins in addition to the main event issues themselves. To keep things concise, I’m just going to look at the eight issues, nine if you include #0, of the event itself. This is Blackest Night, written by Geoff Johns. A man who did have a pretty good run on the Titans.

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Story:

We open with Hal Jordan & Barry Allen at the supposed grave of Bruce Wayne, this was back when Bruce was presumed dead but he was actually mucking about with history. They talk about death, the things that have happened while Barry’s been dead. With an emphasis on the heroes who have fallen. We end our prelude with a foreboding look at a figure in back clutching skulls while black rings float around. We then start the event properly. Black rings fall from the sky, attaching to corpses, mostly of heroes, and bidding them to rise. Before long, several heroes have been murdered. Because this is a company wide event and they always have to have pointless character deaths to show that things are serious.

But I’ll get back to that later. Basically, the rings are trying to use corpses to get emotional responses so that they can consume the emotional powers of people with their deaths. All as part of a plan to feed off of their emotional energy and gain power for the black lanterns so that everyone can be dead together.

There are some things I appreciate about the event. I like the idea that a doorway betwixt life & death was left open deliberately. I also like the way it tries to basically put a stop to further resurrections. Even though we all know that DC was never going to follow through with that one. I also do appreciate that the series ends with a bunch of resurrections as a part of everything drawing to a close, supposedly the last of them but we all know better. The black rings possessing heroes who had died but come back makes for a really strong dark turn. I also like the lighter turn where certain heroes & villains get deputised into different Lantern corps.

That being said, the whole scenario is cheapened a bit just because we do know that DC isn’t going to stop bringing characters back to life. It also does annoy me that some characters who died cheaply for the event, Tempest & Gehenna being two obvious examples, just stay dead. Because they can bring back a bunch of characters who have been dead for years but these ones died entirely pointlessly just now and they’re staying dead. The entity at the centre of this event is fickle that way.

It’s also established that the character Dove has an immunity to the black rings and is very strong against the black lanterns but the reasons why are kind of stupid and it barely comes into play. The Lantern deputation is also a bit clumsy. Most of the choices make perfect sense. Barry as a Blue Lantern, Wonder Woman as a Star Sapphire, Scarecrow as a Yellow, Lex Luthor as Orange. Then we have Mera. Throughout the event Mera comes across as calm and collected. She’s keeping her emotions in check and doing what needs to be done. But, I guess we were supposed to read her as barely containing her rage because she gets a Red Lantern ring. The problem is that that never comes across. For that matter, Ray Palmer as an Indigo comes across as kind of contrived. It’s also established that a Black Lantern’s bite does nasty things to you but they only use it with Donna Troy & they never really go anywhere with it. My guess is that some of the tie-ins used it to make the Black Lanterns more like zombies & the main event just barely mentions it to pay lip service to that.

Characters:

You’d better know the DC universe really well for this one. I say that about half of the ring choices that work, Wondey & Lex, depend on knowledge of the characters that extends beyond the event itself. Wonder Woman is barely in the event & Lex spends most of the event trying to hide from the corpses of people who might come after him. Johns does do a good job of showing why Barry Allen represents hope and he tries to show why Ray Palmer would embody compassion but the results are kind of meh. The main characters we follow are Mera, Barry, Hal, Ray & the villains. Aside from them, we have a lot of characters who are there as a part of the DC universe and because the big climactic fight needs to have a lot of characters involved. If you don’t know who they are, you’ll just have to ask yourself who is this and why are they even here? Then you might elect to look them up.

To Johns’ credit, he does do a superb job with Barry & Hal and that does lead to the strongest moments in the event.

Art:

The artwork was done by Ivan Reis. This is one area where I can completely praise the mini-series. It looks amazing. The action posing is dynamic. The characters consistently look good. The creepy, uncomfortable atmosphere is definitely there. Reis did a stellar job. This wouldn’t have worked with a bullshit artist who traces their stuff like Greg Land.

Final Thoughts:

In some ways, this is a pretty typical massive company-wide event. It has cheap, pointless character deaths. It features a bunch of characters it’s not really doing anything with solely for the sake of making it appear grander. It has easily five times as many tie-ins as issues. It has… let’s loosely call them “plot points” that don’t really go anywhere. However, it also elevates itself above the average company wide event by having some solid ideas, doing a good job with some of its characters. This might also be the only event where more characters are resurrected than die, in all fairness. But we also get shitty trades like losing Tempest but getting Maxwell Lord back. Because that’s who we want. The villain of a kind of shit company-wide event.

Ultimately, Blackest Night is better than most company wide events but that’s not saying a whole lot. And, compared to comics as a whole, it’s just average. My final rating is going to be a 5/10.

February Bonus Review: DC vs Marvel Comics

Anyone who’s familiar with western comics knows Marvel and DC. They’re the big two. The ones with extended cinematic universes and adaptations of widely varying quality. Comic fans have long debated which characters should fight and who would win. In 1996 the companies themselves decided to come together for a crossover that would explore those very questions in a mini-series written by Ron Marz & Peter David that ran for four issues. So, is it everything that comic fans hoped for? The back of the trade promises the showdown of the century. So, let’s take a look. 

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Story:

The walls that separate universes are coming undone. Several heroes and villains are finding themselves transported elsewhere. Spidey appears in Gotham. The Juggernaut finds himself in Metropolis. Tim Drake finds himself right in the X-mansion and those are just a few examples. Everyone wonders what’s happening. The answer comes fairly quickly, two brothers are responsible for creating the universes and, after losing their consciousness from a climactic battle that destroyed everything, they’ve remembered everything and become aware of one another. They decide that instead of fighting directly and letting everything end in the cross fire, they’ll select champions from their own universes. The universe that wins gets to live. And that’s how the battle between these two universes is joined. 

Let’s talk about the writing flaws. The first is that a lot of the battles seem more like popularity contests than an actual examination of who would win given the powers and skills of the combatants. To go into some examples, Wolverine beats Lobo in a straight out brawl. And, as much as I like Wolverine’s character when he’s written by Chris Claremont, Larry Hama and several others, including Peter David. Lobo’s whole shtick is that he’s over-powered and over the top. The bloke can go toe to toe with the Justice League in its entirety. Wolverine is not that strong by half. You get the same thing with Storm against Wonder Woman. You’ve got a woman who’s effectively a Goddess against a lady who can control the weather. And somehow Storm wins with a couple lightning bolts even though Wondey should be able to stand up to far worse without a problem. As much as I love Strom, that’s nonsense. We’ve also got Batman against Captain America. A fight between two experts at hand to hand combat. Two tactical geniuses. With one having a measurable advantage in terms of strength, stamina and speed. And yet the one with the disadvantage wins and in a very lazy way. Which is the general problem with these fights. They can’t even give a conceivable explanation for why the less powerful combatant wins. At least the Spidey and Robin fights show you some cleverness on their part that lets them win. The Aquaman vs. Namor fight is also very lazy. This is a fight that could have gone either way, given how evenly matched they are. But we get bullshit involving a whale jumping out of the water and belly flopping onto someone standing on land. That is really stupid. Is the whale supposed to have super powers? 

There’s also a lot of bluster about these heroes working together, learning from one another and we see very little of that. The series really could have benefited from some extra length to let us see these actual interactions in a more substantial way than a few panels. 

With that being said, I do like the idea of the characters being put against one another by cosmic forces outside of their control. It certainly beats having there be some misunderstanding to clear up or having them all get tricked by some villains so that they can halt their battle and come together later. I also do rather like the big climax. 

Characters:

I’ll give the mini-series some credit here. They use a lot of characters and they’re pretty good at giving them a sense of personality that meshes with their regular characterisation. They aren’t deeply complex and I suspect the aftermath of these events was never dealt with in the comics proper. I don’t remember hearing anything about it in them, any way. But the characters are in character and I think that’s the best you can really expect from an event like this. The worst thing I can say about it is that the “romantic tension” betwixt Tim and Jubilation is really forced. 

Art:

So, we get artwork by Dan Jurgens & Josef Rubinstein. Overall, it looks really nice. There are some good action sequences in the story. They could have certainly benefited from being longer since most of them are over in two or three pages, but what we do get is pretty nicely done, mostly. The character art is dynamic with some really good designs for the Amalgam portion and the colourists did a really good job. There are occasional moments of minor fail. There are a couple panels with Bane where it looks like he was drawn without a top and it was lazily added in by the colourist later. There’s an original character called Access who’s drawn a bit inconsistently. All in all, though, the art fails are relatively minor and rare. 

Final Thoughts:

So, that’s DC vs. Marvel. Is it “the showdown of the century?” Not really. The writing can be lazy. Particularly when it comes to explaining how certain characters manage to win their bouts. The concept is a good one, but it’s not explored all that thoroughly and, when it comes right down to it, the actual bouts are too short for that particular accolade. That being said, it is fairly entertaining and there are things to like about it. In the end, it’s a pretty average read. My final rating is a 5/10. Have any ideas for what March’s bonus review should be? Leave them in the comments. Until then, expect the Wednesday anime reviews to continue as scheduled. 

December Bonus Reviews: Arrow series 1

Arrow is an ongoing American TV series that started airing in October 2012. I never really bothered with it because, frankly, I don’t like Oliver Queen as a character. I liked the Green Arrow when the  mantle was taken by Connor Hawke, but that didn’t last all that long. The thing is, Oliver been has been largely portrayed as a kind of clueless douchebag who chronically treats those close to him badly. To make matters worse, there’s rarely any acknowledgement of it. Rather like Mister Fantastic from Marvel comics. Then again, this is a live action adaptation and those aren’t known for keeping the comic characterisation. Maybe they’ll do a first for live action works and replace it with something better.

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Story:

After spending five years stranded on an island, Oliver Queen is found alive and well but changed in many ways. Most importantly, he left a spoiled rich boy and he returns a man with a mission. In his deceased father’s notebook is a list of names. The names of people who are causing harm to Starling city. Ollie decides to make it his mission to seek out the people listed in the book and give them a choice, they can redeem themselves or he’ll put an arrow into them.

Which leads me to one of the big problems with this series. Our hero, the guy we’re supposed to root for, is quite literally a serial murderer. And he doesn’t just kill these people who are causing problems. A lot of his victims are their employees who are just doing their jobs and trying to provide for their families. In several  cases he doesn’t even kill the employer but gives them a chance to save themselves by confessing their crimes or returning what they took. After putting an arrow through the hearts of their employees who, as far as we know, haven’t done anything wrong.  And he’s a total hypocrite about it too. This series also follows the grand live action tradition of mocking things from the comics that were better than what they did with the live action version. In this case, they make fun of the name “Green Arrow.” So, what exactly do they replace it with? They call him the Hood. Isn’t Hood a synonym for thug? And also a really shitty name for your hero? While we’re at  it, let’s call Batman “The Cowl”,  The  Green Lantern “the Ring” and Wonder Woman “The Tiara.

But let’s move on to the biggest problem with the series. A lot of it is a long slog of melodramatic soap opera stuff. What do I mean by that? Well, we spend a lot of time with love triangles, family problems and romantic entanglements. All of which is presented in the most melodramatic way possible. To make matters worse, these overly melodramatic, boring segments are the bulk of the series. Within the average forty two minute episode, thirty minutes will be that. The other twelve will be flashbacks to Oliver’s time on the island, action sequences and the Thug planning his attacks.

That being said, the series has some decent  moments. The stuff with “the reckoning” is all right. The  idea of having Oliver reconnect with his family could have been better executed, but it’s not a bad idea.

Characters:

I’ll  give the series credit, they pretty much nailed everything that makes Oliver Queen an unlikable prick. They did use some good characters as well. Black Canary, Huntress, Deathstroke, Deadshot and Arsenal are all in this. There’s just one problem. They didn’t bring any of the traits that make them complex or interesting characters. So, what we get are the character names attached to one-dimensional tropes. For most of them they don’t even bother with the code names. Knowing their naming sense, Black Canary will be called the Fishnets, Deathstroke will be called the Mask and Arsenal will be called the Domino mask. Unless they go for the horrendously bad new 52 version in which case he’ll be called the Trucker hat. Because writing those characters with the traits that would make them interesting was too difficult. Frankly, the only two characters in this I kind of liked were Felicity, the computer nerd who consistently has awkward moments and Malcolm Merlyn.

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Visuals:

To their credit, there are some really nice sets in this series. They also picked some fantastic locations, particularly for the flashback scenes. That being said, the action sequences are pretty mediocre. They feel less natural and more heavily choreographed. Plus, they really don’t last very long.

Acting and Music:

To their credit, the actors are clearly trying. The trouble is that most of the characters are pretty flat and the highly melodramatic tone of the series as a whole results in performances that aren’t very good. The music, composed by Blake Neely, is okay.

Final Thoughts:

And that’s Arrow, series  1. It’s not very good. More melodramatic soap opera than super hero narrative and with every good character from the comics who appears in the series bearing only the most superficial resemblance to themselves and average at best action sequences, it’s a bit of a slog. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. Next week’s bonus review will be over Hyperion. Until  then, have an enjoyable holiday season with minimal family drama whether you celebrate Hearth’s Warming, Hogswatch, the Solstice, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Saturnalia, Christmas, or any other holiday.

Western Comics and Matters of Death

For the second time, let’s discuss Western comics. This time, I won’t be talking about IDW but the big two, Marvel and DC. These companies have both had some incredibly talented writers: Simone, Claremont, Gaiman, etc… They’ve also both had their share of crappy writers: Miller, Bendis, Lobdell and so on. There are a few things that they’ve also failed at pretty consistently, regardless of the quality of the writer. To be specific, the subjects of ageing and death.

Ageing is something we all do. It’s just a part of reality. In comics, they generally avoid the subject. Marvel’s heroes don’t seem to age at all and DC’s may or may not age depending on the character. Which really renders characters like Vandal Savage and Ra’s Al Ghul kind of pointless since their shtick is that they’ve halted their ageing, but so has everyone else, apparently.

With some characters, you could argue that this makes sense. Maybe it’s an alien like Silver Surfer or Starfire or an android like Vision or Red Tornado or maybe it’s a character with a magical origin like Wonder Woman or Roma. However, a lot of these characters are supposed to be regular humans or have super powers that have nothing to do with ageing. So, how is it that they can remain active and the same basic age for decades?

Basically, it all comes down to one thing. Neither company has the ovarian/ testicular fortitude to let their characters grow old because if they actually let age be a factor they’d reach a point where they had to deal with the consequences and come up with new heroes.

So, why and how should they tackle this subject? The why is simple. Because it leads to more compelling stories. One of those things that comes with age is personal growth and development. If a character never ages, they’re also going to keep repeating the same mistakes and get stuck at the same point in their life. Look at the mess that got made with Spider-man in the aftermath of One More Day. He’s not the only example, either, a lot of comic characters get the same basic story arcs and always return to the status quo, never growing or developing or, if they do, returning to the way they were shortly after. Furthermore, this is a good, natural source of drama. Think about what it would be like for those few characters who don’t really age to watch as their loved ones grow older around them and, eventually, die. You could have some really touching and provocative stories about that. A third reason is that it allows the writers to actually show some creativity instead of continuously writing the same established characters. Which would infuse both universes with some much-needed fresh titles.

How should they do it? Well, here’s what I would suggest. First off, establish a time line. You really don’t want to have the universe’s time scale coincide with ours completely but, at the same time, you wouldn’t want your comics’ time to be really slow-moving. So, I would suggest that four months of issues equally a month of comic time would be about right. Once you’ve got that figured out, keep track of your characters’ ages and stick to that scale. You probably don’t want to have all your characters start the same age since that would be a right mess when the time came for them to retire.

Let’s move on to our happy discussion on death. One of the big problems with the modern super hero comic industry is that death is really cheap. It’s cheap in the sense that major characters can get over it faster than you can beat a cold and it’s cheap in the sense that it gets used as a crass tactic to make the stakes seem higher in horrible event comics or as a marketing gimmick.

This one also comes down to a lack of fortitude on the companies’ parts. They want to throw in some death because it gets attention, but they also want to risk losing any major characters. Consequently, you get a right mess where a character dies, everyone acts like it’s a big deal and then they come back after a fairly short amount of time so that they can die again later and repeat the process. In the process, death loses both meaning and tension.

That’s perhaps, the biggest reason to make death permanent in comics. As it is, the main response to a character dying isn’t any type of grief or sense of loss for the reader, it’s curiosity over when they’ll come back and what flimsy justification is going to be employed for it. Maybe it was really Xorn’s twin brother, Xorn, pretending to be Magneto pretending to be Xorn. Not even joking, that one happened. Another compelling reason is that giving death permanence would discourage shitty writers from killing off characters cheaply, and shitty editorial staffs from letting it happen. Death should not just be a cheap shock tactic or a way to show that the antagonist is totally serious this time. Treating it as such is just bad writing.

Let’s move into a bit of how it should be used besides just, it needs to be permanent. First off, character deaths should be handled with respect to that character and their legacy. Trust me, most fans will be able to handle it if it’s done well. Let’s talk about ambiguity. If you want to leave an opening for a character to survive you just have to take a lesson from the Silver Age. Have the character fall out of a plane or into a whirlpool but don’t show what happens to them. Leave the possibility that they may have survived. Now, in order for this to have actual tension there are going to have to be cases where they don’t. There’s no tension otherwise. For that matter, you could have one character disguise as another but actually foreshadow it and give the readers hints so that it doesn’t come across as an ass-pull that came after the fact.

If a super hero comic company would actually use both ageing and death as natural, expected parts of the universe, it would lead to better stories, stronger characters and a consistent influx of fresh characters, both legacy and brand new. Which is why I find it disappointing that it’s really not done.

Agree? Disagree? Have your own ideas on the subject? Go ahead and leave a comment.