Starshine: Welcome back to another Objection! As always, I’m the fabulous Starshine.
Silverwolf: And I’m that one guy…uh…Silverwolf, yeah that’s me!
Starshine: And we are going to be talking about the least important death in comics. We’ll start with Silverwolf with his pick. Silverwolf: Sure. I’ve probably over thought this in the last week, but after siphoning through a number of ideas, I’ve got to say The Monocle in the first issue of Forever Evil from DC Comics. Not only is The Monocle arguably DC’s most obscure villain, but also he hadn’t yet appeared in a comic since the New 52 relaunch, and thus died within 2 pages of appearing. Honestly, I think the reason was to show how ruthless the Crime Syndicate is, but we’d already seen them level cities, murder heroes, and destroy the Justice League’s headquarters, making this death pretty much pointless.
Starshine: So he is the least important default? But then we could rattle off tons of names of one off characters who died.
Silverwolf: I suppose that’s a fair point, and I did consider how one would define “pointless.” I took it was “meaningless in the grand scheme of the story” though I suppose you could also interpret it as “their death was a complete waste/tragedy.” For the latter, I could definitely rattle off some more. This particular event with The Monocle just happened fairly recently, so it’s in the front of my mind. It’s also not as if he’s a totally new character that was introduced just to be killed; he has history in the DCU, appearing originally in the Golden Age. Hell, he’s older than some of the more famous comic book characters out today.
Starshine: I’m going to argue that Peter Parker’s death leading up to Superior Spiderman was the most useless. No one knew it had happened and all that was going to happen was that the legacy of Spiderman would be continued. It was just a cheap, unthoughtful way to bolster sales. Think about it, there was no way they were going to Doc Oc be Spiderman, so they are going to recon stupid bullshit like they always do with Spiderman. Married to MJ? RETCONNED. Secretly a cloned version and not the original? RETCONNED. Peter Parker can never die because he is so beloved that no one will let him so whenever he does, we know he’ll be fine.
Silverwolf: Hm…I can understand making that choice. I’m inclined to mostly agree: there was no need to kill of Peter Parker, and much of what they did was for shock factor and, so when they inevitably relaunched Amazing Spider-Man Marvel could get some juicy sales numbers on the order of 500K. Nevertheless, Superior actually gained a fairly committed fan following, and a few of the issues I read were pretty good (albeit nothing special).
Starshine: But that’s the problem with Peter — he is immortal in the eyes of his creators and fans. Nothing that happens means anything anymore in the Spiderman universe.
Silverwolf: Well, even if the “death” didn’t stick, at least it had MAJOR repercussions across the Spider-Man line. Now, in the main title, Peter is having to pick up a lot of pieces that Otto messed up while in his body. Also, without the change, we’d have never gotten the HILARIOUS Superior Foes of Spider-Man (which Judge loves as well).
Starshine: Well, what do you think then? Change your answer?
Silverwolf: Not at all. I don’t think Peter’s death would qualify as “pointless” at least the way I see it, since it actually had an impact on multiple titles. I still think, at least using our two examples, mine is much more pointless. I can even think of more probably, haha.
Starshine: Do you have a runner up? Any other death you would consider pointless? Also I think mine was plenty pointless since eventually it won’t technically exist in continuity anymore.
Silverwolf: I don’t know, Marvel doesn’t tend to hard-reboot too often, and I think the effects of Superior will be felt for at least a few years (especially since Superior Spidey is a major player in the upcoming Spider-Verse crossover). As for others? This is pretty heartless, but Yorick’s male friends in Y: The Last Man. All the men on Earth die in issue #1, and sometime later we hear Yorick talking (more correctly, whining) about losing his friends. Of course, it’s a tragedy, but as a reader we don’t feel much since we literally met them as corpses and never even see any major flashbacks of their interaction with Yorick. And, in a series with so much PAINFUL loss, their deaths didn’t really affect much at all.
Starshine: I mean then they were just throw away characters. They were killed, they were fridged, only used to make a point about or to the main character we do care about. It’s like when Green Lantern’s city no one cares about is destroyed. We care because he cared but we didn’t care about those theoretical people who died. All it did was set it up so that Green Lantern would go crazy and try to destroy things.
Silverwolf: Oh no, you did NOT just bring up Coast City! No one cares? You, my friend, have just opened a can of worms. But that is a little outside this debate, and I’m sure no one wants me to wax lyrical about Hal Jordan’s character development (and that event’s connection to Death of Superman). Nevertheless, and this is a cop out, it’s quite difficult to call a death “pointless,” especially since different fans will interpret them different ways. Deaths that have a long lasting impact are easy to find (see Uncle Ben, Bucky, and Jason Todd, even if the last two did come back to life eventually).
Starshine: I’ll see your cop out and raise you a theoretical. Since all of these people are fiction, the only real impact is only on the emotions of the reader, but they will never be emotionally impacted by all of the “meaningful” or “meaningless” deaths in comics they may or may not read. Therefore, in a big picture sense, all comic book deaths are pointless.
Silverwolf: That is a fair point. The emotional impact is, as you state, the most important aspect, and I guess that’s the difficulty of the matter: what is pointless to you can matter majorly to me or someone else, and vise-versa of course.
Starshine: Any last word, fellow pop culture nerd?
Silverwolf: I guess just that I think comic companies should be wary of character deaths, and should do them to inform story rather than sales. Regrettably, I feel the latter is more often the case (as I think about the upcoming Death of Wolverine, especially).
Starshine: Agreed. Sadly, sadly agreed. Anyways, that’s it for this week’s Objection. Tune in next time we fight with literal giant brains instead of the ones in our heads.