I Dare You to Kill a Superhero, PERMANENTLY
To open this, I’m going to tell you the two main reasons why I haven’t gotten into comic books.
One is explained very well here. I want to read comic books, I really do. I grew up in a decade where these superheroes and superheroines were my Saturday morning and being more clever than most kids I picked up on a lot of the adult undertones that you just can’t remove from some concepts. I got the full picture of their being and I LOVE them; from both sides of the epic battle, DC and Marvel. But every time I go to pick one up and start reading I see all of that and go NOPE.
The second reason is timelines and character arcs. I just don’t even know where to start on how completely and utterly fucked up everything is. I mean it, ALL the things. Every single X-Man, Kryptonian, billionaire gadget man, alien “god/dess”, mythological princess, scientific tragedy, scientific success, and sidekick/supporting/villanous character have the absolute most fucked up history possible. Wormholes? Time travel? Clones? Unexpected Aliens? Alternate Universes? Reboots. Lets not forget reboots where their history is both retroactive and COEXISTING with previous histories. I don’t… This whole mess - as a story teller who determined at the age of 12 that the rest of her life was going to be dedicated to contributing quality and enjoyable entertainment to the world - makes me sob, hulk out, and throw up all at the same time.
So, here’s the problem that I see: NO ONE HAS EVER DIED. Despite how very human and mortal 90% of these characters are, no one has ever died. What is the point of a journey if it never ends? How can a person continue to be motivated after a certain point? You have to be getting into crazy-territory to have someone be unchanged after 40 years of running around doing the same shit to the same jackasses day in and day out. And without motivation a character has no soul. Its repetition, redo, I’ve always done this so I continue to do this because doing this is all I am.
Who wants to read THAT?
There comes a point where every reasonable person wants to stop fighting. They want to sleep on a normal schedule, they want to go out, they want to have friends, they want a lover who isn’t going to stab them in the back, they want things to be easy: They want to rest. They don’t have to die, no, there’s always retirement. The sidekick can get promoted or, hell, you can even take the flagship character away and KEEP the mantle that is picked up by the next generation (a la Green Lantern). I’m all for that, especially if you give the new character a different but just as compelling reason to be flying around and kicking faces in. So I guess the bigger complaint here is just a lack of compelling characters. Their base ideas are fantastic, and it’s the base ideas I love the most, but they’ve become so warped and destroyed over the years they’re no longer enjoyable. Their execution-to-idea ratio was terrible.
That brings me around to to the title concept: KILL THEM, retire them (see Nolan’s TDKR finale if you’re so confused or foreign to this concept that you don’t understand what I’m saying), make something with FEELING again. Make me care so much I’ll look beyond your currently poor art standards and buy out whole comic book stores in my ravenous need to follow a good journey. And when you give that character the most permanent and calm of rests, write it into your corporate documents that any one who tries to disturb their slumber and make them fight again will be promptly fired and have their pension deleted.
Seriously. Comic book industry, you’re broken. Fix yourself.