Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Yo, Bruce Wayne, I'm really happy for you and I'ma let you finish, but Green Arrow had one of the best rebirths of all time.

I recently picked up a copy of The Return of Bruce Wayne, which was awesome. Cave-Batman descending on a few marauding archaic Homo Sapiens with a suit made out of a giant bat is one of the funniest things I've seen in comics. I'm not against Bruce coming back. I think this is a great storyline. However, I just think we've seen enough of the rebirth stuff.

People die in comics all the time, but when a hero dies it's always big news. The Death of Superman was one of the best selling comics of the 90s. People who didn't care about comics were actually interested, which is exactly why DC chose to kill off their flagship character. Granted, he was back in a matter of months (and still with that horrible mullet) but the point was that he died. For the record, the storyline wasn't even that good. Superman and Doomsday just kind of beat up on each other until they both collapse in the ruins of Metropolis (insurance premiums must be terrible there).

There are much better deaths in comics. Barry Allen runs himself to death destroying the Anti-Monitor's cannon. Hal Jordan redeems his actions as Parallax by reigniting the sun. Captain America gets shot by a sniper for his part in the Civil War. Even Sue Dibny, the wife of the second-string hero Elongated Man, has a more meaningful death than Superman. For the record, Bruce didn't technically die, his consciousness just got blasted into prehistory, but I call it as close enough since all his friends thought he was dead and he was cut out of the DCU for a bit.

But, part of why Superman's death means nothing is that he came back so fast. Hal's death was pretty short-lived too, given as he became the Spectre very quickly after his passing. Captain America was back in a few years, and Buffy came back in time for a new season.

I give the most points to Barry Allen, simply because he took his time with it. He was dead for 23 years. He popped in and out of reality every so often, helping Bart imprison Superboy-Prime, but he stayed dead. Corporeal Barry Allen was a non-entity, and life moved on around him. His wife lived on and so did his friends, which made it even more awesome when he came back. People weren't used to heroes dying and coming back, unlike in the modern age when, during the funeral of the Martian Manhunter, Superman actually says, "and pray for a resurrection." That right there takes a lot out of the idea of heroes coming back.

Coming back to life shouldn't be commonplace. In Blackest Night #8 a plethora of dead heroes and villains magically appear thanks to the white light. Most of these people have not even been dead 5 years, with the exception of Deadman who's superpower was, well, being dead. Barry waited 23 years and then came back like a champion, running out of the speed force. People were excited by that. The whole "live" thing was cool, but that was mostly because of the 4 page spread.

Granted, Blackest Night was supposed to be all about death and resurrection and the emotional sides of our heroes ending with a retcon of the creation story, so resurrections were expected. At the end, everyone was looking around for Sue and Elongated Man, who were nowhere to be found (probably due to their bodies being disintegrated by Indigo-1). I was really happy that they didn't come back. For one, nobody really cared about them before Identity Crisis, and two it would have cheapened their death. Even if there had been some lovely Star-Sapphire based resurrection, it still would have been hollow. They were better characters dead.

A lot of people died and came back in Blackest Night. Kyle Rayner dies in GLC 42 and is back in 43. The love-based resurrection is a nice touch there, only because it solidifies his and Soranik's bond, but still, he's dead for maybe a minute total before he pops back to life.

What I guess I'm getting at is that death doesn't really mean anything anymore. It doesn't matter to readers, and it barely means anything in-universe. People shrug off death like it's nothing because they know they are going to come back. There used to be a quote, "Nobody stays dead except for Uncle Ben and Bucky".

Bucky was resurrected in 2005. Stay tuned for Ben Parker: Rebirth.

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