Wednesday, March 07, 2007


It's always interesting to see how the mainstream media reacts to comic book death.

Back in fall of '92, they were abuzz with the latest shocking news from DC Comics. Superman, the Last Son of Krypton, the Man of Steel, beloved idol of children and adults everywhere -- was dying. Yes, dying! You couldn't flip past the network news without some commentator or other breathlessly, even mournfully, intoning that the iconic superhero was about to breathe his last.

"What were the implications of this?" they asked. "What does this say about us?" they pondered. And people bought the comics. They bought lots of 'em. They lined up for blocks. They packed them away for safekeeping. After all, surely the issue where SUPERMAN DIES would be worth a small fortune in a few short years.

Then, a few months later, something funny happened. Something that any comic fan worth his salt could have told you was coming from a mile away. See, death in comic books means about as much as truth in politics. You use it to get people's interest, then you ignore when it's no longer convenient. Thus, the immediate question you ask when a character is killed off is always, "When is he coming back?" And so it was, like a foregone conclusion, that Superman got better. The epilogue to the great "comic book rush" of '92 is that these days you can find copies of Superman #75 (the death issue) four for a dollar.

It's been about thirteen years since last this all played out, and now it appears history is repeating itself, only this time it's DC Comics' crosstown rival Marvel that's playing puppet master to the willing media. Everywhere you turn, folks are talking about the cataclysmic happenings in Captain America #25 (released today), which itself comes on the heels of Marvel's year-long epic event Civil War (a pretty on-the-nose parallel of our post-9/11 socio-political landscape set in the Marvel Comics Universe).

I'm not going to divulge spoilers, but the preceding portion of this post should give you a sense what to expect -- if the picture up-top hasn't clued you in already. Suffice it to say, anyone looking to cash out quick on a copy of Cap #25 might want to think twice (though don't let it stop you from reading it, as Captain America has consistently been one of the best books Marvel is publishing).

I don't believe for one second that this is meant, in any way, shape, or form, to be permanent, but it sure is nice to see some mainstream attention showered on the comic book world that focuses on the actual books as opposed to some media adaptation thereof.

So, when is he coming back?


David Alan Carr said...

Nice analysis, Zaki. I don't remember too many of the "What were the implications of this?" responses, except in the cases of editorialists and talkshow hosts who just needed to fill some minutes. I remember every article ending with the same question you end yours with, though. :)

Rey Madrinan said...

I can understand, but it still makes me mad. Even if they bring him back, they are probably have his "death" stick with him like Superman's...

I dunno. I hate it as much as I hate just about every Marvel Storyline right now.

anonymous jones said...

Yuk! Hopefully Captain America never comes back (he doesn't deserve to with that woeful lyric "whoever opposes his shield must yield!". But I'm sure glad the Silver Surfer is about to grace the silver screen. Woo hoo!