One of the few things you can never count on in comic books is death. From Captain America never actually being dead to Batman living through his Odyssey, death is usually temporary at best. Even this month, Ted Kord and Kurt Wagner have both marched freely back out of the underworld. DC gave making death permanent a shot, but then the new 52 happened, and death, once more, has no meaning. Generally speaking, we fans don’t mind at all, as we like seeing our characters step back into their roles and seeing their story continued. But today I’m talking about those characters who have begun to hold back other people in their mythos, or whose story has been told. Some characters have a beautiful story that should end while the beauty is fresh. Others draw too much focus, and have a tendency to steal the stardom, overshadowing other potentially excellent characters. Dead Heading is a typical practice in gardening, where you prune the dying blooms of flowers so the plant doesn’t waste nutrients keeping it alive. So here are my top 5 dead head heroes.
5. Iron Man – No one can claim to hate Iron Man. His movies alone jump started the current comic movie revolution and his popularity has resounded through out the Marvel universe as a result. But lets face it, the last time he was truly interesting, he won best villain of the year. Since his time as the preregistration antagonist to Captain America, and his subsequent time failing as head of SHIELD, our fun loving Tony Stark hasn’t been wowing anyone at all. More interesting is his tech and all of the things it can do, or the interesting ways other heroes and villains can use it. If he doesn’t die, I think he should retire. Just about everyone has done it better, including Norman Osborne. When a psychotic businessman who paints his face like the Green Goblin for fun is pulling off your schtick better than you, it’s time to send your suit to the cleaners.
4. Superman – I don’t harbor our blue and red kryptonian powerhouse any grudges or hatreds. I don’t feel that he has done anything to deserve death or ejection from the DCU. I do feel that beyond a few interesting storylines (Red Son, All Star Superman) Superman serves only two purposes in the over all universe. The first, is as deus ex machine. If the going gets tough, the tough call superman. When someone is so powerful that they can’t really be hurt, and can bring most assailants to their knees, literally by staring them to death, you’re starting to lose the core of the character. Being that powerful kind of breaks the sympathetic angle of the character. The second purpose he serves, is a way to hold back the development of the rest of the characters affiliated with him. The rest of the Justice League really doesn’t seem to have to up their game because they have Batman for brains, and Superman for Brawn. With this behemoth of a brick wall removed, I think we would see more room for the characters around him to develop into interesting and complex versions that we have yet to see.
3. Jackie Estucado – Some of you might know him by the name Jackie, but the rest of you most likely know him from his comic and video games as the Darkness. This hitman and immortal balance of darkness opposing the Witchblade will wield the powers of the Darkness until the day he either dies or conceives a child. Now I know those rules have been blurred thanks to the Firstborn series, but I can’t help but wonder if that smell I get when I read his stories is the same as stagnant swamp water. He has had an amazing run and has remained an interesting character longer than many can boast. Let. Him. Die. What would be wrong with the introducing the newest incarnation of the mantle? The child could be a hero, an artist, or someone far more decadent than our morally ambiguous Mr. Estacado. Having a fresh start could breath new life into the series, and offer it a different path to take, making different allies and more interesting storylines amidst the greater Image Universe.
2. Wolverine – I know I’m inviting a lot of venom and hatred when I say that James Howlett aka Logan aka Wolverine should bite the bullet. He is a massive fan favorite, sits on half a dozen teams and several comic titles, and has a rich and full history. That history is what makes me want him dead. For those of you who don’t follow the mutant who “goes where he wants to go”, he has had his origin constantly revealed and changed, lived through amazing stories, and some stories so bad you wanted to burn the glossies they were printed on. Most recently however, Wolverine has come full circle. During the AvX event a few years back, Wolverine decided that the students at his school should be given a choice to be X-men, protecting there rights, and filling the role of Professor Xavier. That’s right, folks, the hot headed berserker had become the voice of reason. With such an interesting, full circle development, I want Logan to perish, leaving his story complete and enjoyable. Too many characters, especially fan favorites, often go on too long and are ruined. I’m hoping the recent loss of his healing factor means someone in the labyrinthine halls of Marvel agrees with me.
1. Batman – That’s right Internet, come and get me. This character has gotten too big, and while his rogue’s gallery is the best in the business, and his extended “bat”-family is probably the largest family of heroes that isn’t built around a team, I feel that it has gotten to the point that his popularity holds back that family. I mean let’s look at the sheer size of his family: 6 sidekicks at various stages in their super hero career, Batgirl Barbara Gordon and the Cain girl, Night Dragon, and at least a dozen members of Batman Incorporated. There are so many people that could take his place, so many that could BECOME the plans that he prepared to save different parts of the world. My only misgiving would be his death would change the direction of time and Batman Beyond couldn’t come to fruition. So maybe retiring would be a better direction. What’s worse is that his life might have been explained away by age, until the new 52 made him Batman for only FIVE YEARS! It’s time to go gently into that good night bats, let the next generation take a swing!
I know a lot of you disagree with me, and hey, that’s great, feel free to tell me about it. But is there anyone you think should die so other characters can grow? How about a beautiful death to make the characters story the best it can be?