What Grinds My Gears? Unnecessary Comic Deaths and Manufactured Events!
Something has been nagging at me for some time now: gimmicky comic book marketing ploys. We all saw the damage this practice did to the industry in the 90’s. I thought that everyone had learned their lessons, and that the industry I love would not be doomed to repeat the same mistakes. You might think I am talking about the DC Comics “The New 52” relaunch, but no, that seems to be going rather well. I am talking about pointless comic events, and more to the point, killing off a beloved character only to bring them back a few months later. I’m looking at you Marvel. Johnny Storm aka The Human Torch in particular.
Remember the circus earlier in the year when Marvel decided to kill off a member of the FF, in bagged issues of Fantastic Four #587, then actually spoiled their own story before the issue was even available to the public? Everyone (including myself and many writers here at Comic Booked) wrote articles looking back at Torch’s career, and mourned his passing. We also felt betrayed that the surprise was spoiled for us. Just a few weeks after FF #587 was released I saw unopened copies selling for $25 at a convention. It sure felt like the 90’s all over again at that point.
The funny part of the whole event was that no one really believed it! The final images of The Human Torch were clearly leaving the door open for his triumphant return. We never actually saw him die. I spoke with many other people who were confident that this was only a temporary death, as is common in comics. Hell, many people even seem to have correctly pinpointed the issue in which he would likely return, the upcoming issue #600 in November! Marvel started teasing images in August that hinted at this resurrection.
Recent advertisements in Marvel’s own comics have become even bolder at giving away any surprise that may have been. It feels like this triumphant event, 50 years and 600(!) issues of the same title, are being cheapened somehow. Is this all really necessary? Fans have been complaining far and wide, that the FF seem like guests on their own revamped title now. Many people I talk to are just plain burnt-out on “special events” and the plethora of crossover issue that go with them. One exception to this phenomena seems to be Spider-Island, which fans and critics just can’t seem to get enough of. Now is the love for Spider-Island because it is a special event, or because it is written and executed well? In a time when comic book publishers are trying to come up with a winning formula, I suggest that they start asking themselves some tough questions about what their readers really want. Thank you for reading my rant.