A friend pointed this out to me. It’s an extended rant about the Death and Return storyline for Superman. I encourage you to give it a watch just for all of the celebrity cameos that occur within.
Now, I have mixed feelings about that Superman storyline myself. I didn’t really care for the battle with Doomsday and his lackluster creation and implementation.
Personally, I always felt that his entire origin was silly and prior to discovering it, I thought that he was purely an invention of Darkseid’s meant to weaken Earth’s defenses before an invasion. That made a lot of sense to me, he looked like something created on Apokolips. But I’m not here to cross-compare my opinion on the storyline with that in the video. Lord knows five thousand youtube commentators will do that on their own.
Around the end of the video though, about the fifteen minute mark, the narrator makes an excellent point. After the return of Superman, death became meaningless in comics. The entire affair of Superman’s return is left mostly off screen with little effort shown on the part of the last son of Krypton. He simply returns without a focus granted to it. Because of that, the death of Superman is treated as nothing more then a minor roadblock if that. Thus the threat of death is negated.
If you don’t believe me look at the Blackest Night and Brightest Day story lines from DC Comics a little while back. The entire point of Geoff Johns’ story lines were to reintroduce the consequences of death and the difficulties of resurrection into the DC Universe. In it the lord of death Nekron has finally made his advance on Earth because so many heroes have cheated him. He is outraged and expresses it throughout his appearance, vowing to take the Justice League (as the majority of them have died at some point) back to the grave and under his control. Afterwards in Brightest Day, those resurrected are forced to undergo trials simply to return to normal. For example, Aquaman, upon his return can only summon dead sea life in a reanimated state. That ends about as well as you’d imagine.
The success of that storyline is hotly debated to this day.
Now, I’ve heard the argument that in Japanese Anime and Manga the rule is that some sort of quest must be undertaken to resurrect one’s dead allies and sometimes they do not return back to life intact. Conversely, there are also manga where dying usually allows warriors to meet fallen heroes and masters of martial arts for training (good old Dragon Ball). Though I am sure many of us can now think of instances where sudden and instant resurrection from death was used.
Now there is a big problem with the return of Superman beyond just low sales. This has had a lasting and devastating impact on comics. After all, if the herald of the comic superhero Superman himself can come back, who else can? Of course, if you know comics you know that most of the big names in comics have died at some point. (People have even made extended sketch comedies and flash animations about it) I would argue that to this day, comics all across the board have not recovered from the return of Superman.
And in a world where death is meaningless, where is the risk? Creators have an uphill battle trying to either write for this flaw now hardwired into comics or try and kill beloved secondary characters simply to add emphasis. In the latter case, of course, those deaths are often reversed.
How do you guys feel about it? Have you seen the threat of death executed well in comics? Let me know!
And so too does this work exist.