Mental Flotsam, Mental Jetsam

Because the only thing that beats going crazy is going crazy with somebody else

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Comic Art of Cliffdropping, Part 2

Okay. This entry's too long not to have paragraph breaks. Otherwise it's an eyesore. So. Picking up where we left off; the negative scale of cliffdropping-- like a cliffhanger; only the character in jeopardy dies and is then resurrected. Lame.

-1: A character is killed and brought back in the following issue. Kill 'em dead gone dead; and the alien / mystic equivalent of CPR delivers them back to the land of the living in no time.
Examples: Cyclops did it. The corpse hasn't even had time to grow cold. Everyone saw it coming. Give 'em a slap on the wrist.

-2: A character is killed, they're acknowledged as dead (it helps when there's a body) and another character goes about the very difficult task of bringing them back to life. Usually takes at least an issue or two. The impossible becomes merely... very tricky.
Examples: The White Queen, as a living diamond (okay) was shattered. Hank McCoy spent several days putting the pieces back together and Jean Grey zapped 'em. Where were they when Humpty Dumpty needed them?

-3: A character (usually a villain) is killed or at least shown not leaving a deathtrap situation and return some time later with a very weak explanation.
Examples: Baron Zemo survived falling into a volcano because he was wearing a magma-proof costume. Doc Ock survived an island-destroying nuclear explosion because his appendages shielded him. Doctor Doom was actually a robot-- a lot.

-4: A character (usually the Joker) is put in a deadly position, shown not leaving and comes back without a scratch or an explanation. They just have nine hundred lives. It's accepted as fact.
Examples: My favorite one? The Joker's fleeing in a helicopter. He's shot in the chest with an automatic rifle, at which point the chopper crashes into the ocean and explodes. A similar exit on a speedboat (that exploded) prompted the Commish to ask Batman, "Do you think he's really gone?" The Dark Knight's reply: "In my heart of hearts, I doubt it." Good call, Bats.

-5: A character is killed and acknowledged as dead, then brought back several months later. It doesn't matter if they're given a reason or not-- the extra negative point is for when they make it An Event. Punctuating the death of the character only to wuss out later... bad form.
Examples: Death of Superman, Death of Green Lantern, Death of Spider-Man. Death of Captain America-- Oh. Wait. He's still dead. For now.

-6: A character is killed and acknowledged as dead (a funeral, the works) and brought back years if not decades later.
Examples: Jason Todd and Bucky... whatever his last name is. What is it about scrappy domino-mask wearing sidekicks that makes them come back from the dead and become bad-asses?

Colossus deserves a special mention-- He was resurrected and he didn't want to be. An otherwise tired plot device finds a little gravitas.

-7: A character is killed and acknowledged as dead and it's later revealed that they never died in the first place.
Examples: Norman Osborn, Stephanie Brown.

Osborn's lame 11th hour 'healing factor' aside, the Spoiler's return goes very much against the grain. The "replaced her with a drug user who overdosed" thing could have worked if not for a few things. Such as, she was dead. Batman identified the body. The world's greatest detective is standing two feet from the body of his partner and he can't tell that it's somebody else? This isn't A Tale of Two Cities. Stephanie appeared in the afterlife. Her ghost appeared to Batgirl on two occasions. A neat trick for someone who's not actually dead.


I know I'm complaining. It sounds a lot like whining. But Stephanie's return... breaks the rules. It says "Hey! Ignore what we said before. Look over here at what's shiny. Continuity, schmontinuity." If earlier parts of the story can be dismissed as unimportant or simply wrong; it cheapens what remains. Publishers sell comics by getting you to care about the story. The more they screw with things, the less I care. Quite a stink to raise over a comic book.

Anyway. In poignant opposition to this debacle is Alexandra DeWitt. The original Woman in the Refrigerator. She's dead. She's stayed dead, so far. With all due respect, I hope she stays that way. Rayner's faced temptation from two or three sources that offered to resurrect DeWitt; and he turned them down because he knew it was wrong.

Huh. I think he may be on to something, there.



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