Marvel’s Troubling Trend of “Death of”
Whether Marvel or DC, it doesn’t matter which publisher you lean towards, each one has their own fair share of problems and bad habits. This week I wanted to talk about one of Marvel’s that has become a troubling trend. That as the title states is the trend of “Death of” stories. There’s one thing we expect more from our publishers, and that’s more substance over hype. Especially when that hype is leading towards what is to be assumed the death of a hero or set of characters. This time around it just so happens to be the Inhumans.
Before I get into the thick of this topic, I should ease some of those who are turning their heads at this critique. This here isn’t to say that some of the stories Marvel has done were bad. The ones recently I do admit to have liked, because it’s not as if they were written poorly either. I loved Jean Grey’s, Wolverine’s, and more than both I would say the death of Cyclops. Heck, I even felt myself grabbed by the jaw-dropping start to the Death of The Inhumans. With the right creative teams, these stories take hold of your emotions and send them on a roller coaster. Most tend to have a good writer, and a satisfactory art team. More than you could ask for when your favorite solo series jumps into the next distracting tie-in. At the end of the day, who doesn’t love a good heroes death? I can’t deny that I am a fool for when this happens. However, at the same time, it is also more engaging when this comes organically, rather than being another business move.
When you begin to question this tactic, do we really need stories like this to grab reader attention? When it has become that necessary to sell a story that you have to glorify the death of the heroes, you are losing a lot of confidence in what you’re putting out. The death of the hero should not overshadow what they have done up to that point. Not all of these heroes even stay dead which is a bigger problem within itself. When every year we have one or two of these to look forward to, Marvel needs to re-access what it means to move on from a character rather than to kill them off. There is also one more critical point to this topic, and that’s how predictable these stories are. The context of what leads to the death of said heroes can catch you off guard, but you always know where the story is going to end. When you know that the death is a given, what is the true takeaway from it?
Beating a dead horse is the worst offense by the Big Two if you ask me. Something cool could happen once and that should be it, but the minute it starts making money, the idea sinks in that you can milk readers by rinsing and repeating. This piece here is focused specifically on the “Death of” trend, but that is just one example of more things that either Marvel or DC have done over and over because they know they will make a quick buck. Pretty much the equivalent of putting out consistent B to C level movies for the sake of making a small profit.
With all the time that Marvel has spent on Marvel Legacy and Generations, you would think that they could just drop everything and continue being progressive. That is unfortunately too much to ask when this here is taking steps back. Heroes don’t need to die for new ones to step up, and they don’t need to die in order to create a break from them. A proper story will send the characters on their way, in a way that leaves little to question when wondering what they are up to when other things are going on. Yes, readers today overthink those things, but it’s also on them if they want to ruin their experience by forgetting the difference between the real world and works of fiction. Focus on the heroes that are present and relevant. Find new ways for them to shine where the spotlight isn’t being stolen for the next big thing for the sake of shock value.
Some readers will complain about a lot of things that don’t matter, but this is something to take notice of when the pattern is becoming all too apparent. This is a time to do better than sell us stories for the latest hero they want to sideline. And I say sideline because I emphasize once more that it hurts more when this is done only to bring the heroes back a year later. Not all of those killed off have returned, but it is only a matter of time.