By Alex Ness

December 16th, 2014

Hi again.   Sure is good to see you again.   As our beloved Mayor Tommy Shanks would say, “It’s a cold one out there.   Nice to have a fire.  Are you having family over?  Me too.  Sure is nice having family over.  Well good night.”


DEATH IN COMICS: Apologetics of Superhero Deaths and Resurrection
Upon arrival at the terminus station, you will be expected to be able to remove your clothing, remove any jewelry, and prepare for inspection.

Death is by no means the end of the story, especially in comic books.   In human existence that is, not fiction, we recognize that different cultures have beliefs about the afterlife, and even if there isn’t a shared belief in this, religions, plural, play a role in society.  Beyond that and back to comic books, I believe that that is one of the fatal issues in the public’s perceptions of the world of comic books. Every great story of the death of a hero is followed by an assurance that the hero will return, sometime later, by some miraculous event. Almost no great hero is allowed to die and remain dead.  The world of religion has considered the question of, If Christ knew he would be resurrected by his Heavenly Father, how much of a sacrifice was his death, the comic book world does not have a group of scholars dedicated to troublesome questions and ready for in depths inquiry upon the subject. If Superman had died, had died a great death, had people mourned him, and he never returned from the dead, the landscape of comics would have changed forever. But that could never happen, because comic book characters are money vehicles for publishers.


So, what lessons are we taught when our heroes die, but return, or in fact, don’t really die and we thought they were dead? Do we feel tricked? Do we assume it was a scam from the start? These heroes are in dangerous situations, does it feel actually dangerous if they never die? The answer for me has always been no, they do not have the emotional impact should they magically return from the dead.


I get why Jesus comes back. That is part of that story and it is a lesson for followers that death is a time of transcendence. Those who follow will supposedly overcome death and move to a different form of existence. But if a hero faces a billion warriors and either escapes without a scratch, or dies only to be fine the next morning, how bad was that death anyway? I am dead, no really I am better now? In order for there to be a feeling of risk and fear, there must be a chance for loss.

DC Comics has three characters amongst others I am sure, who are, in fact, DEAD. And they have a role to fulfill in the living world before they leave for parts unknown in the spirit world.
Deadman: Boston Brand was a murdered circus performer, a trapeze artist, who performed in costume. Upon his death he is given the ability to take over a living body for a time, and use it to further his quest of finding his killer/s and bringing them to justice. Upon doing this he then is free to use his powers to help others in similar need.

Kid Eternity: As a young man he was killed when a U-Boat sank his grandfather’s fishing boat during World War II.  It is learned that he was not supposed to die, and he has 75 years before his death was due. A supernatural faux pas has occurred, so the powers that be grant Kid Eternity the power to draw personages from the past to assist him and others to do good and correct fate until his time comes.
The Spectre:  Detective Jim Corrigan, was on his way to his engagement party to his beloved betrothed Clarice. But he was murdered by being stuffed into a barrel filled with cement and drowned. He wasn’t allowed in to heaven, he was sent back to bring vengeance and justice upon those who committed the crime, and to other crimes. He had vast powers, and was eventually revealed to be the angel of justice.

I realize not everyone has to endure the same weather as someone in, say, well, Minnesota or Canada.  But it remains true that it is delightful to have a weekend of reading, where you have a beverage to drink, pets or stuffed animal at your side, a comfortable chair or couch or bed to recline in, and time to soak in a different place in your mind.  So here are three tpbs of comics to find and buy or borrow, to read on those kinds of weekends and why I suggest these.  If this feature is popular I’ll perhaps make it a regular feature.

Book 1   Dark Blue:    Warren Ellis writer, Jacen Burrows, artist, Avatar Press publisher.

If you enjoyed The Matrix films this work is somewhat similar, however while it has some similarities it came out before the Matrix.  Frank Christchurch is a violent man, and perhaps slightly insane. His partner wants out, fearing the worst, his commander is a druggie, and there is a killer on the loose utilizing a world that only the bravest or most insane would dare venture in. This book is certainly not perfect, it has some less than mature art scenes and it would have worked best in color, but, for what it is, it is scary, dark, deep, and thoughtful. It is a take on crime and different realities that most people couldn’t ever imagine, let alone read about.
Book 2  Slaine: The Horned God    Pat Mills writer, Simon Bisley artist, 2000AD publisher.
I heart Slaine. He is a Celtic hero who lives in Tir nA Nog, as well as, occasionally at least, our own plane of existence. He is brave, powerful, thoughtful, and doesn’t turn pale in the face of poor odds or angry legions of the enemy. In this book Pat Mills sends Slaine through a quest and battle, and Simon Bisley illustrates the story in his luscious, individual style. Slaine pursues the quest to perhaps become high king of his domain, but, does he really wish that, or is it enough to know that he could have it should he have wanted it?
Book 3  Appleseed Book #1 The Promethean Challenge    Shirow Masamune, Dark Horse publisher
This is manga and I’ve heard more than my share of people who don’t like it, and those who only like it. I am not a big fan, but I like some. This series is from the “some” category, and from all I’ve read this is amongst the best. As with many manga series, the world is in a post nuclear war/World War III or beyond setting. There has been a struggle to rebuild, and rise above the fallen world. Olympus is an example of the rise. Badside is an example of the worst of humanity’s fallen state. A woman cop and a cyborg join forces as partners to find a secret within Olympus, and become the hunted as a result. Who deserves to live, and who should die becomes the burning question that Olympus officials are trying to answer.

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“I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather… Not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.”  Will Shriner