The Human Torch and Why Character Death No Longer Matters in Comics.

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You know, Marvel, you’re really starting to bother me. I started with Marvel and have never been so disillusioned. I’m not just in comics for the art or because I like superhero stuff; more than anything, I like a good, well told story with emotional highs and lows with a lot of character development. And Marvel just doesn’t seem to be cutting it anymore. What started me on the subject? The Human Torch.

In the months leading to 2011, the comic world found itself being hit by an extremely minimalist campaign (seen below)

Nothing more, nothing less. But this image told the entire story to comic fans and it was brilliant. And it all came to head in March 2011. My comic store was packed and they had to restrict people to only buying one issue per person. When I got home and read it, I was sad to see it was the Human Torch that bit the bullet. But he went out in a quite literal blaze of glory that was truly the only way such a noble hero could go as he fought an army that was a billion strong. Looking back over the pages now, tears still come to my eyes as Johnny makes his last stand.

In the issues after, the mourning of the other members was shown and it was well done. The issue immediately after almost had no dialogue and beautifully portrayed the grief of someone that just lost a loved one. The entire Marvel universe was rocked with even Dr. Doom attending the funeral. After that,  the series reformed with FF, with Spiderman taking Johnny Storm’s place. While gone, Torch was not forgotten as the family members still had a very obvious hole in their lives. It was interesting to see the first family of Marvel dealing with these pains. The death was treated very realistically, something comics don’t often do.


Because he’s back. Or, rather, he was never gone. Evidently, he was never killed in the neutral zone and has been alive the whole time. I honestly find myself wondering if the writer planned this or just pulled it out of his ass to boost sales. The way they treated Johnny’s death made it seem like it was pretty final and lead the reader and the reader’s emotions to believe that too. Yet they pull the old, stupid switcheroo.

And this leaves me feeling like that the marvel writers are no better than Soap Opera writers that kill off characters only to get a cheap rise from the audience; to tug cheaply at the heart strings only to bring the character back the next week and say, “That was my twin brother that actually died.” It’s cheap and pointless.  The character’s resurrection means nothing and the death, in retrospect, is pointless. The same goes for how quickly Captain America, Cable, and others were brought back. I’m waiting for Ultimate Peter Parker to come back and kick Miles Morale’s ass out of the Spiderman mantle.

DC is usually (not always. IE, Batman) better about letting their character’s deaths and resurrection mean something. Kevin Smith’s Quiver brought back Green Arrow and showed what a man out of his time he was. And even more excellently, there are Geoff John’s masterpiece Green Lantern: Rebirth and Flash: Rebirth (Although Flash: Rebirth wasn’t ACTUALLY when Flash comes back, it’s him getting back to his normal self RIGHT after his resurrection). DC comics let Barry Allen stay dead for over TWENTY years. Marvel would be doing setting the bar if they let one of their Non-Uncle Ben characters stay dead for twenty months.

I’m not saying that this makes DC any better or worse. I just think that DC has some better writing behind them. People remember the epic return of Ollie West, Barry Allen, and Hal Jordan.  Marvel’s resurrections don’t often have such prominence. I won’t stop reading Marvel comics by any means. I’m just disappointed in them.

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About ChrisX

Comic geek, addicted gamer, future murse, and sometimes a writer. The three coolest things ever are X-Men, Back to the Future, and Doctor Who. Just saying. You should be awesome and follow me on twitter.