Everybody hates gratuitous resurrections, right? It’s just a fanboy thing, like bagging your comics or bickering about who would win in a Batman/Captain America fight. It just sucks that they (Marvel or DC, take your choice) continue to insult our intelligence by giving us unbelievably contrived resurrection storylines. “It wasn’t me who died! A cosmic alien impersonated me while I was in suspended animation, then blew herself up and telepathically inserted a shard of her consciousness into my clone, who then got absorbed into my mind when she died!” “No, I never died at all! Being impaled through the chest with an eight-inch-thick chunk of razor-sharp metal merely greatly inconvenienced me!” “Yeah, when I got decapitated by Wolverine? Funny story…”
Comics writers are well aware of this particular fanboy pet peeve; how could they not be? You only need to be accosted so many times at a convention by an angry fan saying, “You should never have brought back Barry Allen/Harry Osborn/Doctor Octopus because their death was so meaningful!” So they try everything they can to make sure that this time, when they kill off a character, they ain’t coming back.
They’ve long ago realized that you can’t just kill someone off in an explosion or a fall; dying off-panel is an automatic “Get Out of Kill Free” card. And they’ve figured out that exotic deaths never work, either; if Wonder Man dies of ionic energy poisoning, you can bet that somewhere down the line, somebody’s going to get the bright idea to bring him back. And who’s to say that ionic energy poisoning doesn’t just cause you to go into suspended animation, anyway?
So it’s got to be on-panel. It’s got to be a “real” cause of death. And the latest innovation: It’s gotta be gory. Sure, you might survive a gunshot wound, but are you really going to survive having your head popped like a zit by Black Adam, or ripped in half…um…also by Black Adam…or impaled on a sword? (By Deathstroke; presumably, Black Adam was busy that day.) Um…actually, the answer seems to still be “yes”. The Martian Manhunter came back after being immolated on-panel, Ronnie Raymond returned from a full-on chest stabbing, Colossus wasn’t stopped by cremation, and even perma-death poster boy Bucky showed up again as Grim-N-Gritty-Cyborg-Assassin-Bucky.
Clearly, the only solution is an editorial mandate. From now on, it’s time to take a hard line: No more gratuitous resurrections. That’s right, no matter how popular the character, no matter how unpopular the death sequence, Psylocke is not coming back from the dead! Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada has sp…oh. Hmm. Maybe that’s not as fool-proof as we thought.
The truth is, there actually is a fool-proof way of stopping gratuitous resurrections in comics. It’s even simple, easily executable, and would be wildly popular with fans. Ready for it? Here it is:
STOP KILLING THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Seriously, is this really that hard to understand? There’s no way you can possibly make a death stick in a comic book; they’re fictional characters, they’ll come back as long as someone remembers them fondly enough to bring them back. And as Bucky proves, that can be an amazingly long time. Since there’s no way to make death anything more than a temporary condition in a comic-book universe, why keep deploying it? Surely it can’t be for shock value. Jaded fans no longer care about comic-book death, not when DC kills the Martian Manhunter and resurrects Barry Allen in the same crossover. Death in comics doesn’t matter anymore as much because it’s overused as because it’s impermanent. So why not just let death die for a while?
Except for the Sentry. The only possible reason to bring him back is that he’s NOT FUCKING DEAD ENOUGH.