Friday, July 29, 2011

Once More Into The Breach

Editor's Note: Today we are proud to welcome everybody's favorite French speaking Flashback artist back to the posting biz: Pierre Villeneuve!  Pierre is back to let us know what he thought of this summers movies. - Jim

Hello Friends! It's been a while! I am not writing a blog about Shakespeare. I just thought that the line...

"Once more unto the breach dear friends... once more."

... because it sounded better then just "I'm back". :) Damn... lots of stuff happened since last fall. What to start with?? The Green Lantern movie?? The X-Men:First Class one?? Transformers?? Captain America. The Green Lantern:Emerald Knights Blu-Ray??

Then I realised that there is no way that I could choose just one.
So lets get started.

X-men: First Class

I had fun watching this film. It had the same flavor... the same essence then the first X-men movie. Not just by re-using some footage from the first X-men film.... but by taking a similar approach with the mood of the film... the atmosphere... the music.

And I liked how they made this a period piece. Yes some of the continuity does not really work with the other films. Word is that when they made First Class... they pretty much ignored what happened in X3 and X-men Origin: Wolverine. No idea if that is true.

But it was a little annoying whenever something would jump at you not matching with the previous films... but not enough to ruin this film. Depite it's flaws.... it was a fun film to watch. I wonder if they will make a second First Class movie... and if they will start it with the JFK assassination??
I guess we will have to wait and see.


Another film that was fun to watch. Yes... yes.... it was not perfect... but damn it was fun. Most of the actors did a good job in this film. I loved Odin and Thor. I loved the scene when Odin cast Thor out of Asgard.... and I had goose bumps when Odin held the hammer close whispering "He who holds this hammer... if he be worthy... shall possess the power of Thor".

I would have preffered a more classic version of Thor... one that did not have so much of the Ultimates version in it.... but sadly... there seems to be no way around this. Marvel seems determined to add some Ultimates elements to their movies. So when I saw Hawkeye.... instead of going "Cool! They included Hawkeye in the film"... I was more like "Damn!! They made Hawkeye a Shield Agent and seems to aim to use the Ultimate version of the character".

And with what we saw of the Avengers so far.... it looks more like the Ultimates then the classic Avengers. Oh well. But despite the Ultimate flavor of the film.... it did not stop me from enjoying the Thor film.

Green Lantern


Damn I had a great time watching this film. The 3D in Thor was pointless. There was not much depth. It showed that it was added after the fact... and they did not do too good a job of adding the 3D to the Thor film. But the 3D in Green Lantern was very good. The best 3D I have seen yet in a film. Although I did not see Avatar in 3D.

I was worried that I would be tired of Green Lantern's origin. I read it in Emerald Twilight. In Secret Origin. I read it/saw it in New Frontier. I saw it in First Flight. So I was worried that I would be tired of seeing the origin of Green Lantern... one.... more.... time. But it was not a problem.

Most of the actors did a good job. And Mark Strong was an AWESOME Sinestro. Damn he did a GREAT job. I liked Mark Strong in Sherlock Holmes and in Kick Ass..... and I LOVED him as Sinestro. Also since the Sinestro Corps/Green Lantern Corps War.... I am more and more a Sinestro fan.
Could the Green Lantern movie have been better?? Absolutely. The constructs could have been easily better... and Parrallax could have been better. Did no one learn anything from the Galactus cloud in the FF movie?? But it did not keep me from enjoying the film. I was worried about the Green Lantern costume when I first saw some photos of it. But in the movie... it works fine. Even the mask... which is the worst part... after 10 minutes you get used to the mask and don't think about it anymore.

I don't understand how the critics blasted this film.

It was on par with Thor in my book. The story/plots holes/special effects were pretty much on the same level in both film. I would have expected a similar rating for both films. Hard to understand how Thor got good reviews... and how Green Lantern got creamed by the reviews.

I guess people can accept a movie with a magic hammer... but a movie with a magic ring is too silly for them?? Oh well.

Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon

I am not a Transformers fan. I did not expect to see that film.... a friend forced me to see it. :) But I have to admit that I actually had some fun watching it.

Captain America

The last piece of the puzzle leading to the upcoming Avengers movie.

Once again... the 3D was pointless. I thought Chris Evans did a good job playing Steve Rogers... and damn those scenes where he is a 90 pounds weakling are pretty cool. Loved the actor playing Erskine. And the rest of the cast did a pretty good job.... with one exception.... Howard Stark. That guy had NO charisma. I did not expect him to have the same charisma as Robert Downey JR.... but damn.

The movie built the origin story slowly... which was fine.... but when there was the musical part of the film .... I almost walked out of the theatre. It felt like this scene would never end. Damn.... they were trying wayyyyy to hard to show us how silly the comic book version of the costume was. So of course they HAD to change it.

That they changed the costume.... fine. No one really expects them to be faithfull to the comic. But seeing them bend backward in such a way to show us how silly the comic version of the costume would have been?? How riduculous it would have looked?? They were trying wayyyyy to hard in my book.
Also... after taking their time telling the origin of the character.... then we got these quick clips of Cap on various missions. It felt like "Oh crap.... we took too much time with the origin... now we have to wrap everything up quick". So the second part felt rushed. Although I got a kick whenever he would throw his shield. I was really happy that they kept that part. I was worried that they would think that it is too silly to have Cap throw his shield and have the shield ricochet a few times before coming back in Cap's hand.
And of course.... at the end when Cap wakes up in modern time... they HAD to go with the Ultimate version of that tale.

Oh well.

And sadly... the theatre where I went did not play the Avenegers trailer at the end of the Cap movie. :(
Have a great weekend!

- Pierre

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Old World Monsters

Nothing haunts me more than an unfinished project, and buddy, let me tell you, I have got more than my fair share of 'em. Now, before I erroneously cast myself as a guy who can't complete anything, let me say this: I have finished a ton of projects. The downloads page on this very site is testament to that. Still, sometimes I've started a project and for one reason or another had to abandon it. Sometimes it's my fault. Sometimes not.

One of late that I've regretted pulling the plug on is the sequel to the League of Monster's story that Pierre and I were working on for Zuda. Zuda went under before we could finish it which is a durn shame because we both had some great stuff to show you in that comic. Namely, we were going to introduce the world to the incredibly fun Old World Monsters, a team of creatures from Europe. Today, I"ll show you some of the character concepts Pierre created for this story:

First up is Gentleman Jack, the ghost of a 17th century highway man:

 Next is a character I intended to be our brooding Red Tornado type of character, The Green Golem:

Countering the Golem's reserved nature would be this hot tempered beauty, The Bride:

The final member of the group is a character originally designed by the insanely talented Jerry Hinds, but used with his kind permission in this story; Baba Yaga.

These four characters and the story that introduced them was going to sort of be my homage to the story that introduced those classic Jim Shooter villains The Fatal Five. 

Except whereas Shooter cast The Fatal Five as black and white villains, I was going to go the more Marvel route of making the Old World Monsters all anti-heroes to one degree or another.

Pierre and I got about a third of the comic completed before the closing of Zuda made the project financially unfeasible. Still, I wouldn't say this project is completely dead. As the market changes and Pierre and I get more time to work on other things, I wouldn't be surprised if this story didn't bounced back up to the top of our list of things we would both like to work on.

Hope you liked this behind the scenes preview(?) of the Flashback Universe!

- Jim

Monday, July 25, 2011

Another Man's Trash

Editor's Note: Today Clayton continues his article from last week telling us why he choose some of the Golden Age heroes he picked to appear in Agency 1. - Jim

I brought them all back for different reasons. But the main reason is because when the companies “threw away” these guys, they threw out a whole lot of potential stories that are begging to be told! And I am not ashamed to be digging through another man's trash when I see a treasure! And so many of these characters are just too interesting to let dust cover on 'em! Here are a few more that I'll be working with. (Art is from Agency 1 by Celso Ricardo)

Zippo (Hillman, 8 appearances)

You guys are going to laugh, but the only reason I brought this guy out of limbo is because I was told I couldn't use a character like him in today's comics. That he wouldn't “fit in” All I can say is: Just watch him!

Black Cobra (Chesler, 4 appearances)

The name and costume caught my attention. And again, I had to think about this guys potential. And believe me, for a guy who only had 4 appearances (that is before he went to Ajax-Farrell), he had a lot of potential!

Scarlet Arrow (Harvey. 2 appearances)

I looked at this guy an “imperfect musketeer” that can get the job done. Again, there is much potential, and many stories to tell about this guy! And only through Popbox do we get to see that little mini-me type of ancestral ghost! And I will tell you that right away, we dive into the type of character that wasn't touched upon in his two little appearances.

Enjoy this issue of Clue Comics 4 which has appearances by many of the characters that will be appearing in Agency 1!

- Have a great day!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Will Captain America Beat Godzilla?

Today, my Father-in-Law and I are going to go see the Captain America movie. Other than Green Lantern, this is the only other movie I’ve seen this summer. I expect it to be on par with other superhero movies of late. And based on boxed office predictions, the par for the course seems to be dropping.

(That the latest posters seem to be going with a NO MASK look is worrying...)

I expect CA to make about $65 million in its opening weekend (give or take 5%) That sounds okay, but really, superhero movies seem to be hurting as of late and the trend is not good. Check out these stats for recent movies as compared to the stats of what Hollywood considers are some classic Franchise Killers.

Budget 1st Week

Box Office
Green Lantern 200 18 9.00%
Catwoman 100 18 18.00%
Superman Returns 209 52 24.88%
Green Hornet 120 33 27.50%
Van Helsing 160 51 31.88%
X-men First Class 160 55 34.38%
Thor 150 62 41.33%
Godzilla 1998 130 55 42.31%
Hulk 2000 137 62 45.26%
Ghost Rider 110 52 47.27%
Fantastic Four 100 56 56.00%
Daredevil 78 45 57.69%

The far right column is the key metric. The greater percentage a movie's first week box office is of it's total cost, the higher the chance it will make back its budget and have a sequel. (This is due to diminishing returns the studios get because a greater percentage of the profit is doled out to the actual theater as each week progresses.)

What's interesting is that Godzilla and Hulk are considered by fan boys to be bombs, but comparatively, they both did actually did better than all of the superhero movies that have come out this summer. And that's without adjusting for inflation!

Looking at this chart better illustrates the point. Green Lantern (GL) and Catwoman are on the far left of the chart. Notice the gap between Catwoman's cost and the first week revenues. A similar gap exists between Thor and Godzilla. (X-men is close too.)

Looking at this chart, three thoughts come to mind:
  • Hollywood has changed it's definition of success
  • Ghost Rider and Daredevil did better than Thor and X-Men First Class
  • We are probably NOT going to see a Green Lantern sequel :D
See you at the movies!
- Jim

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Kirby Krackle Konspiracy

How many times have people commented on the indosyncratic technological designs during the Silver Age?

Many people attribute this to stylistic choices made by Jack Kirby as he chronicled the adventures of various characters, but I think I know the real truth. What we think of as the Kirby style with huge terminating dots and metal inlays that swoosh in wild directions on machines with seemingly no purpose are actually a barely understood form of arcane runic designs which have been integrated with the technology.

The source of these designs all stem back to early magic/technology integrations Victor Von Doom made while at college. It was only Jack Kirby who dared show us how these items really looked!

Some theorize that Doom was combining the long forgotten power of ley lines and Nazca designs to make technology do things more efficiently and faster than ever before.  Doesn't this Nazca Whale does look similar to designs Kirby uses in some of his art?

He was already experimenting with such innovations prior to his scholarship to college, but he made his real progress while working on experiments there. That is what amazed Reed Richards so much when he stumbled upon Doom's notes. Reed was so impressed with the theories, that he would later use of them in his own inventions, so much so that people now associate their origin with him.

After Doom was expelled, the government seized his notes and his work would later appear in some of the tech used by SHIELD.

Of course agents of both HYDRA and AIM would get their eyes on these notes which is why we see it in Captain America.

Now the question arises, Did Doom come up with this himself? The answer is no. We see this form of technology appearing in ancient lost civilizations

in Attilan:

and in Wakanda, 

Some people suggest the true origin of this Rune Tech is the home of the Eternals brought here from space by the Celestials...

But that doesn't explain how how this technology shows up even in alternate dimensions and parallel universes...

Others argue that it is simply a stylistic attribute of Kirby's art, but that can't be right because this style shows up in other artists renderings as well.

Obviously, Jack Kirby was onto something!

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Return of The Zebra (and Friends)

Editor’s Note: In the upcoming first issue of Popbox Entertainment’s The Agency, fans of the Golden Age will be see publisher Clayton Neal is reintroducing the public to some interesting Public Domain characters (as seen in this preview image from Issue One.)

Preview from The Agency Issue 1

I asked Clayton to explain why he choose the Golden Age characters he did and here is Part One of his reply. - Jim

The answer is different for each one, yet it boils down to the same thing. Let me take them in the order of amount of appearances they actually had back in the golden age of comics!

The Zebra (Harvey Comics, 28 appearances)

He is actually considered to be one of the weakest characters in the vast public domain files. Even I was surprised that he had the most appearances than the other chosen heroes. It has been stated that a zebra in the wild will only fight when he is pinned by a predator. However, if you were to read his origin, that is basically what happened to John Doyle, and why he became the Zebra in the first place. Truth is, I loved the concept, and the character since I was a little kid. When I found out that the character was in the public domain, I had to have him!

Nightmare (Hillman 14 appearances)

I am using this guy because I had envisioned a hero who wore one of those old skeleton Halloween costumes. I came across this guy, and thought I could blend the two characters. I loved the concept of him, although I am not too sure about bringing back Sleepy, his sidekick.

Micro-Face (Hillman, 10 appearances)

OK when I saw this guy I laughed at both the mask, and the name. But I re read his stories several times, and thought about what the possibilities would be if somebody (Like our Dr. Insainnus) amplified his powers into something maybe out of the movie “Love Potion #9”! You can see the results in The Agency: Prelude to A Nightmare” #1!

Check back next week for more of my favorite public domain heroes. Until then, enjoy this issue of Green Hornet comics. It doesn't have the Green Hornet story, but it does feature the origin of the Zebra.

- Clayton

End Note from Jim: The images of Nightmare and Micro-Face were taken from the Public Domain Superheroes Wikia which is a fantastic community of people working together to compile the most comprehensive resources of Public Domain Superheroes you will ever find. Check it out!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bronze Age Killers

Which hero was the first the break the unspoken comic book rule that heroes don't kill? And I'm not counting gun waving Batman or Machine Gun Bucky.

Those instances are from the somewhat surreal Golden Age when many heroes were soulless Nazi killing machines. The cleansing combination of Comics Code conduct and Silver Age sensibilities did an effective job of keeping the violence in GA comics from having  either a spiritual or literal impact on Bronze Age heroes. In more modern comics, the Golden Age violence has been referenced quite a bit. In some cases resulting in interesting stories, like Ed Brubaker's Captain America run. Others, like DC's failed First Wave line, not so much.

Still, in today's modern world of violent comics, you sort of have to wonder how we got here. Which heroes in the bronze age crossed the line first?

Normally, we associate this paradigm shift with Wolverine and Punisher, and rightfully so. (and possibly Deathlok to some degree.) But were they really the first heroes to mae killing in the Bronze Age acceptable? In those cases, they were seen as sort of antiheroes or rogue heroes whose exceptional behavior proved the rule. I believe nightly news era accounts of the Vietnam War have more to do with violence in comics than the Punisher's rubber bullets. Also, you can see this trend slowly creeping in if you look at other comics from the era. Here are a few examples.

In Avengers 117, during the classic Avengers/Defenders War, the Swordsman (albeit a hero who was once a villain) kills a man:

When I was a kid, this scene made quite an impact on me, and I have to wonder if it didn't play some small role in the Swordsman's death later on in the series (much in the same way that the Phoenix's burning of an entire planet caused Jim Shooter to demand she pay for the crime.)

Next is a death scene I dare you to have forgotten. The classic Cap/Baron Blood showdown from Captain America 257:

When I originally read that scene, I was really shocked by it. Still, the explanation that Captain America was originally a soldier who had most likely killed people during the war was satisfying enough that I didn't have the fan freakout that some people did.

My final example is one a lot of people either haven't read or don't remember, and that's when Princess Projectra makes Nemesis Kid pay the ultimate price for killing her husband Karate Kid.

At the time, I felt she was totally justified in her actions, but looking at it today, I have to sort of quibble with her excuse that she has the she can take the law into her own hands because she was born into the right family. :\

Again, I think we can all agree that the real leaders in the bloody revolution in comics were Wolverine and the Punisher, but I believe these examples indicate other writers were picking up on the climate change as well.

If I missed a similar death scene from the era, please let me know.

Have a great weekend!
- Jim

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Bronze Age Crossovers

At the moment, Marvel and DC are deep in the midst of their Summer Blockbuster Crossover Event phase. From what I can tell via podcasts, Flashpoint seems to be getting people appropriately excited for the DC Relaunch as well as providing some interesting spinoffs in a sort of Elseworlds fashion. The same can not be said for Marvel's toyetic Fear Itself. The Matt Fraction series is getting tarred and feathered on places like iFanboy.

We take crossovers like this for granted now, but have you ever thought about the time when such crossovers were novel? As far as I can tell, the first early crossovers were in the Bronze Age. I define a crossover as, naturally enough, a story which spills over into another comic in such a way that it is necessary to buy the other comic to read the complete story.

The first crossover I can remember reading was the classic Avengers/Defenders War.

The next crossover I read was a bit shorter and took place in the pages of Nova and Spider-man.

Strangely enough, Nova never appeared in Marvel Team-Up, so seeing the two characters together makes up for that in the Fan Accounting side of my mind. Interesting enough, this crossover was penned by Marv Wolfman who would later architect the granddaddy of all crossovers, Crisis on Infinite Earths.

The last example I can think of may not really qualify. That's the Warlock/Thanos storyline that appeared in Marvel Two-In-One and Avengers.

Based on what I've read about the pushback Steve Englehart encountered when he came up with the Avengers/Defenders War, I think the reason we saw so few crossovers back in the Bronze Age comes down to a couple of reasons.
  • Difficulty coordinating storylines with other writers
  • Fear by publishers that such storylines might not ship in chronological order
  • Lack of interest by writers to participate in such events
What's funny is that now, with missed shipping dates such a common thing, a lot of those reasons still apply, but we have more crossovers than ever. Almost too many IMO. Money talks, aye?

Just curious -  Does anyone know if there were crossovers before the Bronze Age?

Have a great day!

- Jim

Monday, July 11, 2011


Editor's Note: Those of you who may fear we are becoming a bit Death Obsessed of late on the FBU should welcome today's Free Comic Monday selection and introduction by Clayton. Enjoy! - Jim

A funny thing happened to me when I came to write this article....oh not really, I just can't resist a great opening line!

It wasn't that long ago when I was doing some research on public domain super heroes, that I came upon this gem from the late 1940's. FUNNYMAN!

Created by none other than Jerry Seigel and Joe Shuster! Now these two you may recall, did create another super hero before this. Now what was his name? Oh yeah...SUPERMAN!! This made me even more curious about this new clown around the town.

Through a little research, I did find out that I wasn't the only guy who was intrigued by this “Funnyman” In 2010, a collected edition was gathered together by Thomas Andrae and Mel Gordon, published by Feral House. (It is on my short list of “must buy” at

The stories behind this character might be as conflicting as the hero himself. I have read that Seigel and Shuster had lost the rights to their biggest creation, Superman in 1948, so they pitched the idea of the Funnyman hero to other companies. have also read that they did pitch it to National Periodicals (DC) but they wouldn't have the rights to the character, so they went to Magazine Enterprises, who published the 6 issues of the series. All I really know is that I had fun reading the comics.

I have read an article which refers to Funnyman as being a “schlemiel”...a man who is totally unaware of the dangers around him. After reading all 6 issues, I have to disagree. Yes, he used humor, but that was all the time, especially when he was comedian Larry Davis (a character based loosely on Danny Kaye, as the
rumors have it).

Personally, what I got out of it was that he was a hero who literally laughed in the face of danger. He is a guy who had the confidence enough to get out of any situation. He knew at times that it could be “curtains” for him, but if you are going to die, do you want to be the guy cringing in fear, or the guy who goes out laughing? I think I would rather go out with a chuckle escaping from my lips than a wimpy “oh no..please..”

The origin of this comical hero is simple, and original. Comedian Larry Davis' manager/secret girlfriend(?),  June Farrell came up with a publicity stunt for him. He was to dress up in a costume, and stop a bank robbery as Funnyman. By a strange turn of events, the bank was really being robbed, and using his gags (such vaudeville old hat such as a seltzer bottle) Funnyman stopped the crook, and decided (much to the dismay of Ms Farrell) to not let the public know who Funnyman was, because he LIKED helping people. (Does anybody even do that in comics anymore?) So with his polka dot parachute pants, Jet Jalopy, fake nose and oversized shoes, he became “America's first Jewish super hero” Funnyman!!

You can check out the fun for yourself with today's Free Comic.

Keep smilin' !!

- Clayton

Friday, July 8, 2011

From Noble Death to Lazy Execution

Editor's Note: Today Matt Linkous finishes Wednesday's DeathJerked article with a look how death in comics encourages bad stories. - Jim

Why is this whole cycle of death in comics bad? Because it promotes lazy storytelling. Got a sales slump? No problem. Just kill a hero in hastily conceived death scene to bump up sales! It doesn't have to be this way. The transition from Barry Allen to Wally West, let Wally step into the role and grow from a teen sidekick into a great hero in his own right. As that was one of the first great deaths in comics, it was well planned and sat well with readers for generations. The imagery of Barry withering into a skeleton may have been a bit much, but it had impact.

On the flip side, the transition from Hal Jordan to Kyle Rayner, was a bit rockier. Getting into Kyle's story involved swallowing the bitter pill of your favorite Green Lantern becoming a psycho super villain who offed members of the Green Lantern Corp, which itself had now been taken completely out of the equation. To bring Hal back, we had to find out that he wasn't really responsible for that because he was possessed by a big yellow spacebug the whole time.

Even to enjoy Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle you have to accept Max Lord's character being completely changed into a murderous villain who'd shoot Ted Kord, in the face, on camera. The reasons for death (and by extension, the planning and writing of them) have become weaker and weaker. Most recently, we've seen  examples of this with the Wasp losing control of her powers and blowing up, (How's that work exactly?) and Captain America getting shot coming down courthouse stairs. (Because no one has ever thought to draw a gun on Captain America in close quarters before.)

Is it really that difficult to come up with more elegant solutions for writing out old characters? A good writer should always have a way to let the previous incarnation return that doesn't call for yanking them out of the great beyond in some absurd, convoluted fashion. Yet, more often than is necessary, retcons and revamps are built on flimsy plot contrivances like Punching the wall of reality or saying "It's magic, we can do anything..."

Speaking as the kind of guy that did not want to see Steve Rogers killed off, I think I can say most fans of a classic superhero character don't have a real desire to take someone else's hero away from them. Especially not in this age when such deaths are seen as the vulgar money grabs they are. Also, we all know the heroes will eventually return, so what other reason is there for such badly written stories than to goose sales for a month or two?

If nothing else, if it is decided by editorial that a superhero icon must be retired, then at the very least write that hero out with dignity and respect in a way that speaks to everything that character meant to readers. In other words, make it a proper passing of the torch that ushers in the new hero's era. The publisher has to actually commit to the change. This would be far better, I think, than resorting to the vicious cycle of publishers effectively saying, "These ain't your daddy's comics no more! ... no, wait, come back, we're sorry."

That ultimately just results in jerking around both old and new fans alike.

Have a great weekend,

- Matt

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


Editor's Note: Today, guest columnist Matt Linkous returns with some thoughts to add to our What Kills a Hero series. - Jim

Most fans of iconic superheroes tend to feel that there's nothing wrong with any of their favorite characters that some solid writing, dilligent editorial guidance, and dynamic art couldn't fix. Even though some of these characters are long-lived, they're not necessarily tired or "old hat" because of that. When creators hired to work with them do their jobs right, these characters can be awesome. Of course, that means it feels like a slap in the face when your favorite hero or heroine gets bumped off in some big, bloated event.

Then make way for the arrival of the new character bearing the old one's name. There's always a storm of controversy, but also a sense of excitement. Eventually, the new hero matures and grows into his or her new role. The new character is typically around just long enough for a generation of readers to grow attached to him or her as "their" part of a hero's legacy. Given time, even old fans of classic versions of a character may begin to accept the new guy, even if there may be lingering resentment of the stunt that wrote their old favorite out.

Lately, though, the Big Two have proven that while they may introduce new characters, they won't stick with them. Eventually, the new guy is going to be killed off or simply demoted so the old hero can come back. Events like this leave the new hero's fans out in the cold. They were promised a brave new world and loyally supported the new character in fandom and with their wallets.

The old hero's return usually isn't everything it's cracked up to be, either. Bringing an old hero back always seems to demand a ridiculous drawn-out story involving deaths, an improbable return, and maybe an imposter running around. The resurrection story then becomes part of that character's history and backstory, ultimately changing the character.

While it can be fun to see superheroes cheat death, it's happening so many times in the Big Two that it saps the drama and tension out of future encounters. Both companies have even had characters on the page acknowledge death as little more than a revolving door in their universe, which just hangs a huge lampshade on how cheap death in comics has really become. It makes the characters themselves often sound more like posters on a message board than actual superheroes for whom these fantastic situations are reality, not genre rules.

How many times have fans been though deathjerks just in the past 20 years of modern comicbooks? Barry to Wally and back again, Hal to John to Hal to Kyle and back again, Peter to Ben Reilly and back again, Bruce to Azarel to Bruce to Dick Grayson and back again, Steve to Bucky and back again... and that's just for starters. Even B and C-List characters like Blue Beetle and Firestorm have been put through the deathjerk cycle, sometimes many times in the space of just a few years. Sometimes deathjerks create an uncomfortable situation where a non-white or non-male successor to a hero's name has to be bumped off to pave the way for the return of the original (white, male) version.

That's a whole other blog post, but whether intentionally or not, these stories are often ugly and unnecessary.

- Matt


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