We all know the cliche -- comics character dies, only to arise from the dead some time later, usually when sales decline. Captain America most recently fell into this category, but the majority of big names come up against it eventually. I tried to come up with someone in super-hero comics besides Gwen Stacey and Uncle Ben Parker who died and stayed dead, but I couldn't come up with much. Throw Norman Osborne as the original Green Goblin onto that list, and you quickly come to the conclusion that it's best to steer clear of Spider-Man.
But then, maybe that's one reason he stayed popular so long? Maybe.
Anyway, that brings us to this week's Poll Position, only one day late (appropriate when talking about death, amiright?! Although, why do they say "The late Jeff Hebert"? Of course you're late, you're dead -- you may never get there!):
Discussion after the jump.
- Batman: Batman is epic. Batman is awesome. Batman is the best thing since bagels took mail-order jiu-jitsu lessons and learned to kick sliced bread's ass. Why would you want Bruce Wayne dead? Because he's awesom, epic, and the best thing since ... well, you get the idea. You could certainly argue that he's TOO big, that he looms over the comics industry like your mom at a stripper bar -- looming and unpleasant and so dominant it ruins all the fun. Yes, you could argue that, but Batman would kick you in the face, so you better not.
- Iron Man: Would any of us really miss comic-book Tony Stark? I'll grant you, movie Tony Stark with the power of Robert Downey Jr. behind him is a great, fun, unmistakable character who would be hard to replace, certainly in my wife's affections. But comic book Tony Stark is kind of a jerk, and I don't think anyone would shed too many tears to see him go to his reward six feet under, and someone else to don the armor permanently.
- Punisher (Frankencastle doesn't count): No way a normal dude can avoid that many bullets for that long. It's just not natural. As the most stubborn of the Nineties "Dark Hero" generation, I'd be happy to see him go. He's got a legion of imitators to carry the tradition on, after all, even if their skulls are on the inside instead of on their shirts.
- Spider-Man: Newspaper strip Spider-Man could get hit by a bus tomorrow and I'd be happy. Whiny Tobey Maguire too, for that matter. But original Peter Parker comic book Spider-Man is still great. I think he's easily one of the most memorable, likable, identifiable, and genuinely interesting mainstream characters out there. I can't see anyone else donning that mask and being as compelling.
- Superman: A comics world without Big Blue is not a world I would enjoy reading about. He's a tempting target because, like Batman, he's just so huge he overshadows everything else, but I don't think killing him off forever would be good.
- Wolverine: Wolverine's almost as ubiquitous as Batman, but let's be real, he's too cool to kill off forever.
- Wonder-Woman: On one hand, Wonder Woman is kind of a useless character. On the other hand, she's one of the few "big" female leads. On the other other hand (imagine I'm a Martian if you will), do we really need a feminist icon who's only identifiable because she's useless? The problem with Diana Prince is that she's never really had a strong identity, a sense of character beyond the costume. It was always just "We need a female super-hero. Here's one!"
For me, the perma-death of a mainstream character would have to bring something interesting to the table to be worthwhile. Just bumping them off for being annoying doesn't appeal to me, which basically means I'd take Wonder Woman and Punisher off the list. I still like Batman and Superman and Spider-Man too much to want them removed, I think their stories and characters are still interesting and readable. Plus, I don't think working through their replacements would hold my interest (proven, alas, with the turgid "Reign of the Super-Men" saga or whatever it was).
So for me, I'd vote for Tony Stark as Iron Man. I think the character was played out in the Sixties, pretty much, and doesn't bring anything fresh or new to the table. I'd like to see what someone new, permanently ensconced in the suit, would do and think and become.
What about you, who would you permanently knock off, and why?