Poll Position: The Death of …

From Superman to The Flash to Green Lantern to, most recently, Captain America, killing off a main character and replacing him with someone else to wear their costume is a time-honored convention of the genre. So which of these long-established but rarely-killed-off characters would you like to see get that treatment?


Discussion after the jump.

I bet if you had told the various head honchos at any major comics publisher from 1950 through 1980 that they should go around bumping off their main characters and replace them with someone else, they'd have laughed you out of the room before running into their vaults to roll naked in their massive piles of cash. At least, you'd better hope they'd kick you out first, because let's face it, comic book publishers aren't typically the kind of people you want to see rolling around naked.

And yet, it's happened so often in the last couple of decades that it's in danger of becoming a cliche. Captain America is only the latest. So I wanted to see who else you're ready to see undergo "involuntary and morbid retirement":

  • Diana Prince (Wonder Woman): One of the problems with Diana is that she's not very interesting when she's not in character. Which is weird, because you'd think a naive immortal from an all-female society thrust into a man's world would be rife with possibilities for engaging writing, but so far, not so much. The franchise is ripe for a shake-up. I'd love to see Diana fall in some sort of epic battle, and then the competition to see who'd replace her. Preferably you'd get someone a little more militant, because from the time she first fell in love with Steve Trevor Diana's problem was she was too submissive. Which, given that she was originally written by a polygamous S&M devotee, shouldn't surprise anyone.
  • Peter Parker (Spider Man): This would be the equivalent of DC killing off Superman -- a flagship character, in something of a moribund state ("Now he's not married anymore, ha ha!"), gets rubbed out to gen up sales and pique interest. Eventually Peter would be shown to have the disproportionate reincarnation abilities of a spider but in the meantime it might be interesting to see what someone else could do with the role. Like Aunt May, perhaps -- Spider-Granny to the rescue!
  • Tony Stark (Iron Man): Tony's had someone else wear the armor before of course, but he was still around. Granted he was drunk for large chunks of that time, but still, he was there. It would be interesting to see what happened to Stark Enterprises with him gone, who'd fight whom for control, what would happen to the armor, etc.
  • Frank Castle (Punisher): The guy lives in a constant hail of spent shells, you can't tell me a stray round isn't going to nail him at some point. I think it might be kind of cool to see someone who is a victim of his own indiscriminate gunfire kill Castle and take over the mantle of Punisher.

While making this list, it occurred to me that there are a lot of characters who you simply can't do this with, largely from the Marvel Universe. Wolverine and Cyclops and the other X-Men aren't "super-heroes" in the same sense as a Batman or Superman; their "secret identities" are who they are, and their "super-hero identities" are pretty much just extensions of who they are as people. They don't "get into character", they ARE their character. Superman becomes Clark Kent and Batman becomes Bruce Wayne, but Logan is Wolverine and Wolverine is Logan. No one else could really replace him, even if they had big ol' claws and a metal skeleton.

Anyway, out of the four I listed, I think I'd most like to see Wonder Woman get The Treatment. She's just kind of boring, and while killing off the main character is certainly no guarantee that you'll get something better, I'm willing to give it a shot.

What do you think?

15 Responses to Poll Position: The Death of …

  1. Dave Nix says:

    I voted to off Castle. I think it would be cool to have the Punisher change on a super-frequent basis, given how he is basically just a dude. Doing a four or six issue miniseries where the punisher changes every issue would be fun. Kind of reminds me of “The Next Nexus” arc.

  2. Kount Kill says:

    WONDER WOMAN – Already killed and replaced once by a red-head from a desert amazonian tribe.

    SPIDER-MAN – Currently being killed off in Ultimate Spider-Man, with a new replacement coming soon.

    IRON MAN – While he’s never died, he lost everything, including his company during his drunken phase, so killing him to see what would happen is sort of redundant.

    PUNISHER – Was killed and brought back once already. In fact, while he was dead he started working for the Heavenly Host as a Demonkiller.

  3. Jose Inoa says:

    I remember reading the “Punisher: Suicide Run” story arc, and thought… nah!

    Spidey’s faked his death before… so, no.

    Now, Tony Stark getting caught outside of his Iron Man armor, and voila’! Microsoft and SHIELD want a piece of the pie. An incredibly boring read, unless Iron Lad and War Machine have something to say about it!

    Wonder Woman can be replaced. That’s the news, Clark. Applications are currently being accepted…

  4. Jeff Hebert says:

    After Kount Kill’s update, I would like to retract the suggestion that this angle is “in danger of becoming a cliche” and is, in fact, a cliche.

  5. darkvatican says:

    I voted for Tony Stark because I just have the SOB.

  6. darkvatican says:

    Errr, hate**

  7. EnderX says:

    While I’m not sure I’d necessarily want any of them to go down, I’m having interesting mental images of May Parker (Aunt May, that is) in the Spidersuit. ‘Spider-aunt, Spider-aunt…’

    And given that she once got a blood transfusion from Peter (the storyline that I read dealing with this focused, if I recall correctly, on how his radioactive blood was killing her), she might just have the ‘spider-particles’ or whatever they’re calling them these days already in her system, just waiting for a jumpstart…

  8. LoneWolf6155 says:

    By the way aren’t they doing this with Batman right now?

  9. Hammerknight says:

    Darkvatican are you sure you didn’t mean “had”. J/K

  10. William A. Peterson says:

    Yes, LoneWolf, they are…
    They’ve ‘killed’ Tony Stark in recent memory, and jerked the character around so much, that I think this would be both pointless, AND Uninteresting! Besides which, isn’t Norman Osborn doing this as “Iron Patriot”, already?

    Wonder Woman has disappeared for a year at a time, several times now, and also been replaced by Donna Troy at least once. Yeah, she’s dull, but replacing her with someone else isn’t going to help if you don’t get a good scriptwriter…
    And, a good scriptwriter could fix what’s wrong with Diana!

    If you kill Frank, fine, but don’t bring someone else on as The Punisher. Like Wolverine, he IS the Punisher…
    Remember DC trying to replace Adrian Chase as Vigilante?
    It wouldn’t work out that well…

    Now, Peter (mainstream universe, not Ultimates) has just cut a deal with Mephisto, to bring back his dead (and still fragile and elderly) Aunt May, at the expense of his marriage… You call this a Hero?
    Spider-Man *can* be replaced, and, at this sad point, it would be a very good idea to do so!
    Heck, under “Dark Reign”, Venom has already done so (though they haven’t killed Petey off, yet!)…

  11. Kalkin says:

    I voted Spider-man. Although I get sadistic satisfaction of watching that guilt wreck get tormented year on end, I’m also kind of fed up with it. Maybe a new body to fill the tights could bring something new to the saga. Even if the latest One more day-arc has brought some new life to the stories, it still feels a bit tired.

    Punisher could also get some death, but I don’t think he should be replaced. It’d fit to his character to have an utterly meaningless and semi-accidental death and then faidout – no replacement. It could act as counterforce to the eternal clichee of superhero comics, where every hero dying has to heroically give his life to save the world or something grand.

    When Captain America died, it happened at the end scene of the great Civil war with truck loads symbolism, as a victim of a great conspiracy etc. Yawn! If he had caught a splinter in his foot that got infected and then died of mundane and coincidental sepsis that would’ve been interesting, but I guess the writers didn’t have the guts to off a legend without a legendary deathscene.

  12. Kount Kill says:

    How about this suggestion for your next poll question…Who would people like to see killed off and STAY dead?

  13. Bael says:

    I’m with the Kount. I am so sick and tired of people taking a year dead for circulation reasons. If I was the villain, I’d never kill anyone. I’d weld ’em into a cell so I could do a headcount on a regular basis.

  14. I think this one says it all, gentlemen (and ladies)?

    Of course, this is the same comic artist that brought you–

    I recommend this highly, even if you aren’t a solid gamer. This is one of my best laughs every weekend.

  15. Kalkin says:

    An even better way to get rid of heroes would be to amputate their arms, legs, eyes, ears, tongue … well any organ that is not vital to keeping them alive and then keep them tube fed for the rest of their natural lives. That pretty much eliminates chances of escape and cencory deprivation drives them mad so even if they did escape and received a full cybernetic bodywork, they still wouldn’t be a threat.