A Comic Death or Three: Ramblings

warning: contains spoilers to Justice League: Cry for Justice #6 – #7

Over the years we’ve got used to knowing that, if a DC or Marvel character that wore tights died, there is always a high probability of that character returning at some point down the line. Whether it be months or years. The thing is if a non-powered character dies, that’s them gone. I think thats why there has been such a strong reaction in some parts to the death of Lian Harper, the child of Roy (Arsenal) Harper and Jade (Cheshire) Nguyen.
Now, I don’t know if it is now because I am a father myself, but I was quite shocked when I read of Lian’s death. I’ll be honest now, as I don’t know the context it happened in as I’ve not read the Cry for Justice Issue. In fact, I’ve only really read Arsenal in Devin Grayson‘s (Titans, Arsenal mini-series) & Jay Faerber‘s (Titans) run across the turn of the century, but what I have read of Roy Harper, his paternal nature was a resonant part of his character. Lian’s death will now completely redefine him, and not only in the short term. I’m sure, whether Lian’s death was conceived by the story writer, James Robinson, or was diktat of the editorial hierarchy, that this move has the potential to go badly, badly wrong. Is it possible for a character to go forward without constant reference to his child’s death? Will a writer, somewhere down the line have to ‘forget’ this has happened to try and revive the characters emotion? are things being lined up for Superboy Prime to start punching again? I’ll be keeping on eye on things to see how things go.

Somewhere that a non-central characters death story was handled well was back in a New Warriors story by Fabian Nicieza. Elvin (Rage) Halliday, began is hero-ing at age 13, toxic waste giving him strength, invulnerability and a trip way past puberty into the frame of a 30 year old. At that age you’re not going to handle the death of your “Granny Staples” well. It was in New Warriors Vol 1 #37 (which has one of my favorite covers of all time) that Rage’s name was finally matched by his character and it really helped define the character for the future. Why is this different to Arsenal you might ask?  Well the main difference is the amount of history behind the character. Rage only had been made his debut, two years prior in Avengers Vol 1 #326. Roy Has well over half a century of stories to his name. The main similarity, though, both Lian and Granny Staples will probably not be seen alive in comics again.

I mention previously that both DC’s and Marvel’s costumed characters are know to come back to life. Well we’re know only two months away from the resurrection Paul Johnstone to retake his mantle of Shadowhawk.  The creator owned characters who have been published with the ‘i’ adorning the cover seldom come back, but this time its happening. I originally had reservations, BIG reservations. Whereas Marvel had the Legacy Virus, Jim Valentino didn’t beat around the bush with Shadowhawk, Paul Johnstone had been injected with the HIV virus by one of his enemies, a huge story line centered on Shadowhawk’s desperation with finding the virus, and his despite adventures across time, and with characters steeped in uber-advanced technology, no cure could be found. I posed the point at the Image Message boards and Jim Valentino responded:

 “I think we came up with a solution that will not only surprise, but satisfy. It worked for ME and I’m not big on resurrecting the dead (and, no, he’s NOT a zombie…or a messiah!) Actually, it was [new series writer] Dan Wickline that came up with the solution and it won him the writing gig!”

Now color me excited for the return of this character, a character that dishes out true vengeance by giving villains a true, irreversible life sentence in a battered body.

And thus ends a page worth of ramblings. My worries for the non-reversable death of Lian Harper, my love for the story around the non-reversable death of Granny Staples, and my excitement for the the back breaking return of the best Shadowhawk of all Paul Johnstone.

Roy Harper’s story continues in DC comics’ The Rise of Arsenal on March 24th, Rage can currently be seen in Avengers: the Initiative, and Shadowhawk makes his return in a new Issue #1 on May 5th 2010.

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