Who Were We 'Dead-Right' About?

So Marvel is <a href=http://cms.newsarama.com/19974-marvel-stages-a-murder-mystery-in-original-sin-event.html>killing off the Watcher</a>, huh? <o>Man, who could’ve seen <i>that</i> coming..? <p>[raises hand] <p>Yup, about 2 and ½ years ago (June, 2011 to be exact), not too long after Marvel promised comic book retailers with tongue-planted-mostly-in-cheek they planned to kill off a major character every quarter, we wrote the following countdown, suggesting 10 characters whose tickets Marvel could punch in the ensuing months to fill their aggressive dirt nap quota. <p>It turns out Marvel took no less than three of our suggestions, arguably five if you’re willing to use liberal interpretation, and depending on what happens in the current Ultimate Comics event <i>Cataclysm</i>, it could be go as high as six. <p>So while we take a few days to update our Marvel deapool list to give the publisher 10 brand new suggestions for who else they can stick in the ground in 2014, we’re going to take a spin in the not-so-way back machine and revisit the original version of this countdown, with 2011 references in tact. <p>See you back in this space in a few days…


Well, isn't this apropos? <p>In truth, this one is a little bit of a cheat. As Marvel's resident fourth-wall breaking, absurdist superhero, who better to explore the often ripe-for-parody phenomenon of superhero death than the guy who sports it in his own name? <p>Here's our pitch: Kill him (doesn't matter how), but then continue to follow his story in the pages of his monthly series as he navigates the afterlife in his unique style, poking a little fun at some of the conventions and clich&#233;s of death in comics, and fighting for his unalienable superhero rights to get a second crack at the mortal plane. <p>Maybe let Howard the Duck go along for the ride and you've got something here...


Yeah, we're sort of placing chips on black <i>and</i> red on this one as a couple of weeks ago we also <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/top-10-new-uncanny-team-members-110616.html>nominated her for Cyclop's <i>Uncanny X-Men</i>'s team in the fall</a> (check that out if you haven't already). But the X-Men have also been the most metaphorical of all the iconic superhero franchises, and these days who's more metaphorical than "Hope" the first mutant born after the Scarlet Witch put the whammy on the whole motherluvin' species in <b>House of M</b>? <p>So what's a more natural (though admittedly obvious) metaphor than "the Death of Hope"? And has there ever been a better story arc title? (don't answer that) <p>The Marvel mutant-verse has always been more about pathos than perhaps any other franchise in comics those crazy kids never seem to get a break or get a chance to catch their breath; it's one bad turn after another for them. <p>Throwing a curveball like killing off the presumed key to the X-Men's future so soon after her introduction is utterly rich with storytelling possibilities unique to the family.


Listen, we're as big of fans of original Lee-Kirby creations as the next guy, but hasn't this skirted, omniscient voyeur gotten on the Marvel U's collective last nerve by this point? <p>Mr. Big-Head shows up at every potential bad turn on Earth, doing nothing but looking to get a glimpse of some death and destruction. He's like the comic book equivalent of a freeway rubbernecker. <p>I mean what is it with those morons, really? They slow down traffic for everyone, for what? Hoping they get to see the EMS break out the Jaws of Life during a routine fender bender? <p>Hey jackweeds, put your feet back on the gas pedal. I got movie tickets over here and I don't want to miss the previews so you can "Quincy M.E." out of your car windows.... <p>Huh ... what? <p>Oh, sorry. Where were we?


The Ultimate Universe was originally created to allow Marvel to publish more accessible versions of their core iconic characters, with Spider-Man being the "ultimate" (sorry) personification of the line's purpose. For the first half of its publishing life, the Brian Bendis-written title served as perennial best-selling entry point for readers of all kinds a strong seller in both the comics direct market as a periodical and in mainstream booksellers as collections. <p>But to Marvel's and specifically, the Joe Quesada administration' credit, they've managed to mitigate the original need for the line with some solid restoration work to the original Marvel Universe. And with last week's death of Ultimate Spider-Man, the line has officially done a symbolic 180-degree turn from what it was created to be. <p>While absolutely no knock on the quality of the storytelling still found there (really Brian, we swear), hasn't the Ultimate Comics line (set to be relaunched again) become sort of another alternative version of the Marvel U, not too unlike the Age of Apocalypse, Heroes Reborn or House of M worlds? <p>And those always seem to have limited shelf lives. There is never anything wrong with a good story, wherever you can find it, but we can't help but wonder if maybe a time and a place has passed...


Ouch. <p>Marvel's reasons for dissolving the marriage of Peter and MJ are in our opinions, debatable, but also somewhat understandable. But that well-worn issue aside, the unfortunate byproduct of the publisher's chosen method of separation continues to leave something of a tragic pall over their entire relationship. <p>The former spouses (who may or may not remember their past life?) really can't appear in a scene together without the ever-present reminder to fans of what once was and what they lost. Are we the only ones who find extended Marvel version of "The Hangover" a tad ... depressing? <p>And there are only two possible solutions to this problem: <p>1.) Get them back together. Restore their marriage or at the very least, their memories. Undo the undo. <p>Or... <p>2.) Well, you know. <p>Or maybe there <i>is</i> a 3rd solution. Hmmm...


Honestly. we've got nothing against the erstwhile Avengers-in-training, but given how <b>Civil War</b> perhaps Marvel's preeminent "event" of the last decade started, wouldn't it be real, real interesting to see how the MU would respond to tragic deaths of yet <i>another</i> young superhero team, after all the hoopla the first incident caused? <p>The status quo of the new dynamics between the powerbrokers of the Marvel Universe would be retested, and writer Christos Gage could be charged with continuing the title, exploring what the future of the Academy is in the wake of the death of the current class, sort of a "We Are Marshall" for the superhero set.


It's just your time, Chuck. <p>For nearly 50 years the good Professor's role had been unquestioned leader and lynchpin of the Marvel the mutant movement, and as the movies have picked up on so well, the 'good' mutant on the opposite side of the philosophical chessboard from the 'evil' mutant Magneto. <p>Currently he's neither, really. Cyclops and Wolverine have succeeded him as the true leaders of the X-clan and Magneto (for the time being, anyway) no longer requires a counterbalance. <p>Watching the Professor serve as a role player when he was once "the man", and watching him repeatedly leave and return (sometimes by apparent "death) over the last decade or so is sort of like watching a one-time star athlete flip-flop between the bench and the disabled list, getting the occasional at-bat or snap in the twilight of his career. <p>The thing is, athletes retire. Superheroes expire. <p>And what will be even worse will be watching Charles have to choose between <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/top-10-new-uncanny-team-members-110616.html>camp Scott</a> and <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/top-10-wolverine-and-the-x-men-members-110617.html>camp Logan</a> in the fall. <p>Don't make him do it, Marvel. Give him the final dignity of neutrality and let him officially become the symbolic figurehead he already pretty much is, and has been for some time now.


You've been waiting for this one, haven't you? <p>Well, yeah, we're going there. <p>We touched on the Peter-MJ marriage earlier. Remember Marvel's rational for erasing it? It "aged" Peter Parker, and having him be a divorced guy, Marvel argued, would have only compounded the problem. <p>But here's an alterative view. The marriage didn't so much <i>age</i> Spider-Man, as it domesticated him. Made him seem like a guy who had to be home at 6:30 for dinner, and spend weekends picking out tile and grout colors at the Home Depot with the ol' ball and chain (albeit a red-headed supermodel one). <p>Mind you, there is nothing wrong with that, but it apparently just wasn't what Marvel wanted out of their flagship, youthful, solo superhero. <p>Now taking that further, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being a loyal, dutiful nephew to the elderly aunt that raised you. It's an unassailable admirable quality. And certainly May will always have some aged wisdom to pass along to Peter. But doesn't the Peter-Aunt May dynamic domesticate Spidey more than MJ ever did? Make him something of a suburban homebody? <p>Isn't it time to cut the apron strings and let Peter get on with life (on the permanent, this time) without always having to look over his shoulder towards Queens, particularly now that she's married again and has someone else to look out for her? <p>For those without the taste for it, we're fine if moving on means maybe moving May down to Boca Raton for a much-deserved, peaceful retirement. <p>We just don't think Marvel will get much mileage polybagging that issue.


Here's a tip from us to you. If you find yourself in a superhero firefight in the Marvel Universe anytime soon, track down any of the three surviving original members of the Fantastic Four and stand behind them. Because after the recent death of Johnny Storm, there are probably no safer cats in all of Marvel comic books at the moment. At least in terms of mortality, the FF have been a trio <i>lots</i> of time in the past. They've never been a duo. <p>Practically speaking, Reed, Sue, and Ben could probably buy life insurance over the counter right now they're so untouchable. <p>And herein lies the opportunity. <p>Often one of the shortcomings of superhero deaths is the apparent calculation behind them. You can almost see the marketing strategy between the margins. So for no other reason than FF readers would never see it coming (well, unless you're reading this, of course), what better way to send shockwaves through fandom than to remind everyone that when it comes to death, there are no rules editorial, marketing, or otherwise. <p>Killing off <i>any</i> other remaining members of the core FF would serve to reinforce the often random, indiscriminate nature of death. That it could happen to anyone at anytime. It'd be a curveball and unique change to the FF dynamic (how often can you say that about iconic superheroes?) that we think writer Jonathan Hickman could crush out of the park.

SPIDER-MAN (the original one)

The Spidey-triple play. <p>Understand we're not advocating killing the <i>entire</i> Spider-Man cast. We offer our suggestions under the conceit Marvel picks and chooses from the full list. And no, we really don't have some sort of agenda against the family, though we're expecting some grief on Facebook about it. <p>For starters, there is some element of our previous entry in our reasoning. With the recent death of Ultimate Spider-Man, no one would ever see this coming. Well, until Marvel strongly hinted at it in three months of advanced solicitations and then spoiled it to <i>U.S.A. Today</i> the day before it happened, that is. <p>(we kid because we love). <p>And let's be honest, Marvel could do <i>nothing</i> bigger than this from a media attention/sales perspective. No one knows yet if this <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/ten-dcnu-myths-busted-110629.html>whole <b>DCnU revamp</b></a> is going to do a thing to the sales charts this fall, but it couldn't hurt Marvel to have an ace up their sleeve for later this year, could it? <p>Finally, isn't Spidey one of the few iconic superheroes who hasn't "died", at least for an extended period? Sure, he retired a few times, once getting an extended break when Ben Reilly took over (which was like death for readers ... zing!) The absence of Spider-Man in the mainstream Marvel Universe, particularly now that he's omnipresent, would be good fun for no other reason than who the hell knows how Marvel would handle it? <p>And isn't that half the fun of storytelling?

Marvel's Next KILL. Revisiting 10 Suggestions for the House of Ideas HIT LIST

Date: 07 January 2014 Time: 08:20 PM ET