It’s hard to deny that the new Death of Wolverine is a brilliant comic. It follows the greatest of fundamental comic book rules: basic premise (Logan without the ability to heal) combined with mouth wateringly superb artwork (blessed be the hand of Steve McNiven). Throw in a snazzy hardcover edition with a few nice Director’s cut features at the end, and you wind up with a highly desirable collector’s piece, one that will certainly be sought after for generations to come.
But there is snag. Well, something that sort of dulls the excitement at least. We’ve seen all this euphoria before. Not so long ago, we all got a little over excited by the suspected death of a major Marvel hero. And that didn’t exactly pan out as we were promised.
This comparison may seem a little trite. But the simple fact that such a comparison can be made at all reflects the fitting nature of Cap’s death. Never (in Marvel or DC) has a single fictitious character been killed off in a manner that forces an entire society to take a moment and reflect on that figure’s importance. In life, Steve Roger’s reflected the greatest of America’s ideals and strengths. In death, he forced an entire nation to re-evaluate those ideals and determine what the ideology of America in the 21st century would become.
Hmm. The less said about this the better. I mean, there’s no superlative that can quite capture the brilliance of Captain America’s death. And really, the death of any great character should be treated with as much care as their origin or greatest battles. Cap’s legacy was in his defence of justice and the American ideals fostered in the Second World War. His ‘rebirth’ was just bloody confusing. More importantly, it demonstrated that the zealot like worship of capitalism in modern America, doesn’t really give a shit about legacy, or justice, or ideals. Reborn represented the strangle-hold commercialisation can have upon truly great artistic endeavours. With a mass movie franchise on the horizon, Marvel couldn’t quite resist the lucrative income Cap represented. Sadly, for both Marvel and DC in the current age, it’s far too easy to re-hash a favourite character, rather than investing in new titles and ideas. Have no doubt that the recent announcement of Sam Wilson stepping into the Cap’s boots is only the result of a well-planned, well devised financial manoeuvre. With the third Avengers title being rumoured as Civil War, it wouldn’t be surprising to find Steve Rogers killed off in some fashion and replaced by Sam Wilson towards the end of the movie, cutting out the slightly confusing story arcs that comprised Reborn – plausible no?
In any case, what The Death of… and Reborn represent are the importance of big hit characters on the balance sheets of mainstream comic publishers. So long as money is to be made, characters rivalling Captain America will always be in print.
Oh yeah, back to The Death of Wolverine. Let’s be honest, Logan won’t be dead for long. I mean, Marvel aren’t even pretending he won’t make a return. In the aforementioned, shiny/hard cover bonus material in #1, Lee Wein (original character co-creator) states “… let’s be honest - he’s not staying away. He’s the most lucrative character Marvel has these days…” With a gap left by Wolverine’s death, there would be room in the Marvel roster to develop maybe ten or twenty brand new characters, some of whom may, in forty odd years, have built sizable reputations and fan bases (likened to Wolverine’s) of their own. But that’s not going to happen. One or two new faces may emerge with shiny claws or pointy teeth but in the end, Reed Richards, or Tony Stark or Hank Pym will concoct some genius solution to hop back in time, or re-animate Logan’s body from DNA left on a cigar butt. Inevitably the status quo will be fully restored. Which sort of takes the sting out of Wolverine’s ‘death’ – in fact, it just makes it a bit of a leave of absence. ‘The Holiday of Wolverine’ doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, I guess.
Counting the days until the resurrection of Wolverine? Want Marvel's characters to stay dead? Let us know what you think below?