Saturday, September 17, 2022

Respect Your Elders!

Comments on my previous post have given me an idea for a new rule.

It's occurred to me how little sense it makes that Tom King, who began writing Batman in 2016 and was born in 1978, should be allowed to summarily kill off Alfred Pennyworth, a character who's been supporting Batman rather essentially and consistently since 1943. Do seniority, gravity, tradition, history, resonance count for nothing? Did you read any of those stories, Tom? Or were you so obsessed with breaking down Batman that you didn't care? Your resume says you interned at DC, but you sure seem like an outsider to me.

Maybe you considered Alfred your competition.

I think it goes without saying that writers shouldn't be killing off characters willy-nilly or really, you know... at all. Hey, comics writers; I know a lot of you are novelists (or frustrated ones), but these characters aren't fodder in YOUR novels. They are part of society's collective mythos. More to the economic point: they are IP, baby. IP is gold. 

Remember this throwaway moll from "Joker's Favor" (BTAS, 1992)?
30 years later she's worth more than most Caribbean nations.

No wait, that's not right, because gold is static. They are money trees, really.  How many stupid, obscure properties need to become hits on tv or the movies or cartoons before DC realizes that WRITERS are way more replaceable than characters and that characters are potentially a LOT more profitable.  DC, if you are given a choice between "killing off" your characters or a writer, the choice seems pretty obvious.  After all, the character will never abandon you for Substack and no writer is ever going to headline a show about their adventures as a member of the British SAS.  The Polka Dot Man has a major motion picture; I guarantee you Tom King won't.

But even if you can't agree that no writer should even be allowed to kill ANY character, I ask you to at least concede this:

No writer should ever be allowed to kill off a character older than they are.

I mean, if a character has lasted longer than you currently have... it wins.  It's earned its safety, at least from YOU.  You have no idea what the world was like without it, so if you're thinking of killing if off, you don't know what you're doing.  

Let's take me as an example. If the new forces at DC (because strong winds of changes are clearing blowing there) were to call me tomorrow and say, "Well, we all stayed up all night reading the Absorbascon and agreed that YOU'RE the only person who can write VIBE!, Vibe & The Groove Crew, Vibe Family, and Breakdancer Comics. Will you do it?!" I would say (loudly enough so that my neighbor, Tom King, could hear), "Yes, but only on the condition that you not allow me to kill any characters that existed before I did."

Admit it:
you're thinking about just WHO would be in the Groove Crew.
Suggestions welcome.

Here's a list of some of the characters I couldn't kill because they are JUST older than I am:

Flash characters Eobard Thawne, Ira West, Mick Rory

You know damned well she'd shoot you first, no questions asked, before you could get to her dad.

The Doom Patrol and General Immortus

What a relief to know that one is at least SLIGHTLY younger than General Immortus.

A truckload of Kryptonians (Kru-El, Nor-Kann, Gra-Mo, Sul-El, Tala-El, Gam-El, Roz-Em, Hatu-El, Ras-Krom, Zora Vi-Lar, Ha-Kor, Nim-El, Tur-Tel)

Of course "killing Kryptonians" isn't really much of an issue any more.

Batman villains Thomas Blake, Simon Hurt, Zazzala 

Catman, in particular, has proven to be pretty resilient as a character

Green Lantern villains Neal Emerson, Karshon, Abel Tarrant 

I'm sure you didn't really need me to post those pics for you.

Aquaman character Mera

Frankly, I pity the writer that tries to kill off Mera, may they rest in peace.

Eclipso /Bruce Gordon

Have you ever wondered why Eclipso hasn't met Two-Face?
Like, even just for coffee or something?

The Legion's Jan Arrah, who doesn't know anything anyway.

Much though some people might like me to.

Hawkman foe Ira Quimby

I'm sorry, if you don't love a villain who dresses in biker drag and becomes super-intelligent by sunbathing, why are you even reading comics?


Wonder Woman foe Mouse Man 

Although if I DID kill him off, you had better believe I'd have Catman do it.



Perhaps... perhaps I'm being a bit hasty with this idea...


Anonymous said...

This is a brilliant rule! I mean, it still leaves too many characters open to killing for my tastes, but it would certainly protect the ones that young stupid writers are inclined to say are "old" and "stupid".

I forgot that IQ got smart during sunlight (to be fair I only saw him in one comic ever), but now that you've reminded me, do check out "Heat Vision and Jack" over on the Youtubes. It's a one-shot TV episode by Ben Stiller and Dan Harmon, about the world's smartest astronaut (Jack Black) who becomes a supergenius in sunlight. Late 70s action / adventure filmed in the late 90s.

MarkAndrew said...

Thank God Zook is safe! Hmmm... I think I could juuuuust kill Firestorm.

Dave said...

I'm lucky. Barry Allen and anyone after him? Toast.

Scipio said...

heh heh; thinking that killing Barry Alllen was a SOLUTION is what got us into this mess to begin with.
Don't be a Thawne, kids.

Dave said...

Oh, I'm not saying I would (I like Barry); I am saying that anyone from the Silver Age on is fair game. So, watch out, The Heckler!

Imitorar said...

I feel like I should be allowed to kill off Thawne, since the idea of Thawne having been killed is also older than me. He's been dead for most of my life, even still.

Except by that logic, anyone born between 1985-2015 can kill off just about any character they want, so perhaps not.

While we're talking about the Flash, I think Ira West got low-key revealed to be dead in a Christmas special about a decade back, pre-Flashpoint. But he hadn't appeared in 10 years (and barely for 10 years before that), and post-Rebirth... Who even knows.

Scipio said...

Dave, the problem with killing off the Heckler?
You'd have to bring him BACK to do it.

Dave said...

Well!, Someone didn't read One-Star Squadron!

Scipio said...

And here I thought I was a Red Tornado completist.

Anonymous said...

I would amend it to you are not allowed to kill off anyone older than you who has been used within the editor's lifetime. So I'd probably be allowed to kill off the Rainbow Creature from Batman #134, but not Gaggy, since Paul Dini re-used the scamp. That'd allow for some culling of dead wood.

-- Jack of Spades

Dave said...

Anyone going after Gaggy will have to answer to me, personally.

Jeff McGinley said...

That would give me (and my generation) the power to kill Wolverine or the Punisher.
Possibly deserved but it seems excessive.

Scipio said...

"Wolverine"? Not familiar with her. And the Punisher is an Archie Comics character!

Jeff McGinley said...

Thank you, I have now spit coffee all over my keyboard...
Totally worth it.

Scipio said...

Remember, everyone. As a former teach of Logic, I must warn you: on't commit the Logical Fallacy of Generalization! If the rule is: you can't kill any character born created before you were, that simply means that if you DID kill a character you can deduced that it was not created before you were. You CANNOT infer it to mean that you CAN kill any character not created before you were; only that IF THERE IS SOME CHARACTER YOU CAN KILL, then that character is not one created before you were.

See, in the Silver Age, comics used to teach kids this sort of RIGID THINKING along with secret identity protection, making them perfect little K Street lawyers.

Anonymous said...

I heart Logic when she dresses up in leather and punishes those who do not yield.

Have you seen any of the Spock PSAs on logical fallacies? They're great:

Scipio said...

Those are... long overdue.