Mechaman (mechaman) wrote,

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Musings on the definition of words...

This post deals tangentally with the events of a few of DC's relatively current comics, specifically Flash #13 and one of the World War III issues. I'm going to lj-cut for spoiler's sake, and also to not spam friend's lists.

 Basically, this came out of a discussion a few of us were having wrt the events of the 13th (and final) issue of Flash: The Fastest Man Alive. There was a good bit about whether or not DC was trying to bring things back to the lighter, more hopefilled future, and one of the comments caught me, just a bit. Actually, more than a bit, but I waited till I got the issue (I have a subscription service, so it sometimes takes a bit to arrive).

Bart's death and the severe beating of Inertia (I'm still catching back issues so I don't know Bart's "opposite number"'s true name) was brought up as a 'cheap' death. And after reading the full issue... it occured to me a lot more what bothered me about the comment.

It was a lot of things. Unneccessary? Maybe. Forced by editorial/management decision? Could be. Plank of a bigger picture that sacrificed this piece for it? Very possible.

None of those though, struck me as cheap. Now, hear me out. I'm actually of the camp who does think that there's still more to be had to this story, and by this story, it meaning Bart's, not simply the 'return of Wally as Flash' most are expecting with Waid's return and the reversion to the old comic's numbering scheme. But even if it doesn't happen (or is decreed can't happen, same diff in this case), I keep looking over what issues I have, and can't call it cheap. 

The most basic point, but not the only one by any stretch is "Did the death mean anything?" aka, to me at least, "He held the bridge."  Bart knew what was what going in, and made decisions that affected his chances.  Some of them more brutal than others, to himself and to his family.  He even was tempted that his own fate might not be the one he 'knew' was to pass.  Remarkably, the writers did him a service by not having him go nobly there.  It tempted, but the temptation was a moment only, and he missed that 'chance'. 

Of course, just fulfilling what he set out to do is not enough for it not to be cheap.  One classic example of it from DC's previous "summer crossover" strings is the death of Starman at the end of the Eclipso saga.  That 'two page' (at best) death not only came out of the blue (Only I can stop him!) but the actual effect on the world... didn't seem so much, save for, well, when they brought him back into the universe.  Terra and Frankie's deaths in WWIII fit the same problem, as bluntly they seemed to serve the purpose of making Gar look more out of character and out of his depth as well as show Black Adam to be a badass.  

So, what else on Bart's death?

Who and what played a good bit, on two different parts.  That somewhat plays into both above 'failures'.  It wasn't a 'global evil' nor was it someone else's signature villains who killed Bart.  It was the Rogues' Gallery.  Who not only have a history of members who are decidedly not members of the CvK club, but also (almost) all have a rather high hatred of the Flash.

The death wasn't cold either.  It was a move of desperation, realizing that the entire thing was about to fall apart, and striking while Bart was at his weakest moment. I'm probably one of the few who feel this way, but that's... well, fair play. 

Don't get me wrong, I don't really care for the death.  But thematically and also who and what at least showed some notion of playing it 'right', unlike a lot of other heroes of late that got the shaft.

But the question becomes true impact and meaning.  Well, there's more than a few points to that one.  I'll hit a few, though I know there's likely more.

1) If he's not (permanently, for the duration) dead, it's a stunt of trivial meaning. 

Yeah, and it's a comic trope.  So long as they don't belabor things and make it a part of growth, then that plank really can't come out as yet.  The death, on the other hand, escapes the usual 'end of series special-guest death' in irony because of what's at least part of the next complaint:

2)  This thing is just fodder for the machine that is Countdown.

If 52 and Countdown continue the way they go in the meta sense and DC continues the trend on, I say so be it.

Because both series are, honestly, giving something I'm hoping will continue with the DC comics line.  A true sense of time moving forward.  Is it necessarily all events I'm enarmored with?  Not fully, but more than not, and 52 at least (I've read the first TPB and the final 8 or so issues, I got back into comics due to it) put paid to a lot.  Is there trial and loss?  Yes.   But there's hope and more than not a feeling of overcoming what comes.  Much more than any Marvel I've read in a long time.  If Bart's death (and with the Rogues being one of the pillars of Countdown) is used and a part of that time line, it adds more meaning to the event.  It happened.  It causes things to happen. 

3) They just wanted to clear the decks for Waid's (and presumably Wally's) return.

This one's quite possible, honestly.  Flash wasn't doing well with Bart (part of it because Bart had, what I could only call Rodimus complex.  He couldn't quite get over that he now had the shoes to fill.  In a sense, even in the end, he almost got it, but not quite, IMO).  Wally also got additional notariety thanks to JLU, and had been rather firmly established before the Infiinte Crisis attempt at parallax. 

To me at least, it doesn't matter.  You have to make decisions like that a lot on what you see.  Sadly, I really wish they targeted a bit more sane circulation number, but that's a general failing of the publication these days.  I also don't think Waid'd care much for Bart to be taken down... he invested a hell of a lot in Impulse back in the day.  But how you execute it is much more important to me.  Death is too easy, yes, but then on the other side, you can end up with messes like Emerald Twilight.  Comparatively, this is simple and 'sane'... without really cheapening the characters involved.

Maybe there's more there I need to think on, as this post has kind of rambled over a day or so of editing, but honestly...

The chapter is done.  The story goes on.  Tragedy did happen, but right now at least... I can't say the tragedy was done cheaply.
Tags: comics
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