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I am not opposed to killing characters off in comics. If handled well a comic death make for a meaningful story. But what I am opposed to is the killing off of characters who don’t just move stories forward but carry on their back represenation.
Kill off a straight white dude in comics, and you’ve got hundreds of characters like them left.
Kill off a woman in comics? It’s getting better. There are more female characters and if the death is heroic and not just someone being shoved into a refrigerator it, too, can make for a meaningful story. And there are now many characters that you can turn, too.
But a man or woman of color? LGBQT characters? Comics, you have a looooonnnng way to go before killing off these characters (or faking out their death) is cool.
See, people who aren’t straight white dudes get attached to characters that aren’t straight white dudes. Because there really aren’t that many of them in comics. They’re like the life preserver in a sea of sameness for a comic fan who isn’t the “target” comic audience. I’ve written and written and written and written about the importance of representation in comics.
And I am frustrated I have to write again.
See, when you have a character who isn’t part of the great mainstream you need to think hard about what you do that character.
You want to mess with a character? Mess with one where there is redundancy.
Redundancy. It means more than one or two. It means that when a character gets offed there are so many other characters like them that their death, while tragic, is mitigated.
When you have lots of redundancy then you can kill and maim and fake-out at will.
For those of you who are wonder why I’m writing this today, there are spoilers under the cut.
Yeah, spoilers. So click only if you want to know.
Today in Fearless Defenders #6, Annabelle Riggs was killed off. This was a new character and given that she was one of the few queer women in Marvel comics, she attracted a quick and fervent fan following.
Her death actually wasn’t a huge surprise. The solicits had said someone was going to die and the creative team and editors have spent the last few days teasing a death (and spoiling it at one point) on Twitter.
In a the letter column in today’s issue the editor writes “her death will prove necessary as well as noble.”
So that makes killing off one of the few lesbian characters in Marvel comics dead okay?
And given that the character is only six issues, it feels like she was designed to be cannon fodder.
If it’s permanent, it sucks. So tell me what redundancy you have Marvel?
And if you’re saying “See I told you so!” or “GOTCHA” someone else who has little or no representation in comics is still today losing a character that is a rarity in your line.
I’m sure some one is going to respond with “Don’t tell the writer how to tell their story.”
But I am telling them that whatever they think they did today until you write and publish comics with enough characters like Riggs so that her death is painful but not such as to leave a gaping hole, you’ve pulled a chit you haven’t earned.