The right time to lose a character

You never want to read the byline of an article that includes your favorite comic book character and how its writers are planning to kill them off. Unfortunately, this is what I found over the weekend:


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I found the story over the weekend on It was an interview with the current writers of one of my favorite comics, Deadpool. The summary of the story is:

FINAL ISSUE! That’s right—if you add together all the Deadpool series (creatively) issue 45 is the big 250th issue of Deadpool! What better way to celebrate than to end the series? In our over-sized main story, ULTIMATUM comes at Deadpool for revenge, so he has no choice but to take them on—ALL OF THEM. Then, in an Infinity Gauntlet crossover, what would Deadpool do if he got the six gems from Thanos? Plus: a slew of stories showcasing Deadpool’s closest friends and allies by special guest writers! Also, SPOILER: Deadpool dies at the end of the issue.

I know comic book writers need to kill off characters every once in a while to refresh a character's storyline. We've seen untimely demise of some of the biggest names in comic books - Batman, Superman, Hawkeye and others have been killed off. Captain American has been killed off, returned, and has now lost his super solider powers.

Marvel recently killed off Wolverine, another character I care about. My problem isn't that Marvel is killing off Wolverine or Deadpool (ok, I have a small problem with Deadpool), but it's that killing off a character is starting to feel like a playlist that's been on repeat too long. The plot is:

  • The character has a cliffhanger of a storyline.
  • The character anticipates their death.
  • The character accepts their fate.
  • The character dies, but the character is never really dead.
  • Rinse, lather, repeat.

After the upteenth time a character dies and comes back again, the plot line wears a little thin.

What I'd rather see is a mini "reboot" of a character's universe. DC, and to a lesser extent Marvel, have rebooted their comic universes to give writers the opportunity to refine, or redefine, story lines of their comic universe. We've seen this to a some degree in Marvel's Cinematic Universe (MCU) and how it differs from the Marvel comic universe. We have the same characters in the movies and in the comics, but allowing them to be in separate universes allows characters to have different origin or backstories. The cycle of loss and rebirth is core to comic book mythos. Part of rising up from an overwhelming tragedy is part of what makes them heroes to us. Let's just make the return of a character less of a cliche.

Rebooting a character, instead of killing them off and having them come back, still allows readers to understand that this is something different. The readers don't have to go through the hollow feeling of seeing their character get killed off, only to be thinking in the back of their mind of how they will have to wait a couple of months before the character has a miraculous come back. I believe rebooting a character gives writers the opportunity to do something extraordinary with 'Issue #1'.

I'll miss Deadpool... probably only for a little while.