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Thursday, November 24, 2011 

As expected: Johnny Storm comes back from the afterlife

And where? In Fantastic Four #600 as Marvel restores the original numbering, proving that even the restoration of the original series' numbering is only being done as a publicity stunt. Tom Brevoort tells the AP that:
[...] the new issue, which marks the title’s return since No. 588 was published, makes it clear that Storm wasn’t just hibernating or being held in a comatose state.

“Yes, he did die. He died a couple of times,” Brevoort said, adding that writer Jonathan Hickman had outlined the plans for a return months ago so readers won’t “feel cheated or disappointed in the slightest.”
Unfortunately, there is a reason to be disappointed: that they would make such a fuss, sensationalize and try to market issue #588 based on a character's death, which is almost the only thing they've ever tried to lure in mainstream coverage for today. In fact, save for the AP article, not many other MSM sources seem to have announced this so far, suggesting resurrections and righting a wrong are meaningless to them. One other that did, however, that being Entertainment Weekly, had this to say:
The comic book industry has three defining publicity-grabbing gimmicks: the New Costume, the Retcon Reboot, and the Beloved Character Death. In January, Fantastic Four packaged two of those gimmicks together, killing off the Human Torch and rebranding the team with skintight-stormtrooper costumes. My colleague Jeff Jensen was initially skeptical about the death of the Torch, but later noted that writer Jonathan Hickman justified the death in the narrative. And hey, there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with publicity-grabbing gimmicks.
Wrong. After all these years of the big two insulting our intellect by killing off characters instead of developing them or featuring them as players in a story of some sort, I'd say there is something fundamentally wrong with publicity stunts. Because it's the easy way out, it's only successful in the short term, and it's very uncreative. At least they're right in part about the cheap gimmicks that have come to define mainstream comics, definitely the 2nd and 3rd examples.
Now, no one ever seriously thought that the Torch was going to stay dead for very long, but the quick turnaround is still a little shocking. The last time Marvel killed off a founding member of the Fantastic Four, it was the Human Torch’s brother-in-law Mr. Fantastic, who stayed dead for almost three years before his teammates figured out that he was actually just trapped in the past. In 2007, Captain America was assassinated, and a full two years passed before it turned out that he was actually just trapped in the past. In 2008, DC killed off Batman, and it wasn’t until 2010 that he turned up again, still alive and perhaps somewhat predictably trapped in the past.

Then again, Superman was dead for nearly a full year in the early ’90s (although in those fat and sassy days there were four monthly Superman titles.)
Doesn't that tell by now the character's death they began was a waste of time reading about to begin with? For anyone who's become acquainted with Marvel and DC's modus operandi of recent times, it's not so shocking at all. What is shocking and downright devastating is that they flatly refuse to quit the obsession with killing characters for publicity's sake. The sad part is that the resurrection, while more welcome in itself, is unlikely to much better written than the prior story about the demise. IMO, any story they come up today with where a character dies should be rejected by the audience, certainly if it's apparent it's only being done for publicity's sake.

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This post is on the mark on so many levels. Good job.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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