Thursday, November 15, 2007

Culling the character herd: Begin each new series with a blood sacrifice

When Judd Winick was about to launch the new series The Outsiders, he and co-writer Geoff Johns first collaborated in a three-issue miniseries entitled Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day in which Donna Troy was seemingly killed off and long-time Titans supporting character Lilith “Omen” Clay was killed off.

When Winick was about to launch the new Black Canary/Green Arrow series, he first wrote Black Canary/Green Arrow Wedding Special #1, in which Green Arrow Oliver Queen was seemingly killed off and one-year-old villain Everyman was killed off.

So now that Winick is about to launch a new Titans series, reuniting the Wolfman/Perez era Titans, he naturally first wrote Titans East Special #1 in which he…killed off a bunch of characters.

Who did Winick sacrifice to his pagan gods to pray for moderate sales success this time? Let’s take a look…


Created by: Paul Witcover, Elizabeth Hand and Malcolm Davis in New Titans Annual #9 (1993)

Appeared in: Pretty much just the “Bloodlines” books and her own title, with a cameo or two elsewhere (Zero Hour, the Infinite Crisis trade collection).

Noted for: Being the second most successful New Blood character (Of the three awarded their own ongoings, hers lasted 16 issues; Himtan lasted 61, while Gunfire only lasted 14); being mentioned positively in Sassy magazine.

Will be missed by: Probably just me


Created by: Erik Larsen, Eric Battle and Norm Rapmund in Aquaman #54 (1999)

Appeared in: Aquaman, Robin #83-#84, Young Justice: No Man’s Land #1, Young Justice #20-#21, the “Sins of Youth” crossover (Particularly Sins of Youth: Aquaboy/Lagoon Man #1)

Noted for: Being the breakout character of Larsen’s Aquaman run

Will be missed by: Young Justice fans


Created by: Probably the creators of 52, where he debuted

Appeared in: A couple issues of 52, Supergirl

Noted for: Being a creepy stalker/would-be rapist psychopath; once being referred to in one of the year’s most notorious DC Nation columns as a “mimbo.”

Will be missed by: No one


Created by: Scott Beatty and Keron Grant in Son of Vulcan #1 (2005)

Appeared in: Son of Vulcan, JSA: Classified #19

Noted for: Starring in a book that was a lot like the current Blue Beetle series, only read by even fewer people; debuting in the midst of the Infinite Crisis build-up

Will be missed by: Dozens of Son of Vulcan fans


Created by: Karl and Barbara Kesel and Rob Liefeld in Hawk and Dove #1 (1988), based on Steve Ditko’s original Dove

Appeared in: Hawk & Dove, Armageddon 2001, JSA #45-#50, Teen Titans

Noted for: Being drawn by Liefeld before he moved to Marvel Comics and blew up

Will be missed by:


Created by: Geoff Johns and Mike McKone in Teen Titans #22 (2005), based on previous Ditko character

Appeared in: Teen Titans, 52

Noted for: Being a long lost sister from a different country that was never, ever mentioned before her very first appearance; being a member of one of the “Lost Year” Titans line-ups.

Will be missed by: Geoff Johns, dozens of Teen Titans readers, Aquagirl II

Notice anything these characters all have in common? Aside from the fact that they're all mostly new-ish characters, created within the last two decades?

How about the fact that none of them were created by Winick, whom we see here once again subtracting from the fictional universe he writes for, rather than adding to it?

Let’s hear it for entropy!


Anonymous said...

I miss Anima, too. Paul W. & I created her independently of any other DC character — Rob simpson, then a DC editor, was an old friend who called and asked me if I'd like to come up with a new series for either Vertigo or DC. I said I'd love to if I could work with Paul, and we were onboard. It was up in the air whether the series would be produced under the Vertigo or DC imprint; editorial opted for the latter (potentially bigger sales) but in retrospect I think it would have lasted longer as a Vertigo imprint. A bit too dark and out there for DC at the time. In addition to being noted by Sassy, Anima was also in Glamour and, I think, Vanity Fair -- the series got a lot of very positive advance press. It featured characters who were gay, bisexual, HIV+, and dealt with issues such as teen homelessness, drugs, rape, gang violence, mental illness, suicide, etc. etc. A real feel-good series.

But it was genuinely ahead of its time, and everyone who worked on it was extremely proud of it.

--- Liz Hand

SallyP said...

There once was a time when killing off characters was a big deal...but that time is certainly past. It's a cliche, and a tiresome one. Winick seems to be incapable of writing without using one cliche after another, and it is MORE than tiresome.

Anonymous said...

"Little Barda" was also apparently/possibly killed. Not really notable other than for being a New God and a big fan of Big Barda (which, I guess, is a fun concept, since Big Barda probably *would* have a fan club)

Walt said...

Too bad Geoff Johns wasted his time bringing back Dove to the DCU.

Caleb said...

Liz Hand,

Hey, thanks for stopping by! And thanks for sharing the background info on your book with us.

It's funny you mentioned that it was originally a possible Vertigo series because I'd recently reread the first few issues, and in addition to the subjects you mentioned (and the general interest in psychology and myth archetypes),

I was really struck by how much it looked like a '90s Vertigo series, in terms of the lay-outs and the art and even the coloring.

Anyway, Anima was one of sixteen-year-old Caleb's favorite comics.


I don't know what you're talking about. Seven superheroes died in this issue—therefore it was seven times more dramatic than when Impulse died a couple months ago.


Yeah, I noticed she was in there when I flipped through it in the store, but I had a harder time thinking up jokes for her than the others. I don't think losing Little Barda was a very big deal, since she was basically just a one-panel joke character, but some of these characters, like Anima and Vulcan, are obviously characters several people worked pretty hard to create and make unique and add something to the DCU, so seeing them so callously removed just struck me as...well, callous, I guess.


The first time I saw that cover, I assumed that everyone was going to be killed except for Cyborg and then maybe Hawk and Dove, since it seemed odd that Johns would spend so much time re-creating that team and putting them back in the DCU just to have them unceremoniously removed again.

Shows what I know...

David page said...

Caleb I agree I said Cannon fodder as soon as I saw that cover too which is unfortunate as I am one of the very few Son of Vulcan fans there is.

I am still hoping he was just badly wounded and not the alternative...I really do not want another reason to hate mr Winick

Anthony Strand said...

Winick also co-wrote Countdown to Infinite Crisis, which kicked off that BIG GIANT EVENT with the death of Ted Kord. I never even thought to blame him before.

Anonymous said...

Man, when I read this entry, it was before I read the issue of Titans East. I thought you were just profiling the possible people who might have been killed. And now that I read it, damn what a load of crap. I understand the sort of thing he was going for here, with the entire team dieing in the first issue of the comic, but it all could have been different if Winnick had just created his own team. But just killing off a team of admittedly C-list heroes, all with histories? What a waste, what a waste.

And what is it with writers making underused characters seem fun and cool just before they kill them? Doesn't that just illustrate that there are stories left in the characters? Bah.

My only hope is that some of them aren't completely dead, having only been lasered through their leg or liver or something.

Siskoid said...

Reminescent of that Eclispo issue in which Manhunter, Phantom Lady, Creeper, Wildcat II, et al. seemed to die dismembered (some turned out to have survived).

No real reason other than "look how badass the villain is" (which is bogus if you only kill C-grade heroes) and shock value. I think you make a good point about subtracting from the shared universe. This is something editors should frown upon a lot more (but editors don't seem to be the influence they used to be).

In any case, a big BOOOO regarding Dove II (Dawn), the oldest character in the list and treated with about the same respect afforded Hawk (Hank) in the end.

Maybe Didio has commanded all series to self-destruct so that Final Crisis can give everyone a fresh start (the AzBats Principle).

Anonymous said...

Man, then Booster Gold is going to be WAY behind schedule in the self destructing.

Tony said...

I think killing off minor character is a Geoff Johns thing.

Geoff Johns and James Robinson killed off a slew of people to launch JSA, including the Golden Age Sandman, Fate and Kid Eternity.

Johns used the "make the character cool, then kill him" gimmick with (I think) Firebrand in the first JSA-roulette arc.

The big example, of course, is Ted Kord.