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Wolverine gets deep-sixed, but for how long?

By Staff | Aug 28, 2014

He’ll be back. Death of Wolverine #1 variant cover by Joe Quesada

Wolverine is going to die.

Usually, a spoiler warning would have preceded that, but you don’t have to be Batman to piece together the clues Marvel’s been dropping lately. The cryptic signs include stories with titles like “Three Months to Die,” “Two Months to Die” and “One Month to Die,” leading into the cryptic “Death of Wolverine” limited series coming out weekly in September. Plus Marvel’s flat out said, repeatedly, that Wolverine’s going to die.

Of course he won’t stay dead. The real mystery is whether he’ll come back by 2016 in time for “X-Men: Apocalypse” to be released or if they can really go long enough without the Man of 1,000 Comics (a Month) for the next Wolverine solo film in 2017. Maybe he’ll be back in a year, like the Human Torch before him.

The death and return of Spider-Man was timed all along to coincide with the release of “Amazing Spider-Man 2” this year. It’s not that I expected them to keep Peter Parker dead or blame them for marketing synergy or whatever; what annoyed me is the way they insisted over and over and over that this was the status quo going forward.

Marvel’s said they don’t have an exit plan for Wolverine’s death, but that means little. I would suggest just saying, “He’s dying, and we’re not telling you if or when he’s coming back” and leave it at that.

The long-mocked impermanence of comic death has gone to an extreme lately. The 2011 Marvel story “Fear Itself” (spoilers, I guess) killed off the new Captain America (former sidekick Bucky Barnes, still wielding the shield even after Steve Rogers himself returned from the dead-ish) in issue 3 and Thor in issue 7. Then it brought each of them back in the epilogue issues 7.1 and 7.2.

The first comic death I remember getting mainstream media attention was Superman’s, back in the early ’90s.

We all knew he would be back, even as DC threw out four possible replacements – a cyborg, a cold-blooded dude in sunglasses, a teenager and a black guy in armor (incidentally, my favorite). They soon revealed none of them was the real deal, and the one, true Superman returned eight months later.

With a mullet.

Some characters have stayed dead much longer, chief among them the aforementioned Bucky. Before returning as the Winter Soldier in 2005, he had allegedly been pushing up daisies for nearly 41 years.

Bucky had been considered one of three key comic characters who would actually stay dead. The other two are Jason Todd (who returned after 15 years) and Uncle Ben (who remains dead, keeping Spider-Man’s origin intact).

The second Flash, Barry Allen, gave his life fighting the good fight in 1985’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” #8 and was replaced by his sidekick, Wally West. Barry took on a kind of patron saint of the DCU role, and Wally became THE Flash to fans like me.

Then in 2008, DC decided, “Hey, let’s bring Barry back,” because… I don’t know why.

In 1995, Green Arrow bit the bullet in the 101st issue of his self-titled series. Although the younger replacement grew on me, the return of the original didn’t bother me because a) he was my favorite DC character and b) Kevin Smith (of “Clerks” fame) wrote the story.

I realize that lessens the credibility of my harrumphing about resurrecting characters, but I hope I gain a little back by acknowledging my hypocrisy.

The moral of the story is: When it comes to comics and death, unless you’re Uncle Ben, it’s not a matter of if, but when.

Evan Bevins is the writer of the webcomic Support Group, www.supportgroupcomic.com