Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Eternal Debate - Part I : Final Crisis vs. Secret Invasion (The Death)

And by eternal, I mean for the past 12 or so months. You could not go anywhere in the Internet (well, at least the sites I frequent) without finding a conversation about either Final Crisis or Secret Invasion. Or both. This year's events from the Big Two felt incredibly long, by design or by circumstances, but they are now officially over (Legion of 3 Worlds notwithstanding), which allows us to look at both events objectively, or at least as objectively as comic book readers can get.

That is where I come in. I want to look at the different aspects of both events, measure them up against each other and see who comes up on top. To do so, I have chosen several categories (or rounds) which will allow me to compare both sides of the 2008 Special Edition Event Coin in a series of posts. If you have not yet read both series in their entirety, there will be spoilers ahead. Oh, yeah, and the point system may or may not be arbitrary or what most people consider fair. You have been warned.

The Death

Ever since the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, no comic book big event is really an event without a big profile death. This year's casualties: MartianManhunter and The Wasp. The coincidences that these two share are rather obvious: both of them are founding members of each company's premiere team (theJLA and Avengers, respectively), both of them are known for being good at handling teams or group dynamics, while at the same time neither of the characters are really that popular. Yes, MartianManhunter has had his own solo series, but he's hardly known to the non-comic reading world. The Wasp, to my knowledge, has never had an ongoing series and she wasn't even particularly liked to a lot of people. So both events killed "safe" characters, neither one would cause too much of an outrage or garner the attention of the mainstream public (like Batman's eventual "death" later would). MartianManhunter's death was particularly disappointing, as he only appeared for two panels, drugged out of his mind by villains before dying by spear-on-fire-through-the-chest (the number one cause of death for Martians of that age and sex group). The Wasp, on the other hand, died in the heat of a battle between the heroes andSkrulls: having been tricked by a skrull impersonating Hank Pym, Wasp inadvertently became the Skrull's secret weapon (some sort of exploding biological bomb) until Thor put her out her misery by Kirby-crackling her into another dimension or something.

Both characters received a "Requiem" special issue, that dealt with the repercussions of their demise and, the reaction of those close to the departed and to recap the lives of the heroes. "Secret Invasion: Requiem" was mostly made up of reprints, with very little new insight on the life of Wasp and more to do with Hank Pym's life after the events of Secret Invasion. "Final Crisis: Requiem" expands on the death of MartianManhunter while at the same time showing us in detail his last moments and the arrangements he had for his funeral, it was an incredibly done and moving issue (and one of the best things to come out of Final Crisis if you ask me).

In the end, both Wasp and Martian Manhunter were tricked into oblivion by the antagonists. Martian Manhunter went down early in the event, as a means to establish how evil/resourceful/hardcore Libra was. With his dying breath, however, he not only gave the bad guys the biggest scare of their lives, he also sent one last telepathic message to his friends who would become his caretakers. The Wasp, however, almost killed all of her friends and someone else had to come to the rescue. I guess this round goes to MartianManhunter and Final Crisis. But...

DC, in an incredibly stupid marketing move, revealed the figures for the upcoming Blackest Night event. The event is going to feature the Black Lanterns, formerly dead people brought back to life, and guess who is there? That's right, everyone's favorite Martian is back mere months after his death, in the company's next big event. Comics already get a bad reputation for their revolving door policy on the death of characters, and DC has just affirmed it even more so. Wasp's death was also suspiciously ambiguous: with no body to be recovered, a future writer could very easily turn back her death in the future, I have to respect Marvel a bit more for not immediately returning one of their characters back to life. So this round goes to Secret Invasion, because DC shoot their own foot with Martian Manhunter's return.


  1. No, but that return wasn't a ret-con. And we don't know the nature of the Black Lanterns, perhaps they're like the cosmic Undead. I would still give this round to DC.

  2. You are right, we don't know the nature of the Black Lanterns yet. They may actually stay dead after Blackest Night is over (which I hope they do).

    But the whole thing left a sour taste in my mouth, kind of like when they unmasked Peter Parker during Civil War knowing that the next year they were just going to have OMD remove it. To me, it felt that they killed Martian Manhunter knowing full well that they could bring him back during Blackest Night.