Coming up with a blog theme day in and day out is hard. On occasion, I sit here for hours thinking about a topic that I would like to discuss. Sometimes they come quick and sometimes they don’t. This week fell into the latter category.
Death as a topic is not easy to talk about. Death in comics as it relates to life is not any easier. It isn’t as though I didn’t want to discuss it, it was more that I wasn’t sure how to do it.
As I walked through my house I noticed a picture of my Grandparents. It wasn’t as though I hadn’t noticed it before; it hangs there all the time. This time was different. You see, my Grandparents are long gone. They left upwards of 10 years ago and a day doesn’t go by where I don’t think of them. They were the shining light in my life.
Comic book characters die all the time.
Captain America: Death – March 2007
Green Arrow: Death – October 1995
Green Goblin: Death – July 1973
Jason Todd: Death – December 1988
James “Bucky” Barnes: Death – September 1968
Superman: Death – January 1993
Death in comics usually isn’t forever, however, when it happens, it leaves a lasting impression on its readers.
I didn’t mention the Uncle to Peter Parker, Ben, in the above list for good reason. He might very well be the most well-known death in comics and paved the way for Peter to do good in the world as Spider-Man. Amazing Fantasy 15, didn’t portray the transformation of Peter into Spider-Man, but rather it showed how in a split second, life can change. He, as an innocent teenager, was thrust into life and learned that, as Stan Lee narrates, “With great power, comes great responsibility.”
Peter had the chance to prevent his Uncle from dying but chose not to. In Peter’s instance, much like the rest of us, death changed him.
You see, death has an interesting way to force reflection upon ourselves. We reflect on our times with the deceased as well as on our current situations. Was the time well spent? Could I be doing something better with my life right now? Then, without question, after these questions have been answered, this reflection ends and we go back to our lives.
Perhaps then, death in comics is a cruel metaphor for the way that we treat death in life?
If the only way to treat death better is to take advantage of life, then should we not appreciate the time we have?
No matter how short time is, it is up to you to use it wisely. You never know when your clock will run out.
Bruce Wayne knows this better than most of us. In his often-retold history, Bruce lost both his parents at gunpoint. Martha and Thomas Wayne were on their way home with a young Bruce when they were robbed and killed. Could they have known that they would not make it through that night? Of course not.
If we can learn anything from their untimely demise, it is that our goal in life should be to leave a legacy. It has been said that we as humans are not and cannot become immortal. I would argue that point. We all have the power to leave something behind, whether that is through our teachings, words or actions.
If you were to face death tomorrow and you knew it, what would you treat today differently today?
Immortality can be achieved and the easiest path is through love.
Scott Summers and Jean Grey were so much in love that she sacrificed herself for the betterment of her team. Scott, unable to cope with this loss, wound up quitting the X-Men only to find a strategically placed clone of Jean Grey, who he married and had a child with.
Can he be blamed for this?
If life is the opposite of death, then he was in his right to live on. Scott had the desire to fill one of the most fundamental emotions in life; love.
In comics, there have been countless relationships:
Superman and Lois Lane
Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne
Green Arrow and Black Canary
The aforementioned Scott Summers and Jean Grey.
We marry because we want to spend our lives with someone, but selfishly we don’t want to spend life alone.
Love allows us to leave a lasting impression on another and if we choose to have children, on them too. As I said, this is the easiest way in which we can become immortal.
If death in comics teaches us anything, it is that our time is precious. Use it wisely.
When you die, will the world react as they have done for Superman and Captain America? Not likely. Will those closest to you react as the world did? That depends on how you lived your life.
As sure as the Sun will rise tomorrow, you will die. What you do with your time and how you spend your life is up to you.