As more long term readers of this blog will know, I used to blog about all my interests. Recently I have been focussed on Asian Movies, and believe me there is a lot more to come on that. But, I just read a comic book, and it set off an emotional response in me that a comic book has not done for a long time, and certainly not a super-hero comic book.
The book in question is “Blackest Night” issue 3. For the initiated, this is part of an ongoing story within the DC Universe, mostly contained within the Green Lantern books. To be honest, Green Lantern is not one of my favourite comics, and is always on the cusp of being dropped. I stick with it because I am a big fan of Geoff Johns’ writing – he is quite excellent at mining DC’s past and freshening it up. Green Lantern has been his baby for some time now, and this storyline has been in the offing for years.
Rather than explain it all here, let’s just say lots of dead characters (Super-Heroes, Villains, supporting cast members) are being risen from the dead, as super-powerful, super-spiteful zombies. Characters are being killed, and the risen characters are awful twisted avatars of themselves.
In itself, this is ok. I find the thing a little over-written, and I know what the end result is going to be. It does not bother me that some major characters have appeared to have been killed off, nor that some that have returned are horrible distortions of their legacy.
No, what bothers me is that Johns’ has just killed off a rather minor supporting character in a vicious and un-necessary way. This is one of those times where is really helps if you know what I am talking about, but I am not going to delve too deeply into the murky waters of comic book history and continuity.
The character of Firestorm is probably the most enduring of DC’s late 70’s, and early 80’s output. More recently they have struggled to find a place for the character, re-designing him and re-booting him in a number of ways. Most recently, they started afresh, turning the mantle over to a young black boy (Jason Rusch), who starred in a well-received but eventually cancelled comic. He has popped up here and there, but my guess is real Firestorm fans prefer the original.
The crux of Firestorm is that he is immensely powerful (he basically can turn anything into anything), but always works as a gestalt – 2 characters sharing the same body. The last series ended with the new Firestorm sharing his body with his girlfriend, an artificially aged teleporter called Gehenna. Actually this is all a little creepy when you think about it as she is like really only about 5 years old, but you have to run with the idea she is physically and mentally older, if not temporarily so.
This issue starts with Jason and Gehenna struggling a bit with their relationship, and to be honest you know what is going to happen. However, the nature of how it happens I find shocking. The previous Firestorm, raised from the dead, absorbs Jason, and makes him kill Gehenna, turning her to salt whilst ripping out her heart.
I was horrified by this. Not because she was a character I had any great love for – frankly she is 5th string at best – but because it was the focus of a large part of the issue, and it was done in such a cruel and permanent way.
Sometimes death in comics is passé. You know the characters are coming back. I know Gehenna will not have that luxury. But she did not get a heroic death. She got a nasty and voyeuristic death. And to be honest I thought Johns was better than this. It is not just because this is another “Women in Refrigerators” moment. It is because Johns has previously shown great care and respect to his female characters, aided greatly by his own personal loss (his sister died in the TWA 800 plane crash), that I think I am so shocked and disappointed.
I just wanted to share this with you all. Back to films next.