Let’s Talk About the Reviving of Characters
Maybe you heard about the plague which struck the comic books industry over the last decade or so. There’re too many characters and universes, and some dead characters had almost no chance to rest in peace before some sort of necrophiliac dug them up, sooner or later, and, wickedly grinning, showed them to the public. There’re lots of examples – from Jaycon Todd (former Robin, killed by Joker with a crowbar) to Moon Knight (Mark Spector) who’s been resurrected even more often than Spiderman has been relaunched.
If you began to read comics not so long ago, all those resurrections might be fun. But otherwise… you should know what I’m talking about. Eventually it becomes boring. Seeing the same heroes and only changing the style of their costumes after decades isn’t fun. Yes, the Batman series has been selling for a long time, but Rorschach appeared only in a single issue, however well-made. Despite this, Rorschach is following closely behind the Dark Knight in the popularity stakes.
Why Does it Threaten the Industry?
Just like bark beetles, slowly eating the tree trunk until it falls, the dominance of undying characters is eating the comics industry. There’s no place for story with a beginning and end – even if the hero dies to protect his family and friends, there’s no need to worry, it’s not serious. No more than 100 issues later, and the hero will reappear to continue the adventure.
If you’ve been reading comics for a long time, you’ll know what I mean. No matter how dramatic the story seems, with only one possible outcome – death – It won’t cause me to shed even a single tear. Everyone knows that after several months, the “buried” hero will appear again, all healthy and fine. Or maybe it will be his clone. And then again, and again, and again…
I believe that character death is a forceful and dramatic instrument. And constant “miraculous salvations” just negate this effect.
One more result of constant resurrections is similarity of the stories. If you take a few year old issues and compare them to modern comics you might find many similarities. And some of them will look just like twins.
No wonder some readers are becoming bored, and sales are dropping as a result (Just to be clear, there were many reasons for this drop in sales, this one is just one of them).
Yes, Yes, It’s a Problem, But What are the Alternatives?
Against this ugly background the answer, used in Injustice 2, seems very good. During the first Injustice Joker died – joking with Superman’s wife and an atomic bomb won’t do you any good. So the Sup killed the Joker, “moving to the dark side” and breaking ties with Batman and the whole family of superheroes alike.
After all these events resurrecting the Joker wasn’t a very wise choice, because all of the Superman vs Batman enmity would have been for nothing, and the events of the first game would become nothing serious, nothing to care for.
But if the Joker hadn’t among the playable characters, at least one third of the buyers would have been dissatisfied.
So, What Have the Guys From NetherRealm Studios Done?
They made a knight’s move. Joker appeared in the campaign, as well as a playable character, not disappointing the fans. But he was not resurrected, nor cloned, nor reincarnated. And Asian Joker didn’t taken his place.
He appeared in a campaign, but only for a moment. Harley Quinn under Scarecrow’s fear toxin saw into her worst nightmares. That’s how we meet the Joker – a weightless wraith of the past in the head of Harley Quinn, not a psychotic maniac, whose pealing laughter broke the cities and killed millions of people.
I think this was a right move, from which we could all learn. And sales are the final judge.