“You deserved better, kid”. The throwaway death of Bucky Barnes

Characters die in comic book events. Its a rule, and it will never change.

How else can creators show the gravity of a situation without a token death to make everybody realise that the monster of the month is actual serious business?

One thing I appreciate in any form of fiction, is not treating death lightly. Sure people die, but hopefully we would get a decent explanation for such an occurrence. In comics, that usually means that for a couple of issues other characters can look sad and upset and vow to change things for the better in light of the sacrifice their friend made.

In other words, despite the temporary nature of death in comics, it HAS to mean something for how little time the character actually stays dead. Lets take a look.

When Peter Parker died last month in Ultimate Spider-man, his family were crushed, but Parker learned exactly what it was to be a hero.

When the Human Torch sacrificed himself, it was a heroic end for sure.

Other characters in the world cared (and had great covers to boot)

When Bruce Wayne took one in the face it didn’t make any sense at first, but it meant a whole load of awesome would happen in the years to follow.

You get the point by now.

In Fear Itself, Marvel Comics event series for 2011 lots of… stuff… was going on.

People got awesome magical hammers from Serpent who (shock) wants to kill everything, Odin was angry at Thor and the Asgardians left Earth for some-such reason. Then, Sin killed Bucky Barnes in two hits. Literally two hits.

We don’t really see what happened, but when the smoke clears, he is missing his cybernetic arm and has a massive hole in his chest. Then he dies (off page, confirmed in the recap page of issue 4).

This, surely should have been one of those huge death things like the ones pictures just a little way up the page. Bucky Barnes, the new Captain America, greatest ally of the original Captain America Steve Rogers, who himself came back unexpectedly as the awesome bad-ass Winter Soldier guy that we came to care about over, what, only six years of brilliant storytelling? Yeah, he deserves a decent send-off even if his actual demise was a pathetic confrontation that lasted two pages.

No. Actually he doesn’t. The most we get from any character, comes from the eternally warm and emotionally connected Nick Fury.

“You deserved better, kid.”

Then, minutes later Steve has his old uniform on and joins Iron Man and Thor in going to fight things.

See ya, Bucky! Was great while it lasted son.

The issue at hand isn’t the nature of event comics, or even how we treat death in the medium, but more the fact that one writer can undo the work of another with just a couple of misplaced pages.

Ed Brubaker made Captain America a book that could be appreciated by everyone, not just the die-hard comic book nerds or the even more die-hard super patriots of the USA.

He was a man adjusting to the world with its new views on right and wrong, good and evil, fighting not for any country or allegiance, but because it was the right thing to do. His supporting cast were fleshed out, and the long dead Bucky was reintroduced as a complicated and affecting character who also had to bear the brunt of being a man-out-of-time with no real place to belong. We really grew to accept that not only was Bucky alive again, but that he was a meaningful presence in the world.

I preferred this version to the Fear Itself one.

Then at the pen of Matt Fraction, he becomes nothing more than a plot point. I cant help feeling that had this occurred in the actual Captain America series, this would have been a death actually worth happening.

There are other reasons of course. Steve Rogers needed to become Captain America again, especially with a new #1 issue being released to coincide with the Captain America movie that’s just around the corner. This I’m sure we all understand. But as a rule, try not to throw characters into the grinder just to advance a plot, especially if they aren’t your characters to deal with anyway.

Still. Its not quite as bad as this questionable moment in the career of Jeff Loeb. Don’t even get me started on the deep seated issues behind this beauty.

Seriously, this happened.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s