Markley’s Fevered Brain: A Tale of Two Deaths

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley

by Wayne Markley

Over the last few years, both Marvel and DC have killed two of their main characters. Well, they sort of killed them. Neither company really “killed” these mainstream characters, but one told a great story that made sense and came to a logical conclusion and the other story was a mess that was late and, to this day, I am still trying to figure out what happened. (Well, that is an exaggeration, but I was a very muddy and poorly done story.) The two characters were Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction and DC’s Batman by Grant Morrison.

Before you read any further, please be aware that I am going to discuss these stories including the conclusions so if you have not read these books and plan on reading them, please stop reading now. I would highly recommend reading the Invincible Iron Man which is collected into six beautiful collections. The Batman story is collected into a hardcover collection called the Return of Bruce Wayne. Plus, a few other deaths are discussed as well.

Invincible Iron Man

Invincivle Iron Man


First off, let’s look at the Invincible Iron Man. Matt Fraction has taken the character of Tony Stark, Iron Man, and rebuilt what Stan Lee created and made it into a highly enjoyable book. A lot of what took place over the course of Fraction’s run on the book is set within the turmoil of the Marvel Universe. While it is not necessary to have read Civil War, Invasion, or Dark Reign, it does help. The basic gist of the stories are after the Skrull invasion and Norman Osborn’s rise to power, Tony Stark decides he has to destroy everything Stark Enterprises ever did and everything he, Tony, ever knew. So he basically erases his mind so that Osborne and H.A.M.M.E.R. could not get hold of what Osborne wanted most, the Iron Man technology. By doing this, Tony Stark is killing himself and he is a vegetable by the end of the story. The story wraps up with a fierce battle between Osborne and Tony in his original Iron Man armor. The whole story is put together very well with all sorts of subtle commentary on modern politics and the role of government. I think one of the best aspects of this story is how they bring Tony Stark back to life and restore his knowledge and how he tries to rebuild Stark. It is told in a very coherent way with twists and turns that follows logic and common sense and tells an excellent story. I am not Matt Fraction’s biggest fan, but I do think his work on Invincible Iron Man is some of the best being done on a monthly basis.

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne

Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne


On the other hand we have Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne by Grant Morrison. This is a follow up to the Batman RIP. I am not even going to try and explain what this whole story was about. The ten cent version is Bruce Wayne/Batman is killed while stopping Darkseid from destroying the world. In the process of stopping Darkseid, Batman is sent back in time and ends up trying to fight his way back to the present by going through various time phases and past incarnations of himself. He eventually gets to the present and, with help of his friends, escapes Darkseid’s master plan. Now I will be the first to admit I am not a huge fan of this story, or Batman RIP, or Final Crisis (where the final battle between Batman and Darkseid took place). I find all of these stories to be convoluted and complex to the point that they are almost unreadable. I do like Grant Morrison’s work, in particular his Doom Patrol and Animal Man stories. But, in his attempt to pay homage to Jack Kirby’s Fourth World, Morrison has gone so far out he loses the story and the fans.

Tony Stark dies by slowly killing himself by wiping his brain, but he does not truly die. Batman dies by going back in time, so he really does not die. Yet these two stories are like night and day. The Iron Man story is clean and straightforward and Is a well told story. Batman is a convoluted story about time travel and a supposed detective story with twists and turns so much that it is near impossible to follow the story. If you are going to kill a character, even if it is obviously not a real death, it has to be a well told story so that the reader can feel for the character. If you are left with the feeling of “What the F*&%?” or the killing is just sort of “oh, he’s dead” (like the death of the Martian Manhunter), then it is the waste of character and a potentially good story. One of the best deaths in comic’s stories I have read lately, and it got no press at all, was the death of Mrs. Gundy in the Life with Archie magazine. It was a very sad, yet very well told story. And it is worth seeking out.

Vampirella Archives

Vampirella Archives


Finally, I would like to recommend this time the Vampirella Archives Vol. 1 from Dynamite Entertainment. I was very hesitant to by this book at first, after all it is $50. But to my surprise it is a beautiful book with excellent reproduction of this classic magazine. The covers are reproduced in full color and the black and white is super sharp. The production is top notch and it is one of the best archive collections I have seen. And perhaps the best reason I would recommend this book is it reprints the complete magazines, numbers #1-7, while the past collections of Vampirella have only collected the lead Vampi story, and not the rest of the magazine. This stunning collection includes all the back up stories by some of comics’ greatest talents. If you are a fan of the old Warren magazines, great comics book art (and stories) or of comic history,  these Vampirella Archives are for you. As always, all opinion expressed in this blog are mine and do not reflect the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics. Comments or complaints can be sent to MFBWAY@AOL.COM.

Thank you.

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