How can we miss you when you won’t go away?

§ April 6th, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion § 3 Comments

Over at Trouble with Comics, the question this week is “what are your three favorite resurrections in comics?” Turns out two of my picks are related to two of my answers from last week’s “favorite deaths” question. GO FIGURE.

Anyhoo, once again, I’m sorry for the week of light content. Just had some full days in (cough) The Real World lately, but I’m not goin’ anywhere!

3 Responses to “How can we miss you when you won’t go away?”

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    My favorite resurrection was that of the Comet. This probably needs explanation for most of you.

    This character first appeared in MLJ’s PEP COMICS #1, back in 1940, in a story by none other than Jack (Plastic Man) Cole. He was a scientist named John Dickering, who comes up with a concoction that gives him the ability to fly and to shoot sort-of-laser beams out of his eyes. The subsequent series was notable for the fact that the hero took almost every opportunity to kill his opponents. Some of these killings were in self-defense, some were to prevent the villains from killing other people, but an awful lot were outright executions. This led to a serialized story in which a villain gained mental control of the Comet, and used him to kill his (the villain’s) enemies. The Comet soon escaped, but found himself a wanted man. For a couple of pages he expressed genuine remorse at the murders he had committed, but then his attitude shifted to “Hey, I said I was sorry. That ought to good enough for everyone. It’s unfair that the police are still after me.”

    Presumably, this story-line made someone at MLJ feel that the character was broken, and so in #17 he was killed–the first instance of a superhero dying in the line of duty. His brother promptly became the Hangman to avenge him, and went on to star in his own series (which has the odd distinction of having been condemned by George Orwell).

    Fast-forward twenty or so years later. MLJ is now Archie Comics. Superheroes, after a period of quiescence, are popular again. Archie decides to re-enter the market, at first with a couple of new characters (my boy the Fly, and the Jaguar), and then with revivals of some of its original characters (Black Hood, the Shield, and–wait for it–the Comet). While Black Hood was presented as the same character from the 1940s series, and the Shield was the son of the original, this Comet was an apparently new character–a prince from another planet, who had decided to come to Earth and use his powers (flight, a variety of rays shot from his fingers) to fight crime. After awhile the Hangman was also reintroduced. Whereas previously he had simply been a costumed vigilante with a noose gimmick, now he had a magic rope that enabled him to fly, deflect bullets, etc. He also quickly decided that there was more money to be made in committing crime than in fighting it, and he turned bad. He had several encounters with the Comet, with no signs of recognition between them.

    Then someone decided that, no, this new Comet was really the old Comet. An origin story was done, which explained that an alien princess had observed him through her alien television set, and had fallen in love with him; so, when he was near death, she had whisked him away to her world, where he was brought back to perfect health and installed as her consort. Then, the princess died, and he felt free to return home.

    That is how you bring back a dead superhero!

  • Turan, Emissary of the Fly World says:

    I note that there was a sequel to all this. In the 1980s, Archie decided to try superheroes again. A new line was started, the Comet was given his own comic, and Roy Thomas was hired to write it. Of course, Thomas was not one to take such a load of back-story lightly. He obviously believed that, before he did anything else, he had to deal with the Comet’s multiple murders, and to make the alien business more reasonable. So, the first issue begins with John Dickering unable to sleep. His brother the Hangman comes in and asks what is bothering him. The two then proceed to rehash EVERY single appearance of the Comet from the ’40s and ’60s. The story consisted of nothing but two men in their underwear talking, with single-panel recreations of a bunch of other stories.

    Remember, this was the 1980s. The prospective readership for this new series included only a few people who had read any of the ’60s stories, and next to none who had read any of the ’40s stories. If Thomas had chosen to ignore all of this baggage, hardly anyone would have cared. If he had settled for merely alluding to it (“The Comet? Never heard of you. What have you done before now?” “It’s complicated. I’ll tell you some other time.”), there would have been few complaints. Any other writer would have taken one of those paths. Thomas, however, was constitutionally unable. And so he began this new series with a story that had no action and merely summarized other stories. And so, unsurprisingly, the comic was very quickly canceled.

  • MrJM says:

    I truly enjoy tales of MLJ/Archie superhero kookiness.

    — MrJM