Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Human Torch: R.I.P. (Re-Boot in Perpetuity)


Deaths of superhero characters make big news stories. Remember when Superman "died"? That was huge (it was the "Best-Selling Graphic Novel of All Time!"). Not too long ago, Captain America died. He got an "obituary" in the New York Times.

That says a lot about the Times. All that you need to know if you're considering their paywall.

And today, via a link on Yahoo's main page, we learn that the Human Torch, a member of the Fantastic Four is going to be "extinguished."
Fifty years after cosmic rays transformed him into a man ablaze, the Human Torch will burn no more as the pop culture purveyor of super heroes and villains embarks on an ambitious story line that ends the Fantastic Four.
Superman came back. Captain America came back. After awhile, you would expect that these news outlets that cover these comic book "deaths" would realize that they're being played for suckers. I suppose that's why this "death" has been tied in with the "final issue" of a long-running series, in which readers have been treated to "an ambitious" story line. It's not just a death, it's the end of an entire series!

That's how the Associated Press handles news, by the way. "An ambitious story line." That will result in a re-boot. Yet another in the interminable list of re-boots, re-imaginings, and re-launches.

That's "ambitious."

 Was the Human Torch's death assured when Chris Evans, the actor who played him in two "Fantastic Four" films, was cast as Captain America in the upcoming film "Captain America: The First Avenger"? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but, probably, yes.

The Fantastic Four will be back. The Human Torch will be back. Don't believe me? Just ask the people making the comic books.
[Tom] Brevoort, senior vice president for publishing at Marvel told The Associated Press that "588 is the final issue of the Fantastic Four. Beyond that, we're not ready to say exactly what we're doing. There won't be an issue 589."

All he would say about the future was that the various subplots and threads that [writer Jonathan] Hickman has written "will converge in a new thing that will be exciting and different and yet, very familiar and very much the same."
In other words, another re-boot. Or re-imagining. Or re-launch. Just another Wednesday at the comic book shop.

But for those of you who are still worried about their favorite flaming character and want more reassurance:
Joe Quesada, Marvel's chief creative officer, recognized that death, while potent, is not necessarily lasting and that the death of a character in comics has turned out "to be very cliche" in plot developments.

"Whether the human torch comes back or not is really a question that will be answered in time," he said.

"While I will never discount that a character can come back from the dead because it is one of the staples of comic book story telling . I'm not going to tell you if he will, or when he will and if he does, how he will, but I can assure you that it's going to be very, very interesting and not what anyone expects."
Just because it's "cliche" doesn't mean they're not going to do it-- they'll just do it in a "very interesting" and "unexpected" way!

Comics are about the "illusion of change."

When The Fantastic Four appeared in a television cartoon series in the late 1970s, the Human Torch "died" and was replaced by an annoying, cute robot called HERBIE.

Herbie game pic source.

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