Birds of Prey #2: When it’s just . . . . Enough.

June 24th, 2010 by | Tags: ,

Anyone who has read this site knows I’m no fan of character death.  I thought, though, that the right circumstances could make me ignore one plot element that I didn’t like.  I was wrong.

I’m a ridiculous fangirl for the writer of this series.  I adore the characters.  I’m psyched about the book.  I’m intrigued by the story.  This is as ideal a situation as it gets.

In issue #2 a character dies, and the heroes are distraught over that character’s death.  I’ve re-written this tiny post several times because I don’t want this reaction to seem flip.  The minute I saw that, I stopped wanting the book.  I didn’t decide that I wasn’t going to buy it, or that I was going to make some kind of statement by not buying it.  I just didn’t want it anymore.

The thing is, I went online and found several hints that this death is not what it seems.  I still don’t want the book.  I really don’t care about the circumstances of character death anymore.  It doesn’t matter if the fallout is realistic, if it’s happening for sound story purposes, if it’s helping to set up a new and exciting new world, if it’s a really great story, or even if the death is guaranteed to be temporary.  I just don’t care.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up the book.  Like I said, I love the whole package of Birds of Prey.  As soon as the ripples stop – no funeral, no angst, no memories or flashbacks -I’ll be back and loving it. 

It’s just that I realized that nothing on earth is going to make me willing to pick up one single more book with character death in it.  I read comics for enjoyment, and that sucks all of my enjoyment out.   There’s a limit to the death, pain, and despair that I’m willing to read.  I guess I’m at that limit.  Enough.

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14 comments to “Birds of Prey #2: When it’s just . . . . Enough.”

  1. While I don’t feel the way you do, I could imagine your reaction being a very natural consequence to DC’s over-the-top gore and murder.

    How will you know when the ripples have died down, if you’re not going to be reading the book during the…rippling? Even those who keep reading may not know when the whole thing’s over and done.

    In any case, more power to you for doing the things that will allow you to keep comics.

  2. To keep *enjoying* comics.

    Damned iPad auto-correct.

  3. @West3man: Heh. Admit it. You just wanted to show off that you have an iPad.

    With apologies to Mister Byrne, I’m going to look it over in the store. I’m also going to look for reactions online. And if the online hints are true, there might not be much rippling at all.

  4. “Ripple-free” might be a good term, since neither character that bit it appeared outside of BoP. But it’s still a shame that they bought it, especially the one that got “it” off-panel.

    Still pissed off about Ryan Choi, though. Is there a statue of limitations for nerd rage?

  5. @Jason: No. Nerd rage is forever.

  6. I’ve generally dropped ongoing books when they bring out character deaths. But it’s possible this death won’t even be a death in the end, so it won’t count.

  7. While I’m not quite as vehement about it, I agree with you. The deaths in BoP seemed gratuitous to me and my faith in Simone has been shaken lately. I’ll be finished with the book when White Canary is revealed to be Black Canary’s once daughter.

  8. I disagree. Gail’s earned enough of my good will over the years for me to stick around and see how it plays out. Especially if she says it’s not what it seems.

  9. That’s silly.

  10. I disagree. Gail’s earned enough of my good will over the years for me to stick around and see how it plays out. Especially if she says it’s not what it seems.

    I italicized your post not to argue–because obviously everyone’s equally right to read or not read something based on their own personal criteria–but I think there’s something telling about the “if she says it’s not what it seems.”

    Obviously a large enough segment of the audience is sick enough of seeing characters randomly slaughtered that she apparently felt the need to say (outside the comic book) that it’s not what it seems.

    That’s the opposite of how it’s supposed to work, right? Like, when a comic book ends with a character being lowered into a vat of acid, the reader is supposed to feel suspense, like “Oh my God, will So-and-so survive or not?” Not “Ho-hum.” (Also, doesn’t the writer try to make the readers think the danger is real? Not go out of their way to say, “Hey, it’s okay! There is no danger, not really!)

    And even if the dead characters from this issue used a cap gun and ketchup to fake out Oracle, we were still shown/had to see the corpse of another super-person, and one seemingly blow his own brains out.

    If characters are dying violently on biweekly basis in the DCU, then someone obviously has to dial back and think of a new way write an engaging superhero story in the DCU.

  11. Sorry everyone. I meant to type two sentences and, um, didn’t.

  12. @caleb: Agreed. I can’t help but feel there’s a lack of creativity and ingenuity when the only way to cause enough drama is to kill a character off. I mean, look at a lot of kids programming–they usually don’t kill off characters. I’m not saying I want everything as sanitized and as G-rated as kids TV, but it’s an example of how one can still make entertaining and engaging stories without resorting to the same thing over and over again to create conflict.

    I think I’m also done with listening to people/hype that encourages me to keep buying a series in the future when I’m not enjoying it in the present. In my two and a half years of reading monthlies regularly, I’ve been burned several times and wound up feeling like a chump.

    (I have yet to actually even read BoP #2–though I’m thoroughly spoiled at this point–so I’m not even sure how I’ll react when I do. Ed Benes art may be enough to put me off the book just on its own though, so we’ll see.)

  13. @caleb:

    I don’t know about whether writers should have to say all is as it seems or not? Back when every issue had a letter page they also had next issue blurb. Didn’t some of those occasionally suggest what we saw wasn’t quite what happened.

    And a lack of danger to the characters who died doesn’t necessarily transition to the main characters not being in danger. The deaths happened on a computer screen in front of Oracle. In the DCU it could have been all computer generated imagry to fake her out.

  14. My opinion on character death is almost diametrically opposed to Esther’s (kill ’em all, and let ’em stay dead, as long as the story is good enough), but I do agree that once a story becomes too much for you, there’s no shame in dropping it. Comics are supposed to be entertainment, and the greatest sin a comic can commit is not being entertaining.

    I don’t like that Simone came online to defend her comic. A story must be able to stand on its own two, no matter what. If it isn’t compelling or quality in and of itself, then it’s no good. There may be ways to add another layer of enjoyment onto a story, via criticism or annotations or interviews, but if it doesn’t work on its own? That’s a problem. “Keep reading, it’s not what it seems!” betrays a lack of confidence in the story.