I haven’t had as much time to read comic books since stopping our comics podcast several months ago. It isn’t that I haven’t wanted to read specific titles, but rather that I’ve been working on several novels.
I’ve read the two newest Guild Wars novels, which I will most likely write about soon, as I loved them so entirely… as well as the first in the Diablo: The Sin War trilogy, Birthright, which I’ve not yet finished as I find I have to muscle through various parts due to my dislike of Richard A. Knaak’s style.
However I’m not here to discuss his shoddy writing.
I found the following video online today, and it got my mind racing. It poses the question; should Batman kill the Joker? It’s a question similar to those which I’ve discussed with Vince often, when discussing whether there should be more real-world type consequences and morality choices in comic books.
I found it interesting to hear what these people had to say, as they actually work in the industry. I wasn’t surprised by those who said no, or who discussed the lack of permanence when it comes to death and dying in comic books.
Still, I so wish such things could exist.
Before we go further, here’s the video for y’all to watch and then I’ll continue.
Source: Comic Vine
The problem with creating strong characters in comic books is that editors and fans aren’t likely to want them killed off (at least not permanently). Sure, a morbid mob chose to axe Jason Todd, however oh look… he’s back.
This leads to a lot of problems. As a writer, you’re forced to consider the iconic status of a character before deciding how realistically you can have them behave.
To be fair, in this case, Batman is not like to ever kill the Joker. It goes against his every moral grain. However in addition to being a strong character trait, that is also a very convenient excuse for why he doesn’t actually act as an actual person would.
Now, I know that’s casting one hell of a stereotype upon all of us, however I think it’s fair to say that even Gandhi would have take a shovel to the side of the Joker’s head after he’d killed Todd.
There’s another problem with killing off the Joker though, which has little to do with the morality of the man with the pointy eared cowl, and that is that it would force comic book writers to work harder at their craft. I will say this, making certain to bold the word which I think most important; many comic book writers have gotten quite lazy. I want the emphasis on ‘many’ to imply that it is not ‘all’ or even ‘nearly all’… but rather ‘many’.
There are those that are truly gifted. Those who create with such imagination and talent that you don’t have to work at believing their stories. You simply do. In a world where grown men and women run around in costumes, you don’t question their motives or actions because they ring true.
That’s important to me. I’m willing to suspend my disbelief, however I don’t want to be thought a fool. And let’s be honest; there are many comic book writers who treat us as such. Whether by their own design or that of an editor who guides their work, the end result is still the same; a exasperated sigh and a loud “oh, come on”.
So how then would comic book writers have to work harder? Simply put, they would have to be far more creative.
You see, I don’t believe that writing that takes morality and consequences into account would be the problem. I think that most writers would love to be able to allow Batman the choice, for I don’t think he’s had that opportunity but for a few spin-off titles that don’t exist in the DC cannon.
That is no small task.
There’s a reason why iconic characters aren’t killed off. It’s because it’s bloody hard work having to constantly create characters that are interesting enough to cause readers to buy comics. Thought it’s certainly possible.
One look at The Walking Dead series will prove that you can create a world wherein anyone, be they hero or villain, can die a gruesome death, and the audience will return every single month for more of this emotional torture.
Some may argue that this works within the context of that series due to the nature of the story. I believe that it can work in any series, however editors and fans have to decide whether they want to read a iconic series wherein consequences do not exist, but characters live on forever; or more of a ‘realist’ series where characters are likely to behave as you may… however don’t get too attached to them. And if you don’t think that we as fans have a say in this decision, how about we all stop buying ‘Batman and Robin’ and see how long before the title is cancelled.
We do have a say. And my vote is for moral consequences.
My answer is that yes, Batman should kill the Joker – so long as a truly gifted writer is allowed to create the build-up, as well as the fall-out… as it would make for one hell of a story-arc.