Captain America's death was good, I agree with Chris on that...at first. It's the way he was brought back that messed things up, essentially retroactively ruining all the power his death had created. That's why I maintain that it was a horrid and possibly one of the worst deaths, it just made him feel like a weak character. I loved the stuff with Bucky and wish it was still that way, I expected things to return to normal but Marvel forced it way too hard, too soon.
I like how Dan mentions death in comics as more of a reset button, I really wish it was more permanent and I agree that it can basically be blamed on Superman. That's what was good about Knightfall, why bother killing him when you'll bring him back in a year or two anyway? I agree with Kyle that Death of Superman is worse, from what I've heard of it at least (I refuse to read any Superman, I hate that character.) Knighfall at least had its moments, it may have even been great if it had been shortened into a six issue arc or something.
I suppose that was the one good thing about the Ultimate Marvel finale. They made it clear when they killed off all those characters, that they weren't coming back.
Of course, it was the end of the Ultimate line, so there wasn't much to come back to, but still.
Captain america's death was a stupid gimmick that was only saved from being yet another event driven piece of drivel by the way it was brilliantly written and followed up by Ed Brubaker, who turned something unbelievably idiotic on every level into something really good. But then we came to Captain Americas return... which just made no sense. It was obviously an event driven gimmick just to bring him back and any common sense had been thrown out along with the several years worth of quality scripting.
As far as the best character deaths? There have been a few good ones. Even if they were later invalidated. And in looking at it, the best ones seem to be the characters that no one expects to come back. They are just far enough out of the A list to not have the instant reset button, while close enough to the top to have some lasting impact. A few whose deaths impacted stories for years in a mainly good way.
The best of these was probably Barry Allen, the Flash. Barry Allen as the Flash was one of those characters that you would love to live next to. The nicest guy on the planet. A true boy scout. But because of this his books were kind of missing something. But his heroic sacrifice in the original Crisis was stunning at the time. And even more was the lasting impact. Barry Allen became a far more interesting character dead in comics then he ever was alive. The impact on his sidekick Wally West, the impact on the Justice League. just some really good stuff came out of it. For decades. Then they went and messed it all up by bringing him back. Bah!
Also high on the list for good hero death would be Captain Marvel. (The Marvel one, Mar-Vel of the Kree). He died in a special graphic novel. The first of its kind. No dramatic build up in a series. He died of cancer, in bed. It was one of those stories that seems a little cliched and cheesy today, but was quite shocking at the time. Once again the underlying take away was that there would be no reset button, and the death would have some long term impact, no matter how minor. After seeing years of comic character deaths it's still one that stands out.
The death of Guardian in issue 12 of the original Alpha Flight series. Still one of the most shocking pages ever in a comic. Possibly the one single moment when John Byrne surpassed the death of Pheonix. And once again it had a lasting impact for years. Heck Byrne himself even dangled the reset button in a followup story arc, only to slam the readers again with yet another mindf__k 12 issues later. Once again that death had long term effect, at least until some editorial decision said they needed some publicity decades later.
I'm not sure if this counts as a superhero death, but the death of Morpheus in the Sandman stands as one of those truly compelling moments. You knew it was coming. The entire series built to it. It was Destiny, it was inevitable. And it was still powerful.
Oh and speaking of Mindf__k's, that particular characters death over in Adam Warrens oddly charming borderline sftcore title Empowered definately comes down on the side of good powerful story driven character death.
Plus, Ted stays dead...and made Booster Gold more awesome.
I've been wondering this whole year why my friends are totally into superheroes, yet I still have no idea. Atleast I learned something today
I've got a great story about a comic book character dying. A TRUE story from college.
I know who killed Robin (the Jason Todd one, I think). It wasn't the Joker. It was a fangirl comic geek.
DC had made a big deal about involving the fans as to whether the Joker was or wasn't going to kill Robin. In the process they put up a 900 number (cost=$2 to $3 or so) that fans could call to vote on whether Robin should live or die. I might be off about the numbers below, but here it goes.
My girlfriend at the time had a roommate who was a comic fangirl and who wrote fanfiction with a circle of friends (this was pre-internet so they mailed each other their stories). The roommate told us a fellow fangirl in the writers circle--these are total comic geeks, by the by, not all girls either--who utterly hated Jason Todd's character and called the number to vote for Robin's death about 125 times.
The final tally about whether Robin should live or die was about 75 in favor of his death.
This taught me a lesson. Never doubt the hate-power of fangirls, ladies and gentlemen.
OT: Now that Bucky's been brought back Gwen Stacy is the only comic book character who's grandly damatized death hasn't been undone by lazy Johnny-come-lately writers. The guys are right about how badly comic companies (and it's not just the writers but the Big Bosses who are involved in major decisions like Knightfall etc) have gutted the dramatic tension out of life and death plotlines by rendering nearly any death predictably temporary.
Kyle was right, Death of Superman was worse. At least Batman's arch was kind of memorable, the Death of Superman was just bluuuugh.
So Chris admitted to 'cheating'? Well Dan now has the credentials to judge womens fencing =D