In total some 17 heroes were killed in the Return Of The Gods Twilight Of The Super Heroes story. A large number were seriously injured. These are characters that, in some cases, I had created more than thirty years ago and meant a lot to me sop it was hard to just see them die.
So why did I let them die?
Every day that a police or fire officer goes out there is the risk that it could be their last. In the same way if you fight a powerful foe/super villain you run the risk of being killed. A police or fire officer who thinks “Let’s see if I can get that rush from a near death event today!” is someone who should not be in that job. They are not suicidal but they know the risks.
If someone sets out to fight super criminals or even ordinary criminals they run a greater risk because they are actively putting themselves in that situation knowing in advance what could happen. It is why, in comics, they are super heroes. Now if you get a kid into a costume and pit him against villains with you, as Stan Lee points out, that is child endangerment. I’m trying to remember all my characters but I cannot think of one hero with a child side-kick. Yes, Kangy and Johnny Torch are kids who get themselves involved in mysteries/action but no one dragged them into it.
I once had a character called Hawk who used an eagle in his adventures. I stopped that because no matter how tough the bird its survival is going to get slimmer and slimmer.
Over the years a great many Black Tower characters have ended up in hospital in serious condition. In 1998 the sorcerer Mage fought the Dark Lord Kaos and has been comatose ever since. In the same Cosmic Fulcrum story the original Chronos, John Tempus, was so badly injured that he never donned the costume again and his health was very poor. He was replaced by his son.
In one adventure local and regional hospitals were almost over-flowing with injured heroes. My original Questors team was headed by a man who had lost an eye in action and later a hand, thanks to a hand grenade.
The Avenger has been stabbed, hit by throwing stars, beaten, shot and a lot more since 1985. Jon Future was in hospital and a coma for months after being in a car that blew up –it killed four of his team mates. Back in 1983-1990, Red Dragon was haunted by the sudden appearance of the Wraith. Though he did not know this until much later, the Wraith was, in fact…him! I knew from that time that Red Dragon would die but not when.
When I set about drawing a story I am looking at a blank page. I might have some rough visualisation as to what I want but the story develops as I draw because I do not use a script. For this reason I had no idea that ——- was going to die in the Twilight of the Gods. I certainly never thought —— was also going to die after him. In fact, even the final death was not fore-planned.
Again, Stan Lee once said in a TV interview that there had to be that risk of death when a hero went out to fight a villain or else there was no “edge”. So,Blankman is going to fight Dr Thermonuclearman the greatest villain ever to the end…but we know Blankman has never been injured let alone come close to death before so why bother reading the story –we KNOW he wins and is unscathed.
Pete Forrest, Master of Geni was crippled in action. Magnetic Man took almost twenty years to even get back to a semblance of normality. No doubt other Black Tower characters will face the same in the future.
And in a mammoth battle involving Old and New gods the idea that no one would come out with a bruise is ridiculous. It does get a little dirty –Hornet takes out one god from behind…with a piece of lead piping!
Rachel Flynn, former member of the German D-Gruppe, became the Gadgeteer after Gadgetman retired. She died in space with other heroes (and that is the only spoiler you get!). Someone may adopt a similar costume but not in all cases. I have always said that, in the Black Tower Universe, death is death. NO ONE COMES BACK FROM DEATH (ghosts excluded which is me stretching things).
At the start of The Cross Earths Caper the aftermath of the events are seen with heroes either having retired or simply keeping a low profile.
A couple of people have said that “of course you’ll bring them back!” Could I bring back my grandparents or parents? No. “Retconning” or whatever you want to call it is a clear sign of lack of imagination and credibility. I may not get rich but I’d like to have a little credibility!
Hey –characters died in Zeitgeist and they won’t be back either!