Death by Nerdery
Originally published in Synthesis Weekly: July 2011
So Amy Winehouse is dead. And really, I’m already kicking myself for giving this topic more press than it has already received, because I really don’t care. I give, (as some people, and one person in particular would say), “zero fucks” that she’s gone. However, her timely passing raised some points of interest for me, mostly about how our country thinks of death, especially among celebrities. Famous people who flirt with, and eventually are full-on whoring it up with drugs, then inevitably die appear to produce an instant kind of solemn backlash. Dying in such a way, with a drug-fueled preamble seems to prove somehow you weren’t kidding. Which is absolute nonsense really. There used to be a semi-widely believed idea that dying was the best thing you could do for your career as an artist. I’m not so sure that rings true anymore. The morning of Winehouse’s demise, the internet was aflame with idiotically obvious “rehab” jokes and people posting her songs with “heartfelt” sadness about the loss of such talent. I’m sure in a few weeks Letterman and Leno will be adding her name to the list of people it is acceptable to ridicule, and in a few months, she’ll be forgotten. Added to the list of young people who snuffed out their own lives with substance abuse and an overactive sense of invincibility. In case you’re wondering, I don’t really have a point. I usually look at such things as an evolved sense of natural selection. On the death topic, or in the same vein (see what I did there?) this week we’ll be looking at the top all-time deaths in the comic book world. In no particular order, here they are.
In issue #121 of The Amazing Spider-Man, which debuted in 1973, the Green Goblin takes Gwen Stacy captive on a bridge. When Spider-Man arrives on the scene to fight the Green Goblin, the Goblin (predictably) throws her off the bridge, whereupon Spider-Man catches her leg with one of his webs. After pulling her up onto the bridge, he realizes she’s already dead, most likely killed by the whiplash of falling from such a height. This was a big deal in the world of comics as in the 70’s, superheroes didn’t fail. Certainly not with such a character as Gwen Stacy. Many people consider this issue marks the end of the silver age of comic books, and I’m inclined to agree.
In 07’, the Death Of Captain America was published and created widespread shock. In the aftermath of Civil War, he’s taken into custody and assassinated by a brainwashed Sharon Carter. As such a timeless symbol of patriotic goodness, his death was a huge blow to the nerd community.
Jason Todd became Robin when Dick Grayson moved on and began to fight crime under the new name Nightwing. Fans ultimately decided the new Robin wasn’t up to par, and DC held a phone-in contest to determine the fate of Jason Todd. Unfortunately for him, the Joker won out, and Todd was killed off in 88’s Batman: A Death in the Family storyline. The ripples from his death have echoed for decades, most recently in 05’s Under the Hood storyline.