The comics world is abuzz with rumours that current Astonishing X-Men writer Joss Whedon plans to kill off fan favourite character Kitty Pryde at the end of his run. This has got Brian Cronin, a regular blogger for the fanboy website Comic Book Resources, thinking about the subject of death in superhero titles, and he’s come up with an exhaustive set of rules to help writers determine when it is appropriate – and not appropriate – to kill off major characters.
Our favourite rule is #4:
If you need to kill off a minor supervillain, imagine someone else is putting together a new Masters of Evil/Injustice League in a few years. If the character you’re thinking of killing would be seriously considered for such a group – don’t kill him/her. There is a bit of a shortage amongst villains on the lower tier, like Absorbing Man, the Wrecking Crew and Tiger Shark. Don’t kill them off.
Cronin also has a shortlist of the supporting players who can never, ever be killed off. Ever. They are:
Alfred, Foggy Nelson, Commissioner Gordon, Mary Jane Watson, Aunt May, Perry White, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, Betty Brant. These characters should be considered practically parts of their respective comics by now. Do not kill them off – unless, of course, you have a darned good reason to do so.
Consider yourselves on notice, comic book scribes.