Thursday, May 13, 2010

Unemployment in Irredeemable Land

Irredeemable #13 by Mark Waid and Diego Barreto, Boom! Comics (2010)

Does that unemployment statistic strike anyone else as being a bit small? To those not reading the series, recall that The Plutonian, Earth's former greatest superhero, has gone rogue and has been systematically destroying city after city. Millions are dead, the world economy has all but collapsed, there are riots on the streets and people are living in a state of panic with absolutely no knowledge of where the Plutonian will strike next.

And yet unemployment just hit 27.8%? Frankly, I'm surprised that 70% of the United States is still going to work at all. In fact, I think it's pretty funny that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is still even counting. In the face of complete and utter disaster, the likes of which the world has never before seen--where anyone can die at any minute--those troopers over at the BLS come in to work to compile the economic indicators.

No one can claim that economists and statisticians aren't tough guys.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Sadness=Profit: Comics and the Grief Industry

When someone dies, it can cause a lot of grief. Everyone who knows the recently deceased individual will likely feel some pang of sadness. But things get more complicated when the person who dies is famous. Rather than family and friends mourning, it's possible that the entire world will grieve.

In American history, the deaths of famous figures like John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Princess Diana, and Michael Jackson have all caused national if not worldwide mourning.

But in modern times, it seems that the way people grieve has changed. Grief seems to have taken a more profitable approach. Take Michael Jackson for example. A film biography/concert, "This Is It", released 4 months after the singer's death grossed $71 million according to IMDB. Jackson's death also inspired books and yet another film soon to be released. A lot of people made a lot of money when Michael Jackson died. By catering to a massive audience of grieving fans who appreciated their idol more than ever, keen businessmen were able to make quite a fortune.

It seems that grief is indeed an industry.

And as reality imitates art, we should be seeing the grief industry in comics.

And we do. After the death of Captain America, the comics world showed how the grief industry can act. With Captain America gone, many people tried to capitalize on his absence. Captain America #600 portrayed an individual selling Captain America memorabilia which had quadrupled in value after the hero's death. He profited handsomely from the sale. Movies were made and so were books. Norman Osborn even played off of Cap's death by painting himself red, white and blue and calling himself the Iron Patriot.

Now we comics readers have witnessed another tragic death in X-Force #26.

Nightcrawler is DEAD!

Nightcrawler from Giant-Size X-Men #1, art by Dave Cockrum

Kurt Wagner the wonderful German acrobat, priest, demon spawn, X-Man has ceased to be.

Nightcrawler heroically gave his life in X-Force #26 to protect the mutant messiah, Hope, from evil machines bent on destroying all mutantkind. Despite being impaled through the chest, Kurt mustered the strength to teleport Hope across the distance of the U.S. (a feat he has seldom accomplished) and into the hands of his comrades.

In light of the fact that Nightcrawler was much beloved, it seems that its only a matter of time before the industry of grief turns its eye on this departed furry blue mutant. Will we see Nightcrawler commemorative plates? Tickle-Me Nightcrawler? Brimstone scented Nightcrawler cologne?

Or will there we a successful music single, akin to Elton John's reimagining of "Candle in the Wind" for Princess Diana? That song was extremely successful and became one of the most popular singles of all time.

But what tribute songs shall we sing for Nightcrawler?


How about "You'll be Through My Heart"?

"Save the Last BAMF for Me"?

Cover art to X-Men: Manifest Destiny- Nightcrawler #1, art by Brandon Peterson

Regardless of how we mourn, we'll miss you Kurt. At least for the next five months until someone brings you back to life. Until then, bring on the merchandise!