Death is not the end

phoenix

I’ve done this comparison before, years ago. It was easier then because I was still keeping up with my soaps while I was reading comic books. Like soap operas, you sort of forget that comic books exist if you don’t get regular exposure to them. We’re all solipsistic beings whether or not we want to admit it but that’s a post for another day.

I bought some comics as I grew up. I’d see them in the magazine section and sometimes the cover art would just draw me right to it. This occasional excursion into comics gave me the key knowledge that set me apart from the other girls.

I knew that Dick Grayson wasn’t the only Robin.

I swear my brain is full of tons of random information that comes useful at odd times. This one helped me snag my husband. The first time he fixed me dinner, he sat me in his room with the four issue series featuring Wolverine and Kitty Pryde. I was hooked. I read every issue of Marvel’s the X-men he could loan me. Kitty Pryde (known in the comics as Shadowcat) was my favorite.

Comic book fans don’t want to admit that these books share many plot devices and formulas of the soap operas their moms watch.

One of the biggest ones is that death is not the end of a character. I used to believe that a character was truly dead if they left behind an identifiable body. Then along came Days of Our Lives’ Roman Brady. This man died in his brother’s arms, dramatically, tearfully. His loved ones have a funeral and just as everyone adjusted to his absence, he returned. He was played by a different actor who was several inches taller and bore no physical resemblance to what he looked like before but he held all the same memories. After a while he was accepted as Roman Brady by everyone including the audience. Cue the return of the original Roman Brady portrayed by the original actor.

The comic book world has Jean Grey. The X-men’s Marvel Girl first died tragically in a shuttle crash after being exposed to a lethal amount of cosmic rays. Not long after her death, she returned, claiming that her brush with death had intensified her powers of telekinesis and telepathy. She adopted the name “Phoenix”. After her near omnipotent powers send her on a cataclysmic killing spree, she sacrificed herself to save those she loves. After a suitable mourning period, readers learn that the Phoenix wasn’t actually Jean Grey. The Phoenix force had witnessed Jean’s first death and saved her at the last moment. It has assumed her name and likeness and preserved the original Jean Grey to be revived safe and sound later.

Without the superpowers, Roman Brady’s and Jean Grey’s stories are mirror images. Death, replacement and eventually the return of the original. I didn’t even go into the whole added story of Jean Grey’s clone Madeline Pryor. That had the vivid ridiculousness of a soap opera storyline in spades. Maybe when I can find a good comparison in the soap opera universe, I will tell you more about it.

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