The Fan Fiction Fanzine

Hunter’s Crosshairs: Bring Out Yer Dead!

• Dec 20th, 2011 • Category: Features

Fan-fiction grants us the ability to change things that have happened in the main universes, or to make cut-offs before things happened that we didn’t like. I know this. I did it, once, when I created the X – M Universe @ The House of Ideas (http://thoin.mergingminds.org/fanfic/default.asp?sec=11), because it led to the deaths of dozens of secondary characters that I’d become fond of.

It’s also a place that people are free to exercise their vendettas. You see, I spend a lot of time on some internet forums, and I honestly can’t believe the vitriol some people have for certain characters. Me, I’m one of those weird guys who loves all characters. I believe I’ve been told that I’m “addicted to stories,” which is why long-running television shows and comic books are all dangerous to me, because I stick around for those stories. So when I see people absolutely, completely, viciously hate a character, I’m not sure where it comes from.

But then, in fan-fiction, sometimes we play god and, because we’re in control, we kill the character we dislike.

Or, worse, we kill a character because we think they’re lame.

Yeah, I know, right? I’m sure none of us are guilty of that.

I’ll address these two different things one by one, because they really are two different things.

First off, as an editor, if folks kill characters simply for the sake not liking those characters, it kinda causes me to shift uneasily. For one, at a site the size of Marvel Omega, you’re taking the potential for a writer to write a character they love off the board just out of spite, and when characters are hard to come by, that can be damaging.

I remember when I first joined Marvel Omega, there was discussion over the character of Surge. Someone was planning to kill her off to make a story more dramatic. Another writer asked if the dib-holder had plans. The dib-holder expressed their plan, and the other writer specifically said, well that’s a shame for the exact reason I stated before. They wanted a chance to write Surge themselves. It happens. Believe me, it does. Dino Pollard regretted killing a bunch of mutants at Marvel 2000 to the point that he wrote a storyline specifically to undo it years later. These things happen.

For those who kill characters they consider lame as a way of “putting them out of their mercy,” though, I have a different way of thinking for you. As a writer, it’s your job to do things that are challenging. If you find a particular character boring, write them better. Handle the character in a way that makes them intriguing and fun to read. If you can do that, you’re busting your chops as a writer to get some good work done. If you aren’t, if you’re taking the easy way out and killing the character due to the character’s “lameness,” well, that just strikes me of lazy writing.

Back in the day, Mark Gruenwald wrote a story featuring the Scourge of the Underworld killing off a bunch of single-note villains because they were Z-listers, which made it okay, right? Surely you’ve heard of the story, because it’s one that fan-fiction writers in particular seem to be fascinated with.  Years later, he would write in the Marvel Bullpen that he regretted that. He wished he hadn’t killed off those characters.

How many Marvel fan-fiction sites have killed Professor Xavier? Or Wolverine?

How many have put C-list villains in the grave for the sake of killing them?

The point of this post isn’t to rag on anyone doing anything specifically. It’s to provide a second perspective to some of the things that, as an editor, I see way too often from folks wanting to do things.

When I think about killing a character, I think about the meaning it will have for those left behind. I think about how it will affect the others on the team or if the character will get a chance to shine, if their sacrifice will be the crowning moment of their existence in my use of them. If so, I think that maybe, just maybe it’s okay for me to kill them.

I like to use the daycare metaphor. If you think baby dolls are stupid and you rip one’s head off for the heck of it, what happens to the other kids in the daycare who would have gladly picked up that doll and played with it?

Yeah, exactly. Now that I’ve traumatized you all by making you relive daycare, think on it for a second the next time you kill a character.

The next guy may have written them into one of your new favorite characters.

is Hunter Lambright, a fan-fiction writer and editor at Marvel Omega (http://marvel.omegacen.com). He's done a lot of thinking and has a lot to say, so tell him to shut up every once in a while. Or, if you're not tired of hearing him yet, you can find him sporadically talking about comic books at Thoughts in Four Colors (http://thoughtsinfourcolors.wordpress.com).
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