Cartoon or Opera?
Lethality in the superhero genre is an interesting phenomenon. Heroes and villains (apparently) may perish, but their eventual return is all but guaranteed. One of the factors in bringing The Jagged Earth to life is how to deal with death. Characters – good, bad, and other – need to resonate with readers and keep them involved in the story. Killing off any character risks alienating the reader, but traditional literature tends to leave plenty of dead bodies around. On the other end of the spectrum are cartoons where a character’s death may only last a frame or two. Superhero comics land somewhere in-between. Sometimes part of the fun of reading comics is to find out how in the world the writers are going to resolve the inescapable death trap and bring the hero – or villain – back from certain doom.
So where does The Jagged Earth fit?
Characters are going to die in The Jagged Earth, even heroes, and some of them are going to stay dead. It won’t be a place where heroes measure success by the body count (villains play be different rules, naturally). Any character’s death should be significant to the story, not easily dismissed with a wave of the resurrection wand. If it isn’t significant to the reader, then there is no emotional content, no connection. So, I’m going to take the risk of the book being thrown across the room (literally as well as figuratively) when a character perishes.
Of course, this is still superhero fiction…