Matt Fraction Murders Immortals

Every new comic-book has to be important and meaningful, you guys. Lives have to hang in the balance and stakes have to be raised high and kept high. To do that, writers have to dredge through sewers filled with back-issues of ‘The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe’ and find C-list driftwood to murder. Which is why Matt Fraction’s decided to take a different approach to his second arc of Defenders, and kill off some of his own creations. Not only does this mean he won’t have to watch other writers do the same in five years’ time, it means he can deliver a kick to fans of his work, and push his stakes higher – say, to the approximate height of a house, rather than a bungalow.

And so, within three pages of the latest issue of Defenders, Fraction has brutally disposed of three characters from his run on Immortal Iron Fist. Who’re among the dead? I’ll tick them off for you:

1: Dog Brother #1, a samurai-type character who wears a suit of armour that, crucially, doesn’t protect his neck.
2: Tiger’s Beautiful Daughter, who gets murdered via a lovely bath.
3: Bride of Nine Spiders, a very popular character who shouted JE JE JE JE as she murdered people and whom – cleverly – Fraction leaves an escape route if he ever decides he wants her back.
Ed Brubaker is going to shed real tears when he hears about this. The other three members who form a team with these poor departed souls are The Prince of Orphans (who shows up later), Fat Cobra (who shows up earlier) and Davos, who doesn’t show up at all on account of living in a different plane of existence to ours. But then, you already knew that, didn’t you?
Because the death of these three ‘Immortal Weapons’ is something which is really only going to hit home for people who were already fans of Immortal Iron Fist. It’s Matt Fraction writing to his own audience, and writing something shocking for them only. The other weapons aren’t particularly well-known on their own, and only Fat Cobra has shown up with any real regularity outside the area governed by Fraction’s fingertips. Despite appearing in one of the most critically-acclaimed mainstream comic books of the past few years, these characters aren’t famous themselves. So they are ripe for slaughter.
It’s interesting to see Fraction killing off his own characters. It certainly brings attention to a book which was much-hyped and praised during the first arc, but has since gone onto the back-burner over the past month or so. Now that the book is any less praised, but the hype is certainly dying down as attention moves over to AvX. It’s a shame to see such interesting characters leave, but it works as a way for Fraction to grab the reader right at the start of the story, and invest them. Fans of his previous work, who have continued along to this book, are now going to be utterly unable to tear away until this story arc is over. Apart from the people who’re annoyed and will probably quit the book as a result.
But anyway, it’s an interesting twist for Defenders, and I’ve certainly got a renewed interest in where this story is now headed. Let us mourn the Immortal Weapons, but not too hard, because it had already been established anyway that they legacy characters and new versions of the dead ones will probably show up any day now.
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