It's been announced that this fall, Wolverine will die... and months before it happens, it's already clear that there's no chance that it's going to stick.
Over and over and over again, we've seen heroes and villains killed off, some of them even in their own 'event' comics. A few civilian characters have managed to rest in peace, but mainstream heroes and villains? Not a chance.
Superman, Green Lantern, Batman, Captain America, Spider-Man, the Human Torch. Every single one of them has died in the line of duty, only to be resurrected or given some slippery logic to explain how they didn't technically die in the first place. (There may or may not have been time-travel bullets involved.)
There's a thing called the Law of Diminishing Returns. It's the reason a joke isn't as funny the second time you hear it, why seeing a movie or reading a book isn't as thrilling after that first experience. Pulling a stunt (and I do mean stunt) like killing a major comic book character no longer leaves any impact, because the audience knows it's not permanent. It never has been. Hell, even other fictional characters acknowledge it, at this point.
Regarding Wolverine: He's been living without his healing factor for roughly a year, now. Never mind the fact that he should have died from adamantium poisoning ages ago. (If they explained why this hasn't killed him, please fill me in.) Regardless, he's still been able to do his job. It's fine to show him wincing, bandaging his knuckles, leaning on mutants with healing powers... has his actual job performance suffered? Is he any less of a mutant who's the best there is at what he does?
Plot logistics aside, Wolverine is one of, if not the most popular character in the Marvel family. He's in more comic books than the color blue. There's no way that Marvel would sacrifice a character with, arguably, more drawing power than any other single character in their entourage.
So why pretend? Why pretend that this story will have any more impact on longterm plot than any of the other dozen times this has happened? He'll die, he'll be mourned, characters will take it seriously, and then when the dust has settled, he'll rise again— complete with a shiny new healing factor.
The question (one that I genuinely want to hear answers to) is this: what else can Marvel and DC do with their characters to leave an impact on them, to change them, besides killing them? What lasting changes can be made to keep the characters fresh?
It's obvious they're trying things out. Daredevil just moved to a new city. Bruce Banner's brain was smashed to a pudding, he won't be controlling his temper again anytime soon. Spider-Man's just reclaimed his life from the iron tendrils of Doc Ock, who's done catastrophic damage to his reputation.
Maybe that's part of it? The fact that Wolverine doesn't have much of a life, outside the tights and fights? If he had more going on than the never-ending battles with whoever's in front of him, maybe there'd be something else for him to lose, or care about.
My point is, there has to be something else that can be done with or to Wolverine besides killing him, to leave a dent on him. Something more permanent than a comic book death.
What do you think?