April 16, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Kole: Portrait Of A Sacrificial Lamb

That's her on the left.

Most big crossover comics events promise big things about how nothing will be the same and a cast of thousands.  Most comics crossover events fail to deliver by a wide margin.  The only real exception is The Crisis On Infinite Earths, a comic storyline that may not have been the most coherent seeing as how the Anti-Monitor had a new plan every issue, but did deliver cameos from just about every character DC had, whether they fit into the narrative or not, and the multiverse was abolished.  Some characters, like Superman and Wonder Woman, were completely rebooted, while others like Batman had their origins modernized.  Prominent characters like Supergirl and the Barry Allen Flash were killed and actually stayed dead for years real world time.

They also killed off Kole.

Kole was a member of the Teen Titans, DC’s then-bestseller (yes, even outselling Batman, Jenny).  Writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez were the creative team for both that book and the Crisis maxi-series, so the Titans got a decent amount of appearances in various panels.  I’d never seen or even heard of Kole before reading my Crisis trade, but I wasn’t much for the Titans and didn’t really know who half of the various Outsiders were, so that was hardly surprising.  She was one of the Titans, and she could shape and control crystal.  Not bad as superpowers go.

And then by the last issue she was dead, alongside the Earth-2 Robin and Huntress, two characters who couldn’t fit into the new combined Earth for various reasons.

Now, what makes Kole all the more surprising is that she seems to have been created for the express purpose of killing her off during the Crisis.  She’d only premiered in the main Titans series in June of 1985, while the Crisis itself started in April of that same year.  Her Wikipedia bio says she was told she would meet a doom if she returned to Earth.  She returned, and she died.  Aside from a few supernaturally-based temporary resurrections, she’s stayed dead since then.

I couldn’t even find much in the way of pictures for this article.  A Google Image search mostly turned up fan art and images from the Teen Titans animated series version of her, who near as I can make out turned to crystal so her caveman sidekick could use her as a club.

Her cartoon version was basically a shinier version of this guy.
Her cartoon version was basically a shinier version of this guy.

It’s not overly surprising to see characters created simply to die.  That’s the whole function of a red shirt on Star Trek.


Characters returning from long absences can fulfill a similar role.  The X-Men used to have a character named Joseph.  He was basically a younger Magneto clone.  After leaving the series for a period, a crossover occurs, the editors promise someone will die, and lo and behold, Joseph comes back and dies.

But then there’s Kole.  Her first appearance wasn’t in the main Crisis series, but she died a heroic death there when shadow demons ate through the shielding she threw up to protect herself and two Earth-2 survivors.  And that was that.  She was created just to die.

This look says the 80s have a lot to answer for.
This look says the 80s have a lot to answer for.

Of course, Kole wasn’t the only one to die by a longshot.  Many characters died, mostly minor or repetitive ones.  Maybe Wolfman wanted to prove there was no such thing as Titan immunity from death.  But why someone who’d been on the team for all of five minutes?