Given the number of people who get their jollies off beating up on Michael Terracciano’s fantasy comic Dominic Deegan, I must admit feeling a tad guilty in taking Terracciano to town over the most recent storyline. But one of the duties of a critic is to point out the mistakes in storytelling and art in the hopes that even if the person who made the mistakes doesn’t listen, other people might and thus avoid making those mistakes themselves. What’s more, this is a problem Terracciano has suffered from in the past and failed to compensate for by refusing to kill off characters even when it makes sense for it to happen in the story.
Terracciano’s problem with effective use of death in the comic goes back a ways. Personally I felt that Dominic Deegan would have a more dramatic and interesting storyline if Gregory Deegan had died at Jacob’s hands around a decade ago, but I can understand why he resisted the temptation to kill Gregory… or later to let Luna live when the story initially called for her end. And it’s not like death is an alien concept to the comic, seeing that antagonists have died left and right, along with a couple of heroes. Further, I must applaud his killing of the character Bumper… which I honestly didn’t see coming.
Naturally it all fell apart in the last couple of comics, when the comic’s newest master antagonist, King David Johann, corrupted several nonhuman Archmages and used them to attack allies and compatriots of his titular character. Despite these being beings of vast power, the end result was more notable for how many people survived than died. Which isn’t to say no one died… but they were all minor bit characters who served no purpose to the comic as a whole. Nor is this the first time in this story that Terracciano has walked a character instead of sending him or her to the grave – two months ago I commented on the likely deaths of three characters only to have Terracciano give all of those characters a pass.
I will admit I’m guilty of similar; in one of the novels I’ve written (and am in the process of rewriting), I managed to avoid killing most of the characters. The difference is that the survival of those characters wasn’t a handwave, but made sense thematically and dramatically. Terracciano’s sole reason for letting his bit characters live is that he dislikes killing characters. In that case, he shouldn’t have put them in harms way to begin with. As he said, when villains launch a deadly attack, not everyone will be lucky to get a last-minute rescue. But in this case, the story would have been stronger should the survivors have been the exception, not the rule.