I’m not a hero. I don’t have extraordinary physical or mental capabilities, I’m too afraid to leave my house on my own when it’s dark, and I am a girl. I wish the last part was irrelevant. It isn’t.

I’ve been into comic books for three years and I am told about my favorite heroes saving small children from harm, and fighting bad guys while still getting home in time for dinner — and they’re men. I read about their girlfriends, wives, and mothers being injured or harmed for the sake of “character development.” Not awesome.

Spoilers below.

Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker’s girlfriend, was thrown off a bridge. After an unsuccessful attempt by Spider-Man to save her, she died. The writers came up with this gruesome conclusion because, apparently, Parker was too cool for a long-term, committed relationship.

Rebecca Banner, Bruce Banner’s mother, was killed by her alcoholic and abusive husband. This, of course, affected his mental health and increased his internal struggle with his Hulk side.

In 2013, the Scarlet Witch and Rogue were both killed — in the same issue. There isn’t any male character development here; just a great example of terrible writing.

All of these deaths were completely unnecessary, violent, and pretty sad.

Is this really our only option to keep a story going? Isn’t there a way to keep Gwen alive and in Peter’s life without restraining him? Doesn’t Bruce Banner have enough problems that encourage the Hulk, without his mother dying? Isn’t there more to keeping the attention of readers than shock value?

I’m not a hero. I don’t want to be one, and I don’t want to know one. I’m pretty fond of living.

This essay first appeared in the publication Teens in Print.