The Many Deaths of the Red Bee

We were talking about Golden Age favorite The Red Bee earlier this week and apparently, he was killed off three times, no writer or editor apparently aware he was already dead (or actually, continuity having moved on). Though I don't want to see the guy die at all, or in fact, ANY superhero (I think it's a waste), that intrigued me and I went looking...

The Red Bee's first death was at Roy Thomas' hands in All-Star Squadron #35. And by Roy Thomas, I mean Baron Blitzkrieg.
With apologies to Red Bee fans. Bane, eat your heart out. But that was the pre-Crisis, Earth-X Red Bee, wasn't it? Thankfully, his other deaths aren't so grisly.

In Golden Age #4, James Robinson kills the Red Bee again.
Killed while on duty, fighting Dynaman (not milk racketeers then). The Red Bee had apparently dreamt of this 7 years earlier, but it didn't stop it from happening. Does this death "count"? Well, while The Golden Age is labeled as an Elseworld, Robinson and Johns would go on to use much of its continuity as if it were what really happened to shut down the JSA. Even if it didn't happen this way on the sole post-Crisis Earth, the Red Bee's death on Earth-Golden Age doesn't count any less than the one that happened in All-Star Squadron, whose continuity is equally in question.

Robinson later uses the Red Bee's ghost in Starman #37. Same writer, same death regardless? Maybe. The circumstances are even less clear:
That's a splash of food on his chest, but I believe it's meant to evoke whatever wound killed him. A knife to the heart? Why I think this is a different version of the Red Bee:
1. Even if The Golden Age represents the truth about what happened to at least some heroes post-Crisis, Zero Hour tweaked continuity in between that mini-series and his Starman appearance.
2. The ghost of the Red Bee mentions having died before he was able to show his stuff, but the Golden Age Bee might have had as much as a decade of active service. Not necessarily contradictory, but if he had lived past the JSA due date, then moaning about having yet to prove himself to them makes little sense.
3. This post-Zero Hour Red Bee rocks a funky belt buckle/portable bee hive:
So that's three Red Bees confirmed dead, will there be more? After all, it would be right up today's DC writers to use the Earth 2 series to reinvent a Red Bee just so they could graphically kill him off. Hope I'm not giving anyone any ideas here...

19 comments:

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

Two Red Bee entries! What a treat, Siskoid.

Michael Hoskin said...

>Well, while The Golden Age is labeled as an Elseworld, Robinson and Johns would go on to use much of its continuity as if it were what really happened to shut down the JSA.

If you mean the HUAC stuff, that didn't originate with the Golden Age - it goes all the way back to Roy Thomas' America vs. the Justice Society and had been referenced in Post-Crisis books like Secret Origins#14 & Suicide Squad Annual#1 (both times referencing how the end of the JSA led to the creation of Task Force X).

John Trumbull said...

The HUAC stuff goes back further than the America vs. the JSA mini-series, Michael. Paul Levitz first introduced that in Adventure Comics #466 back in the 70s.

And the Red Bee's death is given more context in The Golden Age, Siskoid. He's killed by Dynaman in the final confrontation is issue #4.

American Hawkman said...

I'll point out that Plastic Man mentioned specifically being in a mental institution with the Red Bee after the invention of Prozac... which means NONE of these deaths stuck.

Oh, and the Red Bee was killed off in the JLA/JSA crossover that introduced the Freedom Fighters as well... I didn't count the Golden Age issue in my count!

Luna.wolves said...

Thanks for showing the dinner bit. A very moving scene.

Siskoid said...

My research was obviously too thin... UPDATE TOMORROW!!!!

Shoddy research is nothing new here at the SBG, but we'll compensate with EXTRA RED BEE CONTENT.

I think you come out ahead.

Siskoid said...

AmHawk: Did the Red Bee really die in that story? I mean, Uncle Sam laments the friends he lost on Earth-X, but only the Blackhawks and Plastic Man are shown. I suppose we could infer it, or am I missing a specific reference?

American Hawkman said...

Didn't the Freedom Fighters Who's Who confirm him as dying there?

American Hawkman said...

Oh, and lastly, note that the modern Red Bee is almost certainly intended to be a descendant, since she has the same last name. So, apparently, the Bee lived long enough to have kids!

Siskoid said...

She could be a great niece, I guess.

American Hawkman said...

Consulted my reference books... Jenna Raleigh is allegedly the granddaughter of Richard's brother, according to the Quality Companion. I don't remember that from the mini, but we'll roll with it.

According to the personal files of Captain Nazi printed in World At War, the World War 2 sourcebook for Mayfair Games' DC Heroes RPG, Captain Nazi had personally seen the Red Bee in action after Baron Blitzkrieg had told him he snapped his spine, leading the villain to believe that the Baron was mistaken. I have no idea if this is based on anything printed by DC, or just what they told Mayfair, but it IS interesting. Amusingly, Captain Nazi speculates that the Bee isn't really a superhero, but an escaped lunatic that THINKS he's a superhero. That was printed well before Grant Morrison had Plastic Man mentioning his time in the institution with the Red Bee.

Siskoid said...

I hadn't thought to check the DCH sourcebook. Those are some amazing and insane details!

American Hawkman said...

That World At War sourcebook is a favorite of mine. Captain Nazi's records on all Allied superheroes are deeply amusing, especially the strategic recommendations on how to deal with the Spectre. (Run... if you can.) And then we have the War comic characters official military files, and the JSA' s own records on their villains. Great reading even if you don't play.

Anonymous said...

When I read the Golden Age I thought Red Bee prophetic dream and dream was amazing. Back then, bad omens always failed! Recently I read the death dream appeared in one Roy Thomas comics.

Roy THomas and James Robinson are masters of continuity, and had a great part in building the Golden Age. Well, at least until 52 f*"%d it all!

Bradley Walker said...

Also, the Red Bee appeared in a recent issue of Teen Titans Go! He was a game show judge (!) alongside Darkseid and (Date With) Debbi!

Siskoid said...

I've got check that out!

Martin Gray said...

I've bee-n busy, time for a catch up, yay!

Siskoid said...

Been buzzy?

Martin Gray said...

I was saving that one for another post, darn.

Off to read Angel and the Apiary ...

 

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