So recent events in the Marvel U have had me pondering how different "heroic" characters view the use of lethal force against antagonists. It seems like Frank Castle and Wolverine are no longer the only heroes (anti-heroes I should say) who are willing to take drastic measures, and that now more and more good guys are ready to either kill or accept others killing as a necessary evil. For instance, Cyclops, during and in the wake of Messiah Complex, is more than willing to allow or even order Wolverine and the rest of the claw squad to mortally dispatch the enemies of mutantkind, or anybody else that stands in the way of their agenda. And of course there's the new gun toting Bucky-Cap, who, even though he has so far only used his gat to cap (no pun intended) some goons in the knees, seems poised to cross the line at some point in his CA career. Plus, we didn't see whether or not Black Widow actually killed anybody during the fight in CA#34. Which brings me to the next example: Tony Stark, as early as New Avengers #4 acknowledged that there are times when you need a killer on the team (e.g. Wolvie). What's more is that he now has on the Mighty Avengers team both the pistol packing Widow in addition to Ares, a god of war who has probably killed more people (often in cold blood) than anyone else in the MU, save Galactus or the Phoenix. Still, it could be argued that killer heroes are nothing new to comics, since most of the Golden Age heroes had no qualms with shooting bad guys dead. Just look at how many of the newly revived Twelve carry guns. Hell, even Steve Rogers killed the spy that sabotaged the original super soldier experiment, as well as scores of Nazis. Most comic book historians (and, yes, there apparently is such a profession) will probably tell you that the heroic code against killing only began with the institution of the comic code, thus ushering in the change in attitude of the Silver Age. As Steve Gerber pointed out recently, grim and gritty isn't really a new phenomenon in comics, it was just mildly suppressed during the Silver Age. Think about it, the Punisher isn't really a departure from the old pulp-noir protagonists of the late 30's early 40's. So, I ask you, is the code against killing breaking down? Are we seeing the reemergence of pulp values?