The inspiration, I think, is obvious -- all the death being done as a cheap publicity stunt. Indeed, I've sometimes wondered if this is now required in comics (no, no one in Sound Waves is going to buy the farm). I've goofed on it and everything. After all, it fools no one. No one hears a character is gone and really believes it.
Marvel recently decided to kill off Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four comic. They caught a wave of mainstream media interest and made a killing * grin * with it. Right now, the ComicsPro retailer summit is going on, and the VP of Sales at Marvel, David Gabriel, had two things to say:
1) They are going to kill a main character every quarter.
2) "This is not a joke."
No, but the motivation is. Eventually, the public will catch on and no one will reward the attention whoring anymore. You sure you want to go down that road?
You know, maybe this would be a good thing for comics. If killing characters off loses its ability to goose sales and draw attention, then maybe creatively bankrupt series will have to actually do other things to bring and keep readers. Like maybe, oh, off the top of my head, good storytelling?
So get ready for beloved characters to drop like flies in the coming year. I got $5 says Mary Jane Watson gets offed, just because Joe Quesada seems to like pissing off the Spider fans. Any takers?