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Old March 28th, 2010   Scott Mateo is offline   #1
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Default How Kurt Busiek (Unwittingly) Ruined Marvel And DC Superhero Comics!

This is a really great blog on the history of "retcons" in comics.

HOW KURT BUSIEK (UNWITTINGLY) RUINED MARVEL AND DC SUPERHERO COMICS!

I really liked these two paragaraphs a lot. First, we get the origin of the retcon
The success of Marvels spawned imitators, naturally. What the people producing comics realized is that they were missing a huge market: the nostalgia market. Until Marvels, comics had been largely forward-looking. Consider: when the Golden Age ended, most of the heroes were put into mothballs. When DC wanted to revive superheroes, they didn't simply bring the old heroes back, they created new heroes using the old names and pushed on. When Marvel got into the superhero game in the early 1960s, they created a bunch of new heroes, even though they brought back a few from the World War II era. As comics moved into the 1970s and 1980s, they still looked forward. Villains might return again and again, but not many people fiddled around with what became known as "retroactive continuity," which has become known as a "retcon." The origin stories of the heroes were good enough. DC, in fact, decided that their universe had become too convoluted, and instead of trying to go back and fix everything, they simply destroyed the entire thing. What a ballsy move. So comics kept moving into the future.
ddf
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I think this is why I've been leaning more towards Marvel in the recent years, despite the fact I grew up as a die-hard DC fan for 30+ years.
After Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC was free to re-invent their characters, and they did so. Wonder Woman had never existed - she first appeared in Legends. John Byrne gave Superman a face-lift. In the boldest "retcon," Frank Miller gave us "Year One" in Batman #404-407, which gave us a Caped Crusader who was completely unsure of himself and made Catwoman a prostitute. (This was followed by "Year Two" and "Year Three," of course, neither of which were as successful, but which shared a crucial similarity with "Year One" - they were told within the course of the two main Batman books.) Hal Jordan got a drinking problem and a jail term. But that was DC, and Crisis had been a massive "do-over" for them, so it still didn't tap into the nostalgia market too much. Over at Marvel, where they "got it right the first time," such retcons were seen as unnecessary.
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To this day, I'm still confused on what the deal is with Joe Chill.
DC, which has always been a bit more interested in its "historical" characters and, because of Crisis and a lack of emphasis on continuity early on in their publication history, has mined this vein perhaps even more than Marvel. James Robinson's brilliant Starman (which began not too long after Marvels) is steeped in DC history, and Robinson did some re-writing of the past. DC also began to capitalize on the "Year One" success, as more and more heroes got reworked origins (Green Arrow, Metamorpho, Huntress, to name a few). Superman's origins have been continually tweaked. DC has also wiped their continuity clean once more, in Zero Hour, and again to a certain degree in Infinite Crisis. Joe Chill, the man who shot Bruce Wayne's parents, has been dead (in "Year Two"), not identified as the murderer (after Zero Hour), back to being the murderer (after Infinite Crisis), and then a crime lord rather than a simple mugger (in Batman #673). While Marvel seems to attempt to fit all these retcons into their established continuity, DC seems fit to play fast and loose with theirs.
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Last edited by Scott Mateo; March 28th, 2010 at 08:52 PM.
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   therealssjlink is offline   #2
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While Marvel seems to attempt to fit all these retcons into their established continuity, DC seems fit to play fast and loose with theirs.
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It was a skrull.

There, I said it. That's how Marvel deals with retcons.
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   Scott Mateo is offline   #3
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It was a skrull.

There, I said it. That's how Marvel deals with retcons.
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At least it's dealt with in-story.
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   therealssjlink is offline   #4
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At least it's dealt with in-story.
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I think that, at some point, it is alright to not give an explanation (or just revert to the way things used to be).

1 thing that Marvel did nicely with continuity is Agents of Atlas (of course, that was because Jeff Parker was writing it).

Anyways, since I don't really follow the X-books, what was the reason given to why Scarlet Witch's powers changed to reality-warping was? That was a pretty big change and I can't recall an explanation for it.
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   Scott Mateo is offline   #5
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I think that, at some point, it is alright to not give an explanation (or just revert to the way things used to be).
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In the case of Aunt May (being sick, dead, alice, sick again, and better and married to Jonah's father), it was dealt with in-story, and I understood it fine, unlike say Jason Todd - who in one issue of BATMAN was Robin, fighting Killer Croc and Nocturna, only in the next issue to be a punk kid stealing the tires off the Batmobile with a brand new origin. Not only did I find that confusing when I was a kid, it automatically made me hate the character, no matter what. And every hour I spent without television for making that 1-900 call to kill him was well worth it!


Anyways, since I don't really follow the X-books, what was the reason given to why Scarlet Witch's powers changed to reality-warping was? That was a pretty big change and I can't recall an explanation for it.
ddf
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THAT is actually a good question...I'm no X-Men expert, but did the change occur over in the AVENGERS?
Last edited by Scott Mateo; March 28th, 2010 at 09:09 PM.
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   jafabian is offline   #6
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Wanda was originally a mutant with "hex powers." Basically she could alter probabities to varying degrees but nothing as destructive as, say, a shockwave created by Thor or the Hulk. She then came under the tutelage of sorceress Agatha Harkness and her powers blurred between her mutant abilities and outright magic. Never on par with Doctor Strange but her powers were definitely amped up. Especially after she was later possessed by Chthon.

Under Kurt she was defined as having the ability to manipulate chaos magic since the day she was born and her powers were upgraded again. Then when Bendis took over he had Doctor Strange establish that there's no such thing as chaos magic and that she was born with the ability to manipulate reality. House of M seems to have brought her back to her original levels. Emphasis on "seems".
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   jafabian is offline   #7
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I think that, at some point, it is alright to not give an explanation
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I once asked Kurt what the explanation for why Cap's shield can ricochet off any surface when it's established the shield can absorb impact and he said "Kirby physics. It's comics." And I didn't consider that a cop out. If anything, after that I stopped being such a stickler for details and just enjoy the story for what it is.
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   Scott Mateo is offline   #8
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If anything, after that I stopped being such a stickler for details and just enjoy the story for what it is.
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I'm pretty much the same way, unless it's a glaring error that totally changes a story I grew up with that had a huge impact on me.
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   HushedRuin is online now   #9
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Wow. Certainly an interesting read, for sure.
 
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Old March 28th, 2010   jafabian is offline   #10
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I'm pretty much the same way, unless it's a glaring error that totally changes a story I grew up with that had a huge impact on me.
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For sure. The reason why Superman can fly? Who cares? He can fly! The Reverse-Flash trying to kill Iris on her wedding day to Barry Allen? Eh....when did that happen? And I don't get the deal with Joe Chill either. Hardly anyone knows the name of the burglar that killed Uncle Ben.
 
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Old March 29th, 2010   Human Bong is offline   #11
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Hardly anyone knows the name of the burglar that killed Uncle Ben.
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Burgy McBurglarson

It's almost as big as secret as the Hamburglar's secret identity.

Burgy McBurgerson.
 
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Old March 29th, 2010   Bizarro #98 is offline   #12
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I've been seeing a lot of these doomsayer articles cropping up lately. They always say the same things. Buying the comics I like makes it hard for new readers to break in, and the industry will eventually collapse when the aging audience they pander to all die.

But why should I care? Even if this prophesy comes true, I'll be dead before it happens. It's not my problem.
 
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Old March 29th, 2010   jafabian is offline   #13
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Burgy McBurglarson

It's almost as big as secret as the Hamburglar's secret identity.

Burgy McBurgerson.
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As long as it isn't the Sandman, I don't care.


 
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Old March 29th, 2010   Mackaybear is offline   #14
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I thought DC's rationalization for retcons was the SBP Punch of the walls of reality?
 
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Old March 29th, 2010   michealdark is offline   #15
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The thing about Marvels, the Dini/Ross graphic novels, Kingdom Come, and stuff like that was that the nostalgia trip was supposed to counterbalance the deconstructionist stuff. Instead of stripping heroes of their heroic attributes and showing us the troubled, possibly mentally disturbed and obsessive beings that they'd be in real life, things like this wanted to add those traditional heroic qualities back to the supers. It was a counterbalance to the grim and gritty. Of course, people loved it so the companies started milking the **** out of it, and then writers like Johns came in, who were raised on both styles of comics, who thought they could reconcile classic heroism with dark modern storytelling.
 
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Old March 29th, 2010   Kurt Busiek is offline   #16
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I've been seeing a lot of these doomsayer articles cropping up lately. They always say the same things. Buying the comics I like makes it hard for new readers to break in, and the industry will eventually collapse when the aging audience they pander to all die.

But why should I care? Even if this prophesy comes true, I'll be dead before it happens. It's not my problem.
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Not quite -- under that scenario, comics wouldn't last until the last existing fan died out, but until enough of them did to make the industry unsustainable, so you'd definitely risk industry collapse before you died.

But it's still a silly scenario, usually argued by people who think comics can only do one thing at a time, unlike other media, which manage to feed existing consumers and attract new ones at the same time. Just with different stuff.

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