While we may all share a love of comics, we are all different and therefore we all enjoy different types of comics, read books very differently. Some people have to be at their local comic shop every Wednesday, and have to collect all the individual issues; others prefer trades. For some of us, things like consistency and continuity aren't that important; and for others it can be everything.
I admit, I can often overlook discrepancies in continuity it in order to read a great story. Take, for example, AVENGERS CHILDREN'S CRUSADE, published by Marvel Comics. If you ask me, CHILDREN'S CRUSADE was not only one of the most thought provoking Marvel titles to be released this past year, but it was also one of the most gorgeous. The story, written by Allan Heinberg with the incredible art of Jim Cheung, Mark Morales and Justin Ponsor make it one of those books that are so entertaining that it doesn't matter where the story happens in continuity, or the fact that the individual issues are only released once every two months and don't fit into any of the other stories in the Marvel Universe -- it's a great story, and that's all that matters.
Yet, there's a reason why a book like AVENGERS: CHILDREN'S CRUSADE can stand alone as an interesting story even if it goes against a lot of other events in the Marvel universe. CHILDREN'S CRUSADE has served not only to explain what happened with Scarlet Witch during AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED, but it's just been (in itself) a fun book to read every two months. Although the events in the series may not line up with the ever changing status quo of the Marvel Universe, that's okay because it's so disconnected from other Marvel events that it doesn't matter. It's easy to look at it as a stand alone story, and appreciate it separate from the rest of the Marvel Universe.
However, just because it works for CHILDREN'S CRUSADE doesn't mean it should be done all the time. Sometimes continuity is very important to the story, and the writers and editors need to be responsible enough and do their best to ensure that certain events line up -- particularly if you're dealing with a character that has undergone a lot of changes and a massive relaunch. In the case of Barbara Gordon, Batgirl, continuity is incredibly important.
Late last week DC announced on their blog that in addition to some massive renovations to the team, that the Birds of Prey would be getting a new addition in Batgirl, Barbara Gordon.
Sure, Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl) was reluctant at first. She didn’t necessarily want to be hanging out with a gang of outlaws (see next “Thing to Know #2”), and she has serious doubts about at least one member of team (see “Thing to Know #3”). But to Batgirl, friendship trumps everything, and you’ll see exactly how she finds her way to a permanent spot on the team in issues #4 and 5.
If you read the first issue of Birds of Prey from September, then you may recall a scene where Barbara shows up to meet Dinah Lance in a private hotel room. It is implied, in the scene between Barbara and Dinah, that Babs had been asked to join the Birds of Prey team but that she refused Dinah's invitation. So what has changed? What led her to change her mind? Anyone's first instinct would be to go back and re-read the first three issues of Batgirl to try and figure out whether BATGIRL writer Gail Simone may have left readers any clues. Except that Simone herself didn't know about the announcement, either. After asked whether there will be "synergy between BoP and BATGIRL books," Simone replied that she hopes so, but alluded to the fact that she was never alerted about Barbara joining the team.
That's kind of a big thing to just, not tell the writer of the character's ongoing title, isn't it? You would think that the higher ups at DC Comics would have consulted the writer who made Birds of Prey into a popular DC title, who crafted a deep love and friendship between Dinah Lance and Barbara Gordon. But, I guess not.
One of the things that hasn't come up in reading both of BIRDS OF PREY and BATGIRL is how much of their friendship still exists in the DCU. Did the relaunch ret-con each and every one of Barbara and Dinah's experiences together? The friendship and love they had for one another, forged through working together on the Birds of Prey team; is all of that gone? Did it never happen? I for one had been looking forward to seeing whether these two friends were still, well, friends; and now I find it a bit disconcerting that the publisher failed to alert the writer of BATGIRL that her character would become a permanent face on the team that the writer basically popularized. Hopefully, though, there will be synergy between BATGIRL and the BIRDS OF PREY. What do you think? Do you think communication between writers is important in order to sustain a cohesive vision of the character development of each character? How important is continuity to you, and does it matter sometimes more than others?