By arnoldoaad 50 Comments
I always imagined DC or Marvel's continuity like this never ending book, just one single book made of single comic that was made into it.
The good part of continuity is that it brings a sense that the story is moving forward and it is a rule for every story teller that the plot must always move forward for every single panel for every single line of dialog, it must always move forward.
But on what direction?
And that is the problem with continuity; it shapes its own path and sometimes limits the options that can be done.
Reboots by essence are a double-edge sword, on one hand it gets rid of every single bad story that a character might had but at the same time it gets rid of all the good parts too, it is effectively ending the story, closes that direction forever and doesn’t allows it to continue any more.
A Reboot just levels the field, whatever it is good or not just depends of 1 thing. Simple mathematics.
If By doing the reboot or retcon the character is gaining or potentially can gain more than what was lost. Then that is good.
If By doing a reboot or retcon you are gaining nothing or making problems along the way for older stories and limits the possibilities for old and new stories more than the ones that are being open by it. Then that is bad.
By rebooting a story you are hindering completely its capacity to move forward, that story will never continue again, and a new one will replace it, a retcon is just a much smaller case, it can remove a restriction, revive a character, delete an impediment that allows it to move forward into another direction.
It is just that simple, its a scale that might tilt on one end or the other.
The following are cases where i think the scale tilted in the right direction, and as a reminder, there will be spoilers
10- Teen Titans Full Reboot
Im pretty sure i will receive a ton of angry pms on this one but let me explain myself
I have talk before about how big of a failure was the Young Justice titles and even the new Teen Titans book has receive nothing but bad and mixed reviews all over the board. but lets make something clear, when people think about Teen Titans no longer being part of continuity they think of New Teen Titans.
They think of Raven, Cyborg, Starfire, nightwing and all that, but you know what, that happen 20 years ago, after the wolfman era, who really remembers anything that happen afterwards, the biggest lost is losing that relationships that they had, not only between the Titas but with people like Wally West who just no longer exist, However we can still recover it, we can still see Raven meeting Cyborg and Starfire and Dick and Beastboy and Terra, it can still be back.
The biggest gain of The Teen Titans reboot is for the Titans of Tim Drake and that gain is based on this:
THE LAST TEEN TITANS SUCKED
100 issues that can pretty much be resumed in "stuff is going to happen, then it doesnt"
the book lack a regular team membership, a regular creative team, a consistent direction and of course good editorial management.
for a moment people couldnt be on the team because other books wanted them or needed something with the team, and as the teen titans
drifted from a mediocre writer to the next one of the few regular things that happen is that titans died and/or some leave the team, or just had really really awful storylines.
- who can forget that time Miss Martian was possessed by her old-time-evil self into giving sex favors at public menrooms
- or how the team adopted a dog who then turn out to be evil and killed and crippled 2 innocent guys of the supporting cast
- The just awful Felicia Henderson's run
It is just a comic that got worse and worse and worse so nothing of worth was lost, there is even a bigger lost on things from Peter David’s Young Justice.
With the reboot it gives it a chance to start new with less constrains and impediments.
The potential to finally be good again is there.
9- New Krypton Gone
I have never seen such a bigger failure to launch a massive expansion to a property than what happen with Superman: New Krypton storyline.
I still remember the interviews, how this would make 2010 the year of superman, that it was going to be this massive event that gives Superman an status similar to Green Lantern and Batman and that War of the Supermen was going to be Superman's Sinestro Corps war which was going to launch it into something even bigger.
The result was obviously nothing even remotely close to that, before New Krypton Superman wasnt doing bad, but it wasnt doing good either, the story was design to be something epic and in return it becomes something close to a disease.
The plot was this, Superman finally saved the real city of Kandor as well as over 100,000 Kryptonians including his own uncle and aunt, Supergirl's parents, as soon as they come out they decide to use their technology to create a new planet, aka New Krypton, right in the same orbit as earth but on the other side, Superman leaves earth to connect with his Kryptonian lineage but of course everything predetermined to end in tragedy.
New Krypton lasted for almost 2 years, and over 90+ comics, some which presented plots that never got a conclusion, the entire story was a huge flop in sales, Action Comics almost approaching cancellation numbers, and fans were pretty much displeased on entire storyline, me included, specially because of the ending..
In the end, New Krypton is destroyed by Earth, the Kryptonians are practically exterminated and/or send to the Phantom Zone and this is one permanently closed, pretty much every single new name character in superman gets the same treatment and around 1000-10000 Kryptonians get save but hide on earth.
the consequences were pretty much that Superman got depressed and start walking for the US and Supergirl got depressed and turn Emo for a while but then she was ok, but everyone else including the writers and editors were just pretending like it never ever happen
But it happen
This is the perfect example of a good retcon, thanks to the reboot, NK never happen, that leaves Kandor to be reused again as well as the phantom zone, we can see Zod and Urza and even Chris Kent again in a near future, because even if you dont like some of the things of the superman's reboot, at least we can be glad that this is out of the way.
8- Diana, Daughter of Zeus and the New Olympians
I have to say first that I Hate how this retcon was executed, but I like what it brings to the table.
Basically The origin of Diana is no longer that she was made out of clay and given life by the power of the gods, instead she was conceived when Zeus banged her mom the old fashion way.
What we lost from this retcon is Originality.
Everyone who knows WW is somehow familiarized with her origin, is iconic, is simple and is original. It’s a symbol of feminism even, of the woman untouched by man and created by female gods, she is a modern Eve.
The new Origin loses that and basically imitates characters of the likes of Hercules, Achilles and other famous demigods of the greek myth.
What we gain is a tighter connection to the Greek Mythology, which is exactly what Azarrello is using to drive the book, it is the engine that he uses to generate the plots and it really worked here.
What makes it work different than before is that change, before you cannot really embrace that mythology completely cause even the amazons weren’t like the one of the greek myth and gods were nothing similar to gods.
Which lead me to the second part of this retcon, Gods.
Gods are Ideas; they are dreams that escaped into the real world.
That’s the interpretation of them on Sandman and this new gods really reminded me of that.
The new Gods of the Olympus are the most interesting part of Wonder Woman, all a unique design, more than just some bearded guys in togas.
This retcons are great additions that open new possibilities for a great character.
7- New Justice League
I will like to point out at what Marvel’s Avengers have been doing in the last couple of years, mainly thanks to Brian Bendis, but it moved from being just one of many titles in Marvel to the main driving force of Marvel.
The Justice League could never be like that before.
What we lost is years of stories of a group after group of the same team, but those stories don’t really matter to sustain what the concept of the JL, which is a group made of the best of the best of DC Universe.
You just need to see at the last 5-6 or more years of What DC did with such concept to realize that It was almost impossible to make it work.
What we gain is an open path, we finally can say that we can have a place for DC biggest superheroes to be without having to be restricted by editorial problems
Now the JL is the center of DC and not just affected by it
6- New Supergirl
Supergirl is one of those characters who just get re-imagined at least once every 10 years, and just when you think that she is going somewhere, she is reinvented again.
I really liked the previous supergirl, or like I like to call it, the Lindsay Lohan supergirl, she had amnesia so no memories of Krypton so she had nothing lost, occasionally becoming an evil supergirl sometimes and was just literally portray as this girl out of her element who was trying to make her own life while she had superpowers, so she pretty much an original, and by original I mean a newly created character, that was also the cousin of superman but with no relation to him, at the end of the day she was just a T&A character with a bitchy personality.
At least until Sterling Gates came out and pull his own retcon in which basically supergirl just had Kryptonite poisoning which lead her to have a really slutty personality, so she recovers herself, improves herself as a person and start using shorts underneath her skirt and a longer shirt.
Gates’s Supergirl run was pretty much the only good thing to happen during New Krypton, until new Krypton killed her entire family, her home, her friends and she sinks into depression and then turn evil again.
Which is why retconing her was the only sure choice.
After all that volume supergirl was turn from a 90s T&A superhero, to a decent super hero, to then an emo superhero, not because that was her own story, but because of the wimps and indecision of an editorial who had no idea on what to do with her, the lost of the previous supergirl is just not a big lost and what we got instead was a new reimaging and more grounded version of the Pre-Crisis supergirl even with a very interesting reimaging of Silver Banshee as her new best friend.
This is a good example of a retcon open to much interesting possibilities.
5- New Hell
Reign in Hell, I bet no one even remembers this, it was a comic miniseries which deal with the war between Lord Infernus and Neron, which end with Lady Blaze tricking everybody and winning Hell, and the end result was very anticlimactic and had little to no importance, and even a ton of continuity problems with other titles.
The new 52 reopens the gates of hell under the foundations of its best possible version in comicbook form
The New Hell under the domain of Lucifer himself
The comparison is not even fair, I just cant wait what can be done with this in the future.
4- Billy Batson is a Jerk
Captain Marvel and Shazam is probably one of the hardest properties to use on the DCU, he worked well in the Golden Age as well as into stories like Shazam: Monster Society of Evil, which dealt with a more light tone but was isolated from the rest of DC, and the last times that it has been used in the DCU it had terrible results, just to mention a few the Trials of Shazam which selected a new Captain Marvel only to be underused and later humiliated in Cry for Justice, the vilification of Mary Marvel in the infamous Countdown and Final Crisis(btw Did you know that Mary Marvel was inspired by Otto Binder own daughter who later tragically dies in a car accident), in fact the only positive aspect of Shazam to influence DCU was in the character of Black Adam, but the main guy, Billi Batson just didn’t fit.
I heard a ton of complains about this including some that read that Johns basically destroyed the character by making him into a no good Jerk but I really don’t think he make it into a jerk rather into a realistic character, before the character was almost an stereotypical goody good guy that kind of reflected a very bland child character from the 50s, now this update is basically the interpretation of the youth of the 2010s, and it feels right and appropriate, and the most important part is that it doesn’t limit the character rather than giving him layers for deeper development.
3- Abby Arcane, Queen of the Rot
Abby Arcane is by far one of the strongest women in comics, in terms of personality she is up there with Gwen Stacy, Lois Lane or Selina Kyle but she was always a human character with flaws and sadly not many writers got the character and often succumb to the classic hole of just treating her like T&A material to exploit or just dont understood the character at all(Nancy A. Collins).
The New Twist in the character transforms her into something more, It makes her an Equal and Opposite to the Swamp Thing and puts them into a very Shakespearean situation which despite of all feels natural and adequate.
2- Aquaman and the Other League
I think Aquaman’s continuity is heavily underated, he just has a very rich story from his relation with Mera, his wedding, the lost of his baby, the lost of Tula, the separation with Mera and more, but between the last few years there has been a real attempt to constantly reinvent Aquaman starting with his last volume, he got magic water powers, then he became leader of Sub-diego, and then was turn into a half water-half human-half squid thingy, was replaced by a new aquaman and then died, became a zombie and returned, a little convoluted so the complete retcon that he had can be seen as a benign one, nor bad nor great, just ok.
The idea of this new Aquaman is that it goes back to basics, It provides a new fresh take to him and the Other League just gives him even more depth, because that story of him with Mera, part of that is still intact but what happen before he finds atlantis and how he grows up to become the hero he is now as well as providing a very diverse and interesting cast of characters to play with open a huge ton of interesting possibilities.
1- Animal Man, Guardian of the Red
There is one thing that you should consider from certain writers works and is that they often draw inspiration from other sources in order to do their work, the end result is try to emulate either a part of the story, a character or even just a feeling and sensation that it gains which can be both good or bad for the story depending on how it is approach.
For example Scott Snyder has said several times that he used a lot from things like The Killing Joke and Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on A Serious Earth to work on his new Batman arc, not that there is any strong similarities from those comics but when you see the way that Snyder writes the characters and the situations you can see that he has a profound understanding and respect for those storylines and tries to use what he learn from them to his advantage. and on the other hand we have Batgirl, in which pretty much every single chp resolves around imitating The Killing Joke, in more than a way to emulate it but without really respecting or even understanding the source material in the slightest.
The point of this is that when I read Animal Man, I feel a very strong inspiration coming out of Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing, which for those who dont know is my favorite comic of all time, just a perfect comic from every single point of view, and Jeff Lemire is not the first to try to imitate him and definitely not the last.
The gist of Saga of the Swamp Thing is that when Moore took over he gave it the perfect plot twist, The Swamp Thing realizes that every single thing that he knew is wrong, that he is not what he thought he was and that change his entire perspective and motivation as well as changed his entire world, and i have seen a ton of comics try to do this, especially in the new 52 and failed Miserably.
The retcon of Animal Man is that he always thought that he was given powers by aliens in order to protect the environment, the reality is that he was never important, his role only to the one of a breeder to give birth to the new Avatar of the Red, his daughter .
Now, Animal Man has never been the conventional superhero but now he is not a superhero at all, his main focus in the new book is just the one of a father trying to protect his daughter, a man who tries to protect his family. Simple, effective, interesting. Nothing else to say.
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