Off My Mind: Waiting For Answers In Comics

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Posted by G-Man (30364 posts) - - Show Bio

Everyone loves a good mystery. We always see cliffhangers and moments of suspense in comic books. Often there are secrets intertwined in storylines. Waiting for the answers can be fun but how long is too long? After a while, it may seem like things are dragging on. 
 
Over the years, there have been some long running secrets and mysteries. It almost feels like these days people don't want to wait. They want the answers now. 

How long is too long? 
  

   
Are you willing to wait for answers? Is a two year storyline too long to get those answers?
Staff
#1 Posted by Eyz (3095 posts) - - Show Bio

I like some mystery.
People nowadays are so impatient...even more thanks to the internet now. People want all the answers, everything so fast..
Can't we, in case of Red Hulk for exemple, just make our own theories and try to find clues here and there...

#2 Posted by danhimself (22223 posts) - - Show Bio

part of the fun for me is waiting for answers and trying to figure out what's going on on my own and waiting to see if I'm right

#3 Posted by leokearon (1751 posts) - - Show Bio

I think Grant Morrison put it best when he was writing X-Men that no mystery or storyline should be longer than a year
#4 Posted by tonis (6202 posts) - - Show Bio

your looking for any opportunity to get a back to the future clip in there aint ya :) 
The time people tend to wait varies depending on the regularity of the content. Weekly shows reveal more faster than say a monthly comic would, and movies do take years when you start looking at todays 'trilogy' mentality. 
 
A smart writer knows the fine line between building some suspense and testing the audiences attention span. Wait too long and people forget there was even a mystery in the first place.

#5 Posted by kungnima (180 posts) - - Show Bio

You really enjoy playing with your toys, G-man, ha! ; D

#6 Posted by The Hobgoblin (414 posts) - - Show Bio

What ruins a lot of potentially interesting mysteries is the departure of the main writer behind said mystery. Look at the great Hobgoblin mystery. That thing was excellent during Roger Stern's tenure on Amazing Spider-Man. But by the issue where they told us he was Ned Leeds, the mystery had gone down the crapper. Luckily, Stern returned to salvage the mystery with Hobgoblin Lives; it really fixed the whole thing in my opinion, and he did it without trampling on any continuity that came before it, to boot..

#7 Posted by Planewalker (323 posts) - - Show Bio

for me the prob with mysteries is I usually get disappointed with the outcome...   

#8 Posted by weapon154 (339 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, I'm thinking it depends on the secret.

#9 Posted by EisforExtinction (1909 posts) - - Show Bio

I think comic fans like me who read weekly comics accepts that answers will be given gradually. People who just read a bunch of trades can't handle that I don't think.

#10 Posted by Xenozoic Shaman (410 posts) - - Show Bio
@Planewalker: 
 
Exactly.  I'm less concerned with waiting, than I am with them ruining the whole thing with a poorly written answer.
 
Also, as is commonly stated with regard to some characters (Wolverine, etc...), sometimes the mystery makes them more interesting than they are after the secret is revealed.  I can't say that I know the secrets of the universe with any level of certainty, but I'm not about to stop living my life, so that I can skip to the end and find out.  By the same token, I refuse to abandon a good comic book series, and miss out on all the goodness it has to offer, simply to have the mystery instantly revealed.
 
How long is too long for me?  If it's done properly, with an expertly-crafted story, prepared layer by layer, with delicate care...  I wouldn't mind waiting  a decade, possibly more!  Imagine how thrilling it would be to finally know after so much time, and with so many enriching storyline elements and character changes on the way!
#11 Posted by velle37 (6041 posts) - - Show Bio

Waiting long enough for the comics series to become an age........ With a mettallic tinge.........
#12 Posted by Dr. Detfink (460 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes, it's about time you dropped your secret identity of G-man and came forward with your real name. It's not 1994 duder. ;)

#13 Posted by dondasch (926 posts) - - Show Bio

Impatience is the hallmark of the Internet age.  I can appreciate mysteries and can further appreciate the wait involved for the revealing if the build up to the revalation is sufficiently engrossing.  Otherwise, for the love of all things pure, keep it short.

#14 Posted by ImperiousRix (1069 posts) - - Show Bio

The one problem I have with comic book mysteries is when it does take so long that it either seems like A) the current writer really has no clear conclusion for the mystery or B) so many sub-plots are introduced to "throw off" the reader that, even after the conclusion of the mystery, we're left with a bunch of additional characters and the like that house-keeping is necessary. 
Take the Spider-Man "Clone Saga" for example.  How many characters and sub-plots were introduced in that actually had consequence?  At the end of the day, okay, we learned that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, but the likes of Ben Reily, the Jackal, Kaine, Spidercide, clone Gwen Stacy, etc. etc. haven't had meaningful place in the Spider-Man continuity in years.

#15 Posted by KRYPTON (1891 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't really care how long the secret is, I just continue to like the story and how the writers present it. 

#16 Posted by Danial79 (2327 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't know about comics, but I got sick of waiting for answers on Lost around Season 4 and just stopped watching the show altogether...

#17 Posted by Doctor!!!!! (2055 posts) - - Show Bio

Way to long..... If it takes a whole series(LOST) 
or a whole villian arc(Smallville) 
Maybe you should wrap it up quick....

#18 Posted by Nova`Prime` (4156 posts) - - Show Bio

Its not only the problem of the audience needing the answers right now. Another key aspect is the fact that most writers now a days can't write a good mystery, they either don't drop enough clues and frustrate the reader or they make it to obvious. Most mysteries I've read now a days are like an episode of Colombo, you see who did it at the very beginning.. its just how did they do it.

#19 Edited by themaskedhero (264 posts) - - Show Bio

The reason I think people had some much ire for the identity of Rulk and why 2 years was too long was that he was in every issue of Hulk from the beginning, readers were constantly being reminded that they didn't have answers. With Hobgoblin, he was a villain who was appearing in Amazing Spider-Man, but not every issue. And who Hobgoblin is doesn't really matter, it's like caring about which Green Goblin or Green Lantern you're dealing with, the man behind the mask isn't as important as the mask. Why, then, does it matter with Rulk? Because the role can not shift, the man inside will always be the man inside. And the longer you hide the identity the longer you risk creating inconsistent clues. Plus, don't pretend like Loeb wasn't selling Hulk on the mystery, I don't even think the writers agreed on who Hobs was in the beginning. 
 
And on the topic of Wolverine, Marvel didn't want to reveal the backstory of Logan because the constant fear was that it was going to ruin the character and it wasn't until Joe Q started pushing buttons that the writers realized that telling Wolverine's backstory was only being held back by the fact that no one had yet to make it a good story yet. The same is true with Winter Solider, they thought it would ruin Captain America until they realized it might actually improve the character.

#20 Posted by superzero93 (27 posts) - - Show Bio

I like waiting ages to find out secrets in comic books because half the fun of reading comics is to find out a characters past or who they are. Personally I love it when they deliberately miss lead you, because it just means they are getting closer to revealing the character's big secret. But I do think once you know the secret its not interesting any more I prefer talking to my friends about what the secret might be. Take Dr Hurt for example once we know for sure if he is the devil will that character be so interesting any more, right now he is cool because he could just be a man who is pure evil or he's the devil, once we know what he is he won't be as interesting because we will know why he does what he does.

#21 Posted by NXH (1031 posts) - - Show Bio

A prime example was Lost. Even after it finished, there were secrets still left a mystery and never revealed. And that's why it will always be my favorute TV show ever. =)

#22 Posted by Video_Martian (5631 posts) - - Show Bio
@themaskedhero said:
"The reason I think people had some much ire for the identity of Rulk and why 2 years was too long was that he was in every issue of Hulk from the beginning, readers were constantly being reminded that they didn't have answers. With Hobgoblin, he was a villain who was appearing in Amazing Spider-Man, but not every issue. And who Hobgoblin is doesn't really matter, it's like caring about which Green Goblin or Green Lantern you're dealing with, the man behind the mask isn't as important as the mask. Why, then, does it matter with Rulk? Because the role can not shift, the man inside will always be the man inside. And the longer you hide the identity the longer you risk creating inconsistent clues. Plus, don't pretend like Loeb wasn't selling Hulk on the mystery, I don't even think the writers agreed on who Hobs was in the beginning.  And on the topic of Wolverine, Marvel didn't want to reveal the backstory of Logan because the constant fear was that it was going to ruin the character and it wasn't until Joe Q started pushing buttons that the writers realized that telling Wolverine's backstory was only being held back by the fact that no one had yet to make it a good story yet. The same is true with Winter Solider, they thought it would ruin Captain America until they realized it might actually improve the character. "
#23 Posted by Mainline (1129 posts) - - Show Bio

I don't mind secrets of the past because that's intuitive to me... if you ask me what I had for lunch a year ago that knowledge is lost forever... the disciplines of archeology and forensics are all about reconstructing something in the distant or recent past.  Sometimes, you never get the answer, that's just the way it is.  And as long as the character motivations revolving around the secret are entertaining then that's fine.
 
In a similar vein, however, I have trouble with secrets regarding the future from reliable sources.  Less because anything intrinsically wrong with "prophecy" but more because creators tend to abuse it as a way of creating tension but either lack the outcomes themselves or lack the certainty that they'll be able to deliver on the outcome... additionally rarely do the characters act on their future knowledge in a realistic or entertaining way, more often than not the prophecy is ignored or brushed aside only to rear its head years later so some other writer can say "See?  I read all those past stories!"  I guess the biggest downfall of prophecy is that it almost always promises change in a medium that has certain timelessness / status quo requirements.  You can't promise an X-Traitor without making an actual beloved X-Man a full on traitor (or, compromising the prophecy by having everyone promptly forgiving the action as if it weren't treason).  You can't have Tony promise to prepare for and stop "the cemetery of the human race" so you just have him "just worry about today." (Avengers #6).  I guess it's one thing if the creator knows he'll be on the book, has a plan, and will deal with it... but more times than not such prophecies are thrown out for other creators to deal with and it feels a little irresponsible and unnecessary to me. 
 
So to bring it back on topic, for secrets involving the future, I tend to dislike waiting because it suggest to me the original creator of the secret had no plan in mind... if the answer comes sooner or within a single creator's run then most times I'm fine with it.

#24 Edited by DMC (1550 posts) - - Show Bio

WOW, BRAVO G-MAN BRAVO!! 
No joke, this had to be the best "Off My Mind" yet, mainly because I thought I was alone in this category. 
 
I thought when it came to mysteries/waiting for answers and whatnot that too many people were on short fuses, that they couldn't just enjoy the ride. Though I do understand where people can get impatient sometimes and this goes back to Red Hulk. I remember a few time in the solicitations of early issues that stated that Rulks identity would be revealed and it wasn't. Yeah that's pretty disappointing but I see no reason to get out of shape about it and drop the book.
 
When you started talking about loosing interest in characters after the curtain has been lifted it's a shame you didn't talk about Jackpot. 

I'll admit it, I miss her.
You've got to admit she was more interesting when we didn't know who she was and it would have been great if Marvel kept it going.  This could have given them more time to flesh out her back story too, which (hopefully) would have been better than what we got in the annual.
 Honestly, I wish she was still around, she's much better than Sara Ehret and not offense to Black Cat but having another female ally teaming up with Spidey once in a while would be refreshing ^_^.
#25 Posted by The_Martian (36980 posts) - - Show Bio

I like comic book mysteries as long as when it's finally revealed, I'm not left disappointed with the answer.

#26 Posted by ComicMan24 (147042 posts) - - Show Bio

I like comic book mysteries as long as they don't drag them a lot and when the result is good.

#27 Posted by afrokola (32 posts) - - Show Bio

Since American comics out every month, any long period of waiting doesn't really faze me; especially since Japanese comics do the same thing in their stories and they mostly hit the streets every week. Waiting is a part of comic books, I enjoy it (for the most part).

#28 Posted by MatKrenz (1232 posts) - - Show Bio

If the main writer that created the mysterie comes back and finishe's it and gives it a great conclusion I wont mind.

#29 Posted by blackkitty (314 posts) - - Show Bio

Well, the problem I have with this is that for the most part, writers come up with mysteries and then discard them and they're not touched upon again until someone dusts it off again and thinks, oh yeah, forgot about this. I love a mystery myself and if it's done well and built upon where little hints are dropped now and again to entice the reader, then everything is nice.

 

Someone mentioned the red hulk. Well, personally I think that was horrible but mostly because he was everywhere. There were times when I thought it was a book about red hulk, not the green. A good mystery should have subtlety, but that was about as tactful as a sledgehammer. Course, that's just my opinion.

#30 Posted by Norusdog (203 posts) - - Show Bio

never cared about the red hulk in any way.  He's a lame character.  I mean the best they could do was come up with a new copy character of a different color.....ok..we know who he is..but then why do they look like twins....last time I checked banner doesn't have a twin...neither should the hulk.
 
Far as mysteries go..I'm fine with waiting..as long as they stick with it...and the same person starting it, has it wrapped up...and it's followed...so there is no johnny c makes orange hulk..but joseph b finishes the story...it makes for a bunch of tripe crap.  And c'mon..the red hulk is stupid....didn't we already have enough hulk/gamma clones out there? but oooh..this ones not green..he's red..and he's hot...oooh..and mean.  oh and look he wipes the floor with the other copies....that's shitty storytelling and a shitty character.

#31 Posted by The Mighty Monarch (2217 posts) - - Show Bio

Yes. The waiting and buildup is half the fun. And the little teases that fuel speculation. Its true, nowadays people don't like to wait. Like everyone whining and bitching that we weren't getting any answers in Brightest Day. Boo-Freaking-Hoo! Brightest Day was all about the mystery. I actually thought #7 gave us TOO MANY answers too quickly.
 
So I say yes. More longer drawn out mysteries. Don't play your entire hand right away.

#32 Posted by The Impersonator (4924 posts) - - Show Bio

It depends how the writers wanted to keep the secrets long. That's a good thing because we want more good stories. Without the mysteries, the story wouldn't be fun at all.
#33 Posted by leokearon (1751 posts) - - Show Bio

What about Facade? A mystery that has never been revealed.
#34 Posted by haydenclaireheroes (8846 posts) - - Show Bio

Totally agree with G-Man 2 years is not that long but, 14 is a little crazy. But the mystery of comics is what bring people back in to read the next story. Even cliff hangers with the shows that is what bring people in to watch the next episode. 

#35 Posted by grayrick949 (61 posts) - - Show Bio

I think that some questions should not be answered. we should have never found out wolverine's past or the true identity of some villains it makes them more interesting. The frustration is part of the ride.

#36 Posted by Joe Venom (1275 posts) - - Show Bio

Me I have no problem waiting on character's identity to be revealed, its fun to guess, assume, and gather clues on who it could possibly be, and its even better when you are right. When considering the amount read books a month it's no big deal to me if one book has a big secret im sure the other ones will take the edge off lol.

#37 Posted by ReverseNegative (2729 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the idea. It keeps me interested.

#38 Posted by Lvenger (17923 posts) - - Show Bio

A mystery is all well and good in comics and I like sticking around to see the mystery solved but you can't take too long like with Rulk. His identity when it was revealed I just didn't care about because it had been too long and I hadn't gotten any answers. I think that the mystery in the issue should be solved at least by the end of the storyline in that particular book. However on the other hand you don't want it to be spoiled too soon like with Nekron in Blackest Night. It would've been better if you had to wait to see who the evil mastermind was.

Online
#39 Posted by Wingfoot (98 posts) - - Show Bio

Hi ! 
 
Too many mysteries kill mystery, I guess. As an example, Wolverine has merely lost all interest years ago and the last writer who respected the character was Joss Whedon in "Astonishing X-men". It's just my point of view, of course. 
 
Though, the effect of Decimation lasts for 5 years now. Will be a massive power back one day ? I hope so, it's so cruel... 
Yeah yeah, I'm a Moonstar fan. Sorry. And Rictor too. Sorry again. 
 
Hihane washte.
#40 Posted by SuperXAsh (506 posts) - - Show Bio

Yeah, Hobgoblin's identity mystery didn't dominate Spidey's stories for those 14 years. Rulk's story was pretty much THE Hulk story for two straight years, give or take. It even overshadowed Skaar's arrival on Earth. That's way too long to be dancing around a mystery. 
 
Wolverine's case is kind of a double-edged sword. His lack of knowing about his past was one of the things that made him interesting. Sure we got some bits and pieces over time, but now with all the origins stuff, it's gotten pretty goofy and convuluted.

#41 Posted by eldestrisk (630 posts) - - Show Bio

I would like them for not to take more than 2-3 years, I'm not getting younger after all. =S

#42 Posted by Grim (2079 posts) - - Show Bio

i can deal with the mystery that is NEVER revealed, or not until the final issue. Those are usually designed pretty well. Like Wolverine. We could have gone forever not knowing his past, and it would have rocked.
But if there is a plan to reveal, it needs to be done within a year. Rulk spent way too long giving you hints.   When you rub it in peoples face for too long, they eventually just drop your book and watch the message boards for the truth.
 and thats the other thing. You cant make a mystery where half the clues point in the right direction and half dont. Rulk didnt have a mustache and he was put in a page WITH his alter ego talking to him.  Thats kind of a cheap way to keep your mystery going.

#43 Posted by DarkSyde79 (214 posts) - - Show Bio

A perfect example of too long is the origin of Wolverine. The amount of time it took allow’d various authors time to throw in their bids for what they thought his origin should be in and outta canon. I addition, random occurrences like Mr. Sinister making a random statement about there being Summers’ “brothers” to Cyclops and how long it took to settle this issue took too long as well. Now these are both questions that have been answer’d. Now we’ve moved on the where Peter and Mary Jane Watson-Parker’s baby is and if it even still exist. In the end, it’s all about us waiting but not hanging it over our head. We knew of the “Blackest Knight” but we never focus’d on it and when it happen… we were satisfied. Tha’s now always the case. 

#44 Posted by batman_is_god (1185 posts) - - Show Bio
@Grim:
AGREED
#45 Posted by ld12278 (91 posts) - - Show Bio

I like the secrets that you want to know, but you know you wouldn't care about it anymore once it gets answered.

#46 Posted by EGoD (1511 posts) - - Show Bio

Time flies when you're reading fun. 
 
Time spans are always different in comics so for them to take years to finally reveal a secret or whatnot is no big deal, most comics come out monthly and if you think about a story line only spanning a short period of time in comic book years, its like the reverse of dog years and human years. 
 
lol at the ending, that almost made me choke with laughter on left over halloween candy
#47 Posted by difficlus (10679 posts) - - Show Bio
@EGoD said:
" Time flies when you're reading fun.  Time spans are always different in comics so for them to take years to finally reveal a secret or whatnot is no big deal, most comics come out monthly and if you think about a story line only spanning a short period of time in comic book years, its like the reverse of dog years and human years.  "
You're right i guess, personally i wont want to have to read more than 4 years for a characters origin to be revealed unless the mystery is really juicy then it can go on for ever..:P
#48 Posted by spider-man 2996 (660 posts) - - Show Bio
@danhimself said:
"part of the fun for me is waiting for answers and trying to figure out what's going on on my own and waiting to see if I'm right "

Same with me
#49 Posted by blaakmawf (187 posts) - - Show Bio

I avoid this issue by reading completed runs.

#50 Posted by ArtisticNeedham (2224 posts) - - Show Bio

 I think people upset because the story sort of centered around "Who is the Red Hulk?"  And made you feel like they were going to answer that quickly.  I didn't notice it until I guess issue 6, where it ends with the Hulk fighting Red Hulk and at the end of the comic it said "The End."  If they were going to make the point of the issue who is the Red Hulk, then don't say "The End" without revealing who he was.
Then the comic said something about, if you focus too much on who the Red Hulk is you will miss the real story, and sort of felt like it was changing to theme of the comic because they didn't want people to be saying every issue "Who is the Red Hulk?"
I don't know if I would have really thought about it if they didn't do those two things.
 
In the case of Wolverine, it was almost like they didn't know what to do with him.  And some writers would hint at their own idea, like Claremont's Sabortooth being Wolverine's father.  But it was like they weren't sure what to do, so they stayed away from revealing everything.  And left it to the readers to wonder and imagine in their own heads.   His original idea was to have him be a wolverine turned into a human, his claws were part of his gloves.  I don't know why they didn't reveal that right away. but they let him go without his backstory for years, letting writers add to it here and there.  But it felt like no one really knew what to do with him because the hype was getting bigger and bigger.
That the problem with having a mystery in a comic, the hype becomes bigger and bigger and if you wait too long the hype becomes too big, and nothing you can do will match what the readers are expecting.
And part of it becomes like the Giligans Island thing, you want them off the island but then that would end the show.  You want them to reveal Wolverine's origins and past, but then once they do its told and you loose the mystery, but part of the mystery is that you want it solved.
 
I think part of the point of the Hobgoblin wasn't who he was, but the fact that Peter didn't know.  Sort of like the original Green Goblin idea.  Peter had no clue who this guy was.  He could be anyone Peter passed on the streets.  So instead of the whole theme of the character being "Who is he?"  It was that he was a mystery.  Plus it could have helped that he wasn't in every issue for 14 years.  the misleading covers would have bugged me though.  But I like the idea of a character, a villain, having decoys. 

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