Sunday, March 26, 2006

A nagging thought about continuity in general and Identity Crisis in particular

I was re-reading Detective Comics #570 by the brilliant team of Mike W. Barr, Alan Davis, and Paul Neary, and it reminded me of why Identity Crisis and the subsequent history of the DC Universe is stupid.

Okay, so the JLA mind-wiped Dr. Light, right? Then they went off and mind-wiped a bunch of villains, Selina Kyle included, if Catwoman #50 is to be believed. And Batman knew about it. From a panel in Catwoman #50, it appears this mind-wiping of Selina took place when she was wearing the costume Jim Balent designed for her in her first solo series, meaning it was after Detective #570. I think we can all agree on that, right?

Why do I care? What does this have to do with Detective #570? Well, that issue is the one in which Dr. Moon mind-wipes Selina to turn her evil again. So, if we believe DC these days, during the mid-1980s, Selina became good of her own volition because she had the hots for yummy Bruce Wayne. Then, the Joker turns her evil again (he's the reason Dr. Moon does what he does). Then, while she's still evil, the JLA mind-wipes her again to make her good. Why didn't Bruce just turn on the hunky charm again? Why????

Yes, it doesn't matter, and it's all very stupid nerdy minutiae. But. As far as I know, DC has never acknowledged that Batman's history ended at some point and started again. You can make the case for "Year One" being the beginning of the new history of Batman, but wasn't that simply showing the earliest adventures of Batman? As far as I know (and again, I could be wrong), there has always been one and only one Selina Kyle. Therefore the Selina Kyle today is the same Selina Kyle who was brainwashed by the Joker and Dr. Moon in that classic issue.

Am I wrong? I know someone out there is far more geeky than I am (Cronin, are you there?).

Again, it doesn't matter in the long run. But this is what bugs me about continuity. DC and Marvel proclaim its immutability when it suits them, and ignore it when it doesn't. I would like them to get rid of it altogether, because it can never fit completely. This story about brainwashing Selina just makes Bruce look like even more of a tool than he does already. Wouldn't he have said - "She's already been brainwashed to be a bad guy, and it was horrible. I won't put her through it again"? I guess not - because he's a jerk. Good job, DC!

Okay, I'm through being a geek. For now.

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37 Comments:

Blogger Brad Curran said...

I like the idea that poor Selina went through a period of her life where she couldn't go a week without getting a new personality via brainwashing. Because it amuses me. I am a bad person, I think. I would make this a running gag in Catwoman. "It's amazing you are not brain dead, Selina, from all the times we screwed with your mind. There was that one time J'onn convinced you you were a race car driver. Like in the Flintstones." "What, Bruce?" "Uh, gotta go be grim!"

3/26/2006 02:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

What exactly has the latest mind-wipe added to Catwoman, anyway? The only reason to retcon away her reformation would be to turn her bad again, which clearly hasn't happened - we just got some "who am I?" business, then One Year Later to skip over any kind of identity crisis she might have had before returning her to "good guy" status.

As far as trying to maintain rigid continuity over eighty-odd years of publishing history, I just wish publishers would give it up and focus on making entertaining stories.

3/26/2006 03:21:00 PM  
Blogger DCUBoy said...

I am sorry but Continuity is what makes comics great! Hence the reason why my blog is called the continuity blog. It scares me that there are people that wanna do away with it. Then we just have Archie Comics.

3/26/2006 05:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Kelson said...

But this is what bugs me about continuity. DC and Marvel proclaim its immutability when it suits them, and ignore it when it doesn't. I would like them to get rid of it altogether, because it can never fit completely.

So, what was your opinion on Hypertime?

3/26/2006 05:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Matthew Craig said...

I am sorry but Continuity is what makes comics great!

*weeps*

*tears of blood*

//\Oo/\\

3/26/2006 06:11:00 PM  
Anonymous thekamisama said...

Continuity on a limited basis is okay, like in a single storyline television series, movie(s), or comic miniseries/story. It keeps errors from occuring.
They did not need it in the Golden Age.
They call it the "Golden Age" for a reason.

Face it. Lex Luthor has more looks, styles, and motivation changes than Elmer Fudd or WWE wrestlers. I do not need to know how they all fit in some "real" fictional history.

3/26/2006 06:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see a point in reading about a character if their history isn't acknowledged. Continuity should be respected, be creative not lazy.

3/26/2006 08:21:00 PM  
Anonymous methane said...

I think it's accepted that Batman post-chrisis has a slightly different continuity than the pre-chrisis version. Differences include a new history in the Justice League and a different Jason Todd. I believe post-chrisis continuity officially began when they published year 1, and anything before that isn't necessarily canon.

I also think they changed a few things in zero-hour, though I couldn't tell you what in particular they changed then.

3/26/2006 10:08:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

The Dr. Moon story is no longer in continuity. It was basically taken out with Year One, but officially taken out in Zero Hour, along with some other Catwoman changes.

The Zero Hour Batman change was mainly just that Batman never found the person who killed his parents

However, I also believe O'Neil wanted to use Zero Hour to say that Batman was never a member of the Justice League (which was promptly ignored as soon as possible)

3/27/2006 02:53:00 AM  
Blogger Paul O'Brien said...

You don't need continuity for superhero comics, but the reality is that neither Marvel nor DC is going to abandon it because they know their universes sell comics. And if you're going to do continuity then you have to do it properly. Continuity done badly IS bad storytelling, because you lose the believability which is essential to any fantasy world. And also, if the ground rules are that nothing ever sticks and there are no consequences which later stories have to respect, then you've created a world where nothing that happens matters - so why should anyone care about the stories?

The conventional answer is that you can read all the stories in blissful isolation - but if you're going to take that route then you need to expressly abandon the whole idea of continuity, rather than continuing to assert it as a ground rule in order to boost sales. Marvel, in particular, has been trying to have its cake and eat it for years when it comes to this sort of thing.

3/27/2006 03:53:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"Marvel, in particular, has been trying to have its cake and eat it for years when it comes to this sort of thing."

Totally agreed, and it is absurd.

I had a rant laying around somewhere on that very topic.

Something along the lines of "You can't say that "See Issue #___" boxes are lame, and then also reference events in other comics without explanation," which is the boat the X-Books were in when Rogue suddenly appeared in the pages of X-Men with fire powers, without a "See Rogue #XX, where she absorbed Sunfire's powers" box!!

3/27/2006 04:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure you can pretend it doesn't really matter....But, in your heart of hearts, you know it does.

And you care! Don't pretend you don't, Greg. How much time did you spend writing up this entry about how much you don't care about continuity? The fact that three quarters of it is nitpicking a particular piece of continuity and only a quarter nitpicking the concept of continuity lifts the veil on the lies in which you shackle your true feelings!

Embrace the dark side, Greg, the dark side.

Paul Newell

3/27/2006 05:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Mike Loughlin said...

Ugh, continuity.

On principle, I hate adhering to stories that happened 10, 20, 60 years ago. What does slavish adherence to continuity get you? Roy Thomas.

On the other hand, "there's no such thing as chaos magic!" bugs me, so I can't be all snooty about it.

Still, of the most recognizable, long-running fictional characters, only super-heroes seem to have fans demanding continuity adherence. Zorro, Mickey Mouse, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, James Bond, et al don't seem to have people trying to establish what is "canon." Keeping track of, and caring about Continuity is pointless...

but dammit, Dr. Strange used chaos magic in Dr. Strange Sorceror Supreme #80!!!!!

It's hard out here for a geek.

3/27/2006 08:19:00 AM  
Blogger Alex Hopkinson said...

So erm, I have a vaguely relevant question - In Knightfall (no wait, don't go) there's a bit where Bruce is going to go off in a plane in his wheelchair to rescue Tim's dad and the doctor etc etc and Selina Kyle's snuck onto the plane. Brucie boy doesn't seem to recognise her. What's the deal there? Is that because there's no post-Crisis relationship between the two at that point or what?

I don't even care, it's just... it's there you know, in the back of my mind, gently crying out from behind the big metal door marked "I don't really care about continuity anymore"...

3/27/2006 08:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Brian Mac said...

only super-heroes seem to have fans demanding continuity adherence

Actually, Mike, while I'll concede your point on the examples you give, both Star Trek and Doctor Who have been around nearly as long as Marvel Comics, and both of those fandoms have large segments that are quite religious about continuity. So while it may be "just geeky things," I don't think it's just comics.

3/27/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Speaking of Sherlock Holmes, I read the Annotated edition that came out in the past two years, and the editors continually pick apart the continuity. It was minor stuff and didn't affect the quality of the stories at all, but it would be something that fans today would obsess over.

As for caring about continuity, of course I do! Because I wouldn't have bothered with this if I didn't. I simply couldn't remember what had happened to make today's Selina Kyle different from that Selina Kyle. It was bugging me.

And, furthermore, I'll make my point again: DC uses continuity when it's convenient, which is annoying. That Riddler story that Gaiman wrote came after the Crisis but referenced all the goofy stuff that Batman used to get into. Of course DC allowed it because Gaiman wrote it. If Winnick today wanted to write a story referencing the Barr/Davis story, I bet DC would let him. Again, having their cake and eating it too.

And I do read these stories in blissful isolation of the big picture. When I'm holding the Barr/Davis Detectives in my hand and enjoying the heck out of the stories therein, can anyone at DC tell me they don't exist? Of course not!

3/27/2006 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger --Greg Hatcher said...

I go back and forth on the whole thing. The trouble is that realistically, there's no POSSIBLE way for me to be objective about the issue of continuity, because I'm exactly the target audience for its current manifestations. I'm steeped in decades of Marvel and DC lore. None of Geoff Johns' JSA work, for example, ever seems like "too much inside baseball" to me because he never loses me with it, I know exactly what all those shout-out-to-my-nerd-brethren, compulsively-explaining-and-footnoting things refer to.

I have noticed two things though. Fans who claim not to care about continuity always know it backwards and forwards and can pick ANY run to pieces in seconds. Clearly, the real love is for the nitpicking.

And those of us who grouse about how dumb it is to have stories explaining this or that contradiction have, at some point, also groused about the contradiction. I suspect that, again, the real love is probably for the grousing.

I don't exempt myself. I'm just as bad as any drooling geek obsessing over completing his homemade Infinite Identity Crisis Crossover Index footnote web page. I just hide it better.

3/27/2006 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Ben Herman said...

This is how I personally approach the continuity question...

The stuff that I like is "in continuity." The stuff I don't like is not, and I just ignore it.

3/27/2006 11:01:00 AM  
Blogger David C said...

I think Paul O'Brien is on target here. If you're going to have continuity, you can't be half-assed about it (though you need a little wiggle room to deal with "Mopees," granted. 7/8 assed, perhaps.)

But basically, you either need to say "We're telling a bunch of isolated stories about Spider-Man that don't necessarily have any relationship to our other comics, or to other stories about Spider-Man" or at least *try* to enforce some basic continuity.

IIRC, someone identified that in a single month of Marvel's comics, there were at least 4 different, irreconcilable and not-commented-on-internally, versions of Norman Osborn/Green Goblin in current titles. Like in one book, he's "missing, presumed dead," while in another he's the respected captain of industry, and in another he's in jail, and in another he's a supervillain-in-hiding. Or something like that.

3/27/2006 11:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Garrie Burr said...

Brian said: "The Dr. Moon story is no longer in continuity. It was basically taken out with Year One, but officially taken out in Zero Hour, along with some other Catwoman changes."

Not sure about that... Though Selina's "origin" was changed by Year One, the Dr. Moon story in Detective took place in "present time".

Also, the Dr. Moon story appeared around the same time as Year One's original publication so I wouldn't think the editor of both (O'Neil) would have two stories contradicting each other running at the same time.

There's nothing in Year One that would keep the history after that from not happening. Make it less-likely, perhaps.

The bigger change to Batman/Catwoman's pre-Crisis relationship was Jason Todd's post-Crisis origin revamp as his pre-Crisis beginnings as Robin were tied in with Bruce and Selina's new understanding.

3/27/2006 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Chuck T. said...

Garrie brings up an interesting point: would Denny O'Neil have conflicting continuity in stories coming out around the same time? Or, since Miller was already on a roll from Dark Knight, did Miller just do whatever he wanted, and leave it for those who came after him to string continuity together? Even though the old purple Catwoman outfit looked great when Alan Davis drew it, I can't see Miller caring about it at all.

3/27/2006 12:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Miller didn't give a crap about what anyone else was doing or the effect his work would have on previous stories. Just doesn't seem like his style.

I love me some good continuity, and I actually love stories that explain how some screw-up isn't really a screw-up. But when that doesn't happen, I just always assume that the last thing published is canon, and anything that was based on the previous version didn't happen.

So since Year One comes after those Barr/Davis issues, Year One is "more true".

3/27/2006 01:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Iron Lungfish said...

It strikes me as notable that the best Batman stories to come out over the last several years were never in any continuity at all; most of them emerged as miniseries and one-shots divorced from mainline continuity. Even now the best Batman stories currently coming out are "Year 100" and "The Monstermen," neither of which is part of the official "canon." Hell, Dark Knight isn't in continuity; neither is "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" or All-Star Superman, either. Are these somehow lesser stories than stuff like "War Crimes" and electric blue Superman because they don't officially "count"?

3/27/2006 02:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Bryan Long said...

Continuity is fine – “absolute” continuity isn’t. I’ll define my terms:

1. By continuity, I mean having characters interact as part of a larger universe. That’s okay.
2. By absolute continuity, I mean that every single detail ever printed must be included as part of the history of each character. That type of rigid adherence simply doesn’t work for characters that can’t age or significantly change. By absolute continuity, Ben Grimm and Reed Richards are in their 80s, if not older (both served in WWII, and references were still being made to that in the 1980s, when I first did the math -- Roy Thomas again). To the best of my knowledge, that’s never been “formally” retconned out of their history through a crisis or time alteration, etc.

What has been done in Reed and Ben’s case, and what should always be done in these cases, is that writers stopped mentioning the stuff that doesn’t work. Continuity should be a changing, adapting tapestry, not a restrictive straightjacket. When a fact becomes inconvenient, just don’t mention it again. Period. Ever. Don’t print letters about it, don’t make it the subject of plotlines, just make it vanish.

Let’s try an example here. Spider-man has organic webshooters in the movies. To appeal to the mythical hordes of new readers that would be “confused” by mechanical webshooters, a storyline is crafted where Spider-man develops organic webshooters. Why? Just don’t mention webshooters again. Don’t mention making web fluid, loading the webshooters, nothing. Spidey points, he shoots, webs come out, what more do we need to know? If any of the mythical new readers ever actually materialize, they’re not confused. When the new readers don’t show up (I’m sorry, IF they don’t show up), we can quietly go back to status quo without another story retconning away the organic shooters.

So I basically use Ben Herman's like/don't like system, but in true geek fashion, I have to formalize it.

3/27/2006 03:45:00 PM  
Blogger faboofour said...

Ah, the good ol' "continuity wars." Reading the comments, both pro and con, is so much fun! I'll bet the only thing more fun is participating! So let me throw in a biased opinion for consideration:

The only time Continuity with a capital "C" has ever really worked in comics was in Gasoline Alley. And then only 'til the seventies or so, 'cuz Walt really shoulda died by then of cancer from breathing them gas fumes all those years.

Unless a story has a beginning, a middle and an end, it isn't emotionally satisfying to the reader. There has to be a climax, a point, even if it's just the reiteration of a theme. We all know this, right?

And unless there is change, real and permanent emotional, physical or social change, a story cannot be considered anything but melodrama, as classically defined. We all know this, too, right?

Super-hero comics, as they exist today, both are open-ended and demand continuity. So in order to maintain interest, change needs to occur at regular intervals ad infinitum without contradicting what came before. This is enough of a damned fine-line to tread, but when you throw merchandising into the mix, it becomes, imho, impossible.

For continuity to really work, the characters have to change--really change. And grow in time with reader. Else you're stuck with WWII vets in their thirties in the 21st century and teenagers who wore costumes with bell bottoms during their last encounter with villain X. Which shatters the illusion and upsets the reader.

If the characters don't change, if Peter Parker is still in his twenties after almost fifty years, then no amount of superficial continuity-gatekeeping ("When Spidy last fought Doc Ock, he was drowned in at silver vat, not a green one!") will keep the long-term reader from becoming uneasy and lose interest. Especially if the plots are just good-guy/bad-guy super-heroing. You can do “good triumphs over evil” using the same characters and situations just so many times, you know?

They figured this all out in adventure strips of the early thirties: all the really successful strips had unique themes (with lots of imitators for each) that could be repeated ad infinitum (or until the strip was cancelled). The successful comic-book superheroes all had unique themes, too. When the public tired of those themes, they died off and new comics arose.

With new marketing strategies. Archie expanded on Fawcett's "family" marketing strategy. EC created brand loyalty via its letters column. Mort Wesinger combined the Fawcett/Archie "family" marketing with EC’s brand loyalty concept and thus continuity was born. And the rest of DC's editing staff took Mort's continuity marketing strategy and applied it across the line.

But continuity was a marketing strategy, not a theme in and of itself. Not until Stan Lee, seeing how well DC's branding worked, made continuity itself his theme. He could do that because he was writing and editing everything himself, and his "universe" was small enough and new enough to maintain. His thematic approach was very successful and it spawned lots of imitations.

None of which were ever as creatively as successful as the original. As usual.

Continuity's just another theme. Stan Lee, for a few years in the sixties, did it very well. But if continuity's the only theme, as it has been in most superhero comics for the past forty years, it has to be scrupulously maintained, else the theme is shattered. The reader is dissatisfied.

And trying to maintain seventy years of continuity is like pissing up a rope.

I personally think it's time to move on. YMMV.

3/27/2006 04:20:00 PM  
Blogger faboofour said...

Let’s try an example here. Spider-man has organic webshooters in the movies. To appeal to the mythical hordes of new readers that would be “confused” by mechanical webshooters, a storyline is crafted where Spider-man develops organic webshooters. Why? Just don’t mention webshooters again. Don’t mention making web fluid, loading the webshooters, nothing. Spidey points, he shoots, webs come out, what more do we need to know?

Worked for Superman: One day he was jumping, next day he flew. Why? Radio people said so. End of story.

3/27/2006 04:45:00 PM  
Blogger kymaera said...

Bryan Long said...

Ben Grimm and Reed Richards are in their 80s, if not older (both served in WWII, and references were still being made to that in the 1980s, when I first did the math -- Roy Thomas again). To the best of my knowledge, that’s never been “formally” retconned out of their history through a crisis or time alteration, etc.

In the early 200's, Reed, Sue and Ben were prematurely aged, then restored back to "younger than they were before". So, it was partially addressed.

3/27/2006 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

"
Not sure about that... Though Selina's "origin" was changed by Year One, the Dr. Moon story in Detective took place in "present time".

Also, the Dr. Moon story appeared around the same time as Year One's original publication so I wouldn't think the editor of both (O'Neil) would have two stories contradicting each other running at the same time.

There's nothing in Year One that would keep the history after that from not happening. Make it less-likely, perhaps."

By "Basically taken out by Year One," I meant that both stories came out at the same time, and later writers (specifically Mindy Newell's 1989 Catwoman mini-series) decided to embrace Miller's version of the character, who was not congruent with the Barr Catwoman.

Later on, when Zero Hour occured, the official change was made, eliminating both the Miller version AND the Barr version, to give us a new version, generally leaning more towards the Miller version, with a decidedly smaller amount of ickiness (i.e. no prostitution).

3/27/2006 06:52:00 PM  
Blogger DCUBoy said...

I wonder if everyone is insane. stories without continuity are bad stories. Fictional history is fascinating. I mean check out the Unauthorized Chronolgy of the DC Universe site if u dont believe me.

3/27/2006 09:54:00 PM  
Anonymous BCleats said...

I like the idea of continuity as going as far back as the last time the hero and villain have tangled. Otherwise, you have a Doctor Doom who turns into a joke, because he just never beats the FF (and you have to keep explaining the weaker stories away as encounters with Doombots). Absolute Continuity sucks. It restricts the storyline. Look at The Simpsons. They have an elastic continuity and it works because it allows viewers to miss episodes and not be penalized. Many Golden and Silver Age comics worked the same way because readers came and went, but new readers can always pick up a Superman or Batman story and KNOW what's going on. Compare that to a new reader now trying to make heads or tails of the X-Men's history.

3/28/2006 04:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Pete said...

Continuity is essential in the big picture, because it allows actions to have consequences, and with consequences come drama. No consequences means no drama (and more often it means sitcom, since next issue it's back to the status quo, so comedy is a lot easier to do).

This doesn't mean that you need historian-grade continuity; in fact that's pretty much a pipedream given the limitations of the genre. It requires a remarkable degree of ingenuity to fit even a moderate amount of a long-time DC (or Marvel) character's backstory into a timeline that's even vaguely possible, let alone reasonable.

What it does mean is that there should be some sense of narrative around a character. They did X, participated in Y, had their life changed by Z. And most importantly, it should make sense when described.

This is why Identity Crisis, with its shoehorned-in exposition about "what really happened" fell flat for me. Slotting in an "untold tale" which allows you to explain a new plot twist is nothing new, and if done well can cast old stories in an interesting and different light. But, and this is crucial, the consequences of these new-old actions have to play out.

It just isn't conceivable that Light's sexual assault of Sue, or the brainwashing of Catwoman et al, or any of the other "revisions" could have happened without major impacts on the characters, their relationships, and their future actions. So much would have changed, that you'd have to say you can't get to here from there.

To mangle a phrase - "Reality is stranger than fiction, because fiction has to make sense." That sentiment is the heart of what I consider continuity - the story has to make sense, based on what has gone before.

3/28/2006 06:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Brian Mac said...

I've noticed that a lot of the more successful and critically acclaimed TV shows of the last few years, specifically Lost, Battlestar Galactica, and 24 have pretty strict continuity -- I only watch BSG myself, but my understanding is that if you miss an episode of Lost, you're pretty much screwed until you catch up. The perception was that TV viewers wouldn't put up with such a thing, and new viewers couldn't jump on, but those shows seem to be disproving that theory.

I think those shows are built on others like The X-Files, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Alias, where following the "mythology," as they termed it, was part of the fun.

Obviously, none of those shows have the 70-year history of the DCU, but I think "mythology" rather than "strict continuity" perhaps should be the goal here. To pick a random example, you can expect the readers to know the "basics" of Superman -- alien sent to Earth as an infant, raised by humans, all sorts of super-powers -- but maybe we can expect fans to know some of the mythology as well -- say, what Kandor is, or the Phantom Zone, or Krypto -- without specifically requiring them to know precisely who was the mayor of Kandor last time we saw it, or whether Krypto has dog-tags. If they don't know, they'll just have to pick it up as they go.

3/28/2006 07:57:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[Obviously, none of those shows have the 70-year history of the DCU]

I'd also note that they've got much smaller and more unified writing teams than the DC as a whole -- and, looking at it from another angle, they're not trying to connect together dozens of shows with similar levels of complexity, which also range from heavy grimness to out-and-out comedy.

I'm inclined to think it's the fact that series aren't just taking place in the same universe, but are full of cross-connections to each other, that really makes continuity top-heavy.


--
James Moar

3/28/2006 01:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 things, because I can nit with the best of them:

James Bond does indeed have continuity of a sorts and people do care up to a point.

Also many comic strips use a form of contiunuity, Cathy, For Better or Worse, FoxTrot, Sally Forth, Luann. Classiscs such as Doonesbury use it as well.

I am not a big fan of continuity to the nth degree. I definately ignore anything I do not like.

3/28/2006 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Hale of Angelthorne said...

Worst example of sloppy ret-conning: trying to jam Elektra: Assassin into mainstream Daredevil continuity. God, that sucked!
My view on continuity (Star Trek, comic book or otherwise) is this: fiction (ANY kind of fiction) only works when you have the willing suspension of disbelief by the reader. To do that, the writer has to maintain internal consistency with the "rules" of her or his story. Part of that internal consistency is maintaining some degree of continuity. If you have to resort to lazy gimmicks (parallel universes, time travel, anti-matter powered villains, Superboy's frickin' fists) to circumvent glaring inconsistencies, it hurts the story. If you make a conscious decision to take a big steaming dump on long-established continuity (the Winter Soldier, Star Trek: Enterprise), just because you the writer think you are smarter than your readers, it hurts the story. So, Superman's belt buckle and Klingon foreheads don't bother me so much, but interminable "Crises" do. As I said in a similar discussion over in Pretty, Fizzy Paradise, I wouldn't mind being very strict on time and aging in comics, if only because it would force some creativity on lazy writers who would have to come up with new heroes to replace those who age out and retire. Never happen, of course.

3/28/2006 10:07:00 PM  
Anonymous Kyle said...

It's always funny how people get fussy that continutity either "has" to exist or "shouldn't". It's like everyone is wound up so damn tight and can't stand to break out of rigid thought systems.

You just read the comics. Be done with it. If you don't like continuity, then POOF! It's not there for you anymore. Batman is just talking some nonsense, maybe dropping some contextual background info...you are done. If you don't like continuity you wouldn't be interested in what the hell everyone is referencing.

Comics are more a mythology than anything. The stories are told by different people, using the same characters to tell their own tales. So it will never be tight fit. Learn to deal with loose continuity. Everything fairly recent usually fits okay. The average comic reader who is anything less than a basement-dwelling middleaged nerd doesn't read the golden age history. And they do try to follow a series for the continuity for a few years before they give up on comics or get distracted. For them (the average and i daresay MAJORITY) - of comics readers- the loose continuity that occurs in comics today works perfectly fine. You just dont hear about them because they don't get uppity vocal at shops and on fourms because they haven't sacrificed enough of their social life to do so.

And I think thats where comicdoms main problems arise: the shoprats think they are the majority, and that they know whats best.

3/29/2006 01:19:00 AM  
Anonymous kkglinka said...

I came to a very similar conclusion about the mind-wipe. According to evidence shown, it must have occured before Catwoman Volume 1 (she began wearing the purple bodysuit by her second year), around the same time "Catch as Catscan" would have happened.

I also found evidence that suggests some variation of the "purple dress" time period is back in continuity, despite being explicitly wiped by Dennis O'Neil's statement that "Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle don't know each other; they never met". I even made a diagram to make myself happy.

You are definitely not the only fan grousing about the half-assed, kinda sorta, maybe, unresolved retcons that popped up in the last arc. Frankly, discovering whether some version of those late Silver Age stories is back in continuity interests me far more than whether or not Selina really killed Black Mask.

4/03/2006 09:29:00 PM  

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