Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Cataclysmic Cacophonous Continuous Crisis of Comicbook Continuity

Yes I know. It has been much too long since I have posted. When I was talked into creating one of these I worried that this would happen and it seems it was a self-fulfilled prophecy. So, first of all, my apologies to all who have checked in seeking updates. And second, well, I can't promise it won't happen again. That would be foolish pride. However I will pledge to update better in the future. Damn this "Grand Ennui"

Now let’s get to the good stuff. Or the attempt at least. :)

Comic Book Continuity...Oy vey! What a boondoggle if there ever was one. I suppose it can all be traced back to the first time Superman and Batman met (on radio before the comics ironically) or the Justice Society of America perhaps. After all these famed events and all that has followed is based off the simplest of postulations. To wit: "Wouldn't it be awesome if Super Powered Guy were to meet or fight Masked Crime fighter Dude. I mean...of course it would. Duh. I am there with bells on. I am after all a fan of The Brave and The Bold, Marvel Team Up and Marvel Two in One comics, in which respectively The Batman, Spider-Man and The Thing met every single character in DC and Marvel at the time these books were published. And I loved it.

The deal is though, Bob Haney rarely if ever troubled himself with any continuity in his B&B tales, and even the usually continuity heavy Marvel didn't trouble with it much in Team Up or Two in One. The reasons for this are myriad certainly but I think the most important one is that the folks running these titles at the time knew that the story was the thing and that any bogging down into complicated continuity issues would only subvert that.

So the trouble is...where do we draw the line? I mean it seems no one is happy with zero continuity in comics published by the big two. Indeed a lot of readers like to see it with some smaller publishers that have never established one. I know of a couple of cases where that came up with some readers concerning Shooting Star Comics. But of course this just brings us back to the initial desire. How cool would it be to see certain characters meet? Something most if not all of us enjoy certainly. However, there is a certain peaceful simplicity of the kind of comics done back in the day where the Atlantis of Aquaman was obviously not the Atlantis of Superman's side tail (sorry folks, couldn't resist) Lori Lemaris’. But I know too many people whom that would bug to no end and they would end up calling for or creating themselves the answer to this conundrum. Which of course someone did later, as the two co-exist in mostly harmony now.

Too much continuity in turn to my mind is even worse. When we have characters, stories and even entire eras mucked up as bad as things have gotten at times with the MU and DCU it is testament of the evils of continuity gone wild. Heroes Reborn, the Two Crises, Zero Hour and The House of M are symptoms, not the sickness itself, much less a cure.

So what is the answer? Well obviously there is no perfect answer. As I have told many of my fellow comic creators "Someone somewhere is going to hate what you are doing no matter how good it is" and the same is true for continuity policy. Someone is going to hate it no matter how you do it. But, I think the way Marvel handled it in the Marvel Age and how DC handled it in the Bronze (or super, get off my back Rogers) Age was the best way to do it. It exists. It ties some things together. It allows our favorite heroes to meet and fight. But it does not take over everything and make the characters, stories and events secondary to it.

Continuity should be a tool that serves our needs as writers, artists, readers and fans. Not our master.

And that is what I have to say about that. :)

RIP to the great ones we lost this week. Dennis Weaver, Darrin McCain and the incomparable Don Knotts. Thanks for everything fellas.