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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Retcon Ranting (Spoiler Content)

This contains reference to a plot point from New Avengers that I'm quite possibly misunderstanding anyway as I haven't read the actual issue and am just going by what I've heard from other people...

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So is the "He/She's a skrull!" thing officially gonna be Marvel's answer to "Superboy punched the Universe"?

Because honestly, if it is, I'm a little disappointed. Not because it's cheap, mind you, as I have a fairly high tolerance for cheap. Simply because it lacks the one-two punch of being cheap AND ridiculous.

Retconning by way of teenage temper tantrum is dumb. It's so dumb, it's funny. There is no possible way to take that seriously, so you just have to run with it. It's basically DC saying "Yes, we know it's stupid. But we want to do it this way. Deal with it. When we tire of it, we'll change it back with an even dumber excuse."

In Marvel's case, well, the Skrull thing (should it be true) is actually plausible. (Though it does require ignoring relatively recent skrull canon, I'm told.) Skrulls shapeshift. Skrulls shapeshift into heroes and cause havoc. Completely plausible.

And thus...it's empty. It's so plausible that really...how do we know ANYTHING that happens isn't going to be retconned away with "the skrull did it." It's so insidious that we never have to know until years later.

At least in the case of Superboy punching the Universe, it's a big deal. It's probably not going to happen again. The circumstances aren't going to repeat itself.

Most importantly for me is the matter of the retcon. I don't mind retcons in general, sure I get annoyed when story points I like vanish, but that happens sometimes. There's a difference to me, though, between saying "Okay, this didn't happen" then saying "Okay, this happened but HE didn't do it."

On one hand, the second option DOES allow aftermath of the events to be explored better. But personally, I don't like it. I feel irrationally robbed by the concept. All the emotion I've invested into the events is pointless because, well heck, that wasn't them! If Tony were to be a skrull, I wouldn't be as angry/disappointed as I am in the character now, because well, it's not Tony. It's a skrull and that's what skrull does. It's like the emotional investment is completely wasted.

The first option on the other hand might negate any exploration of consequence, but it lets me keep my emotional involvement. Okay, fine, this random story of Batman being a jerk didn't happen as far as the rest of the universe is concerned. Cool. But when I read this hypothetical story again, I would still feel the same "Damnit, you JERK!" reaction I always would. Even if it "didn't happen". It "could have". If it had happened, Batman would probably still be a jerk. And thus I feel perfectly justified in my emotional reaction. If I reread a skrull story I don't have that, it'd be just "Oh, yeah, well, it's a skrull."

I don't always dislike replacement stories mind you, but I think that they should be handled with care. And certainly NOT used as an excuse to retcon away a mistake.

My recommendation: Let Galactus EAT the plot point. It's not quite Superboy Prime, but it'd certainly make me laugh.

I admit, it's very possible that this will all be much better than it sounds, maybe I'll actually enjoy it. Maybe I'm just completely confused and am misunderstanding!

Meanwhile, I'm tired, cranky, and spent most of the night being stalked by a neighbor's cat, so I'm even less coherent than usual. I'm going to sleep. :-)

14 Comments:

  • At June 16, 2007 8:57 AM, Blogger notintheface said…

    The Skrull plot would certainly explain THIS:

    http://photos1.blogger.com/x/blogger/3841/751/400/77991/CWin30-07.jpg

     
  • At June 16, 2007 10:01 AM, Blogger Matthew Perpetua said…

    I don't know, this seems like a far more organic and plot-driven way to fix continuity than DC's method, which is generally to derail the entire line's stories for a year with Monitor/Crisis shenanigans and then reboot endlessly. I mean, it's so depressing that they brought back the FUN of the Multiverse just to do tedious Monitor-driven "this character doesn't belong in this world!" stories straight out the gate.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 10:22 AM, Blogger SallyP said…

    I understand your point about investing emotionally in a story, only that have it negated. That's REALLY annoying. It's like discovering the whole thing was a dream or something.

    Punching alternate universes on the other hand, is so completely over the top, that I enjoy it.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 11:10 AM, Blogger Rob S. said…

    I honestly think this is going to work out pretty well. It seems like they intend to play up the paranoia of the situation, and paranoia is the juice that makes these things run.

    I'm hopeful. And I certainly trust Bendis more than Millar.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 11:45 AM, Anonymous Aaron Nowack said…

    In interviews, they've said over and over that they aren't going to use it to retcon away Civil War or House of M or any of the recent storylines. The Skrulls might have helped things along, but humans were responsible for those.

    I'm pretty sure Bendis explicitly jokes about the Skrulls "not punching the universe," but I'm much too lazy to check.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 12:17 PM, Blogger tavella said…

    The official word is that Tony is not a Skrull, and this won't be used to explain away Civil War.

    My problem is: there are only a handful of people in the Marvel Universe that I don't despise at this point, and nearly all of them are in the New Avengers. And the New Avengers were already editorially mandated to be Wrong, basically there to fail and See the Light and the virtues of Tony's Way.

    So now there's not only that, they've decided to make them evil. Just in case any readers were still holding out against their shiny neocon agenda. Luke Cage's concern for the future and freedom of his wife and kids, which I thought was one of the most moving bits of CW, certainly the best of the New Avengers crossovers? Just a bunch of skrulls.

    So, so much for the NA for me. Now I'm down to two Marvel mainline ongoings: Captain America and Iron Fist. CA because I've loved the character since I was a kid and I can't *not* follow this storyline, no matter how sad it is, and Iron Fist because it has managed to remain blessedly nearly untouched by CW.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 1:50 PM, Anonymous david brothers said…

    And the New Avengers were already editorially mandated to be Wrong, basically there to fail and See the Light and the virtues of Tony's Way.

    Nope!

    The New Avengers is the Avengers book for the anti-reg readers. They are there to fight Tony's way and show him that he is horribly wrong. I can't see Bendis turning them into West Coast Mighty Avengers, you know? They're the new counter-culture vigilantes.

    When I first heard about the spoiler, I had kind of an "Eh," response, but the more I think about it, the more I like it. It helps that Bendis has been in interviews and almost explicitly debunking my worst fears about the story, that it would be used as a Superboy punch ore retcon machine.

    I think he said that even if X was a Skrull in Y story-- that story still happened. It still matters.

    It's a surprisingly organic change, and you can see the hints way back in New Avengers #1. There's some dialogue that hints that the Raft break-out was just a smokescreen, because something else went down that night. However- we never found out what!

    I'm getting kind of excited. I love intrigue, and suddenly the Marvel U is an even more unpredictable place. I've got faith in Bendis on this one. It doesn't seem like a misstep.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 3:02 PM, Anonymous zeb aslam said…

    I kind of get what you're saying. It's the same way I felt when the doombots were in vogue. Suddenly it was like Doom himself was never around...everything that ever happened to him happened to some doombot or other.

    But, I still like this more than the continuity punch. Because while the emotional investment in the character is gone...the repurcussions(sp?) remain. If anything, the fact that a skrull did something while pretending to be character makes me curious about how exactly the characters will deal with each other. Marvel is basically making all the characters divide...kinda like a dozen or so single universes in one shared MU. It is a return to the 60s, yes...but eh...if it results in good stories I don't mind.

    The punch just pissed me off.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 9:05 PM, Blogger tavella said…

    Nope!

    The New Avengers is the Avengers book for the anti-reg readers. They are there to fight Tony's way and show him that he is horribly wrong. I can't see Bendis turning them into West Coast Mighty Avengers, you know? They're the new counter-culture vigilantes.


    That's a nice thought, but Marvel editorial has been very, very clear that in their view Tony was right, the hero of the whole thing, and that the SHRA is the longterm future of the MU. So yes, the New Avengers are there to fail and be wrong.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 10:06 PM, Blogger Evan Waters said…

    In defense of these quick recons, I do have to say, do we really want talented writers wasting valuable creative energy fixing other people's messes?

    Sure, there are some who specialize in this. Geoff Johns, Roy Thomas, etc. But there are only so many of them to go around.

     
  • At June 16, 2007 10:11 PM, Blogger Derek said…

    "I think he said that even if X was a Skrull in Y story-- that story still happened. It still matters."

    It still matters to the Marvel Universe, but it no longer matters to the reader. It's still relevant from a continuity standpoint, but all emotional relevance is drained from those stories. It makes the readers not care, which is a problem.

    I think that was Kalinara's point, anyway. I might be wrong.

     
  • At June 17, 2007 1:16 AM, Blogger kalinara said…

    Derek, exactly. I don't care about Skrull X pretending to be character Y. I care about character Y. :-)

     
  • At June 17, 2007 6:51 AM, Blogger Captain Qwert Jr said…

    "That's a nice thought, but Marvel editorial has been very, very clear that in their view Tony was right, the hero of the whole thing, and that the SHRA is the longterm future of the MU. So yes, the New Avengers are there to fail and be wrong."

    No, he's right, but since, CW was poorly put together by moral imbeciles, I can see how it be confusing.

    They had to make Iron Man evil, because despite all the pretensions to being an allegory to the War on Terror, when you actually look at it, it's a squabble between security agencies.

    Even Skrulls can't explain how character exchanges in one book were completely different in the other books. Also given the civilian deaths mentioned in CW:Frontline, I can't see how any side can be considered good.

     
  • At June 18, 2007 12:03 PM, Anonymous Stacy Dooks said…

    The official word is that Tony won't be a Skrull? Well that's comforting as all get-out, seeing as how Civil War was a fair and balanced portrayal of two honorable men reaching a point of no return and a conflict that portrayed both sides fair and even handedly. Yep, I'm completely at ease now.

    Waitaminute. . .

     

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