Reboots and Storytelling

I saw this story about what R.R. Martin wants to write Dr. Strange.  I have to say I am on both sides of this story.  I love the R.R. Martin asked for this.  He does not need to write for Marvel Comics.  He might enjoy it.  He might as well ask for something impossible.

If I was Marvel Comics my counter offer would have been for him to have his own continuity that no one would ever mess with.  His story would happen outside the standard Marvel Universe, but it would stand forever.  I know that R.R. Martin would not accept this offer, but I would still make it.

I hate everything having to do with comic book reboots, retroactive continuity, sliding timelines, and cosmic reset buttons.  As a kid I loved the idea that the marvel universe had 25 years of history behind it before I ever started reading.  When I was 12 years old, that continuity made the Marvel Universe live up to the Stan Lee quote "The Marvel Universe has always reflected the world outside your window."

Of course this causing problems for story telling 25 years of continuity is not the same as 50 years of
continuity.  At some point the world becomes unwieldy and suffers from that baggage.  There are two fixes for this reboots or get rid of the sliding time line.  This is the choice between letting Peter Parker get older and age out of being Spiderman or keep Peter Parker young and reboot from time to time. 

It is easy to see why rebooting comic story lines is so attractive.  Artists want to leave their marks on the stories.  It does not make sense that Professor X and Tony Stark took part in the Korean War.  So much history with the characters, it is hard to tell stories without having to think of what happened with 100s of issues before that.  

If I was 12 years old now, would I get into comic books?  Would I love going back to read old stories or would I want something that was updated for me? I do not know the answer to this.  I know that any 12 year old now cannot read the stories in the same way I did when I was 12


Ealasaid said…
Oh man. First, any writer who's all YOU CAN NEVER RETCON MY STUFF EVER is dreaming if he wants to write a character in the Marvel universe. Dreaming or high on his own popularity. Just, dude, no. Reboots are part of how comics work -- I used to be against them myself but now that I'm reading more comics (like, WAY more) I'm a fan, if only because HOLY SHIT OLD COMICS SUCKED. So I don't want modern writers trapped by the decisions of writers decades ago.

Further, whinging that Strange should never be on a team and never work with anyone else makes me want to find a hardcover edition of the collected Defenders and beat them about the head. Yes, Strange is a loner, but so many amazing moments come out of him working on a team. That moment where he gets Red She-Hulk to de-hulk with just a brief word in her ear is just amazing (and I love that she spends the rest of the series calling him a creep and giving him massive side-eye, but we never find out what he said). I think in a lot of ways Strange is at his best when he has other characters around to interact with, not just him and the baddies.

Me, I'd pay serious money to read a Matt Fraction book focused on Dr. Strange and Iron Fist working together. That would be fuckin' epic. EPIC I TELL YOU.

I agree that giving GRRM his own continuity (Earth 123 or whatever) would be a good way around it -- I mean, look at the Jokester -- we're never going back to that universe. No worries about retconning that, and more's the pity.

Comics have changed so much in terms of how people handle the art form that I think it's vital to have rebooting/retconning as an option. If you compare, say, The Doctor is Out to a Dr. Strange book from 30 or 40 years ago, you'll see HUGE differences in pretty much every aspect of it. As you say, eventually the continuity becomes unwieldy, but also, styles change. Attitudes change. You couldn't write Sue Storm today the way she was written 40 years ago. Or rather, you could, but there'd be a huge backlash.

I'm rambling. In sum: I agree with you. And I like rambling about Dr. Strange, I guess. (He is so awesome)
Ealasaid said…
Not sure why me signing in with Google isn't enough for my name to show up. That comment and this one are by Ealasaid.
Rich said…
I agree with what you say.

I just think it would be cool to see 70 year old Sue Storm. She would be a kick ass older woman with all that wisdom, experience, and power. Her arch from 1961 to now would be great.

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