Sunday, September 16, 2012

Continuity Shmontinuity

I've written my thoughts about DC's relaunch about a month ago, and one thing that I didn't really address was the new continuity.  This has been the discussion on some of the comics related websites lately, with the major bit of news being that Tim Drake was never the third Robin.  In fact, he was never Robin, and the only superhero identity that he's ever had is his current one of Red Robin.

This is somewhat disappointing to me.  Why?  It's probably because I was there for the beginning of Tim Drake's turn as Robin.  I bought the comics, including his solo series, which started back when I was still in high school.  Some of my favorite comics in my collection, which have survived multiple purges of the collection, are those comics.  In other words, I've been with this character since the beginning, and now I'm being told that all this stuff has never happened.

What really confuses me though isn't so much this but how all of this stuff ties together with the greater DC Universe.  Okay, I get it that they're now saying that Superman has only been doing his thing for about five years now.  Apparently Batman has been doing his thing a bit longer, but he's only been public for about the same amount of time.  So, it makes things a bit hard to squeeze in four Robins in that short amount of time.  I'm not even sure what the Batgirl situation is.  Apparently it was Barbara Gordon at first, just like before, but as for what happened when she was in the wheelchair hasn't been fully revealed.  Was Stephanie Brown ever Batgirl?  What about that silent Batgirl whose name I can't remember and never gave a crap about in the first place?  And was Barbara ever Oracle?  That one may have been answered, but I'm not sure.

If they have to get rid of stuff, then that's fine, but then how the heck does the Green Lantern stuff still work? How can you have four different ones in such a short period of time?  Was Hal Jordan ever possessed by Parallax?  Did the green/yellow war ever happen?  Blackest Night seems to be part of continuity, so it follows that all the rest of that stuff still counts too, right?  (Although any and all parts with the Golden Age Green Lantern, Alan Scott, must be altered at least somewhat.)

Okay, so when you think about it too much, it all really doesn't make that much sense.  Want to know a little trick though?


Stop thinking about it?  Why?


Here's the thing, you currently have 52 monthly books from DC Comics that comprise a single universe.  With this, you don't have just one guy coming up with all of these stories.  You don't even have a single editor.  Sure, DC has Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, and Dan Didio (not sure who does what now) overseeing the whole operation, but the point is that there are far too many books out there to be guided by one single creative vision.  Even if all of those editors focused solely on making sure the continuity made sense, you'd still have problems, and you'd have creators who are shackled by an arbitrary timeline.

I just can't bring myself to care about these kinds of details anymore.  Some of these characters have been around for over 70 years now, and even if you do a complete and total reboot, you're not going to get that many titles to all fit together.  If you want some continuity that makes sense, you have to buy the out-of-continuity books like the Superman and Batman Earth One books or the All Star line of comics.  As for Marvel, you have to get the MAX books or maybe even the Ultimate line of comics (but I imagine even those start to fall apart after some time).

Now I'm not saying that I want the major publishers to abandon continuity all together.  I don't want to find out that Hal Jordon was the first Green Lantern of Earth one month and then the next month it was Kyle Rayner.  But what I don't want is an exact timeline of how the rich, complex history of the Earth's Green Lantern Corps suddenly fits into a meager five year timeline.  Crap, stop using the term "five years" entirely.  How long ago was it?  Not long ago.  That's good enough.  The more precise they try to be with this stuff, the less sense it's going to make.

Personally, I think that one of the best bits of fixing continuity occurred within the pages of The Amazing Spider-Man several years ago.  There was an awful story that revealed that Norman Osborn knocked up Gwen Stacy back when she was dating Peter Parker.  That's horrible.  But guess what?  Instead of telling a story that revisits that mistake and tries to "undo" it, the writers have just been ignoring it.  It's been several years now.  If anybody liked it, they can read those comics and pretend like they happened.  As far as I'm concerned, it was all one giant typo.

So, all those problems I mentioned up at the top?  This was the first time I ever actually thought about them.  As far as I'm concerned, Tim Drake was Robin, and I have the comics to prove it.

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