Sunday, August 23, 2009

Blogathon 47: Bendis and the Retcon

Part of what's gone with Bendis bringing back certain characters is retconning. I addressed that last post a bit, but what about the larger retcons that he puts into place to justify plot and character moments? The Illuminati is a great big retcon. The Scarlet Witch not knowing about her kids is another. How about Jessica Jones herself? Are these problematic?

I don't have any problem with retcon if they serve a purpose. The formation of the Illuminati? Great! The group affects the Marvel universe and the creation of the group is a logical move on the parts of the characters -- I'm surprised no one did it before Bendis. Now, some of the retcons Bendis does with the Illumunati I'm not a fan of -- only because the points of those moves haven't been revealed. Why was the Beyonder retconned as a mutant Inhuman? For what purpose? If there is none, it was a worthless change -- if there is one, it would be nice to reveal it a bit sooner after executing the change. Same with the Infinity Gauntlets.

Wanda not remember her kids never bothered me, because it helped push Bendis's story forward and it made sense. That was a traumatic event and would have some harsh effects. It was brushed off much too easily by past writers.

The insertion of Jessica Jones into the Marvel universe never bothered me either because it's an addition -- a new character that brings other characters to the forefront. Without Jessica, we don't get this better Luke Cage. I do take issue when retcon are added later like the Peter/Jessica attending high school together thing -- information that would have come up prior to when it did.

I do admire that Bendis is rather singular in his vision -- he knows what he wants to do and isn't afraid to make it happen. Some people consider that disrespectful to tradition or previous writers, but it's the nature of the beast. The only tradition he should be upholding? Write the best story that you can. And are previous writers better served by allowing stories that seem antiquated or bad today stand untouched? Why not make something positive out of them?

I find it funny how so many people are so slavish to continuity when so much of it was written on the fly with no thought to what it would mean six months down the line let alone three decades. It's foolish to be held to those decisions when they were obviously not always the most sound. It's like forcing a band to play a song the exact same way every single time when, really, the studio version is just what came out that day. So much of continuity is based on what just happened to have come out that month that it's weird to be so faithful to it... at least without thinking about it.

Now, is Bendis quick to just plough through and do what he wants? Perhaps. But, say what you will, nine times out of ten, he has a plan and it pays off to some degree.

In 30 minutes, I'll discuss the content/promise of content divide. We're in the home stretch now!

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