Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Me and Marc discuss Continuity and Curmudgeoness (Comment Pull Quote)

[An old comment pull quote I found searching for conversations to add to the toolbar.]

Geoff Klock wrote

Mark Waid established "hypertime" in the post-Kingdom-Come Kingdom Come stories -- the idea that story lines do not have to be wiped out to create a coherent continuity (the first Crisis) -- all the universes of every story exist at once and borders can always be crossed (the second Crisis). For the record the only reason I know that is that Frank Quitely drew one of the post Kingdom Come Kingdom Come books (I cannot for the life of me remember what they were called: Kingdom Come Again? Kingdom Commer? Kingdom Come 2?). It didn't stick, and Johns is going to try again. This is where DC is going with all their countdown stuff I think. They even used Ellis's Bleed in Green Lantern, since Ellis made a big deal of this structure of universes with the Snowflake in Planetary. Frankly watching these guys develop the structure of a multi-verse so that continuity glitches will not keep them awake at night is very boring. Just give me a well told story with good art. I don't care if it does not have a clear place in your neat little universe structure, you big engineering geeks with your graph paper and your mechanical pencils trying to figure out the real world physics of the light saber.

Marc Wrote

Geoff: Is it just me, or have you elevated to curmudgeon status of late? As said in Wedding Crashers, "It's like pizza, baby! It's all good!"

This isn't the 60s, when Stan Lee was doing campus lectures and that era's college kids were the first to take their comics to the dorm with them. Nor is it the 80s, when comics "finally grew up" (quote from every third writer on comics for a non-comic forum from 1985 on).

This is the 00s, where the first generation of direct market geeks (in the club, so I can say so) has gotten their pens into the major companies. They're smart enough to realize that they can have their universe the way they learned it, especially the DC folk. And so you have what's been going on lately.

Also, the profile of someone who reads Casanova or something else from its rack buddies probably is someone who gre up on comics and wants a bit more. You're simply not going to get someone off the streets to read now if they haven't already read somewhere from ages 6-18. So there is a need for mainstream comics to be the mindless, pulpy fun they are. Every so often, they stretch their boundaries and come up with a homer (let's say, Green Lantern: Rebirth or our beloved JLA:Classified 1-3) but for the most part it's business as usual from month to month. The reason that a Seven Soldiers or a Planetary or a Casanova exists (and you can see a progression amongst them)is because someone wants to create, in the comic medium something with more to say than the average monthly. There's room enough in my love of the form for all types.

Also, the rag on continuity is pretty mean-spirited. Continuity is not for that, but for freedom to tell all types of stories without having to lock it down to one universe. It's not so someone can shrug off why Clark had rimless glasses in one book, but not in the other. AND it's doubly mean from someone who hung his theoretical book on what some might call a cynical cash-grab x-over between licensed properties and a half-assed X-Men ripoff. (Not me, though; I read your book and have spent the last two years mining the biblio for new material.)

Geoff Klock wrote

Marc: I have been in curmudgeon satus lately, which is a nice way of saying I have been mean and in a bad mood. You are nice to be so nice, if you see what I mean.

I find myself frustrated with a lot of things lately, not the least being the fact that everyone seems so happy with everything all the time -- every comic book that comes out seems to get a five star review at newsarama. Paul O'Brien really set me off this week, giving New X-Men 140 an A. I can not understand how people can "appreciate" both his A and my F at the same time without their heads exploding -- the things I called mistakes he did not mention at all. That was an overreaction, and I am sure O'Brien is a good guy and I am going to contact him soon for a little debate on this subject. I know that is not true that everything on newsarama gets a great review, but there are days when I FEEL like it is, when I see a horrbile book getting a great review, and start looking for ANYONE who is feeling the way I do. The way I feel is that some kind of quality control is important, and that when everyone loves something and I demonstrate -- DEMONSTRATE rather than the "SPAWN SUKS / SPAWN RULZ" school of criticism -- there is no category for me other than killjoy jackass.

Your use of "mindless" in "mindless pulpy fun" is what throws me. You make it sound like I am objecting to mindlessness, but what I am objecting to is bad storytelling. If you are focused on reparing the structure of your fictional universe rather than storytelling your priorities are screwed up and it is going to show. And look what a mess of a story Infinite Crisis is. Civil War is not quite the same thing but the same principle applies: when editorial mission trumps storytelling bad things happen.

"Love of all types" is what I cannot embrace and it makes me look like a horrible person. When applied to people it is a nice idea: we should all care about different kinds of people and accept them for what that can do rather than for what they cannot. But I am not sure that comic books are like people in this regard. I think with a comic book it should be easier to say "well I see what it is trying to do and it does it, but what it is trying to do is stupid."

Also, life is short, and I try to just find the "homers" as you put it. People who do not distinguish between the two -- for example people who LOVE WE3 AND Runaways -- throw me off track by telling me that the books are both fantastic. WE3 is fantastic; Runaways is only pretty good at best. It is good, don't get me wrong, but it is nothing like WE3. So that is a big source of my frustration.

"Continuity is for the freedom to tell all types of stories without how to lock them down to one universe". Well, for a while it was trying to lock characters down to a single universe; now they are working on establishing something the structure of the multi-verse, or whatever, where characters can go from the main universe to the Kingdome Come one -- where one rule explains all the transitions. This will do what you describe, allow for lots of different stories. But what if no one cared about continuity so closely? What if no one needed to explain that continuity glitches were caused by the Pre-crisis Superboy punching the universe very very hard? What if we could just accept that the DC universe is a bit of a mess, with characters being in the same (Batman and Superman) but sometimes different (Batman and Wildcats) worlds that crossover sometimes for whatever reason? It seems like a small complaint on one level, except for the amount of money people are expected to spend to follow DC's world building -- Road to Infinite Crisis, Identity Crisis, OMAC project, Rann-Thangarr War, Spirit of Vengance, Infinite Crisis, 52, Countdown, all the spinoffs and so on.

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