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Author Topic: Continuity is good?  (Read 20251 times)
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carmelo
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« on: April 01, 2007, 01:49:11 AM »

In yours opinion the continuity is a good thing? I dont'know.When in 40s and 50s (and mostly in 60s too) the continuity was vague and the stories were developed in one or two numbers at most,change of directions was more easy.Exemple:Batmite,Batdog,Batwoman and the first Batgirl were important characters in Batman comics in early 60s.With a vague continuity they have been cancels from comics like if they were not never exist.Moreover,lack of continuity not get old the characters,because not exist  "before" and  "after",but only "The present".Is like this that Superman is passed from Golden to Silver age,without nothing "crisis" ,but day by day. "Continuity" is one cage?
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2007, 02:20:13 AM »

It depends on what stories you're trying to tell.

Many superhero comic book problems with continuity involve one vast shared evolving universe with continuous cycling of creators, an implied imperative that Earth not diverge too radically from Earth-Prime (our world, the world of the reader Smiley ), and protagonists that age slowly (if at all).  Continuity hassles are an almost-inevitable consequence. 

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Great Rao
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« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2007, 03:44:01 AM »

You say that continuity was vague in the 40, 50s, and mainly 1960s.  I disagree.  I think that continuity was extremely tight, especially in the 1960s.

I think it worked well, primarily because it was a good continuity and added a lot to Superman's characters and strengths and to those of his supporting cast.  It clearly defined what made Superman "Superman."

I think that a big part of the problem with modern comics is that there is virtually no continuity at all.  It literally changes from issue to issue.  Loose continuity - or "vague" continuity - can be OK at times - but not nonexistent continuity, or continuous non-continuity, which, unfortunately, seems to be where we are now.

I don't understand how anyone can be interested in reading stories that all take place in different universes with different characters.  Why invest any time or interest in anything if your know that it'll be tossed out, ignored, and contradicted within weeks?

People used to complain that Mort Weisinger ruled with an Iron Fist.  But now it's the opposite end of the extreme.  Editors and writers don't even know what each other is thinking - witness the statements in the recent "Ask Matt" column - but it doesn't even matter, the stories just get published anyways then ignored down the road.

The Iron Age was a mixed bag.  I think that any new continuity needs to value the continuities that it is replacing.  But the Iron Age reboot clearly disliked the previous continuities and was implemented in a vindictive manner.  Thus, it was a "sick" continuity.  However, as much as I disliked the characterization of "Superman" during that time, one of the things that I really appreciated about the era was its tight continuity.  Sure, I hated Byrne's Krypton - but at least it was adhered to.  The whole "exile in space" thing, the eradicator and cleric - all extremely well handled.  Whether the writers agreed or disagreed with the rules, they followed them.  And at least there were rules.

But since then, Superman's continuity had been replaced with each new writer and/or editor.  I liked Loeb's retcon, but it was tossed.  I liked Birthright, then it was tossed.  I like the new Donner inspired continuity, but why should I risk investing any interest in it when it might just be tossed out again in a month or two?

I hope that DC sticks with this latest continuity and that the Birthright and Loeb/Superman 166 things were just birthpangs.

In short:

Having no continuity is bad (the various birthpang eras, including the lame Sandman Saga), having a bad continuity is bad (Iron Age), but having a good continuity is a really beautiful thing (Silver/Bronze/All-Star).  The Mercury Age continuity is enjoyable and seems to be adding a lot to the character.  Now DC just has to stick with it to make it a good thing.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2007, 03:49:59 AM by Great Rao » Logged

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JulianPerez
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« Reply #3 on: April 01, 2007, 08:52:18 AM »

For the record, I agree with everything Great Rao just said.

Wondering whether continuity is good is like wondering if oxygen is good. Try going without it and see what happens.

The very fact this conversation is even taking place is a discouraging sign of how dysfunctional the DC Universe was for a very long time (a period that only now, thanks to Johns and others who take the DCU and its interconnectivity seriously, we are emerging out of).

Continuity is good because it's the only way the events of stories matter.

Continuity makes everything one big story. It's a thrill to watch the Legionnaires become adults, fall in love, fall out of love, lose their powers, and occasionally die. It matters because their lives are REAL and four-dimensional. A story here or there might not be great, but the OVERALL story of the Legion is what you buy the book for.

Characters should change as a result of their experiences, and their experiences should be in play and mentioned. Nothing cements Ultra Boy and Phantom Girl's love like that occasion when she stood by him even when he was accused of treason, all the way back in 1965. The fact that the Legion has such history with Mordru is what makes him so terrible, NOT his powers (and certainly not that costume).

Screw kids, and screw so-called "new readers." There's no need to bend over backward to appease them: fears of their leaving books because it is complicated are overexaggerated. People read things that make no sense yet are still captivating because there's so much THERE there: LOST is currently America's favorite show, yet I have no idea what the H-E-L-L is going on (and I doubt anyone else does either, including the people that work on the show). Something not being accessible at first - like DUNE or WORLD OF PTATH or LORD OF LIGHT is GOOD, not bad: it arouses curiosity.

Continuity creates suspension of disbelief. Undermine that, and it draws you out of the work. Let's take an example from my hated archnemesis, the foe of all continuity purists everywhere, Grant Morrison: He had Magneto destroy a good part of New York in Ol' Helmet-head's battle with the X-Men. Marvel New York at that point has more superheroes than it has Puerto Ricans and Italians put together. I can't believe everyone else was busy that day - that's illogic that draws me out of the story.

"But the book is called X-MEN, Julian, not 'X-Men plus Fantastic Four plus Nova." True, but comics are not, and should not, be compartmentalized entities where Atlantis is one thing in FF and another in X-Men. Just because something is a fantasy element (like the presence of Fantastic Four), does not mean it can come and go at the convenience of the writer. The Marvel and DC Universes are not "real" (that we know of, anyway) but the writer has an obligation to make them feel that way.

Either way, ignoring history and consistent characterization is bad writing. There's no such thing as "it's okay to ignore continuity if its a good story." A story that violates continuity is by definition, bad.

Heck, even bad stories fit in somewhere if you use continuity; remember those awful tales of the Black Widow leading the Avengers in the 1990s and failing miserably? That was actually USED later on for very powerful stories about Tasha wanting to redeem herself.

(Though George Perez did draw Natasha in this period as the world's worst-looking drag queen.)

Getting back to Superman here, though I am not a fan of the 1990s no more than I am a fan of the 1950s, I *LIKE* the fact that the 90s stories are still in play. "Bad" continuity is worse than no continuity at all, because at least there's SOMETHING there to build on. And even 90s characters like Bloodsport have a purpose, as Busiek and Johns proved in "Up, Up and Away."

And one thing that is essential to being REAL is remembering your past. Len Wein wrote a story where Ra's al-Ghul tried to frame Batman for murder. Only a little while later, Englehart wrote a story where the Tobacconists Club tries to run Batman out of town. It would not have been realistic if Ra's earlier plan never so much as even got ONE mention.

And ultimately, that's why continuity is important: superhero characters aren't, and shouldn't just be Archie Andrews in Riverdale who is always seventeen. This is why I find the fifties for Superman under Otto Binder so nauseating: there was never any real change in the character; it was back to the sitcom status quo always.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #4 on: April 01, 2007, 03:12:20 PM »

I don't think anyone argues that continuity is bad, just that using continuity doesn't make a story good on its own.

Arguing that the 50s stories were "bad" takes them out of the context of their time.  Here was a super hero that survived a comics purge and was barely over 10 years old.  Most readers were still young and threw away their comics when they were finished with them. Tthe thought that readers would stay loyal for 20 years and remember incidences from a decade ago was far away. These stories were not without "oxygen", they were stories about a super guy from an alien planet who disguises himself and has a new adventure every month.

I see the 50s as an era where a lot of plot devices were thrown against a wall, and the 60s as an era where editors and writers started seeing what things stuck and made a richer character.  For example, after 20 years of bringing Luthor on to the stage, maybe it was time to give the guy a planet of "fans" and it was time to see what Krypton was really like etc.

Comics were actually ahead of TV at the time, how many episodes of "Mission: Impossible" reference other episodes?  When "My Three Sons" switched to CBS and Mike got married, he sent cards back home for three episodes and was never mentioned again in 7 years.  I would actually argue that TV and movie continuity may have emerged from comics and their kin.
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Uncle Mxy
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« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2007, 03:35:09 PM »

The problem is that, quite indepdent from the human error involved with maintaining continuity across a line of comics with multiple genres and different flavors of story to tell, the DC Universe has rules that make decades-long continuity a bit difficult:

DC Universe Earth must persist in resembling our Earth such that any new readers can catch onto it.  That's easy to do in the here-and-now, harder to do over the course of a long stretch of time.  It's amazing how many 20-30 year old stories fall apart or need extensive rejiggering in a contemporary or "only a few years ago" context because of cell phones and the Internet.    For that matter, given all the mad science possibilities, it's amazing that the World's Finest didn't lay out a cell phone infrastructure in the 1950s/1960s in their spare time.  One story idea I've toyed with is exploring how general acceptance of innovation is stifled in comic book universes due to it being so easily abused by super bad-guys.  "It's taken generations for Motorola to warm the world to cell phone technologies.  Y'see, way back in 1952, Luthor introduced cell phones all over the world, but he was just trying to con the world into believing he had reformed and the cell phones were all really a trap for Superman..." -- for example.  Try coming up with reasons why the comic book Earth still resembles our Earth despite the flood of innumerable alien technologies. 

Also, characters mature, but don't age so much.  Particularly, they don't apply lessons if said lessons result in any fundamental change to the character's visual look or conception.  Superman should have some force field device and a "beam me to the Fortress" emergency button for the 47 gazillion times he's been exposed to Kryptonite and the prevalence of the technologies (e.g. imitation GL rings), but that'd make too much sense and give the writer a harder problem to solve.  Robin should not be bare-legged in any city that has a winter, and the same goes for most females.   Heaven forbid if there are any scars or extenal signs that most encounters from the past changed you -- the branding people are gonna have a fit!  It's hard to make "past history" have a lot of meaning if you're limited in how you can really show it. 

At some point, there has to be a way to not be encumbered by all that -- a reboot, a universe concept that effectively factors that out (e.g. any story told more than 10 years ago simply doesn't exist with a VERY short list of exceptions -- yes, Superman can meet up with the hot mermaid once a decade). Something's gotta give.



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Super Monkey
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« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2007, 04:19:14 PM »

To answer the question.... it depends.

I disagree with the 1950's Superman not having continuity, since of course they did. They were also trying out lots of new ideas, some didn't work out and were never used again, but that happen in the 1960's, 1970's, and 1980's as well!

But that's a whole other thread.

Continuity could be good, if done right, but I am not sure if doesn't create more problems than it solves. If everything counts, then all you need is one bad writer to come in and muck everything up. Continuity works best IMHO, on a book that has one person with total control.

One writer for the complete run then the book ends, never to be brought back again. That's the only way to have perfect continuity.

I don't know if it works as well, when you have an army of rotating writers, artists, and editors on a book all with different ideas and tastes, changing everything once they take over and leaving the geekiest of nerdy fanboys to try and make the different puzzle pieces fit when they were never suppose to.

I personally rather read a really great Elseworlds one shot that is not in continuity than a crappy run on a canonical book that is actually in continuity.

That's just me though.

At the end of the day, I just want to read a good book, I really couldn't care less if it is in continuity or not. Continuity doesn't make something great in and of itself, when use correctly it can be a great thing, but it is not necessary to make a story great.

 
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carmelo
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« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2007, 04:56:30 PM »

You say that continuity was vague in the 40, 50s, and mainly 1960s.  I disagree.  I think that continuity was extremely tight, especially in the 1960s.
I don't agree.In 60s,until at the end of Silver age-early Bronze age (late 60s) was not a real continuity.The case of Batman is emblematic
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From Wilkipedia:Bat-Mite regularly appeared in Batman, Detective Comics, and World's Finest Comics for five years. Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk teamed up four times in the pages of World's Finest Comics to plague Superman and Batman together, as well. However in 1964, when the Batman titles were revamped with a more serious tone under new editor Julius Schwartz, Bat-Mite vanished along with the other extraneous members of the Batman family such as Ace the Bat-Hound.
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It clearly defined what made Superman "Superman."
There were firm points on the characters:Superman has been Superboy,Clark work at Daily Planet,Ma and Pa Kent are died,Luthor is a evil genius,Superman and Lois are not married,Mr. Mxyzptlk return every 90 days, and so.But this is not "continuity",are rules.            
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I think that a big part of the problem with modern comics is that there is virtually no continuity at allIt literally changes from issue to issue. . 
No,i think that a big part of problem is that there is not rules at all.  
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I don't understand how anyone can be interested in reading stories that all take place in different universes with different characters.  Why invest any time or interest in anything if your know that it'll be tossed out, ignored, and contradicted within weeks?
Because the "original" Superman disguised in 90s,so are not more a "real" Superman,but many interpretations (or misinterpretations) of the character.

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People used to complain that Mort Weisinger ruled with an Iron Fist.  But now it's the opposite end of the extreme.  Editors and writers don't even know what each other is thinking
And this is not a problem of continuity but of rules.
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The Iron Age was a mixed bag.  I think that any new continuity needs to value the continuities that it is replacing.  But the Iron Age reboot clearly disliked the previous continuities and was implemented in a vindictive manner.
And this was a big mistake,Iron age reboot was crazy.Some characters start to zero (Superman,Wonder Woman)some others no (Flash,Batman...)And in my opinion Byrne was too much influenced to the 1978 movie. 
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author=JulianPerez ]
 

 
Continuity makes everything one big story. It's a thrill to watch the Legionnaires become adults, fall in love, fall out of love, lose their powers, and occasionally die.
And after? we can watch the Legionnaires become old,and die of old age? with you continuity Superman and Batman must have 90 years almost
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It matters because their lives are REAL and four-dimensional.
"REAL" a characters that fly and have super powers?? If i want real things read a newspaper,not a super heroes comic book.In a real world an alien from a planet like Krypton would be totally different from humans,and maybe could not also survive on earth.Batman would be ended in lunatic asylum or would be died in his first adventure.In the real world kids not become superheroes sayng "SHAZAM"!

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And ultimately, that's why continuity is important: superhero characters aren't, and shouldn't just be Archie Andrews in Riverdale who is always seventeen.
Why not?  and,Clark Kent-Superman is 44 year old? If he have start is carrer in 1986 (Byrne "man of steel")at about 23 year  he must have 44-45 years ,Lois too,Jimmy Olsen 38 years,Batman is about 48,and Hal Jordan...Oh boy,60? So, Superheroes ARE like Archie Andrews who is always seventeen.
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This is why I find the fifties for Superman under Otto Binder so nauseating: there was never any real change in the character; it was back to the sitcom status quo always.
Yes,in fact now are soap opera characters.
Quote from: MatterEaterLad
Arguing that the 50s stories were "bad" takes them out of the context of their time.  Here was a super hero that survived a comics purge and was barely over 10 years old.  Most readers were still young and threw away their comics when they were finished with them. Tthe thought that readers would stay loyal for 20 years and remember incidences from a decade ago was far away. These stories were not without "oxygen", they were stories about a super guy from an alien planet who disguises himself and has a new adventure every month.
I agree totally. Wink
« Last Edit: April 01, 2007, 05:08:18 PM by carmelo » Logged
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