Thursday, March 10, 2016

Retroactive Continuity - Good vs Bad

Today the word "Retcon", which is short for "Retroactive Continuity", is treated as something that is always bad. This isn't really the case, and wasn't when the term first came into use. The first use of the term, with regard to comics, was in All-Star Squadron #18 (February 1983), where Roy Thomas used it to describe how he was interweaving the stories in All-Star Squadron with the original, Golden-Age stories. This was not, necessarily, to alter the originals, but was used to say that the current stories were taking place in between the original adventures.

In my opinion, when done well, this is a great way to pay homage to the past while still telling new stories. Roy Thomas is a master of this type of story-telling, but there were others that were equally as able to tell stories like this.

More recently, though, the term "retcon" has come to mean that a creator didn't like something that was done in the past, so they write a story to either explain it away, or change the original intent. Personally, I would much rather that whatever it was just wasn't mentioned rather than going out of your way to change something. Oh, there are times that it can work, but more often than not you end up with someone that liked the original concept changing it back and muddying everything.

I'm much more favorable towards reboots that retconing (in the non-Thomas way) an existing series, especially when you have a concept that already works well. But it has to be a hard reboot, ala Man of Steel, and not a soft/non-existent reboot, like any Batman or Green Lantern one you could name.

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1 comment:

  1. All Star Squadron was the way to do retcons, where it enhanced stories, rather than s**t on them. The gentle and careful retcon is something of a lost art