Friday, June 16, 2006

Why Marvel Can't Reboot

So - last week on MillarWorld, the topic gets brought back up again: Does Marvel need a DC-Style "Reboot"?. More and more comics get published, and it supposedly all happens in a sliding 10-year timeframe. Marvel launched the Ultimate Universe to try to give the characters a fresh start, but the question keeps coming up: how long can the main Marvel comics go without giving themselves a fresh start?

With this week's events, the idea keeps getting raised. Graeme calls it "the obligatory cosmic reset". Ragnell opines that Marvel has "never had the guts for a real universal reboot".

The thing is .... Marvel can't reboot. Because - unlike pre-Crisis DC - real things have happened. All of DC's significant events happened after the Crisis On Infinite Earths: Jason Todd's death, the Lois/Clark marriage, Hal's insanity. Before Crisis, DC largely existed in a sitcom continuity where the status quo was never fundamentally altered.

That's never been the case at Marvel, and there's one Patron Saint Of Continuity: Gwen Stacy. A "cosmic reset" that started the characters all over would remove too much, too many important character-changing events. A Spider-Man who didn't lose Gwen is a completely different character, and the ghost of that death would haunt any reboot ... much as it haunted Brian Bendis' supposedly clean slate in the Ultimate Universe.

It'll continue to be a problem for Marvel, as the kipple accrues. More and more will need to be shoved into that ten-year span, including the events of Civil War #2. At some point, Marvel will need to do something before it collapses under the weight of it's own continuity.

I doubt it's happening anytime soon.

But then again ... Uatu was there in the first issue of Civil War, and the Beyonder just turned up again, right?

*I swear, it's like I took Scipio's post as a challenge.



Anonymous said...

hey mark.. i got your blog subscribed to my bloglines for the past three months or so. this marvel reboot subject, i don't know,as there was never any golden age.. apparently, and you see the emphasis on this now, the x-men and spider-man started "when things were more naive", which is sort of the universal excuse for our personal history. marvel doesn't have a "shameful" story of bigotry,discrimination,etc because it launched the modern age. it's all going to go down as how "modern" kids tomorrow will think Marvel is,and accept that one hero is a WW2 vet, and another is a norse god,etc. i dunno if the "radiation" thing will be good for everyone in ten years or so. also,being kind of new to your posting, what exactly does TGIF stand for?

Mark Fossen said...

My TGIF series is for "Thank God It's Friday" ... back in the 70's, people said that a lot. :)

My TGIF series is just one image a week that made me happy, and hopefully caps off a week of work and gets ya ready for the weekend.


I agree - Marvel launched the Modern age ... I'm just not sure that lasts forever. I know when Broome and Kane and the rest reinvented Flash and G.L. ... they thought they were modern.

Chris said...

I think one of the big differences between Marvel and DC is that when it comes to continuity, DC reboots their whole universe; Marvel does it on a character-by-character basis. They're not in any way afraid to put someone else in a costume for a year or more, and wait until the regular person comes back (if ever).

Just ask Ben Reilly, Jim Rhodes, Jack Monroe, etc.

I also think that Marvel continuity is as a whole less burdensome than DC's, but I haven't figured out why it seems that way.

(Perhaps because Marvel will disregard it in a heartbeat if it suits their purposes, which is OK to do sometimes, I think, whereas DC will go to ri-gosh-darn-diculous lengths to make sure all the pieces fit, sometimes to the detriment of the story.)

Interesting topic.

Peter Hensel said...

Marvel does often disregard their own continuity in service to a story; see Hudlin's Black Panther (Though I wouldn't really call that story good). Marvel doesn't really need a house cleaning event becuase of that, but a Spiderman reboot similar to Superman with a Man of Steel mini series establishing "actual" continuity could definitely work, introducing the death of Gwen in a more retrospective run rather than just starting the slate clean again. Quesada's even talking about annulling Peter Parker and MJ's marriage.

Who knows what the future holds for Marvel? They seem to be aping DC for most of their Big Events (Annihilation moreso than Civil War, but that still reeks of moral conflict between super heroes, like Sacrifice), so who's to say a Crisis-like event isn't next?

Peter Hensel said...

Man of Steel is perhaps a big example, as it ended with Superman having a job with the Daily Bugle, information already glossed over with his origin. THere wasn't an extended run early in Superman's history of his lfie in Smallville, but Batman: Year One is a good example of the Marvel continuity style rebooting that talked about, with a more quiet characater reintroduction and retconning.

Mark "Puff" Anderson said...

Well...DC was, what, 50 years in when they did the COIE reboot.

So Marvel could hang tough 'til 2013...if my numbers are right.

I can just see it now...the Grandmaster, the High Evolutionary, the Living Tribunal, and Galactus sit down at a card table floating unsupported in space.

The Grandmaster deals and...

Mark "Puff" Anderson

Mark Fossen said...

Yeah - they certainly have the cosmic power lying around to pull it off.

50th sounds good.