Robot 6

‘Every generation needs the comics recreated for them’

In a well-timed interview with The Village Voice, veteran editor and writer Marv Wolfman, chief architect of the landmark Crisis on Infinite Earths, offers an interesting perspective on DC Comics’ relaunch, addressing continuity, “event fatigue” and how the 1985 reboot didn’t accomplish all that he’d initially hoped.

Wolfman reveals that, similar to DC’s New 52, his original plan post-Crisis was for all the publisher’s titles to start fresh, with a new No. 1 issue.

“When I first pitched Crisis my belief was, at the end, that a new DC universe would be formed,” he tells the weekly, “all the books would begin with number 1 starting with a new origin in each, and Crisis would never be mentioned again because, as I set it up, the Earth would be reformed at its origin and so what had been had never happened as a new Earth was created. The Crisis itself therefore “never happened” though its effects would last. But ultimately the Powers That Be decided they didn’t have enough people to pull that off and so the Crisis was constantly referred to which I always felt was a mistake.”

He also touches upon the need for comics to change — “they need to evolve, and they need to keep fresh in order to stay relevant” — his dislike for “overarching continuity” — “The line I’ve been using since before Crisis is, ‘Continuity holds the best writer hostage of the worst’” — and the post-Crisis rise of event comics.

“In a way, Crisis spawned an entire industry of mega-events when it should have only given birth to those kinds of events where something vitally important had to be achieved,” Wolfman says. “Sadly, it didn’t turn out that way so these days you often here the term ‘event fatigue’ being bandied about.”

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15 Comments

‘Continuity holds the best writer hostage of the worst’ Deep.

I get the need for change, from a commercial and an editorial standpoint. That said, I can read a done-in-one story from 1968 (the first year I read comics) and appreciate it just as much as some story arc-driven tale from recent years.

I’ll give the 52 #1s a chance (esp. since my local shop is selling them at 25 percent off). Beyond that, who knows?

I like a lot of what he’s saying, but I think it’s time to stop recreating and just create. Give us something fresh and new.

Eventually all these characters are going to be public domain, cant wait for that day.

‘Continuity holds the best writer hostage of the worst’

While that’s a very good argument against the idea of a shared universe and adhering to continuity, the above comment has had many, many exceptions. Characters like Green Lantern have gone through so many retcons essentially because editorial let writers overrule previous established continuity. (which of course leads to other problems) There have been many cases where the “worst” writers’ fingerprints on a book have been overlooked if not outright removed in favor of better storylines.

If everyone hates continuity so much, why is it still an issue?

I’m with Marv on alot of his comments…however…every generation needs comics re-created for them? How many different takes have we had on the origin story of nearly any Big 2 property? Marvel seems to have a cottage industry in spinning on minor variations of origins every couple of years (if that.)

I’ll keep spending my money on comics that are doing something new rather than working within this ossified structure.

ninjazilla, “Eventually all these characters are going to be public domain, cant wait for that day.”

I doubt that will every really happen. These are mega corporations who’ll spend all they can to change copywrite law in their favor again and again.

@Ninjazilla- I doubt any of us will live that long. These characters have trademarks and copyrights and licenses protecting them that a character like Dracula, for example, never had.

And for you guys saying that you want something “fresh and new” and are spending your money on other comics, that’s great, but eventually whatever you’re reading now is not going to be so fresh and new anymore. I’ve been reading “Savage Dragon” since it debuted, and it’s no picnic remembering every little detail and event that’s happened in this book. And it hasn’t been around nearly as long as anything by the Big 2.

So in other words, the best way to keep comics fresh and relevant is to pull the exact same marketing/narrative stunt they did 25 years ago.

Thad, I think you win the “zing” contest on this one. Well played, sir, well played.

Poor ol’ Marv. Whatever possessed him to make the leap from “I had this idea 25 years ago and it was new and fantastic, then” to “it’s great that people keep re-treading my idea” is beyond me.

But what happens when the current generation that you recreated the comics for really doesn’t give a crap about comics?

ha ha! Lone, you said it all!

I would change Wolfman’s statement to “Every generation needs the comics CREATED for them”. Not RE-created!

No kid wants to wear hand-me-downs. They don’t want hand-me-down music, or hand-me-down comics characters. So create some NEW characters for them.

If you’re going to have characters named Clark and Lois, I’m sorry, you’re living in the 1940′s.

I agree with a few of Wolfman’s points, but not with all of them. Continuity can hold a writer hostage, but can’t when a series is all ‘done-in-one’ or two-part stories. I’ve met him, he’s a nice guy, but I wonder if his plan for the Crisis Aftermath would’ve worked. Couldn’t he have tried soliciting help from other people to make it work? I definitely agree with him on the bit regarding mega-events.

Continuity can be fun. It can be a burden, too. Goes both ways.

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