I sold my soul to Retcon this column

Posted on February 2, 2010 by


Remember the golden age when comic books were simple, origins were told once then we moved on, and things were set in stone?  Okay.. yeah me either. I grew up in the age of “retconning” anything and everything. If you do not know what a “retcon” is allow me to fill you in on what is quickly becoming America’s new favorite past time.

In the endless void of comic writing certain things begin to clash causing things to no longer make sense. Basically one comic will cause another comic to no longer fit into the world they live in. Origins no longer make sense, people stop living, and things just do not match up. To correct these things comics go back in time, create universes, or simply use magic to change these things. You thought a disappearing picture while playing Earth Angel was big? Well, you ain’t seen anything yet.

Sometimes these events can sound weird, but in the end be a nice change.  “Are you bored with your Father’s Avengers? Worry no more young ones we have The Ultimates. They’re new, they’re old, they’re improved in ways that make the Six Million Dollar Man jealous!” The ultimate universe broke new ground with several characters we all know and created whole new lives. While most of the Ultimate universe has been good not all reboots and retcons are so shiny and a breath of fresh air.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. I could sit here and rip on One More Day/Brand New Day, but that is the equivalent of filling a 50 gallon drum with 50 fish, putting in a stick of dynamite, blowing it up, and then calling myself a fisherman. No challenge and no point. However, let’s point out a couple of the most debated events in retcon history.

Let’s bend back time a bit to one of the most confusing retcons in history, The Beyonder. Okay true believer we gotta go back a ways for this one. The first Secret War to be exact (first one to scream about black suit Spider-Man gets slapped). From this we learn of another dimension where a being of unlimited power is born, In essence he is the only living thing in this universe and gains a sentient form and begins the Secret War to study heroes and villains. He comes back to Earth shifting forms (no mentioning the 70’s jumpsuit either) and proves his endless power.

So the fix to creating such an over powered being? Make him into a living Cosmic Cube. That’s right this single being of a lonely universe is now a cosmic cube. Why do this you ask? According to a few interviews some editor at Marvel did not like this character sighting everything from too powerful to corny to simply useless. Hmmm… editor at Marvel hating something and changing it into something lame.. thank god they learned their lesson.  You know until they decided to have Gwen Stacey sleep with Osborn and bare him children, but we’ll save Spider-Man retcon Hell for a Brand New Day (okay I lied and threw one in).

I cannot fully pick on Marvel here though. The other comic giant (now too good to be called Detective Comics) has had their own share of retcon issues. What in this universe could be so heinous to top a list of horrible retcons you ask? I’m waiting for you to ask. Okay I do not have that much patience. It is the great event that unwrapped a truly amazing and needed event; Superboy Prime literally shattering the universe with a punch.

Crisis on Infinite Earths did something amazing in combining all the DC universes. It took away retcons and multiple universes to create one single line of reality. This was a major segway into the much darker DC universe which upset a couple of the multi-verse Supermen (now hidden away in their own dimension we do not discuss) and with one giant act of rage punched a hole through reality and thus recreated the multi-verses.

Feel free to discuss your likes and hatred for these vents and I will be back another time to go through some of the rare but nice retcons that have made the world a better place. Until then; crack open those issues of the Phoenix Saga and remember how great things were before they screwed them up.


Posted in: Comic Book Stuff