Original meaning of RETroactive CONtinuity

38 views
Skip to first unread message

RD Francis

unread,
Aug 17, 1990, 1:58:45 PM8/17/90
to
My apologies if any of the following comes from faulty memories on my
part; however, for some reason, my memory is much better with respect
to comics than anything else, so I'll take the chance.

For some reason, I think that the original retcons did not involve
the invalidation of past stories, but rather carefully sliding new
stories/facts into the existing tapestry of the character's life, in
such a way that, while some significant change had occured, no past
stories were invalidated. A classic example of this would be the
history of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. When they finally
resolved that storyline, and told us who their parents were, really,
their previous established history (presented as the children of Bob
Frank (the Whizzer) and his wife (Miss America), and growing up in the
Balkan region of Europe) was completely intact. Over the years,
retcons have become more disruptive/destructive of the established
continuity, and so that's what we've come to expect.

Thus, with the exception of the fact that it sealed a previously
unofficial retcon (that Swamp Thing had never turned back into Alec
Holland), Moore's revision of Swamp Thing's origins was a retcon in
the old (and in my opinion, best) meaning of the expression retcon.

Perhaps we should split this into two terms: retcon for a simple
addition to the existing continuity without disturbing past stories,
and revision for alterations that force some part of a story to no
longer fit into the new continuity.
--
R David Francis fra...@cis.ohio-state.edu

Damian Cugley

unread,
Aug 18, 1990, 9:55:28 AM8/18/90
to
> From: fra...@giza.cis.ohio-state.edu (RD Francis)
> Message-ID: <83...@tut.cis.ohio-state.edu>

> For some reason, I think that the original retcons did not involve
> the invalidation of past stories, but rather carefully sliding new
> stories/facts into the existing tapestry of the character's life, in
> such a way that, while some significant change had occured, no past
> stories were invalidated.

> Over the years, retcons have become more disruptive/destructive of the


> established continuity, and so that's what we've come to expect.

I am the originator of the word "retcon" and the older meaning is the
one I meant. (Not that I can claim to be an authority or anything!)

Alan Moore used to be the "King of the Retcons" - he gave Captian
Britain a new origin which explained away all Claremont's and whoever's
nonsense in a rather less silly fashion (Merlin as multiversal fixit-man
etc.); gave Marvelman his infraspace clone body origin that managed to
incorporate all the original daft "Marvelman" stories in a "serious"
Superhero Realism comic; seamlessly transformed Swamp Thing from a
rather dull Tragic Monstrosity into a Plant God; gave us Adam Strange
the monkey stud and more - all without "invalidating" old stories.

Remember Claremont's stint of retconning backup stories in "Classic
X-Men" in which he retoroactively justified some of the dubious
psychology of the early "New" X-Men stories and grafted some personality
onto the characters? Howabout the massive double retcon of Jean Grey
when Byrne's/Shooter's retelling of the Phoenix story in terms of a fake
Grey was reinterpreted so that the "fake" Grey was "real" too?

While I'm not 100% convinced by the wilder extremes of continuity - all
the "Who's Who"/"Marvel Universe" books, for example - if you're going
to have it you might as well do it right. I rather think that all the
revisionism since "Crisis" has got out of hand; people have got used to
the bizarre tense formations like "... now never was ..." and old
stories are routinely thrown away in favour of new stories that are no
better or are worse. If Alan dropped a few old Swampy stories by making
Alec a definite RIP in Swamp Thing, at least we got some good stories in
return.

Yeah, give me "Retcon Classic" any day... :-)

/--------------------------------------------------------------------\
| Damian Cugley, Programming Research Group, 11 Keble Rd, Oxford, UK |
| Damian...@prg.oxford.ac.uk =or= ...@oxford.prg in UK |
| "It's a good job there are weekdays between weekends to relax in." |
\--------------------------------------------------------------------/

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages