No Respect

January 15, 2008

Why do I read so much manga instead of American comics? Let’s take Marvel’s latest story line in Amazing Spiderman as a good example. It’s riled up a lot of comic fans, and been kind of hard to avoid if you follow the forum boards at all. Basically, in the story line called “One More Day”, Aunt May is dying. She’s old, it was bound to happen. Peter, who’s been married to Mary Jane for the last 10 years, just can’t seem to accept that. Peter “with great power comes great responsibility” Parker decides he can’t live without Aunt May, and goes to the Marvel Universe’s version of Satan to make a deal (like those always turn out soooo well). He gives up the last 10 years of his life, and his wife, so Aunt May can live. He’s doing this over Aunt May’s protests, by the way. Mr. Responsibility turns into a selfish 2 year old.

So what’s Marvel done here? In technical terms, it’s called the “Big, Red Reset Button”. They are wiping out 10 years of continuity to turn Peter Parker back into a young bachelor, unencumbered by the hassles of a wife, to be a carefree swinger again. Why? To appeal to a younger audience, they claim, since they wouldn’t be able to relate to an older Peter. Screw the older readers that had stayed with the book for the last 25+ years and supported Marvel even through it’s hard years. They don’t matter. Just the young kids that are looking for the Spiderman they saw on the movie screens. So, all those Spiderman compilations you see on the shelves at Barnes & Noble and Borders, they have just become meaningless thanks to Joe Quesada.

This “retconn”ing as it’s called is a big reason I stopped reading a lot of comics, Marvel and DC in particular. There is no point in reading and becoming attached to characters, since in a few issues it can be wiped away by a new writer with new ideas. Continuity has become a meaningless word and readers are coveted only for their money.

There is no retconning in manga. It’s one writer creating one story. A story that has a beginning, middle and end. Even manga that has been going on for years (Detective Conan) has an end. There are no musical writers, and no “take backs” on story. If a title is popular, then sequels or prequels can be written to continue the story. So the investment I make into the characters and story will pay off, instead of the cheap thrill Marvel wants to offer.

This is just lazy writing and bad editorial decisions. And the worst of this is that, readers will take this slap in the face and keep buying and reading not only Amazing Spiderman, but all of Marvel’s titles. They will whine, bitch and moan, but they won’t do anything about it. So Marvel knows they can do it again without reprisal. And will.

Even though I do continue to read some comics, none of them are from the Marvel Universe, and probably never will. I’m not going to waste my time and money on something that’s going to be trashed anyway. I’d rather waste my time and money on something that at the end of the day will be something I’ll want to read again.

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2 Comments for this entry

  • jun says:

    The continuity is definitely something I appreciate in manga. I also read someone comparing how easy it is to get into a manga series versus an American comic one. It went something like this:

    If I want to get into Naruto, I go to the store and get Naruto volume 1. Then I read them all in order and it all makes sense.

    If I want to get into X-Men, I go into the store and am confronted with several different series, each with their own continuity. Which is the “real” X-Men series? Where do I start? Why do the facts in this one not jive with those in that one?

  • What’s really sad about those X-men comics, is that you can miss 10 years of story, pick up a recent issue, and almost nothing will have changed. I won’t read my Shonen Jumps until I read all the volumes of Naruto that came out through the fall/winter, cause I know I’ll be totally lost.

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