I’ve decided today is a good day to go all meta and introduce a little bit of irony into my blog. See, I forgot to post my “R” post friday like a good girl. It sat in my draft folder, waiting patiently, but I just forgot, right? So this morning I’m going back and backdating it, undoing my forgetful past by making it seem like the post was always there.
The irony? My “R” post is called “Retcon.”
What is “Retcon?” Retcon stands for Retroactive Continuity. The past has already happened but for whatever reason the writers go back and change what happened or how it happened or some minor but important detail. Retconning in comics is prevalent mostly due to the fact different authors take over every time a new storyline is introduced for a new title series. Because authors like to have it their way and are loathe to be bottled into the established facts and continuity of another writer, they initiate some crazy hand-wavy storytelling and viola, they get a clean slate despite the establishment of the character’s history.
Sometimes a story is retconned to bring allow a new generation of readers to fall in love with it. This has happened with a lot of the great heroes, Superman, Spiderman, Batman, X-Men. The sheer volume of stories you’d have to track down to start reading Batman from the beginning would stop most people from even trying. So the story gets retconned for a new generation, a do-over with cell phones and computers and super-technology that didn’t exist fifty years ago. Same goes for when movies are made from established stories.
But generally I hate retconning. George Lucas earned the ire of all fandom when he forced Greedo to shoot first. We all know he didn’t, and we’re offended by the notion we’re supposed to accept it anyway because some author says so. It doesn’t matter if the author is THE AUTHOR. Once a thing becomes part of the heart and soul of a fan, it no longer belongs exclusively to the creator. You can’t mess with people’s hearts like that.
You can read about my take on the death and resurrection of Superman here.
I hate Jean Grey more than any other character in the world, save Hamlet, so I’m going to use her as my example to pick at because her retconning goes into the realm of the super ridiculous. So check it out – Jean Grey is Marvel Girl for most of her early life until 1976 when she becomes Phoenix during the events that sort of happen in the third X-Men movie. Radiation gives her immense superpowers and she plays nice for a while but the power corrupts her and she becomes Dark Phoenix and takes full advantage of her God-like powers. She even goes into space and consumes a star, mass-murdering all life in the solar system. Now that she’s gone from sweet Marvel Girl to OMG F-BOMB INSANE, the authors kill her off in spectacular, heart wrenching storytelling and thus brings the character’s story to an end.
Or does it? In 1986, Marvel decides to bring her back, but her morally reprehensible actions from the Dark Phoenix Saga makes it impossible for her to go back to being so in love with Scott Summers she’d die for him. Instead they retcon the original Phoenix Saga and after she’s exposed to radiation she lays dying and is approached by an entitity called Phoenix Force who makes her a deal. She’ll save Jean Grey’s life and the lives of her friends if Phoenix Force can take over her identity. Jean agrees and Jean is put in a healing cocoon that is then lost to time. The events of Dark Phoenix Saga goes forward unchanged and everyone believes Jean Grey, evil super-goddess, is dead. Jean wakes up when her body is healed and goes home six years later with no idea what has happened.
Jean establishes the group X-Factor and Scott Summers (Cyclops) leaves his wife and kid to go back to her, much to the displeasure of everyone in the world. Jean urges him to go home but his wife and kid are gone and sort of just accepts that and runs back to Jean like a puppy. To make Scott look like less of a bastard, his wife shows up after having made a pact with a demon and everyone finds out that she was a clone of Jean designed to breed with Scott to create a supermutant. The crazy wife and Jean have a show down and the crazy wife is killed.
THEN they decide to redo the Dark Phoenix story again, but this time Jean calls out for help to save her and her friends and Phoenix Force answers. This time instead of assuming her identity, Phoenix and Jean merge and Jean places her dying body with a bit of her soul in a cocoon and sinks her into the ocean to be later found by The Avengers.
Jean’s daughter Rachel comes from the future and freaks Jean the f-bomb out and she refuses to marry Scott, but eventually does and eventually accepts her grown daughter who she’s never given birth to into her life. Then Rachel sends Scott and Jean into the future to raise Scott’s son (what happened to him again?) who was sent there? And they spend his childhood there before returning to their honeymoon. They get to meet another of their kids from the future, and it’s weird. Then a bunch of stuff happens and Jean is killed by Magneto, except that gets retconned and she’s killed by someone else, and Emma Frost wants Scott to run the school with him and he refuses and there’s an apocalypse and writers waffle on her and then Jean is resurrected as White Phoenix who changes time and makes Scott accept Emma’s offer, thus preventing the apocalypse. Her new life doesn’t go so well and she’s totally all powerful anyway so she goes to a higher plane of existence and disappears. The End.
Except, not. God, of course not. Nothing will kill this character. She’s like a fungus that feeds on irritating me.
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