iFanboy Video Podcast

Reprint: iFanboy #50 – The Comic Book Continuity Debate

Show Notes

If there’s one thing that comic book fans know how to do it’s argue about continuity. But just what is continuity? This week, iFanboy debates the pertinent questions: Is the obsession over continuity slowly strangling comic books to death? Or is continuity what makes comics fun in the first place?

Some comic book readers are avid continuity enthusiasts, some couldn’t care less about it, and many are right in the middle of the issue. iFanboy falls pretty much along that spectrum as well so they felt it was a great time for a good ol’ fashioned debate.

Come along and learn, together in horror with Ron, that Batman: Year One is no longer considered canon in the DC Universe. Can the world of comic books survive being torn asunder by this issue? Hurry up and start the episode — you never know when it’s going to get ret-conned out of iFanboy continuity!


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  1. I like continuity, but I run from it also.  My favorite stories are usually those that start their own continuity.  Like a Vertigo series or an indie book.  But, I love the continuity being maintained once it is established.  It’s just hard for me to care when I come into a story and the continuity is so intent on itself that it makes an entire issue unmanageable. 

    On the other hand, I like X Force and read no other X books.  So, if I am missing continuity, who’s to know, and as long as nobody tells me there’s something missing then I probably won’t notice.

  2. I’m a stickler for Continuity. It needs to make sense to me. My recent issue was when Dan Didio said that all issues that came out after Final Crisis, are after Crisis chronologically. But when Final Crisis Rage of the Red Lanterns came out, it was between issues 1-2, and when Hal was in Crisis, he didn’t have the Blue Ring on. So it was a moment where I was confused of what happened. Of course I did what I always do, and blamed it on the fat Bald guy with the nasty beard.

    But that’s just semantics, when I have a real Continuity issue like Batman Year One, I like to go back to the idea of Hypertime. That though the recent books I read may not have anything to do with Year One, I still think it’s a good origin that doesn’t superceed anyother much the same as the other Origins. And even if you say Year One isn’t his origin, it doesn’t make a difference to the story. Sure Thomas Gordan isn’t there, just say he’s at his Grandparents and it’s all good.

  3. This is probably due to my having my comic reading experience of the last decade mostly being in the form of trades, but I don’t need much in the way of continuity.  I know that writers and editors come and go from comic titles and that it’d be impossible, and severely limiting, to have to work within the minutia of everything that has come before.  Just make sure that the characters’ relationships with each other and their setting remain constant, and I’m okay if the details shift around a little bit.  I want my stories to be great standalone tales that work well on their own.

    Now, having said that, I shall give an example of how the opposite can drive me crazy.  When I was growing up reading Superman comics, I was reading the Byrne stuff.  In this continuity, Superman was never Superboy.  That was the storyline that DC was following for years and now with this shift that Geoff Johns is writing to make a Kal-El Superboy be back in continuity, I’m a bit unsure if I want to get on board with it.  "This isn’t the Superman I grew up with!"

    Maybe it just comes down to not sweating the small stuff.  I’ll keep on trying to live that ideal.

  4. Seeing Josh without glasses is weird.  How long did it take Conor to get Josh’s shirt on?

  5. Best cold open ever.

  6. @stuclach: It took five crew members to get it on and off.

  7. One comment that really struck me as odd in this episode was that you guys pretty much unanimously agreed that Mark Waid and Kurt Busiek are much more continuity obsessed than Geoff Johns is. Do you guys still believe this because to me Busiek and to an even great extent Waid make good use of past continuity without being obsessive about it, Johns however is something else.

    Two Geoff Johns comics coming out right now are essentially continuity porn. Superman: Secret Origins’ first issue was very well written but it really did seem to me that it served as nothing more than the beginning of what may well amount to nothing more than a series of retcons – and not even particularly big ones. This doesn’t look like a huge reboot in the way Bryne’s origin story was as much as a straight retelling of Clark’s younger years with some added elements that they have reintroduced recently into the modern day DCU. Flash: Rebirth though is even more irritating because, to my eyes, Johns has forgone an actual story instead opting for a boring continuity fest. And, frankly, the less said about tosh like Legion of Three Worlds and Infinite Crisis the better.

    Geoff Johns is clearly a very talented creator but I do think that his slavish, almost obsessive attention to continuity hurts his writing a lot. I would never the say the same about Waid, Busiek or, oh yes, Grant Morrison.    

  8. @conor – Good one.

  9. I desperately miss the Asterik (*).  What happened??  Where did it go??  The one good thing in the 90’s.  It told us what S.H.E.I.L.D stood for and why Wolverine had bone claws *Wolverine #75.   It was my continuity road map.  Oh yeah, comic book companies and Bendis decided to start gorging us.  Nowadays, the * wouldn’t point us to one title, it would point us to 14 titles all coming out that month.  WTF??  There are far too many titles in a an economic environment where only the best should be surviving and it would be nice to follow Batman only in Batman and Detective and Spider-Man in Amazing.  I am not saying that limtied indie books should be beaten with a shovel, but especially with Marvel, does anyone read Ms. Marvel??  Remember DarkHawk??  Slingers??  NightThrasher??  Jettison the chaff!!  Oh, and the worst offender to continuity is Grant Morrison.  I don’t live in the movie Memento.  There is nothing wrong with telling a linear story.

  10. On Word Balloon, Chuck Austen put it best when he commented about "stories that were about other stories." I think these sort of stories are harmful to the medium if they’re allowed to become the norm, as opposed to the exception, as it tends to prevent newer readers. As much as I personally love them when they’re done well, I’ve seen it happen more often than not. Not everything will line up properly even if there’s only one creator involved. (There are numerous "continuity errors" in the Sherlock Holmes series, for example.) As fans we have to accept that. So long as the continuity is consistent within the actual stories, like if there’s a 5-issue mini-series, I don’t have a problem with it.

    What is important is that characters themselves are consistent. That their core beliefs and identities are upheld and respected. So long as Superman is still Superman who needs to know what his favorite movie is? ("To Kill a Mockingbird," by the way.)

    Those are my two cents, feel free to ask for a refund.


  11. Personally, I dont like when continuity impedes on a story. In general, it’s fine, but it really iritated me when, a few weeks ago, I was catching up on Green Lantern, and right in the middle of the second trade, it says "Infinte Crisis has happened, all the settings and characters are no longer the same". Now, I still kept reading, and still enjoyed the book, but it really detered me from liking it as much knowing that I was missing out on some sort of vital story or information.

  12. Rucka is handling it just right in detective.

  13. Lol. I have all of these on my zune so it’s pretty creepy when I say what Conor’s about to say in unison. I feel like a walking transcript. Worst part is I’ve watched these shows out of continuity based on interest so the earlier ones are a blast from the past.

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