The Past Is Past

By | Friday, June 28, 2024 Leave a Comment
As I've noted before, one of the things I haven't cared for much at Marvel in recent years is how they're always in a perpetul now. That except for a handful of key events (most notably, their origin) a character's backstory is generally considered irrelevant any more. Continuity isn't really a concern. I found a comic writer's quote that speaks to this from a creative perspective...
Your job [as a writer] was to come on to a book, and create it out of whole cloth. Marvel history meant nothing, but not because of Marvel history -- just that you were so intent on being better than the past writer, or showing how stupid the past writer was, that you went to great lengths to negate everything he said. Your job was to come in and tell everybody, 'It was totally false, it was totally meaningless, and the history of this book starts right here -- with me taking over...'
That's actually from Bill Mantlo, speaking in (I think) 1978. The approach these days is slightly different, in that writers are just asked to start fresh and ignore the past rather than actively negate it, but the broad direction isn't appreciably different. It's just that whereas editors used to try to keep some semblance of a through-line by keeping on top of continuity and 'fact-checking' a writer against prior stories, that part of their job seems to have (intentionally) fallen by the wayside. But I find it interesting that the current path seems to have been one that Marvel started on decades ago.
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