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  1. #1
    Formerly Assassin Spider Huntsman Spider's Avatar
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    Default Retcons That (You Think) Worked

    Usually, retcons (shortened form of "retroactive continuity") suck. All they seem to do is needlessly complicate characters or stories, or even worse, darken those same characters and stories that we previously admired or enjoyed. However, some retcons are necessary evils for the sake of at least the pretense of internal consistency when your setting functions on a sliding timescale that condenses 50+ years of stories since the characters first debuted into 10+ years within the narrative. And some retcons . . . actually justify the continued existence or relevance of characters (and stories) that would otherwise be incredibly dated or highly improbable. This is where we can discuss those retcons that we think worked.

    Mine is from Mark Millar's Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1-12, which while happening in a Spider-Man comic has greater implications for the Marvel Universe as a whole. Many if not most of Marvel's most enduring and popular heroes debuted when the Cold War was still in full swing and nuclear war between America and the Soviet Union seemed dangerously possible, verging on inevitable in some or many people's minds. As such, many of those heroes were in turn opposed by villains who were operatives for the Soviet Union equipped with superhuman abilities or extremely advanced technology to even the odds against American superheroes. In 2004/2005, the period in which Marvel Knights Spider-Man #1-12 was published, the Cold War had been over for over a decade, thanks to the Soviet Union collapsing on itself in 1991 and thus rendering so many of the villains created in that era not only obsolete, but outdated and even anachronistic.

    "So what does this have to do with Mark Millar's Spider-Man?" you might be asking me or yourself.

    My answer would be, "Everything." Millar came up with a retcon tying together and updating all of these villains that by then seemed to have lost their luster or come to exist only so superheroes had someone to beat up in between more major threats. Specifically, supervillains were a response to superheroes, but a response deliberately engineered by corrupt corporate executives and politicians who saw the then-nascent superhero population as a threat to their own power and status, and created many of the early supervillains to keep superheroes too occupied to take on the executives and politicians for their greater crimes against society and humanity at large. How did this revelation come about? Because Norman Osborn, the mastermind of so much of Spider-Man's anguish, was one of those corrupt executives responsible for creating supervillains before he decided to become a supervillain himself, and through Mac Gargan/Scorpion (who later became Venom so he wouldn't be a punching bag for Spider-Man anymore), he revealed this dark truth behind the rise of the supervillain to Peter Parker.

    Why did this retcon work? Because it updated the shadowy conspiracy behind the creation of many supervillains in the 1960s-1980s from Soviets/Communists, who were discredited and largely irrelevant by the 21st century, to something a lot more timely in an era that would see surging revelations about political and corporate corruption --- and how the two all too often worked hand-in-hand (or hand-in-glove) with each other. For a superhero setting taking place in contemporary times, it was quite believable that those endowed with abilities that could irrevocably change the world, for better or for worse, would have to be deliberately distracted from actually using those abilities to change the world, especially if their efforts could cut into the bottom lines of certain wealthy and politically powerful individuals. The best part of this retcon was that rather than completely and randomly altering the origins of various supervillains, it instead altered the context of those origins for the modern era. That, to me, was why it ultimately worked.

    But that's enough out of me. What retcons do you all think worked?
    The spider is always on the hunt.

  2. #2
    BAMF!!!!! KurtW95's Avatar
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    Two words: Winter Soldier
    Good Marvel characters- Bring Them Back!!!

  3. #3
    Extraordinary Member Zero Hunter's Avatar
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    The Magneto family. Making him the father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch and latter Polaris created probably the best family dynamic in the Marvel U. I put that family even above the Richards and the Summers honestly.

    It was beyond stupid when Marvel reversed retconed that and it did NONE of the characters any good.

  4. #4
    Extraordinary Member Mike_Murdock's Avatar
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    I want to leave aside things added to someone's backstory that wasn't there before. To me, a retcon has to reveal something was different than was previously believed. For example, Elektra had never been mentioned until Frank Miller invented her, but I don't think it's a retcon. On the other hand, I think the addition of Stick was a great change. Before that, we see that Matt entirely trained himself. Now we find out he had a mentor who was also blind who taught him how to learn to master his senses and to fight. It doesn't take away from Matt's accomplishments but helps make them make more sense.

    Another Frank Miller retcon is the addition of Maggie. Previously, it was more or less stated that Matt's mother was dead. The retcon added a wonderful image and character to his backstory as well as making him feel less alone without overdoing it.

    An entirely random one would be the retcon that Mojoverse villain Spiral was Ricochet Rita from the future. It fits so well with the tragedy of Longshot and makes her character just so sad. It's possible to re-read the original Longshot mini and get added depth because of the retcon that wasn't there originally.
    Matt Murdock's cooler twin brother

    I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!
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  5. #5

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    linking the Hand to Kun Lun worked for me. I thought that was a clever way to link Netflix Daredevil and Iron Fist (even if the latter was a lackluster show).
    Quote Originally Posted by capandkirby View Post
    I thought I couldn't love Steve Rogers any more than I already do, but here he is, eating pizza with a fork, just like I do (the only correct way to eat pizza

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Huntsman Spider View Post

    My answer would be, "Everything." Millar came up with a retcon tying together and updating all of these villains that by then seemed to have lost their luster or come to exist only so superheroes had someone to beat up in between more major threats. Specifically, supervillains were a response to superheroes, but a response deliberately engineered by corrupt corporate executives and politicians who saw the then-nascent superhero population as a threat to their own power and status, and created many of the early supervillains to keep superheroes too occupied to take on the executives and politicians for their greater crimes against society and humanity at large.
    I liked that one. I don't know if it's still canon. but it should be.
    Quote Originally Posted by capandkirby View Post
    I thought I couldn't love Steve Rogers any more than I already do, but here he is, eating pizza with a fork, just like I do (the only correct way to eat pizza

  7. #7
    BAMF!!!!! KurtW95's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zero Hunter View Post
    The Magneto family. Making him the father of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch and latter Polaris created probably the best family dynamic in the Marvel U. I put that family even above the Richards and the Summers honestly.

    It was beyond stupid when Marvel reversed retconed that and it did NONE of the characters any good.
    Agree 100%. But kind of funny you’re saying this given the character in your avatar.
    Good Marvel characters- Bring Them Back!!!

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member vitruvian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike_Murdock View Post
    I want to leave aside things added to someone's backstory that wasn't there before. To me, a retcon has to reveal something was different than was previously believed. For example, Elektra had never been mentioned until Frank Miller invented her, but I don't think it's a retcon. On the other hand, I think the addition of Stick was a great change. Before that, we see that Matt entirely trained himself. Now we find out he had a mentor who was also blind who taught him how to learn to master his senses and to fight. It doesn't take away from Matt's accomplishments but helps make them make more sense.
    Both are really types of retcon, i.e., retroactive continuity, in that both are certainly examples of continuity that is inserted into character history retroactively. The usual terminology for an addition to a character's backstory which does not directly contradict previously published stories and can be merged with what has already been established pretty easily as 'just something we didn't know about before' is 'soft retcon'. By contrast, a change to a character's backstory which *does* contradict what has been explicitly shown or stated in past stories is a 'hard retcon'. I suppose instances in which the change is attributed to deception or unreliable narrators would be borderline cases between the two.

  9. #9
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    Apocalypse being the Celestial's practical slave always worked for me.

  10. #10
    Astonishing Member MRP's Avatar
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    Marvel continuity itself is based on and built upon a couple of cornerstone "retcons" such as the first one on my list. Such tactics are germane to the Marvel U. However, changes fans generally like are not usually labelled retcons, those they don't like are, and so the label has a pejorative connotation, even though retcons are built into the very fabric of the MU.

    Ones I am particularly fond of...

    1) Captain America/Steve Rogers having been frozen in ice on a WWII mission and the Cap of the post-WWII stories being someone else.

    2) Namor having lost his memory and being lost in NY as a homeless man for several years ignoring several of his post WWII appearances.

    3)The Invaders working as a team in WWII.

    4) The Vision being built with the Android Torch's body (later retconned away but it was one that worked for me)

    5) The Winter Soldier

    -M
    Comic fans get the comics their buying habits deserve.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Arfguy's Avatar
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    I always liked the claws came out of his hands, his hair is actually the shape of his mask, Jason Bourne-style retcon for Wolverine.
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  12. #12
    Fantastic Member Force de Phenix's Avatar
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    The Phoenix being a cosmic force that copied Jean Grey. To my knowledge, Phoenix had to go because she destoyed a solar system. So that was that. The end of Jean Grey. They found a convoluted work-a-round, and brought Jean back by saying it wasn't her, it was something else.
    "You set off the Terrigen Bomb giving the world every excuse to fear the word Inhuman."

    "This is-- this is what Jean felt like..."

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  13. #13
    IRON MAN Tony Stark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Watkins View Post
    I liked that one. I don't know if it's still canon. but it should be.
    That does sound awesome. They really should use that more.
    " I've learned that free will isn't a gift-it's muscle that needs to be exercised-and only when it's in peak condition-is a man truly awake" TONY STARK

  14. #14
    IRON MAN Tony Stark's Avatar
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    I like the retcon that Wolverine was made to be a weapon, but specifically to kill super heroes.
    " I've learned that free will isn't a gift-it's muscle that needs to be exercised-and only when it's in peak condition-is a man truly awake" TONY STARK

  15. #15
    Boisterously Confused
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    Crazy Fifties Captain America. Up to that point, the Cap introduced in The Avengers had been materially different than the one published by Timely. They still had to use a What-If story to smooth some bumps between 1945 and Cap's first run cancellation, but it opened Timelys Golden Age to Marvel.

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