Originally The Gray Area ran on Socialfist and was written by Tribe One aka Niles Gray aka The Evil Villain Demonos aka Devil Rhymeosaur. While Niles is currently signing up to test the super-soldier serum he has given us the permission to rerun the old articles.
Originally published online May 24, 2011 at Socialfist as “On Continuity: Deadpool and Thor Remembered.”
I am a bitter and grizzled old man. I’m set in my ways and stubborn and I want things the way I want them and the way they’ve always been. Change doesn’t just scare me; change enrages me and causes me to post nasty comments in forums and cancel subscriptions to comics I’ve bought for years. Or worse: change makes me completely ignore a really really good comic book that I might enjoy, causing it to languish in poor-sales-purgatory until it is eventually cancelled. Can you guess my name? My name is…… ALL OF US!!!!!
(Thunder crashes and lightning casts ominous shadows!)
Seriously, guys. What’s the deal? Why do we uniformly ignore new takes on our favorite characters even when they’re really really good? I’m seriously asking you this question because I don’t know the answer. Is it because they’re “out of continuity?” Is continuity that important? Does the idea that things that happen in comic books “matter” to future issues mean anything? At all? Really?
It’s become cliche to talk about now, but let’s take a moment to consider that there is a thing called “event fatigue.” There is a coined phrase currently in use in popular culture that describes how sick and tired we all are of comic books that exist solely to affect the continuity of a shared universe of comic book titles. And when a comic book comes out that does the exact opposite they are straight up ignored. Yes. I am still bitter about Thor: The Mighty Avenger being cancelled. And now Deadpool Max is ending at issue 12 instead of being an ongoing series. Are you kidding me, guys?! I’m so mad at us right now.
Deadpool Max is seriously one of the most inventive takes on the Marvel Universe that I’ve ever seen. It basically takes the idea of the superhero and turns it into Spy vs Spy and if that doesn’t sound awesome to you then we can never be friends. It’s ingenious and the world will be a worse place when they stop publishing it. And Thor: The Mighty Avenger is my favorite comic book of 2009 and 2010. I gave my 8 year old brother both trades and my 26 year old brother all the single issues for Christmas last year and they both loved it. It is the perfect comic book. Except that it doesn’t exist anymore.
It’s crazy to me that the reason these books and books like them fail is because they exist outside of the established canon. They “aren’t real.” That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard ever. “This story about a Viking god who comes to Earth to hit things with a hammer isn’t as real as this other story about a Viking god who comes to Earth to hit things with a hammer.” Do you hear that? That’s the sound of every cell in my body facepalming.
I even saw comments in some forums that said Kyle Baker’s art in Deadpool Max is what kept them from enjoying the book. One comment said Kyle Baker’s Deadpool doesn’t look like Deadpool. That’s the second stupidest thing I’ve ever heard ever. The only logical explanation I can muster is Rob Liefeld himself is covertly infiltrating message boards to sully the reputations of every other Deadpool artist. Kyle Baker is an angel from heaven and has never done art that was not objectively amazing and if you disagree with me you are wrong. This is not a matter of opinion. You cannot argue this point and if you try I will push you down the nearest set of stairs. Not really. But seriously, find me an example of Kyle Baker art that isn’t amazing and I’ll give you five dollars. Straight up. I’m not joking.
The exception that proves the rule is, of course, Ultimate Spider-Man. But keep in mind, Ultimate Spider-Man came fully packaged with a whole other universe of continuity and crossovers and has had several event comic tie-ins over the course of its undeniably great and successful run. Also keep in mind that the absolute worst issues of that series (while not even remotely approaching “bad”) were the ones that were bogged down with continuity and event tie-ins.
Look, I think we can all agree that none of us wants to buy a bad comic book (unless it’s hilariously bad, a la Batman: Odyssey or The Rise of Arsenal #3) but can we also agree that we’ll give chances to good ones? Even if they have absolutely no bearing on the larger picture of the universes the main books occupy? Because even though they may not affect the picture, they still benefit from ALL of the history and remain free to tell stories that matter to us.