Poll Position: A new beginning

"Retconning" is a popular past-time in modern comics, wherein something about an established character's history is changed on purpose for some reason or another. In extreme cases, retcons can turn into full-fledged reboots, as John Byrne famously did in the Eighties with "Superman".

Which is what brings us all here today.


Discussion after the jump.

  • Batman: Saying Batman needs a reboot or a retcon is like saying an eighteen wheeler needs more wheels. Or that Kenny Rogers needs more plastic surgery. Or that Dolly Parton needs bigger ... well, you get the idea. The fact of the matter is, with yet another animated series, and yet another hit movie series, there are more versions of Batman's history than any other character outside the Green Lantern Corps. Don't like the current version you're enjoying in the sprawling Bat-mediaplex? Just grab a different one off the shelf!
  • Iron-Man: Like Batman, I'd argue that the movies have already given this series the much-needed reboot to the head it needed. I actually think the movies are better than the comics have been in decades, because they were able to jettison the accumulated clutter of his jumbled past. I can't imagine how a reboot of the character's comic could possibly be better than what's been done to him on the screen.
  • Punisher: Like Batman and Iron-Man, Punisher has had his story retconned for the movies. Unlike those other two, his films suck. The problem with a Punisher reboot is that, frankly, the shock value of the over-the-top violence and killer attitude that made him interesting in the late Seventies is so ubiquitous as to be almost a cliche these days. A big guy with guns who has no problem killing bad guys? Ho hum. A real retcon for Frank Castle would be to make him a pacifist. Now that's bold!
  • Spider-Man: Another character that has gotten a good reboot from Hollywood. Recent events in the comics (the Ultimate universe, the much-maligned "Marriage that never was" in the comics, the entirety of the syndicated newspaper strip) indicate that, like Iron-Man, this is one character whose retcon is much better served cold -- as in on the silver screen.
  • Superman: Superman was also let down in his movie reboot, much like Punisher. He's also been rebooted many times in the past, so at this point you sort of have to wonder what else they can do with the guy. I'd say Big Blue is definitely in need of some loving, though, he's starting to look a little tired. And the movie showed that it's more than possible to do him wrong.
  • Wolverine: Again, this guy's got so many "Untold Story" style retcons, I can't keep track any more. He's already pretty damn great, in all his incarnations, I don't think I'd want to mess with the formula.
  • Wonder Woman: They keep trying and trying, though from what I hear, Gail Simone has done a bang-up job in this latest attempt to rework the character. Setting that aside, none of the reboots (including, I hate to say, the George Perez expeditions of the Eighties) have been very good. I can't tell if that's because she's fatally flawed as a character, or just that the right take hasn't been hit on yet.

I'd have to say the strongest contenders of the original list are Superman and Wonder Woman. Since Supes has been done to death, and done well more often than not, it's time to give the never-quite-right Wonder Woman a shot.

Who would you choose, and why?

16 Responses to Poll Position: A new beginning

  1. Jeff Hebert says:

    Naturally, five minutes after I post this I read that Punisher is currently being transformed into (I kid you not) Franken-Punisher. That’s right, his dead body’s been sewn back together and reanimated by Dr. Morbius to lead a Monster Legion against some cyborg … anyway. I don’t think this qualifies as a retcon since it’s in current continuity, but it’s still pretty neat.

  2. remy says:

    I think that the current Spider-Man has to be retconned back into good ol’ Spidey, hence retconning the “Brand New Day” Retcon. Does that make sense?

  3. Anarchangel says:

    Yeah I heard about “Franken-Castle” a few months ago. I didn’t think it was possible for me to be less interested in the punisher….I guess I was wrong.

  4. Anarchangel says:

    Speaking of Mr Castle, I just had to shail this photo.
    (It’s all kinds of wrong)


  5. Gero says:

    Funny that you mention the Punisher. This picture of a Punisher action figure (I think from late 80’s/early 90’s) was on failblog the day before yesterday, and I think it sums up the movie “Punisher: Warzone” quite nicely…

  6. TheNate says:

    If we’re through posting the same picture of the Punisher and pretending “Your MOM!!!” is a funny contribution to these polls (yeah, it was funny the first 50 times, so I hope someone wasn’t up all night thinking of that) I’d like to point out Batman is also in the middle of a reboot:


  7. The Imp says:

    Speaking of the Punisher, have you guys seen this picture?


  8. Jeff Hebert says:

    Nate’s right, the user-submitted answers thus far were fairly lame, so I’ve removed them and closed the poll to new responses.

  9. Gero says:

    @The Nate: When a link is posted in the comments, it has to be approved by either Jeff or UGO (not sure which) before it shows up. When I posted my link to the Punisher crotch-rocket picture, Archangel’s was still hidden from view, so I didn’t know I was posting a repeat. Relax a litte. Though I do agree that the user-submitted catagories were just stupid…

  10. William A. Peterson says:

    I had to go with Iron Man, just because of “Stark: Deconstructed”, or whatever the current storyline is called.
    Yeah, all of the above have had problems, but the ones that Tony has been saddled with are far more destructive of the character than all the others…

  11. TopHat says:

    Wolverine desperately needs a retcon ((Scratch that the ENTIRE X-Men franchise needs a retcon)) mainly because it’s justb getting too damn confusing with all the clones and time travellers and all.

  12. Gene says:

    I voted for Spiderman – I’d like to see their Marriage retcon retconned. It was lame, weak, and poor story telling.

    But maybe if the retconned Wonderwoman’s costume to be skimpier and sexier, that would help the series? :p

    Although with the mess of story lines the last few years, there are lots of books that could use a Superman style reboot.

  13. collex says:

    @William A. Peterson

    Actually, Matt Fraction Iron Man (starting from Summer 2008 up to the current Stark: Dissambled), is my favorite comic-book of the moment, and an awesome portrayal of Tony Stark. Sure, he is now brain-dead, but what is happening right now is a reconstruction of Stark. In a couple of months, he’s gonna be in full shape and ready to kick anyone’s ass!

    What Matt Fraction did when he jumped on the book (and continue to do) is to make Stark cool again, as he is in the comics. In fact, the first storyline (Five Nightmares) was a bridge from movie to comic. And a very-well done one at that.

  14. tristan says:

    I think there needs to be a whole comic put out that updates every characters stories without interferring with the present storeylines. and I voted for Wonderwoman because I read a book from the sixties and she wasn’t even superpowered she just had a shop and hung out with a blind old ninja.

  15. Gero says:

    I actually don’t think Wonder Woman has super powers. She gets the ability to fly and deflect bullets from her magic armor, and everyone from her island is just as strong as her…

  16. Jeff Hebert says:

    Didn’t the gods agree to give her extra special powers or something, SHAZAM style? I hadn’t heard that her flight came from the magic armor, but I’m not really up on her history or anything.