|Chris Mortika RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16|
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Ted Kord is teaching ...
Isn't Ted Kord dead?
More fundamentally, I was a fan in the mid-80's when Crisis on Infinite Earths came around. That series had a real point -- to consolidate the DC Universe once and for all, to avoid the obligatory two panels in Justice Society, in Infinity Inc., in Freedom Fighters, in SHAZAM!, and in a half-dozen other books, explaining that Huntress was the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, but not THAT Batman or THAT Catwoman -- and offered the opportunity to reboot important series like Superman (no more Kryptonians, no more Superboy, the Kents were alive...), Captain Marvel, and Wonder Woman.
Even then there were ripples. Legion of Superheroes no longer made sense, and it was already in the middle of its own Glorith-induced continuity shift when Crisis struck! Wonder Girl no longer had a sensible origin. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman were no longer founding members of the Justice Society ... and then Wonder Woman was, again. Those took years to iron out, and they were painful to watch.
Since then, there has been Zero Hour, and Hypertime, and Final Crisis, and Infinite Crisis, and Flashpoint, and now, ... what?
All this serves two purposes: to destroy "system mastery" of being a fan, and to make it possible for writers to spend their entire careers writing for a "maturing" superhero environment.
Let's talk about that second one first. Superman is now always in his first couple years' of heroics. Green Lantern is always learning how to use the ring. Wonder Woman is always marveling at the outside world. You never have to come up with new stories; all you have to do is check to see whether, in this timeline, Bizarro's already been introduced, and if not, introduce him. You remember those Gold Key or Dell comics, which just reprinted the same stories on a 24-issue cycle? (Because they figured that their target audience had a full turnover every two years.) Well, that's where we are now with several DC titles.
The other issue is system mastery. One of the reasons I enjoyed being a comics fan was that the lengthy continuity allowed the writers to have a conversation with us. Little touches here and there allowed us to see more deeply into the characters.
Alan Moore, of course, up-ended this with series like Supreme and Tom Strong, where the entire series was given false backstories (like "flashbacks to when Supreme had a cosmic adventure for several years in the '60s", complete with '60s-style comicbook art). Image's Global Guardians does the same, with a large cat of characters, and a storytelling convention that presumes that we're already familiar with all of them, and have been for years.
Marvel did the same with the retro-origins of Jessica Jones and the Sentry, who'd "been around back when the Fantastic Four were created, and was a mentor to the young Peter Parker."
"You know how it was, when you picked up your first issue of Justice League, and it was issue #104, and there were all these characters, and you didn't really understand who was who, but it was great fun?" Sure, but (1) I also remember picking up JLA #200, and having the satisfaction of seeing characters I'd been reading for the previous 8 years, and (2) even when I started reading, I understood that there *was* a history there, that I could learn about it.
Nowadays, there is no actual history, just the contrivance of one. Continuity is a bugaboo, a thing that gets in the way of telling a story. (How many times has Superman met Billy Batson / Captain Marvel?)