Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on continuity, openly wondering whether or not it matters any more for readers of Marvel and DC titles. For an array of reasons – all of which you can see in more depth in that piece – I shared that it doesn’t for me. I’d rather have good stories told by good creators without asking them to be beholden to the stories and actions of those who came before them.
But what do other readers think? I found out by including a poll in the piece, the results of which are below.
Only 37 people responded to the poll – come on! – but it’s still an interesting little insight into what comic fans think. And the majority of them think that continuity matters, or at least for the most part. 76% of the respondents either think continuity matters or that it does depending on the comic. That makes sense given how the vast majority of comic readers are fans of Marvel and DC, and that those books are the ones most dependent on continuity.
The most interesting part of this though were the responses from the people who expanded on their answers. You can read some of the responses below, all from anonymous contributors.
“I think even the most basic of continuities is important to telling a story. Without it you’re left to a series of disjointed adventures that just happen and have no real meaning or impact. While that works for a movie, a serialized comic should have continuity to it. For example, would Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye be as good as it is if it was just a series of random misadventures with robots? Could the story have as much of an emotional impact if characters could die in one story and come back in another? On the other side of the coin, the reboot was needed for both Marvel and DC. Both universes became way too complex for their own good, so it’s best to start them over and let people go nuts – just keep it all flowing in the same story.”
“I rarely try reading superhero comics because I have no idea where to even start. Continuity for the sake of it is pointless unless it serves some planned narrative.”
“Yes if that means taking in consideration the history of a character.”
“Continuity and the obsession with it has long been the bane of comic books as published by the big two. The customer who only picked up a book every now and then was lost. A lot of this has to do with bad writing and a hell of a lot with lousy editing. There are too many entertainment choices out there for the casual buyer to spend his money on if he decides that he doesn’t want to waste his time on a story that requires too much knowledge of past events for it to make sense. In his mind he hasn’t got the time. The problem is that the companies have constantly catered to the fanboys (or baby men as Mike Manley often refers to them) to the extent that mainstream comics has become a clubhouse, closed to “outsiders”.
Comic books should take a cue from movies (and I don’t mean Marvel superhero films that are starting to become strangled in continuity). regular movies don’t require a knowledge of previous events to be enjoyable. Jurassic World is the perfect example as is Mad Max: Fury Road. Anyone who has never seen the previous incarnations can jump right in without missing a beat. Comic books don’t need to be endless soap operas which is what they are at this point. Tell a story one issue, move on to the next story the next issue and so on. Stop changing the characters just because a writer feels he needs to. The average person doesn’t give a damn. They just want a good story. Stop catering to the thousands of fanboys to decided what a book should be. They’ll buy it anyway because they’re completists. Instead cater to the millions of regular people.”
I especially enjoyed the final answer, perhaps because it sounds like I may have written it (I swear I didn’t!). I agree entirely that comics should change its focus from the fanboys who are already in the bag and instead focus on the much more vast audience outside of comics. Hell, I wrote about that very concept earlier this week. But if I learned anything from this exercise, it’s that I’m in the minority on that line of thinking. That said, I do agree with the first respondent as well. Perhaps it isn’t that I don’t like continuity. It’s that I just like poorly crafted applications of it. All interesting thoughts regardless, and thanks to the readers for sharing.