September 8, 2010 6 Comments
In theory, a character’s development path can be followed from start to finish. Take Oracle, for example. DC’s numerous Crisis revisions notwithstanding, an astute reader can point to the issue where she was introduced, became Batgirl, got shot by the Joker, was introduced as Oracle, so on and so-forth. She has been through a lot, but a reader, with the time and resources, can follow her entire story.
Of course, not all characters are so straightforward. Wolverine’s past was left overly vague to add intrigue to the character, and various creators over the years used that opening to shovel in pretty much any “cool” thing you could possibly think of, with the exception of surviving a nuclear blast by hiding in a refrigerator while water-skiing over a shark. Actually, I think Wolverine did survive a nuclear blast. My point is that leaving the past too open can cause problems with lining up a character’s back story to the point where terms like “memory implants” have to be thrown in to manage to fit it all in. Sure, you can tell the cool story but you have to eventually reveal that it was just made up.
And then there’s the odd case where a creator will take an existing character and decide that they want to change them. Sure, your character may have worked just fine for years, but now you really want them to be something different – a new character will all of the history of the old character. So you tweak and change them right there in front of the readers’ eyes. And that’s fine…until another creator comes along and tweaks the character a little bit more. And then a little bit more. And suddenly, this character is no longer identifiable as the one that had been around before, so someone decides that the changes have to have a blanket explanation to close the whole matter.
Confused yet? Let me introduce you to a friend of mine named Psylocke.