A canon solution

With the whole ordeal over Final Crisis (aka, Contiunity dies for real!), I got to thinking about possible solutions for the conflict over continuity in comicdom.

  • the Fundamental rule – anything that happens in THE mainline comic of a character is considered canon for that character.  Example: What happens to Batman in the BATMAN comic is canon, but what happens in Detective Comics is subject to the following.
  • the Double rule – anything not labeled BASIC that happens to a character outside of their main book is not considered canon until it’s referenced in a separate book line.  Example: Something happens to Batman in JLA.  It is not considered canon for Batman until it is referenced in a non-JLA book.
  • the BASIC label – any comic with this label on it will tell you that all you need to know is the origins of whomever is in it, and previous issues of said comic.  So if you pick up a marvel or dc book with the BASIC logo, then all you need to know is that Batman is a rich orphan, or Superman’s an alien orphan or Peter Parker is a spider-bit orphan.  Happenings within this book will not affect canon nor does canon affect it.

Post questions and clarifications in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “A canon solution

  1. In Tom Spurgeon’s 25 things to fix comics, he hit on a similar theme regarding franchise characters and their self-titled books (point #13).

    I think comics over-complicates the accessibility issue into a transformation of formula and approach when only a few over directives need to be heeded. I like all-ages and done-in-one comics, but I don’t think that’s the only way to have an accessible medium. Truth be told, the narrative incomprehensibility of some comics is their greatest achievement, and when done well an appealing challenge to a new reader raised on book series, movie trilogies and television shows that need commentary tracks to point out all of their cohesive qualities.

    However, you have to know where to start. With a wave of my mighty scepter, I would force Marvel, DC and any other applicable company to guarantee that their most popular characters would always have a monthly or bi-monthly title that had their name on it and nothing else, and that these comics could be enjoyed without buying anything not with that name on it to supplement their enjoyment, no matter how many members of their audience could be fooled into buying those other books.

    This really doesn’t do much anything for the industry, but it would make me feel better when one of my high school classmates writes in and says, “My kid really likes Batman; what comic book should I buy them?” and I could simply write back, “Buy the comic book called Batman” instead of taking them for a two-paragraph walk through the Encyclopedia Nerdica.

  2. Thanks for the article Jim, though I think he over simplifies. Though I like Marvel and DC’s efforts to make kid-friendly books, it can still get confusing. How does a kid or parent know whether they should pick up Amazing Spider-man, Ultimate Spider-man, Marvel Adventures Spider-man, or Spider-man loves Mary Jane? Even I (versed in nerd lore as I am), was very confused about the All-Star books until someone finally said they were supposed to be the DC equivalent of Marvel’s Ultimate line (and that’s ignoring how long it took me to “get” what Marvel’s ultimate line was about). Maybe compromise and have titles differentiated by ages? So you’d have (using the video game rating system):
    Batman M
    Batman E10
    Batman E
    Ugh, now I have a headache.

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