Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Bad Kind of Retcon

So I checked out the first issue of David Finch's The Dark Knight today. Mostly it was okay. The art wasn't bad and the story might have potential.

But I still have a serious bone to pick with this comic. Before I get to that, however, let me say something: I'm not opposed to retcons. Some of my favorite comic book stories involve retcons. But there is a time for and a type of retcon that is acceptable. Dark Knight #1 doesn't have that type of retcon.

Let me take you back to a similar retcon. Recall, if you will, Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee's wildly popular run on Batman. Remember when Tommy Elliot showed up? Remember how it was suddenly "revealed" that not only were Tommy and Bruce friends as children but best friends? Remember how Tommy Elliot was given an oversized importance on Bruce Wayne's childhood even though nobody had ever heard of him before?

That's the kind of retcon I'm talking about. That's what we get again in The Dark Knight. The sudden revelation that Bruce Wayne was friends with a girl named "Dawn Golden" as a child. Not only that, but they were best friends. Even more than that she was his first love. Heady stuff, no?

No. This is the bad kind of retcon. There are hundreds of characters in Batman's past that can make for a good story. Hundreds of villains and girlfriends who were throwaways just waiting to be used again. They have histories with Batman already. They don't need to be manufactured.

That is the problem with this sort of retcon. When a character's relationship with another character is important we see it develop and grow over time. Bruce Wayne's relationship with Alfred is important because it has built over time. On the villain side his relationship with Two-Face is the same way.

No more Tommy Elliots. No more Dawn Goldens. They're the wrong kind of retcon.



At 3:04 PM, Blogger Scipio said...

I agree completely.


I have to point out that Batman's relationship with Harvey Dent was a retcon. Harvey Dent was a District Attorney with no explicit relationship with Batman and ZERO with Bruce Wayne. The Bruce Wayne / Harvey Dent relationship was entirely invented in Timm and Dini's Batman: The Animated Series, and was very shocking to those of us who'd been following the 40 years of Two-Face...

At 6:15 PM, Blogger Diamondrock said...

Thanks for correcting me. I should have remember that; I'm usually pretty good with the history. But note that I didn't get started with Batman until Batman: The Animated Series. I'm too damn young.

At 10:01 PM, Blogger snell said...

But if Finch had to use an old character for the role, he couldn't give her the incredibly clever and in no way symbolic and foreshadowy name of "Dawn Golden" (Golden Dawn--get it??? Get it!?!?!?!?!). This is what happens when you let some artists write their own dialogue (Darkseid--get it?!?)

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Diamondrock said...

Spot on, Snell. This is another problem I have, but that's a whole 'nother post...


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