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Continuity Coordination ROI

Paul O'Brien reviews the current Wolverine comics and makes the point that while some rather significant events seem to have occurred in one of his books (apparently Wolverine had a bunch of offspring he didn't know about, and was tricked into murdering them - but let's leave aside the fact that this idea sounds incredibly stupid and damaging to the character), they aren't referenced in the other Wolverine books or in any other (of the 80 or so) books that Wolverine appears in.

It may just be a case of it having just happened so we'll see the references in a few months. But regardless, Paul O'Brien thinks he might notice a larger trend:

That said, there's certainly a degree of parallel universe syndrome here, since the events in this storyline aren't even being referenced by Aaron himself in Schism, and I do think Marvel underestimate the value of at least acknowledging events in other titles. Rationally or not, it does contribute to the sense of a coherent world, which is pretty valuable when you're writing fantasy. (I rather suspect Marvel's attitude is that this sort of thing requires a degree of co-ordination that just isn't worth the effort, and in terms of the quality of individual stories they're probably right - particularly as these references just become quaint topical references when the stories are read in later years - but there are intangible benefits to doing it if your business is still based heavily around the first-run monthly serial.)

Obviously I have a lot of interest in the shared universe concept, so if what Paul O'Brien is observing is true, i would be sad. But i can't say i've really noticed that. It's probably because on a superficial level, there's plenty of interactivity. Marvel has brought back the mega-crossover events in a big way, so all characters are dealing with the same situations and it's therefore very interconnected from a larger perspective, even if it's actually not happening in a smaller sense. Even beyond that, Spider-Man's wearing his Fantastic Force Future Foundation outfit in Avengers, and stuff like that.

In the old days, you'd definitely have Spider-Man thinking about Aunt May's current health problems in his Avengers appearances, or whatever. I recognize that it becomes difficult to coordinate, and us nerds will scream when it results in a continuity error, which is why Marvel is now inclined to avoid it. I agree with Paul O'Brien that there's a lot of value to that type of thing, but i think that Marvel has actually found a decent middle ground. Until Event Fatigue sets in, anyway.

By fnord12 | September 15, 2011, 4:20 PM | Comics