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Sunday, April 13, 2014 

5 types of stories that need to be put to rest

ComicBook.Com listed five types of stories they think shouldn't have to be copied again by future writers (Hal Jordan getting booted from the GLC, the Fantastic Four losing their wealth, Superman losing powers, secrets and unfixed handicaps). When they get to the part about heroes having secrets though, they run the gauntlet of insulting the intellect, while commenting on Original Sin:
Look, Identity Crisis was a neat trick. I get it.

But do we really need this poor man’s version revolving around the Death of the Watcher?
No, it was not. It was a sick, perverted and hateful trick. That line is taking a serious risk of legitimizing an insult to victims of sex crimes, but I'm not sure they get it. And if Original Sin is a poor man's mystery, what do they think Identity Crisis was? A poor man's mystery story that doesn't even hold up well as part of the genre, because they deliberately make some parts so obvious.
Back when it was going to be a cosmic-scale murder mystery, it was one of the stories I was most excited for in 2014. But as the promotional campaign has turned to laying bare the “secrets” of the Marvel superheroes’ past by inserting “original sins” into their backstories,

This isn’t the first time this has happened, either, and at some point it’s diminishing returns.

There’s also the matter of internal consistency; when you make a story about how Batman turned against the Justice League because they mindwiped a bunch of supervillains — and then Batman — without consulting him, you really shouldn’t have a story shortly thereafter where you learn Batman and Martian Manhunter made the decision to mindwipe another villain because…reasons.

And that’s the problem, here: if you’re trying to insert events into the backstory of these characters with long and detailed histories, perhaps it’s best to accept that it’s difficult to pull off well if those events are character-defining, without totally screwing up everything that has happened in the timeline since.
This part is almost better, but in light of the first two paragraphs still comes with a dampened impact. Yes, it's stupid how Identity Crisis set things up as though the heroes were doing all sorts of questionable things behind Batman's back, stuff he was actually okay with back in the Silver/Bronze Age like the mindwipes, and knew about too. After all, he had his own secret ID to worry about, and on those grounds had little disagreement with anyone else about erasing the villains' memories of his alter ego if they'd found out. But then, why must the website's writer bother to call the miniseries a "neat" trick to start with? Even if that was meant as an ironic jest, it's still very poorly timed and drowns out whatever point he was trying to make.

Just like we don't need a mystery oscillating around the death of the Watcher, we didn't need one oscillating around the death of a minor recurring co-star (Sue Dibny). Mark Gruenwald once said that every character is somebody's favorite and you shouldn't kill them off lightly or ruin their past appearances, far worse. That's what Identity Crisis was doing, and Original Sin is bound to follow the same route. ComicBook.Com's writer would do well to ponder that.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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