One-Shot: Troubles With Retelling Origins Too Consistently

batman-arkham-origins

This question came across and it was interesting because the person asked “How many times does DC have to retell Batman’s origin?!” My initial response was as many times as they will buy it. That is the honest truth, and not just for Batman, this goes for every popular hero out there and that is when it becomes a problem.

The person I was conversing with says he walked by a comic shop and saw a poster for Snyder’s retelling. Understood that financially he gets why there’s another one out there. His origin is one of or many new myths given not only because of the New 52, but because of the new generations that have followed since his original story. People like to know his story it and will pay to read it again and again. That’s what a myth should do, it’s nothing new, and nothing has changed. As he said, “though creatively it’s stagnate to rehash it with a few differences, be it the plot or appealing to whatever this generation considers what Batman should be (in Snyder’s case, more gory violence and brooding)”. No arguments from me on this, that is what you get from most rehashed origin stories these days. In the end you just have to ask, can we please just move on from the origin story, of every hero unless new?

Give it some purpose that isn’t about getting money out of it. There’s only so far you can change a character without messing with what makes them who they are.

 marvel-season-one

If any out there were smart they’d just do what Marvel has been subtle about. They have those Season One books which are very interesting yet don’t distract from other books, you barely even notice them. For any that doesn’t notice them, majority for these stories do retell the heroes origins, but they do so in a way that makes sense. Plot holes, and things that were explained later in their stories were implemented in their origins to make it more believable. That is what they went for and it works. They aren’t meant to replace the originals, but add some clarity to them. Other origin stories from the rest just seem to add minor details that add nothing to us better understanding the heroes. They need to be more like Season One stories.

Dynamite is the one exception out there. Being able to take these well known pulp heroes and bring them to a modern audience. Many successful as well between Green Hornet, The Shadow, Black Bat, Miss Fury, and more. Stayed true to who they were, yet made their stories more engaging.

So what do we really gain by having the origin story regurgitated to us? Is any new insight revealed? Because if you are telling a myth, you can’t deviate that much. The myth is what people want, so you end up telling the same story over again and that just seems so desperate to make a sale. More so negligent of confusing generations knowing that they have a hard time accepting what was true to them vs what is true to others supposedly. This makes comics confusing. Not just for old readers, but those of every generation to come. There should be more work on creating that one story that makes the hero reader friendly and the story memorable. It should give us a better understanding of the hero and fill in gaps that would confuse new readers. Alienating anyone should never be an end result of a story.

Jideobi is the Comic Editor at Analog Addiction where he writes all things comics and comic related(especially if X-Men). Also follow him on Twitter @Siphen0.

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One thought on “One-Shot: Troubles With Retelling Origins Too Consistently”

  1. You’ve hit on some great points here…in regards to Snyders Zero Year story, I was originally excited to see him weave different smaller beats into larger changes within the universe, but now I find myself picking the book up for the artwork more than the story. What was great about Snyders opening Court of Owls arc was that here you have a new threat arising that felt very vital to the Bat Mythos, told in simple enough terms to bring in all kinds of readers, then we got Death of the Family, a very solid story, but it seemed to be playing it safe most of the time…the marketing certainly didn’t help matters, and neither did the proximity to Damien’s death negating much of the promised fallout from the story. Moving into Zero Year we are seeing Snyder bring all of these small beats, from Millers Year One, from Nolan’s bat trilogy, and some stuff from the animated universe, but it has all been done before so far. The only bits that are appealing to me are the appearances of the Riddler, and those moments are too few and far between…Capullos art has been great because he took strides to change it up from his prior work with the series, and the source material it draws from, while Snyder seems too concerned with stepping on any toes to make the story really his. Add to that the story unfolding just shy of a full year and it is poised to kill all of the great momentum Snyder has been building. As of now the story is only a couple issues deep, and I haven’t read today’s double sized issue yet, so all of this could change in a heartbeat, and that’s why I have no problem sticking with it for now, but if it doesn’t gather steam within the next few months, it stands to be just like what you’ve talked about in this piece, another less than necessary retold origin. Also, if the Red Hood leader ends up being the character than 99% of comics fandom already knows, all the while being set up as some mystery, that would be highly disappointing indeed to me personally

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