REVIEW: End of Month Reviews #96 - December 2011 [spoilers]

Martin Phipps martinphipps2 at
Tue Jan 31 16:23:23 PST 2012

On Jan 31, 1:48 pm, "Adrian J. McClure" <mrfantast... at>

> The thesis that it's primarily the accumulation of backstory that
> drives away new readers certainly doesn't match with my own
> experience. I got into X-Men in the mid-90s, at the absolute height of
> its convolution. For me, the vast and complex backstory didn't turn me
> off, it made me want to know more, creating another world to inhabit.
> Granted, I was never exactly a typical kid, being the child of
> academics who grew up to be a medievalist, but I wasn't the only one.
> This was the peak of the X-Men's popularity. Maybe kids are more
> willing to just roll with the confusion rather than having to have a
> story all figured out before they engage with it, I don't know.

Thing is, in comics, there's often the sense that the backstory
doesn't matter anyway.  Characters die and come back, they marry and
have kids but then they leave their spouse and the spouse turns evil
and the kid gets sent to the future and comes back as an adult.
Teenagers reading comics supposedly want to see the X-Men fighting
villains: they don't want to see the X-Men changing diapers and
sending their kids to school.  This goes against Stan Lee's original
concept of the Marvel Universe: Reed and Sue got married and they had
a child and they child... never grew up.  Oh well.  Maybe someday
he'll be a teenager and Reed and Sue will have to worry about Franklin
having a girlfriend.  But no.  Comics are obviously geared at
teenagers, not their parents and teenagers want characters they can
relate to and they can relate more to aliens and Gods than their own
parents.  Which is too bad because when you get a job and get married
and start a family of your own you'll suddenly find less to relate to
in comics.

When backstory actually matters then it becomes a problem.  The Legion
of Superheroes is an interesting concept but right now they are
rebooting it every five years.  Why?  Because any group with over a
hundred characters (and typically twenty-five at any particular time)
is going to have a huge backstory.  They reboot it hoping to attract
new readers who want a jumping in point where they can get a feel for
who all the characters are.  It's hard to get into the Legion because
even if there were a character you liked she only appears in a few
panels every issue (except as a background character).  That's why you
have X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and Astonishing X-Men, not just because
Marvel is greedy but because if you have a favorite character in the X-
Men then you can just read about her.  Of course, they will move
characters around in order to try to get you to buy the other books.


More information about the racc mailing list