Q: page 8 - 9) Whose job is it in the creation of a comic book to look for continuity within THAT very issue? Namor, Charles, and a couple of others all hold up one hand on Page 8, but the 1st panel of Page 9 shows them holding up the other hand. Likewise Strange's gloves on gloves off magic trick.
BB: There is a team of editors. So many it’s embarrassing to me. from NEWSARAMA
I like the X-Men. I really do. I can wax poetically on Marvel's merry mutants at the drop of a hat. I know more of their continuity and stories through sheer love of characters and concepts than I remember of my second year philosophy classes. Like a lot of fangirls in my age bracket, I grew up watching that god-blessedly-awful cartoon show on Fox and just went for it. They were my gateway drug into the world of tights.
I suppose if I didn't like those books and stories so much, I wouldn't be as mad about them. After all, these are Marvel's entry-level books, with something to appeal to everyone inside, whether it's the premise, particular character story, setting or just 'Hey! Claw Guy ROX!'. Most every kid on the block knows a little something about being an 'outsider' and the fundamental theme of unity vs. revolution is a pretty perpetual concept. The movies were great at getting people in the store to learn more and creating a fanbase that's bigger than ever.
So why is it so hard to understand the X-Books?
No, really. Answer me, someone. Why are the books with the words 'X-Men' on the cover of it completely inaccessible to the guy on the street? Why is it always connected to some bigger plot that is going through another title or mini-series? And why, in God's Good Name, can't each book live it it's own little world COMPLETELY different from each other or just commit to being a unified storyline?? There is practically no continuity running through these books. What happened in X-Men: 198 does not jibe with what's been going on in New X-Men or come close to the status quo in Uncanny X-Men let alone anyone outside in the general Marvel Universe knowing that there's some major civil rights issues being addressed. While, I'm sure for plotting purposes, things have to get bad before they get better and ugly issues like 'rape' and 'child death at the hands of madmen' catch the eye enough to label the very concept 'compelling drama' for some reason, but what if you don't want to read about internment camps? What if you just want a story about the X-Men, doing X-Meny things? What if you don't care about all these new people, you just want the guys from the movies? The people who make sense to your average reader and anyone looking to learn a little something new?
Get to back issue bin diving. Because that's the only place you're going to find a solid story these days that isn't tied into the leftovers of House of M or some other Marvel Universe Big Tent event. There's not even a Marvel Adventures: X-Men series to take the edge off. But why is this happening? What have the comic books taken such a nose dive in regards to the common man? Well, I got theories. One of which places the blame directly on the shoulders of the editors.
After all, the editor is supposed to keep a handle on things, right? Help guide the story where it needs to be? Contact writers to make sure one character isn't dead in one book and alive in the next? At least that's what I hope is a part of their job description. Writers create the plot, the editors help make it work. So, taking a look at the indicia of the X-Titles, I noticed a disturbing trend: there are three editors on average per book. An 'editor', an 'assistant editor' and a 'supervising editor', not to mention the 'associate editors'. WHAT THE HELL ARE THEY DOING!?! Who are all these people? And why does nearly each issue have a different team of three? I mean, I could understand an editorial staff for the books, no way could one guy keep track of an ENTIRE UNIVERSE of books alone (*cough*Geoff Johns*cough* Keith Giffen*cough*). But why are there 17 people all of whom don't seem to be keeping track of anything? Mike Marts is the guy Marvel likes to tote out as the 'X-Men Editor', but he's not on all the books.
Let me show you:
|title||Assistant Editor||Associate Editor||Editor|
|Astonishing X-Men||Sean Ryan||Nick Lowe||Mike Marts|
|Uncanny X-Men||Sean Ryan||Nick Lowe||Mike Marts|
|X-Men||Sean Ryan||Nick Lowe||Mike Marts|
|New X-Men||Sean Ryan||Nick Lowe||Mike Marts|
|New Excalibur||Sean Ryan||Nick Lowe||Mike Marts|
|Exiles||Sean Ryan||Nick Lowe||Mike Marts|
|X-Factor||Molly Lazer & Aubrey Sitterson||Andy Schmidt|
|Wolverine||Michael O'Connor||Axel Alonso (Executive)|
|Cable/Deadpool||Nicole Wiley Boose||Barber & Macchio (Consulting)|
|Ultimate X-Men||Nicole Boose||John Barber||Ralph Macchio|
|Storm||Cory Sedlmeir||Alex Alonso|
|Son of M||Molly Lazer & Aubrey Sitterson||Andy Schmidt||Tom Brevoort|
|Sentinel Squad O.N.E.||Nick Lowe||Sean Ryan||Mike Marts (Supervising)|
|X-Men: the 198||Sean Ryan||Nick Lowe||Mike Marts|
|X-Men: Deadly Genesis||Nathan Cosby||Mark Paniccia|
Now, I know that's a lot of books to deal with and I don't expect perfection and air tight continuity. Something's are just going to slip from time to time. No worries. But why is it happening so much? And for such HUGE things? Why weren't the X-Men in Uncanny not talking about the locator chip they have to wear in 198? Why isn't anyone in any X-Men title reacting to the MASS GRAVES for INNOCENT CHILDREN they had to dig in New X-Men? Why were the X-Men able to go run around for the last issue in Generation M when supposedly they've been ordered to stay in the mansion in Uncanny? Why is Mutant Town under the protection of X-Factor when all the mutants left there were being bullied to the Westchester Internment Camp in 198? There are three guys to take care of this kind of thing and even more to intervene on their books's behalf. The core team of Ryan, Lowe and Marts should be on this not because they're continuity Nazis, but because it makes sense.
I should be bald with all the hair pulling I've been doing over this, but that should be an editor's job. But can we really blame them? It's a lot of books, a lot of characters, a lot of mini-series and tie in events. Brian Bendis (he did drop the 'Michael' bit, right?) said in a recent Newsarama Q&A that (in reference to some continuity issues relating to time in New Avengers: Illuminati) that 'time is an iffy thing in comics. How much actual time has gone by in the Marvel Universe versus real time? It's one of those things we have to just deal with. ... I know this annoys some people but it just has to happen as time goes on.' Should there be a unifying continuity or timeline between the titles? Can it be done?
Over at the Distinguished Competitors, they have a similar multitude of books under one banner. The Batman titles are everywhere, endless in scope and varied in their different perspectives. Off the top of my head, I can count seven ongoing continuous titles all dealing with the Dark Knight to some extent. Supporting characters, mini-series..es (mini-serii?), tie-ins, it's a heck of a thing to handle. So why does it all make sense to me? Why can I follow the events of Infinite Crisis throughout the books? I've been reading X-Men books a lot longer than I've been reading Batman titles, so you think the book that I have more of a background on would be the one my brain clicks with, the one I'm supposedly more familiar with.
Now, pre-Infinite and before they cut some books, the Bat-books had a lot of editors too. Two to a title for the most part, with Assistant Editors, Associate Editors and Editors just like the X-Books. In fact, when I looked at their editorial list way back in December when a lot of titles hadn't been canceled just yet and the Bat-Books had a bit of glut, you can almost see why they have the title of 'assistant' or 'associate' to begin with, where an editor on another book might have helped out to keep continuity, answered a few questions, etc.
All it does it take strong writers and a stronger editorial staff. It takes the ability to tie all these big ideas in to one coherent story or simply let them all be and don't give them a central storyline.
Since DC cut down on its on-going Bat-Titles to get down to brass tacks, so to speak, could the same be done with the X-Men? Why would you want to chop away at such a big and bountiful tree that has something for everyone, even if some of them are only buying out of habit? X-Men sells fine, despite fan apathy. Why am I making such a big fuss?
Because I want to read the books again. Because I want to give a Joe Off the Street a copy of X-Men with my head held high instead of having to also reach for the TPs that help explain what's going on now. Because it sucks not to have a kid's X-Book out there, especially since the Marvel Adventure books rock and the movie's huge. After all, kids ask for Punisher comics thanks to having Thomas Jane on screen, with X-Men 3 we're going to get the younger set who will want a comic. GIVE ME SOMETHING TO GIVE TO THEM!!
Sure, a lot of customers are at peace with the X-Titles. Heck, they regularly hit up in the tens on the Top 100 comics every month, normally two titles placed liberally. After all, if people didn't like them, they wouldn't buy them right? A very well-respected gentlemen who comes into the store even told me he liked The End: X-Men and I respect that. It hearkened back to a different age for him and that's cool. I have nothing against people who think the books right now are the bee's knees and I'm even stoked that they're reading them when I threw in my towel years ago. But in the end, we really shouldn't stop there. Insular writing and plot that entirely depends on the whim of the writer towards a particular point won't get new people into these things. And, as cheesy as it sounds, children are our future. New readers are our future.
And, to quote a popular tag line, I am wholeheartedly willing to Fight For the Future.
okay, that was really bad.