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  1. #1

    Default Are Ultimate-style reboots " Continuity porn "?

    Moving this discussion to here, because I know I'll get better responses than at most other online forums...

    A favorite phrase of mine in regards to talking comics with overly narrow-minded fans is " Continuity porn "-- I.E., comics that have little to no purpose other than to reference old stories and make little in-jokes. I've found this phrase accurate for incredibly convoluted works like DC's Infinite Crisis or Marvel's X-Men: Deadly Genesis, where a huge amount of background knowledge is required for any degree of appreciation or even understanding. It wasn't coined by me ( a Doctor Who novel writer coined it, according to Wikipedia ), but I've used it a lot.

    However, I've also found that in those discussions, some people will apply the label to stuff like the Ultimate Marvel line, out-of-continuity remakes of old stories. They say that since the Ultimate books are based on old stories, they cater exclusively to old fans, and are thus " fanwank ". What do you all think?

    My personal opinion is mixed; on one hand, I find it ridiculously hard to believe that a universe designed for the benefit of new readers would be the kind of insular and inbred nonsense that caters to old readers. Certainly the best Ultimate stuff ( the Ultimates, Millar's UXM and UFF, early USM, Ellis UFF ) can be enjoyed fully by anyone, regardless of prior knowledge. On the other hand, the Ultimate Marvel line has been doing a good job abandoning its original purpose and aiming at longtime fans, with stuff like Ultimate Cable and Ultimate Clone Saga. I think that there's nothing inherently insular about remakes, though one can certainly find pitfalls of conceptual interbreeding within many of them...

  2. #2
    More Donald than Charlie stealthwise's Avatar
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    I find that the continuity porn instances usually crop up when the stories reference an old relationship or story, ie. when Pietro makes a comment about Wanda flirting with "that machine" (Vision) in an Ultimates storyline.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Here's my feeling: calling "recycled" ideas in the Ultimates line cases of "continuity porn" would be ridiculous unless the following could be established: That the writers of such material "knew" (or strongly, if mistakenly, believed) that the vast majority of their readers were, in fact, oldtime Marvel fans who would actually pick up on the references and variations on old continuity, and appreciate it, and consider it a major selling point in the Ultimate titles they were buying.

    On the other hand: If the majority of the customers are relative newcomers who usually don't know or care what the "original version" of Gwen Stacy was like, and if Bendis takes it for granted that they don't know or care, then I would say that calling it "continuity porn" is silly because it's not being written to cater to diehard continuity buffs by putting new twists on old stuff; it's just being written for newcomers -- and happens to have a few little twists that might appeal to continuity buffs, without it really mattering if they like it or not since they are NOT the target audience!

    I have no idea how many of the regular readers of Gwen Stacy's appearances in "Ultimate Spider-Man" actually knew or cared what the "original version" had been like at the time they were reading about the Ultimate version. So I don't know if Bendis thought he was catering to a large audience that knew and cared, or not!

    Does that make any sense? :)

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    Senior Member suedenim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitz the Bloody View Post
    My personal opinion is mixed; on one hand, I find it ridiculously hard to believe that a universe designed for the benefit of new readers would be the kind of insular and inbred nonsense that caters to old readers. Certainly the best Ultimate stuff ( the Ultimates, Millar's UXM and UFF, early USM, Ellis UFF ) can be enjoyed fully by anyone, regardless of prior knowledge. On the other hand, the Ultimate Marvel line has been doing a good job abandoning its original purpose and aiming at longtime fans, with stuff like Ultimate Cable and Ultimate Clone Saga. I think that there's nothing inherently insular about remakes, though one can certainly find pitfalls of conceptual interbreeding within many of them...
    That's the thing - I think the Ultimates line broke away from its original intended purpose really early. Remember, it was originally intended to be, primarily, a "younger readers" line, with heavy emphasis on reaching new readers, the newsstands, magazine-formatted releases, etc. From what I can tell, the line was a bust for nearly all the "new readers" strategies, but a smash hit with the Same Old Readership. And it started catering more and more to that.

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    Were You There? Michael P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by suedenim View Post
    That's the thing - I think the Ultimates line broke away from its original intended purpose really early. Remember, it was originally intended to be, primarily, a "younger readers" line, with heavy emphasis on reaching new readers, the newsstands, magazine-formatted releases, etc. From what I can tell, the line was a bust for nearly all the "new readers" strategies, but a smash hit with the Same Old Readership. And it started catering more and more to that.
    I think it was Millar's Ultimate X-Men that 86'ed the "younger readers" idea. What with Jean shagging Logan, and the whole Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch incest thing that only he thinks is funny.
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    Administrator Expletive Deleted's Avatar
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    I think continuiporn might be pushing it.

    They tend towards the in-jokey, more than anything.
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    More Donald than Charlie stealthwise's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Pullmann View Post
    and the whole Quicksilver/Scarlet Witch incest thing that only he thinks is funny.
    I found it funny, mostly because I don't take it as a slap to the original characters.
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    Ex-Cheeks Reptisaurus!'s Avatar
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    Default Are Ultimate-style reboots " Continuity porn "?

    No more than any OTHER Fantastic Four and Spider-man story that's been recycling Stan, Jack, Steve, and John's stories an' concepts for the last couple decades.

    I'd call continuity porn stories that are primarily about resoinding other people's work, and have little relevance on their own. Even the Goddawful first few issues of Ultimate Fantastic Four were trying to have some kind of thematic reasonance.*

    And some of the continuity porn was GOOD continuity porn. Making a Venom and Carnage that worked with the basic themes and motifs of Spider-man's world instead of
    "Spider-man meets Alien."

    All superhero books gank ideas. All superhero books using pre-established characters moreso. The Ultimate books no more or less than most.


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    Thinking Machine Tommy's Avatar
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    The Ultimate Books are an interesting case. Many of them can be read on two levels. One that would appeal to long time readers and one that would appeal to someone just picking up the book.

    Take Emma Frost for example. A new reader would pick up the book and think she is a good natured if somewhat overly idealistic mutant with some interesting past ties to Xavier and Mystique. A long time reader of the X-men would think she is vaguely menacing, and probably lying, and defiantly up to something. Both views are interesting and enjoyable.

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    Senior Member Dan Apodaca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reptisaurus! View Post
    All superhero books gank ideas.
    Wow. i haven't heard that one in a few years, and not from anyone white.

  11. #11
    New Member Matches Malone's Avatar
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    I've usually used the phrase "continuity porn" to describe books that really aren't about anything other than continuity. INFINITE CRISIS would probably be one of the better examples - it's a book that really isn't *about* much of anything. It's an excuse to cram in a bunch of characters, have some fanboy pay-off moments, and "fix" continuity "problems".

    There's nothing really wrong with a series like that - I enjoyed IC - but when you look up and down the aisles of the Big 2's output and see very little *other* than that, there's a problem. Continuity porn is very insular, and directed almost exclusively at existing fans. If that's all you're publishing, you're not growing your audience.

    The Ultimate books have become more insular and in-jokey than they were as originally conceived, but they haven't been sucked into the endless self-referentialism yet. Give it a few years (and a few series by Jeph Loeb).

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    More Donald than Charlie stealthwise's Avatar
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    Perfect example of continuity porn is definitely Infinite Crisis.

    Another one is Green Lantern: Rebirth.
    - Art is whatever makes you feel human.

    - "You are what you love, not what loves you." - Donald Kaufman

    - "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." - William Munny

    - "Acquiescence. It's not so hard, really. You. Just. Give. In." - Col. Ives

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    Groucho Marxiste Omar Karindu's Avatar
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    Default When is it continuporn?

    Most of the time the Ultimate line hasn't been that, but I'd call 99% of the issues of (the largely ignored) Ultimate Marvel Team-Up just that. The Ultimate Spider-Man arc "Warriors," with Ultimate versions of Iron Fist, Moon Knight, Jean DeWolff, and Shang-Chi comes awfully close, too, since I can't really tell what most of them added to the story besides warm bodies for a brawl. It read like an issue of Ultimate MTU, actually.

    Ultimate characters and Ultimate versions of prior stories work best when the writers have new twists, or can return to long-buried or cluttered "core concepts." Ultimate Phoenix has been a great example thus far, playing up the mystery and creepiness of the "possession" angle. Ultimate Iron Fist and Shang-Chi, though, came off as rather generic martial arts heroes, part of Bendis's odd "ninjas rule!" idea of writing. And Ultimate Moon Knight seems like a simplistic take on the schizophrenic super-hero idea Doug Moench came up with way back when, the one Charlie Huston's doing so interestingly.
    Last edited by Omar Karindu; 12-22-2006 at 04:24 PM.

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    Making up the numbers NickThompson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nitz the Bloody View Post
    A favorite phrase of mine in regards to talking comics with overly narrow-minded fans is " Continuity porn "-- I.E., comics that have little to no purpose other than to reference old stories and make little in-jokes. I've found this phrase accurate for incredibly convoluted works like DC's Infinite Crisis or Marvel's X-Men: Deadly Genesis, where a huge amount of background knowledge is required for any degree of appreciation or even understanding. It wasn't coined by me ( a Doctor Who novel writer coined it, according to Wikipedia ), but I've used it a lot.
    I enjoyed Deadly Genesis, but have never read the stuff it references.




    As for the Ultimate line, I dunno. I'm sure it can go that way, but in a lot of cases I read the Ultimate story before the regular story.

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    Ex-Cheeks Reptisaurus!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Omar Karindu View Post
    Most of the time the Ultimate line hasn't been that, but I'd call 99% of the issues of (the largely ignored) Ultimate Marvel Team-Up just that.
    But they DON'T reference old stories. Much, much less than the majority of other Marvel books. Certainly not Continuity Porn as it's described here.

    I guess it could be "Seeing artists Bendis likes draw characters they usually don't" porn, if you want.

    I absolutely loved this series, and there's about a seven issue run that're some of my favorite Marvel comics ever. Went Bill Sienkiewicz, Chyna Clugston Major, Jim Mahfood... All in a row! (There mighta been some other guys in there. These were my "Big Three.") Glorious.
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