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  1. #1
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Default Has Marvel ever Rebooted any characters?

    Recently I saw a claim that Marvel once tried to say that a new Black Panther series was actually a "reboot" of Black Panther continuity, and then later backed down and said it wasn't a reboot after all. I must have missed that controversy at the time.

    This got me wondering: Has Marvel ever done a full reboot of one of its character concepts?

    (And let me clarify something: I mean aside from the titles set in their Ultimate Universe. That obviously qualifies as one Huge Reboot of dozens of characters, except that Marvel cleverly buttered its bread on both sides by keeping them around in their old versions, with decades of continuity piled up, at the same time in different titles!)


    If you're not quite sure what I mean by "Reboot," then just let me quote some material from a post I once did about DC's history of rebooting this, that, and the other at the drop of a hat. [Note: some of the stuff I mention below about DC's continuity, if you care, has been further retconned since the time I wrote this almost a year ago.]

    What is a Reboot?

    Reboot = Everything from before gets thrown away!

    All -- or very nearly all -- of a character's previously published stories, that had him at the center of the action, get erased from continuity, leaving a clean slate for a fresh start. In the new continuity, they never happened and the other superheroes in that same comics universe don't remember anything about them. Now a writer is "starting all over from scratch" with the essential character concept, That is a Reboot.

    If some bits and pieces of a character's history get changed on the spur of the moment, that is a Retcon. But if a lot of his old adventures are still supposed to be valid, allowing for some changes to various details, then he has not been Rebooted.

    Things that aren't Reboots

    1. The character's origin story gets retold with some new twists, but all of his subsequent adventures are still supposed to have happened, just about the way his veteran fans remember them.

    For instance, Mark Waid recently wrote "Birthright," which is apparently supposed to retcon and replace the version of Superman's origin story that was offered to us twenty years ago in John Byrne's "Man of Steel" miniseries. But that does not mean Superman is getting Rebooted all over again, because just about everything else that's happened to him in his comics in the last twenty years is still in continuity.

    2. The old character dies or retires and someone else puts on a costume and starts calling himself the successor with the same name.

    For instance, Barry Allen (the Silver Age Flash) died in COIE. Wally West took over the role of being the Flash. That was a big change, but not a Reboot, because most of Barry's old Pre-Crisis stories were still in continuity. People in the DCU still remembered that those things had happened.

    3. A new writer comes along and makes some changes, giving the hero a new supporting cast, giving him a different attitude, telling his stories with a whole different style.

    This happens all the time in the comic book industry. It isn't a Reboot; it just means different writers will have different stories they want to tell.

    4. The hero's old series got cancelled; he gets a new series with a new #1.

    That isn't a Reboot unless all the hero's past adventures from the old series have just been erased from continuity, the way Wonder Woman's were twenty years ago when her old series got cancelled and then a new one started up later. Most of the time, this is simply a Relaunch.

    5. Changing the exact roster of the "Founding Members" of a team, but saying that the team actually still had most of the same adventures from its old series, is not a Reboot.

    For instance, in the Post-Crisis continuity regarding the original JLA, the official version said that Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman had not been Founding Members of the League. The second Black Canary had been, however, "replacing" Wonder Woman. Superman and Batman were apparently admitted to have lent a helping hand to the old JLA on various occasions if opportunity permitted. That was a Major Retcon to JLA continuity, but we weren't being told that all those stories from the JLA title of the 60s, 70s, and early-to-mid 80s had "never happened at all." They had just happened with a somewhat different set of members than we previously thought. That was not the same thing as tossing out the old JLA series and saying, "All that stuff never happened at all!" (It was a rather obnoxious thing to do to veteran JLA fans, however.)

  2. #2
    Senior Member Cody H's Avatar
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    The reboot of Spider-Man has been as close to a Marvel reboot than I know of. And the Spidey reboot ended up going over poorly enough that it was soon swept under the rug, never to be referred to again, to my knowledge anyway.
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  3. #3
    Born under a wandrin Star Tobias March's Avatar
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    I would consider Iron Man as a character who was rebooted. For one thing Ellis locates his origin in the first Gulf War and not Korea.

    Cap has been retconned so much they have to make out other characters were Cap for his Timely appearances and such. Does any of Blade's backstory still exist? He's British you know.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Lorendiac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias March View Post
    I would consider Iron Man as a character who was rebooted. For one thing Ellis locates his origin in the first Gulf War and not Korea.
    Yeah, but that sort of rewriting is normal in comic books where a hero's backstory is concerned, and usually has very little impact on any of his published stories from the last 20 or 30 years. Back in the early 1960s, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm reminisced -- at least once or twice -- about when they were young servicemen fighting the fascists in World War II. At the time, that made perfect sense -- the war was about "twenty years ago," so if Reed and Ben were in their late teens or early twenties in their days in uniform, then they were late 30s/early 40s in the early 1960s when they got their powers and started being superheroes, which seemed reasonable enough. But as the years and decades rolled past, their histories as "World War II veterans" quietly disappeared into limbo. Today, when that war has been over for more than 60 years, Reed and Ben would have to be at least 80 if the WWII stuff was still in their continuity!

    That doesn't mean the entire character concepts and all their published stories have been "rebooted." It just means certain details of their "backstories" have been quietly rewritten. Practically every adventure they ever had after becoming superheroes is still supposed to be in continuity, as far as I know. If we were told "the first 500 issues of the Fantastic Four title have just been erased from history," that would be different.
    Last edited by Lorendiac; 01-24-2007 at 05:31 PM.

  5. #5
    Power with girl is better Powerboy's Avatar
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    I remember an article where John Byrne talked about this example. In essence, something like Reed and Ben having fought in WWII would just be an omission. In other words, it doesn't need to be rebooted or contradicted. The writers just stop making any reference to it. When they retell the story of the FF's origin, they just don't mention it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lorendiac View Post
    Yeah, but that sort of rewriting is normal in comic books where a hero's backstory is concerned, and usually has very little impact on any of his published stories from the last 20 or 30 years. Back in the early 1960s, Reed Richards and Ben Grimm reminisced -- at least once or twice -- about when they were young servicemen fighting the fascists in World War II. At the time, that made perfect sense -- the war was about "twenty years ago," so if Reed and Ben were in their late teens or early twenties in their days in uniform, then they were late 30s/early 40s in the early 1960s when they got their powers and started being superheroes, which seemed reasonable enough. But as the years and decades rolled past, their histories as "World War II veterans" quietly disappeared into limbo. Today, when that war has been over for more than 60 years, Reed and Ben would have to be at least 80 if the WWII stuff was still in their continuity!

    That doesn't mean the entire character concepts and all their published stories have been "rebooted." It just means certain details of their "backstories" have been quietly rewritten. Practically every adventure they ever had after becoming superheroes is still supposed to be in continuity, as far as I know. If we were told "the first 500 issues of the Fantastic Four title have just been erased from history," that would be different.

  6. #6
    Power with girl is better Powerboy's Avatar
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    Here's a question. Some folks here count 'updates' as reboots. For instance, updating Iron-Man to being more recent forces the writer to change the country where Tony became Iron-Man. As we read the early Iron-Man stories, we have to ignore cultural references to events of the early 1960s as well as the way people are dressed and the slang, etc. A lot of people don't seem to mind this while others seem to dislike the reader having to 'read between the lines' when he reads the old stories and mentally edit them himself, understanding as he reads them that the events could not have happened exactly as written. For instance, the cultural references I mentioned, who the President is, etc.

    Is it better to do updates that subtly change the origin or would it be better to simply ignore the realities of time and aging and read the old stories with the understanding that that's exactly how it really happened when it really happened?

    I personally like the happy medium that I can read the oldest stories and understand that they did basically happen, they have not been thrown out like they have been over at DC, but that we must exercise a little imagination and understand that, as far as the characters as written now are concerned, the events have subtly changed but not in a drastic way.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias March View Post
    I would consider Iron Man as a character who was rebooted. For one thing Ellis locates his origin in the first Gulf War and not Korea.
    I don't know if that's enough to be considered a reboot. Reed Richards and Ben Grimm were army buddies in the Korean War, too. Or maybe it was WWII, I don't know. Pa Kent was a WW I (!) veteran, and he's now up to being merely a Korean vet. Next step: Vietnam vet.

    But that's not what I would consider a true reboot.

    I would consider true reboots to be Byrne's reboot of Superman, as well as the "Heroes Reborn"/Onslaught stuff, even though it was all explained "in continuity".

    Ten years or so ago, the Legion of Superheroes was "rebooted" into 15 year later thirty-somethings. This was also a true reboot because some of the characters were replaced, notably one of the lead bricks was replaced by a blonde female from the same planet with a similar name, but I can't quite recall it.

    Although I loved it, evidently people like me were not enough, and it was "un-rebooted" with the "discovery" of the "real" Legion, still teen agers, stuck in hibernation/stasis machines, and the older ones were "clones".

    Before that story even completed, I dropped it out of sheer horror of what was about to happen.

  8. #8
    Give Me Your Sins Jack's Avatar
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    Does Genis rebooting the universe count? He got a sister and a new childhood out of it!
    Slayven ftw.

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  9. #9
    Elder Member Black Atom's Avatar
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    The Spidey Reboot was supposed to clean up the 4-5 years that came before it, including the Death of Aunt May, the Birth/Death of baby May, the Clone Saga and the Return of Osborn. It also retold Peter's origin. Most of this stuff was ignored the minute a new creative team landed on the books. Goes to show what a bang-up editorial job Marvel's doing.
    "I think we can help. Mercedes is black; I'm gay. We make culture." - Kurt, Glee.

  10. #10
    Part-Time Sith Joe Acro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cody H View Post
    The reboot of Spider-Man has been as close to a Marvel reboot than I know of. And the Spidey reboot ended up going over poorly enough that it was soon swept under the rug, never to be referred to again, to my knowledge anyway.
    Quote Originally Posted by Black Atom View Post
    The Spidey Reboot was supposed to clean up the 4-5 years that came before it, including the Death of Aunt May, the Birth/Death of baby May, the Clone Saga and the Return of Osborn. It also retold Peter's origin. Most of this stuff was ignored the minute a new creative team landed on the books. Goes to show what a bang-up editorial job Marvel's doing.
    But the Spider-Man "reboot" wasn't really a reboot. It was a retelling of Spider-Man's first year, much of which happened the same way it did before that story was written.

    On a similar note, Marvel tried to change Adam Warlock's origin in a recent mini-series.

    I think Dr. Strange was supposed to have a reboot, stemming from the Happy Birthday arc in Amazing Spider-Man, but that has yet to occur, assuming it will.
    Last edited by Joe Acro; 01-24-2007 at 05:23 PM.

  11. #11
    Administrator Expletive Deleted's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Acro View Post
    I think Dr. Strange was supposed to have a reboot, stemming from the Happy Birthday arc in Amazing Spider-Man, but that has yet to occur, assuming it will.
    That was the STRANGE mini-series. It didn't really take.

    Marvel has never had a "Byrne Doom Patrol"-style reboot, to my knowledge.
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  12. #12
    Viva la Cyclops Red Lotus's Avatar
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    I think the whole Clone thing was a reboot of Spider-man.
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  13. #13
    Elder Member Black Atom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Acro View Post
    But the Spider-Man "reboot" wasn't really a reboot. It was a retelling of Spider-Man's first year, much of which happened the same way it did before that story was written.
    True, I only mentioned it because it did selectively "Crisis" out a lot of the mid-to-late 90s stuff.
    "I think we can help. Mercedes is black; I'm gay. We make culture." - Kurt, Glee.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe Acro View Post
    On a similar note, Marvel tried to change Adam Warlock's origin in a recent mini-series.
    Actually, they didn't. While many people believed this to be the case, the final issue showed that it was very much in regular continuity, with the original Warlock showing up (sort of, at least).

    The Byrne Spider-Man, Strange and the recent Spider-Woman series were all attempts to reboot the characters, at least in terms of origins. Kingpin too, for the most part, and that recent Hulk mini with Mercy in it.

    One that I can think of that was just completely rebooted, though they later worked the original material in as an in-joke, is Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat. Originally a Katy Keene style romance character, she was rebooted as a superhero character years later, with the romance stories being retconned into fictional stories written by...I think her mother, I want to say.

  15. #15
    Cat smells like fish StoneGold's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Madison Carter View Post

    The Byrne Spider-Man, Strange and the recent Spider-Woman series were all attempts to reboot the characters, at least in terms of origins. Kingpin too, for the most part, and that recent Hulk mini with Mercy in it.
    They were pretty adamant about the Kingpin mini being out of continuity. I think the Hulk thing, too. As for Strange, I think it was supposed to be a reboot, but no one gave a damn, so it's chucked.


    Marvel's not very good at this whole reboot thing, are they?
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    In other words, what StoneGold said.
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