This week Our Opinions Are Correct aired an episode about the Illusion of Change. They do an excellent job explaining what it is – when long-running fiction (comics, Soap Operas, etc) has to eventually return to the status quo. They cover infamous examples like that time that Satan dissolved the marriage of Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Finally, the hosts cover the biggest reason the corporations that own Marvel and DC always resort to the status quo: so that folks jumping onto the series don’t have to deal with 50-100 years of backstory in order to understand what’s going on with the characters now.
In the past I’ve covered many possible ways around this issue, starting with the fact that we have the Internet now. Fan could always quickly catch up with any important storylines. But the solution that stood out the most to me while listening to the episode is actually pretty simple. I think what the big 2 companies could do is have 2 lines of books. For example, for Batman they could have one series that is just a series of Batman cases. He could always be in his 30s and any reader could jump in. The other Batman series could allow Batman to continue to age and tell stories about him growing older. It’s not as though there isn’t a market for this – people loved The Dark Knight Returns and the cartoon Batman Beyond. As I said before, there are stories to be told about getting older and the evolution of how you see yourself in the world. We’re robbing ourselves of these stories by not letting our superheroes age. And this doesn’t even take into account the lack of stakes when we know the big events and deaths don’t stick – the biggest reason I’ve moved on to creator-owned comics, which usually have an ending in mind.