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Devil's Ranting #5
by bluedevil2002

New Readers

I live in a small town, in between two medium sized cities. As a result, I go to either one of them quite often, to find something that I can't find in my town.

On a recent trip there, I found something out.

People are generally stupid.

You wouldn't believe the crazy people driving. One guy tried to pass me, and then a horse trailer, but almost didn't get back on the right side of the road on time. Another guy kept putting on his brakes. Then some other idiot was coming out of the mall, made a left turn, and turned right back into the mall.

The whole experience made me reconsider a belief that I had. You see, whenever I would see people talking about new readers on a message board, and claiming how confusing something might be, I would come to the new reader's defense. I tried to give them some credit.

A lot of people argue that having several different versions of a character being published are confusing to a new reader. I try to counter with examples.

Even though this is a Batman site, I must use Spider-Man as an example here. In the first few months of 2001, we were treated to several different versions of the character: regular, Ultimate, and Unlimited (cartoon). It was easy to keep everything apart, and not get continuities crossed up for me. I felt that new readers would be able to do the same.

Then there is the "Beast incident." You see, when the new creators came on X-Men, and Chris Claremont was starting his new title, CC had first choice. One of his characters was Beast. But then, Grant Morrison got greedy, and stole Beast back. Problem: Beast was already in X-Treme #1. Grant wanted to use him in New X-Men #114. Solution: X-Treme #1-3 takes place before New #114.

Again, people claim that new readers would be confused. If I was a new reader, I wouldn't have been. I would have understood that one came before the other. I probably would have even been able to put X-Treme first. I haven't read New X-Men #114, but I'm sure there is a mention of Beast's visual change. Why does everyone think new readers are completely stupid?

But if these "new readers" are those crazy drivers I saw, I may be wrong.

Over the past few months, I've been re-thinking my stance on new readers. On one visit to the DC message boards, someone posted a message asking when there would be a new volume of Batman. At first, I thought he might have been asking when the next Batman Archive or TPB was coming out.

He was asking about a new Batman #1. Because Batman #1 came out in the 40s, and he didn't mean a new #1 like Gotham Knights or Detective Comics, etc. (I guess he doesn't realize that Detective is older than Batman.) So, I replying (joking) asking if he read a lot of Marvel Comics. He answered back that he did. He also went on to explain (and I paraphrasing) that he liked having the complete run of a title.

That's what I don't get. Almost everyone who got into comics before the late nineties did it by picking up a random issue, and then going out and learning about what had come before. Heck, my first X-Men comic was part one of X-Cutioner's Song, a story deeply rooted in continuity. I still don't have many of the issues that made up the back story, but it's still one of my favorite X-Men arcs. It wasn't until later that I kept reading, and learned about important back issues, and characters, etc. So, why do people nowadays insist on starting with issue #1?

I'm getting tired of the stuff comic companies are doing to get new readers. Most of the time, they're ignoring old readers. Granted, I do read the Ultimates, because they are good alternatives, and have the freedom to do stuff we can't see in the regular Marvel continuity, without pissing off fans. But then, you have stuff like the new X-Men creators, who don't care about past continuity at all. That may be good to get new readership, but what about the fans that made X-Men the beast it is now?

At least the Batman titles are going strong, and always accessible to old and new readers alike (except those anal retentives that want to start at #1). Then again, DC is still having problems from rebooting their universe 16 years ago.

Feel free to argue with me on the Batman message board. Use the link on the side of the page.