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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 08 December 2006 at 9:23pm | IP Logged | 1  

The same set of tools is available to writers both good and bad. "Everything you know is a lie" is one plotting tool. It can be misused, overused, badly used... that doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad tool, just one that's been used badly. Unfortunately, when one writer uses it well, a number of lesser writers feel compelled to do "their spin" on the same idea... and almost invariably screw it up, along with whatever character is in their keeping.

(This doesn't even get into how great stories are almost always wrecked by this particular cliche, just because some dickhead wants to steal some part of that glory for himself. "See? I told this story RIGHT after all these years! [original creator] *wishes* he'd thought of what I did!" Yeah right-- go back to flipping burgers, jerk.)

"Everything you know is a lie", to me, works best when it undoes some element of continuity that messes up too much to let lie. If somebody wrote (for instance) that Steve Rogers is a "pre-mutant" or that the Punisher is an amnesiac Eternal-- THAT would be deserving of a "lie" reset. I would be less eager to see it used to establish entirely new backstory or "hidden truths" for any character, because that opens up very larges cans of worms...

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Dana Smith
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 2:28am | IP Logged | 2  

Uh JB...I always thought that Spitfire's powers were restored by the second blood transfusion, That you did in Namor.  The Marvel website states it that way (which is written by fans and approved by Marvel Moderators)...


 QUOTE:
During the 1950’s, Spitfire’s super powers had waned significantly and, eventually, completely disappeared.

...And...


 QUOTE:
Later, Jacqueline was approached by Namorita, who needed help rescuing Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch from the latest incarnation of the Nazi villain, Master Man. Jacqueline was reunited with Captain America and Union Jack. In attempting to rescue their ally, Jacqueline raced in the path of a bullet meant for Namor, discovering the last remnants of her super-speed. She was mortally wounded, but after another emergency blood transfusion from the android Human Torch, Jacqueline's metabolism returned to superhuman levels and her Spitfire powers reactivated. A side effect of her returning powers caused her to become young again, as she reverted to the body of a 16-year old.

There doesn't seem to be a mention anywhere online of her having her powers after 1950-ish, until you restored her youth.

Dana



Edited by Dana Smith on 09 December 2006 at 2:28am
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Francesco Vanagolli
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 2:46am | IP Logged | 3  

I didn't remember that particular in SUPERMAN/BATMAN, but only that the artists changed the statues. Thanks, Glenn! Later I'll control the books.
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Joakim Jahlmar
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 6:06am | IP Logged | 4  

Andrew Bitner wrote:
"The same set of tools is available to writers both good and bad. 'Everything you know is a lie' is one plotting tool. It can be misused, overused, badly used... that doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad tool, just one that's been used badly. Unfortunately, when one writer uses it well, a number of lesser writers feel compelled to do 'their spin' on the same idea... and almost invariably screw it up, along with whatever character is in their keeping."

Very well put, Andrew. I couldn't agree more. And while it is unfortunate that great work and its use of various narrative devices will attract less skillful followers, it seems downright asanine to argue that the tool is bad because of there are many poor users of it out there (by that standard, most narrative devices would be rendered unusable fairly swiftly I fear).
One might point out, however, that narrative like any other craft requires not only talent but practice, and people without a modicum of both should probably leave the heavier devices in the drawer until they've mastered the basics. One wouldn't pick up a very complex piece machinery tool (hopefully) without understanding how to use it, and although there is far less threat of physical harm in wielding narrative devices, there're plenty of reasons to treat it in the same fashion.

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Andrew Bitner
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 8:44am | IP Logged | 5  

You're right, Joakim-- a writer just starting out would be better off sticking with the basics and not trying for Advanced Plotting 505 right off the bat. It takes a lot of work, which seems to surprise most people, to craft a story worth reading.

Anything that affects a character's backstory in a significant way should be approached like plutonium: dangerous and capable of causing a huge explosion.

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Lars Johansson
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 10:50am | IP Logged | 6  

Joakim wrote: One might point out, however, that narrative like any other craft requires not only talent but practice, and people without a modicum of both should probably leave the heavier devices in the drawer until they've mastered the basics.

I don't know if "the lie" is a heavy device, but it might look like it, when it's badly wrtten. Writing so that it looks as if it was easy to write it is what I would call real heavy duty.

Andrew wrote (excerpt)...a writer just starting out would be better off sticking with the basics and not trying for Advanced Plotting 505...

I have never heard of such a 505, but what I would guess happens if a writer sticks his head in the dangerous 505 and can't handle it, would be if we experience what I would call, perhaps it's wrong but "false anticipation", for example when we buy the next issue to find out "let's se what the boys have come up with this time!" instead of the correct thought which should be "I wonder what will happen to Spider-Man". This thread is probably evidence of this error, much more than "the lie".

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Gregg Halecki
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 4:41pm | IP Logged | 7  

One example of this type of story that I liked and though was done in an acceptable way was the "Bucky really isn't dead" story from Captain America. I am kind of devided on if I like the facxt that they brought him back, but I do think that the way they did it worked well enough.
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 4:51pm | IP Logged | 8  

Except...they really brought him back.
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Matt Linton
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 4:59pm | IP Logged | 9  

Wouldn't that technically qualify as retconning a retcon?
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Greg Kirkman
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 5:39pm | IP Logged | 10  

It's a "ret-retcon".

A bad, smelly retcon is a "ratcon".

An angry, ring-tailed critter is a "racoon".



Edited by Greg Kirkman on 09 December 2006 at 5:40pm
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Jim Campbell
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 5:48pm | IP Logged | 11  

Just a thought ... if the transformation of a character's
established background/powers/persona into a
different one for story purposes constitutes
'Everything you know is a lie' (as many people here
have argued is the case with, f'r instance, Moore's
Swamp Thing), then couldn't you argue that the
Marvel Girl <-> Phoenix transformation is another
example of the same?

After all, it did require a certain amount of ret-conning
(or filling in of some significant blanks) of the
character's back-story.

I would certainly argue that Moore's Swamp Thing
didn't invalidate what had come before, it merely
approached the existing continuity and said: "Hold
on ... doesn't all of this make more sense if you
think about it this way?"

Cheers!

Jim
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Gregg Halecki
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Posted: 09 December 2006 at 6:34pm | IP Logged | 12  

My point about the way they brough Bucky back....

It was really just a continuation in certain ways of the way Roger tweaked Steves past in his Captain America run (as I think was mentioned by JB earlier in this thread) because they used the same method.

We all know Bucky died in the North Atlantic because that was what Steve remembered. They just gave a workable reason for why he remembered it incorrectly.

Here is another example (for those of you that remember it).

Way back in the very early days of West Coast Avengers, it came about that Simon Williams really WAS guilty of embezzlement before he bacame Wonder Man. Up until that point the story was that Simon's brother Eric (Grim Reaper) was the guilty one. Simon reveals to the world that he simply lied about it all, and comes clean

Good or bad?

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