So there are these comics that are out there, right? The funny thing is, none of them ever happened. Even in fictional comic-book land, the events of these comics never took place. Oh, the comics were printed. And you better believe you paid a real $1.99 to $2.99 to get them.
But guess what? The stories have been retconned out of existence. Sorry!
"Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"
In 1985, DC Comics published "Crisis on Infinite Earths," a comic book storyline in which the entire universe was destroyed and rebuilt in an attempt to explain and simplify comic book continuity. To put this in a way non-comic readers will understand, this is kind of like if they wrote an episode of "The Simpsons" in which Earth is eaten by a cosmic energy being in order to explain why Maggie isn’t graduating from college.
The problem with this reboot is that it erased many classic Superman stories from continuity, including such endearing classics as “Lion Head Superman.”
After hearing about the upcoming reboot, writer Alan Moore (creator of acclaimed comics such as Watchmen and The Killing Joke, and owner of the world's most magnificent beard) demanded to write a final send off for the Superman character he had grown up with.
The resulting story was both an analysis of the Superman mythology and a touching tribute to comics’ most iconic character.
Unfortunately, because of the story’s dark tone, the editors decided to remove it from continuity with a preface stating that it was an “imaginary story” (as opposed to all those true stories about the invulnerable flying alien).
So to recap, this story did not even take place in a fictional universe that was itself replaced with a new fictional universe entirely. All in an attempt to make continuity less complicated.
By the way, in case you’re wondering what actually happened to the original Superman, he last appeared in the miniseries "Infinite Crisis," in which he went insane and tried to kill the new Superman before being beaten to death by the Villain of the Week ™.
Isn’t that way better than a touching elegy from one of the greatest living comic book writers? We'll answer that for you. No.
Peter David’s "Supergirl"
No, I’m not a preteen girl (though sometimes I pretend to be one).
"Supergirl" was actually a really good series. No, really. Peter David’s run on the book told the humorous and dramatic story of Linda Danvers, a teenage girl attempting to sort out her stormy personal life while battling supernatural forces. Basically, it’s what Buffy the Vampire Slayer would be if it was nearly as good as Whedon fans say it was. (Note to Joss Whedon fans: I’M JUST KIDDING SERENITY IS MY FAVORITE MOVIE OH GOD PLEASE DON’T KILL ME.)
Anyway, the good news is that Linda definitely won’t be used as cannon fodder to show off how powerful and dangerous the next big new villain is. Unfortunately this is because she doesn’t even exist anymore. Linda, along with all previous Supergirls, was erased from continuity in the miniseries "Infinite Crisis," an attempt to simplify DC Comics continuity after the confusing "Crisis on Infinite Earths." (Noticing a pattern here? Thanks, DC. Also, thanks for making the titles of "Infinite Crisis" and "Crisis on Infinite Earths" so distinct from one another.)
In her place is a new Supergirl, who basically just broods and wears revealing outfits. We liked her better when she was fun and wore revealing outfits.
"Justice League International"
Probably one of the greatest runs on DC’s iconic title, Justice League International was known for combining exciting superhero action with surprisingly witty dialogue and genuine character development. One of the series’ most well realized characters is Maxwell Lord, the League’s financial backer, who goes from manipulating the League for monetary gain to genuinely caring about the team.
Unfortunately, all this character development was undone during "Infinite Crisis" (not this again!) in which it is revealed that Lord was actually a villain who had planned to betray the League the whole time.
Should comic books with Superman on the cover
really feature spraying brain matter?
Apparently, he hates superheroes so much (not that we can blame him) that he buys them expensive equipment, organizes them into an effective global peacekeeping force, and once nearly sacrificed his life to save them. Whatever. Max then goes on to shoot his long time colleague Blue Beetle, killing him instantly.
Given the comedic interplay the two characters had previously had, this feels kind of like if the last episode of Seinfeld ended with Kramer murdering Jerry in cold blood.
"Death of Aunt May"
For someone who’s been on the brink of death since her very first appearance, Aunt May sure can take a licking.
She’s died and come back so many times that she probably qualifies for membership in the X-Men. Possibly the worst example of this is the retcon of “A Death in the Family,” an entire issue devoted to Peter coping with the loss of his beloved aunt. Later writers revealed that May was actually fine.
You see, the Aunt May who died was actually a rapidly aging clone made by Spider-Man’s nemesis the Green Goblin (who was also supposed to be dead, but wasn't) in order to emotionally devastate Peter. Doesn’t that make more sense than an old person with a history of medical problems dying of natural causes?
Also, Goblin, you know what else would hurt Peter? If you actually killed his aunt. I mean, what dumb loophole is next? Peter makes a deal with the Devil in order to keep his sickly aunt alive for a few years?
Almost every single "Spider-Man" comic ever made ever
Oh wait. That’s exactly what just happened.
When Peter’s Aunt May is dying from a gunshot wound (because apparently that's the only way to kill an infirm elderly woman), Spider-Man does the only sensible thing and makes a deal with the devil to sacrifice his “sacred marriage” in exchange for Aunt May’s life.
Look, Spidey, I love Aunt May too, but when God Himself just wants you to be married to your supermodel wife, it’s probably best not to question the Divine Plan. Anyway, Peter agrees, and the Devil resets time so that he and his wife never met.
But wait. Mary-Jane has been a supporting character in the comics for decades. By coming up with a retarded reason for a change that no one at all demanded, you just scrapped over forty years of stories about one of the world’s most beloved superheroes.
It’s almost enough to make me want to stop spending my supplemental income on picture books about men in tights. Almost.
Special thanks to Scott Tipton of www.comics101.com!