Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Laughable Retcon of the Year Award 2005

Nominations for the prestigious Laughable Retcon of the Year award are now invited. This solid gold, diamond and ruby encrusted statue of Aunt May* will be awarded to the editor / writer combination which comes up with the worst example of a storyline which changes, breaks or distorts the continuity of an ongoing comic book.

Definition of Retcon

Retroactive continuity – commonly contracted to the portmanteau word retcon – refers to the act of changing previously established details of a fictional setting, often without providing an explanation for the changes within the context of that setting - Wikipedia.


For a story to be eligible, its main revelation must have occurred in a comic book published in the calendar year of the award.

The winners

The award will be awarded jointly to both the writer and the editor of the victorious story. This is because the writer shouldn't have written it and the editor should have stopped them. And, frankly, because the more blame that gets inflicted, the better.


Nominations are accepted from the comic book reading public, the judges (if no-one else nominates anyone) and embarrassed creators who wish to admit they screwed up.

The ceremony

The award will be presented in the January of the following year. I rather fancy taking over the Savoy in London, but I think next year it will probably be in the car park of the Beauchamp Arms in Claxton, Norfolk.


The following criteria shall be used to decide what is a Laughable Retcon


Is it likely that such as event could occur (see "Resurrections")?


How many real world years does this retcon cover? The more years, the better. Extra points are given to authors who break original Stan Lee stories.

Character inconsistency

Points are given for characters unexpectedly growing new powers or acting in a manner which is completely different to any previous storyline.

Story inconsistency

Points are awarded for retcons which change the meaning of an earlier story to the point where it becomes impossible to believe that the creators have actually read or understood it.

Deft use of cliche

Points are available to those creators who use the most obvious cliches in the pursuit of their objective. In particular this includes clones, actors, twins, aliens, robots, amnesia, phoenix powers or trick handshakes from Doctor Doom.

Brazen contempt

Points shall be available to creators who appear to simply not care that their retcon doesn't work, and who treat their readers like idiots with goldfish-long memories. Bonuses shall be available for creators who then have hissy fits at conventions and / or on the internet.

Obscure mini-series

If a story was consistent with a 1980s mini-series whose storyline went against the general grain of several decades of stories, this is nevertheless still a Laughable Retcon. This means you, Bendis.

Clever-clever explanations

A creator may think it's OK to make massive changes to the current order by invoking powerful mutant forces or universe mergers, but it won't exempt them. In the judges' opinion, if the universe has been changed by a story, then it's a retcon. That's because real universes don't actually suddenly change.

Public denials

Extra points are available for writers who write awful retcons and then say that they would have done it differently, except their editor wouldn't let them. The judges simply don't care - if it's got your name on it, you answer for it.


All resurrections are by definition Laughable Retcons and fully eligible for this award. This is because dead people don't actually go back to being alive. If a publisher makes a big deal out of a resurrection, like we're supposed to be happy they're grossly lying to us and snubbing death, then the judges shall have the option of issuing punitive points.

Lifetime achievement award

If a retcon is so bad that it still has us shaking with derision five years after its publication, then it shall become eligible for recognition by this special award.*

Hall of fame

Winners will automatically become part of a new Laughable Retcon Hall of Fame, a permanent memorial to shameful comic book plotlines. At their discretion, judges may include past stories which were so risible they would have swept that year's Awards, if they had existed.


The decision of the judges (ie me) is final, but I promise to reach my judgment with as much ill-humour and pomposity as I can muster.

*this award does not physically exist yet. However, I promise to create it once the following qualifying criterion has been met:

"My late father has to abruptly return from the dead, after having been kidnapped by a villain and taken to France while he was replaced by an actor. This actor lived with my mother for several months without my mother noticing any difference. It was this actor who died and my family mourned."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Max Lord being evil forever. It works on so many levels of crap.

5:20 pm  
Anonymous Kristin said...

John Byrne's Doom Patrol. It undoes over forty years of comic stories. It removed huge chunks of Gar Logan's backstory, this history explained why he was so weird and the why the people around him put up with his craziness. The great cantankerous relationship between Gar and Robotman now never existed. The Patrol's willingness to sacrafice themselves for a handful of strangers never happened. This version also "wipes out" the work of Drake, Haney, Wolfman, Morrison and others. As a comics fan since the age of 12 I've been conditioned that continuity and history can be wiped out with a big event (Crisis, Zero Hour....) but this retcon occured without any kind of set-up. Suddenly despite having crossed paths with various versions of the Doom Patrol, teams such as the Justice League had no memory of them. Byrne could have told these stories as the "untold adventures" of the Doom Patrol. Using Gar's new age of 19 puts the Doom Patrol in action around 8 years ago. They would have access to modern technology and cross-overs with many of the big superheroes. The decision to retcon the Patrol has been attributed/blamed on both Byrne and his editor. I don't think either has come forth proudly and said this retcon was my decision I stand behind it. I'm hoping that it gets de-retconned (reretconned?) when the series ends with issue 18. I think this series meets many of your criteria except it may be too old.

11:14 pm  
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