Sunday, May 16, 2010

Update to My Sentry Rant

A slight update to my post a few days ago.

It seems that outraged fans have pestered poor Mike Carey, the writer that's been handling Rogue the most, to the point that he answered them. On Facebook. (But we have a quote!)
Mike Carey: Wow. I need another cup of coffee.

Okay, guys, I'm going to comment here in a fairly circumspect way. I've responded to some of you in one-to-one message threads, and I'm going to ask you not to come back to me on this, because there won't be anything I can add.

As everybody knows, I try not to do ret-cons - and as I type that, my nose just ... grew by about a foot and a half. What I try not to do is "type 2" invasive ret-cons that erase things that are commonly supposed to have happened. I'm shameless about type 1 ret-cons, where stuff happened but you just didn't know about it until now. The whole of the Professor X incarnation of Legacy was made up of stories of that kind.

This is a type 1: it happened, because Rogue says on-panel that it happened. It was behind the scenes, invisible, and the chronology isn't clear, but it happened. Is it surprising? I think so. In terms of Rogue's behaviour in relationships, her sexual morality insofar as we can infer it, her personal history up to this point, this revelation is hard - on the face of it - to reconcile.

But as someone says above (sorry, thread is too long to find the reference again quickly) what we know is minimal, and we can fill in an infinite number of stories around these few details. There are ways it could have happened that would make sense. I won't be the one who tells the story of how it actually did happen, but I'm accepting that it happened and the story is there to be told.

Characters in a shared fictional space are created by a kind of consensus. Someone dreams them up and puts them onto the stage, but a whole lot of someone elses then fill in the blanks. When you get contradictions, or apparent contradictions, fans build their own conception of the character from the parts they like most or believe in most.

This is a dangerous and frivolous analogy, but look at the Bible. I'm an atheist, but I'm happy to acknowledge that there's a core of teachings in the Bible that vast numbers of people base their lives on - but crucially, it tends to be a different core for each of them. You take what makes sense to you, and you view the rest with some mixture of tolerance and caution.

I think you have to do the same with shared universes.

I hate that that's on Facebook so I can't exactly verify it, but I have no reason to distrust All Things Fangirl in this matter. It's good in that we won't see it referenced, but bad in that it stays in continuity and we won't ever see Rogue think about it, so if some weird writer comes along who likes the Sentry and this retcon... Well, it'll just seem even more out of left field.

I do just want to point out again that the problem isn't that Rogue's been with a guy other than Gambit, or that Rogue's been with a guy, or even that it's that jerk the Sentry. It's just that, as Carey notes, it doesn't suit her to have a romance that she actually went all the way with that she's never thought once about. Too much of her history is wrapped up in it. Especially with someone with implied immunity. If it had been a retcon involving a regular X-man she sees all the time (okay, not Kurt, that one would be way too creepy) and it was a temporary power loss... Or a villain like Magneto (it's pretty obvious why they wouldn't be together, and their breakup has been dealt with)... But yeah, this? Is stupid and infuriating.

Also, I've been reminded the same writer who wrote this piece of shit funeral special also wrote the Civil War special where that blockhead reporter told Captain America he was out of touch because he didn't watch American Idol or know what Myspace was. And the narrative in that book didn't say she was an idiot, it took Ed Brubaker to have Bucky say (without naming her) she was an idiot in Young Avengers Presents: Patriot.

Just like this funeral special didn't say that Cyclops and Johnny Storm were fucking gossips who should shut their fucking yaps or that Rogue was more upset about recent X-men events than about this guy we never saw her meet. Come to think of it, Cyclops? That's probably the most credible source for gossip you have on the X-men shy of Nightcrawler, and probably the very last person AFTER Nightcrawler to blab a secret.

So, to recap, according to Paul Jenkins the Sentry was an inspiration, a great guy, the best friend to everyone in the Marvel Universe, and the lover if it was impressive despite terrorizing and keeping his poor wife prisoner... and Steve Rogers was out of touch with the American People so he was wrong during Civil War.