One Fan's Opinion: Issue #14

Thu, November 10th, 2005 at 12:00am PST

Comic Books
Erik Larsen, Columnist

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Somebody was asking me, the other day, whether "Spawn" took place in the same universe as "Savage Dragon."

Y'see, a few years back, I destroyed the Earth-- yeah, Dragon found himself on an alternate Earth where things had gone off in a decidedly different direction, but the Earth was destroyed-- so where did that leave Spawn and Cyberforce and all the rest? The answer is both surprisingly simple and way too complicated (it's at this point-- or shortly after you read the rest of this-- where you can crown me the king of the anal-retentive geeks, if you'd like).

Every book at Image exists in its own separate universe.

Simple, eh?

But you say, "But wait-- Savage Dragon has met Spawn and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Freak Force and the Maxx and a host of other characters (Superman even-- and Hellboy). How can he exist in his own universe?"

The answer is equally simple, yet headache-educing at the same time:

Every character that comes into another character's book exists in that universe, as well as in their own. When characters meet we get to see events, which take place in both characters' respective universes. In other words: When Savage Dragon meets Invincible, it's an event that Invincible experienced in his life in his universe and it's an event that Savage Dragon experienced in his life in his universe. Duplicate events took place simultaneously in both universes!

You ever listen to a friend tell a story about an event that you were part of? You ever notice that it's often a little off from the way you remember it happening? Same deal in the "Image Universe!" When you read about Savage Dragon in the pages of "Invincible," that's Invincible's side of the story. That's the way he remembered things happening. This is how I (as a certifiable anal-retentive, control-freak of a Fanboy) can reconcile the various discrepancies that have worked their way into various comics! What's that? Grifter stole the show in Jim Lee's "Savage Dragon" yarn? That's Grifter's side of the story! What's that? The Dragon was too tall and 250 pounds underweight in an issue of Backlash? Maybe Dragon ran into some Red Kryptonite in Backlash's Universe and it made him look all skinny and weird!

By doing things that way it allows everybody to have complete freedom in the confines of their respective books and that's important at a company where creators are creating all kinds of new stuff left and right. Why should Robert Kirkman have to be saddled with my Atlantis just because I got here first? Why shouldn't Todd McFarlane be able to have his own version of God in his book? And just because somebody else did a version of Thor-- why shouldn't I be able to do my version in my book?

So then, you might ask, why should you, the reader, get sucked into the Image Universe if it's not consistent and events in one book aren't reflected in another book?

Because the events in each book matter (very much) in the confines of each individual book and because this kind of freedom has allowed creators to let their imaginations run absolutely wild! Besides, other superhero universes at other companies are riddled with inconsistencies anyway, so what's the big deal? At least we're honest about it and at least each book has its own consistent continuity on its own.

Just try and read all the Spider-Man books and try to make sense of that mess-- I dare you! But read the run of "Savage Dragon" or "Spawn" or "Invincible" or "Noble Causes" or "Witchblade" or "PvP" or "Liberty Meadows" or "Ant" or "Mage" or any of the others and you'll find that any complete run on any title makes complete sense! And that's because, at Image, each of the books in handled by (or overseen by) one creator and it's their vision, which is carried through from the start to now. They might not all jibe with each other, but they jibe with themselves and at the end of the day (or even noon-ish) that's more important to me (your mileage may vary).

Years ago, pre-Crisis, the DC Universe was all screwy like that. Superman had a different Atlantis in his book than was in the pages of Aquaman. There were numerous futures, many of which didn't peacefully co-exist with each other and there were a number of acknowledged alternative Earths where various characters hung out. (We were on Earth Prime, a world where there were no "real" superheroes-- at least until that Human Fly character showed up). DC eventually ditched that whole thing and made an attempt to straighten it out, but their new universe was every bit as confusing as the old as Robin was revamped and Captain Marvel was reworked and Superman was retooled and readers had no way of knowing which pre-Crisis stories were still canon and which ones weren't.

But I'm digressing…

In any case-- at Image Comics-- that's the reason that I can destroy the world in "Savage Dragon" and things are undisturbed in the pages of "Spawn" and why characters can age in one book, but not in others. No Crisis in the works-I swear. We're happy with the way things have played out.

Beauty, eh?

I'm not a big fan of coleslaw. If we go out to lunch and you want my coleslaw-- feel free to ask if you can have it. I'll slide it your way gladly.

I don't like to see food go to waste.

If I know coleslaw's coming, I'll often tell 'em beforehand to skip the coleslaw but hey, if you want it, lemme know. Far be it from me to stand between you and some coleslaw.

We don't all like the same stuff. If we did, life would be pretty darned dull and you'd all want to read my comics. Go buy your own comics, you freeloader-- and quit putting your muddy feet up on the coffee table while you're at it!

In any case-- there's that. There are things I've said on occasion which you might feel fly in the face of your beliefs or your taste and damn it, that's just fine! You might think all kinds of people are pissed off at me all the time! Well, they're not! Frankly, I get along with damned near everybody!

It's true!

Guys that you might think would want to flay me and have me roasted on an open spit are only too happy to pull up a stool and chew the fat when I run into them at a comic book convention! And why not? I'm a friendly guy! And there are even those who find the fact that I don't bullshit them refreshing! You'd be amazed how many people will just blow sunshine up your ass or tell you what they think you want to hear in this nutty biz! It's kind of nice to be able to talk to somebody and know that you're getting the straight poop-- their honest, unfiltered opinion.

I don't mind it myself.

Hell, we can all use some honest criticism from time to time. Nobody's perfect.

And that doesn't mean you should just badmouth people or cuss at them but a little frank exchange is not always an entirely unwelcome thing. Especially if you dole out a dash of reasons you feel that way. Saying something "sucks pipe" and letting it go at that? Not one bit insightful-- it's no help at all.

As an example-- over the years there have been a few people that have stopped reading my funnybook for whatever wrongheaded nitwit reason and I'm always eager to get an explanation of why they'd do such a thing and I appreciate an honest answer when I can get one (Which doesn't mean I need to hear all of your excuses right now-- I'm just sayin' that I'll often inquire to find out what went on). Similarly, I'm interested in hearing what folks thought of the latest issue-- good or bad.

I'm not a big fan of the vicious, hurtful, anonymous pinheads that go on message boards with the expressed purpose of stirring up shit, mind you. Those cowards can boil in oil for all I care, but an open exchange of opinions and ideas? I'm all about that!

At the end of the day, we all want the same thing-- better comics. And if you can help make my book better or can point out a terrific comic that I may not be reading-- by all means-- let's talk.

And if you run into me at a comic book convention, don't be a stranger. Chances are that we've got a lot in common (like opposable thumbs, for example, you can't imagine how useful I've found those puppies to be). If you've got a bone to pick or just want to try and figure out how to make sense of the Image Universe, pull up a stool.

Want some coleslaw?

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