10. Countdown Never Happened
What do you mean this isn’t a retcon? It was called Countdown to Final Crisis, Final Crisis barely acknowledged it, and DC has done a good job of forgetting it. Donna Troy, Kyle Rayner, Ray Palmer, and Forager become the Challengers From Beyond….which means Donna went back to the Titans (and later the JLA), Kyle went back to the Green Lantern Corps (to sex up Sinestro’s daughter), and Ray Palmer became the Atom again…..Forager was never referenced again. We also had Captain Atom’s villainous turn as Monarch where he made an army to conquer the multiverse and nothing happened! But hey, he’s Captain Atom again in DC and it’s like nothing happened! This entire book is retcon city!
9. Madrox Survives His Own Legacy
You might not think about this with the success of the current X-Factor book, where Jamie Madrox runs a private investigations firm, but in X-Factor #100 back in 1994, Jamie Madrox died of the Legacy Virus. He had become infected while administering CPR to a Genoshan Mutate, and spent his final days split across three bodies. The woman known as Haven attempted to cure him, but Jamie died. A few years later he was found alive, the virus being contained to the body of a single one of his dupes, but the shock leaving him with amnesia. It didn’t matter how they brought him back, it was just good to have him. And considering how awesome the current X-Factor book is, it was a good call.
8. The Story Of Iris Allen
Iris is best known for her familial ties to three characters; she’s the wife of Barry Allen, she’s the aunt of Wally West, and the grandmother of Bart Allen. Three Flash’s, two current, one former. Two Kid Flash’s, one current, one former. She’s the matriarch of that entire family of heroes, and she was killed back in 1979 when Barry’s arch enemy vibrated his fingers into her brain. Iris was dead, and Barry went through a depression before attempting to move on with his life, finding love again, only to have Zoom try and kill her too. Barry stopped Zoom, killing him in the process, and standing trial for manslaughter because of it. That’s when we found out Iris wasn’t dead, that she was from the future and her parents saved her soul and cloned her a new body there. Barry was acquitted and ran off to the future to be with her, staying only a few short months before dieing in the Crisis. Iris went on to give birth to his children, who then sired his grandchildren Bart (Impulse/Kid Flash) and Jenni (X-S from the Legion). Her return to the present brought Bart back, giving us the modern teenage speedster of the Allen line, as well as granting a much needed matriarchal figure into the life of her nephew, Wally West. Barry is back now too, and Iris is still hanging around, holding their family together. She’s also younger now too, but I think that’s Barry’s fault.
7. Welcome Back Harry!
I don’t, nor have I, read Spider-Man on a regular basis since One More Day, nor do I intend to. It was one giant retcon after another, and for the most part, they bugged me. However, the one I did agree with was the return of Peter’s best friend, Harry Osborn. I can’t claim to know how, or what’s going on with it, but the principle of it is enough for me to give it this spot. Marvel claims that Peter can’t be married or have kids because it ages him too much for us to relate to him. So totally not true. You know what really ages him? Being married without any friends. Spider-Man lost his relatability when we, the readers, realized that he had no one to relate to in his own life save for his wife. Having a friend like Harry, whether he knows or doesn’t know that Pete is Spidey, it adds a much missed level to the character, because after all, while we might not all be married, everyone has a best friend.
6. Clones, Clones, and More Clones!
It was 1974 when Spider-Man fought his clone, a creation of the Jackal. And it was 1973 when Spider-Man left the presumed dead clone in a smokestack, and proceeds to move on with his life. It was 1994 when the clone returned, and Ben Reilly was truly born. But him simply not being dead wasn’t the retcon, no, the retcon was that Ben was the one true Spider-Man. He was created to take the angst out of Spider-Man, as it had been accumulating in mass amounts over the past several years leading into the Saga. Ben was going to provide them with an unmarried Spider-Man who cracked jokes and had fun, and it would save them the effort of finding a way out of having MJ. Now admittedly, Marvel choked, and Ben wound up dead and Peter wound up married for another 12 years until One More Day, but the fact is they tried, and we got Ben Reilly (and to an extent Spider-Girl) out of it.
5. Green Lantern: Rebirth
I’m the guy who wrote a topic called “Rebirth Retcons: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Just Blame Johns”, and yet I’m putting this on the top retcons list. How the hell does that work? Because Johns took a franchise that had been given more then a few failed attempted reboots and he did what he could to take it back to its core. Sure, Parallax being a yellow fear demon bothered the crap out of me for a bit, but the destination made the turbulent ride worthwhile. Johns was right about a few things, like how Hal didn’t need the random DUI arrest and subsequent breaking out of jail nightly to train, or how those hillbillies who stole the GL rings to make beer and chainsaws should have never happened. He rebirthed the mythos and made them special again, it just took the chopping block to do so.
4. Jean Is Not The Phoenix
Few retcons are more notorious then the revelation that Phoenix was never Jean Grey, rather she just inhabited a body that was more or less a clone of Jean while Jean healed in a cocoon. Sloppy? Yup. Payoff? Yup. It might not have seemed it at the time, but the X books needed Jean back. Sure, Marvel could have gone ahead and retired Cyclops like they planned, but what we got out of Louise Simonsons X-Factor was so much better. Not to mention that she was granted another almost eighteen years of life, which included her marriage to Scott, her channeling of the Phoenix force on quite a few occasions, and all kinds of other awesome. Not to mention that it has created an aura around the character that leaves fans to this day wondering when she’ll be back the next time.
3. Norman Osborn
At the time few would have expected a bigger retcon then the already retconned in return of the Spider-Clone, Ben Reilly. I mean, how much more could they do like that? Well, you needed a villain for your Clone Saga, and Marvel actually was leaning towards the recently deceased Harry Osborn. I’m not sure how close to the wire they were when the swap was pulled, and Norman got the go ahead to stop being worm food instead of his son Harry, but it was an inspired choice that definitely has shown a lot of payoff fourteen years later. After all, Dark Reign never would have come to pass had Stormin’ Norman not gotten the rez here.
2. Man of Steel
I’m not a John Byrne fan, and I’ve never said otherwise. That said, his post Crisis reboot of all things Superman, the aptly named Man of Steel, reintroduced Superman to the modern era. Sure, there were missteps like eliminating Superboy (thus damning the Legion to a giant continuity hole), and I was never a huge fan of the Birthing Matrix, but that doesn’t change that Byrne’s reboot held strong for over twenty years, even holding strong over another attempted reboot (Birthright). To many fans, his rendition IS Superman.
1. Winter Soldier
They used to say that only four things in comics were constant, only four. Bucky Barnes, Uncle Ben, Gwen Stacy, and Jason Todd were all dead. By used to say this, I mean that this was being said five years ago. Now….well, Gwen and Ben are still dead! Bringing back Bucky could easily have been tons of dynamite blowing up in the collective faces of Marvel creative, the fan backlash could have been murder to the franchise of Captain America, but they were smart. They got Ed Brubaker to pen a story that not only explained Bucky’s return without pissing on the continuity, but it allowed him to take Cap’s old partner and reintroduce him to the Marvel Universe as a viable character. How successful was that? Well, he’s Captain America now, so I’d call it a great success.