Some of you may be old enough to remember the prime time soap, Dallas. Everyone remembers the famous tagline of ‘Who shot J.R.?’ but Dallas was also famous for a cosmic do-over. During the beginning of their third season, Pamela Ewing woke up to find her husband Bobby taking a shower. This simple encounter completely negated the previous season where Bobby had been shot and killed. The entire season had just been Pamela’s bad dream.
Daytime soaps have done this to varying degrees. Speaking with my dad, a lifelong Days of Our Lives fan, he told me of one great example of where entire plotlines were undone. Days had had more than their fair share of serial killers. One of them, by the name of the Salem Stalker had caused so much chaos that the viewers protested. Not only did the writer, James E. Reilly kill off beloved characters in ridiculous fashion, he had written series favorite Marlena as the killer. One theory had the producers, due to the viewer outcry, insist Reilly undo it all. All of the victims ended up alive on the island Melaswen. No one had been killed, not even Marlena. It had all been an elaborate scheme with hypnotism and doppelgangers.
That was one of the best examples of a cosmic do-over in soap operas. Honestly, soaps are limited in the degree that they can pull of a do-over. The characters are portrayed by live actors who do things like have lives and age. If a story line is going to be undone, it usually has to be undone in a short period of time, like a year or in television terms, a season.
Comic books don’t have such a restriction. When they perform a cosmic do-over, it can truly be cosmic, on a universal scale. When comics do them, they are often called reboots. DC Comics is rebooting right now in a storyline spanning multiple titles called Rebirth. The entire DC Comics universe is starting from scratch, and this is not the first time. They had done a full reboot only a few years before with the New 52. Why would they reboot so frequently? To draw in new readers. No one wants to start in the middle of a story. A reboot gives readers a chance to start reading at the first issue with a retelling of a character’s origin story.
I suppose the real question is, does it work?
Marvel Comics had done a sort of reboot with the aftermath of the recent Secret Wars. Part of the reasoning behind this was an effort to make the comic universe resemble the Marvel movie universe. They kept the characters they wanted and made some of them simply not exist anymore. Marvel had done smaller reboots, to fix minor reality injustices. One of them came about as a result of the ending of the “House of M”. While trying to repair twists in reality caused by the insane Scarlet Witch rewriting the universe, the character of Carol Danvers, aka Ms. Marvel made a triumphant return to Marvel comics after an absence of practically decades.
Carol Danvers is now Captain Marvel and is on the side opposite of Iron Man in Marvel Comics’ Civil War 2. She also is supposed to have her theatrical debut in her own movie in the next couple of years.
Where was Carol Danvers and why did she need to be brought back? Anyone who has an extensive knowledge of the Marvel Comics Universe and who knows the history of the X-men’s Rogue will remember what happened to Carol Danvers. I’ll talk about that in my next blog when I tackle the subject of split personalities in comics and soap operas.