As a child, I was often kept out of the adults’ hair by being distracted with a steady stream of cartoons, including the adventures of the Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Dangermouse.  (Jem was an occasional guilty pleasure, due to my crush on hottie keyboard player Kimber, but I never admitted to watching that show.)  After the moderate success of the Transformers animated movie, the creators of the cartoon bumped their continuity forward in time to match the series future setting, the far-flung year of 2005!  Unfortunately, they also chose to undo the movie’s most dramatic moment, bringing Optimus Prime back to life and demoting his successor Rodimus back down to Hot Rod.  It seemed like a waste of good character development to me, but it seems that the reversal of legacy characters to restore the original is now the rule rather than the exception.

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) expects that the long-term comics fans might have something to say about this one *coughwallywestcough*: What’s your most disappointing example of reversed character development?


About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. I’m going to have to go with the New 52 Superman. For a year and a half now, he is a man without an identity. They relaunched the character and stripped away his supporting cast with (apparently) no idea how important those characters were to Superman. Without his parents guiding him and grounding him and without Lois challenging him, who is Clark Kent? Who is Superman? What role does he now play in the DC Universe?

    Sixteen months ago, I could have told you. Anyone could have told you. But now, not even DC seems to know. They’ve taken a character who people have often complained is unrelatable and somehow managed to make him more foreign and alien.

  2. Without a doubt, it’s the new 52 version of Batgirl. It pained me greatly to see Barbara Gordon, who had persevered through becoming disabled to become Oracle, Batman’s right hand woman that kept everything flowing in the background. She was smart, wise and someone you wanted on your side. Now, she’s basically (from the few issues I read of the new) a silly, bubbly college-age girl. Turned from smart, strong woman to sex symbol again. Not happy at all with that.

    • I disagree whole-heartedly about the current state of Barbara Gordon. I’ve read every issue of the new series, and she’s anything but bubbly or silly. She’s still smart and resourceful, a bit unsure of herself and paranoid, both about her physical condition and the safety of those around her. She’s passionate and yet emotionally withdrawn. Gail Simone’s really done wonders with what she was handed in the wake of the reboot.

      However, I will agree 100% that undoing everything that’s happened to her since “The Killing Joke” is one of the worst things ever done in the history of the written word. Batgirl may be the best book in the New 52, but the fact that it exists at the expense of 25 years of phenomenal character growth will never allow it to be anything but bittersweet.

  3. Damian Wayne and Dick Grayson. In the pre-New 52 Batman and Robin book, these two had developed a great relationship and both fully accepted their roles in the Bat-world, even with Bruce back and two Batmen running around. Dick back as Nightwing was a demotion and the idea he wanted out of the Bat-suit felt wrong, but was handled decently. The Batman and Robin book from the New 52 felt identical to the previous incarnation’s beginning except that Batman was a dick. Damian had been reduced back down to a suspected killer and he hasn’t gotten much development since then.

    I miss Wally West.

    Xander in the Buffy series feels a bit like this after his declaration of no longer being the Butt Monkey ( ) proceeds to continue being the Butt Monkey shortly there after until late in the series and becoming a Badass in the comics.

  4. Got to go with the Prime example used at the start of this question. The death of Optimus Prime and creation of Rodimus Prime was a major turning point in my first few years of a comic geek. I was fourtunate to be living in the UK when Transformers The Movie hit and didn’t see the post movie cartoons featuring the return of Optimus Prime until several years later
    . I was a big fan of the Marvel UK run of Transformers that took place after the movie which focused on Rodimus Prime and his doubts of leadership, whilst introducing Death’s Head and gave a fantastic origin of the robots in disguise that was subsequently overwriten by a cartoon that stated the Quintersons and a space hobbit were responsible for the creation of the warrior robots. This is where I follow Matthew’s advice: F’ cartoon continuity, UK comic continuity is where it’s at.

    • But in the UK version of the film, they had a voice over at the end declaring that Optimus Prime would return, so it kind of ruined the development of Hot Rod/Rodimus before the credits even rolled.

  5. I agree with the whole Hot Rod/Rodimus Prime thing too *looks fondly at my Rodimus Prime action figure*. Then again, I personally follow a composite continuity made up of some of the cartoons, the UK comics and the Japanese materials (and the comics from a few years ago that showed a Transformers multiverse inhabited by various incarnations as different timelines).

    Maybe not quite the same, but I was quite disappointed at the whole idea of bringing back Hal Jordan and a lot of other “dead” GLs when the GL Corps came back. I had really enjoyed Kyle’s time and was enjoying the idea that a new Corps would be populated over time. Nope, they almost rubber-banded back to how things were before Kyle’s time.

  6. Pretty much the entirety of DC Comics. Specifically when it came to Wally West, Kyle Rayner, Connor Hawke, Tempest, Donna Troy, Ryan Choi. and to some degree Dick Grayson.

  7. Sam in Baltimore on

    The speculative character reversal of Buffy Summers. There was talk of the original movie makers plan to reboot Buffy ignoring everything Mr. Whedon did with her throughout the run of his show. This in my mind would be nigh the worst retcon of a character ever.

  8. I have two:
    DC took Ted Kord and moved him into the JLA/LI where he was just comic relief and a pilot. They even moved in Kilowog to take his techie role from him. They only two instances that come to my pre-coffee mind that showcase his true talents post-his own series were the time he was hypnotized to kill Max Lord and his final appearance in Countdown.

    When Marvel began to purge their innocent characters–I am looking at you, Penance. In the first New Warriors book they gradually built Speedball into a deeper character with a growing personality and control of his powers and turned him years later into an emo laughing stock.

  9. That would be the John Byrne reboot/relanch of Superman in the 70s. Admittedly, by the end of the Kurt Swan era, Superman was as stale as a 50 year old loaf of Wonderbread, so I was looking for great things. Instead, all we got was window dressing. Morgan Edge instead of Perry White, Galaxy Broadcasting instead of the Daily Planet, Cat Grant instead of Lois Lane. It was as if they took all the black checkers off the board and replaced them with red checkers and said “See, no more checkers!” They dialed Supes powers back a little, but within a few issues he was back to pushing planets around with his bare hands, etc. None of the new characters were even likeable, and one of the reasons Superman lasted so long was that they had an endearing supporting cast – Lois the lovesick, risk taking nitwit, Jimmy the hero-worshiping kid, Perry White and Pa Kent who alternated the role of father figure for Clark/Superman, etc. and replacing them with unlikeable substitutes was a bad idea. Notice that few of these “new and modern” characters are still around in the comic today. The writers of the 70s Superman reboot got “different” confused with “good”. Happily, the Batman reboot of the same vintage was done right. That one cover with Batman laying on the ground, Ras Al Gul standing over his body, with a sword (apparently) sticking out of Batman’s chest said it all, and still gives me the willies. I didn’t even mind that it was revealed to be a trick of perspective – the sword was really just sticking in the ground beside old Bats and wasn’t embedded in his chest. The new dark and gritty Batman was a welcome relief from the 60’s camp era.

    • John Byrne’s relaunch was in 1986. Sounds like you’re discussing the reboot done by Julie Schwartz and Denny O’Neil, circa Superman #233 circa 1971 (which, incidentally, sounds remarkably like a good place for a Retro Review.)

      And Curt Swan was still the artist during that revamp, if I recall correctly.

Leave A Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.