Upon reading ‘Original Sin #0’, this week’s Dueling Review comic, I found myself annoyed that Marvel had decided to give Uatu the Watcher, of all people, a driven-by-the-loss-of-a-parent Batman origin (although, to be fair, bits of the story presented had already been told in ‘Strange Tales’ years ago.)  As the impassive recorder of all that happens in the Marvel Multiverse, I was perfectly happy with Uatu being a distant, mysterious alien creature whose motives and feelings were generally unknown, as long as one doesn’t count the 400 or so times he’s interfered in Earth matters.  Of course, given that recent years have had the Watcher punched out by the Red Hulk, teamed up with Deadpool and openly mocked by the Dreaming Celestial, I suppose that this is technically a step up for Earth’s Watcher.  As much as I hated the era of comics where everyone was a mysterious, feral, brooding man-beast (known colloquially as ‘The Nineties’), I also hate the idea that any and all secrets need to be laid bare, spelunked and over-explained, which leads to today’s query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) is resigned to the fact that much of modern comic publishing is about “doing the unthinkable”, as seen in the resurrection of Bucky, Superman and Wonder Woman’s relationship and the big Wolverine reveal, asking: Does every single element of a story need to be fully explained, or are you okay with not knowing all the answers in your pop-culture?


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 found this really in play when I started looking into creepypastas – not knowing is frequently way more rewarding than any half-baked explanation, because then you’re left to ponder. Using that example, I found that “lost episode” stories where there’s an explanation given for why the series in question had a horrifying show that couldn’t be aired (i.e. “Dead Bart”) are way less satisfying where everyone involved has no idea where the show just appears to terrify everyone with no known reason (i.e. “Squidward’s Suicide”). The explanations are exactly what it takes to finally snap the suspension of disbelief by trying & failing to apply logic to something that’s supposed to just… exist. Not everything needs to be a mystery, but over-explaining is more frustrating than teasing out a half-baked mystery.

  2. Starks Scraps on

    I was never a huge fan of Wolverine but as more and more of his backstory started coming out I started liking him less and less. I think there are a slew of characters that are made more enjoyable because we don’t know much about them. If we look at the pocketed pink energy wielding knee pad wearing relic of the 90s that is Gambit, we will find that the more of a story they gave him the less enjoyable he became. I think there are characters that need to stay enigmatic because that is a part of their charm. That being said, I don’t think every one of those characters should be Rob’s template for a Critical Hit character. I kid!

    • SmarkingOut Adam on

      I respectfully couldn’t disagree more about the Gambit thing. I found his latest “solo title” run to be among my favorites that I was reading during its run. I also preferred to know more of Wolverine’s backstory. In fact, it was that backstory that got my wife into the X-Men as much as she is into anything Marvel. (She’s more into Batman.) I like characters to be explored. I enjoy knowing why they are the way they are–what keeps them from being a series of random actions. Of course, throw a few writers with different interpretations of the character into the mix and you have a mess no matter what.

  3. I think one of the best examples of a movie that let’s us fill in a lot of blanks is the Fifth Element. There is no explanation about the excess garbage at the spaceport, what the creatures that the techs have to burn off the ship are, why the great evil ball is dumping Hershey’s syrup on people’s heads, etc…

    And I think it makes for a better story. So my answer is No it doesn’t.

  4. We did not need to know how Indy got his hat or the scar on his chin (Last Crusade), nor did we need to know how Young Sherlock Holmes got his deer stalker and pipe.
    Sometimes, less is more.

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