Retcon / Comic Books

Any time a comic has on its cover the following phrase: "EVERYTHING YOU KNEW ABOUT [X] IS WRONG!", look out, Retcon incoming, full force.

DC

  • Superman:
    • His origin, early years, and powers have been revamped a ridiculous number of times just in "official" comic book continuity (and not counting in-story changes). Probably the most notable and drastic example took place in John Byrne's "Man of Steel," commissioned by DC in the 1980s to "clean up" the past several decades of Superman continuity by revamping his origin and the story of how he began his superhero career. Among other things, this retcon scaled back Superman's powers from the levels they had been inflated to (although they have since begun to creep back up a bit), re-established Superman as the only surviving Kryptonian (that one didn't stick either), and wiped out previous continuity in which Clark Kent had a hero career as a teenager in Smallville using the name Superboy, during which time he also befriended the young Lex Luthor.
    • One of the biggest things was the origins of Superman's powers. Originally his powers were inherently genetic because he was from a race of "supermen" — this can be found in the prologue of several Fleischer shorts. But after the horrors of World War II thoroughly discredited such fascination with eugenics, it was rewritten that his powers came from Earth's yellow sun.
    • That last retcon is also notable for completely borking the continuity of the Legion of Super-Heroes comic, since the eponymous Legion was introduced in the Silver Age as a group of thirtieth-century teenagers who were inspired to form their own "hero club" by stories of Superboy's exploits. The Legion's writers at the time tried to patch things up by, variously, establishing that Superboy had only existed in a pocket universe, killing off the pocket universe Superboy, revamping one-shot character Mon-El into a Superboy Expy, further rejiggering the timeline by having Mon-El kill the Time Trapper, and finally scrapping and rebooting the whole damn thing during the Zero Hour crossover in 1994. The Legion of Super-Heroes was then rebooted again in 2001, and then retconned again in 2007 back to a variant on the original continuity, with some adjustments. By this point, alternate timelines, retcons, and reboots are a fact of life for Legion fans.
    • Another major Superman retcon that most people don't know about is his attitude. Siegel and Shuster originally wrote him as very rough and aggressive. On one occasion he kidnapped a slumlord, trapped the man in one of his own shoddy buildings, and threatened to collapse the whole structure on top of the guy if he didn't promise to improve conditions for his tenants. He also "accidentally" snapped the neck of a wife beater. A far cry from the Big Blue Boy Scout we all know and love today. World War II shifted his priorities into patriotism and he became a champion for "Truth, Justice and the American Way". When the Comics Code Authority came into being in the early 50s, its restrictions on characters' behavior ensured Superman became really square.
  • Speaking of the Legion of Super-Heroes, another example that's pretty much like the Trope Picture is the Lightning siblings. Lightning Lad got his powers by being struck by the lightning of some monsters. Then it's revealed he has an older brother who was there as well! Then it's revealed he has a twin sister, who was also there!
  • Also happens to Superman's cousin, Supergirl. Not only have there been four separate versions, but the pre-New 52's version's history became so convoluted on its own that Sterling Gates just retconned it out in issue 35, to give her the simple story we all thought was true before. The reason for the massive continuity snarl around Supergirl is because of an editorial mandate that Superman be the only surviving Kryptonian when his own continuity was rewritten and simplified after Crisis on Infinite Earths. This caused obvious problems for Supergirl (which in turn broke the Legion of Super-Heroes, among other things, since it was heavily interconnected with her), and necessitated increasingly convoluted explanations until they finally just threw up their hands, admitted that casual readers would always assume she was Superman's surviving cousin regardless, and switched it back to that.
  • In another comic-book retcon, Batman is now known as a superhero who refuses to use a gun or to kill (well, most of the time). This was not true in the first year or so, although he didn't actually kill humans very often and most villains died from Karmic Death. See Pay Evil unto Evil. Another notable case concerns events in the story arc Hush. The titular villain appears revealed as long dead Robin Jason Todd, before he turns out to be an imposter (and not the real Hush, at that). Later, a retcon revises the story so that it was a resurrected Todd after all, but he escaped to be replaced by the imposter mid-battle.
  • The revamp of Firestorm in the late '80s when John Ostrander took over. This was the start of the idea of the "Firestorm Matrix," and culminated in the character going from nuclear man to fire elemental. Oh, and by the way, the nuclear power plant explosion that fused Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein? That was not just fate, not just a coincidence. You see, Stein was singled out to be the "true" Firestorm/Fire Elemental all along!
    • Which led to Ronnie and Mikhail Arkadin leaving the Matrix and Stein entering it to bring Firestorm to his "pure" form to fight the villain Brimstone. Raymond would later return as "classic" Firestorm in the '90s with Stein as Elemental Firestorm as a separate character. Then when Jason Rusch became Firestorm, Stein returned somehow in humanoid form.
  • Despite the fact that Cassandra Cain's entire upbringing was a never ending training from hell, she did love her father, and yet she ran away from him. The reason was that her first kill was the very first time she had witnessed death up close and due to her body reading abilities she thought it to be very, very, scary. Thus she found out her upbringing was evil. Now enter the last issue of Adam Beechen's mini series about her where it is revealed that she hated her dad all along, and that she had actually witnessed her father committing murder up close many times before her first kill.
  • A rather controversial retcon happened in the Green Lantern series. When DC wanted to reimagine the series, Hal Jordan (the Green Lantern) pulled a Face–Heel Turn and became a super-villain named Parallax, who killed all the other Green Lanterns. Then, he turned back to Face in time to sacrifice himself to save the world. After this, Hal was replaced by Kyle Rayner. Kyle brought an upswing in sales for the book for some time, but eventually DC decided to bring Hal back. In order to smooth over his Face Heel Turn with fans, it was revealed that he never was actually evil, he was possessed by a cosmic being of fear named Parallax.
    • This change was also another entry in the long list of retcons of the Green Lantern's "yellow weakness." First, Green Lantern was weak against the color yellow because of a necessary impurity in his power, then it was revealed that the restriction wasn't necessary at all, it was something artificial the Guardians imposed on the Green Lanterns to keep them from going power-crazy. When Kyle became the only Green Lantern, the yellow impurity was removed. In Green Lantern: Rebirth it was retconned so that the yellow impurity was caused by the alien entity Parallax being trapped inside the Central Power Battery that gave all the Green Lanterns their power, and Kyle didn't have the yellow weakness because Parallax had been set free by Hal. Since then, the current manifestation of "the yellow impurity" is that the Green Lantern can only use his power against the color yellow if he knows the (most current retconned) source of the yellow impurity, and consciously overcomes his fear.
  • A rather controversial retcon by the same author as the Green Lantern example was in The Flash: Rebirth. Barry Allen came back (which was fine) but now instead of the previous "Happy Family" he had, his father was accused of the murder of Allen's mother. Really it was Professor Zoom, who went back in time and killed Barry's mom to ruin Barry's life.
    • Another Flash Retcon involved Wally West asking Spectre to erase the memories of his identity from everyone on earth after the new Zoom tried to kill his wife. Spectre did this but left a loophole so that certain characters would remember everything when Wally took his mask off or put it on in front of them. His wife left him for a while, but came back at the end of the arc. Hilarious in Hindsight when you realize it did the same basic thing Brand New Day set out to do (Make their identities secret and make them single, not that the last part was a reason for doing the Flash arc) and did it better.
  • Deconstructed in Cary Bates and Greg Weisman's post-Crisis relaunch of Captain Atom for DC, in which the eponymous hero (Anti-Hero? Protagonist?) has one origin, which the military covers up, instead publicizing a "false" origin, which was Cap's pre-Crisis Charlton Comics origin. Later on, when Cap lost his powers temporarily, he wore the costumes that he had worn in the Silver Age, because, after all, the public in-story would be familiar with those costumes, having been told he used to wear them.
  • DC's 1991 event Armageddon 2001 turned out to be a huge mess at the end of the day (isn't it always?) and a major source of Character Development for one Hank Hall (Hawk of Hawk and Dove), which continued through Zero Hour until his death in the pages of the 2000s Justice Society of America relaunch. It also had the nasty effect of unceremoniously killing off the second Dove (Dawn Granger) in a cheap shock scene. However in the later pages of JSA, a big retcon by Geoff Johns would unfold: The woman who the JSA thought was a comatose Lyta Hall turned out to actually be Dove disguised by Mordru in some strange concealment spell (apparently they had to retcon Lyta to Dove at the time due to some issue with Vertigo too). The explanation of the retcon was quite convoluted and Squick: Monarch did not actually kill Dove, Mordru simply made an illusion to make Hawk think she was dead. Then Mordru possessed Hawk and made him rape the comatose yet still aware Dove, impregnating her with his child. So Dove was kept concealed and pregnant for who knows HOW long until she was found by the JSA, disguised as Lyta for some reason who was disguised as yet another woman, and yet she winds up strangely calm and relatively unaffected considering that she was raped and put into such a situation. And the baby? Wound up being a reincarnated Hector Hall. Not surprisingly, little reference has been made to exactly how Dawn cheated death ever since, she just did.
    • After her return, Dawn then mysteriously gained a younger sister named Holly, however this change was received even worse due to it contradicting various things in the '80s Hawk and Dove series, including Dawn being an only child and the powers being unable to pass on to anyone else. Unsurprisingly, Holly wound up becoming C-List Fodder down the line as it seems no writer could figure out what exactly to do with her or how to portray her.
  • Stephanie Brown died at the end of War Games as after she was tortured by Black Mask, Leslie Thompkins withheld vital medical treatment. Her autopsy photos were shown to prove the dangers of crime-fighting to Misfit. Batman never had a memorial case for her because "she was never really a Robin". This wasn't a very popular decision. Except she never died: Leslie faked everything because her secret identity was compromised, her body was switched with an overdose victim with a similar body type, and Batman knew this all along. Here's Shortpacked! on the last one.
  • As noted, DC's All-Star Squadron is the Trope Namer. A book in the '80s, set during World War II, introducing a never-before-mentioned over-arching superhero group. It filled in a LOT of gaps in the continuity of the time, picking up dangling threads and plot holes (Why didn't Spectre & Superman just end the War? for example), and reviving many long-forgotten characters. Writer Roy (& Dann) Thomas had to work a little harder when Crisis on Infinite Earths hit, but still continued with Young All-Stars.
  • The New 52:
    • Just a year in and they're already contradicting themselves. Teen Titans had Tim Drake mention his time as Robin and that there had been prior versions of the Titans. When the trade paperback came out, this was revised with Tim always being Red Robin (never regular Robin, though still Batman's sidekick), and omitting mentions of prior Titans.
    • The Titans were also originally referenced in the Batwoman series, with Flamebird claiming to have been part of the team and having fought Deathstroke. This dialogue also found itself edited when it came time for the trade paperback to be released.
    • The thing with Tim never having been a Robin was left in when it came to the trades collecting Batman, with the Bat-Computer specifically mentioning it. Oops.
  • Convergence: Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters retcons Plastic Man into being one of Earth-X's Freedom Fighters, when he'd never previously been a member note .
  • Black Canary naturally always had black hair, pre-Crisis and post-Crisis. She used to wear wigs but eventually just grew her hair out and dyed it. New 52 retconned her into being naturally blonde. Eventually that was retconned away, and Black Canary is back to bleaching her naturally black hair.
  • Captain Carrot has always operated under cartoon physics, but they were the burlesqued physics of Golden Age comics, not the outright Toon Physics of Looney Tunes as shown in The Multiversity. No previous incarnation of the character, even relatively recent ones, could possibly have survived decapitation.
  • During The Judas Contract arc of The New Teen Titans it was stated that Terra was doing everything by her own free will. In the 2000s, it was shown that Deathstroke had actually drugged her into behaving that way.
  • DC Rebirth has been this to the New 52 as a whole:
    • The Wally West introduced in the New 52, who has given a Race Lift, was revealed not to be the actual Wally, but one of Barry and Wally's relatives who was named the same.
    • The actual Wally? He'd been pulled into the Speed Force and is actually the original Wally.
    • The biggest change? The New 52 universe is actually the original universe, having been transformed by an entity implied to be Dr. Manhattan.
    • Superman Reborn furthered these changes:
      • Superman's origin and past exploits all mostly happened, thanks to the pre-Crisis and New 52 Superman and Lois Lanes merging. The events of Superman: Secret Origin, his 80s and 90s adventures, his marriage to Lois Lane and other things all happened. The New 52 adventures happened while Lois was pregnant with Jon Kent and Jon was born in the Fortress of Solitude, not the Flashpoint Batcave as established in Convergence. The events of Superman: Lois and Clark are explained as part of a sabbatical where Superman focused more on being a father than a hero, allowing Lex Luthor to become his own Superman.
      • As a consequence, all heroes have aged up, having been active for 15 years, not 5.

Marvel Comics

  • In Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel, Adam Brashear, the Blue Marvel, was established as being an active superhero since the 60's and 70's.
  • Agents of Atlas revealed that the Golden Age heroine Venus is, contrary to previous portrayals, not the goddess of the same name who had her own series and joined the Champions (in order to cut the knot of a particular Continuity Snarl). Aphrodite was not amused.
    • Agents of Atlas reveals the 1950's Marvel Boy, Robert Grayson, was an Uranian Eternal, brainwashed into believing he was Robert Grayson.
  • Age of Ultron and Original Sin reveals Angela was always part of the Marvel Universe, being Odin's first born, and the half-sister of Thor. The Nine Realms always had a tenth realm, Heven, that had been cut off from the world tree Yggdrasil.
  • Alias establishes Jessica Jones went to the same high school as Peter Parker, at the same time Peter was attending high school.
  • Alpha Flight
    • In Alpha Flight #12, James Hudson appears to die. He is resurrected in Alpha Flight #25, where it is revealed James Hudson was transported to Ganymede and is saved by the Q`wrrlln. In issue #26, this is shown to be a ruse made up by the android Delphine Courtney; John Byrne intended to point out the ridiculousness of superhero resurrection stories. Issues #87-90 reveal James Hudson really was transported there, and the events on Ganymede were no longer just a story.
    • During Bill Mantlo's run, Puck was revealed to have originally been a tall human whose height was reduced by the curse of the Black Raazer, so he was cured and remained active in his "normal" height for a while, and Northstar was revealed to be half fairy due to having a parent from Alfheim. Both of these details were eventually reversed and ignored. {Well, Northstar's origin turned out to be a lie cooked up by Loki, while the Master of the World restored Puck to his shorter yet youthful self. Then these revelations were never brought up again.)
  • The Avengers
    • Avengers 1959 establishes there was a 1959 Avengers team lead by Nick Fury, consisting of Dominic Fortune, Kraven the Hunter, Namora, Sabretooth, Silver Sable, and Ulysses Bloodstone.
    • Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes (2005) adds behind the scenes details to the early The Avengers stories that did not exist then, such as Captain America visiting the Vietnam War Memorial, or showing villains dealing out more destruction than in the original stories, such as the Black Knight Nathan Garrett firing on civilians instead of just spraying Adhesive X.
    • Avengers Forever was a retcon towards the reviled storyline The Crossing, which heavily derailed Iron Man's character. It was revealed that the mastermind behind the story was actually Immortus disguised as Kang in an off-the-rails attempt to distract the Avengers from preparing for Onslaught, which was one part of a possible timeline where humanity conquers the stars. Tony Stark was never evil from the beginning, but was being controlled by Immortus since Operation Galactic Storm. It was said to be brainwashed Fantastic Racism that went completely overboard. Various faces who turned evil throughout the story turned out to be Space Phantoms.
    • In Fantastic Four Annual #4, the Human Torch android was revived by the Mad Thinker to fight the Fantastic Four. In Avengers #133, Ultron reconstructed the Human Torch android to become the basis for the Vision. Avengers Forever reveals Immortus created and merged two timelines where both events happened. The Human Torch android body was still around, while the Vision still remained active as an Avenger. This allowed the Human Torch android and the Vision to both exist without causing a time paradox. The Human Torch android was revived later.
    • Avengers: The Origin gives a modern, broad strokes origin for the Avengers, replacing the Teen Brigade's ham radios with flatscreen computers.
    • In The Wedding of Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne, originally, a supervillian named Yellowjacket appears claiming he killed Hank to the Avengers, namely Hawkeye. He turns around and kidnaps Janet and after a Slap-Slap-Kiss moment she announces her intentions to marry him. It is made clear that by the end of the story line that Janet figured out it was actually Hank having a mental break from chemicals and adopting a new persona to cope. She saw this as her chance at happiness, which she ranted about Hank ruining due to his focus on work. They've attempted to retcon this story twice. Once, by having everyone on the Avengers forced to play along in order to help Hank cope during his mental break. The other time, Brian Michael Bendis made it so it was said to be an elaborate PR stunt with everyone of the Avengers in the know, and that it was to throw the media.
    • Mighty Avengers vol 2 #12 establishes there was a Mighty Avengers team during the 1970's.
  • Battle Scars establishes Nick Fury, Jr. is Nick Fury's son, and there is an Earth-616 Phil Coulson.
  • Black Panther vol. 4 retcons Klaw's origin, how T'Chaka was killed by Klaw, how T'Chaka fought Captain America, and how T'Challa and Storm first met each other.
  • Captain America
    • Avengers #4 establishes Captain America and Bucky went missing in action when a plane exploded in mid-air, but in the earlier Captain America Comics, they are still alive and continue having adventures past the date of the explosion. In What If? #4, taking place in regular continuity, it is explained the Captain America in those stories was William Nasland, the Spirit of '76, taking on the role of Captain America. Jeff Mace took on the role of Captain America, following the death of Nasland. Fred Davis took on the role of Bucky during both Nasland and Mace's career as Captain America. Nasland and Davis' post-war adventures, as part of the All-Winners Squad, was a continuation of the Invaders and the Liberty Legion.
    • Captain America #153-156 introduced the "Commie-Smasher" Cap of the 1950s, William Burnsidenote , and his Bucky, Jack Monroe, who'd taken up the mantle some time after Mace and Davis had retired. Burnside had discovered a Nazi copy of the Super Soldier Serum, and had himself surgically altered to resemble Steve Rogers, going so far as to legally changing his name to "become" Rogers. However, his imperfect serum drove him and Jack mad, causing the government to put them on ice until such a time as they could be cured. However, a far right-leaning low-level employee let them loose, where they fought the original Cap, The Falcon, and Agent 13. Burnside was later used by Doctor Faustus as the Grand Director of his neo-Nazi organization, the National Front, while Monroe was saved by S.H.I.E.L.D. and fixed up enough to become a hero in his own right, taking up the identity Nomad.
    • Captain America #218-220 explains Captain America did not end up immediately frozen in the Arctic Circle after falling into the English Channel, but first encountered General Dekker, and was then placed in suspended animation and frozen in the Artic Circle.
    • Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #6 reveals there was a Revolutionary War hero, Steven Rogers, who could be considered the first Captain America.
    • Captain America vol 4 suggests Captain America being frozen in the Arctic Circle was part of a plot by the U.S. Government to interfere with Captain America preventing the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This story has not been addressed since, and is probably Canon Discontinuity.
    • Captain America vol 5 establishes Bucky survived the plane explosion in the flashback in Avengers #4, and went on to become the Winter Soldier.
    • Dr. Erskine was originally named Prof. Reinstein. The name discrepancy was later reconciled with "Reinstein" being a code name used for the chief scientist of Project: Rebirth, which was passed on from Erksine after his death to the scientist who continued the project as shown in Truth: Red, White, and Black that produced Isaiah Bradley, the original "black Captain America".
    • Captain America's costume was even subject to a retcon! In his very first appearance in Captain America Comics #1, the red and white stripes at his waistline wrapped around his back, but from issue #2 onward through the short-lived "Commie-Smasher" revival in the 50s, the stripes were only present on the front of his costume, leaving his back solid blue save for the white star on his back. When Cap was revived in Avengers #4, the stripes wrapped around to his back again, and The Invaders (and other Cap stories set in WWII) would show that his costume was always this way, while Burnside's Cap uniform from the 50s had the solid blue back.
  • A pretty minor one, all things considered, but Frank Miller retconned what age Daredevil was when his father was killed. Originally, he was already in college. In Frank Miller's miniseries, Daredevil: The Man Without Fear, Matt is younger, and is instead in 12th grade. So instead of his father pressuring him to be important and Matt studying and then enrolling in law right before his father died, Matt was pressured to study and picked law... but didn't necessarily have to follow through, since he had already acted as a vigilante at the time and his father was dead.
  • Deadpool
    • Deadpool's Weapon X origin can be considered a retcon. He is not present in Weapon X stories published before his first appearance.
    • In issue #34, it is revealed that Deadpool is not actually Wade Wilson, but stole the identity from the man who would become T-Ray. This was later retconned in such a senseless, ham-handed way into a trick by T-Ray to mess with Deadpool's head that most fans didn't even remember it until it was restated in Cable & Deadpool.
  • While traveling backward in time in the 1973 Sise-Neg storyline, Doctor Strange paused in Ancient Egypt for a couple of panels to cast a spell that briefly changed the Thing back to human Ben Grimm, allowing him to escape from shackles designed for the Thing's massive wrists, escape, and begin the defeat of Rama-Tut by the Fantastic Four in FF #19. (In the original Lee/Kirby story, it was vaguely described as a result of the hot Egyptian sun).
  • A particularly controversial example was Steve Engelehart's retcon of The Falcon's origin in Captain America. When the Falcon first appeared, he was a kindly young social worker who became a superhero to help Cap fight off a group of exiled war criminals. Then Englehart came along and decided that before he put on a costume, the Falcon had actually been a violent, drug-dealing pimp who only became a hero because the Red Skull had brainwashed him in order to have a Mole in Cap's confidence. Enter Rick Remender, who retconned that retcon in All-New Captain America by revealing that Sam Wilson was always the social worker, but the Red Skull had put in the violent, drug-dealing pimp past in an attempt to discredit him, hoping that people would be racist enough to believe it.
  • Writers for Fantastic Four initially couldn't decide whether or not the title characters kept their identities secret through Clark Kenting. The retcon was a combination—they thought their identities were secret, and everyone else was humoring them.
  • Fantastic Four #357 reveals Alicia Masters was being impersonated by Lyja the Skrull since Fantastic Four #265.
  • In Generation X, the St. Croix sisters Claudette and Nicole are revealed to really be Monet St. Croix.
  • The character of Peter Quill aka Star-Lord has been subject to a number of different retcons in order to make his origin somewhat comprehensible in the wider Marvel Universe. The original Star-Lord stories took place 20 Minutes into the Future and possibly in an Alternate Universe, which was slightly reinforced in an Inhumans mini-series which established Star-Lord's father as part of the present day Marvel Universe, with the implication that Peter wasn't even born yet. This was thrown out the window during Annihilation, which tried to position Peter as part of the current Marvel Universe while keeping his original 70's origin. Finally, Brian Bendis just said "Screw it" and started over from scratch, establishing an entirely new (and more coherent) origin that contains bits of the various retcons, but firmly established Star-Lord as a present day Marvel character.
  • In The Illuminati, in-universe, the Illuminati were created after the Kree-Skrull war, of the 1970s. In the real world, they were introduced in the New Avengers, and their origin detailed before Civil War. In Jonathan Hickman's Avengers, Time Runs Out establishes the group's further activities.
  • Infinity and Inhumanity retcon parts of the prior Silent War mini-series, namely the bits about the Terrigen Mist being fatal to anyone without Inhuman lineage.
  • Iron Man
    • A minor one concerning the data books: When The All-New Iron Manual was released, the original Hulkbuster armor was classified as the "Model 14" armor, retconning it from being a modular piece of armor for the "Model 13" Modular Armor to its own set of armor. When the book was rereleased, the Hulkbuster was restored to being the modular piece of armor, which had the side effect of knocking down all armors after the Modular Armor down a model number.
    • Iron Man Vol 1 #267-268 originally retconned Iron Man's origin from him being in Southeast Asia to test a new weapon, to investigating problems at a new Stark Industries plant in the region, when he's injured by a mine and captured. It also tied his captor, the Communist Vietnamese warlord Wong-Chu, to the Mandarin.
    • Iron Man Vol 4 further changes Iron Man's origin as Stark fighting a group of Taliban terrorists in Afghanistan, instead of Stark travelling to Vietnam to rescue Ho Yinsen from Wong-Chu. Ho Yinsen dies in Afghanistan, instead of Vietnam, and his wife and son are later killed.
    • Iron Man Vol 5 reveals Tony Stark's long lost brother, Arno Stark, was born after Howard and Maria Stark agreed to allow their unborn child to undergo genetic modification from a Rigellian Recorder.
    • International Iron Man reveals Tony Stark's biological parents were two S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Amanda Armstrong and Jude. Thbbbbt.
  • Marvel: The Lost Generation is a twelve issue miniseries built entirely around retcon - specifically, filling in the blank in Marvel history from 1955 to 1961.
  • In Marvel Team-Up #74, the Silver Samurai acquired a teleportation ring from John Belushi, while other stories claim it was from Chris Farley.
  • The Marvel Comics Micronauts were inexplicably brought back to life in a 1996 issue of Cable. This was exactly ten years after they sacrificed themselves to create a Genesis effect that completely restored their ruined Homeworld into a new world at a natural state. In Cable, Homeworld is inhabited by Psycho-Man who is using Baron Karza's old body banks to create dog soldiers.
    • Commander Rann, Mari, and Bug are now the only Micronauts. For licensing reasons, they are now called The Microns; the others having died in war (Marvel no longer has the license to use Acroyear and most of the others. Huntarr's absence is baffling since he was created by Bill Mantlo, the writer of the first Micronauts series).
    • Homeworld is once again an overpopulated technometropolis and the Microns are freedom fighters. Homeworld is again under the iron fist of someone who probably has to remain unnamed due to licensing restrictions.
    • In a never released story (again due to licensing), Baron Karza and Thanos have a fight which merges all of the Microverses into one ,so now Sub-Atomica and Jarella's Homeword are now in the same dimension.
    • Rann and Mari's appearance and personality are different in every re-appearance. In Cable, Rann is buff and heroic looking while Mari's look screams butch lesbian. And she seemed to have given up the swords for normal futuristic weapons. Then Rann and Mari are looking like their old selves in Captain Marvel, although they don't do much more than talk (kind of like a typical episode of Star Trek TNG). In Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk Rann now sports a goatee and reading glasses. And unlike in Cable where Mari had about three lines between the two issues, she's back to her usual verbose self but now talks like an average Earth bimbo instead of a Homeworld Princess. And look at the man legs on her.
    • Bug is now a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy and for some reason, he's normal human sized and not about 3 inches which is normal when Microversians travel to the regular Earth universe. Rann and Mari (who is once again inexplicably letting others call her Marionette) have a robot sidekick named Carl (don't ask) and their latest enemy is Son of Hulk. They journey around the Microverse aboard the Endeavor III (which sports the most insanely stupidest ship design ever seen in print or screen: a giant atom). It looks as if someone really hated the deeper, more cerebral Micronauts: The New Voyages.
    • At least in the Marvel Universe this kind of things can be easily explained away thanks to their *infinite* number of alternate universes. It is entirely possible that the current Micros are just not the originals and that they're as confused as to whom they're dealing with as the heroes are.
  • As revealed in the 1980s title Monster Hunters, minor 1940s Marvel speedsters Hurricane and Mercury were both Makkari of The Eternals under assumed names.
  • In New Excalibur, it is revealed there were eight Black Knights preceding Sir Percy. There was also a World War I Black Knight, and a swashbuckling Black Knight.
  • In Original Sin, it turns out the real Dum Dum Dugan has been dead since 1966, and all subsequent appearances have been an LMD. And Tony Stark may have inadvertently been involved in the Hulk's creation. The Dum Dum retcon was retconned in New Avengers (2015) as that the real Dum Dum was Only Mostly Dead and that the LMDs he used were being controlled by his mind.
  • When Patsy Walker became Hellcat, the series Patsy Walker became in-universe fiction written by Patsy's mother.
  • The Punisher
    • In Frank's earlier appearances in Spider-man and Daredevil, Frank goes after people for jaywalking and littering. The Punisher 1986 miniseries retcons these stories as Frank being under the influence of mind-altering drugs.
    • Frank appears to put down his dog, Max, with a knife at the end of one issue. A later story and letters page claims Max survived, as Frank administered emergency medical procedures.
  • The origin of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch have been retconned a number of times. Originally, they were said to be the children of World War II heroes Whizzer and Miss America, only to be revealed years later that, instead, they were the children of Magneto. Flash forward to AXIS and a spell launched by the inverted Witch to harm those in her bloodline, only to have Magneto mostly unharmed, thus making him not their father. AXIS also had a retcon towards Venom - Eddie Brock's Start of Darkness was caused by him taking and publishing a confession by Emil Gregg, who confessed to being the serial killer Sin Eater. However, Eddie was discredited when Spider-Man captured and unmasked the Sin Eater and revealed that he was a completely different person and that Emil was a pathological liar. Flash forward to AXIS: Carnage to reveal that Emil was indeed the Sin Eater and that his lying habit essentially gave him an out.
  • The Rampaging Hulk stories were intially far out stories featuring the Hulk. In Incredible Hulk #269-287, it is revealed the stories were created as techno-art movies by Bereet the Krylorian. Similarly, an unpublished story by Steve Gerber would have retconned the Howard the Duck stories not written by Gerber as art made by the Krylorian Chireep.
  • Invoked intentionally in Secret Invasion, revealing Spider-Woman in New Avengers was a double agent, Queen Veranke of the Skrull Empire.
  • The Sentry has been around since the 60's. Don't remember? That's the point.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Infamously, The Clone Saga had to muck around with continuity so much (both because of its initial premise and because of the unholy mess it later became) that at one point they had to dedicate an entire special double-sized issue to retconning away a previous retcon.
    • Then, there's the Hobgoblin. The writer at the time he was first introduced, Roger Stern, set up this massive story about a replacement Goblin who was starting to meddle in the affairs of the Kingpin, among others. However, before Stern could reveal the identity, he left the title and the next writer said it was Ned Leeds, a go-to guy for wanna-be Goblins. Between the late 80s and the mid 90s, the role of the Hobgoblin fell to mercenary Jason Macendale, who was incredibly incompetent. Then, Stern returned for a three-issue mini-series devoted to finally clearing up the mystery of the Hobgoblin.
    • "The Final Chapter" reveals Aunt May, who died in The Amazing Spider-Man #400, was an actress hired by Norman Osborn.
    • Spider Man Chapter One would have introduced a modernized origin to replace the early issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, with the newer origin being included in The Amazing Spider-Man volume 2, but this decision was reversed after being met with fan outcry.
    • The stories "One More Day" and "Brand New Day" infamously altered twenty years worth of continuity by erasing Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson's marriage from continuity. This happened because Spider-Man saved his aunt's life by making a deal with Mephisto, a "demon" character typically used as the Marvel Universe stand-in for the Devil.
    • Black Cat was originally just a laidback adventuress, then Kevin Smith decided to retcon that she was a victim of rape and that her early adventures was a misplaced reaction to it. She was also arrested before and had her identity made public—yet her current Face–Heel Turn is based on Otto Octavius capturing her and her arrest making her identity public.
    • Untold Tales of Spider-Man adds in stories taking place during the time of the original stories.
    • Trouble attempted to redo the origin of Spider-Man by centering around a contemporary group of friends, Ben, May, Mary and Richard, with May having an affair with Richard, implying Peter was born to Aunt May. This has since been considered discontinuity.
    • Sins Past and Sins Remembered establishes Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy had a son and daughter, Gabriel Stacy and Sarah Stacy.
    • In Amazing Spider-Man vol 3 #1, it is revealed the same spider that bit Peter also bit Cindy Moon on her ankle, and she eventually became known as Silk. Tangled Web of Spider-Man #1-3 establishes Carl King, a bully, studied and ate the spider, and became The Thousand.
    • In Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, The Night Gwen Stacy Died is changed to reveal that, before the Goblin knocked her over, Gwen Stacy had woken up and heard Spidey call himself "Peter". She automatically hates both because of what happened to her father. In issue 4, however, when Peter finally confronts Gwen (or better, another clone with her last memoirs), she does say that she forgives him and, in a tie-in, she admits that she's still in love with Peter, but she feels betrayed by him being Spider-Man, though she understands why he does what he does.
  • Spider-Woman: Origin establishes Jessica Drew's powers come from being zapped while in her mother's womb by a laser containing the DNA of different species of spiders, instead of being caused by a spider-blood serum and genetic accelerator. Jessica's father Jonathan worked with HYDRA, Miles Warren and General Wyndham, instead of finding and funding research with uranium and working with Edgar Wyndham. Instead of the HYDRA agent Otto Vermis recruiting Jessica into HYDRA, Otto is retired and much older. Jessica is raised by Bova, appearing as a human, and Jessica learns martial arts from Taskmaster.
  • Truth: Red, White & Black establishes the super soldier serum was tested on black soldiers before being used on Steve Rogers, becoming a major point in the origin of Isaiah Bradley, Captain America, Josiah al hajj Saddiq, Justice, and Elijah Bradley, Patriot.
  • The fastest turnaround in retcon history may appear in Uncanny X-Men Annual #2. Serving as both a prequel and installment to Dark Reign, it does away with Namor being presented as a skeevy, smelly, creepy old man by turning the dialogue between him and Emma subtly flirtatious.
  • What If? #4, in an in-continuity story, reveals the creator of the Human Torch android, Phineas T. Horton, created a second android, Adam-II.
  • Wolverine
    • His claws originally appeared to be part of his glove, so the revelation that they were part of his body may or may not be considered a retcon. Later X-rays of his arms clearly showed that the claws were implants with mechanical housings and an extension/retraction mechanism. When it was later "revealed" that his claws were a natural part of his skeletal system, the conflict with the earlier x-rays was never mentioned. (This includes his original entry in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe.) Similarly, Wolverine's eternal rival Sabretooth first appeared in Iron Fist as a psychopathic human murderer who wore clawed gloves.
    • In his early X-Men appearances, Wolverine's skeleton was said to be reinforced with strips of adamantium. The current incarnation has the adamantium fused throughout his bones at a molecular level.
    • Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure implies Apocalypse was involved in the Weapon X program, and that Logan has a child in the Savage Land. This has not been addressed since.
    • Logan: Path of the Warlord is set during Logan's past in Jasmine Falls.
    • New X-Men revealed Weapon X was but one project of Weapon Plus, masterminded by John Sublime. The Super Soldier program that lead to the creation of Captain America, Project Rebirth, was also a project of Weapon Plus.
    • Wolverine: Origin establishes Wolverine's name is James Howlett, born in 19th Century Canada, from an affair by Elizabeth Howlett and Thomas Logan. Dog Logan is James' half-brother.
    • The backstory of Bucky Barnes as the Winter Soldier affected Logan's past by having the Winter Soldier introduce and kill Logan's love Itsu during a mission in Jasmine Falls during the 40's, establishing the backstory of Logan's son Daken. This would have lasting repercussions for Logan.
    • Wolverine volume 3 and 4, Wolverine: Origins, and Wolverine: Weapon X Files establish Romulus as the main villain who has been messing with Logan for most of his life, just as Wolverine's son, Daken, was retroactively introduced.
    • Wolverine's Expansion Pack Past has included Logan being part of D-Day during the Normandy invasion and the liberation of the Netherlands, a prisoner at one of the Nazi concentration camps who used Gaslighting against a series of the camp's directors until they were each Driven to Suicide, and being a prisoner in Nagasaki on the same day the atomic bomb was dropped.
    • Sabretooth Reborn reveals Romulus was lying about Logan's Lupine origin, M-Day didn't restore all of Logan's forgotten memories, and that Logan remembers he volunteered for the Project X/Weapon X program after defeating members of Department H.
  • X-Force
    • Samuel Guthrie, Cannonball, was revealed to be an immortal known as an External, and was recruited by Cable specifically to take down Apocalypse. After Selene defeated the Externals, she revealed Cannonball was not an External. In his own series, Cable went on to fight Apocalypse by himself, ignoring Cannonball's status as The Chosen One to take down Apocalypse.
    • Reignfire appeared in X-Force #26, and was intended to be Roberto da Costa from the future. But then it was explained that Reignfire was really the result of a scientist's experiment with a protoplasmic organism that used Roberto da Costa's genetic material as a template.
    • X-Force #46, #54, and #61 attempted to explain Shatterstar's true identity as another person named Benjamin Russell, but this plot point ended up as an Aborted Arc.
    • X-Force #102-105 reveals Pete Wisdom wears an eyepatch not because of an eye injury, but just to look cool.
  • X-Men
    • So that one team member wouldn't end up committing Genocide, Jean Grey was rewritten so that she was never Phoenix and she never died on The Moon. It was the Phoenix Force itself, who took on Jean's appearance and memories (Quasi-confirmed in a later issue of What If..? which showed what would have happened if "Jean" had had her powers stripped rather than committing suicide). Has been retconned several times since then, the latest version is that it was Jean on the Moon. How she ended up in Jamaica Bay a few years after that isn't accounted for. Plus becoming Phoenix in the first place was a retcon. Xavier basically went "Oh, she had this powerful other self in her the whole time, that I just sealed away."
    • From an X-Men fan-parody film on Magneto's retcon survival: "No, that was actually Xorn's twin brother possessed by the sentient mold Sublime, pretending to be me, pretending to be Xorn." As crazy as that sounds, the parody writer is not making that up.
      Beast: That defies all logic!
    • "Hey guys, there was a secret team of X-Men that I, Professor Xavier, sent off to their deaths. I really didn't mention it before because I thought that it would have been far too depressing for you guys, and because I am the biggest bastard on the planet. Now go on out there and save that world that both hates and fears us!" (X-Men: Deadly Genesis seemed like it was designed for the sole purpose of smearing Professor Xavier's reputation.)
    • Psylocke's Race Lift from a Caucasian British woman to a Japanese assassin was originally explained by Claremont as being the result of magic and surgery performed on her by Spiral and Mojo. After the title changed writers to Fabian Nicieza, he had not been aware of Claremont's explanation and introduced the character Revanche, who was said to be inhabiting Betsy's original body. In his version of events, Spiral and Mojo performed a body-swap on the two women, although he'd later state that their DNA and appearances became intermingled due to imperfections made in the swap. An initial earlier explanation by Nicieza had also stated that Kwannon had accidentally swapped her mind with Betsy after encountering her body on a beach, but this was retconned as false memories due to the inconsistency with what was shown when Betsy originally emerged from the Siege Perilous. note 
    • In the late 90's, when Chris Claremont once more began writing for the X-Men, the character Sage was retconned to being one of Xavier's original students, placed as a spy in the Hellfire Club under Sebastian Shaw.
    • For a long time Rogue's stripe of white hair was explicitly dyed however it was later retconned to be natural.
    • After Age of Apocalypse, it was revealed Dark Beast and Gambit were retroactively responsible for the Mutant Massacre.
    • Onslaught reveals Xavier's attack on Magneto during Fatal Attractions created Onslaught, and that the X-traitor message, that motivated Bishop to travel to the past, was caused by Professor Xavier becoming Onslaught.
    • The Twelve revisits the The Twelve storyline introduced in X-Factor, but the list of twelve mutants has been changed from the original story.
    • X-Men: The Hidden Years adds stories to the original run, and includes cameos by The Lost Generation's First Line. Professor Xavier and the X-Men and X-Men: First Class also add in stories during the original series leading up to Giant-Size X-Men.
    • Adventures of the X-Men #12 reveals this particular 90's X-men inspired reality is the precursor to Earth-616. Because M'Kraan Crystal.
    • New X-Men reveals Charles Xavier had a sister, a Mummudrai spirit taking physical form that became stillborn, surviving to become Cassandra Nova. It's also established mutants can have a secondary mutation, such as Emma's diamond form.
    • Chuck Austen's run, including The Draco, establishes Nightcrawler and Angel are the descendants of the Neyaphem and Cheyarafim, with Azazel being Nightcrawler's father. Also, Angel's blood has the power to heal.
    • Uncanny X-Men #435 reveals the She-Hulk that slept with the Juggernaut was a tourist from Earth-721, known as Earth-A.
    • Magneto Testament establishes Magneto's real name as Max Eisenhardt, with Erik Lehnsherr being an alias.
    • In First X-Men, Logan helps Charles Xavier form the X-men, establishing the Astonishing X-Men era mansion. Logan's team consists of Sabretooth, and the newly introduced Bomb, Holo, Meteor, Scout, Shadowshift, and Yeti.
    • X-Men: Giant-Size reveals shortly after their first mission, the X-men encountered the Evolutionaries.
  • The Young Allies series was established as a war-time comic filled with stereotypical depictions of the team, especially Whitewash Jones, whose real name is Washington Carver Jones, in Young Allies Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1.

Other

  • Star Wars: Jedi vs. Sith is basically an official Fix Fic that fits together disparate elements from the Prequel trilogy that conflict with the original trilogy (1,000 years vs. 1,000 generations for the Republic), elements from the Prequel trilogy that conflict with each other, the Valley of the Jedi from Dark Forces: Jedi Knight, some novellas that were in part themselves retcons for the Dark Forces saga, among other things.
  • In the Disney Comics, The Phantom Blot's identity was retconned to be a complete mystery. In the first issue he appeared in, not only was his face seen, but his face resembled Walt Disney. Arguably, this was a good decision, giving the Blot an air of mystery.
  • When the 3.75" G.I. Joe figures first sold, G.I. Joe was envisaged as an American anti-terrorist task force. When they were made available in the UK, they were sold under the name Action Force. They were accompanied by a comic of the same name which established that Action Force was an international anti-terrorist organisation, of which G.I. Joe was the name of the American branch (and to which Action Force would also change its name later on).
  • In the Flemish "De Rode Ridder" series, based on a series of books of the same name, album 131 provided a retcon of the meaning of the title: for about 64 books and 130 comic albums, it had been thought that the title referred to the nickname of Johan the protagonist "The Red Knight", based on his red tunic, 130 revealed that actually Johan was the "Rode" Knight because he belonged to the family of the historical(!) Lords of Rode.
  • The French comic series Dungeon: The Early Years provides one of the best Retcons ever so far. In the very first issue of this Funny Animal gritty comic, the Dungeon Keeper has a look at a picture of his lost love who looks human. Then, in a prequel album, we see her alive under the traits of a snake. Then the authors showed a portrait painter picturing a bird lady as a human and explaining "it's a style that people like these days".
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW). Originally, Nightmare Moon was portrayed to be a Superpowered Evil Side of Princess Luna, then the comic changes it so that Nightmare Moon was the product of the Nightmare forces possessing Luna, though this retcon is based on a Word of God from Lauren Faust saying that Nightmare Moon was brought about via an force separate from Luna.
  • Geoffery St. John of Sonic the Hedgehog was retconned from the son of the king's guard who hated Overlanders for killing his father to the son of the king's guard who partnered himself up with Ixis Naugus in an attempt to free him and overthrow King Acorn for allowing this to happen. It also retconned his choice of people for King Acorn's Secret Service from "the best people for the job" to "people with questionable pasts that he could pin the blame on should he get caught". It's said that he genuinely loved Hershey the Cat, married her and abandoned the plan, but when she was killed off-screen, it pushed him into the Despair Event Horizon and back into the plan.
    • Sally's various hair/fur coloring was retconned to her falling into a vat of chemicals and subsequent washings changing the colors.
    • Following a Time Skip, Antoine seemingly Took a Level in Jerkass as he was shown to be massively cold towards his then-former Love Interest Bunnie Rabbot. It was later revealed that he was actually his Alternate Universe Evil Twin Patch and that the real Antoine was in his universe.
  • Issue #40 of The Powerpuff Girls (DC run) bore the title "Everything You Know About The Powerpuff Girls Is Wrong," but this is subverted as it is merely a class assignment to invent origin stories about the girls, using the origins of Superman, Spiderman and the Fantastic Four as parallels.
  • Both Moose's given name and surname have changed various times in Archie Comics.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Retcon/ComicBooks