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The Artifact / Comic Books

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Other Comics

  • Archie Comics:
    • Jughead's beanie. Back in the forties it was quite common for kids to take old fedora hats and cut them into these crowns, and a boy Jughead's age wearing one basically meant he was a bit immature. Nowadays it's a one-of-a-kind trademark. Even the more modern Archie Comics (2015) reboot keeps it, though at least it showed that Jughead wore a fedora before his family went from Riches to Rags.
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    • This was played straight for the longest time with Archie's 1916 Ford Model T jalopy, but finally averted in issue #238 of Life with Archie: The Married Life when his jalopy is permanently destroyed and replaced with the more modern Ford Mustang (that's still a piece of crap).
    • Pop Tate's Choklit Shoppe, a soda shop, has been lampshaded as a hopeless anachronism for decades. There have been attempts to update it such as remodeling it as a independent fast food joint in the 1970s/80s and a internet cafe in the 1990s.
  • The most oddball example has to be Super Duck. He started out as a superhero, as his name suggests, but after three issues, he became a lederhosen-wearing average duck sharing misadventures with his nephew Fauntleroy and girlfirend Uwanna, all while still going by the name "Super Duck". A short-lived revival in The '90s restored him back to "the Cockeyed Wonder" he was originally intended to be. But when he returned again in 'A Night at the Comic Book Shop', he reverted back to the lederhosen-wearing average duck depiction.
  • Spirou and Fantasio:
    • Spirou wears the costume (or at least nowadays the hat) of a hotel groom / elevator operator. The costume is painfully out of date, but so integral to the character, even when he's wearing more modern attire, pieces of it keep showing up (usually the hat).
    • Spoofed in Le Petit Spirou, where he wears it as a young boy. So do his mom and dad. It's a family tradition.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics):
    • This started to happen with the Freedom Fighters in Archie's Sonic The Hedgehog series. In fact, for a time, they'd been dropped almost entirely while the comic focused on Sonic and Tails during their World Tour arc. Other characters seemed to fade from prominence and exit the story entirely, but the Freedom Fighters seemed to cling on because they were there from the beginning. However, with Ian Flynn taking over as writer, a lot of the artifact characters are getting repurposed, given expanded roles and more nuance.
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    • Another artifact was the series' focus on the rebel war between the Freedom Fighters and Dr. Robotnik. Though Robotnik was defeated in issue #50, 25 issues later, the series hit its inevitable Snap Back with the good doctor's return. Over a hundred issues later? Robotnik's empire is in ruins after a series of numerous defeats. By then, he isn't even the master of it anymore, having gone insane and deposed by his nephew Snively and his new gal-pal, the Iron Queen.
    • As a result of being a long-running title, many of its elements, characters and settings in are remnants of the American Sonic media and lore from back when the comic originated. For instance, being originally based on Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM), the comic was said to take place on Mobius, just like the DiC Sonic cartoons from back then. And some elements and names come from the early American continuity from the games. These days the 's games follow the original Japanese continuity worldwide, which resulted in some of these elements being scrapped. Archie has generally tried to keep up with the games (ie: renaming Floating Island to Angel Island, making the characters closer the their game incarnations, etc.), but as they can't move the whole cast to another planet, the comics were (until a Cosmic Retcon did away with it) the only adaptation that still used Mobius. Similarly, many characters that are still featured in the title (the aforementioned Freedom Fighters being the most notable and prominent ones) come from the DiC Sonic cartoons from back then and, as the comic became closer to the games, they felt increasingly out of place.
    • Sonic's romance with Sally (and several other female characters) is an artifact from prior to Sonic being established as a Celibate Hero in the games. In the games, Sonic avoids romance and his relationships with girls are limited to only occasional Ship Tease. However, by the time this was revealed the comics had already given him a girlfriend as well as a few other love interests. Sonic stayed flirtatious until the Cosmic Retcon, which reversed his relationship with Sally to strictly platonic.
    • For most of the run, the characters ages matched the ages given in SatAM and other western media. They couldn't be changed without a retcon, so they stayed that way until the Cosmic Retcon. Thus, Tails was ten-going-on-eleven instead of his standard age of eight. This created trouble with Charmy. The American manual for Knuckles Chaotix listed him as a teenager so the comics made him a teen with a girlfriend. Sonic Heroes finally gave Charmy an official age in Japan: six. To combine the two, Charmy in the comics received a brain injury that made him act like a little kid.
    • Julie Su is Knuckles' main Love Interest and girlfriend. This caused some issues when the games introduced Rouge as a character that Knuckles routinely has Ship Tease with.
    • The comic's portrayal of echidnas, including the reveal that Knuckles is not the last echidna, predates Sonic Adventure's introduction of Knuckles' tribe.
  • Orient Men was originally basically a superhero parody, who battled crooks and giant apes and ghosts. Then the comic switched to more eclectic humor and plotline, and though Orient Men still wore his superhero cape and flew around, his "superhero" status became more and more ignored.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón were originally a pair of detectives, with Filemón being the self-important boss and Mortadelo being the incompetent subordinate who would mess things up in every strip. Two decades later, they moved to an agency working as regular employees with the same responsibilities. Despite this, Mortadelo keeps calling Filemón "Boss", because it had already become his second name.
  • Image Comics started off with a Cliché Storm of '90s Anti-Hero comics such as Spawn, Witchblade, and Youngblood. Around the turn of the century, Image decided to diversify its output, and largely phased out such stories in favor of independent comics like The Walking Dead, with the comparatively light Invincible being one of their few major superhero efforts. Nonetheless, many of the books created by founders who haven't left still stick around, despite being completely out of place on Image's current lineup; Savage Dragon is even still written and drawn by Erik Larsen. Image mostly keeps these books out of the public eye, only drawing attention to them for special issues like anniversaries.
  • A few G1-based Transformers comics series set in modern times still keep the classic alt modes of the Transformers. Iconic characters like Soundwave (other than maybe in a hipster's hand, where would you see a tape deck boombox anymore) and Optimus Prime (it's incredibly rare to see a 1980 Arcliner tractor trailer still on the road) particularly stand out.
    • For some Transformers series, having alternate modes (cars, jets, etc) as a means of disguise is treated as an artifact. In Transformers Energon transforming into alt mode is used almost exclusively for driving (yes, driving) through outer space. The IDW comics have varied, depending on if the stories were set on Earth or set in space. More recent comics set in space even lampshade the pointlessness of alt modes- some of the main characters go through the entire series wihout ever transforming on-panel, and more only do so once or twice. Of course, alt modes will always remain, for obvious reasons.
    • It's especially strange in the 2010s Robots in Disguise series. As it's a sequel to Prime, the world has long known who and what the Transformers are and treating their existence as this big secret makes no sense.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: Donald Duck's uncle Scrooge McDuck usually wears a top hat and spats that were considered a very elegant and high class accessory until about WW2. Even by the time Scrooge McDuck was created in 1947, they were already on their way out. Usually worn only by the very rich on gala occasions, spats and top hat signaled McDuck's wealth and position in society (as well as his advanced age). Now neither accessory is used by practically anybody however dandy-ish, and they've been out of fashion for so long that younger readers might not get the original meaning. And yet the hat and spats are such an iconic part of Scrooge McDuck's image. Of course, a Born in the Wrong Century look isn't out-of-character for Scrooge either, and the canon timeline of the Ducks stories as laid down by Barks and used by Rosa has most of Scrooge's life being in the late 19th/early 20th centuries, with his canonical death being in the 1960s.
    • His pince-nez glasses may be also included in this trope.
    • Don Rosa eventually provided a Hand Wave in The Life And Times Of Scrooge Mcduck, where Scrooge initially buys a fairly spiffy and modern(ish) suit after cementing his status as a millionaire, only to get pelted by tomatoes on returning to his native Scotland. Realizing there's not much point to trying to look rich, he gets the "classic" suit at a local bric-and-brac.
    • And while we're on the subject, how about that money bin? Back in the 40s and 50s, the U.S. dollar was still attached to the gold standard. This meant that physically holding on to vast amounts of gold and paper currency made at least some sense. But in the early 70s, the U.S. dropped the gold standard and also, nowadays, with the widespread use of fiat money, electronic money and credit, hoarding all that humongous tangible wealth in one vault practically makes no financial sense. Again, justified at the end of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, where Scrooge explains to his nephews that the vast majority of his wealth is tied up in business across the world; the physical money in the bin is merely what he's earned through his own hard work and adventures.
  • Sonic the Comic had Mobius as an artifact in the final arc, based off of Sonic Adventure. Adventure takes place on Earth alongside humans, however the comic explicitly took place on an alien planet called "Mobius" where humans weren't native. As a result, Adventure is very loosely adapted in Sonic the Comic and many elements were Adapted Out.
  • Diabolik: In Clerville, death sentences are executed via guillotine the early issues, when the story was supposed to be set in France). Every time Diabolik is arrested, the police needs only to file the paperwork to try and behead him, as when he was sentenced to death, and not even an abolitionist lawyer appealing on his behalf could change it. Actually beheading him, on the other hand, is quite complicated...
  • In IDW's 2005 Transformers books, it was initially intended that Arcee was the only female Cybertronian, and was the result of a forcible Mad Scientist's experiment that drove her violently insane. Fan reception to the idea was roundly negative, not only for its offensive connotations and not making much sense, but also because it seemingly made it impossible for female characters besides Arcee to exist (and if they would, they'd have to share Arcee's crappy origin and psychosis). Future writers decided to declare that female Cybertronians besides Arcee did indeed exist, with a variety of origins—some of whom were simply created as female due to their colonies progressing in a different fashion, others modified themselves in a manner approximating human transgenderism. But Arcee kept her origin to the end, albeit with a few retcons to make it somewhat more palatable, and while her violent attitude was downplayed through Character Development, it still made her stick out quite a bit compared to Arcee's standard take.

Multiple Media

  • In the superhero genre, the Secret Identity trope often exists as an artifact, used whether or not it makes sense for the individual hero in question. Many early superheroes had secret identities pretty much because Superman had one, and if he did it, that must be a trope worth copying. Notably, many adaptations and "new" incarnations of superhero characters either dispense with the Secret Identity altogether or use it, but have it known to a large number of friends and family:
    • Reading Wonder Woman's early Golden Age stories, one gets the distinct impression the standard "secret identity protection" tropes are used mostly due to the "Superman does it" school of Executive Meddling. The tropes are there, but usually dealt with in a perfunctory manner, and you can practically sense that writer William Moulton Marston is bored with them and eager to move on to the fun stuff. Notably, apart from sheer physical strength, Diana Prince is almost indistinguishable from Wonder Woman—extremely smart and capable, and recognized as a top counter-intelligence agent in her own right. Most recent incarnations of Wonder Woman have dispensed with Diana Prince altogether.
    • In Silver Age Iron Man stories, it often seems like keeping his identity a secret causes Tony Stark more problems than it solves. At the very least, it seems like letting his fanatically loyal employees Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts in on the secret would be a good idea. The movies dispensed with any notion of a secret identity by the end of the first one.
    • Many modern writers have found Thor's "Dr. Donald Blake" secret identity to be dispensable (the only supporting cast member Blake had was Jane Foster, and she was considered a lot less interesting than the Asgardians; indeed, even Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had her Put on a Bus eventually), and it's only used in the 2011 movie as a brief Continuity Nod. The only use Blake has had in years is a weird, separate persona to Thor in JMS' run, and even there he was more of a plot device than anything else.
    • The Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle is an example of a more modern approach to the secret identity. In his 2006-2009 series, he technically had a secret identity, but his close friends and immediate family were all in on the secret. Curiously, the 2011 New 52 relaunch took a more "classical" approach to the secret identity, as the Blue Beetle armor physically prevents Jaime from revealing his secret identity to others.
    • Captain America. Why would the government devote significant money and resources to create an elite special forces symbol of America in the largest war in its history, only to hide him out as a buck private? Not only would this risk getting him killed in combat taking some stupid bridge, but it also forced him to make up some lame excuse every time he needed to slip away for a real mission. As with Thor and Iron Man, the 2011 movie dispensed with the secret identity altogether.
      • Another serious artifact to deal with Cap is Bucky. While Robin can be explained as Batman's apprentice at best and part of Batman's eccentricities at worst, Captain America is an agent for the US military, which makes Bucky a Child Soldier operating with their knowledge. Today in the comics, Bucky is largely treated as a remarkably young looking agent who started with Cap at 15 years old (really young, but not unprecedented at that time), and was a 19-year-old (and thus of an entirely legal age) by 1945 and existed to basically perform black ops duties that Cap couldn't — this also made him a highly skilled soldier and thus it made sense why he, well, survived fighting alongside Cap for as long as he did. The film, Captain America: The First Avenger, avoids the issue entirely by making Bucky Steve Rogers' contemporary in age who just looks like a kid compared to Steve after his Project Rebirth enhancements.
    • They are even beginning to apply this to Batman, of all people. With Batman (as of mid-2011) franchising out his name, a public awareness that maybe he's more than one guy, and the fact that Wayne has publicly admitted to funding Batman, the response when someone says, "Bruce Wayne is Batman," tends to be, "So?" As many of his enemies (including Ra's al-Ghul, Bane, the Black Glove, Riddler, and possibly Joker) know his identity, and all of his close friends and family tend to be badass in their own right, his secret ID is getting pointless.
      • This was especially ludicrous at the character's start, when he had no supporting cast but Alfred, who would have been well-protected in Stately Wayne Manor even when Batman was away.
      • There's also the fact that Bruce is probably one of very few fantastically wealthy people in a certain age range that saw his parents murdered before his eyes as a child. He'd be at the top of any short list of Batman candidates.
      • This is probably why 90s and 00s Batman writers tended to refer to Batman as the "real" identity and Wayne as the mask, since that era's Batman tended to only use Wayne publicly as part of a greater plan. After the success of The Dark Knight Trilogy, the push has gone closer to Wayne being the real person.
    • This actually gets lampshaded in Ultimate Spider-Man. Over the course of the 100+ issues, every member of his Rogue Gallery, and damn near every supporting character learned that Peter was Spider-Man. After his death, Flash Thompson, who is sitting alone in a classroom, questions if he was the only person who didn't know.
  • The idea that superheroes never kill their enemies is a carryover from The Comics Code. During this time in The Silver Age of Comic Books, it was mandated that the heroes couldn't kill their enemies because they were supposed to be writing for children. As the years passed, where the code waned in effect before eventually being dropped entirely, there was no restriction against heroes killing. However, the idea that heroes don't kill was so ingrained in the public consciousness that it formed the idea of what a superhero is, and thus it remained long after. Also, it's a convenient way of making sure a hero's Rogues Gallery actually stays around. The full implications of this have been explored many, many times.