...AND MARKING OUT
Hey all. Welcome to another edition of ...AMO. Sorry I've been so inconsistent lately with the timing of the column, work has been, well work. Y-Pac is all over me for not posting on the EZ Board, too. I'm trying, man. Honest. This week's column came about as I was grocery shopping and came across my oldest, most favorite magazines. The format remains more focused for the time being. Read on and let me know what you think.
Dangling Plotlines: What McMahon Can Learn From Claremont
As a young adolescent, I engaged in typical boy fantasy play that included G.I Joe action figures, cartoons, video games, and comic books. One of my favorite comics was and remains Marvel Comics' X-Men. As a young boy, and a minority, theme of feeling like an outsider and being labeled as different instantly appealed to me. What was even more appealing was the idea of having these special gifts (read: extreme powers) that would make me among other things, cool.
The stories of Cyclops, Storm, Wolverine and their struggle to exist in a world that feared and hated them simply because they were different was the stuff of every pubescent kids angst. I was hitched from issue number 152. The writer of Uncanny X-Men at that time (and for a 15 year span at one point) was Chris Claremont. Chris Claremont was, like Mc Mahon, a genius figure whose work people either loved or hated. There were those who loved/love his stories and characterization and there were/are those who feel his writing was/is way to verbose.
The one thing that neither side could deny was Claremont's success. When he took over X-Men, it was basically in syndication as earlier issues were simply being re-printed in order to place products on newsstands. He took over a book and stroke away from cancellation and made it the best selling comic magazine ever as well as the standard for how group comic magazines should be formatted and developed. Clearly, Claremont was without peer at that time.
One of the more agreed upon annoyances of Claremont's work was his dangling plotlines. Make no mistake about it: in his heyday, Chris Claremont was a masterful writer. Few of his stories ever felt or read like the filler you find today between major story arcs. Oh no, each story seemed to be perfectly placed in the overall magazine tapestry.
But there was still these dangling plotlines, or unresolved story arcs, if you will. They would pop up in the middle of an established story as a prologue, epilogue or interlude. They would tease of things to come like Magneto, the Mutant Massacre, the Morlocks or the Hellfire Club. And boy, did they ever work. The anticipation Claremont was able to create was arresting. As a reader, you simply could not wait until the next issue hit the stands in 30 days to see what would happen.
And that was the problem. More often than not, the tease would not be fully explored within a month's time or so. In fact, Chris Claremont was notorious for having plotlines dangle for at least six months and sometimes well over a year. As a reader it was excruciatingly captivating. Sheer pleasure. Sheer torture.
Being a genius at the very peak of his game, Claremont often ran into periods of self-admitted writer's block. He would go to his editors and say he was out of ideas. He didn't have anything left, no new stories, no exciting new villains to challenge his cynical band of mutant heroes, nothing. And that's when his unfinished business would help him. His editors would point out several dangling story arcs that Claremont had yet to resolve. "Remember the mutates in Genosha and the GeneEngineer?" they'd say. "Oh yeah. You're right," Claremont would reply, "I forgot about that. That story would fit in perfectly right now."
And all would be right within the world of the X-Men as the stories would continue and Claremont would have time to come up with fresh new ideas for his book while he completed stories that were months even years in the making.
Vince McMahon has some of the same traits and Chris Claremont. He's considered and genius, respected by many, hated and despised by many. He's at the very top of his game. He's taken a struggling entity and made it into the exemplar of its field. He's the king of the world.
Vince McMahon and RAW also have some of the same problems as Chris Claremont and X-Men, mainly dangling plotlines. How many ongoing Internet discussions are there that involve stories that the WWF has not finished? How upset have we all been over the lack of resolution to the Angle/HHH/Stephanie story?
To all that I say to Vince McMahon: Read some old issues of Uncanny X-Men. Call Chris Claremont and ask his advice. All that unfinished business could actually help you instead of hurting you the way it currently does. Picking up an old story can be a good thing.
See this past week's SmackDown!: Big Show and Shane McMahon had supposedly become friends since we last saw The Big Show hurling 50 feet Shane off the TitanTron months ago. Many viewers probably were thinking: What the hell are they doing speaking to each other? This doesn't make any sense.
And then he did it. Vince brought back an old plotline and showed TBS all the old footage of Shane tormenting him. TBS turned on Shane (or rather realized that they shouldn't be chumming around together) and a PPV match was made. It can be that simple. I was satisfied and I bet some other people were, too.
McMahon and the writing staff need to do more of that. Imagine when/if HHH turns on Austin, if the writers were to then rehash the Angle/Stephanie relationship? Angle could lure Stephanie away under the premise that she likes bad boys and if HHH were warring with a very heel Austin, HHH wouldn't qualify as bad enough anymore. The WWF could do the same kind of trip down memory lane and have and instant impact. It would bring Angle back up into the main event and so much more.
While we're at it: What's up with G TV? What did Steven Richards do the Val Venus to "brainwash" him? Um, Trish Stratus as Linda's rescuer? Al Snow as commissioner? Mick Foley's situation? The list could go on and on, but my point is simple: Vince and company should stop watching soap operas for the most part and start reading some good old comics.
Try it, Vince. The results might surprise you.
Until next time, you can send hatemail/feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be a fan: Drink beers. Mark out. Care less.