I get it now!
When it became obvious at Marvel that Chris Claremont was out of touch and would have been taken out back and shot in a more straightforward era, what was their solution for caging the 800-pound gorilla that kept sitting on all of their stuff? Give him a bunch of out-of-continuity shit to write, like GeNext, X-Men: The End and New Exiles.
What do the biggest writers in comics today do anyway? Just like Claremont, they (Millar, Morrison, Bendis, Johns, etc.) try to write as if what they do is the only work that matters and that plot points created by other writers shouldn't contradict what they want to say with their work.
What is the solution to continuity?
GIVE EACH CREATOR HIS OR HER OWN UNIVERSE.
Let Bendis turn Marvel into the Daredevil, Spider-Man and Iron Man show, guest-starring Wolverine! Let Millar turn the FF, the X-Men and every other team into a pale reflection of whatever TV show is hot at the moment! Let Geoff Johns write about four different descendants of the original Amazing Man while Grant Morrison sends Batman into outer space to save the Flash from the Brown Acid, and never the twain shall meet!
Simply put-- comic book continuity should no longer depend solely on the characters and the publisher.
It should depend on the creators. Let each writer and artist map out their own version of Marvel or DC. Then, if they really shake things up, they aren't hurting anyone else, and when they're done, they put their toys (the characters, copyrights, settings etc.) back in the box and let someone else play!
Kurt Busiek's campy, classic Avengers and Bendis's dark, troubled Avengers can sit on the shelf at the same time without bothering anybody, because while they share a common history, a common concept, and a common release date, they appeal to different readers, so they shouldn't have to contradict each other by being part of the same series!
Frank Miller's DCU, Gail Simone's DCU and Grant Morrison's DCU don't have a lot in common except that they all sell very, very well. So why try to cut and paste all of their stuff together into a shoddy, poorly-organized tapestry when each could stand on its own?
DC and Marvel, due to their histories, can never really be creator-owned companies, but maybe they could be... creator-leased companies. Like a record label providing a band with all the instruments, studio equipment and drugs they need, with the understanding that once the album's done and the contract's up, the drummer can't drag that awesome gong set out the front door.
Keep the editors to make sure that once Brubaker's done writing Captain America, some other asshole doesn't show up and write the same story with different art, and so on. But otherwise, let the creators run wild.
It'll never happen.
But isn't it a great idea?
Or am I making less sense as I sober up?
Let me know. I'll be here, crying onto my copy of Marvel Previews.
-- The Editor
2 months ago