A metacanonical hypothesis

doc savage
Answering a comment from razorsmile, it occured to me that DC seems to hold as an axiom that main continuities always have to be Pareto optimal, in the sense that they can't be improved in any regard without messing up something else (e.g., if the Waynes didn't die, the world suffers without a Batman).

Now, I don't think "can't" is the proper way to put it. Perhaps it'd be more precise (the weak Pareto hypothesis?) to say that DC won't or tries not to show any alternate history/dimension/whatever that dominates the main one in a Pareto sense (i.e., some things are better, and nothing is worse).

Of course, I might be forgetting obvious counterexamples - this hasn't been precisely The Week Of Adequate Sleep. But if it holds up, or at least to the degree to which the empirical observation holds up, I'd attribute that to two factors:


  • Lack of imagination. That's not exclusive to DC or, for that matter, to comics. In fact, one of my pet political peeves is the quite extended, if implicit, belief that society is -or has to be- a zero-sum game when you can improve somebody's lot only by taking away from somebody else. But that's for another rant.

  • Keeping the dignity of tragedy. Something that resonates strongly through he DCU (and also with me) is the idea that tragedy can be given meaning of sorts by turning it into a source of good. I love that idea. But it loses some of its strength, at least in terms of plot, if you also notice that sometimes the good could have been possible without the tragedy. That's... well, that's a bitter pill to accept, I guess. I know it always is for me.

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