Of course a major downside of comics that run for decades and decades is you build a continuity. It can be a daunting challenge to make a character accessible after 30, 40, 50 years of backstory. Remember, someone had to follow the Cap-Wolf story… I mean really, top that! But decades of history sees publishers retconning stories, ignoring what came before, or even completely rebooting the character altogether. DC has rebooted their entire universe at least three times, and Marvel does things like selling Spider-Man’s marriage to the devil to get the book back to where it’s accessible again.
Greatest story ever? Or GREATEST story ever?
As a title passes from writer to writer, one has a different sense of how the character should be handled than that of the writer before. Ed Brubaker liked leaving a mess for the subsequent writer to have to untangle. At the end of his Daredevil run Brubaker left Matt Murdock in prison. At the end of his Captain America/Winter Soldier run Bucky had faked his death and had to go underground to avoid being arrested by the Russian government.
Wolverine and the X-Men was an absolutely fantastic book during Jason Aaron’s run, but when Jason Latour took over the book he couldn’t quite capture the magic Aaron’s run had. Now Frank Tieri has taken over the book, and poor writing, coupled with some incredibly weak art has made the book a pale imitation to what came before. Jeff Lemire was recently announced as the follow-up writer to Matt Fraction on Hawkeye, and does he have his work cut out for him. Lemire is no slouch in the writing department, but how do you follow up a run like Fraction’s? Would it be best to cancel Hawkeye for a while, let readers detach a bit from Fraction’s run, then relaunch with Lemire’s take on the character? Or is it wiser to play on the popularity and momentum of Fraction’s run to help springboard Lemire’s run?