The Problem With Big Events in the Comic Industry
It seems like we can’t go more than a couple of months without hearing that there’s a new, huge event coming out—which will change everything you know about—well, everything. Of course, some of these can be really good. But more often than not, they don’t hold up.
For whatever reason, a lot of these events just don’t cut it. I have a couple ideas why many fail, but first I’d like to take a few moments to go over the history of some big event stories.
In 1984, Marvel debuted their first large crossover, Secret Wars. During this event, a powerful being known as the Beyonder, selected heroes and villains and placed them on a planet in a far off Galaxy. This was done for the purpose of having the two groups fight each other—with the winning group getting what they truly desired the most.
This event was a big success and led to an increase in sales. So of course a sequel was put in the works. But unfortunately, it didn’t have the success of the first event.
The following year, DC came out with Crisis on Infinite Earths. The main purpose for this was to try and clean up some of the confusing continuity issues of the DCU that had been around for about forty years at that point.
Crisis on Infinite Earths has been considered one of the best events because of the ripple effect throughout the DCU—which was still felt in the continuity right up until recently. After these two huge events, there were some other smaller crossovers; but nothing of that magnitude.
Then the 90s came: with it, the events would either go through the entire line of whichever company was putting it out, or the events took over a family of books like Batman or X-Men–and would just focus on that group or character.
The same events formula had kept going right on up into the current comic industry. Unfortunately, this stale events formula has started to have the opposite effect–with a lot of sales going down industry wide.
Marvel has been particularly bad with this; promoting a new event before they’re even halfway done with the current one. Personally, I’ve stopped getting a lot of these events.
This is for multiple reasons:
- They can bog down the individual stories for all the characters involved.
- These overbearing event takeovers can last for the complete duration of the event, which stops any current story arcs for the individual character’s books.
- When these events spill over to titles that you’re not already getting, it can get very expensive with the price of $4.00 per book–at least in Marvel’s case.
- And the thing that tops my hate list with big events; the story normally craps out towards the end. So all the time you put in ends up being n for naught.
On the plus side, some good events have occurred since Secret War and Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Just to name a few:
- The Death and Return of Superman
- Identity Crisis
- Blackest Night
- House of M
- Civil War
What I like about the above events is there aren’t as many issues, so the story isn’t drawn out. That seems to be the best way to do these events. Keep em short and don’t complicate other titles by dragging them all into the event to scrape a few extra bucks from the reader..
In life, there’s always pros and cons. The same goes for big events in comics. And the main con with any of these events is that they’re all about making money. The stories come in second.
So, it can really feel like the publisher doesn’t care about anything other than emptying your pockets. Which almost feels like you’re being bullied by the companies who should be appreciative of you buying their books in the first place.
Luckily, there’s one thing you can do to counteract the publishers pushing these events: you don’t have to buy them if you don’t like what’s being put out. Vote with your wallet and use that money for other comics. Because, what else would you use it for anyway?
What’s nice about living in this day and age is that with advanced previews, you can get a good idea of what the event is going to be about before hand. This helps you figure out if you want to skip it or not.
I know by using the previews I won’t be getting into as many events as I used to. And the good thing about comics, there are always plenty of things to pick. I hope this might help with your decision on getting sucked into one of these big events or not.
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