When the smoke settles, nothing will ever be the same!
How many times have we heard this catchphrase, or a variation of it? If you’ve been keeping up with comics over the past couple years, then more often than you probably should have. Marvel readers have been following House of M, then into Civil War, keeping a side look on Annihilation, and are now preparing for World War Hulk. DC fans followed the entire lead up to Infinite Crisis, the event itself, then jumped ahead a year with the characters, but still kept up with 52 to bridge the gap, and gearing up for Countdown to keep the story going.
Both companies have been featuring a ridiculous amount of “major events” and show no signs of slowing. Sure, the events are major, but in the process, they may be overwhelming the fans who they’re bombarded upon week upon week. Both companies have their own way of doing such, but both take a toll on the readers.
The mega-crossover is nothing new for Marvel. The company that brought us Secret Wars, Secret Wars II, the Acts of Vengeance and many others have largely followed a uniform process. The main story is presented in a mini-series, while some regular monthly titles will tie in to flesh out the event. It was extra, but not too much of a burden. After all, it was a special event.
House of M strayed a bit. Besides the regular books and self-titled mini-series, the event spawned numerous other minis to keep some regular titles from sacrificing their issues to contribute. Fans of Spider-Man found a new four-issue mini on their buy list, which really added nothing to the story or the character. Aftermath minis (Son of M, X-Men: the 198) came as well, showing the changes that the event caused since, of course, the regular books couldn’t be bothered with such trivial matters.
If you haven’t caught it yet, the changes hyped so heavily in the extra books didn’t do a whole lot to the big picture.
Of course, the effects didn’t have very long to take root, since Marvel immediately jumped into Civil War, again promising that everything would change. Again, side minis were solicited along with the main one, but this time Marvel promoted that most books were important to get the entire story. Civil War stretched out for almost a full year, but at least did change certain aspects of the Marvel Universe.
So, of course, they’re immediately gearing up for World War Hulk, with the same promises of mass change coming forth.
If that wasn’t enough for fans, side-mega events also have been popping up. Along Civil War came Annihilation, which featured many of Marvel’s cosmic characters. Next to World War Hulk will be Endangered Species, an X-Men crossover that will deal with the fallout of House of M, as well as an Annihilation follow up series.
Unlike Marvel, DC chose to spend a lot of time on a single event. Before their major event, Infinite Crisis, DC launched four mini series leading up to the main story. When it was taking place, nearly every DC book was drawn into it. Unlike Marvel’s tactics, though, this meant that it was a fair bet that readers would be missing at least a part of the story if they didn’t pick up most of the main DC books to follow the story.
It was the aftermath, though, that really made Infinite Crisis feel important. After the final issue of the mini series, every DC book’s story jumped forward one year. Mass changes were widespread, and a new direction was being traveled. To cover the gap in space, DC put out a truly unique concept. A limited series, 52, that would be released weekly for an entire year. Fans were willing to drop the extra three bucks a week to follow it, and it’s been quite successful.
However, at the close of 52 (47 is being released this week), DC announced that they would immediately start another 52 issues of an event called Countdown that would, you guessed it, change everything. That’s 104 issues, coming out every week for two straight years. They’re pushing their luck.
The problem with these repetitive ‘mega-events’ is that it’s just too much, too fast. Sure, an event that changes everything breathes fresh air into a setting that can occasionally become somewhat stale. But once those changes have been done, readers want to take a little while and get used to them. To change them so soon after being done takes away from the event itself, and it makes future ones seem less important that creators are trying to make them out to be. If the after effects of Civil War are washed over by the effects of World War Hulk, why did I spend so much money picking up all the extra issues to follow it?
So let’s get through Countdown, World War Hulk and all the other upcoming events, then let’s take a break and get the whole picture back together before rushing out to shake it up again. I, for one, could use the break on my wallet.