Note: I was going to have this session with Dr. Leonard Samson, comic psychiatrist extraordinaire. But then I found out they killed him off. Way to kill my gimmick, Marvel.
Psychiatrist: Please send in my one o’clock. Hello, Mr…Jacob, is it?
Jacob: Yes, sir.
Psychiatrist: Now, now, there’s no need to be so formal. So what brings you here today, Jacob?
Jacob: Well, doc, I have this problem. And it seems to be hampering something I do quite severely.
Psychiatrist: And what is it that you do, Jacob?
Jacob: I blog about comic books.
Psychiatrist: Oh, one of those. I see. So what seems to be the problem?
Jacob: I’ve got comic burnout. I go weeks without picking up my new books, and my blog entries come further and further apart. There’s this never-ending Fables countdown to keep the thing going, but it really lacks without me, you know?
Psychiatrist: You seem to be quite sure of yourself, don’t you? Well, why don’t you take me through just what caused this, and perhaps we can find a solution.
Jacob: It all started about a year ago…with this thing called Necrosha.
Jacob: I’m an X-Men fan, doc. I have been since I was 8 years old and my brother brought home Uncanny X-Men #275. Since then, I’ve been hooked. It was off-and-on for a while there, but then in the Spring of 2003, it really took off for me. It was a good time to be an X-fan, you know? Grant Morrison was going on with New X-Men and everything. But my fandom started expanding. I had read Young Justice, which expanded into Geoff John’s Teen Titans relaunch. When Brian Bendis launched New Avengers, I was hooked. I started wanting more – so I began looking into the Ultimate comics, and even dabbled into Image with Walking Dead.
But over time, things changed. A car wreck forced me to drop most of my non-X-Men books, but I didn’t really mind. Most of them had become embroiled in creator changes or constant mega-events and whatnot. It even ended the first run of my excellent blog, Comicdom Wrecks. But I got over that, and eventually got back into the game. But things had changed, and changed really bad.
Psychiatrist: What do you mean? What changed?
Jacob: Nothing seemed stable anymore. Take Marvel, for example. They built up for their Civil War event and changed their whole basis with it. Some heroes were underground, other heroes were tools of the government, villains were used as replacement heroes. It was exciting for a little while, but you just knew it wasn’t going to last, so nothing that happened seemed important. Nothing really mattered – it was like treading water for the next event to fix it. Then came Secret Invasion. The build-up was good, but the result was lackluster at best. Eight issues just to set up a single gunshot by Norman Osborn that somehow exonerated everything he had done and put him in control of SHIELD. Sure, the Dark Reign was a neat concept, but again you just knew it wasn’t going to last, so everything that happened because of it just seemed to be filling time. Sure enough, Siege put things right and here we are.
Psychiatrist: So what’s the problem?
Jacob: The whole Marvel Universe is just one overpopulated mess. Not overpopulated by different characters, mind you, but by numerous appearances by the same characters. There are four -FOUR – separate Avengers titles, and two of the teams are in part made up of the exact same characters, despite the entire premise of one is to be separate from the other. And they’re written by the same guy! Wolverine is in two Avengers teams, three X-Men books, the leader of X-Force, and has an entire line of his own comics. Spider-Man is also on two Avengers teams, while in a line of his own books and solicited to be a part of upcoming X-Men stories. And Deadpool – how in the hell did Deadpool become so popular?
Psychiatrist: But if people are willing to buy them, what’s the problem?
Jacob: I don’t mind so many appearances in theory. I like George Clooney as an actor and I think that the more stuff he’s in, the better. But the difference is that George Clooney plays different characters. Wolverine or Spider-Man or Deadpool – they’re individual characters. By having them in 10+ things a month, you’re basically telling 10 different stories with them each and every month. How quickly do you think they’ll run out of story ideas for these characters? It used to be that if there was a story to be told with a character, it could wait until a title had a moment to tell it. It was a reason for the readers to keep reading the book. Sure, Wolverine’s storyline was vague, but suddenly you had the issue where Vindicator shows up to attack and you learn a bit about it. That is gone, since that story is tossed out in a Wolverine one-shot that you tossed out to get an extra $4 out of 28 people willing to buy it. The rest of us reading the core books? We get no characterization. We get build to the mega events.
Psychiatrist: But you said this current problem started with Necrosha. You haven’t touched on that.
Jacob: Historically, the X-Men were a team of mutants secretly holed up in a school in New York learning how to use their powers and fighting to protect a world that feared and protected them. That was the theme. For as good as Grant Morrison’s run of New X-Men was, it really messed the franchise up in the long run. Suddenly, mutants were no longer the minority group. The school did not simply house the team, but instead an entire student body of mutants learning to use their powers. In fact, the X-Men were no longer even a team, but rather a group of teachers. Characters came and went, and the super-hero aspect began fading away. Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men tried to fix this, but its scheduling problems derailed the problem. A fix for the mutant boom was attempted with House of M, but a failure to follow up left the franchise in worse shape than it had been in before. Suddenly there were Sentinels at the school for no real reason. This whole mess was to be cleaned up starting with Messiah CompleX, but it was just the beginning. Instead of getting the franchise back on track, it uprooted it from New York and sent it to San Francisco. Rather than a team as it had always been, the X-Men instead became a society of several hundred mutants living together. No stories seemed important, as the scope was simply too ridiculously big.
Necrosha was supposed to be a big event running through three of the X-Titles, but it was a pretty big mess when all was said and done. The problem came when none of the three tie-in books were allowed to take a breath before the next big event Second Coming launched and ran for 13 parts. This too was supposed to change things, except nothing really did change except that Nightcrawler and Cable were killed and Hellion got his hands blown off. Right after Second Coming (actually a week before it ended), a new X-Men title was launched and Curse of the Mutants began, tying the X-Men into the vampire faction of the Marvel U. And while that was going on, the intro to Generation Hope, a new title about young mutants (even though X-Men: Legacy and New Mutants fill that niche) was launched. And that’s my problem right there.
Psychiatrist: I don’t understand.
Jacob: Neither do I! What’s going on here? What’s important? What should I care about? All these things are advertised like they’re the biggest things ever, yet nothing ever seems to happen! The X-Men are still in the exact same place now they were before both Necrosha and Second Coming. Curse of the Mutants is supposed to be a big deal, yet the exact same characters are appearing in both Uncanny X-Men and Astonishing X-Men and don’t seem to even notice that it’s going on! And like them, I find myself not caring about anything. Nothing can be important because it might affect one of the other seven titles that the characters are showing up in, and we can’t have that! There’s such a ridiculous oversaturization in the market right now, I can’t decide if I should be enjoying a story, since it will likely be completely ignored in the following one…in whatever title it might show up again.
Psychiatrist: This certainly is a problem.
Jacob: And wait until I get to DC…
Psychiatrist: Well. that’s all the time we have for today, Jacob. How about we pick this up in our next session?
Jacob: Sure, doc. I’ll see you next time.