Slumping sales and mega events

You hate Mega Events, don’t you?  Sure, you may remember the likes of Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths fondly (you probably haven’t read them lately), but today, you’ve had your fill of Civil Wars and Secret Invasions and Blackest Nights.  In fact, you’re probably just one Crisis away from tossing your hands up and leaving the whole thing behind.  That’s what you said, right?

Well, according to third-quarter sales numbers compared to last year’s, you’re lying.

You want DC to make sense of this. Admit it.

Unlike years past, neither Marvel nor DC are running huge company-spanning “this will change everything'” events.  Sure, DC’s running two year-long books and Marvel has its Chaos War thing going, but both companies seem to be taking a respite from having everything changing on them yet again.  And it turns out that everyday titles are not selling nearly as high because of the lack of crossover appeal.  Hmmm…how about that?

As people often do on the Internet, soem fans are decrying that this is the end of comics as we know it.  A surefire sign that event fatigue has weakened the market to the point where soon our favorite heroes will no longer have a print format for us to not spend money on.  Others argue that this is simply a sign of oversaturization of a marketplace with too many titles with the same creators stretched over them using the same characters.

Personally, I find it to be a showing that Mega Events actually do work exactly as they are supposed to.  It’s just that we’re finally having a slowdown period to take a look at it and see for the first time in several years.

The first argument I mentioned – the thought of event fatigue causing this – doesn’t really work.  If nothing else, this is an example of event withdrawal.  Event fatigue, in theory, is where the overusage of the mega events causes comic burnout, so when the next event starts, fans lose interest and don’t buy it.  That’s not the case, evidenced by sales.  The likes of Civil War, Blackest Night, Siege and the like are consistently top sellers.  The tie-in books, be them one-shots, minis, or crossover issues of ongoing series, likewise see decent sales.  That’s why the mega event is used.  But here we’re not getting any scene-shifting events.  Sure, we have Curse of the Mutants, but its hardly important to the overall scene of the X-Men.  Likewise, if you weren’t aware Chaos War was going on, you’d likely not get the idea from any ongoing titles.  Yet sales are slumping.

The second argument actually is a reality of comics, at least in my opinion, though I don’t think its causing this trend.  In Marvel, there are four Avengers titles, four ongoing X-Men titles (not counting the satellite books), countless series and minis for Wolverine, Spider-Man and Deadpool, and new one-shots and ongoings popping up constantly.  Over in DC, they’re preparing to have two separate Batman lines – one for Bruce Wayne and one for Dick Grayson – while having expanded Green Lantern families and numerous titles for the JLA and JSA amongst others.  And amongst all those books, the same creators are popping up repeatedly.  In Marvel, you see a lot of Brian Bendis, Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker.  In DC, Geoff Johns seems to be everywhere all at once.  There really is too much for many fans, myself included.  But I don’t find the need to buy every title or none at all.  I read the X-Men family of titles, but I did not pick up Namor: The First Mutant.  I don’t follow any Wolverine titles.  Because I’m not interested.  Hopefully, many fans use similar common sense.

Instead, I feel like this trend shows that many fans actually do read the Mega-Events that feel important, or at least are advertised as such.  I am an X-Men fan – Casey is a Spider-Man fan.  Leading up to House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion and Siege, there were ads all over both of our comics advertising the event.  So when it came out, both of us bought them because we felt like they were a big story.  That probably holds true to the Fantastic Four fan, the Hulk fan and the rare Black Panther fan as well.  So where alone, you sell one copy each of five titles, you’re also selling five copies of this Mega Event title.  And thus the sales boost – it’s why they do so well in sales.

Mega events are especially drawing since they focus on the story of the event rather than spending time on the characterization of those involved within.  There’s a huge threat needing tons of heroes to defeat it – the writer doesn’t have time to deal with the trivialities of what Spider-Man has been doing in his own title.  Therefore, the Fantastic Four fan doesn’t need ongoing knowledge of Spidey’s past to enjoy him in this story.  All they need to know is who he is.  Any other relevant details usually show up in the recap page or in the primer books handed out for free in comic shops.  Instead, the events play like blockbuster movies in which all you need are brief introductions before the characters get swept into the plot.  Far more inviting.

So yes, a quarter with no events will decline steeply in comparison to one with either company holding one, let alone both.  And that is specifically because said event is not being done.  The solution?  Take the mega event or just shut up and quit worrying about it.  Simple as that.

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