Comic Book Events: Do We Need Them?

Comic Book Events: Do We need Them?

In the last 10 years there seem to have been very few events worthy of actually being events. Blackest Night is the latest big event to really make a lasting mark on a comic book universe. Furthermore, it’s the only one that I believe fans don’t hate outright for taking over the comics. I’m not even bothering with Avengers vs X-Men, since it just seems to be filler for Marvel at this point. The House of Ideas is running out of them, clearly. Speaking of which, House of M seems to have been swept under the rug. Only Messiah War, Age of Apocalypse and the full Phoenix Saga have had a truly lasting impact on the Marvel Universe.

The only time in probably the last 30 years that an event has been so sweeping and ended up completely re-shaping that company’s universe as a whole was DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985). The Flash, Barry Allen died during the event and has probably been the only “real” death in comic book history, or at least the longest-lasting. It shaped the other characters relationships as he was the first to die and not come right back from it. (The fact that I’m primarily referencing DC events should come as no surprise.) Of course, he was brought back after 22 years in the events of Final Crisis (2008). Then, the biggest game-changing event in comics became Flashpoint, which the publishers ended up using as a segue into DC’s New 52.

In my mind, unless it really does re-shape the universe the characters live in or leads to some larger story that does, we really don’t need yearly events in comics. If we have to live through one, make it a Crisis on Infinite Earths or Phoenix Saga. We don’t need to see another Civil War and then watch everything go back to normal a few months later.

With that said, what are your thoughts on comic events? Do you have a favorite (in any company) or one that you could live without?

 

16 Responses to Comic Book Events: Do We Need Them?

  1. William Peterson

    Well, the New 52 completely reshapes DC continuity, and in a way they can’t easily ‘walk back’… It’s just too bad that so much of it is a massive change for the worse!
    If what you wanted was most every ‘hero’ in the DC Universe to be more of a villain than ever before, I suppose this is great stuff…
    But, I kind of wanted to see them go, if anywhere, in the exact opposite direction! :(

  2. Well, IMO, the summer crossovers are just the companies way of telling us “you’re a dumb addict, now, buy more of my junk!”

    The worst part being that there’s a good buildup, and that it deflates suddenly.
    For exemple, I was really excited by “Fear Itself”, and all of a sudden, it was “tony-stark-brings-weapons-the-bad-guys-are-defeated-everything’s-back-to-normal”. How many books, defeated in just a few pages, and that’s all folks.
    Lame.

  3. Arioch:
    Well, IMO, the summer crossovers are just the companies way of telling us “you’re a dumb addict, now, buy more of my junk!”

    The worst part being that there’s a good buildup, and that it deflates suddenly.
    For exemple, I was really excited by “Fear Itself”, and all of a sudden, it was “tony-stark-brings-weapons-the-bad-guys-are-defeated-everything’s-back-to-normal”. How many books, defeated in just a few pages, and that’s all folks.
    Lame.

    Exactly my point. There are very few in the last decade or more that don’t just go back to business as usual as soon as the event is over. Death of Superman/Reign of the Supermen and Fear Itself are prime examples of that. Honestly, the ones I mentioned above are probably the only ones where anything remained changed at all afterward.

  4. Don’t worry, the New 52 will not last much longer. They’re already resorting to #0 issues (remember Zero Hour?), and how exciting will it be when every DC comic is at #23? There is no way that Action and Detective won’t get their 1000th issues. 2013 will mark Superman’s 75th anniversary and what would have been Detective’s 900th issue, and I’m sure they’re planning something.
    I think only Crisis on Infinite Earths worked because it was genuinely that important. It restarted everything. The New 52 is a muddled mishmash of “now” and “5 years ago”, and everything fits in between–or it doesn’t. Post-Crisis DC ran out of steam after around 7 years because they wouldn’t let the characters age or change or die. Since then, it’s been one “Crisis” after another, leaving the reader wondering: Why should I read this? Won’t it just be retconned within the next few years? What is this character’s backstory now anyway?

  5. RabbiJoe:
    Don’t worry, the New 52 will not last much longer. They’re already resorting to #0 issues (remember Zero Hour?), and how exciting will it be when every DC comic is at #23? There is no way that Action and Detective won’t get their 1000th issues. 2013 will mark Superman’s 75th anniversary and what would have been Detective’s 900th issue, and I’m sure they’re planning something.
    I think only Crisis on Infinite Earths worked because it was genuinely that important. It restarted everything. The New 52 is a muddled mishmash of “now” and “5 years ago”, and everything fits in between–or it doesn’t. Post-Crisis DC ran out of steam after around 7 years because they wouldn’t let the characters age or change or die. Since then, it’s been one “Crisis” after another, leaving the reader wondering: Why should I read this? Won’t it just be retconned within the next few years? What is this character’s backstory now anyway?

    I do actually recall Zero Hour since I have the trade. There’s another prime example of craptastic events.
    On the topic of the New 52, however, I actually have a lot of faith in them and they really can’t afford to screw this up. There’s the fans and then there’s the legal stuff following the lawsuit from the grandkids of Superman’s creators never getting their royalties. Basically, the New 52 doing well is their only option.

  6. I’m with you all the way. These forever-changing-the-universe events that just don’t do it and come off as just a marketing strategy to get you to buy the crossover issues of the books you don’t buy usually, is one of the big reasons I haven’t picked up a comic book in about 3 years.

    Crisis is always the big event that I refer to and compare other events to. That is the one that they did right. It served many purposes from cleaning up the 200+ character roster, to really rebooting the universe. I’d love to see another event that really works as good as Crisis did.

    That being said, I think they could do one big event every 8 to 10 years. A good enough length of time that you can rope in new readers with the event and new continuity, and refresh the interest of your older readers without making it seem as if it’s just a marketing scheme or a lame-ass attempt to push you their latest grovel or brain-fart.

    I’m gonna stop now before I rant for another 15 paragraphs. ;)

  7. Or they could do ONE long, non-world changing (although it could be character-changing, or little-corner-of-the-world-changing) event per year, involving 1 series only. Done well, this could help provide some character growth while going against the static-ness of the medium and yet keeping it okay

    For exemple, the death of batman, the reboot of thor, the destruction of themyscira… but no, they have to do it so “big” that they must involve half the universe with it.

  8. I don’t mind the yearly crossovers in and of themselves. It’s become a comic book tradition at this point. What I object to is the way every single crossover event is publicized as a Majorly Significant Event That Will Change The Universe As We Know It. Every year we keep getting hit by some allegedly huge world-altering event that inevitably ends up altering little if anything at all about the world. What was wrong with just getting all the heroes together for a big exciting fight with some villain or other?

  9. The worst event from the post-Crisis era IMO is Millenium. It messed with the continuity of every ongoing DC title by forcing the creatives to reveal a cast member as a Manhunter in order to introduce a new group that lasted 12 issues.

    For me, the best events were the annual JLA-JSA crossovers from the olden days. They were targeted: the JLA, the JSA, and a third lesser-known group (like the Seven Soldiers of Victory) put in the spotlight. Or they were used to reintroduce Kirby’s Fourth World. They felt like events but the reach was contained. Now that the Justice League is supposedly the center of the DC universe again, I’d rather see them return to that.

  10. I’m one of about 5 people (on the Internet, anyway) who really likes the new 52, if only because Grant Morrison has made it that much easier to throw together a Superman costume. To answer your question, I like some events, others I felt I could skip. Like Fear Itself. I skipped that. I got Blackest Night, though I’m not in love with it. I thoroughly enjoyed Infinite Crisis, though Final Crisis left me with a bad taste in my mouth. I guess it just depends on the story.

  11. Civil War is the last event I thought was good and had an impact. The idea of having a super-team in every state was a wonderful concept. And the whole idea of Civil War was great. And some of the tie-ins for that events went among the best comics I’ve ever read. Okay, the execution of the event in the main book was deeply flawed, and the authors got their message mixed up, but stiil, as a concept, i think Civil War is the last big events that really had an interesting one.

    Haven’t read Blackest Night, but I heard it was good. Heard nothing about AvX (the Marvel comics I read don,t have tie-in for it). Is it that bad? Like bad enough to say the entire company is out of ideas? Or is it just a pro-DC bias of yours?

  12. Collex:
    Haven’t read Blackest Night, but I heard it was good. Heard nothing about AvX (the Marvel comics I read don,t have tie-in for it). Is it that bad? Like bad enough to say the entire company is out of ideas? Or is it just a pro-DC bias of yours?

    First off, this is McKnight57 (or Andy) and it’s entirely based on what I’ve read during the event. It may be a bias, but I honestly think just having a weekly slugfest between the Avengers and X-Men shows a lack of creativity. Why else would they be restarting a lot of titles with their new Marvel NOW! imprint and titles like All-New X-Men, Avengers (once again restarted at #1) and Iron Man #1. Don’t get me wrong, there are still good titles from Marvel and decent ideas rate still coming out of there, but overall I think that unless they want to borrow minor ideas form elsewhere there’s not a whole lot more they can do. Then gain, the same can be said for DC and thus give more reasons for their recent reboot.

  13. Honestly, I’m sick of these cross universe storylines. Give me one year without something so overwhelming happening that only every single superbeing in the universe can deal with it.

    I enjoyed parts of Shadowland, and the 1 on 1 issues of AvX. Everything else pretty much bites. The one cross title bit that I really enjoyed? Onslaught. If for no other reason than the artistic talent was suddenly exploding at Marvel. Suddenly back to the days before the formations of Wildstorm and Image. I followed the reboot of the DC universe back in the 80s, but was put off by the lack of real writing talent that appeared. All they did for a while was rehash the same old storylines. (Although I did enjoy the Skyhook stories in Superman…)

  14. Does the new 52 thing count? If it does, i would like to see some minor characters of theirs get redone, like Simon Dark, Bizzaro, Batzarro and such.

  15. Schuyler:
    I followed the reboot of the DC universe back in the 80s, but was put off by the lack of real writing talent that appeared.All they did for a while was rehash the same old storylines.(Although I did enjoy the Skyhook stories in Superman…)

    I thought DC had some great writing talent working post-Crisis: John Byrne and Jerry Ordway on Superman, Chris Priest and Gerard Jones on Green Lantern, Mark Waid on Flash, George Perez on Wonder Woman. It was the next generation (the kill, can or cripple school) in the early to middle 90’s which didn’t seem to measure up.

  16. I actually enjoyed “Darkest Night” (not “Blackest Night” I have not read that storyline, but an older “Event”) for several reasons. First and foremost, it presented an opportunity for Hal Jordan to redeem himself after earlier writers had screwed him over, I mean, ‘made him more realistic’ by turning him into a genocidal madman. When he used the power he had gained when he became Parallax to rekindle the Sun, absorb and destroy the Sun-Eater, and restore much of the Solar System’s ecosystems, at the expense of his own life. All accomplished while reciting the Oath one last time…

    The story also gave the Spectre the chance to become more than he was meant to be, to become a nurturer instead of just a destroyer, as he held the spirit of the Earth in his arms and kept her alive. (It was so against his nature that it actually harmed him, making it that much more of a big deal.)

    And the the retelling of the story of Ferro Lad’s heroic death was entirely charming, even with the twist that allowed this version of him to survive. (Maybe especially with that twist.)