Comic Book Crossover Events: When Is It Enough?
By: Scott Lynn
The Infinity Gauntlet, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars, Invasion, Civil War, Blackest Night, House of M and Flashpoint are just a few examples of epic crossover events in comic books over the past 30 years. Some of these have been exceptional in their execution, while some not so much (I’m talking to you Clone Saga of the 90s)!
While many fans will agree that a lot of good things have came from these crossovers (The Venom symbiote and the War of Light in Green Lantern comics to name two such examples), we have to look at the sheer amount of crossovers in merely the past seven years and recognize that not all of them have been for the greater good of the comics industry. Since 2010, the big two companies: DC and Marvel, have released 60 major events as of January 2017.
Several of these events have been standalone in specific comics/comic families (i.e Batman’s Court of Owls run was pretty self contained in his family of books), but for the most part they’ve taken every character in their universes and molded them together to fit a specific narrative. Recently, Marvel finished up an event run titled CIVIL WAR II. Sadly, this event was overshadowed by delay issues and very uncharacteristic usages of heroes to create a story that was lackluster, poorly executed and most importantly: disrupted the stories of several comics that had to shoehorn these events into them.
I for one, am a huge fan of stories that are self contained because it doesn’t disrupt the flow of storylines in other books. As much as I am a hardcore Marvel fanboy, I have to say, DC does this exceptionally well. The cost of these events can sometimes be in the thousands for the fans when its all said and done, especially if the run is a long one – and every characters’ books tie-in to the event. If you’re on a budget and a comic fanatic, it can be very hard to get every issue connecting these stories. DC and Marvel need to understand this from the fan perspective; the difficulty of being a fan unable to follow a storyline is bad enough – but when you factor in things that happen in tie-ins that cause the story to be even more lost to the reader, then that reader might stop buying, and that’s not a good thing for the industry. This is the crux of the situation, event fatigue is going to happen – it’s just a matter of time before readers stop investing in these stories.
Now don’t get me wrong, as a fan, there are some events that I have genuinely loved because of the character complexities and the dynamic of how the stories played out (Civil War, Identity Crisis, Forever Evil, World War Hulk, Court of Owls, and AXIS just off the top of my head). But on the flip side, there have been even more that have fallen flat for me simply because of how poorly executed they were (the New 52, looking at you my friend) and the biggest culprit of this is the current crossover Marvel has involving the Inhumans and the X-Men. For those not following, the TL;DR version is that there is a cloud of terrigen mists floating around the world killing mutants, and the X-Men are trying to stop it, while the Inhumans try to stop the X-men.
I love the X-Men and the Inhumans, but even I cannot enjoy this crossover. It’s convoluted and hard to keep up with because of so much being forced onto the writers to keep everything in check. Charles Soule and Jeff Lemire are two of the best comic book writers at Marvel, but even they can’t write themselves out of a corner they’ve been forced into.
It all boils down to this: too much of a good thing isn’t always the best. For the most part, you can easily name parts of these runs that are incredible, whether it be the artwork, specific character moments or in some cases, the story itself, but how much will it take before we end up with event fatigue?