Friday, January 13, 2017

Event Fatigue with Marvel is REAL

There's been a lot of things hinted at for Marvel's future with regard to humongous events they have planned. DC has hinted at some plans, and I suppose you could say there's some "event fatigue" with them, too, but with Marvel it seems to be way, way worse. A lot of people would argue that event fatigue has been settled into mainstream comics for a while now, and up until now I didn't really see where they were coming from. That all changed with Civil War II #8. 
If you don't know, "event fatigue" is used as a phrase by comic book fans when there are so many event comics going on that it gets confusing as to what is important. There's no real sense of flow, it's just one event leading into the next leading into the next. Some comics are made only as tie-ins and others try to have their own stories but are constantly interrupted by the goings-on of the event comic.

DC has suffered from this before, though on a smaller scale. Before "Rebirth," it seemed like anything that happened in one "Green Lantern" or "Batman" title would have affects flowing throughout the other books. There couldn't be a consistent story. Crossovers were abundant and it made reading some of these books impossible. Many would argue that the Supergirl comic only got it's first true story arc when the book was cancelled! 

Since "Rebirth" there has only been one big event, and I would have to say it's been the best event comic in a long time. Perhaps all the way back to Blackest Night. DC has kept that light, but it seems like this upcoming March and April are going to really shake things up. Perhaps there will be some event fatigue, but I'll comment on that in May when I look back on the first year of "Rebirth."

Valiant is another case of hyping up event comics. Hell, they hyped up Harbinger Wars 2 before the books building to that event were even out on shelves. Some might say the "Divinity" trilogy is a series of events, but I would disagree, since they do all focus on the main character, Divinity. Still, Valiant may come dangerously close to event fatigue if they keep it up. 

Now before we get into the heavy details of Civil War II #8, I think it's important to remember what the history of Marvel, as a company, has been since 2014. 

Starting the year off in 2014, we had the beginning of "All-New Marvel NOW!" which relaunched several of the core titles. Now, in some of these cases, that was fine. Moon Knight was launched to critical success, Peter Parker was returning as Spider-Man so he needed a new solo title, and several of the "X-Men" books were launched as a means of prepping us for AXIS  or Death of Wolverine. Fine. 

Then in the summer of 2014 there was Original Sin, a comic so boring that everyone forgets it ever happened even though its ramifications should have been enormous. After that, we were brought straight into Death of Wolverine, a pretty boring series although Wolverine has stayed dead since then, and AXIS, a really dumb even comic where nobody really cares about what happened and it just helped create a rift in the Unity Squad. In fact, AXIS was so pointless that the two main "Avengers" titles had jumped ahead eight months to prepare readers for the major 2015 event. 

Secret Wars brought the company major success, bringing back several "What If?" scenarios as well as classic Marvel storylines, but with updated characters and some fresh writers. Old Man Logan was a standout series by Brian Michael Bendis and Andrea Sorrentino. Thors would affect the main two "Thor" books we have now. I even heard good things about Ghost Riders. The main title, as I took a whole month to explain, was overall average, with a stellar second act that could've led to some amazing things by series end. 

When Secret Wars ended, the entirety of Marvel's lineup was relaunched, despite the fact that almost every book was keeping their creative team. Books like All-New Hawkeye and Spider-Gwen didn't feel cancelled or rebooted, it just felt like their titles had been hit by a stiff delay. Amazing Spider-Man and Iron Man both had ramifications beyond a normal scope, and there was a general shake-up that was well-received by many fans. 

2016 was a relatively quiet year until the announcement of Civil War II, an idea so ludicrous yet ingenious from a business perspective that you could practically smell the money Marvel was making off of it. As the event went on, the typical event comic happening occurred: delays. DC is no exception to this either, as Forever Evil was hit by a serious delay that hampered the book's conclusion for any of it's loyal readers. Civil War II, much like Secret Wars, ended with the consequences of the title already occuring throughout the Marvel universe. 

I have several problems with Civil War II, primarily in it's pacing and how boring it was. It took them how many months to tell a story that took place over the course of a DAY. Yeah. All of Civil War II takes place in a period of 24 hours and it's unbelievably slow, the action is boring, and there is little character drama beyond "I hate you for reasons I cannot explain let me punch you to death." Unlike Civil War where I would be open to an argument on both sides, this book quickly dissolves that argument and loses focus. 

The book focuses on an Inhuman named Ulysses, who can see the future and predict things before they happen. Ultimately, it's a struggle between Iron Man and Captain Marvel over the boy's fate and how his powers should be used or not used. 


So we get that stupid ending where Tony Stark is "dead" and Ulysses I think becomes a Celestial (how, what, WHY), but that's not the problem. My real problem is what we get for, what, six pages of the entire comic? 

Six pages, all of them splash pages, are dedicated to teasing Marvel's upcoming comic events. 

It's perfectly fine to get excited over some of these things (despite the fact that, thanks to the delays, we were already getting through some of those teases). I look forward to seeing Ultron wipe out the Avengers again...despite the fact that the story will probably be garbage. Seeing Thor take on Loki again will be cool, I hope. 

But I mean come on. We just got through one event. Is there even going to be a period of decompression for the characters, let them have an arc or two so that they can establish their own titles and fanbases before--

Monsters Unleashed #1 releases this upcoming week. 

It's not that I had any investment in Monsters Unleashed to begin with. I like Cullen Bunn as a writer, but I just don't care about a bunch of monsters attacking. I should be excited about that! GIANT MONSTERS IN A SUPER HERO BOOK! 

But I look forward more to Miles and Spider-Gwen hanging out. I look more forward to the mystery of Captain America being resolved. 

Beyond the main books, I absolutely adore what the creative team with Hawkeye are doing. Deliberately avoiding anything to do with Civil War II and just focusing on Kate. Moon Knight is Marvel's best comic now that The Vision is done and has been keeping it's distance. Anyone I've talked to that reads Marvel books has been waiting for Civil War II to end and now there's another event looming over their head? 

And just this week, with Monsters Unleashed not even out yet, we were teased for ANOTHER event, Secret Empire

How am I supposed to be excited about a book that 1) I don't know anything about with regards to the creative team 2) There's already an event I'm supposed to care about. 

It's just event overload. I guarantee that this summer we'll be teased with another fall event comic. Guarantee it. Probably before Secret Empire even releases. 

Now, some of this is just speculation. Secret Empire very well could be just a crossover between Champions, Amazing Spider-Man, Deadpool, Black Widow, Captain Marvel, X-Men, and Captain America: Steve Rogers. Except that lineup seems a bit too...pristine. 

I'd understand some of those connecting, but it's when you throw in Deadpool that you pretty much know that it's going to be an event. 

Speaking of the X-Men, let's not forget the even comic going on right now: Inhumans vs. X-Men. Yeah, forget about that? I did too, until just now. You know why? 

Because Monsters Unleashed is coming out. 

Are you starting to see the bigger picture here? I'm tired of event comics, as are probably many other comic book fans. Superman #6 was so well received because it was just Superman and his family going to the fair. The Vision was a story set in suburbia and has been heralded as one of Marvel's greatest stories of all time. There doesn't need to be such a huge scope for the comics. 

People talk about superhero movies like they're getting tired of hearing about them all the time. I don't necessarily agree, since you can just choose to ignore them. The chief difference with the movies and the comics, though, is that the movies don't necessarily have tie-ins. You can watch Captain America: Civil War and get that complete story. Things have spun out of it, but you won't see concurrent elements in it. 

Civil War II and IvX? No, there are tie-ins. If you were reading a book that had anything remotely to do with Civil War II, like Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat!, you got an unwarranted tie-in. And this could go on for months. Sometimes, in the case of Secret Wars, your favorite book gets cancelled for months at a time before it might get picked back up. 

Event comics have drastic effects on comic books not so much for how it will impact the story, no. It's how it effects the other titles, how it shakes up your reading experience. This disruption is disheartening, and hopefully we can get a little relaxed with the big event comics. 

All these announcements from Marvel are, honestly, lost to me. I don't care. What's this event got over the other one? Why should I care more for this than that? DC did things similarly, and look at what they had to do. Pull out all the stops, look inward, and figure out who they wanted to be. I don't want Marvel to be all about the big events and nothing else. I want there to be events that get me invested and get me interested in what's going on. 

Original Sin #3 and Secret Wars #4 are two of the best event comic book issues because they up the stakes of the story for all of the characters involved, and it really got me excited to read the event. If all the comics in those events were the same, I don't think I'd be writing this discussion...because we would have events once a year, maybe once every two years, so that the consequences could be felt, dealt with, and the characters could move on. 

Nova #2 made a wonderful point with Richard Rider's return: he sacrificed everything he could in Annihilation, and now, in 2017, nobody cares. There's been so much since Annihilation that his sacrifice, so many years later, has amounted to very little. 

Richard Rider is those event comics. Who cares about Annihilation? Or Original Sin? Or Civil War II, really? And why should we? 

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