July 2, 2008

Putting My Finger On It.

You want content, Evie? Here you go.

It has been 91 days since Marvel Comics published Secret Invasion #1, and 35 days since DC Comics released Final Crisis #1. It has been 91 and 35 days respectively, since I started trying to figure out why I don't care about either.

Both books have held the promise of being instrumental in the next several years of both Universes, and therefore a majority of superhero comics. Marvel and DC and general comic book punditry expressed the fact that these events will be prefixed in future comics discussion. Events will be described as Pre-Final Crisis or Post-Secret Invasion. These are major shakeups in two of the fantasylands I care probably too much about. So why am I so apatheic about both?

Event Fatigue

It seem like it's been a decade since either publisher has gone more than six months without an earth-shaking, world-defining, NWEBTSA.* Comics insiders, podcasters, bloggers and creators have been debating event fatigue for years. Will comic fans tire? Will creators tire? Will such a glut of must-get events turn off new readers, sacrificing the future for the fanboys?

Whatever the answers to these questions are, they're not the reason I'm not enjoying Final Crisis or Secret Invasion. While the never-ending stream of drama can certainly get cumbersome, I thoroughly enjoyed Annihilation: Conquest, Salvation Run, and World War Hulk. I'm not sick of events. Next.

Lack of a Singular Bad Guy Focus

Since I have a nearly identical meh for both of these events, my next thought was to look for similarities between the two books, and where they differ from other recent events that I liked. Final Crisis has Libra, Darkseid, and perhaps the Sheeda... Secret Invasion has a whole mess of skrulls, some of whom may or may not be apparent even to the reader. WWH had Hulk. A:C had Ultron.

However, Salvation Run didn't really have any villians at all. Odd as it may be to not have a clear big baddie, this isn't it.

No Coalition of Heroes

Events do typically begin with a gathering of the forces of good against whoever the big baddie is. Without the coalition, it doesn't really feel like the event has truly begun; it feels like prologue. This occurred to me one night on the way to the supermarket, and I really thought that this was it. But by the time I had picked up my ice cream and was headed back to my car, I had decided that this couldn't possibly account for my indifference.

Lack of Encyclopedic Knowledge

I heard the guys on iFanboy discussing this one the other day, in the context of Final Crisis #2. I'm not catching all of the references. I'm not familiar with all of the backstory. But this only applies to Final Crisis. I do have an encyclopedic knowledge of the Marvel Universe. I do get every reference in Secret Invasion. And I don't like it any better.

Morrison and Bendis are "Writing For the Trade"

Is it possible these two stories are not intended to be read serially, and instead digested as a lump sum at the end. Except both have been rife with the 22nd page shocker. This isn't it either.

Bendis and Morrison have not taken the proper steps as writers to define the stakes.

If this is a NWEBTSA ... I need to know what's going to change. What happens if the bad guys win? How will their victories affect me, average non-powered citizen of either universe? I swore that this was it. But it's not. I know what the stakes are. Skrulls are going to take over the planet. Libra is going to kill all superheroes. I suppose I don't know exactly what Darkseid is up to, but it's not good. So what is it?

Is it the hype?

I would have no problem enjoying either of these stories if they had not been hyped as world-changing. Final Crisis is thus far a JLA story. If Final Crisis was simply called JLA, I'd be loving it. Secret Invasion is thus far an Avengers story. If Secret Invasion was simply called Avengers, I'd be loving it. I wish DC hadn't made me feel as though I needed to read a year worth of awful Countdown and Countdown-related tales to understand Final Crisis. I wish Marvel wasn't threatening to screw with decades of stories by revealing that the characters are skrulls and didn't realize they were skrulls. (See, it was all a dream!) The hype hurts, but it alone is not what's killing these stories for me.


The last several NWEBTSA's done by both companies truly did change the landscapes of both universes. Civil War has dramatically altered the Marvel Universe. Identity/Infinite Crisis did similarly at DC. Annihilation reshaped Marvel's cosmic map. Even Death of the New Gods - as poorly executed as many thought it was - changed things forever in the DCU. All of these events finished with unpredictable results.

Are the Skrulls going to take over the earth? Is Libra going to kill all the good guys? Of course not. But predictablility has never stopped me from buying a comic before.

So as Bendis might say ... "The Hell?"

Truth is, it's all of this. These books started with a few strikes against them, and through mediocre storytelling (so far) have garnered even more strikes. There are many many comics readers who are feeling a high level of apathy for both of these books, due to all of these problems.

I will not quit reading either of these books, and I have great respect for both writers. But one month into Final Crisis and three months into Secret Invasion, neither have delivered on the promise of a spectacular event.

Learn from the mistakes of these two series, Marvel and DC. Don't start events like this again.



wicked juan said...

And here I thought it was just me.

Excellent post, Aaron.

Evie said...

Yay, Aaron swoops in and saves my ass! He's always doing that. But anyway, excellently said dearest, all of it. Please feel free to procrastinate at work and do this more often.

Anonymous said...

yeah, Aaron! Good post man :)

I think for me, SI boils down to the fact that after an ok first issue nothing much has happenned. Plus the whole fatigue thing - im getting tired of these tentpole events every year..