Friday, December 30, 2005

2006's "Big Events"

CBR discusses Marvel’s “Big Event” of 2006, Civil War.

Here’s my question: Do we REALLY need a “big event” every summer??

We had House of M and Infinite Crisis this year. Both were VERY big.

Last year was DC’s Identity Crisis and Marvel’s Avengers Disassembled. Crisis was bigger, but both were big.

Next year looks to be Marvel’s “Civil War” and I am sure DC will continue the event with “52” and more “One Year Later” fall-out.

I know the two major publishers are always fighting for the top spot in the “Best Sellers” for the week and month. And comic sales always seem to increase in the summertime. But do we REALLY need a big event from them every single summer? Can’t they just work on putting out good stories without having to make it a “Major Crossover” or “Big Event that changes the Universe?” Won’t people eventually get tired of all of it? I know as a retailer we like these events because they increase sales, but we also dislike them because it makes it hard to order. Usually we under or over order on these—you can’t get an order perfect for something with no history that people just aren’t sure of yet. Plus, often these events “cannibalize” other titles. Basically people only have so much money to spend on comic books, and if they pick up all the books of a major event, they might have to give up a couple of other titles in the process in order to stay in their budget.

Another thing about these events – do they REALLY change the universe? Sure, the Avengers Disassembled killed a few big names, and lead into House of M. House of M reduced the number of mutants in the Marvel Universe and is supposedly leading into this new Civil War. Identity Crisis leads into the Infinite Crisis which will bring about the One Year Later events. They all seem to bring on the next event. But do they REALLY change things? Infinite Crisis seems to have little to do with the Identity Crisis at this point. House of M killed of mainly obscure mutants and has seemed to have very little impact on the main books in the Marvel Universe—Wolverine probably being the only exception. Sure, they are cool epics, and it’s a way to build hype and excitement that captures the media and draws in new readers. That’s all very good! But for long-time fans these events every year seem to become irritating. Their favorite characters get killed or loose powers. Books they enjoy end or have new characters fill the suits of the long-time heroes. The titles they pick up regularly suddenly become involved in a cross-over that almost forces them to pick up books they wouldn’t otherwise, just to follow the story.

And for all of the hype, are the “big event” stories all that good, or do people just read them because they feel that they need to in order to know what’s happening with their favorite characters? After House of M ended many fans said that while the Marvel U did need to expunge mutants. Lots of people thought it started well, and that there were good moments, but by and large readers thought it was far too drawn out. It is too early to tell if this will also be the case with Infinite Crisis, but I know that having read all of the 6-issue mini-series crossover books I am starting to wonder how all this could possibly fit into the remaining issues.

As comic book fans, we tend to take the good with the bad. As a retail store owner I want the industry to do all it can to encourage new readership. I am sure I will read the Civil War stories, as will many of you. The question is will we enjoy it? Will it be worth it? Are hype and flash the necessary ingredients to getting more readers? Do more books create more readers than just making current books better? If not, then how do we convince publishers of this?

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