Comic BooksOpinion

Opinion: DC, Marvel, and the Growing Event Fatigue

Jonah Puskar ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Assistant Comic Books Editor

As we near the end of 2016 the major comic book companies are already discussing their plans for the next year or two. This isn’t unusual, but often times it can seem ambitious. There are always hints at new, big company-wide events that are in the works, and the thought that seems to cross many readers’ minds is “Another one?” There seems to be a growing fatigue from these big events caused by frequency, company wide devotion to the event, and lack of purpose and effect. This is a cycle that alienates fans, and the two biggest offenders of course being Marvel and DC.

Image 10-18-16 at 4.59 PMIt seems every few months there is a large company-wide event being marketed by these companies, whether it be a big battle, a dangerous mystery, a soft reboot, or some sort of combination of a few or all of those elements. Arguably DC is the one slightly more to blame for this occurrence. The success of their mega-event Crisis on Infinite Earths sparked a trend, with Marvel having somewhat similar success around the same time with Secret Wars. With sales booming from the widescale events, DC and Marvel saw the new opportunity. They know that if you put many of your favorite heroes together and had a ground-shatteringly big consequence, it would attract reader.

So DC continued to put out new events every few years. It came after with events like Armageddon 2001, Zero Hour, Knightfall, and DC One Million amongst others. And while each of these events had limited time in between and had many tie in issues, people wanted to read these fresh new takes, with many being praised for their great quality in storytelling. But Pandora’s Box was open, and these events turned into a monstrous nuisance. Every idea needed to be turned into a major event, with them popping up every half a year, seemingly to always have something along the lines of a six issue core series, ten tie in miniseries, eight one shots, and the event bleeding into other ongoing titles. This is just an example, but it seems to work in many instances. DC took it only one step forward with the current wave of reboots. They weren’t new, with Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour fiddling with continuity a bit, but never a lot. The Flashpoint mega-event had the Flash resetting the timeline to make way for The New 52 multiverse, supposedly destroying the former timeline we’d come to understand since Crisis on Infinite Earths. Then with the “Convergence” event DC seemed to be aligning things to make more sense in this timeline, only to shift again with Rebirth, which is currently out now, seeming to have brought back the pre-The New 52 DC Universe while also keeping some elements of the pre-Rebirth universe. These constant shifts and the erasure of continuity not only confuses readers but also drives many away. At this point it seems DC stepped in it, and no matter what they do they can’t get themselves out of this sad rut.

Marvel, on the other hand, is just as guilty. Marvel has seemed to push to publish similar events in the years since, not that they didn’t have some before, but much more contained across a few titles at a time. Their spark seemed to have set off during the Secret Wars event, and it has snowballed since. They seem to be experiencing the same issue of too much too soon. Events like these started off well written and beloved, with lasting effects, such as Secret Wars, Infinity Gauntlet, Infinity Crusade, Age of Apocalypse, House of M, Civil War, etc. These events are amongst those counted as some of Marvel’s best story telling, but things have declined. Frequent stories in recent years, such as Fear Itself, Schism, Avengers vs. X-Men, Infinity, Original Sin, AXIS, etc. are easily forgotten with a lack of lasting consequences. Old ideas are quickly rehashed, with a new Secrets Wars and Civil War II, showing a lack of creativity that draws interest. This, along with a series of soft reboots seeming to occur every other year, re Marvel Now and All New All Different, Marvel fans are losing interest in a lackluster concept.

None of these opinions or facts are meant to deter people from reading DC or Marvel. These are good brands that have been around for a long time and will hopefully continue to be around for decades to come. But they have to understand that their self awareness of what supposedly draws sales is creating an issue. Longtime fans are starting to feel alienated, it seems like these companies are more concerned with profit than putting out quality, original storytelling. Perhaps it’s time for these companies to take a break from major events. Stick to the series they have going on already, maybe allow some books to have a small crossover, but nothing huge. Maybe it’s time for these companies to give people, and their wallets, a break.  

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