With the end of 2016 came the end of Marvel Comics latest big line-encompassing summer event series Civil War II. It was an event that was plagued with delays, extended well beyond the original ending point, and pitted the heroes of the Marvel Universe against one another once again.
It’s exactly the type of story that Marvel Comics needs to stop doing.
When looked at from a sales point of view, Civil War II was a success as most of their big-time events have been. In November, Civil War II #7 took the #3 spot in sales in Diamond Comics list of top 100 comics of that month. It was only beat by issues ten and eleven of the current Batman series that had the hero taking a team of villains to take on Bane.
Creatively though, the series is exactly everything that has plagued the modern times of Marvel and DC off and on over the last decade or more. Big events that bog down the line and in the long run go far longer than they should, often times making the heroes we love fight one another for very thin reasons.
Marvel has been engaging in these types of events quite regularly since 2005’s House of M, another event from writer Brian Michael Bendis who wrote Civil War II, and hit their stride with 2006’s original Civil War.
At times they have found more success both financially and creatively better than other events, 2011’s Fear Itself or 2013’s Age of Ultron being a few of the events that have been considered a miss with most fans and critics alike.
DC Comic of course had very many hits and misses with those types of events in the same time period, both publishers having had hit and miss events in the times past as well, so Marvel is not alone in this issue.
The problem with these events is that they might have huge sales because people buy them thinking they have to so they don’t miss out on whatever moment that “will change everything forever,” but in the long-run they bog the line down because invariably most of the published line will either choose to or be pushed to opt in to tell a tie-in story.
Then there are the increasing delays. Civil War II and 2015’s Secret Wars are the most notable delays, but other events have had delays int he past. The problem with these huge delays that were experienced is that they cause readers to no longer have a stake or care in the event conclusion.
This is because in the case of the 2015 and 2016 events, the line wide relaunches that were meant to come in the aftermath of the event began and were in progress for months before the events came to an end. Meaning that any stakes were pretty minimal in the event since we were shows that things are back to business as usual with some changes following the event.
Those relaunches or initiatives that come out of the events are another part of the problem.
Titles that launched following Secret Wars were part of the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe initiative that were put into place to show how new and different the line was after the universe ending event was ended. Problem is that most of the titles were at the most 12 to 15 issues in, most of them less than that, before they were pulled into an event that took up most of the year followed by the title either being ended/relaunched for the Marvel NOW 2.0 initiative or continued with a brand new storyline.
That means the titles barely had anytime to find their own identity before they were pulled into an event and then rebooted/relaunched/or changed.
It creates an eternal cycle for the titles, that had been going for years now, where many titles and characters are never allowed to find their footing or grow before they are wrapped up into a consuming event.
To be fair, not all tie-ins are ones that bog down the title they are part of. Many times writers are able to find ways to use the event to fit into their plans for a character and can tell stories that keep moving their own storylines forward.
Many times though, that isn’t what happens.
That’s not to say that events should be stopped. On the contrary, events are generally fun and great ways to team-up heroes that might not regularly work together and puts them against threats that take more heroes than just one team or a solo hero.
They do not have to be these long drawn out all consuming events though. For example, this year’s upcoming Monsters Unleashed is the perfect example of a way to do a event (as is the current Justice League vs Suicide Squad from DC Comics). Monsters Unleashed is a five issue series being shipped bi-weekly from January through March, with just seven tie-in issues to accompany it.
Those seven tie-ins though do not tie up any ongoing books though. They are seven one-shots that stand alongside ongoing titles, with either the same creative team or a different team.
This means that the Champions, All-New X-Men, Avengers, etc can all take part in the event (outside of appearing in the main event series) without their regular books needing to dedicate issues to telling the story.
While I never take part in the Marvel vs DC war that most fans and critics seem to want to keep pushing, the way that DC is running their titles now is one that Marvel should be aiming for in their own.
With Rebirth all the titles are being allowed to grow and do their own stories, with no real big events on the horizon. The aforementioned Justice League vs Suicide Squad only affects the two team titles mentioned in the event’s title and will be the story that kickoffs a new Justice League of America series.
Even if the rumored Watchemen/Rebirth event suggested to be coming sometime this year comes out and affects some of the titles, they will have been mostly running for well over a year by that point without major line interference.
Basically, while giant events make big money, it’s time for Marvel to give them a bit of a rest and go for smaller events and put more into the regular titles to try and make that same money without bogging an entire line down with a drawn out story that might creatively hurt characters or their titles.
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