Monday, August 1, 2011

Has Marvel Killed the Crossover?

Years ago when a comic book company wanted to create a big event, they had something called a "crossover". Perhaps the JLA would meet the JSA, or the Avengers would fight the Defenders. Whatever it was, it was a big deal because these folks rarely met each other in their comics.

Enter the 80's, when DC decided to do the mother of all crossovers: "Crisis on Infinite Earths". It gave them a chance to reboot many titles, as well as clean up the mess they had made with all their extraneous Earths out there (Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, Earth X, etc). Again, this was big stuff because it was a crossover that was--up to that point--never before seen. Heroes from every imagineable timeline and team were brought together--and killed! Seriously, that one crossover event was responsible for the death of The Flash, Supergirl, and the original Dove (only one of which is still dead).

Marvel brought us Contest of Champions, Secret Wars, Atlantis Attacks, and Acts of Vengeance, while DC came back with Zero Hour (another reboot), Bloodlines, and Invasion among other things, most of which were less-than-stellar events. Then stuff seemed to die down a bit. There were still events, but they weren't as big.

Around the mid-2000's, someone in Marvel got the idea of trying it again but going big. The result was Civil War and it was probably Marvel's strongest attempt to date. Man, it was a great storyline! We saw heroes become villains and the entire Marvel Universe was shook by big moments like the return of the Punisher, the death of Giant Man, and the public unmasking of Spider-Man.

There are many who will say this particular crossover was stupid or the storyline was convoluted, but I enjoyed reading it. I thought Marvel had hit it just about perfectly, though I was never that thrilled with the ending. I thought Cap should have beat Iron Man down and walked away the winner.

Anyway, after the success of Civil War, Marvel somehow fell into this ugly trend. It was as if they lost all confidence in the solo appeal of their titles and decided instead to flow from one crossover event to another. After Civil War we fell almost immediately into Secret Invasion. Unfortunately, Secret Invasion crossed over into the Avengers titles for no reason, filling all of the issues during that period with filler stories that never progressed the main storyline. And the main title seemed to falter in the middle before ending big with the death of the Wasp and the rise of Norman Osborn. And hey, let's not forget World War Hulk that appeared soon after!

Secret Invasion gave way to Dark Reign, another lackluster attempt that briefly gave us titles like Dark Avengers. Dark Reign led to Siege, which gave Marvel an excuse to finally kill off The Sentry for no particular reason other than the fact that they were completely clueless as to the potential of the character.

The heroes barely had time to recover from Siege before they were suddenly thrown into this latest event, Fear Itself. Have I forgotten any? Probably. I didn't even mention Annihilation, The Thanos Imperative, or War of Kings, all of which happen to the "galaxy" heroes.

My point: does anyone even bother to read the Marvel crossovers anymore? Honestly, when was the last time Marvel ever ran two consecutive months without some form of crossover event?

It seems hard to imagine a time when you wouldn't like a thick juicy steak...unless that's all you had for every single meal. After a few weeks, you might even consider a bowl of oatmeal a welcome change for dinner. Marvel has fed us a constant diet of crossovers now, and with Fear Itself just starting to wind down Marvel is already hard at work on the next "big event".

So here's my question to you: do crossovers mean anything to you any more? Do you get excited seeing what Marvel has planned next, or have they gone to the well once too often and need to give it all a rest for a couple of years before trying again and making us believe it really is "something big"?


Rick said...

I don't even know why they do them anymore. I love team ups and cross overs but it cost too much to keep up with plots that constantly continue. I don't really buy comic books anymore. Once in a while but not really.

Ryo Vie said...

Crossovers have become just awful. And way too many tie-ins. The FF: Fear Itself one shot was horrendous and did nothing! It could have been told in 3 panels of one of the main Fear Itself books. What a disappointment and waste of $3.99.

No, I say that Marvel needs to give it a rest for a couple of years. Let the staff think for a while so they really can come up with something "BIG".

Anonymous said...

Only if the story is compelling! Not just for the sake of selling more books.

MOCK! said...

The fact that Civil War, House of M, and Secret Invasion changed NOTHING really bugged me. I hate when you can't follow a big event just by buying the big event...all the tie-ins...ugh.

Brian Reaves said...

I completely forgot about House of M! That whole "no more mutants" thing led to a few X-Men crossover events that have just recently finished up...leading to "Schism", of course.

Anonymous said...

My quarrels with the crossovers are:

1. Slow Down
2. Don't have so many tie-ins/don't make every series tie in to the crossover
3. Don't make the crossovers lead into each other crossovers (it gets confusing)

Also I have to say, thank you for being the only person on earth other then myself who liked Sentry but hated what they did to him. I felt like I was cheated of an awesome new superhero.

William said...

NO, crossovers don't hold any appeal for me anymore, because I gave up reading comics after the huge crapfest that was "Civil War". I cannot express enough how much I despise that thing.

First of all, it was a complete rip-off of "Kingdom Come" (which at least had the decency of being an Elseworlds story). From the super prison built to house all the trouble makers and non-conformists, to Captain America taking Batman's role and Iron Man standing in for Superman. Even the catalyst for the whole Civil War event was a big explosion, caused by a fight between super heroes and villains, that killed a bunch of innocent people (just like in KC). I can't believe nobody ever noticed how much Mark Millar plagiarized from Mark Waid for Civil War. So much so I'm surprised Waid hasn't sued.

Aside from that, the story was just badly written. Character's entire personalities and motivations (that had been developed over years of continuity BTW) were suddenly and completely changed to suit the "author's" needs. For example he turned Tony Stark and Reed Richards into total dicks because he needed them to act in a certain way (that they never had before) to advance his so-called story. And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I dropped almost every Marvel comic I was reading (including the Ultimate stuff) after that particular crossover. The only thing I continued to read was the Spider-Man stuff, but I eventually dropped all that as well, after I came to realize that the people currently working for Marvel care nothing for the characters that they supposedly grew up loving.

Mike said...

Marvel needs to just stop the crossovers for at least a couple years.
I refuse to buy them these days and am on the verge of refusing to buy anything Marvel(a lifetime hobby is hard to stop though).

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you've all heard about Spider-Island by now, it's not a big crossover but I think it still counts. It upsets me too because a few series' coming right out of the "Fear itself" tie-ins are going straight into the Spider-Island tie ins. For example the new Hercules series (but I can't complain about that because I love Greg Pak and it looks pretty damn good)

César Hernández-Meraz said...

William, if you ever want to retry comic books, go into the Cosmic side. The mentioned Annihilation events are great, mostly self-contained, and do not feature as many books as the other events (they do have spin-offs, but they come at different months than the main book).

Also, all of the recent Hercules books (since he took over Hulk's mag) are nice, as well.

D.o.s. said...

Crossovers are a pain now, I miss the days when you could buy a series of a character and just stick to that one series, its one of the reasons I love hellblazer so much. In fact apart from the odd Swamp thing tie ins, there was a clause for hellblazer stating that it wasn't allowed to crossover to any other characters book, because let's face it, if superman suddenly turned up in hellblazer it woulda been just wierd. And it actually made hellblazer more realistic. But now even that's gone to the dogs with the cancellation of hellblazer in favour of the younger constantine in justice league dark. So now he's a magician surrounded by superheros and whatnot who's abilities kinda make constantine not that special anymore in comparison. Long gone are the days when I could stick to one title and the odd one shot and crossover tie in that didn't empty pocket completely. Now I have to buy 50 different titles just to get one story arc with one character I like. I think it's the reason you don't see the old ''read x-men #xx to see what spiderman is on about in this speech bubble - ed'' anymore, because these days they'd have to do it on every panel. Crossovers and tie ins should be a once a year event if that. I mean give a guy a gold nugget once a year and it's something he'll likely look forward too, but sstart giving him it every minute of every hour of every day and it just don't seem that special anymore...not the best metaphor, but u know what I mean right. one of the reasons I like the walking dead, and things like Y-the last man, Preacher, Storm Dogs is because I know I'm getting a title with a story arc that I don't have to go buying 50 different other titles issues just to enjoy. These days crossovers and tieins, and of course the reboots and relaunches that we are forever getting these days, feel like nothing but a way for the company's to get people to buy titles they wouldn't normally buy unless they're fav character was in them. Which used to be fine when it was the rare event it used to be, because it actually got people buying the full run of another title because they ended up liking it, as opposed to now when people will probably only buy the title of a character they wouldn't normally, or haven't ever read, just so they can follow some totally unneccessarally complex story arc that at the end of the day, doesn't really do much except make you feel like you've missed something when your fav character starts talking about some event that happened in another book every other bloody panel, and then that just pees you off, so you end up just not buying comics at all anymore, and find yourself leaving a huge ass rant of comment on an article you read about whether crossovers are special anymore, because all the time and effort you invested in your much beloved character was just messed up cuz you were forced to buy a hundred different comics from a hundred different characters titles you don't even like. And even when they kill off said hated characters, and you think, finally I can settle down with my fav caped crusader and not have to worry about buying anymore books with the last son of krypton in....they bring the back to life, and it starts all over again. and then they say, well because we made too many universes, we're gonna do just this one crossover event to pin it all down to one continuity, and think, finally, no more working out which universes version of this superdude I'm reading about anymore...but then even after said event, they start doing more tie ins to that, and countdowns to it even tho it already happened, and then arrgh, and just grrr, and.....ya know arggghh >BOOM!!! Head explodes< (to find out what happened to this user, buy issue #24 of uncanny comments and #63 of ultimate comments, issue fact ya know what, we'll print a storyarc checklist for you in the next comment....because we know how you all love those f****** things right?)

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