The Calm After the (Comic Book Event) Storm


Remember all those times we begged for a reprieve from big events?  From Civil War to Secret Invasion to Final Crisis–many of us complained from “event fatigue” while others just refused to buy into the madness and avoided them altogether. I am sure I mused, often, about just wanting the individual books to just “do their thing” and roll along on their own, without having to worry about tying into the epic continuity demanded by the event.

I think we’re here, guys and gals. I think we are in a real “post-event” time of year, and I think it is safe to whisper, “So far…so good!”

I think DC and Marvel, so far, are doing a good job of letting the characters (and readers) really explore the new status quo left behind the recent events of Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, at least for the most part. Let’s discuss, shall we?

Marvel’s really dug deep into Dark Reign without making too big a deal of it, though I am not sure why we necessarily need Dark Reign versions of various titles…well, perhaps they help focus on the mechanics of this new world order/odor, but I would actually prefer those stories to just fold into the normal books. Personally, I hope this lasts awhile–at least another 8-10 months–just so we can see what really happens when the bad guys win.  Releases like Dark Reign: Cabal are kind of cool because they highlight specific moments–I think Marvel is using these mini-anthologies pretty effectively.

With the individual books, like Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil, it’s pretty much business as usual (as always was the case with Daredevil throughout, really) and we are seeing many books just settle into the personal and local challenges of the main character. This has been extremely fun–there is a certain satisfaction that I can “just” buy a single title and not worry about missing out on other books. It also allows the creators to really dig a bit deeper into the specific psyche of the books and bring back elements that made the books so successful in the first place–while I would have preferred Kingpin’s re-emergence to come at a later date, I think Brubaker has been handling his return quite nicely, though, honestly, I would love to Murdock take a real, honest-to-goodness vacation. The Fantastic Four should recruit him off-planet or out-dimension, like they did with Spider-Man last month. The guy needs to chillax.

Even the books that are more actively involved with post-event stories has been humming along nicely within their pages. Dark Avengers has been focused less on overall tyranny and more with patching up things for Osborn. The New Avengers have been dealing with more personal frustrations, tying up loose ends and figuring where they stand.  It’s nice, honestly, to watch some actual stories be told, rather than watch the writers struggle with lining everyone up so they can be in the right New York neighborhood when the Big Battle takes place in the event book.

Some post-event stories have not been as successful. Perhaps I am just not hardcore enough, but try as I might, I am just not getting down with Nick Fury’s new book, even though I bet it’s probably pretty important to get his story nailed down for future events.  I’ve dropped Mighty Avengers because I just don’t care.

But it’s good, really, to go back to basics, at least in the Marvel realm, I am looking forward to seeing the creators really stretch a bit before they get called in by some editor explaining, “You know all that work you had planned? It’s cut, we need you to get your stories in line with this alien masseuse invasion that we have planned for the holidays…”

We are also experiencing two expressions of the new status quo resulting from Final Crisis. The most obvious repercussion was Batman’s death, hence the ongoing Battle of the Cowl series, which is basically putting the final pieces into place for the new Batman. Succinct and spare, I have been pleased with the series so far, though I am not totally happy about Bruce Wayne’s absence from the “real” world. As an aside, I am curious to see if Detective Comics will be following up on Gaiman’s “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” story…Good night, Batman, sure, but we are going to wake up eventually, right?  Batman’s death is echoes the murder of Captain America, and it will be interesting to see what parallels we’ll see as the year goes on.  Batman’s death still hasn’t resonated in the other books–this is a glaring misstep, especially in Justice League, you’d think they would be freaking out–but I guess we’ll just have to give them time. The nice thing about Cap’s death is that it truly reverberated across many of the Marvel books. Given the incredible schedule issues we’ve seen to have in most of DC’s books (Green Lantern and Superman seem to be the only ones that are on track), this is not a surprise, but still…it’s not like they didn’t know this was coming….right?

The other status quo change is, of course, Superman, which has been handled pretty smoothly.  Given the length of the World of Krypton series (13 issues?), it does seem like Superman’s gonna be on New Krypton for the long haul.  I am looking forward to seeing Superman’s loyalties pushed and how other heroes attitudes change. But I think the overall reactions to Superman’s change of locale have been pretty consistent, though I would expect there would be more grumbling from folks regarding his rather abrupt departure, especially after Batman’s death, which, sadly has been completely ignored by the Superman books as far as I can tell.  

Forgive the tangent, but it occurs to me that the inability for DC to really address the repercussions of Batman’s death in the other books strikes me as unacceptable.  Sure, the Batbooks are dealing with, but we don’t get even a backup story of Clark realizing that Bruce is gone?  Did I miss something? The friendship between Clark and Bruce is along the lines of Hal Jordan and Barry Allen’s–and look how Geoff Johns made sure to celebrate that friendship in the opening scenes of The Flash: RebirthNeil Gaiman’s rumination on the death of Batman was interesting, but it was basically out of continuity, more of a reflection piece to be shared with the reader than in the actual DC Universe. Who knows, but I think the death of Batman is at least as important as the death of Captain America–maybe we don’t need to draw it out like Marvel did Cap’s, but like Linda Loman said in Death of a Salesman, “attention must be paid!”

Okay, thanks for bearing with me there. DC, of course, is getting ready for the next event, Blackest Night, which I think I’ve heard will involve other characters, but we’ll have to see.  I must say, based on DC’s recent record, I bet if there are crossovers with other books, it’s going to be a huge mess.  I mean, look at Justice League referring to events that won’t happen for two more months! Look at the end of the second part of Gaiman’s Batman story where it tells you to check out Battle of Cowl #1, two months late.  Embarrassing. If you can’t handle coordinating the books, then don’t try it. Yes, I am sure it is hard, but it is not like anyone is demanding the stories interplay–DC is setting themselves up for failure.  Yeah, yeah, no one cares since it will be in trades anyway, but why even try if you’re just gonna blow it?  

Events, when well done, can be fun. They can unify the readership and get people introduced to different characters and titles. However, they can also be drawn out, overblown, prone to scheduling issues and expensive. After this rash of events, it has been nice to let the books do their thing and give everyone a breath.  If I had to compare the two, I would have to say that Marvel has done a better job at re-examining the status quo and giving creators some time to reflect and respond to the new challenges that have emerged from the aftershocks of Secret Invasion.  I think DC has stumbled with how it has presented the world post-Crisis. Personally, I cannot believe that everyone’s not in therapy after the events of Final Crisis: Revelations.  The world was seriously–seriously–screwed up (reminds me a bit of after the big earthquake in Gotham) yet none of the books have dealt with the recovery. Scratch that–we did see a bit of crazy Mary Marvel in the JSA, but still, you’d think we’d have some soul searching with Wonder Woman and, as I said, some kind of reaction from the JLA regarding Batman’s death and a bit more specific discussions regarding Superman’s new gig in Zod’s military.  

Life is all about showing up, sure, but it’s also about follow-through. If a publisher is going to do an event that is supposed to define a new reality, than have fun with it and really explore it. Final Crisis was obviously a major misstep, a drunken binge that DC is trying walk off; how else can you explain the lack of anyone discussing some of the darkest moment’s in Earth history?  Secret Invasion was a clunky event issue to issue, but Marvel has been pretty consistent with Osborn running the show and it’s been fun to see various books deal with the new world order.  

So, while I am enjoying the Prelude to Blackest Night, I don’t have hopes for the event impacting more than just the Lantern books. We’ll see. As for Marvel, I am just enjoying these mini events within the titles and looking forward to some great, local stories.

How about you? Do you miss the events? What books are you reading that have benefited most from not being tied to an event?


Mike Romo is an actor in LA. He apologizes for sounding so bad in the lastest podcast, he was trying to use a new microphone and it failed him. You can email, friend and follow.

Comments

  1. i miss when we didnt have constant events, but at the same time, i think theyve left us with a very interesting place (final crisis aside) to explore.

  2. I thought Johns did a nice job talking about the death of Batman in Darkest Night #0. Having GL meet up with the Flash at the unmarked gravesite at the Wayne plot.

  3. I’m feeling a bit burnt out. I’m still following the bulk of the Superman titles, but I am being very selective with my Marvel purchases. I’ve dropped everything Avengers and X-Men to focus on the books that don’t fit into the overall stories, like Captain Britain and Daredevil. I was worried about Nova, since I am not following the other cosmic books, but I’ve been very impressed with how D&A have kept the story moving with little references to the bigger crossover. I loved the last issue, and I really didn’t feel like I was missing anything.

  4. I’m gald there is no events I have to read at this moment. War of Kings is on, but I didnt care for reading it. Even if Blackest Night is on the horizon….I want comics to stay this way for like, a year or two. No events or anything! Just want to relax and see my favorite characters go on adventures.

    Although Dark Reign isnt an event; it certainly feels like one. Especially with the 20 odd comics that have ‘Dark Reign:’ in the titles coming out this summer

  5. "Why even try if you are just going to blow it," classic.  This is my biggest issue with DC, they keep trying to do coherent universe building, then inevitable lateness happens, then they just shrug shoulders and tell us ‘what are gonna do.’  This just leads me to the classic notion that ‘if you do not have a back-up plan, then you don’t have a plan.’  That is exactly how I feel about DC’s coherency.  I really enjoy the stories, but they do not seem to mesh like Marvel’s do.

  6. I am glad for the break in events especially secret invasion. I am dark rein so far but I am not sure if I can wait another 8 to 10 months for the big smack down pay off DA vs Avengers that is unless something else interesting and unexpected comes up to distract me more. So far….not so much

  7. I think event tie in books can be handled in two ways, either the publisher is trying to expose you to different characters and hope that you continue reading them (I started to read Nova after SI) or the publisher is trying to leech more money out of you (Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns, which tied into Final Crisis how? [still a great book though]).  I would hope that the publisher would be trying to do the former. 

    I do not like an event that feels forced upon a title (Secret Invasion: X-Men) and am always appreciative when a book is still allowed to continue its arc in a natural way, the way that Captain America, Uncanny and ASM didn’t seem to leave their arcs for Secret Invasion ones (aside from their tie-in minis). 

    I do get nervous when I read the solicitations for Blackest Night and see Batman and Superman tie-ins.  Then again, I’m an addict and in the words of Barney Gumble (upon learning that he was getting a life time supply of Duff) "Hook it in my veins". 

  8. Mike Romo (@rikemomo) says:

    hi guys!

    @forestjwp – I just opened up the Blackest Night from FCD–you are right, this was a nice coda to the Batman death…I hadn’t read it because my store didn’t participate in FCD…it’s apparently just expensive to deal with. It’s good that Johns addressed it, but, like, really? we ruminate on Batman’s death in some half story given away for free? I just think it is an insult to the character and the title. Yes, we got Gaiman’s reflection piece, but still, I think that Batman’s death is just a bigger deal. But whatever, I will let it go.

     On an aside–is Blackest Night now starting with this issue 0?  are we "in it"?

     

  9. We’re not making a big deal about Batman’s death for the simple reason that he’s not dead. He’s lost in time.  The people in the DCU think he’s dead, but we know better.  So it’s *not* a big deal.

  10. I agree with you Mike in that this is a great time to be reading comics.  All of the changes that came from each of these events have been positive, and the stories coming from them have been great.  

  11. @mike No the event starts in July with issue #1. #0 was released early to hook readers for the summer event on FCBD. The event is not starting (either in GL or GLC) until July.

  12. I am still a sucker for a good all encompassing event story, but fatigue has crept in over the past year or so.  I think one of my biggest problems became the fact that so many titles had to interrupt the flow of their storylines in order to participate.  One of the comic world’s strengths is all the variety.  Even within the confines of the superhero genre different books can have wildly different tones.  One of the best examples has to be Peter David’s X-Factor.  For the first 6-12 months it was experiencing great word of mouth for it’s difference to other mutant books and it’s strength of character.  However constant links to events meant he had to basically suspend his bigger story for 2-3 months at a time.  As a consequence interest in the book severely waned.  I think the likes of Dark Reign have given individual writers a rich pool of ideas to draw from, but they’re also finally free to do their own thing.

  13. @ Conor – but if his fellows think he’s dead, wouldn’t they still be greiving? Remember how deep Batman went into denial after Superman died? It did seem to have a bigger affect on people.

    Here’s another weird thing about Batman’s death. Didn’t each of "his’ books have him essentially die in a different way? In the main title he died in a helicopter explosion (but didn’t). In BATO he died when some dragon aete him (yeah, right). In FC he was killed by Darkseid (or not).

    @ Mike nice overview of the current status quo. It would be nice if things were allowed to play out for a bit, but it seems like everything is fast forward these days. I barely got used to post-Civil War when SI happened. I still feel like it was yesterday when 52 happened. From the Marvel side, it looks to me like the next big event is going to be a huge mystical/magical event. 

    BTW, on the most recent Cup of Joe, there was a Mike taking Joe to task on the Spider-Woman delay. That wasn’t you perchance?

    http://www.marvel.com/news/comicstories.7800.My_Cup_o~apos~_Joe~colon~_Week_52 

  14. Mike Romo (@rikemomo) says:

    @ patio — thanks for the nice comments..I wish I could have gone over more comics, but I figured people would get the idea.  That actually wasn’t me on Cup of Joe, but thanks for worndering!

     @conor you bring up a good point that WE know he’s not dead, but still…the characters seem to really be pretty blasé about it…"Oh, Bruce? Oh, he died a bit back…yeah, I dunno what we’re gonna so with his JLA locker stuff either, probably take it down to Goodwill…"

  15. Good article, Mike.  I really don’t give a crap about any of this stuff, and that kind of makes me sad.  Reminds me of the last three years of my marriage.  She’d buy something titilating that would have excited me ten years ago but as much as I wanted to I couldn’t muster up much enthusiasm for it.

    I’m going to go kill myself now.

  16. Did we just have a moment?

  17. MARVEL

    My suspension of disbelief ENDS where Norman Osborn could be given control of the Marvel Universe. Its for that reason that I absolutely CRINGE when I see "Dark Reign" across the top of my Marvel books. I HATE it! HATE IT!

    I have "Dark Reign Fatigue" and am just trudging thru Marvel until they get back to a point where I never have to see Tommy Lee Osborn again (God willing!)Believe it or not, New Avengers is still good!

    The Mutant Universe is so convoluted. I thought "198" was how many mutants were left, and not how many X-Titles there were. The mutants are in need of a BIG ENEMA and need to consolidate their mutants into one cohesive idea.

    Give me more Marvel Cosmic stuff!!!! Nova, GotG, Etc!!!! 

    Old Man Logan is the only Wolverine I am reading.

    Will the Fantastic Four ever be relevant again?

    Remender on Punisher ROCKS!

    The Captain Britain-verse is great!

    Why yes I do still love Captain America! (The comic book)

    DC

    I am big into Flash Rebirth, Green Lantern titles, and Batman. Not into Batgirl or BatWoman.

    JSA has been a must read……. at least up until next month. My fingers are crossed.

    JLA. *Sigh* TRAVESTY! This should be AWESOME! Is it time to reboot it yet once again?

    Jonah Hex is awesome! BUY IT BEFORE IT GOES AWAY!

    Fables should have lived "Happily Ever After" when the war was over.

    Others in my stack… Scalped, House of Mystery.

    Independants

    Walking Dead & Astounding Wolfman still kick ass. So does Kick Ass. Crossed is a great guilty pleasure!

     

    I cant think of anything else right now. Its Weds, and I have books to read!

  18. @ patio~  Batman didn’t die in RIP.  In an issue after the final RIP issue, there’s a three panel sequence where Batman has returned from the crash and is talking to Alfred about having to go investigate Orion’s death, which is how he enters the FC series.    

  19. Batman is just frozen, but Pauly Shore will dig him out and help him, until that amnesia is cured and then he’ll be back.

  20. Mike, I’m really glad you mentioned this. It’s been hitting me a little more forcefully with each passing Wednesday: "These… are just good comics. There’s no checklist. There’s no ‘main book.’ They crossed over, there were consequences, and now we’re living with them. That time all those fatigued people kept saying they wanted is here, and it feels good."

    There isn’t even anything on the horizon. Nothing is being teased. Luxuriate!

    And… yeah, War of Kings, sure. But War of Kings is so "opt-in only," it’s ridiculous. It’s not like they’re getting it in your Punisher or whatever.

  21. @ Neb – If you say so. I’m not really confident saying what happened post R.I.P. It seems to me like continuity kind of broke down with Final Crisis. Like any and all of these stories could have been happening concurrently, even contradictorily. Maybe that’s why each title had its own version of how he died. I don’t read every Bat-title so I may be overstating this, but it seemed that way to me.

    I don’t know if Morrison originally intended RIP and FC to go together or not, but it’s interesting that Batman dies in each and they end up happening around the same time.

  22. Alien Masseuse?

  23. A bit of an overstatement if for no reason other than Batman didn’t die in RIP.  And he didn’t "die" in Final Crisis.  Not even DC can kill the effin Batman.

  24. Next event for Marvel (or the event after the next) will likely involve Namor. Remember the Atlantean diaspora? They are all in hiding among the surface-dwellers. "Atlantis Rising" or "Yes, We Have No Atlantis"

  25. @Unoob:  I agree with almost all of your statement.  I liked the McDuffie run on FF and DR:FF and can’t wait for Hickman to take over.  Millar’s FF was a little bland.  I also like the DR status quo.

  26. Okay, so Captain America dies but Batman lives on in prehistoric times?  What?  Batman is iconic, but I was sort of looking forward to the idea that someone other than Bruce Wayne takes up the mantle.  He’s got the biggest extended family in DC, one of them’s bound to be less psychotic than Azrael.

  27. im hoping for a lot of good events. i love war of kings more than secret invasion and DR is very aweomse. final crisis was not my cup of tea but superman world of new krypton and flash rebirth very much is

  28. im hoping for a lot of good events. i love war of kings more than secret invasion and DR is very aweomse. final crisis was not my cup of tea but superman world of new krypton and flash rebirth very much is