Event Fatigue | Comics | Salt Lake City Weekly

Event Fatigue 

Comics publishers trot out still more universe-changing —and wallet-lightening—plot developments.

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Big, company-wide event comics have long been a standard of the industry. From Crisis on Infinite Earths to the original Secret Wars, DC and Marvel have always tried to stir things up, make their stories more exciting and maybe breathe a little life into flailing titles. But over the past few years, the two big companies have been lodged in a battle to constantly one-up each other by making the events bigger in scope and widening their sweep over the respective universes. This is the kind of thing that’s taking its toll on the casual reader and bringing on a serious case of event fatigue.

DC is kicking things off a little earlier than usual by releasing not one, but two big events this year. War of the Green Lanterns (pictured) begins in March and picks up threads that were planted in last year’s Blackest Night event. War is being relegated to only Green Lantern titles, but that means if you only read one Green Lantern title a month (as opposed to all of them), you’ll need to start paying attention to the others to keep up on what’s going on. This is also a bit of an extra push, since the Green Lantern movie opens in theaters this summer.

While the smaller Green Lantern event is going on in one corner of the DC Universe, writer Geoff Johns will also head up the much-bigger-in-scope Flashpoint, beginning in May. While Flashpoint itself is only a five-issue series, there is an additional 15-issue miniseries that will flesh out the story that begins in the main event. And if you don’t want to miss anything, it won’t come cheap. Even if DC holds the line at a $2.99 price point, the Flashpoint tie-in series alone will cost you an additional $45 on top of whatever you’re spending on monthly comics anyway. That’s not even counting the mini itself, or the already monthly Flash title that will surely be affected. For a die-hard fan, that’s not too bad—but it’s a sure-fire way to scare off the casual reader.

Marvel isn’t an innocent bystander in this type of marketing, either. They’ll be trotting out the seven-issue Fear Itself series this spring, complete with a prologue issue and several tie-in series, as well. Historically, Marvel has been a little better at making their events relatively stand-alone, so you can read only the main title and won’t miss much else by avoiding the tie-ins. DC, on the other hand, has been known to throw out enormous plot points in one series and finish them in another, irritating some fans who are already weary of how much money they spend a month on comics.

For some, it’s easier (and cheaper) to avoid all of these problems by simply skipping the event books and catching up online. Comic book sites and message boards are notorious for spoiler-heavy reviews and discussions that may not be as fun, but at least you won’t be bogged down with extra homework to make the most of the one book you actually want. If one were to go that route, but still wanted their fix of capes and masks, this would be the perfect opportunity to check out some of the smaller, independent superhero books on the shelf. Invincible might be the best of them all over the past few years, so why not take a break from the mainstream and help out the little guys, instead?

Every writer probably dreams of the day he’s given the keys to an entire universe to have his way—and if the idea is good, more power to him. But for those who are tired of the promise that “nothing will ever be the same again,” only for it to be almost exactly the same a few short months later, these big events are sometimes just another distracting side effect of otherwise great serialized storytelling.

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