Do the Big Two In Comics Depend Upon Crises More Than Good Story Telling?
How often have you sat and wondered if DC and Marvel are just jumping from crisis to crisis, or big event to big event to merely generate sales? How many people wonder why there aren’t better writers on certain projects, while the people who you can’t believe even have a job in the industry keep picking up projects? We wonder this too, so this View2View is dealing with the following question: Do the Big Two (DC and Marvel) rely upon crises and dramatic events more than good storytelling?
(Not So Silent) Mike’s View:
The quick and simple answer here is yes, yes they absolutely do, but to be fair we have to fight for both sides and so I will be taking the side of agreement with this question. I have been a comic book fan since the mid-nineties. I am still an avid comic reader and, more than ever, a supporter of creator-owned comics. I think the biggest reason for this is that I have become disillusioned with the bigger two companies and their approaches to the superhero genre. Do I still read some of the books? Yes I do. I thoroughly enjoy some of the twists and turns that a few of the DC books have taken. My favorites are Dark Justice League, Animal Man and Swamp Thing. All are brilliantly written titles that are well-preserved and working on pivotal plot points as we go along. As for Marvel, I used to read Astonishing X-Men, X-Force, some of their Spider-Man titles, as well as New Avengers, but as of late I have fallen off a few of those titles. I was a monthly reader and when either of the Big 2 had big battles or secret missions I was in love because it was one book, a straight line of them with a few tie-ins that weren’t critical to keeping up with the story.
As the years have come and gone the Big 2 have seemingly fallen into the “we’ll out-big-story you no matter what it takes” and so they are doing everything in their power to make the biggest impact. DC does an awkward soft reboot and names it the DCnU of the New 52. Then Marvel also decides to up the ante and creates Fear Itself or as one of my favorite web comic’s The-Gutters.com called it, “Everyone Gets a Hammer!” So we wound up with Juggallosus, a weird hybrid cross between two of my favorite characters. Now we see DC heading into a direction with a few of their books. However, Marvel isn’t quite finished and has decided that two of their biggest and most primary good guy teams, The X-Men and The Avengers, need to kick the hell out of each other because they are having a disagreement, so now it appears that we are going to witness Civil War 2, but this time Iron Man and Cap are on the same side.
I’m a bit of a cynic, but I do still wish they would focus on the writing a bit. Big action is a helluva lot of fun, but I miss the days when we got something more out of them. For instance, Civil War had a pretty solid theme, as did Blackest Night, even though both those books had what seemed like a trillion side stories each. If you need to rehash and give yourselves an amazing example of great story telling, just check out Identity Crisis. I love and will always love comics, but here’s my advice for the Big Two: slow down on the “universe changing” storylines and put some humanity into it!
Comic Canuck’s View
No, the Big Two – DC and Marvel – are not sacrificing good storytelling by staging big events that take place across every comic title in their respective universes. Having said that, don’t get me started on Marvel’s Spider-Man Clone Saga from the ‘90s – that was a soul-sucking anomaly.
Individual stories and issues are fantastic, but I have always found that the big events are ones I truly remember. Especially if it involves characters I wouldn’t normally read. Great stories should be those you remember years after they are done and gone. You talk about them with your friends. Compare notes on what you like, even what you hated. However, the shared fondness of an “epic or crisis” event is what makes them fun. I’ve been reading comics for a long time and one of the biggest events I enjoyed was the Marvel Versus DC battle royale company crossover in the ‘90s. It pitted the top heroes from each universe against one another, in a fight to the finish to determine which universe would survive. It ended with Superman and the Hulk in a tie. The result was that the Big Two merged all of their heroes into a new universe called Amalgam Comics. An event like that one is fantastic story telling and it spilled out into the individual books when the main event was over.
The latest – and some will argue if it’s the greatest – event is the New 52 by DC Comics. My verdict is still out on this reboot, but when DC wrapped up its Flashpoint epic event – that gave birth to the New 52 – a promise that has been broken so many times before was kept: everything will change. Change it did. DC took the biggest gamble and re-imagined characters that had been around for 75 years. This brought in new fans and reminded long-time comic readers that big events truly do make for memorable stories. The big events by the Big Two also turn us on to characters we would not normally read. For instance, Animal man in the New 52 is one of the best titles on the shelf today. As for Marvel, they’re launching Avengers vs. X-Men in April 2012 and I predict it will be one of those epic events that we will all talk about for years to come.
Tell us your View in the comments section.