It's that time of year again. With warmth flowing a little more freely in the air, the first of the "summer" blockbusters is bearing down on us, and in comics apparently the Cylons... er, I mean Skulls are invading and someone is having a Crisis of sort. Possibly a mid-life one judging by the creative and editorial staffs involved in all of these things.
I kid because I love... mostly.
So yes, it's "Event" time again. You know, events. Those things that everyone time and time again, no matter how the previous one turns out they always end up coming back for more despite some claims to the contrary? (because, let's face it, with the ungodly amount of hype surrounding each and every one of these things, it's rare you're going to find someone not disappointed on some level). But y'know, as much as I've grown cynical about highly hyped books and kind of stopped caring about Big Two books in general, I understand where the excitement comes from, I really do. The main complaint with your more mainstream comic books, and more to the point your "Franchise" books is that they really for the most part run pretty stagnant. That's kind of how they have to run. These books need to be around for years and you can't really change them and the characters that run them too much. Status quo and all that. But the landscape around them, now that's something that you can fuck with, and it's not much but at least it's a change right?
And that's where I think all the excitement comes from. Sure, at the end of the day, I think most of us would admit that not necessarily much changes from the fallout of a big event. I'm not even being pessimistic here, I'm just being truthful. Short term, sure, you'll have some deaths to reconcile, or maybe you'll get a "Fifty-state Initiative" or something to tide fans over after the wake of something, but the main point of an event to generate excitement in the here and now and lay groundwork for the next one. Keep the fans on their feet and, again, at least try and keep the universe these characters share fresh because, like I said, if anything is going to change, that's really your best bet there.
Breaking down both of the ones we're now confronted with personally, Marvel's "Secret Invasion" and DC's "Final Crisis" I can say that I am filled with both "cautious optimism" for one and complete fucking "meh" for the other. Even though another staple of geek culture in the form of Battlestar Galactica has been running the tried and true "Who can you trust?" type storyline for a couple years now, I can say that I'm more interested in SI than FC by a mile right now. Mainly I think the reasoning for this is that by the very nature of this kind of "Body Snatchers" story, you're invoking a nice base of intrigue with an emphasis on the characters, which is key given when I just said about the status quo earlier. Important characters may not die in these things, but having them not being themselves for several years of storylines now is something that can be done, and occasionally be ballsy even though it is a cheap trick at the end of the day.
As for Teh Final Crisis!... I don't think I could give less of a fuck if I tried. The build up has been, at the least, terrible. There's many other adjectives I could use to describe it, but that one sums it up rather nicely. I may not be the biggest fan of Invasion's main build titles, Brian Michael Bendis' Avengers titles. I think they're both kind of lacking in the plot department, and I think he gets too carried away with his dialogue for his own good these days, but at least he has done very well with developing characters that for the most part have been nothing but B and C listers since their creation. So far the main build book for FC, Countdown to Final Crisis, has... well, let me put it this way: I was only reading it off the shelf, and after seven issues of it, I couldn't even be bothered to do that anymore. That's right, a book so good I couldn't even fucking stomach reading it for free. Between this, the fact that the last Crisis event was a pretty solid blah-fest in the end, and for the most part I would say most (most, not all) of the DCU line is being ravaged by mediocrity as of now, the only reason I'll even read this mini will be just so I know what is happening, and because in Grant I trust. If anyone is going to turn this mess around, I guess it would be him...
So there all that is. Again, I'm not really expecting either of these to be the "be all" but that comes with the territory, because they're not going to be. If anything, I think that's kind of why I tend to get down on events. Sure, I've been burned before on them, but I've rectified that by simply deciding I'm just not actually going to buy them anymore. I'll read 'em yeah, but my money has so many better books to be buying. But that right there is my point.
All the hype, all the hyperbole, all the rampant fanboyism, it just turns me off if I don't actively avoid it. "This is going to be the greatest comic ever!!!" No, no it really probably isn't going to be Jocko. At all. But what it hopefully is going to be, and what I these kinds of books should be aiming for, is the equivalent of those Summer Blockbusters I mentioned way up in the header. Something that will stimulate the part of my brain that seeks just entertainment, that won't insult my intelligence but doesn't try to over-stimulate it, and that occasionally pulls a twist out of its ass that makes me give a kudos and maybe even generally has a ramification of some sort.
One can only hope... but that's it.
These things aren't going to set a new standard for quality and art in comics. They're not going to become "Watchmen's" and re-invent the wheel so to speak. And I'll still be able to point to the FABLES and EX MACHINA's and SCALPED's and CRIMINAL's and FELL's and on and on's of the industry as far superior products from a quality and "art" standpoint (And if anyone out there actually thinks these statements aren't true, well, then please don't ever try and talk to me without wearing some sort of head guard or protective cup) but that still doesn't mean they can't be enjoyable and deep down, I hope that does happen because frankly, I'm sick of shitty comics dominating charts. I really am. And if these are what are going to sell, then by god at least let them have some substance to them.
I guess I'll find out in about 11 hours if this little miracle actually occurs from the first issue in our Dopplegander Menagerie. Let's go Wonder Jew!