It’s a disease that has harmed more characters and universes than you can imagine. A disease that seems to have no cure in site. It’s Eventitis, and your favorite comic could be sick. Over on Atop the Fourth Wall, Linkara is reviewing Ultimatum, the Ultimate Marvel Universe event that features among other things the Blob eating superheroine the Wasp. Apparently he does that in the Ultimate Universe. Wasn’t the point of Ultimate Spider-Man to attract new young adult readers? Is that really what…no, let’s not get off course. Anyway, this got me to thinking about a certain term I’ve been dropping lately here at the Spotlight: Eventitis.
Eventitis hasn’t exactly become controversial or a buzzword or anything; I’m not that well-known. However, I decided that to properly define the term I could take the opportunity to really explain my thoughts on events and their proper use. Truth is, I don’t hate events, when done right. I’m not talking about poorly written or poorly executed events. This is about events themselves, and what separates an event from a case of Eventitis.
The purpose of an event is usually driven not by story but by marketing, which is usually leads to a poor story. Then again, with the right parties involved, it can lead to something epic. DC’s famous Crisis on Infinite Earths, one of the most famous of the “crossover events”, was originally produced to celebrate DC’s anniversary, but was roped into merging continuities because nobody at DC could figure out how to run two separate comic universes. (This continues today; just ask Wildstorm, Milestone, Zuda…Vertigo shouldn’t be sleeping peacefully right now. Just saying.) Marvel by that time had their own events. The Secret Wars event, for example, called all of the Marvel Heroes and Villains to a faraway planet to do battle. These events usually affect many if not all of the titles in that particular universe.
There are both positives and negatives to these events, which until recently was just an excuse to keep readers on during the summer months, when vacations and beaches beckoned readers away. It could also be a way to introduce new characters or give current characters a “blaze of glory” sendoff. (Insert mini-Barry Allen rant here.) Then again it doesn’t always work, like Bloodlines, of which only one character, Hitman, has made any kind of lasting impression in the DC Universe. Events often change the status quo, which can refresh a universe for new readers, although lately the status quo changes so often that it no longer exists.
Events can also tell a fantastic story. Armageddon 2001 had a great concept ruined by a last-minute heel change because someone at DC was upset that the identity of the mystery villain, Monarch, had been leaked. Originally it was to be Captain Atom, but they changed it to Hawk, which pretty much killed the Hawk & Dove comic and went against the evidence in the series. However, the story had the character Waverider looking into the potential alternate futures of DC’s heroes, and crap ending aside it is my favorite event. That’s in part because Armageddon and its various spin-offs didn’t affect events in the main titles. It took place in the annuals (creating “tie-ins” that aren’t using the regular titles would be the next-best thing, although it doesn’t necessarily draw readers to the main title), and here’s where we get closer to the meaning of Eventitis. (Who said about #$%$ time out there?)
The problem comes when the events never stop. DC has had either a major event or a group events (for example, taking place in all the Superman titles, like New Krypton pretty much ever since Infinite Crisis. Marvel likes to act like Heroic Age stopped the crossover events in the Marvel Universe that have happened since maybe Civil War. However, it really hasn’t; it was just “localized” to a few titles, mostly Spider-Man’s. In fact, Marvel seems to have a worse case of Eventitis, that stretches a lot farther than DC‘s. Granted, the DC Universe wasn’t as tight-knit as Marvels for as long but the point still stands. The aforementioned Ultimatium event is only Eventitis in a broader sense, since events don’t happen as often across more than one Ultimate title, the upcoming Death of Spider-Man being another.
When events begin interfering with the individual titles, when come one after another (usually for the trades), when they make it difficult to follow a hero’s individual adventures and his or her downtime with the supporting cast (the way we relate to the character as a human and not just a superhero), that’s when it becomes a case of Eventitis. That’s what we’ve been dealing with from DC and Marvel lately, and it’s hurting individual comics and the sequential storytelling format where comics should thrive, along with soap operas, pro wrestling (both of which are fairing poorly these days), and the classic serials. And there appears to be no cure in sight, as companies will continue to put out event after event, whether it’s universe wide, or just in a particular comic group, like Spider-titles or the Green Lantern titles, until we finally give up on these characters and the universe they inhabit.
- Fraction’s Eventitis (bwmedia.wordpress.com)
- New readers…start here!: Glossary of comic book jargon (cmock127.blogspot.com)