I’ve lost so much interest at what Marvel and DC proper are doing that I actually had to force myself to write this. Because what Matt Fraction is going on about in a recent Comic Shop News article (issue #1241, if you can play at home) really needs to be addressed. In order to promote his latest crossover event, Fear Itself, Fraction actually got a couple of things right…but still managed to get so much wrong.
I’m not going to go into all the stuff with lady Red Skull or Odin not being the true All-Father or other stuff I wouldn’t care about anyway. It’s the stuff about the events and other mega-events that I want to focus on. Like so:
“When we’re done, much like Civil War, you’ll be able to look at each of these seven issues and point to some big event, some major game-changing occurrence in each issue of Fear Itself“. …I can honestly say that this is the biggest story Marvel has done since Civil War…if not bigger!
This would be a selling point if it weren’t for every other game-changing mega-event and smaller event that’s been going on. Oh, but he does go on.
“We’re determined to make this an event worth reader’s time and money. We keep hearing that readers want stories that matter, stories that count–well, ask no more. This is it! We’re setting the tone and tempo for the next year of stories, if not beyond.”
Or until the next event. Stories can’t count if every story just has to be as epic as the last one. Bigger is not always better, and at some point we the readers get bored because when an event occurs its supposed to be special. This is about as special as a diamond on a planet where they appear as often as coal on Earth. Coal can become diamonds and events can be a great story when done right, but rarity breeds preciousness. Here’s some stuff he gets kind of right.
Readers don’t have to read the prologue and the various tie-ins to understand Fear Itself, however. “By design, we want this to be modular–we want readers to be able to opt in as much as they’d like. If all they want to do is enjoy the seven-issue Fear Itself series, they can do that,” Fraction said.
If you’ve seen any of the times Linkara has reviewed an event story (Countdown most notably but also Amazons Attack) or have yourself attempted to read a compilation of the more recent events, you know the suffering of trying to read through it without having to put one trade down, pick up another one to follow an event, put that down to look at yet another trade, and so on and so on. Since writing for trades is the only thing writers know how to do anymore, you can’t always put the individual issues into a decent timeline. That leads into another argument for another time about trade vs. periodical.
If in fact the tie-ins (which will be separate books and not part of the regular title, much like I think Dark Reign and Siege did) aren’t important, then why bother? Why have all this extraneous junk if you then have to try to maintain continuity, which was one of Linkara’s problems with Countdown. (As an aside, I’d like to see Linkara tackle Civil War in the future.) Isn’t the whole point of an event to encourage readers to check out other titles and characters? How does this work? Fraction goes on to talk about how the main title should have the beginning, middle, and end in the main title of the event, and on this he’s right. However, give me a reason to read Fear Itself: X-Babies (or whatever they’re planning) during the event. There is this:
“We’re getting to the point where we have to address tiny issues–how did this character get from China in this story to Manhattan in this story, for instance. We want the smallest details to work…
That’s kind of how continuity works, Matt. Well, maybe the story of a fear-mongering god like entity that is causing havoc in the
DC Marvel universe with quasi-zombies by inducing fear could lead to some interesting stories, but what about whatever mini-event is already going on in those titles? Or as CSN reporter Cliff Biggers put it:
Will every Marvel title feature Fear Itself tie-in story elements? “No, it’s not a requirement or anything like that. Coming out of Seige, we had this strategy that we want don’t want (don’t look at me, BW readers, I didn’t proofread CSN – SWT) to make all of our books events books,” Fraction said. “This has been an ‘opt in if you want’ event. We’re very good at sharing the toys but we also know that this has to be an event that reaches everyone. We don’t want to force creators to abandon storylines they’re invested in to force them to tell our story, so to speak.
“We also don’t want you to have to have a degree in ‘Marvelology’ to understand what’s going on here; by design, we want this to be accessible to everyone.”
There’s an attempt to assure us that the comic won’t be late (I’m sure Vegas is already taking bets) but here’s your headache inducing moment.
Last month there was some buzz that Marvel had plans to kill a character every quarter; does Fear Itself tie in to those plans? “I believe that David Gabriel was joking about that in a way, in that it’s not a mandated policy that a character die every three months,” Fraction said. (Could have fooled us.) … But, umm, that said, some people don’t make it out of Fear Itself. This is the true test of the Heroic Age–it’s a hard fought battle, and as in the case in any hard-fought battle, there will be casualties.
So some A-lister will die only to come back in a few months and the minor characters are about to get reduced in number. No, that’s not in the article, that just how Marvel and DC do things these days. There’s also some talk about new characters coming from this (big deal, it’s not like we get to care about them before the next writer turns them into cannon fodder) and that Thor and Captain America will take center stage (must be a movie coming), oh and apparently we’ve learned elsewhere that Steve Rogers will be Cap again. (So what happens to current Cap Bucky? Captain America Incorporated?)
I find it amazing that even when they get it they don’t. I seem to recall another interview where the interviewee (it could have been Fraction or an editor) said that there hasn’t been a big event in a while, so now was the time to do it. He didn’t count the smaller events going on in Spidey titles or X-Titles as big enough events, but it’s still the same problem, Eventitis.
The symptoms don’t seem to be stopping. It’s time to call a doctor, and I don’t mean Strange.