by Kyle Funderburk
Whenever anyone asks “what’s wrong with Marvel?” The best answer is usually; “what isn’t?” But lately it seems that the conversations typically focus on the far-left nonsense that appears to have taken over the company. From merit-less hires, poor social media conduct, and colorful empty shells replacing deep and relate-able characters. But that’s just one issue with Marvel and it happens to be the one most frequently discussed.
But there is a second issue that is probably just as big as the leftist nonsense and that is: What’s with all of the events? Marvel has always had an affinity for events. Comics in general for a little over a decade was all about the event. But after 2015’s Convergence, Marvel’s closest competitor, DC Comics, woke-up and decided to slam the brakes on events.
They wouldn’t have another until Justice League vs. Suicide Squad in December 2016-January 2017. But that was a very minor, contained event. Then we had Metal which began as a huge event with many crossovers in its first half, and then contained itself to monthly singles in it’s latter half. No Justice in May was just a miniseries and so is the ongoing Doomsday Clock and upcoming Heroes in Crisis and Three Jokers. Everything at DC is so self-contained that events and crossovers still feel like a big deal. DC-exclusive readers aren’t pressured to read every single book.
That’s not the case at Marvel. Between 2015’s Secret Wars and the beginning of Marvel Legacy, the house of ideas relied heavily on events. Civil War II began just months after Secret Wars. Inhumans Vs. X-Men started right after that and it overlapped with Monsters Unleashed. Then there wasn’t even a break between those events and Secret Empire. And before Secret Empire even ended, the sort-of event Venomverse started.
And that’s just two years of Marvel Comics. The event overload didn’t begin in 2015. Before that Marvel gave us Avengers Vs. X-Men, Original Sin, House of M, and many, many, many more. But, Marvel had some refreshing news when they announced the beginning of Legacy. No more major events for at least 18 months.
(Senior Vice President – Sales and Marketing David) Gabriel laid out big news on this topic. “Hopefully, you guys will be happy to know that at the end of Secret Empire, we do not have any big crossover event scheduled. We haven’t even talked about one for 18 months, at the very least. Those will be away for quite a while.”
What to call storylines that might not rise to the same threshold as the line-wide crossover events was noted as a problem. “If you have another idea for what we should call those stories, please help us,” Gabriel said.
The final issue of Secret Empire hit stores on August 30, 2017. That meant that beginning with Legacy in September 2017, Marvel shouldn’t plan start another major event until February 2019. No more eight-to-nine issue miniseries with about three dozen crossovers and companion miniseries’, for 18 months…
Now, not event a year into Legacy, and well, Legacy is over. And that promise of an absence of major events, it turns out, only meant Marvel would run several minor and medium events all at the same damn time. Earlier this year, Gerry Duggan started Infinity Countdown which is leading to Infinity Wars this week. The new Infinity-based story is pretty good, but this story began barely five months after Legacy. Granted this event is nowhere as large as previous summer events, but not by too much.
Before that, Marvel started Damnation which encompassed 13 issues and the miniseries Venomized. May saw the beginning of the Hunt for Wolverine, a collection of four miniseries. If that wasn’t enough, four high profile miniseries are also beginning this summer with Death of the Inhumans, Extinction, Spider-Geddon and Venom: First Host. And the Hunt for Wolverine is concluding with, wait for it, a five-issue mini starting in September: The Return of Wolverine.
In the Marvel Universe, besides the Avengers, no story line is as big as these events. Major, minor, somewhere in the middle, it doesn’t matter. While there are some good stories being told in Marvel’s ongoing stories right now, all of them are taking a backseat to short term stories. 2018 was supposed to be a comeback year for Marvel. Instead it’s the year of “wait for the trade paperback.”
The announcement of Legacy showed that Marvel understood that event fatigue was a real thing. The positive reception to DC Rebirth and how it gave new emphasis to the ongoing stories, proved that event fatigue is a real thing.
And yet, here we are, July 2018. And Marvel is still ramming events down the readers and comic shops throats. Polluting store shelves and online pages with big, flashy, high-profile, short stories that steal attention from the long term stories some writers are trying to produce.
We can keep on asking, “when is Marvel going to learn?” but it might be time to ask “will they ever learn?”