Crossovers/Events – What works for you?

Infinity1 FE1

I’m currently in the middle of reading 4 crossovers/events, 2 from Marvel and 2 from DC.  The one thing they illustrate for me is that my preconceived notion of specific format mattering does not hold true for these 4 events.

I had previously though that I preferred an event that had a main “core” mini series that I could read and get the whole story.  This could be backed up by other comics that had ancillary parts of the story but were not essential.  They’d add something (hopefully) if read but would not be a detractor from the main story if they were skipped.

The one thing I did NOT like was feeling I was being held hostage to pick up lots of extra books beyond the core storyline to feel like I was getting the whole story.

What I have come to realize instead is that the specific format does not matter that much.  What matters is that I am getting a clear multi-part story that feels like it’s following a single consistent narrative thread AND the publisher cares enough to tell me what order to read the issues in.

Let’s look at the 2 with standalone series.

Av18 NA9

Infinity has a main 6 issue series and crosses over into Avengers and New Avengers.  While it’s in multiple books, Jonathan Hickman is writing ALL of them so we’re good on the “single consistent” story front.  The main problem I have with this series is that the issues of the main Infinity series almost feel like “Cliff’s Notes” on the series, often telling me about what went on instead of showing me those things happening.  A major example of this is the stuff that supposedly went on in Wakanda & Atlantis.  We hear about it but I’d have liked to have SEEN more of it.  In general, though, this seems fairly well done.

JL24 JLA8

Forever Evil has the main series, seems to be doing it’s major crossover into Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark (but the story parts are not clearly indicated).   There are also ancillary crossovers into Suicide Squad, Trinity of Sin: Pandora, and Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger, but these are apparently not required reading (I’m skipping them).  There are also several Forever Evil branded mini-series that sit alongside this event: Arkham War, Rogues Rebellion, and A.R.G.U.S.  I’m still not sure how essential these are, but I’m not planning to get them.  This event seems like a mish-mash to me.  Having read Forever Evil #1 & 2 as well as Justice League #24 & Justice League of America #8, we have a couple of different writers and the story thread seems to meander around a bit.  It’s an OK story but it could be much better if it was tightened up.

BoA1 GL24

Then we move to the “family crossover” that takes over all the titles in a sub-grouping of a publisher’s books and the story continues along from part to part kind of hijacking the monthly issue of each comic in the family.  This may work great for people who are already reading all the books in a family as well as someone who just comes along and wants to read the crossover, but can be irritating for people who are reading only 1 or 2 comics from the family and are not interested in the crossover.  These readers will generally have the narrative flow of the books they are reading interrupted for a few issues while they get the crossover issues.

From Marvel we get Battle of the Atom winding it’s way through the X-Men family.  It seems like this is something X-readers are used to, I don’t think a year goes by without at least one crossover like this.  Generally I’m not a fan of this kind of crossover, but I must say that this one is executed surprisingly well.  Even though we have different creative teams on most parts of the story, the narrative flow from part to part has been very nicely handled.  I’ve not been reading X-Men for a while and this series has brought me in, allowed me to read the story while not feeling like I walked in on the middle of something, and has been very entertaining.  I thought it could not be done, but this crossover has renewed my faith in the ability of comics creators/companies to actually do a crossover of this type that works.

We also have Lights Out running through the Green Lantern family at DC.  The Green Lantern family of titles is also no stranger to these crossover frequently hijacking the normal story flow of the individual titles.  In the 3 parts to this story I’ve read so far I have a very cool concept (flowing out of the Relic one-shot from Villain month) that has been poorly executed.  The writing has not flowed from part 1 to 2 to 3 for me, I’ve seen bits that seem to repeated from one issue to the next.  I’d have liked to see Robert Venditti take the reins and just do this whole story instead of what I’ve seen so far (with the New Guardians installment, Part 3, being weakest for me so far).   This is more typical of these kinds of crossovers, though DC has done them successfully in the past, for instance with Sinestro Corps War in the same Green Lantern family.

In the end, no big revelations.  Good consistent writing and quality art win out.  Inconsistent execution (which is going to vary by each reader’s perception) is going to be the major stumbling block.

I believe these are done to try to suck in casual readers into buying more comics on a regular basis.  While I’m not a casual reader in general, I can say that the Battle of the Atom crossover has caused me to add All-New X-Men to my pull list.  It’s also confirmed for me that I want to keep Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: New Guardians OFF my pull list.

What do you think?

Bob Bretall: bob@comicspectrum.com
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8 Responses to Crossovers/Events – What works for you?

  1. xmenxpert says:

    For my part, I tend to prefer the X-over style. Part of the problem I have is that the Avengers-style “core book with lots of tie-ins” is almost always really weak. The core book, almost without fail, feels really impersonal, too focused on Moments and action rather than character exploration. They give no reason to care about what’s going on. Infinity is the absolute worst offender for this, especially since Avengers and New Avengers have that same impersonal style that gives absolutely no reason to care. There’s no emotional involvement.

    The X-overs, however, are almost always well-written, with a strong focus on the characters. We see how characters feel about what’s going on, and that gives us a reason to care. There’s an emotional resonance that the core books of the Events lack. Further, while it’s true that Events don’t usually require you to pick up tie-ins, the story often feels incomplete without some of them. The X-overs do typically require you pick up at least most of the books (though I would say you could skip any comics you just don’t like and get the recap in the following part), but you’re getting what feels like a more complete story. Besides which, odds are most people who are reading one X-title will be reading multiple X-titles. Someone reading All-New X-Men is going to be reading Uncanny X-Men, and most of them will probably also be reading X-Men and Wolverine and the X-Men (though I’m not buying the last one). An X-over like this may get people who are reading two of the books to check out the other two, and if they like what they see, stick with it.

    • xmenxpert wrote:
      Someone reading All-New X-Men is going to be reading Uncanny X-Men

      I’m the exception to that rule. I’m coming out of this crossover JUST reading All-New, but that is 1 X-title up from zero, so an overall win for the crossover, I think.

      • xmenxpert says:

        That’s weird. I actually slightly prefer Uncanny, in terms of the story (though not in terms of art – I don’t like Chris Bachalo). Bendis is dealing with more political stuff in that one.

        I will say that All-New has slightly higher sales than Uncanny, so you’re not the only one doing that. But by and large, they’re both X-titles written by Bendis, so of course most people who read one will read both.

      • xmenxpert wrote:
        Bendis is dealing with more political stuff in that one.

        Probably why I like All-New more. Remember, I’m not an x-Men Expert and don’t resonate with the stuff that makes traditional X-Men fans starry eyed with X-Love. 🙂

    • I would say Battle of the Atom is the best of the 4 that I talk about. Hands down.

  2. tapearso says:

    I believe the goal is to increase the number of books in a given title that fans of any one book will buy. So whereas before someone might be buying 2-3 avengers books per month then marvel can push a large percentage of those readers to 5 or more a month. I’m not reading any of the other events and was only even aware of the Xmen one – but then I thought it was just a storyline and not an event. Is the line wide or weekly event now dead?

    • tpearso wrote:
      but then I thought it was just a storyline and not an event.

      It’s not an event, that’s why I was saying crossover/event. Battle of the Atom and Lights Out are definitely crossovers, not events.

  3. Shawn Hoklas says:

    Agree with you on most counts. X-Men is surprisingly well done as the story DOES flow right into one another. This seems to have been planned out so well and really does show the strength of a great editor to put all this together seamlessly. On the flip side, yes on DC. Its seems as though the Forever Evil is jumping all around. Too bad on Green Lantern. Haven’t read them yet, but was hoping for something better than the last one which I did not enjoy. Good thoughts here.

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