Sign in / Join

Event-Fatigue is a Myth

119
0
Share:

Some of you are lying. Sorry to sound so accusatory, but you’re the lying-est bunch of liars who ever lied. Okay, that’s not fair either; it’s a Simpsons joke that I adore. In the wake of Marvel and DC both announcing their grand schemes for next summer’s multiverse-spanning events (Secret Wars and Convergence, respectively) the all-too familiar clamor of “event-fatigue” has reared its head once more. “Events derail the stories I’m interested in” and “we just had an event that turned out only existed because it led into the next event!” and “it’s a marketing gimmick that tries to force the readership to buy a sea of unnecessary tie-ins!” are pretty typical complaints when the “next big thing” is announced. All of those are valid. Hell, they’re perfectly accurate. Accompanying those common gripes are often innumerable bold declarations of not buying the book or its associated tie-ins until the event is over. Huzzah! But, guess what? You buy them. Every time. And, if that’s not you buying them, then (Jerry Seinfeld voice) who are these people?

This is all to say that I’m led to conclude that either some of you are the aforementioned pants-on-fire types or, more interestingly, there is a large swath of comic book buyers that contently purchase and read comics without ever participating in the pool of interactive, media-driven fandom. It’s likely an uneven combination of the two, but it also helps remind me that there are those out there who like comics, but whose only connection to that world is what is printed and put on the shelves in front of them. Those beautifully ignorant to the names found in the indicia, unaware of the incessant presence comic news sites, message boards and twitter rants. Bless those beautiful innocent fools, if they’re out there. Either way, “event-fatigue” would appear to be a myth.

Let’s look at some numbers, courtesy of Comichron.com. Please bear with me here as we look at an Onslaught (huh? Get it? *tugs at collar*) of lists. Here are the top-10 selling monthly comic books of 2006:

background

  1. Civil War #2
  2. Civil War #3
  3. Civil War #1
  4. Civil War #4
  5. Civil War #5
  6. Justice League of America #1
  7. Infinite Crisis #4
  8. Infinite Crisis #6
  9. Infinite Crisis #5
  10. Infinite Crisis #7

Moving on, here’s a select group in 2007:

Captain_America_25

  1. Captain America #25 (death issue and intimately tied to Civil War)
  2. Civil War #7
  3. Civil War #6
  4. World War Hulk #1
  5. World War Hulk #2

2008:

Secret_Invasion_Vol_1_5

  1. Secret Invasion #1
  2. Secret Invasion #2
  3. Secret Invasion #3
  4. Secret Invasion #4
  5. Secret Invasion #5
  6. Secret Invasion #6
  7. Secret Invasion #7
  8. Final Crisis #1
  9. Secret Invasion #8

Take a breath, there’s more coming. Okay? Good, here’s some from 2009:

Blackest_Night_Vol_1_2

  1. Blackest Night #1
  2. Captain America Reborn #1
  3. Blackest Night #2
  4. Blackest Night #5
  5. Blackest Night #3
  6. Blackest Night #4

A slurry of new #1 books kept Siege, Blackest Night and Brightest Day from controlling the charts in 2010, but they still landed as follows:

Siege_Vol_1_1

  1. Blackest Night #8
  2. Siege #1
  3. Blackest Night #7
  4. Brightest Day #0
  5. Brightest Day #1
  6. Siege #2

In 2011, maybe we had finally seen an actual appearance of “event-fatigue”! Could it be? Oh, wait that was the New 52 launch, which, in so many ways, was a mega-event to end all mega-events. Oh, and Marvel had Fear Itself. * awkward cough*

the-new-52

  1. Justice League #1
  2. Batman #1
  3. Action Comics #1
  4. Justice League #2
  5. Batman #2
  6. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #160 (Death of Spider-Man event/storyline)

And it goes on and on with the New 52 #1’s that year.

Hang on, we’re almost up-to-date! 2012:

background-2

  1. Walking Dead #100 (which is actually a pretty big deal, but the multiple covers undoubtedly helped)
  2. Uncanny Avengers #1
  3. Avengers vs. X-Men #1
  4. Amazing Spider-Man #700 (Slott kills Spidey. Or kinda. Look, whatever)
  5. Avengers vs. X-Men #2
  6. Avengers vs. X-Men #6
  7. Avengers vs. X-Men #5
  8. Avengers vs. X-Men #3
  9. Avengers vs. X-Men #4

Just two more short lists, okay? Thanks. 2013’s top 10 was dominated by re-launched #1 issues and upends my point a tad, but still at the top we can find:

Infinity_1_cover

  1. Infinity #1
  2. Age of Ultron #1

There are smattering appearances of those two events plus Forever Evil throughout the top 100 on the year.

Finally, we have YTD 2014 (which is through August, so no Axis numbers included), which is admittedly tricky depending on what we want to qualify as an “event” or not. Does Zero Year count? I’ll vote no, but I will count Death of Wolverine because of the hype and sheer magnitude of spin-off titles. Personally, I’d say if it has a banner on the cover and numerous spin-offs, it should count, but judge for yourself, of course:

Death-of-Wolverine-1-McNiven-Cover-a7ecd-610x936

  1. Death of Wolverine #1
  2. Original Sin #1
  3. Death of Wolverine #2

 

Guys, that is millions of event comics being bought. Think about how many comics are produced annually and look at those charts again. That is a vast majority of your dollars at work purchasing banner-adorned, “never be the same”-proclaiming issues. More than critical darlings like Hawkeye, She-Hulk, Wonder Woman, and a multitude of great Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom, etc. books combined. Somebody is buying these books in droves. Maybe it’s not you or maybe it’s only partially been something you’ve contributed to. Either way, it’s fine and more than understandable. The Big Two have entire departments dedicated to promoting these crossovers and more often than not, succeed in creating hype and anticipating. Frankly, they’re happy even to hear you griping about the book because it means you’re still talking about it. All we can do as consumers is vote with out wallets if something works or doesn’t work for our own subjective tastes. But the vote is in; and events are what the people want; or, if not want, than unable to resist at least.

This all stems from the perceived notions of buying books that “matter”, which is an entire other wacky bag of bananas (that is too an expression). And while we can debate the inherent inanity of fictional characters’ relevance, on a base level it is a valid complaint and maybe the real root of “event-fatigue.” For many who enjoy a particular series, the interruption of an event is unwelcomed as it distorts the natural rhythm of the story and occasionally changes the status quo to a degree that makes the post-event return awkward. If you think having a big brother come into your room and knock all your toys around right when you just got them set up exactly how you liked, imagine how Peter David feels. But it is important to remember that serial Big Two comics are master illusionists, meaning they must consistently present the appearance of change without ever really changing anything. Much like how characters’ deaths are guaranteed reversible, the repercussions of an event are quickly overhauled. Does anyone even remember when Iron Man ran SHIELD? Sometimes the events are great and sometimes they’re lackluster, sure, but we can’t fault their existence and lament about an exhaustion when they consistently sell. Whatever the motivations for these purchases are, be it a desire to stay current or a genuine interest in the concept or perhaps the satisfaction of adding a contrarian snark, the numbers don’t lie. If you’re tired of it, you must be sleepwalking your way to the stores.

It’s curious to think about those who have no idea there is a contingent of fellow fans bemoaning a fatigue of these status-quo altering events, who simply enjoy going to their comic shop and having their only connection to comics be, well, the comics themselves. They buy event comics because that’s what’s in front of them and it very well could be the first they’ve ever heard about it, blissfully unaware of the teaser images and the promotional campaign launched lo those many months ago. What a strange creature, this “casual comics fan” must be. The numbers indicate that few readers outside the core, passionate fan base are buying comics at all. But, though they might be dodo-level scarce, surely they contribute, however miniscule, to the continued debunking of “event-fatigue.”

Listen, if you’re tired of the unyielding flood of events, that’s more than understandable. How could you not be? And yet, none of us are telling Marvel or DC that we don’t want them to drive a dump truck full of multiverse-rattling escapades because they have a ridiculous precedent to point to. (Cue Jerry Springer closing music) Folks, what did we learn here today? Maybe at the end of the day, the only ones we’re really lying to….are ourselves.

 

 

 

 

 

Share: