My comic book buying ritual has been quiet these past few weeks. A few new storylines have begun, and a few excellent done-in-ones have been released. The X-Men reached the other side of their “Schism,” and “Fear Itself” wore itself out. New status quos were achieved and, as an avid comic book fan, I am preparing myself to be treated to many new stories fully exploring the wild new world left in the wake of those events. These will surely be an adventurous few years!
Oh, wait. Sorry, I was incredibly delusional to think comics would ever just slow down and live in the moment. With my wallet and time still drained from investing in “Fear Itself,” “Schism” and the preludes, tie-ins and postludes, we get the announcement of “Avengers vs. X-Men” (or the easily hash-taggable #AvX). This is the twelve-part storyline (with a #0 issue, because of course, there’s a #0 issue) coming at us biweekly in 2012, an event that guarantees to change everything because it is mega-important and is the culmination of all the stories and is therefore worth the $50 I will spend on it! “Schism” is still fresh on my mind. The last Taco Bell is still in the rearview mirror, and we’re already salivating as we run for the border again. I’m so over event comics.
But, come on — being “over” event comics is just as played out as event comics themselves. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I have now been collecting comics long enough to actually have “good old days” with which to fuel my Nostalgia Machine. “Back in my day, there were only six X-Men comics! Sometimes we had to wait a whole year between allowance-depleting events!” To every comic book fan that can describe their hobby with the plural form of a decade, I say get over it. Events make money, independent of their actual quality. And all of us old fogeys (we who long for the days when one issue told one whole story) fork over our $4 (“Comics were $1.25 when I was your age, young man!”) because we know these are the comics that will influence every other comic we read. This has been the state of superhero comics since “House of M” nearly a decade ago, and to a lesser extent, since the “Mutant Massacre” 25 years ago.
But I want to jump back to that alternate reality I briefly lived in for the duration of my opening paragraph. I’m going to now mask “hating on event comics” with the less confrontational “stating my preference.” After the events of “Schism,” which I absolutely loved, my preference would be to actually live with the X-Men in this new setup for at least a year. I want to learn how the Jean Grey Institute works, and I want to see the Extinction Team start gelling. I would prefer that the writers tell more done-in-ones and done-in-twos so we can cover more story ground — “Uncanny X-Men” told eight whole stories in 1983 thanks to Chris Claremont and Paul Smith’s masterful pacing. I would prefer that every character is limited to only appearing in two books per month, so the problem of “over-saturation” disappears. Last year there was a stretch of months where Black Widow was in at least five comics a month, as if she was She-Wolverine. I would prefer that creative teams on every book got free rein to tell whatever type of stories they want in the Marvel Universe, without having to force in acknowledgements of wider continuity. Remember “Dark Reign,” when Norman Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. were in EVERY. SINGLE. COMIC BOOK? In the Marvel Universe I would prefer to live in, every writer and artist gets to tell the stories they want to tell with the characters they love, without having to shoehorn them into The Big Important Event.
Also in my preferred Marvel, “Thunderbolts” would be a best-seller and Cannonball would have his own ongoing series. That first one, at least, can happen, people.
And now, I come crashing back to reality. “Avengers vs. X-Men.” Am I excited? Kinda. I either respect or outright adore every creator involved. But come on, am I really excited? Sorta. I really enjoy the dynamic between the Avengers and the X-Men, because it places the X-Men in an underdog role that very few teams can put them in. And, as season 4 of “Friday Night Lights” is teaching me, I love a good underdog story.
But seriously, Brett, you have to be honest because this is the third time I’m asking you. Are you really excited? No. I’m not excited because I just went through this with “Schism,” “Fear Itself,” “Age of X,” “Necrosha,” “Siege,” “Second Coming,” “Messiah Complex,” “Dark Reign,” “Secret Invasion,” “Civil War” and “House of M.” And those are just the ones I read! I’ve had Taco Bell every day for the past 8 years. I’m not particularly excited about more Taco Bell, but I’ll eat it because Volcano Tacos are incredibly delicious (in this metaphor, X-Men comics by grade A creators are Volcano Tacos).
From now on, I’m over complaining about rehashed storylines and blatant attempts at mass publicity. I have accepted that they are necessary evils that, sometimes, produce stories that I like to read. Event comics are here to stay, unless they magically stop making money or Marvel decides to make non-event comics the next event comics. I’m not going to chase down every “AvX” tie-in, of which I’m sure there’ll be plenty (note to the X-Office: I will buy every copy of “Avengers vs. X-Men: Cannonball” you produce). I’m not even going to voraciously devour preview images. I’ll see them when I pay my $3.99 twice monthly. Which I will do.
Again, I think “Avengers vs. X-Men” has the potential to be a lot of fun, possibly even great fun, and I think we all realize my complaining about endless events in this article and you railing against it in your comic shop isn’t going to make them go away. If you don’t like constant events, don’t buy them. Otherwise, it’s time we all get over them and go along for the ride.