A couple of weeks back, I did an interview with a local journalism student on the current state of superhero comics, with particular reference to the Death of Captain America.
We got talking about the spate of crossovers recently, Civil War and Infinite Crisis, mainly, but I got to thinking about the way the current crop are rolling from one crossover to the next.
With DC, you get Identity Crisis to Countdown to Infinite Crisis to Rann-Thanagar War/Villains United/Day of Vengeance/Omac Project to Infinite Crisis to 52 to WWIII to Countdown... With Marvel, it's Disassembled to House of M to Civil War to World War Hulk to the Initiative to Fallen Son.
I started thinking Marvel and DC and their recent crop of crossovers as one-armed bandits. The 'fun' of playing a slot machine isn't yanking a lever, or even necessarily getting a payout... it's that moment of anticipation of what's going to happen next. What you're paying for isn't the pay-off, but the chance you MIGHT get a pay-off.
With a slot machine, you put in money and you get that feeling of anticipation that maybe something good will happen soon. Most of the time, you're disappointed... so you put more money in.
Same with these comics. It's like "This issue may be shit, but seriously, wait'll you see the ramifications, next issue!!!"
It's a continuous bait-and-switch where you keep reading hoping the next issue's gonna be the one where it stops sucking.
And, like a one-armed bandit, 99 out of a hundred times... you get disappointment... but it might start getting good just around the corner!
It's very clever. They've basically figured out a way to sell nothing, with the promise MAYBE of something better later on.
It's quite astounding, and in a way, quite brilliant.
P.T. Barnam would be proud.
This way to the egress.