Funnybook Babylon

December 23, 2008

Remember That Secret Invasion Comic?

I know I’ve been hip deep in the Distinguished Competition’s “summer” event for a while, and I apologize to the House of Ideas. (I won’t even bring up everybody else; I’m still a goddamn troglodyte making my way through 100 Rooms in the first Maggie the Mechanic trade, so please speak to me in short sentences with easy words, I’m a bit slow.)

So – Secret Invasion! The epic culmination of Brian Michael Bendis’s years-long epic, building since Secret War and possibly all the way back to Alias! I remember being pretty goddamn excited when the first issue hit, and thinking it was a pretty great detonator for a summer crossover. Hell, I liked it to the point where I wrote an article about some of the Internet reaction to it that made Kevin Church hate me forever. I remember saying, and I can pretty thoroughly regret this now, “I have no idea how Final Crisis can possibly match this level of high-octane excitement.”

Why was I excited? Because what Bendis promised, and what I really, honestly expected to receive, was (I mean, he had eight issues to do this!) a fairly decent and smart balance of high-octane superheroic mass violence and reflection on what happens when our planet is invaded by a bunch of dudes who thoroughly believe they are correct and just and don’t come anywhere close to sharing a moral or ethical worldview with us.
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October 26, 2008

Managing the Event: Then and Now

Here in the Year of Superhero Event Comics, we’ve by this point become pretty accustomed to the yearly cycle. Every year there’s a point where all the books in a shared universe intersect and stake a common ground, then separate again for a while, then come together the next year. Events have stopped merely being important simply for the sake of providing a sales tentpole; the event comic has become the glue that holds a shared universe together. Every year, something big happens that affects everybody, and this provides a framework whereby the different stories can coalesce and characters can touch base while also providing most writers and books the ability to simply continue with their own stories if they so desire.

We’re seeing two very structurally different events right now – Final Crisis takes place in a time period entirely separate from the rest of DC’s line (with the exception of Green Lantern). Reading Batman or Superman or Checkmate, you’d have absolutely no idea that there’s a Crisis on if not for the house ads. While every book staking a common ground has been hinted as occurring after this event, for the most part, it’s entirely self-contained, not unlike Morrison’s previous Seven Soldiers. By virtue of this, its structure is small – a main series, two ancillary series that so far seem more like they’re pushing their respective writer’s ongoing DC Universe plots than really interacting with Morrison’s story, and a handful of oneshots (including the cleft-in-two Superman Beyond). And an unofficial #35.5 of Green Lantern, and a three-issue build-up to Flash: Rebirth (not to knock Rogues’ Revenge, it was awesome, and it was greatly informed by Final Crisis, but it didn’t in any way seem to really inform the main narrative itself). This tight and controlled creative approach has led to many people calling it the “arthouse” take on an event; while it certainly matches previous Crises in scale, it’s paced like a horror movie and I really can’t imagine any logical way ongoing books could have been tied into this without getting, well, completely fucked up.
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