Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just Sayin--Event Fatigue Event Horizon (or Johnny Hates Jazz)

Every time I see the teasers for Shattered Heroes, all I can think of is "Man, they're re-using the Onslaught font? It took us 17 years, but apparently we've now run out of fonts. That's the big story here."

Also, between this and the New 52, I've reach a point of utter and complete apathy with Big Events, I think. The notion that, immediately after Fear Itself, one of the most feeble crossovers ever minted (yes, even more than Genesis) we launch in to the next thing with all the confidence that people are dying--yes, dying--to read the next chapter in the same old shit we got but a two-year break from (and even then, not really) so Norman Osborn can return and allegedly start some shit.

Because this didn't have the kind of logical holes you could drive a truck through when we did this shit two fucking years back, we have Norman Osborn. Back. Again. In charge of stuff. Osborn. That guy. Weird O-Face. Stupid haircut. Wore purple leotard. Had a thing for cornholing, then killing Spider-Man's supporting cast. Was behind the Clone Saga. Totally OK with human sacrifice to Goblin people. Ran the country into the ground. Disgraced when he tried to blow up Asgard.

That guy. For those of you who didn't get the Morrisonian bullet points in the previous paragraph, let me put it to you like this. The following clip represents the kind of thing going on in Norman Osborn's head all the fucking time:

. . .and makes no effort to hide it. Marvel tried to sell us on two years of this guy being in charge as a logical line-wide event for the Marvel Universe. 25 years ago, they tried to convince us 8 punishingly boring issues of a god wearing a white jumpsuit and a Jheri curl taking a dump and learning about desire was a worthwhile use of everyone's time.

I'm sad to say, but Jerhi-curl made a stronger case. Helped a little because they only did it once, and didn't try it again because it wasn't adequately appreciated the first time or some bullshit.

I'm kinda sick of Norman Osborn and all he represents, most especially the never-ending event. Seriously, these things would be bad enough if we only had to weather then for a few issues and crossovers, but by the time you factor in the promo material (which, much like a trailer that gives away all the good bits of the movie, makes you feel like you've read it already) the "Road to" issues, and the crossovers, mini-series, tie-in series, chronic lateness, and the attendant bullshit they drag on for a year and just . . .feel . . .like . . .a. . .death march.

You would thing with these allegedly "epic" things, they'd be the opposite of decompression--big moment following big moment following big moment. Hell, for all that Crisis on Infinite Earths was little more than sound and fury, they never bothered wasting entire issues with not much happening--why do that when you can raise the stakes at every opportunity. They didn't decompress the shit out of it in the name of wringing the last few dollars out of an increasingly jaded handful of comics fans . . .you don't not if your intention is to tell a good story.

But I doubt that's the intent anymore, they've said as much. "Connectivity" is the new thing--all you do is kick the can, run up to it, and kick the can again, run after it, repeat until dead. The awful thing about all this from a storytelling standpoint is that it makes everything the middle of the story. It's like Lord of the Rings if you took out all the interesting bits and kept in all the walking.

They never get anywhere. They just keep wagon-training.

I should be mad, I guess, but I don't care. I should expect better, but I can't be bothered. There's nothing to get excited about, because we're now in a state where even the illusion of change as a storytelling-perpetuating mechanism has failed.

They're just keeping them going because it's what they've always done and what they always will do. No higher ideals, no aspirations toward telling good stories, just inertia. Keep the plate spinning, keep the money trickling in from the easy marks who will buy anything.

And if they don't care, why should I? Why should you? Why should anyone?


Travis said...

Some comments on the press release or whatever in the article you linked to:

"I’ve long wanted to see the X-Men more integrated into the Marvel Universe, to see them bumping shoulders with heroes like the Avengers, and this is our shot."
Yeah, imagine how cool it would be if Beast, or Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, could be Avengers! Wouldn't that be awesome? Or what if Wolverine could just appear in every title we published, ever? Man, that'd be so great!

"In this current market, readers are looking — first and foremost — for connectivity."
Well, I can't speak for all readers, but I, for one, am not. I'm actually looking for the exact opposite: I want things I can read without having to also read every single other title you guys publish.

"That’s not to say we can’t launch a new series that completely stands on its own two legs — we do so all the time.."
...and then they get cancelled after a year (if you're lucky) because not being involved in the line-wide events means that no one buys them.

And it's interesting you should bring up Crisis, because I'm actually in the middle of reading it right now for the first time; it did occur to me that if the original Crisis were to be a series now, it would take something like three or four years to cover everything that's happening in this single twelve-issue series(and that's ignoring the inevitable delays that would make it go on even longer). It's amazing how much faster stories can move when you cut out all the seven-page-long conversations that consist of one panel repeated over and over and over.

Kazekage said...

Yeah, despite the move from the official policy of decompression, I think ultimately decompression won, and won in such a way as it co-opted the Big Events, which are the only thing that moves anything forward (and even then at mind-numbing slow speeds) which leaves the main books to contemplate their navels.

I think I've now gotten paste my hate of filler and now everything seems like filler. The only slim hope for any change is that DC's books, having publicly renounced writing for the trade, will have no choice but to build a core identity in the books before they start criscrossing over, but considering how much other stuff they've walked back on, my hopes aren't high.

Diana Kingston-Gabai said...

It's not just that Marvel's walking in circles; it's that those circles are getting progressively smaller. What they don't understand is that by having one crossover bleed into the next (which promptly nullifies any status quo established by its predecessor) they're basically training their readers to disregard all Events - because when "nothing will ever be the same again" is invoked on a biannual basis, there's no "same" to compare it to anymore.

Case in point: wasn't "The Heroic Age" touted as being a move away from the motifs of "Civil War" and "Dark Reign"? But here we are again with some more Norman Osborn. Meanwhile there just hasn't been enough creative turnover to sell me on the possibility of any meaningful change: the Marvel Universe is still being defined by the people who dragged it down in the first place.

So... yeah. The only thing they're "shattering" is the interest of readers like us who may finally be reaching critical mass. :)

Kazekage said...

That's exactly it. It's like a sandwich with all filling or a cake with all frosting--with now downtime or contrast, or so much as a breath taken. It's not a meal anymore. The universe can't blow up all the time of course.

Yeah. Mind you, "The Heroic Age" was brought to you by the same people who did year upon year of dreary, glum stories to begin with, so the notion that it was anything more than a change in trade dress really told the tale. And I have as much interest in another round of Norman Osborn vs. The World as I do of eating collard greens seasoned with boar urine.

It's beyond shattered, and beyond critical mass. I think I've now gotten on to "heat death." I barely can be bothered to care anymore.

C. Elam said...

I have effectively lured Travis to your blog! Haha, awesome!

Anyway, my world, and welcome to it. During the last few years, I've gone from being angry and upset about bad comics to just ambivalent. Someone (theoretically) cares, but I am content to enjoy the little corner of comics that I have carved out for myself. The fact that it's only relevant to me may, in fact, be the point.

I used to scoff at the notion that I'd ever outgrow comics. I don't think I will as a medium. But as far as contemporary superhero comics, I really don't think I could've imagined this 20 years ago (sweet God) when my buddy was desperately waiting for Cable's solo comic to launch.

Kazekage said...

Oh, is he one of yours, then? :)

I don't think it's that I've outgrown comics, because I've got plenty of comics I still read. It's just . . .it's like superhero comics have become that kid you hung out with who drinks a lot to try and be "adult" and he's just this drunken puking mess.

Man, Cable's solo comic. I was far too pumped for that back in the day. :)

C. Elam said...

He's an OWARI reader. I guess the big "Kazekage is awesome" post I recently made paid dividends.

Exactly. I still enjoy COMICS, but I kind of wonder if I picked the wrong week to stopping sniffing glue when I see the latest releases. Because I usually just Don't Get It.

Ah, but did you call one of your friends every morning, chant "Cable!" into the phone, and then hang up for a month or two? This guy did.

Kazekage said...

. . .you had one of those? Man, my PTSD must have made me blank on seeing that.

That's just how I feel. The things that pull me to reading comics seem alarmingly to be stuff that no one in their right mind would admit to reading.

I did not, as it happens. I lacked that amount of gusto. Was he the guy that led to you getting published in Wizard?

C. Elam said...

I did! I forget which day it was, but it ended with my telling people to give you all their money.

"Stopping sniffing glue"? *sigh* Glad you can translate. Anyway, I guess all I ever wanted was a story that finished. Clearly, asking too much.

In fact, he was! I wasn't so much "in" the issue, but I got my name dragged into the letter because I happened to be the person who knew trivia about Guardians of the Galaxy.

...Yeah, I don't get it either. But that is the short version of my membership in "the X-Crew".

Kazekage said...

I wish more people would take that advice. A cash infusion would help my hurricane prep considerably. :)

I know, right? I don't even need for it to be the END end, I just want some closure on a story point somewhat more than "Norman Osborn is in jail! But Norman Osborne will return in Live and Let Die!" Jim Cornette used to champion a rule that said that the right time to re-use an angle was seven years, because by then the audience has rolled over sufficiently to where it didn't feel like old hat. Of course wrestling, unlike comics, still had and audience turnover, so . . .yeah.

I like the fact that someone needed to buttress a theory about Cable and I like to think they slammed their fist down on the desk and said "GET ME . . .ELAM!" And then we have a hard cut to you coming up out of the subway with the wacka-wacka guitar and hi-hat cymbal . . .you know, I don't know when this turned into a blaxploitation movie. It just kinda . . .did.

Travis said...

For the record, I've been coming here for a while (though I did discover the Prattle through OWARI), it's just that this post is the first one that made me feel compelled to comment. Unfortunately, I cannot currently afford to send money.

Regarding modern superhero comics, I continue to find it frustrating that every new book I really enjoy gets cancelled, and yet it happens so frequently that every time I find a new title that I'm genuinely excited about, I've simply come to expect that that's how it's going to play out: it'll be great for a year, but nobody will buy it because it has nothing to do with Dark Fear of Civil Reign: War Itself, and then it gets cancelled and forgotten about by everyone but me.

Oh, and everything is better when it's turned into a blaxploitation movie. *Everything.*

Kazekage said...

We'll happily take comments in lieu of money. :)

I think ultimately you can't let that dissuade you from getting excited about the things you enjoy--stick with it for as long as it lasts. I liked Power Girl for the first 2 issues, then they put Judd Winick on it and I decided I wouldn't bother when they did that. Even if no one remembers it, hey, you might get a blog post out of it someday, I always say. :)

I heartily agree with this. Well, maybe not when it comes to East Meets Watts

C. Elam said...

If I do nothing with my blog but lure people to my talented friends, it has done its job well.

It's weird, because I used THE EXACT SAME JIM CORNETTE STORY recently to explain comic book continuity to someone. I like that both of us reflexively think in old school wrestling terms when trying to find an analogy. Shh, kayfabe!

Travis, that's been happening to me for so long that I can't even remember when it didn't. My complete collection of Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew stands as a testament to it.

I am hopeful that the blaxploitation movie of my life will star Dolemite. Preferably, it will be The Human Tornado. I just want to make sure I get a wardrobe like that.