In Defence Of The Amalgam

Dr Strangefate

Dr Strangefate, one of the best Amalgam titles.

With the stunning sales figures of many of the DCnU  first issues, minds no doubt turn towards how the industry can sustain this momentum? As I have said before, I have doubts as to how many of these sales are likely to be new readers, although I imagine by far the largest segment of these extra sales will be returning readers. Unfortunately, there are no metrics available to either support or refute my assumption, so I will just have to resort back to my experience in the Nineties as a comics’ store manager, and join the ranks of self-appointed experts.

One of the major comics events of the Nineties was the DC vs Marvel event. I would say trilogy, but lets face it, the latter two mini-series were hardly earth shattering in terms of quality. Conversely, the trilogy was succeeded and the long awaited and phenomenally successful JLA/Avengers, that despite a hefty price tag delivered impressive figures and a treat for the fans.

Over at Newsarama, Michael Doran delivered an op-ed suggesting that Marvel and DC should embark upon another crossover, or series of crossovers. Considering that the secret of sustaining the industry is generating cash flow for the retailers, this could only serve to further this aim.

That’s my LCS-manager side speaking. Yet as a fan, I would take Mr Doran to task with some of his suggestions. He claims that the standard formula of: a) two villains from respective universes team up/come into combat; b) two sets of heroes meet and fight and then c) team up to save the day; is not enough.

I cannot disagree with a word of that. And I love the idea of simple DC hero versus Marvel villain (or vice-versa) being the focus of the story.

Yet he implies that these stories should simply occur in isolation, with no thought to continuity or the respective cosmologies of the parent companies.

As a continuity geek, I find this blasphemous heresy, and I’m shocked to the very core of my being. Unless we re-establish the theorised ‘Crossover Earth’ of say, X-Men and the New Teen Titans, then I want context. I want ramifications. I want something more than a three-panel appearance of the Access Axel Asher in the pages of Green Lantern.

Yet there is a compromise that can satisfy both myself and Mr Doran. The trusted mechanism of bookends.

Have a commencing issue that sets the stage for these crossovers, setting up some great cosmic threat, imbalance or whatever. Make it really, really large in scope.

Then, do the crossovers, whether they are hero team ups or one company’s hero against another company’s villain. Let them contain their own self-contained stories, either ignorant or only tenuously linked to the uber-plot. (In fact, by my plan, these crossovers should be composed prior to the bookends, giving the writers a challenge as to how to link these seemingly unrelated stories, taking the art of retroactive continuity to its peak.

Let’s start with killing Access. As much as I like him, I’m not convinced my opinion is shared by the multitudes.

However, one comment in Mr Doran’s post really aroused my ire.

And the less said about “Amalgam,” the better, don’t you think?

One thing that the Amalgam was, was fun! In my eyes, some of the series had a lot of potential, while others had the kitschiness of some Sixties material that endeared them to my heart. To see it denigrated and cast aside as a mistake is in my eyes a crying shame. Taking such events as Final Crisis, Civil War, Fear itself or Flashpoint, as good (or bad) as you may consider them, the over-arching themes were ‘dark’. I enjoyed them all (except maybe the latter two), but they lacked that element of joy in discovering a new character or idea, the appearance of a name that could make me laugh out loud.

Who’s to say that Doctor Strangefate would not make the perfect uber-villain?

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