Newsarama have started a discussion asking ‘do fans even know what they want’? This week, the topic has turned to that bugbear of the discussion boards (and articles such as this one); the company crossover.
On such a contentious topic, I could hardly resist contributing my own point of view. One can hardly deny the efficacy of the crossover. From my own experience, Unity introduced me to the rest of the Valiant universe way back when; initially I had only read Solar. Break-Thru helped introduce me to parts of the Ultraverse that had hitherto remained unseen by me. Wildstorm Rising served a similar role, and Dark Horse’s late (and lamented by me at the very least) Comics’ Greatest World began its life as a weekly event, mapping out their universe from the word go. More recently, the Dream Eater saga over at Zenescope’s Grimm Fairy Tales has finally made that universe make sense for me, and I am richer for it.
Notice I have left out the Big Two from that description, even though the phenomenal Crisis On Infinite Earths served the same purpose for me, introducing me to the many corners of the DC universe. In fact, until the very first mega maxi crossover that hit the newsstands, the DC universe barely made sense to me. I imagine there will be younger readers out there for whom Flashpoint, or more precisely the DCnU, has served the same purpose.
Yet what we as fans require is a good story. I can think of many such ‘events’ that failed to reach the dizzying heights that we demand. Anyone remember ‘Extreme Sacrifice’ from the Liefeld family of Image titles? Nah, me neither.
Some so-called events are no such thing. As much as I enjoyed Marvel’s Dark Reign, that was not a crossover event. It was a backdrop, much like the Crisis was a back drop in some of the labeled crossovers back in 1985. Some events are so large that, apart from a central pivotal cast, a backdrop is all they can be.
Other crossovers have no need to be all encompassing. With wallets more limited nowadays, does the company really need to draw attention to the entire line all at once? One of my most favourite events was the Janus Directive, which I think occurred shortly after the Millennium crossover in DC. I was already a Firestorm and Suicide Squad reader, but the restrained cast and chapter order led me to Captain Atom, Checkmate and Manhunter, the latter two becoming regular monthly additions to my pull list. This was effective, and more importantly, fun.
Sometimes, smaller is better. Like the Janus Directive, an event does not have to be all-encompassing to be large, and to be successful. What we as readers require is not issues that carry crossover banners and are integral to some uber-story, but simply comics that are obviously in the same universe, and recognise and reference the events occuring elsewhere in that universe. If I want to by Spider-Man, I will. But if I am an X-Men reader, I do not want to feel badgered into buying Spider-Man, but having the events of Spider Island being reported on a television in an X-Men title, would be fine.
Curiously enough, I don’t think that happened. But surely there is a difference between tightly dove-tailed titles or titles that retain their independence?
Independence does not have to mean ignorance, just as recognition does not have to mean inter-twined.
After all, smaller can be better. You know what they say about small packages.