The Nexus of Pop-Culture Fandom

The Weekly Comics Wrap-up: March 5th, 2008

Written by: Ron Bricker

ImageThe time is coming. Although due to global warming we can no longer be certain that the sun will rise and fall every day, one thing we can always count on is the return of the summer blockbuster. Be it movies or comic books, we can always count on the big guys to unleash their big guns. With my purchase this week at the comic book store, I received a free Secret Invasion prelude comic as well as a Secret Invasion calender for the month of April. So, this is it. The last stop before Invasion. Before Final Crisis. There are only a few more weeks left until the blockbuster season begins.

It's kind of like Christmas. You wait all year for the moment to come and then it finally does. Usually, let's be honest, it's fairly disappointing. The things you hoped would kick ass instead fizzle out, and all the explosions and action splash panels begin to blend together. The comics "event" has become a mainstay in comics and this will never change. Some are bigger than others, but all can be certain to tie in to other books and try to get readers to pay maximum price for what is usually a lackluster tale with some minor twists and turns that climax in a massive battle. Why then, is there such excitement for Marvel and DC's main events this year, Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, respectively?

I personally think that both of these events hold in their power the ability to completely change their respective universes. Sure, every event has its changes, but – and Marvel is more guilty of this than anyone – things usually revert back to the status quo before long. But the concepts that both these events present – an alien invasion of Earth via the replacement of Earth's mightiest and most iconic heroes? Mass paranoia, devastating consequences, plus the chance for Brian Michael Bendis to weasel in some political commentary if he so chooses. As for Final Crisis, all things are leading to something massive with the death of the New Gods and Darkseid hellbent on the destruction of the "Fourth World". He says it himself in this past week's Countdown to Final Crisis, the creation of a "Fifth World".

These plots have true potential to really affect their universes, in a way that the original Crisis on Infinite Earths did so many years ago: most of those changes stayed in effect up until 2005's Infinite Crisis. DC's Dan Didio promises that the Crisis is a trilogy, and that there is a reason for the Final Crisis name.

There is plenty of hype going around, but what does this mean for the business end of things? Does this hype generate new sales and extended readership? I feel as though the deeper these companies go into long, complicated story lines, the less chance they have bringing new people in the door. I've met countless people that love these characters, but when they try and pick up a comic of said character, it's the middle of a story arc and they have no idea what is going on, plus that story probably is ultimately tying into something else.

It's a dangerous cycle, as it provides longtime readers a truly epic and hopefully intensely satisfying read, but also alienates any new or would-like-to-be readers. Comics are becoming more like Hollywood every year: the names are getting bigger, the prices are going up and the hype often outlives the product. In any case, a well written story is just that, and if it deserves it, it will shine. If not, it will forever go down in comic book infamy and constantly made an example of. We all know that comic book fans are the most fickle of them all. Let's hope that the two big publishers have new ways to blow their readers minds, and hopefully try to snag some new ones.