As I’m sure anyone actually visiting this website, let alone reading this post, is aware, the biggest comic book event of 2012 has come and gone and the “Consequences” have begun. Yes, clearly I’m talking about Avengers vs X-Men. Ok, let’s get this out there right away. I enjoyed it. Judging by the majority of reviews I read, whether they be for individual issues or the event overall, I enjoyed it more than most.
Clearly, it had flaws: Cyclops being so aggressive towards the Avengers right out of the gate for instance. Personally, he made me side with the Avengers right away. Also, as is the case with most major events, it is difficult to use every character effectively when you have so many. And the creation of the Phoenix 5 was odd at first, but I eventually got used to it.
All that being said, there were a lot more cool moments for me. Just off the top of my head, Cap trying to reconvene the Illuminati was a great scene. I loved just about everything with Professor X, Cyclops learning that he’s “an idiot” from a very special red-head was a wonderful moment and we got one of my favorite covers of all-time (Jerome Opena’s variant for Avengers vs X-Men #4). I was also very excited to get some answers to a few questions that have been unanswered since Messiah Complex. I took about a 10 year hiatus from comic collecting. Messiah Complex was what brought me back into the game, so I was excited to have a little bit of closure from that.
So yes, I liked it. A lot.
But that isn’t really the point of this post. I think the reason I liked it, and my theory as to why most people didn’t and why it seems that most major events and crossovers get a bad rap are why we’re here today.
Just How Much Story Is There To Tell?
I have a question for everyone. When was the last time you read EVERY SINGLE ISSUE of a particular crossover? I read reviews of crossovers, or the dreaded list of the “Worst Comic Events Ever” and one question always bugs me. Did the person writing this actually bother to read the entire thing?
Now before I really get into this, I’m warning everyone, my examples will almost exclusively be limited to Marvel, as I am very much a Marvel guy.
IGN included two of my favorite events on their worst of all time list: Onslaught and Secret Invasion. Let’s tackle Onslaught first. It seemed that the major complaint was how it completely encompassed the Marvel Universe. It tied in everywhere. Hell, even Green Goblin had a tie-in comic to that event. Personally, I don’t necessarily see the problem with that. One of my favorite things about major crossovers is that it reminds us that all of these characters do indeed live in the same universe. Something as major as Professor Xavier becoming an all-powerful entity and laying waste to the Marvel U is going to affect more than just the X-Men. Oh, and he wasn’t just trying to lay waste to shit. He was trying to recreate the Age of Apocalypse after seeing into the mind of Nate Grey. How badass is that?
So anyway, when the world goes to hell, it’s not just the Children of the Atom that feel the effects.
I loved the references to older stories as well. In Uncanny X-Men 287, we’re treated to a flashback(ironically taking place in the future) of Bishop stumbling upon the ruins of the Xavier mansion and viewing a recorded distress call from Jean Grey to the other X-Teams, warning of a traitor within the X-Men. Well things come full circle as we actually get to see Jean making that distress call in X-Men: Onslaught.
I’ve read every single issue of this event and it’s much better than it gets credit for. However, it did lead into the Heroes Reborn story. So, you take what you can get.
Now, on to Secret Invasion. At first, even I wasn’t totally sold on this event. I thought the core series left a lot to be desired. But hot damn this had some awesome tie-ins. I loved the X-men and Thor tie-ins. I thought it was wonderful how the Mighty Avengers and New Avengers tie-ins were used to show how past events had been influenced by the Skrull imposters already in place on Earth. You know what, as I look at my inventory and see the list of tie-ins, the only one I thought they really could have done without was Secret Invasion: Amazing Spider-Man.
If you started reading Secret Invasion and gave up on it without reading the tie-in series, do yourself a favor and get on that.
Secret Invasion, for me, was a prime example of what a major event should do. It should bring characters from many different series together and it should introduce fans to characters and creators they may not have been familiar with. I loved the Black Panther tie-ins because of Jason Aaron. Secret Invasion reminded everyone that Nick Fury was bad-ass before Samuel L. Jackson and it introduced me to Noh-Varr. For those who’ve actually read it, was there any more stand up and cheer moment than when Noh-Varr told the Skrulls their invasion was over?
The bottom line is, when you get the whole story, from every angle, it makes the entire event considerably more enjoyable.
Even though I haven’t read them, I’m sure the same can be said of some of DC’s events. How many people actually read every issue of Blackest Night or Flashpoint?
Granted, there are some things that undoubtedly deserve to be hated. I’m looking at you One More Day and Clone Saga.
New Story Arc Coming Out? Time To Sell Cash In Some Bonds!
So, the other major issue with collecting complete comic book events, of course is cost. Well, surprisingly, or maybe not all that surprisingly, it’s actually fairly common to find new issues for less than cover price at conventions. Also, if you don’t mind waiting a little bit, give it a year after the event is done. You’ll end up seeing just about every issue of a major crossover in dollar bins at shows. Personally, I collected every single issue of Civil War and only paid more than $1 for one issue, of course, it was the last one I needed.
We all know that the main purpose of a major events and crossovers, at least from the publisher’s aspect, is to make money. Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it. If you have the means and sometimes, the patience, go beyond the core series. Read the tie-ins, as many as possible. You’ll get more angles, more conflicts, introductions to artists and writers you may not be familiar with and characters who could become some of your favorites.
My all-time favorite Events, Crossovers and Story Arcs
- Age of Apocalypse
- Civil War
- Fatal Attractions
- Mutant Massacre
- Dark Phoenix Saga
- X-Cutioner’s Song
- Messiah Complex/Messiah War/Second Coming (its also a good idea to read 2008’s Cable series)
- Welcome Back, Frank
- Avengers: Disassembled
- X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills