Earlier this month a top Marvel executive revealed that the publisher is taking an 18-month break – possibly more – before any more “big crossover events” after Secret Empire. If the company follows through on that, it would be the longest gap between event books in 12 years, ever since then-Editor-In-Chief Joe Quesada announced a moratorium on event books. With this major sea change announced, Newsarama reached out to retailers for their opinions on the company’s announcement.
“I welcome a break from the constant repetition of ‘big events.’ Is it really a big event if all it does is launch a book that many collectors steer clear of?” said James Finlayson, owner of Arena Comics in Panama City, Florida. “I haven’t had a single subscriber to our pull list program add the Monsters Unleashed monthly. A big event should have an impact, much like Civil War, House of M, and Secret Invasion did. Otherwise all you’ve done is print something that you might have been able to fit into one of the regular monthly titles. ‘Big Events’ should mean something other than a larger bill when you pick your comics up each week.”
Events like Secret Invasion and Secret Empire were originally intended to run during regular ongoing titles per those event’s respective writers, but were escalated internally to be separate events.
Another issue brought up about Marvel events is the lack of an inherent change to the Marvel in-continuity status quo that event books tacitly promise, or that they fail to match the high quality of more seminal books like Infinity Gauntlet.
“Comic book events can be a lot of fun, but there's been very few examples from Marvel recently where they've had any sort of long-term effect,” said Ryan Higgins, owner of Comics Conspiracy in Sunnyvale, California. “'Classic' events like Age of Apocalypse, Infinity Gauntlet, and the original Civil War made significant changes to the universe, introduced new characters and ideas, and were usually of a certain quality that allowed for long-term sales potential. Very few recent Marvel events have any of these qualities. It's great that event comics sell so well, but I'd prefer 20-30 good selling Marvel comics than one big event that sells a lot while the rest of the line lags far behind.”
Could this 18-month hiatus between major Marvel events give the room and the bandwidth for Marvel staffers and creators to focus more on “20-30 good selling Marvel comics”? Either way, Richard Trinkle of Heroes & Villains in Hampton, Virginia said a break is overdue.
“I like the idea of a break for major event storylines, and my customers feel the same way,” said Trinkle.
The previous break from events lasted from 2000 to 2005 at the order of then-Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada. That break ended with House of M, with event books resuming at an annual – sometimes even shorter to overlapping – pace. In 2009, Quesada spoke candidly about the resumption of events at Marvel and calls from fans, even then, of oversaturation.
“So there's a lot of fans out there saying 'Go back to basics,' but it's a matter of necessity for us also. We're just exhausted, and we need to go back to basics, regroup a bit, let our writers also take ownership of their books for awhile, because it's taxing on them, and on our artists. You know, let them tell their stories for awhile, and run their books, before we say, okay, let's get the band together again and go a little crazy,” said Quesada. “And the other thing is, it will make the day that we go back to another event special again. I think, if we did another event following this whole culmination of stuff, it's just going to seem like white noise. I do sense that it's getting to the point where it's white noise.”
Jason Flood, co-owner/manager of Dublin City Comics in Dublin, Ireland said that his stronger customers have been stretched due to the number of tie-ins, but also in tie-ins not living up to that promise.
“Personally I find the announcement of the events before the previous one is even finished is negating the impact of them. We have found over past few events that some readers are getting tired of Marvel's strategy, particularly all the tie-ins, many of which are just tie-in by name and not much to do with the story,” said Flood. “Completists found themselves over-stretching on titles to get all parts of the story on regular titles just because it said ‘A ( Insert Event ) Tie- in’on it. We found that Secret Wars started off strong but numbers dropped off towards the end due to people losing interest or getting fed up with the series expanding to more than the original planned last issue number. Civil War II fared much better; it's been a much tighter story and with less tie-ins across the Marvel range. New readers introduced to comics were familiar with the title due to the Captain America movie of the same name so that helped too. A break in the release of a major event would hopefully give the power and buzz back to whatever one is announced after the proposed break and get folks super excited again for them.”
Given Secret Empire is scheduled to end in August 2017, an 18-month hiatus from "any big crossover event" would theoretically last until early 2019.