Tie-in? No, Butt-out!

18 08 2013

When I heard several of DC’s titles where doing their own versions of “Batman Year Zero” I was excited. New stories set before our heroes gained their powers or dual identities sounded very enticing. Then the solicitations released. Nightwing, Batgirl, and Red Hood had the heading “Batman year zero tie-in.” Not exactly what I was expecting, but these are all Bat-family books. Can I really be surprised that DC was going to try and further Batman/Bruce Wayne to their origins? Then I read “Batman Year Zero Tie-In” on Green Lantern Corps, Green Arrow, and The Flash.

The Solicitation for ‘The Flash’ reads; “A BATMAN: ZERO YEAR tie-in! What crucial part did Barry Allen play in the Zero Year saga, and how did it shape his future as The Flash?”

I don’t know DC comics, what crucial part does Barry play, because he shouldn’t play any F’n part at all!

 

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These Batman Tie-in issues are direct examples of why readers have such a horrible case of “Event” burn out. The big publishers don’t hide the reasons for so many cross-overs; event titles boost sales. But now it’s become an issue of practicality. Cross overs, or at least at the rate and size they are released, don’t just annoy consumers, they make the titles themselves less enjoyable. Some of the reasons include:

One event is released right after another

Batman “Death of the family” ended not even half a year ago, and right before that we had “Court of Owls” on every Batman related cover. These stories are marketed as “Events that will change our hero for years to come,” but when a new event happens before the year is over, there is no opportunity to see our heroes or villains affected by the prior story. One purpose of these events is to create opportunities for new stories. Makes a lot of sense, but a six-month gap between two events “That will change our cast forever” doesn’t lend much opportunity for these “changes” to be fleshed out. For example, in court of owls Nightwing discovers his very existence in life was to oppose the Wayne family. That’s some deep stuff to find out on a Wednesday! But before the Grayson/Wayne family trees are deeply explored we find out Joker may know the identities of Team Batman. Oh man, that’s rough also! I’d love to read how the Batman Family is effected by these events. Well I didn’t get to because as soon as that story ended, Damien Wayne was killed by his own mother. Man, what happens next? I don’t know, because now Batman is having a flashback that’s taking half a year. Each of these events could have easily created a years’ worth of stories, but instead we get an issue or two. Marvel’s no better. In just a few years the X-men had “Second Coming” then “Scism” then “AVX” and now a time traveling story that crosses three different time lines. After all, if it’s one thing the X-men franchise needs, it’s more time travel stories.

Cross Overs take characters out of their element, in a bad way.

What the hell is John Stewart and Barry Allen even doing in Gotham? You know what? I don’t care, because when I’m reading Green Lantern Corps, guess what I wanna read about, THE GREEN LANTURN CORPS!!! I’m sure reading a story about John Stewart without his ring can be a very interesting read. And I’m sure having Green Lantern face the Riddler can also be interesting, but John without his ring fighting the Riddler? If I want to read about a super hero fighting the Riddler without using powers I’ll read…what’s the name of that character…oh yeah BATMAN! OR NIGHTWING! OR BATGIRL! If I want to see Riddler get blasted in the face with a green energy beam, guess what book I’ll buy….

 Crossovers pause stories and piss off creators

Comic book events slow down character arcs and stories. The Green Lantern Family is concluding a crossover event the same month as the Batman year zero tie-ins. That means that any fans of    Green Lantern Corps have to wait an extra month to see how the events influence John Stewart. Many stories are forced to be slowed-down or put into the background to appease editorial demands for crossovers. Often time these orders from editorial come in very late, and a creator will already have planned out a story that spands 4 to even 12 issues. This forces the creator to cut things out, or push back issues. Creators who are vocal about their frustrations are often silenced or fired, as was the case for the late Dwayne McDuffie.

How many crossovers can you fit in a month?

In the same month Batman Year Zero is running, DC is also publishing the crossover event “Forever Evil” and concluding the Green Lantern event “Lights out.” That’s three events in one month. That’s very tiring for a reader. My brother, David, pointed out to me that it’s become very difficult to read comic books week to week or even month to month because there is so much going on, it’s hard to remember what is going on where. In many causes the same handful of characters are playing key roles in several events, so even from a chronological stand-point, figuring out the order of each story can be confusing.

 

The new 52 was created in order to tell new stories, and it's doing a great job. I can't remember the last time I saw the villians of DC team up against the Justice League. I've also never read a story where a side-kick died. Keep up all the original content DC.

The new 52 was created in order to tell new stories, and it’s doing a great job. I can’t remember the last time I saw the villians of DC team up against the Justice League. I’ve also never read a story where a side-kick died. Keep up all the original content DC.

After so many events, why should I care?

“If everyone is special, no one is special” the wise words from a young superhero created by Pixar. If you have 6 events in a year, none of the events become that special. Things change so rapidly readers are better off waiting for the conclusion issue to release. The conclusions have become less of “Story resolutions” and are more like sneak previews for upcoming story arcs.

What was the point of the new 52?

I thought the whole reason DC did the new 52 was because the continuity needed to be simplified. The DC universe had become a place where Martian Manhunter knew Clark Kent as a boy and Roy Harper had become almost as old as Hal Jordan. The new 52 was supposed to make character origins more direct and wipe out any stories that where confusing. Now we have John Stewart, Dick Grayson, Ollie, and Barry Allen all in Gotham the same time that Bruce Wayne is becoming Batman. This is the point where the new 52 undoes itself. The second we have characters guest starring in an origin story, it’s no longer an origin story. It’s a retcon.

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