Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Epic Stories – Please Stop

It is almost funny that with the advent of so many epic stories coming out from the big two that I find I almost miss the decompressed stories of just six issues. It was all about writing for the six issue trade. That epidemic just occurred a few years back. Heck I’m now longing for the days of the Jonah Hex series that was actually set in the West when most stories were one and done. Alas that is not to be at this time.

Instead we get the 11 Part Zero Year from Scott Snyder on Batman. We are only two years into his run and this is after the epic length Court of Owls and Death in the Family story lines. Worse Scott is going over the same territory that has been trudged on by many many others. I know he is bringing in new elements and that we have great art work by Capullo, but it still is not as exciting as going forward. Worse DC is constantly trying to piggy back off the success of this series by adding tie in books to the nth degree. After the horrendous Death in the Family added books deluded what was a decent story I will only buy the books I normally get this time around. The problem is that a story that takes a year to unfold loses any immediacy. Take the Joker’s Five Way Revenge story by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams as an example of what can be delivered in a single issue story.

Hickman I have beaten up for the epic story telling before. I will try to not belabor the point on Hickman too much except to say that it appears that all the preliminary work he has laid in over 24 issues of the Avengers and New Avengers is almost treading water as he built up to Infinity.

Worse, with Marvel all the build up is almost more about a lead up to launching new series. The jaw dropping, nothing will every be the same consequences fade into memory after just a few months. Civil War, Secret Invasion and other events had “impacts”  that are already long gone. Infinity, which remember has been building with 24 Hickman books and will encompass a few other series, seems to now just be a prelude to the Inhumans series, which of course threatens to change everything we have ever known.

The writer of said series Matt Fraction was winning me over to be a pure fan of his work with Hawkeye. Although I thought he gimmicked the time jumps too often and did not trust that his story was good enough without tricks. Yet Matt also succumbed to the siren call of the epic story with both FF and Fantastic Four. We are a year in with no resolution in sight. Worse, as his writing assignments grew past his ability to be able to handle all of them he has had to let FF and Fantastic Four go to other writers to conclude his story.

Jeff Lemire, whose work I normally love, is used to telling a story with a beginning middle and an end. This means that stuff like Essex County, Sweet Tooth and Underwater Welder were great stories, but Green Arrow has that epic scale to it and I’m not a fan of the 50 issue super hero story. Longbow Hunters was not as long as the story Jeff has mapped out with the various different mystical branches and houses involved in this current story. Plus Jeff’s GA does not line up with the JLA version of the character at all. Not a bad thing, just a general trend that is starting to take shape.

This is not to say that an Epic story line can’t be a good thing. Matt Kindt’s Mind Mgmt. is telling us a long form story; Saga is advertised to be a long form story. Of course with independents that story can be long form as we get to watch the characters grow and change. In the spandex set it is not the same. The change is artificial and due to be re-written the next time sales need to be goosed.

Variety is the spice of life and comics need to understand that. We need more Hawkeye comics and less of the Odyssey. It is not that some of the epics are not well done, but even the recent Thor 11 part sage could have benefit from a quicker pace and a tighter plot. I enjoyed it, but Gorr was a poorly designed bad guy (the floppy ears made him seem like a humanoid bunny) and the pacing was very slow. It reminds me of many movies I have seen over the last few years, you think we have reached the climax of the movie and then it continues and you think this is the climax and then it is the next scene instead. By the time you get to the end of the story you forget why you ever cared. 


  1. Well said. Trinity War is shaping up to be a "trigger" for the next launch of a new DC event as well it seems.

  2. Couldn't agree more. We are in a cycle where there's maybe 2 weeks per year when Marvel isn't doing an event. Worse, I heard Infinity isn't self-contained, that you will have to read Hickman's other books to get the whole story. Immediately after Infinity, Bendis will launch his Ultimate line event. Talk about event fatigue. Heck, even Animal Man and Swamp Thing lost me during that drawn out crossover between the two. The Red, the Green, the Rot.....who cares? Just tell a good story that's done in a couple of issues so I don't have to spend $100 on something just to see if I like it or not.

  3. You're right, Gorr was pretty silly looking. I sort of liked the massive Infinity #1 (despite the Spacenights being eradicated from existence) and I looked at the tie-ins this week. Looked like both issues ended the same way -- didn't look like they went anywhere. So, I skipped them. I'm mildly interested in Green Arrow, but most of DC is dead to me right now. Superman Unchained is really disappointing. I do like Batman, despite the rehash. I'm waiting for the new New 52 or whatever they'll be calling it. Kevin Maguire did a Legion issue (last one) this week - you might want to check it out.

    1. I did order the last two issues of LOSH, figured I should see how it ends.

  4. Wow, a blog with plenty of comments. Who would've thought? Maybe we need to change our format back so we can have them on the other site...despite our sporadic deadline-free schedule.