Thursday, November 27, 2008

Event Fatigue

Like many others, I'm experiencing what folks are calling "event fatigue". With Marvel and DC running major events back to back where the stakes are always universe shattering and the repercussions semi-permanent, even a person who doesn't read every tie-in or tertiary title (heck, even if they don't read the main title) seems to be suffering from burn-out. It's like exhaustion by proximity. The two current events, Final Crisis and Secret Invasion, I thought I would give a try: the first because it is/was supposed to be the big finale to a string of crises, and the latter because it looks kind of fun, if maybe a little drawn-out.

In the beginning, I thought I was going to give up on FC because the storytelling was so opaque, and the stuff Morrison was constantly referencing were things I don't think I was in on. Granted, I didn't read 52, Seven Soldiers of Victory or Countdown before picking up FC #1, so I think that had a lot to do with the alienation I felt. Secret Invasion, on the other hand, looked like another Secret Wars to me. Big event, a whole bunch of Marvel characters fighting each other but not like in Civil War where it was all doom and gloom, this one promised to be fun. Finding out who is/was a skrull, how deeply they had infiltrated the Marvel U and discovering why they had targeted 'us' sounded like an interesting plot line to follow. After the third or fourth issue, however, I realized that Bendis essentially crafted an 8-issue slugfest with some exposition in-between characters punching each other. To its credit, Leinil Yu's art is great and likely the reason I hung on for as long as I did, but I think I only bought three issues.

Somewhere in the middle of all that brouhaha, I grabbed a copy of the FC#1 Director's Cut with the Morrison annotations and script pages. I also read an extensive interview (I think on IGN) where he talked about his Batman R.I.P. storyline and what he's trying to do with FC as a storyteller. These two things essentially showed me that I was reading the books wrong and, to their credit, they were right. FC is unwieldy at the best of times, but the way Morrison has paced this event's central book is different than your average super-hero comic book story. He's chosen to show the reader just the big moments of the story and not many of the interstitial moments that you would normally get in a 22 page comic. It was jarring for me early on, but I've got the rhythm now, I think.

I have since tracked back and read Batman R.I.P., 52, Seven Soldiers of Victory as well as the first book of Countdown, and I'm starting to get more out of the series than I did previously. Seven Soldiers especially seems to have some ties to FC what with the Mister Miracle connection and the red skies and Frankenstein of S.H.A.D.E. making an appearance in #3. There are still things I'm mulling over, but that's sort of the point, isn't it? Grant wants us humming and hawing until the last frame of the last page of the series. At this point I think I'm okay with that. Batman R.I.P. may have had a crap payoff in the end, but I think Grant will actually pull something out of his hat with FC so I'm going to hang in there and see.



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