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vol 8 - issue 05 (jan 2006) :: entertainmental
READING BETWEEN THE PANELS
Comic commentary by J-Mil

Iíve come across a phenomenon that, while not new, is engaging nearly the entire mainstream comic market at this very moment: the crossover. For those uninitiated, a crossover is when one (or more) characters from comic book "A" appear in a story in comic book "B". Now, this can be as fleeting as a quick cameo; it can be medium-sized where, say, two parts of a four-part story occur in book "A", and the other two occur in book "B"; or it could be an event where the story occupies nearly all of the comics a company produces, intertwining it across the board, and forcing someone to spend ridiculous amounts of money if they want to follow the whole event.
 
The biggest problem with this is, if some parts of a story are produced in a book that I donít like, I have a choice to make. Do I suck it up and buy the book so I know whatís going on, and possibly regret wasting my money? Do I stick to my regular titles, be a little lost because I donít have the complete story, and possibly regret buying my book that month? Do I avoid the whole issue by not buying my book while itís involved in this event? Is it fair that I have to miss out on my entertainment because of the crossover Iím not interested in?
 
Well, the fact is that, a while ago, I stopped subscribing to nearly all the books that would be involved in a universe-spanning crossover (most independents politely stick to their own universes, or choose to crossover into separate mini-series). So I decided to hit the streets, erÖ Internet, to find out how some others felt regarding the prevalence of crossovers.

GMaster from Z-Cult FM wrote: I know there are a lot of completists out there, and I'm sure DC/Marvel know this too, and exploit it with these damn universe-wide crossovers. I think it's good to collect a whole series, so you know exactly whatís going on rather than having to read a blurb in the beginning of the next installment. But when you buy books for the complete story, then complain about it, that's what ticks me off. The comic companies don't force you to buy the damn comics. You do! There are worse things than not having every issue of a crappy crossover.

Thatís a very good point. Weíre the ones that control the market. Unfortunately, it seems that there are still enough of us who eat these things up to keep companies producing them. Sometimes it looks more like people's compulsion to buy these books and have a complete story than a desire to be entertained. Oh, and believe me, Iíve felt it before, too. My wallet eventually gave out, and I came to my senses.

Timaz77 from Z-Cult FM wrote: I like big crossovers when they're done well. I like seeing characters that you don't normally see together interact. When a crossover begins, I buy all of the lead-in issues, and then I try to judge whether to jump on board for the whole run. Sometimes the universe-changing nature of the story demands my attention. Other times, I cut my losses and wait for it to end, and then pick up my normal books. Sometimes I guess wrong and miss something good, but that's what digital comics are for: to let me catch up on something I've missed.
 
If we donít actually want certain books or canít afford them but still want to keep up with a story, technology has afforded us the option of downloading books from the Internet. While there are ethical and legal issues that come into play, it is another option.
 
Stalzer2002 from Newsarama wrote: Crossovers are nothing but a gimmick to force readers into buying additional books in order to get a full story. In for a penny, in for a pound, I guess. Well, if that's the case, I'll just take my penny elsewhere.
 
Excellent point. Again, our pennies are our power.
 
Smygba from Penciljack wrote: Crossovers of stories into other books anger me so f'n much. A few years ago, the whole industry was working on core books only, with the storyline never expanding beyond an odd reference to an issue, and it was great. I wasn't viewing artwork I didn't like to complete the story. I wasn't reading dialogue written by a writer I hated. Now, once again like in the Nineties, they've started the whole crap of having to follow a couple of titles a month to get your story. Itís actually caused me to drop titles, because I couldn't be asked to spend the extra money to buy those issues I'd need to complete the stories. And in some cases, I just didn't have access to the other book anyway, so it made no sense to invest.
 
Chonk34 from Newsarama writes: I'm tired of big events.
 
And I think that one line sums up what much of the outrage over these events is. It seems like every time one of these massive events ends, another begins right up. Thereís no break, so we as readers are forced to choose our battles on what to buy (unless youíre lucky enough to have a budget that permits buying into all of this). And entertainment shouldnít be about battles. We should be able to buy our books, read our books, and enjoy our books without worrying about what other books we have to look out for to get a complete story.
 
Iíd like to thank everyone who participated in this exercise on the various message boards I visited to put this together. I would also like to thank the administrators of said message boards for allowing me to use the information I gathered from their sites. See you next month!


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