Opinion: Event Fatigue
The reason I haven’t read Secret Empire isn’t the reason you probably think.
Marvel was my gateway into comics; Daredevil, Spider-Man and the big event at the time, Secret Wars. But the affair was a short lived one. After Secret Wars 2, I left comics for about 25 years. Sure I could blame it on the horrific event starring the Beyonder hopping from comic book to comic book, but girls, cars and video games probably had more to do with it than a bad crossover did.
In 2012 I walked back into a comic book store and stepped right into another Marvel event, Avengers vs. X-Men. It was a good primer to help me get to know these characters again, even if it was seeped in the old trope of superhero versus superhero (it’s right in the title!). At the same time I was learning about the non-superhero, indie genre including Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ Saga, which was just starting. It was so different from what I thought a traditional comic book should be but told such an engaging story.
Being a good Marvel boy (and still trying to fill a 25 year gap) I picked up each big crossover event as they came out even though I wasn’t reading many of the core Marvel books; Age Of Ultron (confusing), Infinity (don’t even remember it), Original Sin (some interesting side stories), AXIS (again, don’t remember it) and then the straw that broke Hulk’s back, Secret Wars.
The new Secret Wars collided Marvel’s Ultimate Universe with their regular 616 Universe “forever changing the Marvel Map.” At this time I was working part time at my local comic book store and everyone was confused. The normal Marvel books were all replaced with Battleword or Secret Wars titles (many of them rehashing past event titles like House of M or Days Of Future Past). Someone comes in looking for The Amazing Spider-Man. Well, we have Spider Island which for all intents and purposes is The Amazing Spider-Man for the next six months until The Amazing Spider-Man reboots again. You can understand my exasperation with this event.
Then, Marvel was late with the last books, failing to tell the end of the story before the All-New, All-Different Marvel reboot books hit the stands. These book were supposed to come to press after the Secret Wars event was over. It was obvious that this kind of upheaval of the entire line of titles was not a smart idea. After this debacle came Civil War II and once again we had an event that took way longer than it was supposed to (it even was extended an additional book) and the Marvel NOW 2.0 reboots once again started hitting shelves before the main crossover event was finished. I was done with Marvel events and so were many of our customers.
The worst part of these universe-wide events is that they interrupt books' natural cadence. The mission for comic book creators is to tell a good story. Marvel has proven that they can get the talent. Just in the past few years we’ve had The Vision, She-Hulk, Black Panther and The Unstoppable Wasp - all great books left to their creator’s devices and mostly unsullied by event tie-ins.
I know, I started this diatribe talking about Secret Empire - so what about it? Twitter was abuzz when it was revealed that Captain America was an agent of Hydra and that noise got even louder when the Secret Empire event kicked off. I don’t have a problem with the basic premise. I’m sure there’s some twist that will ultimately redeem Cap (or find out it was not really Cap, or…). I haven’t picked up an issue of this event because I have Event Fatigue and the only cure is a really good story. Maybe Secret Empire turns out to be a “not to miss” story and in that case I’ll pick it up in trade and check it out. Until then, Marvel, please give the talent that you’ve brought on board the breathing room to tell a good story without interrupting them with another event or reboot to muck everything up.