Superhero comics have a yearly cycle. Marvel and DC – the main purveyors of the tights-and-fights monthlies – have a schedule you can all but set you watch to. There are the big deaths, the subsequent big returns, the new costumes, and the brand new #1 issues. Right in the middle, serving as a tentpole for the universe, is the event comic, the mini-series that promises to change everything. No doubt, you can close your eyes and rattle off a dozen of them. From Civil War to Final Crisis, Secret Invasion to another book with Crisis in the title, event comics are now a yearly standard in superhero comics. There are a lot of reasons for this, but the main one, the simplest, most obvious answer is that event comics are awesome.
Certainly we can all understand the so-called “event fatigue.” I get it, they happen a lot and things rarely change as much as a press release would have you believe. The sheer amount of tie-in books can often make your head spin as what feels like the entirety of the publisher’s line is pulled into the event. The complaints leveled against these books are more than fair, but they also seem to be missing the larger point of event comic books. If all these characters don’t assemble or unite in some massive larger-than-life battle, what is the point of having a shared universe at all?
Event comics are the summer blockbusters of a publisher’s line. Yes, they tend to gear more towards bombastic action and less towards character development, but that’s not always a bad thing. I know when I buy a ticket to Furious 7 that I’m strapping in for a ride, a series of improbable set pieces anchored by explosions and car crashes. Same goes for when I buy an issue of Secret Wars or Convergence. They are the comic book equivalent of popcorn-infused, movie-theater spectacle, and spectacle for the sake of spectacle is not always a bad thing; sometimes it’s exactly what I’m looking for.
Superhero comics should be bigger than life. Those fist-pumping moments when everyone unites and launches a new offensive against the villain? Those are the moments superheroes were made for. When event comics are done right, they are fun and excitement cranked to eleven. They remind us that all these characters exist in the same world, and that, no matter how bad things look, heroes can save the day. Like a good movie, event comics have sacrifice, action, and a climax that will melt your eyes out of your head.
This is not to say that all events are created equal. Some of them are clunky and drag on for far too long. Some of them lack any really punch or excitement. When these things are coming out yearly, you are gonna have a few duds. That said, when an event comic is firing on all cylinders, there is nothing better in the world of superhero comics. Books like Siege, Final Crisis, World War Hulk, Flashpoint, and Infinity deliver in spades. Maybe they didn’t change the course of the universe forever–well, Flashpoint did–but they were big, bombastic fun. Events comics put entertainment first and as long as they embrace that notion, you can’t fault them for it.
So dig deep and tell us what event comic series you love. Are you an Infinity Gauntlet lover? Do you have a soft spot for Secret Invasion? Does Identity Crisis tickle your fancy? Sound off in the comments below or tweet me at @BenHBailey and I’ll tell you why Final Crisis is supremely awesome.