Ever since I read Tim Callahan’s chat with Joe Casey – ostensibly about Casey’s new Marvel series, Vengeance, although as with all Casey interviews, it goes way beyond that – earlier this week, one line in particular has stuck in my brain:
What [Vengeance artist Nick] Dragotta and I are striving for is a story and a series that has the feel and the scope of an “event” book without the Marketing and Publishing Ass-Rape that tends to occur — beyond anyone’s control, I should add — when these things happen, with all the obvious hype and the endless spinoff series and the checklists and all that goofy shit. Besides, these event books don’t really have a “concept,” do they? I mean, aside from ripping off other event books.
When I first read that, I thought YEAH and didn’t think too much about it beyond “Way to go, Joe!” but… He’s wrong, isn’t he? One of the things that separates today’s event books from the ones I grew up with is that they do always have a “concept,” even if the concept is something that doesn’t really work in the context of the book itself. I mean, you could argue that DC aren’t as guilty of this as Marvel (Blackest Night is, at a stretch, about embracing life instead of a nihilistic attitude, as in its own way is Final Crisis, but Infinite Crisis? Flashpoint? Pretty much just straightforward comic book adventures), but think of Civil War or Fear Itself: These are events that desperately want to be more than just a comic book story, things that are supposed to “resonate” with larger themes that we happen to meet in everyday life. Even something like House of M is about the value of the road less taken, in its own way, same as Secret Invasion is as much about paranoia and religious extremism as it is about aliens invading the planet (Siege, though? Yeah, you got me there. “Keep watching the skies because a mythical floating city might be falling any minute”?).
I’m not sure if this relevance is a good thing or not – I tend to think that it can be, but only when it’s not the selling point of the whole enterprise, as I feel was the case in Civil War and a lot of the pre-release hype surrounding Fear Itself – but I do think it’s a little unfair to say that all event books have no concept beyond ripping off other event books: The whole ripping off thing is just an added benefit.