The Gold Standard: Event Overload, Relaunches Galore, And How To Renumber

Columns, Top Story

Last time on The Gold Standard:

  • I wish I wish I had some What If?!
  • Booster Gold for all, and for all…Booster Gold.
  • Grey vanished yet again into the cloudy place he calls his brain.
  • Shelton Benjamin jokes.


Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the magnificent musings and glorious gabs of such exquisite elucidating exuberance. My name is Grey “I’d say call me a DC, but I buy more Marvel, but don’t call me a Marvel because the House is rehashing Ideas, I’d be an IDW but my tastes aren’t all licensed, Avatar is my gore, and Image is too tame, so I guess that makes me a Valiant until Boom goes the Dynamite” Scherl, and I am awesome and so can you. 


Last time I promised to talk about how Axis was better than AvX, but then Axis went ahead and made Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver into NOT Magneto’s kids and my groaning was the stuff of LEGEND! On par with the epic eye rolls of the one and only Liz Lemon, which I find to be the perfect reaction to a pointless and potentially harmful retcon. Especially one made with the short sightedness that comes from adapting the comics to fit the movies, and happening because Marvel and Fox can’t figure out who the winner is in the pissing contest over the lands of Fantastic X. Unlike the submissive Sony, who will most likely return the Friendly Neighborhood One to his rightful home, though without Andrew “I’m a great Peter Parker” Garfield. This is fine, it means that Marvel can give us an on-screen Miles Morales. I mean, they won’t, but they will be able to! Ooh and ahhh at that!

Axis was an intriguing journey, though, to get on something temporarily resembling a point before I bum rush through this column so I can get to the next one (yes, I am totally doing that right now, because I refuse to lie about next time ons). Typically Marvel pumps out events with false senses of actual ramifications, where you get the feeling from the beginning that nothing is really going to happen or change, and that you might not miss anything if you skip it. For instance, Infinity. It was some big cosmic epic, and I read it, and a year later I can tell you a grand total of one thing about it. It led to Inhumanity.

No, and if not for a movie coming out, nobody else would be either.
No, and if not for a movie coming out, nobody else would be either.

That’s a Marvel thing, events lead to status quo banners, and sometimes new status quos, but generally it’s just a banner for the sake of having a banner. Inhumanity, Dark Reign, Heroic Age, Shattered Heroes. It’s a thing, it’s common, it’s annoying. Marvel tends to start pushing that new status quo banner before the event that leads to it wraps up, and it just furthers the overall lack of importance of what’s going on. No longer are fans shocked when some big ‘everything changes here’ moment happens at the end of a story; they’ve become too adjusted to either every event having such an ending, or worse, every change being temporary. Remember ‘No More Mutants’? How about a Disassembled Avengers?

Hell, I think Marvel’s longest lasting status quo banner that actually mattered was Brand New Day, and the less said about a horribly retconned Peter Parker being written by a different writer every other week, the better.

DC didn’t run a status quo banner after Forever Evil. I mean, yes, the event lasted the better part of a year (this happens when a book is monthly and sees delays), but when it was over there wasn’t an attempt to mass rebrand everything under an epilogue masthead. Some books had fallout, others didn’t, and there weren’t any tricks to draw readers to books they might normally ignore because of it. That’s DC though, in a nutshell; most events don’t end with major status upheavals, but when they do, they’re linewide. One Year Later, The New 52, Post Crisis. When DC goes big, they go big.

It’s easier to be a DC fan for that reason (not so much other reasons which will be the subjects of future rants); because I can read Batman and not have to worry about a Justice League event changing the status quo up. The big Doomed event in Superman that I didn’t read? Didn’t disturb any of the other books I was reading, and given how the interwebs made the Convergence lead in on the last page a big thing for all to see? I have no need to read that event.

See? This is all the Doomed any of us need to read.
See? This is all the Doomed any of us need to read.

Really, I think this is all a large part of why I’ve been gravitating more and more to creator owned books outside of the big two. Sometimes it’s nice to just read a book and not have to wonder what you’re missing by not reading the entire line. Hell, it’s always nice to pick up a book and not immediately have to go back and read something else just to know what’s going on.

Event fatigue. It’s a thing.

You know what else is a thing? Killing books with creative changes.

Marvel has gotten pretty good about rebranding for instances like this, with Marvel NOW! providing the relaunch spark that they company abuses for creative or status shifts when they’re contained to a single title, with varying results. Successful change ups like All-New Captain America and Captain America and the Mighty Avengers; where the creative team (writer) stayed in place while the status quo of the book was slightly altered. Then you’ve got your epic failures like Avengers Undercover, which was absolutely fantastic, but the relaunch killed all of the momentum built by Avengers Arena and left the book struggling to attract readers who likely would have bought it had they not changed the title (even writer Dennis Hopeless has said it was a bad idea to relaunch with a new name).

You know what would have helped? Any reference to Arena anywhere on the cover.
You know what would have helped? Any reference to Arena anywhere on the cover.


The flipside to this is cases like Moon Knight and Cyclops where the bait and switch was ridiculously strong. I’m sorry, but I was buying Moon Knight for Warren Ellis, and giving me Brain Wood after six issues was a great way to have me quit the book after three. Ellis was doing great, but knowing it was just going to be six issue followed by Brain Wood? My ability to care evaporated instantly. Cyclops I’ve hung on with because I like John Layman, but it easily could have gone the same way. 

DC is the problem, though. Not because New 52 or any other fanboy whine, but because they still mostly believe in not relaunching books. I mean, Teen Titans got relaunched when they changed creative teams, but Green Arrow and Wonder Woman retained their numberings. Hell, Green Arrow retained it through at least five creative teams thus far. The thing is, in both cases, Lemire’s Green Arrow and Azzarello’s Wonder Woman…they deserved to exist in the sorts of bubbles that Marvel creates. Wonder Woman should have been relaunched for the Finch’s, and Green Arrow should have been relaunched for Lemire and again when he was gone. Seriously, that’s a really hard book to recommend to someone hunting for the singles, without looking I can’t tell you if Lemire took over at 18, 19, or 20. 

It was 17. I think that proves my point.
It was 17. I think that proves my point.

Beyond that, and the real reason it bothers me, is that if the runs were relaunched I’d feel a lot less inclined to try out the next issue. When a book is relaunched with a new creative team, then I treat it as if it’s a new book. When a book just maintains the numbering, I tend to give the next creator an issue or two as a display of good faith. I can count on one hand how many times in the last three years where that hasn’t bitten me in the ass. I mean, I bought the first issue of Wonder Woman by the Finch’s. If that was a new book, I’d have ignored it. Every single detail about that book told me that I wasn’t going to like it; from the creative team, to the interviews they did about the book, to the preview art, to the fact that I knew going in that Azz and Chiang were the ONLY time I’ve ever enjoyed a Wonder Woman book. So why did I buy it? I hadn’t taken the book off of my pull list, and rather than ask the guys at the shop to take it out of my stack I said “screw it, let’s give it a shot”. 

It wasn’t my smartest decision.

Like hanging on with Green Lantern after Geoff left, that was another mistake…though it’s strange, and a little tangent. Robert Venditti ruined Green Lantern for me. At the same time, his XO Manowar is one of my favorite books every month, and his Flash is one of my top five books at DC. So why the hell is his GL so awful?

For that matter, I’m currently wishing I’d cut bait with Earth 2. Under Tom Taylor the book was absolutely fantastic, but since World’s End launched, and he left the main title…it’s been a complete and utter stack of Countdown esque crap.

And now, as promised…Panda Bear Madness.

Next time! 

  • The Best of Times
  • Nailbiter
  • The backlog
  • Future Hopes

The Gold Standard

A lifelong reader and self proclaimed continuity guru, Grey is the Editor in Chief of Comics Nexus. Known for his love of Booster Gold, Spider-Girl (the real one), Stephanie Brown, and The Boys. Don't miss The Gold Standard.