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An Event to Unremember

Stephen Vega | 27 Feb 2012 12:00
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Marvel served this up page after page, issue after issue. But fair warning - if you are a fan of the motion pictures planning to pick up a comic book to get more of the same, that ship may have already sailed. Not because Events are shoddily produced; the dilemma comes from the exclusive nature of Events. Try picking up a random issue of the recently completed Event, Fear Itself. You may find yourself just lost enough for your loved ones to start posting your picture on the back of milk cartons.

Unlike most books tied into Events, Deadpool doesn't require the reader to have majored in Comic Book History.

I tried explaining the Marvel Event Civil War to my (very real, very non-inflatable) girlfriend. I got about ten minutes in before she threatened to leave me if I didn't stop talking. And my girlfriend is actually an avid fan of Deadpool. Unlike most books tied into Events, Deadpool doesn't require the reader to have majored in Comic Book History. She can pick up any issue, and instantly get sucked in by the off-the-wall humor and gory action. Deadpool wears its creative heart on its sleeve; the writing is geared toward entertaining the reader with the character's antics rather than his muddled, mysterious past. Events tend to lose sight of the fact that a comic-book novice has to contend with half a century of continuity.

Perhaps the proliferation of super-sized escapades boils down to Marvel's reaction to a stagnant market. Let's face it: The internet has made it all too easy to pirate comics. Also, with the various formats from animated shows to videogames to movies, the gateway to Marvel no longer relies on comics; Events could simply be the most efficient method of squeezing a profit from the page these days. Don't count out the possibility of supply and demand, either. Despite message boards filled with vitriol decrying the industry, Marvel may have their finger on the market's pulse. After all, the internet can't be flooded with tales of disappointment suffered at the hands of Marvel, unless somebody keeps buying the books month after month. Between satisfying an audience and raking in enough cash to keep the lights on, Marvel may be guilty of nothing more than finding a niche.

The technical and economic aspects of Marvel Comics are all a matter of formulas and equations and staying in the black. What can't be tabulated so easily, however, is the strongest (albeit cheesiest) ingredient of the recipe for comic-book greatness: heart. Marvel Comics has a proud tradition of not so much writing about superheroes as writing about regular folk whose job just happens to be fighting crime. Spider-Man constantly scrounged for the rent. Iron Man struggled with alcoholism. These characters reminded us of people we knew. Often, they reminded us of the people we saw in the mirror, everyday. I'll never forget the issue where Nightcrawler-the furry, blue, swash-buckling demon priest of the X-men-got the girl. As a teenaged nerd, nothing was more vindicating than reading about my favorite outcast sweeping the damsel in distress off her feet.

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