Marvel Comics used to be the greatest comic book company in the world. I don’t know if this is just nostalgia talking or what, but growing up as a kid I can remember reading great crossovers and mini-series like the Infinity Gauntlet, X-Cutioner’s Song, Marvels, the Muir Island Saga and even Spider-Man’s Clone Saga. The storytelling was excellent, the pacing was great, the artwork was spectacular and when you were done reading the mini-series or crossover, you felt satisfied and were left frothing at the mouth for more. In the end, you got exactly what you wanted out of it.
Nowadays, it seems that when Marvel does a big multi-title crossover, the story is rushed and it feels like it’s only half there. If you look back a few years to stories like Operation: Zero Tolerance, Onslaught, Heroes Reborn, Heroes Return, any X-Men story arc or to recent crossovers like Civil War, World War Hulk and Planet Hulk. All victims of the new Marvel trend of sub-par material with a lackluster ending. Civil War started off great and pushed the Marvel Universe characters to places that we’ve never seen before…until the last two issues. The story built up to a cataclysmic battle between Iron Man’s registered heroes and Captain America’s underground resistence. Instead of keeping the pedal to the metal, the story fizzled out with Captain America just one day deciding to turn himself in. After convincing handfuls of heroes to join his fight for right, the entire story did a 360 and just ended at that.
World War Hulk had this same exact feel to it. Hulk takes out just about every hero in existence as well as half of New York City only to be stopped by a frickin’ laser and then turned into a red Hulk. And can you guess who the hero of the book is? Iron Man. Way to promote your next big movie character, Marvel.
Even the better stuff has it flaws. Annihilation was a grand science fiction space opera but the second tier characters were too distant and the side stories were confusing at times and didn’t add much to the overall plot. Planet Hulk gave the reader a Hulk that was free to let loose and be the savage monster that he was always meant to be while also adding more human qualities to the character but once again, the conclusion left a lot to be desired.
I don’t know what it’s going to take for Marvel to once again write a crossover saga worth all the hype. Maybe they have too many hands on the table or maybe the don’t think things all the way through. I don’t know. All I want is one of those stories that piques your interest and takes you back to those wondorous days of being a kid again when you used to forget about the world and lose yourself in those glossy pages. A great crossover? Make Mine Marvel…