There are three publishers that are currently telling, or have told, an event story this year; Valiant, Marvel, and DC.
Valiant’s 4001 A.D. was absolutely fantastic. It may not be the best miniseries Valiant have published this year (Valiant‘s Divinity is head and shoulders above everything else right now from any publisher), 4001 A.D. was still bloody good. Of the tie-in comics released about half have had relatively little to do with the main story, instead focusing a story that takes place on the periphery of the event – whether in the past or present – which has actually had the effect of enabling the tie-ins to be read independently of the overall arc, something that seems to be more and more infrequent with tie-in comics these days.
Marvel‘s Civil War II is something that personally I have avoided because over the last five or so years I’ve become tired of the events from the Big Two, our fearless leader Brett has said that 4001 A.D. is running circles around yet another Marvel story where it’s heroes are fighting each other. Graphic Policy’s review of the third issue was less than glowing, saying that “it has failed at any social commentary that it has attempted.” I’d love to say I’m surprised by that… but I’m honestly not. It has been a long time since I cared about a Marvel event, andCivil War II has done nothing to change that.
Conversely, over at DC something unexpectedly strange is happening. Rebirth, their line wide reboot, is actually a resounding success! How DC have been able to turn something that so many comic book fans were tired of into possibly the best line wide reboot/relaunch since Valiant returned to comics in 2005. DC have done the nigh unthinkable by not building their reboot around another miniseries; Rebirth was one 80 page comic that cost a whopping $2.99 (for a first print run – subsequent editions have doubled in cover price), followed by a series of character specific Rebirth specials that were utterly optional, albeit suggested if you intended to read that character’s series. But Rebirth isn’t really a summer event, is it?
By not having a traditional summer event, per se, DC have had the most critically successful summer from either of the Big Two in a long, long time. But comparing Rebirth to either Civil War II or 4001 A.D. is like comparing chalk and cheese. When DC decided to have another reboot (or was it a de-boot?) instead of following the pattern of the past decade of miniseries event story followed by negligible change, when DC decided to erase the controversial New 52 reboot from 2011, rather than use another Flashpoint style storyline explaining how and why it would happen, DC just bloody did it. No need for fans to buy another six issues telling us how the Flash would change history that we could just read about online and get the gist of the story, instead DC published an 80 page single issue for $3 – and that was it. With one issue, the publisher changed everything.
One. Fucking. Issue.
They didn’t faff about wasting time and money telling an irrelevant story about how and/or why their comic book line would change (or not change as has often been the result of Marvel‘s big summer events) that many readers would invariably ignore only to jump on with the newest batch of number one issues that would come out long after the story to reboot the universe has started. By rebooting everything (or un-rebooting everything, depending on the side of the fence you stand) with one 80 page issue DC have shown Marvel just how a line wide reboot should be done.
How successful Rebirth will be for the publisher, as the old saying goes, only time will tell, but it’s off to a surprising start with almost all the series being published right now being both of a high quality, and most importantly, being accessible to new readers – despite obvious fears to the contrary with the continuity returning to the pre-New 52 era in the publisher’s history.
If you want to read an event story that’s wiping the floor with anything either of the Big Two have put out in recent years, read 4001 A.D.. The page composition, artwork, and the comics that tie-in with the main miniseries, are superb, but it’s the potential consequences that the series holds in store for the future that really has me excited, especially when you look at some of the tie-in comics that have been released in conjunction with the event – specifically the War Mother and Bloodshot issues – Valiant‘s future is looking incredibly bright right now.
Marvel, however, much like they did with Secret Wars last year have delayed Civil War II and green-lit an 8th issue. While the reason for the delay is a very good one (the book’s artist became a father), I have to wonder how it will impact the comics that were scheduled to be released after the story, and whether they’ll spoil the final events of Civil War II or not. Whether Marvel will have any lasting change after the end of Civil War II is honestly doubtful – although I’m more than happy to be proven wrong, and to be reminded why I used to love Marvel comics so much ten, fifteen years ago. But my inner cynic doesn’t expect that to happen anytime soon.
Until it does, you’ll see a lot more Valiant and DC in my pull list.