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Self-Contained Title Experiment

So, I was reading this week’s Mighty Avengers, and it was an entertaining read. I especially liked how it was a self-contained issue, not a tie-in to any other crossover or title (heck, even earlier on in the storyline, when the New Avengers guest-starred, you didn’t need to have read New Avengers to fully follow their appearance in Mighty Avengers – although, you DID have to read Mighty Avengers to fully follow the New Avengers’ story), but then I thought, “Oh right, but now we have a bunch of issues tying into Secret Invasion. Annoying. I wish it could be like the old days.”

And then I thought, “Wait, were the old days much different?”

So I decided to take a look at two titles, one from DC and one from Marvel, from 1978 to 2008, and see how many issues you could read in a row without needing to have read a different comic from that company to get the “full” story. The two titles I’m going to use are Justice League and Avengers (due to various relaunches, the actual titles will be: Justice League of America/Justice League/Justice League International/Justice League America/JLA/Justice League of America Vol. 2 and Avengers (Vols. 1-3)/New Avengers).

Let us see what we shall see!

Justice League

Started with issue #150.

You did not have to read another comic book until #207, in October of 1982!

The Justice League routinely referenced outside comics during these years, specifically stuff like Firestorm and Black Lightning, but the team did not have an actual crossover until 1982, when the title crossed over with All Star Squadron for a storyline, from #207-209 (October-December 82).

The next crossover was circa October 84, when Aquaman reforms the League in the pages of the Justice League of America Annual #2 (you may dispute Annuals being included, but I think they count as not keeping a title self-contained, because you have to buy a separate title).

Justice League of America #244-245 (November-December 85) contain crossovers with Crisis on Infinite Earths.

This volume of Justice League of America concluded with a four-part story that tied into Legends – Justice League of America #258-261 (January-April 87).

The new Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League managed to get a full NAME with only self-contained stories, as the first six issues of Justice League were standalone, and even got two issues into the new name, Justice League International, until Justice League International #9-10 (January-February 88) both tied into Millennium.

After a brief respite, Justice League International #13 (May 88) crossed over with Suicide Squad.

Justice League International #22-24 (December-February 88/89) were both Invasion! tie-ins as well as a launch of Justice League Europe.

Soon after, the title changed its name again, and it christened the new name with a crossover in Justice League America #31-32 (October-November 89), which was a crossover with Justice League Europe.

The title then stayed on its own until Justice League America #53, which began the very long swan song of Giffen and DeMatteis, running from #53-60 (August-March 91/92).

Dan Jurgens kept the book self-contained until Justice League America #69 and #70 (December-January 92/93), which both tied in to the Death of Superman.

The book went back to being on its own until Justice League America #83, which tied into Guy Gardner: Warrior.

Justice League America #89-91 (June-August 94) tied into the Judgment Day crossover between the other two Justice League books.

Justice League America #92 (September 94) was both a Zero Hour crossover AND a crossover between the other two Justice League books.

Justice League America #101-102 (July-August 95) were part of a crossover with Hawkman and Guy Gardner: Warrior.

Justice League America #105-106 were both part of Underworld Unleashed, but I’ll give them a mulligan there, and say it doesn’t count – as you really didn’t need to read any other comic to understand the story.

The rest of Justice League America (up until its finale in #113) was self-contained.

Grant Morrison’s new JLA series was notable in its fairly self-containment, even while Morrison worked in the various continuity changes to the characters.

JLA #10 (September 97) unfortunately bucked the trend, and had a tie-in to Genesis (that you had to be following Genesis to get).

Also, in November 98, Morrison had a crossover with his own DC One Million storyline, with JLA: #1,000,000.

Morrison left the remaining tie-in issues during his run fall to other writers, with Mark Waid and Devin Grayson penning JLA #32 (August 99), which explained why the JLA wasn’t involved in Batman’s No Man’s Land crossover and JM DeMatteis handling JLA #35 (November 99), the crossover with the Day of Judgment storyline.

Mark Waid’s follow-up run ALMOST managed to go all the way self-contained, but right before Waid’s last issue, there was a fill-in by Chuck Dixon for JLA #59 (December 01), tying JLA into the Joker’s Last Laugh crossover, right after the JLA Our World at War Special, which resulted in Aquaman’s death (it’s debatable whether that qualifies as being something you “had” to read).

After that, the book went on a remarkable FIFTY-THREE self-contained issue run, with the entirety of Joe Kelly’s run on the title remaining self-contained, and then (which makes the achievement a bit less impressive) #91-114 were part of Mike Carlin’s idea (which I thought was really smart) of having stand alone arcs by various popular creative teams, rather than continuing storylines by one creative team.

From #115 to the book’s conclusion in #125 (August-April 05/06), however, the book was continually tying in to storylines, from Identity Crisis to Infinite Crisis (the last page of JLA #125 directly leads to the first page of Infinite Crisis #1).

The new series, Justice League of America (Vol. 2) (which began in September 06), lasted six issues before a crossover, with Justice League of America #7-10 (June-August 07) being a crossover with Justice Society of America.

Justice League of America #13-15 (November-January 07/08) crossed over with the Justice League Wedding Special.

So what’s that give us?

Longest stretch of self-contained issues?

Justice League of America (Vol. 1) #150-207
Justice League of America (Vol. 1) #210-230
Justice League of America (Vol. 1) #231-245
Justice League of America (Vol. 1) #246-257
Justice League/Justice League International #1-8
Justice League America #33-52
Justice League America #71-88
Justice League America #104-113
JLA #1-9
JLA #11-23
JLA #36-58
JLA #61-114

Shortest stretch of self-contained issues?

None

(Judgment Day going right into Zero Hour)

Avengers

Started with #167.

You did not have to read another comic book until #232, in June of 1983!!

In between #167 and #232, the Avengers actually had a NUMBER of issues that dealt with other titles, as it helped address plotlines from a number of other titles (from such diverse titles as Ghost Rider and Shogun Warriors), you just did not need to read those other titles to follow the Avengers stories. That ended with #232-233 (with 234-235 serving as epilogues to the story), which crossed over with the Fantastic Four (Avengers writer Roger Stern and Fantastic Four writer John Byrne had a close working relationship, so they had a number of references to each other’s work when they were writing the titles concurrently).

Avengers #242/243 (April/May 84) was the next issue(s) that you needed other books to fully get the story, as those were the issues where a number of Avengers disappear while they’re off fighting in the Secret War.

Note: Avengers #231 and #244 SORTA tied into other books, but they were both explained well enough in the comics themselves.

Avengers #249 (November 84) crossed over with Walt Simonson’s Thor.

NOTE: Avengers #258 (August 85) had a sorta-crossover with Spider-Man’s Firelord fight, but I wouldn’t count it as needing to read it, as you get the full story basically in the issue of Avengers.

Avengers #259-261 (September-November 85) crossover with both Secret Wars II AND the Fantastic Four (in the 85 Annuals of the time).

After a one-issue respite, Avengers #262 (January 86) crossovers with Fantastic Four and X-Factor #1.

Then after another one-issue respite, Avengers #264-265 (March-April 86) crossover with Secret Wars II.

After a “huge” five-issue respite, Avengers #272 (October 86) crossovers with Alpha Flight.

Then there’s a nice break until Avengers #298-300 (September-December 88) tie into Inferno.

It’s not until Avengers #311-313 (December-January 89/90) that the book crossovers again, this time with Acts of Vengeance.

The book had guest stars galore for the next two years, but managed to keep it all self-contained until Avengers #345-347 (March-May 92), which were parts of Operation: Galactic Storm.

More guest stars continued over the next year or so (including Cyclops and Professor X), but it was not until Avengers #368-369 (November-December 93) that the book crossed into other titles, this time with the X-Men (both books were celebrating their 30th anniversary at the time).

The next crossover came in Avengers #385-388 (April-July 95), which crossed over with Captain America.

After a brief one-issue respite, Avengers #390-395 (September-February 95/96) were part of the Crossing.

Without ANY break whatsoever, the book jumped into a crossover in Avengers #396 (March 96), tying the book in with Thor, Captain America and Iron Man.

The book lasted a whopping five issues before then crossing over with Onslaught in #401-402 (August-September 96).

This ended Volume One.

Volume Two only lasted 13 issues, but managed to cross over with other titles three times.

Avengers #6 (April 97) crossed over with the other Heroes Reborn titles, as did Avengers #12 and Avengers #13 (October-November 97).

Volume #3 lasted until Avengers #7 (August 1998), which crossed over with the other Avengers titles of the time (Cap, Iron Man and Quicksilver).

The book did not have another crossover until Avengers #31-34 (August-November 00), which crossed over with the Thunderbolts. This was directly followed up by Avengers #35 (December 00), which crossed over with Maximum Security.

The book remained standalone for the rest of Kurt Busiek’s run on the book, and the beginning of Geoff Johns’ run, tying in next at Avengers #63 (March 2003), which tied into the Cap/Thor/Iron Man story of the time (Avengers needed to be used because Cap didn’t have a Marvel Universe title at the time – I know, it sounds bizarre, but what are ya gonna do?).

The book remained standalone until the very end of Chuck Austen’s run, Avengers #84 (August 04), which tied in with the launch of New Invaders.

Bendis took over from there for the last four issues of that volume of Avengers, and then re-named the book New Avengers #1, keeping the book stand alone for 15 issues, before the New Avengers Annual #1 was necessary reading (circa March 06).

But then New Avengers #21-25 (August-December 06) all tied in to Civil War and New Avengers #35 (late 07) sorta tied in to Mighty Avengers, and then New Avengers #36 tied in to New Avengers Annual #2 (early 08).

So okay, what’s that give us?

Longest stretch of self-contained issues?

Avengers #167-231
Avengers #273-297
Avengers #301-310
Avengers #314-344
Avengers #348-367
Avengers #370-384
Avengers (Vol. 3) #1-6
Avengers (Vol. 3 #8-30
Avengers (Vol. 3) #36-62
Avengers (Vol. 3 #64-83
Avengers (Vol. 3) #500-503, New Avengers #1-15

Shortest stretch of self-contained issues?

None (The Crossing directly to the Last Sign, and the Thunderbolts storyline directly to Maximum Security).

CONCLUSIONS

I must say, I was very surprised. Both to see that the Justice League was the first comic between the two to cross over with another comic (do note that Avengers had quite a few crossovers in the 70s, they just happened to not have any in the late 70s/early 80s), and also to see that the Avengers seemed to have more long stretches (i.e. roughly stretches of 20 issues or more) of self-contained issues through history, as compared to the Justice League, while the Justice League easily had the two most significant chunks (56 and 53) as compared to the Avengers’ most impressive chunk (64). However, for JLA, DC seemed to try to go out of their way to let it stand on its own. That said, DC also had by far the largest stretches of books WHOLLY in crossover (Justice League America #53-60, then JLA #115-125 – Avengers comes closest with Avengers #390-396).

What it does seem to show is that I was initially correct – there DOES seem to be a “good ol’ day” where the books were more self-contained, but after that, there were still a number of stretches where each title was self-contained, including Mike Carlin’s intentional attempt at MAKING the JLA self-contained. However, ultimately, Carlin’s idea was put into a separate title, which just ended this week after being canceled, so I guess perhaps readers don’t LIKE self-contained stories?

Maybe readers actually prefer titles to cross into each other, even if it annoys me?

But how could people have different personal views than me?

It doesn’t make any sense!!!

40 Comments

I don’t really think Crisis tie ins should count. You don’t really have to read Crisis on Infinite Earths to read the Crisis Tie ins. Most of the time, the tie ins had nothing to do with Crisis.

I, for one, never liked the rotating teams… I liked some of the specific storylines that happened in there (ICBINT Justice League, for example) but I got REALLY sick of stories that were flashbacks very quickly. If they were stand alone stories that kept up with continuity (a la Morrison) that would be one thing…

No, if you want to make the TITLE self contained, that’s one thing. But when each storyline is completely seperate from the next… it’s just not as interesting to me.

Stephane Savoie

March 13, 2008 at 7:28 pm

This article is humourous just in virtue of existing so soon after the article about Brubaker’s lack of research in X-Men.
Zounds!

I don’t really think Crisis tie ins should count. You don’t really have to read Crisis on Infinite Earths to read the Crisis Tie ins. Most of the time, the tie ins had nothing to do with Crisis.

Maybe for some books, but for Justice League of America, the issues came directly out of Crisis (it was one of the infamous “Follow Character A’s story in ___ #—” bits that makes reading Crisis today on its own practically incomprehensible at times).

I, for one, never liked the rotating teams… I liked some of the specific storylines that happened in there (IBINT Justice League, for example) but I got REALLY sick of stories that were flashbacks very quickly. If they were stand alone stories that kept up with continuity (a la Morrison) that would be one thing…

I liked it as long as the quality was high, but as with most of these things, keeping the quality high is always a problem.

I just want to say, as someone else who’s read them, that I’m sorry you had to flip through Gerard Jones’ Justice League America issues.

JLA is working on another pretty long stretch of all-crossover issues, as after the Wedding storyline, we’ve gotten a tie-in to Tangent: Superman’s Reign (which only makes sense if you read a fifth-week event from TEN YEARS AGO), immediately followed by what looks like a long Salvation Run story. And then Final Crisis.

I’m curious about the logistics of this little research project. Did you actually flip through books, use a database, or what? Just curious.

Interesting theory and approach, Brian. However, as someone who read those runs as they came out, I personally would count the Annuals as part of the books. And even if you aren’t, there are a host of Annuals for both books that were pretty much part of the ongoing story, and many of those were part of crossovers, such as the annual Avengers / West Coast crossovers in the 80s, Atlantis Attacks, Eclipso: The Darkness Within, Armageddon 2001, JLApe (admittedly mostly stand-alone) and like.

Now that I have that out of my system, we should never speak of Atlantis Attacks again.

Also, I think the failure of JLA Classified is more due to the fact that it’s an anthology book, and anthology books just do not sell in this market.

I disagree, Greg.

Of all the Annuals each title had from 1978 until 2008, only four of them actually impacted the reading of the ongoing series – the four I mentioned (specifically, you need to know Aquaman broke up the JLA and formed a new JLA to follow the events of the new JLA, you need to read the Avengers 85 Annual for the end of the Skrull storyline, you need to know that Ms. Marvel joined the Avengers in New Avengers Annual #1 to know where she came from for the next storyline and you need to read New Avengers Annual #2 because it concludes the Hood storyline – Oh, also, New Avengers Annual #1 has Luke and Jessica’s marriage, I just dunno if that counts as “required” reading).

All those other Annuals were not “required” reading, as they did not affect the ongoing stories. You could read the Avengers from 1986 to 2005 and never need to consult an annual. No one ever cited, say, Atlantis Attacks, in the main title (same with Subterranean Wars, Eclipso, Bloodlines, etc.).

This article is humourous just in virtue of existing so soon after the article about Brubaker’s lack of research in X-Men.
Zounds!

I have decided to interpret this as a compliment, in which case, thanks! :)

The interesting thing about the Genesis lead-in in JLA #10 is that you can ignore all of the pages dealing with Aztek and the Martian Manhunter (who were the ones dealing the Genesis Wave) after their first appearances in the issue and it reads much smoother. My JLA: Rock of Ages trade (which contains issue #10) has post-it notes on the Genesis tie-in pages reading “Ignore this page!”

I also recall thinking that it didn’t lead into Genesis very well either – verifying whether or not this was actually the case would require reading Genesis again, and I’d really rather not.

I just want to say, as someone else who’s read them, that I’m sorry you had to flip through Gerard Jones’ Justice League America issues.

Ha!

Believe you me, for Jones’ Justice League America, it was strictly going by memory. ;)

Mark Waid’s follow-up run had a crossover early on, with JLA #50 (February 01) leading into a mini-Justice Leagues crossover, which resolved itself by issue #51.

Wait…what? I don’t remember that being a crossover. I even checked the issue, and as I thought, it ends on a cliffhanger moment that #51 immediately follows up on. How did this tie in with Advance Man and whatnot?

I’m curious about the logistics of this little research project. Did you actually flip through books, use a database, or what? Just curious.

A mixture of memory and databases.

I have a strong knowledge of the last 30 years of both books, but I used the database to essentially proof my memory.

I don’t think this is the sort of thing you could do with either alone, as it would be too imprecise with just memory and way too difficult using just a database.

Nah, you’re right, Loren – see, this is why you can’t go on strict memory, people! I didn’t have that line in the piece originally, I actually went back to add it after I thought to myself, “Hey, didn’t Justice Leagues pick up right after JLA #50? There was that really weird ending to #50 that led right into a new crossover, right? That must have been where Justice Leagues was.”

But that “weird ending to #50 that led right into a new crossover” was a crossover WITHIN the pages of JLA, the story that ended with #54.

Thanks, Loren!

JLA is working on another pretty long stretch of all-crossover issues, as after the Wedding storyline, we’ve gotten a tie-in to Tangent: Superman’s Reign (which only makes sense if you read a fifth-week event from TEN YEARS AGO), immediately followed by what looks like a long Salvation Run story. And then Final Crisis.

I was gonna give them the benefit of the doubt for the Tangent issue, but you’re probably right – same with the Salvation Run stuff, and of course, Final Crisis will be totally crossover-ized.

My JLA: Rock of Ages trade (which contains issue #10) has post-it notes on the Genesis tie-in pages reading “Ignore this page!”

Is that really in the trade?

That’s hilarious!

Somebody, please get me a scan of that! :)

I thought he was saying he put Post-Its there to warn himself on future reads.

But on that note (and unrelated to this otherwise-fascinating and Herculean post), the tpb versions of “Bruce Wayne: Murderer” and its follow-ups do a really good job of culling down to JUST the pertinent parts of the issues. The story crossed over into Robin, for instance, but only for two or three pages: the rest of that issue was about Robin’s regularly scheduled storyline. The tpb, however, just gives us the two or three pages that count in-context, and I think that’s neat. It’s something “Rock of Ages” would have benefited from…

Yeah, after I made my comment, I thought, “Hmm…maybe he meant that was just something he did himself.” :D

As for the trade thing you mention, I believe they did a similar thing back when they collected Byrne’s Galactus storyline in the pages of the FF.

This was when few stories were ever collected, so issues definitely were NOT written with the trade in mind, but I recall Byrne noting how amazingly easy it was for them to take out his subplot pages without affecting the main story.

I can only speak on the Justice League side of things and well… The Justice League has a long standing tradition of crossovers that goes all the way back to Gardner Fox’s Justice League of America #21. The only thing is, that there weren’t that many books to crossover with back in the 60′s. But it’s only natural that once you had books like All-Star Squadron and Justice Society in circulation; their long standing team-up tradition would continue as comic book crossovers.

As a result, I see the Justice League at a disadvantage because they basically instituted the Crossover and made it a tradition. In fact, they were the original crossover book. Almost all of the Justice Leaguers had their own books or were regular supporting characters on other series (or anthology books); the exception being Zatanna. The Avengers on the other hand, where more self contained with Cap’ guest starring in Avengers, Iron-Man on the West-Coast and Thor bobbing and weaving in between books. But the other Avengers, and I could be wrong, just weren’t solo stars.

But if you look at Batman for instance, you’ll find a clean 50 year run that wasn’t even touched by “Crisis on Infinite Earths”. Even the Legends crossover wasn’t much of a crossover; it was just a label stamped on the cover. If anything, it was more of a Man of Steel crossover than a Legends crossover.

In any case, it’s just an observation.

A couple of notes…

In the early 80′s it was fairly common for the DC Flagship titles to finish or continue story arcs into their respective annuals. The New Teen Titans did it with their “Return to Tamaran”, “Judas Contract” and “Vigilante” storylines. The Legion of Superheroes did it with their “Great Darkness Saga”; and I think that Firestorm also did it.

And Finally…

I had the misfortune of reading the Justice League Wedding Special and I can attest to the fact that it was so poorly written that it’s 100% impossible to insert it anywhere… before, after or in-between Justice League of America #13-15. I know one of the issues says “to be continued in the Wedding Special”; but that’s just bull$#¡t. If I remember correctly, Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl were laid down in the first issue, but then they are seen tipping strippers on the wedding special! …and then they are back in the hospital?

Hell, the JLA Wedding Special doesn’t even properly arc into the actual GA Wedding Comic!

The whole thing is like the Wookie Defense! IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE!

Yeah, some titles definitely worked their Annuals into their regular series, for both DC and Marvel.

Justice League, for the most part, did not work their Annuals into the ongoing series, with only the Annual #2 directly tying into the ongoing.

I think you also hit both series in just about the timeframe when we were seeing the end of long runs of self-contained stories.

Once events like Crisis and Secret Wars took place, they largely started the cycle of “events” vs. “self contained stories”.

Yes, there were crossovers and events long before “Crisis” and “Secret Wars”, but they were not a big focus and were done seldomly or as special occasions. Once “Crisis” and “Secret Wars” came about, the focus started shifting more and more towards events and crossovers.

I’d like to see things shift back toward self-contained series with the occasional crossover and occasional event.

Oh, shoot! I got so wrapped up into the history of things that I forgot to answer the question. Which is that readers want stories that are part of a bigger and richer tapestry.

That’s why the “Classified Books” die a slow a painful death. They are so self-contained that they are almost 100% inconsequential with regards to the Flagship Title. And the ones that look at a particular period or incarnation of a book “for nostalgia purposes”, do it so poorly and fail to capture the essence of the original run so miserably that it’s almost insulting to the fans.

There are exceptions, but for every “I can’t Believe it’s the Justice League” there is a “Detroit League: Game of Chance”.

Oh, shoot! I got so wrapped up into the history of things that I forgot to answer the question. Which is that readers want stories that are part of a bigger and richer tapestry.

Don’t worry, the main point of this bit IS to be wrapped up in the history of things! :)

A shame you started this look back at a time after one of the greatest crossovers in comics history: The Avengers/Defenders War!

Still, great work on the article. I knew all the Avengers stuff, but have never followed the League…I was honestly surprised at the result, as I figured Marvel and Avengers had “most crossover issues” in the bag, lol.

Yes, it was I who added the post-its to my personal copy, rather than someone on the DC staff. Initially to keep a friend of mine just starting with JLA from bothering with those pages, and later to remind myself.

Speaking of crossover pages removed from the trade – the end of JLA #23 introduces the One Million crossover and has Diana return as Wonder Woman to the JLA (rather than Hippolyta). These pages aren’t reprinted in either of the initial printings of the “Strength in Numbers” TPB or “DC One Million” TPB. Does anyone know if they added the pages back in to one of them when they went to the standardized JLA trade dress for the newer printings of those books?

You know where I stand on this. I read mostly everything(or read about it if I don’t like the writer), have read mostly everything, LIKE going to wikipedia to figure out things I don’t know, and am completely self-interested when it comes to the future of the industry. I want each issue to be a chapter of a 30,000 part novel (so long as it’s well written and well-edited) and I’m more than happy if you need a lot of background knowledge and side knowledge to know the comic in my hand.

Comics should be good… y’know, subjectively, to me.

So crossovers and comics where you need other knowledge are fine. It just gives you a bigger, grander world to experience.

Brian, I’d hate to be an asshole (can’t be helped really) but I believe that, even though the noun is crossover, the verb is cross over. Thus, one would say JLA crosses over with Avengers rather than JLA crossovers with Avengers. Of course, you may argue that this is comic jargon, but I’m sure I would have come across the one-word verb usage before if that were the case.

Also, could everybody please remember that “compare to” draws attention to similarities while “compare with” draws attention to differences (i.e. the latter should be more common though we tend to incorrectly use the former all the time).

Maybe I should be a sub instead of a journalist. Or maybe I should become an annoying English teacher.

Your memory must be awesome, by the way.

(Sometimes Anal) BDaly

The Giffen/DeMatteis JLI #37 crosses over with JLE #13. Between the two issues, the cat-that-will-be-Power-Girl’s teleports from the New York Embassy to the Paris one. Hilarious complications ensue.

For me, red-Rickey nailed it when he said “readers want stories that are part of a bigger and richer tapestry.”

I don’t care as much now as I once did about reading stories “THAT COUNT! YOU MUST READ THIS!” but I do want to read stories that have an impact on the greater decades-long narrative of which each issue is another chapter.

This doesn’t mean that every issue/story has to be “in continuity”; DKR is set in a future, but it still has an impact on the ongoing Batman narrative.

But random fill in-esque stories that take place in the past of the Justice League don’t do much for me, unless they are incredibly well done (which some are but most aren’t, at least in JLA: Classified for example).

So it isn’t that I need the stories to “matter” to “continuity” in order to enjoy them so much as I want them to bring something to the ongoing narrative (another chapter in the lives of these characters, a new perspective on past events or themes, etc). Or just be really, really well done.

Unfortunately, most JLA: Classified anthology or rotating creative team books manage to avoid both those criteria.

brian lockhart

March 14, 2008 at 8:26 am

Brian,

A couple thoughts. Recently I’ve been on a big Silver Age Marvel kick. And it’s fascinating how often Stan tossed in references to other titles.
“Why is Daredevil unable to help the Avengers? Check out this month’s issue” etc. etc. etc.
The idea of a “shared universe” is a cool concept and there’s nothing wrong with the aforementioned “shilling” of other titles. I think the problem becomes when books are intentionally written so the readers have to seek out titles they would not normally buy for the full story.
I recall some complaints about Morrison’s World War 3 saga in JLA and how it was not reflected in other books. That just astounded me because the LAST THING I wanted was for Morrison’s story to be diluted by spreading it out amongst other creators who may not be as good a writer as he is.
(But then, of course, DC One Million was a line-wide crossover).
I don’t know – I think this speaks to just how diverse comics’ readership is and how difficult it must be to be a Joe Quesada or a Dan Didio trying to please everybody.
I read a handful of DC/Marvel books and really want them to be self-contained. But I”m sure there are readers out there who pick up a dozen titles from each company and it ticks them off when the “continuity” is not matched in all the titles.
So who do the companies try to please? Do they limit the Final Crisis or Secret Invasion tie-ins because they don’t want to tick readers like me off, or do they liberally plaster “FINAL CRISIS TIE-IN” on every book because the die hard fans can’t reconcile how Spider-man is imprisoned in Secret Invasion but fighting Electro in his own book?

Neat. I think it is also partly that we want stories that come out more than monthly. So the publishers oscilate between making the titles more than monthly (like Uncanny was in the 260s range and Spider-Man is now) and splitting the title into two or more titles that continually cross over with each other (uncanny and x-men in the 40s range, Spider-Man pre-BND). They try to distinguish the two title, but with the constant crossovers they become pretty much the same (one big x-men or spider-man story, what exactly was the difference between Avengers and West Coast Avengers besides location? although New and Mighty seem fairly different).

Also team books like Avengers and JLA are sort of crossover titles by their very nature. JLA is just a crossover of Batman, Superman, and Wonderman. Avengers is just a crossover of Cap, Iron Man, and Thor. (in broad general terms).

This partly explains the frequency of the small crossovers among a small family of titles, but doesn’t address the bigger events, although I like Teebore’s thoughts on that.

One of the reasons I started collecting Avengers was that I could get a dose of all my favorite characters (ok, maybe not Gilgamesh…) without the massive crossovers. The fact that older Avengers books are available in quarter bins at the local comic shows helped matters as well. As I put together my run of Avengers, I was pleased that I could read the book in large chunks without having to dig out too many other books. For a title that lasted 402 issues (for Volume 1) it sure managed to stay fairly self-contained. It wasn’t until there was a major policy change at Marvel where everything had to be an EVENT that the title began to require so much cross-reading.

Ahhh yes, the “good ol’ days.” Nice work, Brian! (Though I agree with the other posters who argue that the Annuals shouldn’t count as separate crossover books.)

Anyway, all this crossing over is one part of why I stopped buying Justice League. (Ditto why I stopped buying Morrison’s Batman and Dini’s ‘Tec during the Ghul silliness. Ditto Brubaker’s X title. (Um, I think he’s on Uncanny?)) Of course, regarding JLA, my inability to even tolerate the “artwork” of Ed Benes and McDuffie’s suprisingly dreadful initial arc were also huge factors. If DC ever gets its act together on their flagship title and gives me a quality creative team and a book that doesn’t demand that I buy several others — well, wow, then they’d have a bestseller worthy of a lot more love and attention from some of us.

That said, I will be buying Final Crisis (c’mon, it’s Morrison and J.G. Jones!) and I am hoping that I can take DC’s claims at face value that it won’t be a ginormous crossover like Infinite Crisis was. (Please note: I am well aware that hope is often irrational.)

Brian, I’d hate to be an asshole (can’t be helped really) but I believe that, even though the noun is crossover, the verb is cross over.

Nah, it’s cool – I wasn’t sure either way, as the spell checker obviously couldn’t pick it up (as crossover IS a word, it just might not be, as you say, the appropriate word in this usage). I’m certainly not committed to the idea that the correct usage is “crossover” rather than “cross over.” :)

Rohan Williams

March 14, 2008 at 5:58 pm

It’s funny, because I just finished reading all of Giffen’s JL/JLI/JLA/JLE run. As much as old fanboys are always complaining that those stories aren’t in trade, there’s a very good reason for that: after the first six, largely self-contained issues, it felt like I needed to be reading a bunch of other books to really know what was going on.

Not to mention follow all of their running gags.

Hi All where can i get 1 of these origionals and what will they cost
specificaly issue 232 (family Crisis —–Part Two)

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