In an ideal world every crossover would be perfectly written, with amazing tie-ins and fulfilled promise. Heck, in an ideal world every comic, not just crossovers, would be perfectly written. The characterization would be spot on, the plot/crisis (lower case here) would build logically and be well-paced, the story’s ultimate theme would be moving. It isn’t an ideal world though. Writing is hard and even the best creators fumble every now and then. There biggest pitfall for a crossover, arc, whatever, is that writers seem to be able to only craft either an Amazing Journey or a Fabulous Finish. Meaning we have great middles or great endings but not both.
The Amazing Journey
We have all had those comics where the story has been going along and it is awesome. Superman takes it to General Zod. Batman investigates the death of Orca while Harvey Dent wrestles with his halves, a new mutant baby was born. It is great to be a member of the comic community during an Amazing Journey: everyone is happy and this buzz, this expectation, fills the air. We, as a collective, can’t wait to see what happens next. We are provided with months and months of enjoyment, with things to talk and blog about, with things to get excited about in comics.
Until the ending hits. Chris Kent is lost in the Phantom Zone (yes, I know production schedule really screwed this pooch), Great White Shark is the big bad, and Bishop shoots Professor X in the head. Maybe it is because we were riding so high, maybe because the journey was so amazing, that when the it wraps up poorly, we are irate. We forget the months of wonder, the months of ups and downs, of bitten nails and churned stomachs. We are left with nothing. It is like eating a wonderful meal, savoring every bite, and then getting the runs.
The Fabulous Finish
We have all had those comics where story has been going along and it is not very good. It’s not terrible, it just isn’t that good. Freddy Freeman undergoes twelve issues of trials, the Runaways slip back in time thanks to Joss Whedon, Scarlet Witch changes reality. It meanders, it stumbles, whole issues bomb. It is not so great to be a member of the comic community during the time leading up to a Fabulous Finish. We complain and moan, we feel betrayed and feel like we are wasting our money. We wonder about out place in comics.
Until the ending hits. When a Fabulous Finish happens it changes everything. It takes those strands of dirty straw and turns them into gold. Freddy becomes Captain Marvel, the Runaways make sacrifices as they head back into the future, the mutant population drops to just below two hundred. The themes come out beautifully, we have heroic acts, moving decisions, and cathartic releases. We realize that everything is all worth it. We feel renewed in our love of the medium.
Now I know there are stories out there that don’t have Amazing Journeys or Fabulous Finishes. Sometimes you only have a Beautiful Beginning or none of the three. I am not talking about those crossovers, those arcs. I am talking about the stories that are good enough to be remembered, good enough to stay with you but still have a big flaw. I am torn on the issue. Sometimes I think a great ending makes a teeth grinding half a year worth it. Sometimes I think I would rather have good times and just be disappointed.
What Would You Rather Have: an Amazing Journey or a Fabulous Finish?