Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Wolverine Syndrome

I'm watching Pulp Secret on YouTube and they ask for thoughts on comic characters who appear in multiple titles or crossover with other titles frequently.

I think it's okay as long as the character is given breathing room otherwise the publishers run the risk of contracting Wolverine Syndrome. 

Here's what I mean, Wolverine is probably the most popular comics character of all time cause, come on, when you were 10, 11, 12 you couldn't give a flying fuck about Superman.  Wolverine was cool!  Giant retractable claws, healing factor, bad ass motherfucker who drank and smoked all the time while tapping some hot Japanese ass.  So, naturally, a Wolverine appearance in any title was a sure thing to boost sales.  Nowadays, Wolverine appears in ridiculous amount of titles./  So many that the character is a joke.  He's in Astonishing X-Men, X-Force, Wolverine, Wolverine: Origins, New Avengers...and those are his regular titles!  I think he recently appeared in a few issues of Amazing Spider-Man.  When the hell does he have time to be anywhere?  Where's the breathing room?  He was just in Messiah Complex, now he's hunting religious bigots in X-Force and he's fighting the Skrulls in Secret Invasion.  At what point does the character transition from one event to the next?

We all know comics don't have a linear continuity.  For example, Wolfsbane debuted in The New Mutants over 20 years ago and is now only about 19 or 20 in the comics.  Comic time is funny.  A story can be told over the span of six issues and take place over the span of a couple of days.  We can take for granted that the events in Batman and Detective Comics are happening at relative points in time and not concurrently (unless a crossover is occuring).  Yes, I can buy that Batman is fighting the Ventriloquist in Detective while considering a romantic relationship with Zatanna in Detective while fighting alongside the JLA in Justice League.  As long as the timespan for events are well defined, the reader should have no problem reconciling events (unless seperate writers contradict each other but that's another issue).

Unfortunately we have characters like Wolverine who appear in so many books at once on a regular basis that it's impossible to reconcile events.  Wolverine has always been an X-Men and has been an Avenger since New Avengers #...5 or #6.  But Brian Michael Bendis, who's basically the architect of the major events in the Marvel U these days, has left no breathing room for Wolverine.  Wolverine is taking part in central events all across the regular non-X Marvel U AND in the X books that it's impossible to figure out when all these events take place in relation to each other (with Secret Invasion, at least, we might get some clarification...come on, we all know the New Avengers Wolverine is a Skrull!).  It doesn't help either trying to figure out the character's personal continuity.

There is a tipping point I think.  Sure, you can probably shoehorn a single character into 50 different books on a regular basis with no problems, but I think the problem is the event storylines.  At that point a character needs, needs, to be yanked out of all the other books (and acknowledged on panel) to allow for the breathing room necessary to let the writers and readers reconcile continuity.  It could be for one or two issues for all that it would matter, just as long as the space was given to actually allow an event to transpire.  For instance, Wolverine should have been yanked out of the current Uncanny story to allow for the events of Secret Invasion to make sense at the cross continuity level.  Does he really need to be in Russia right now?  There are other X-Men that could be featured.  Also, creating another  X Title for the character was needless when the plans for Secret Invasion have been in the pipe lines for years.  I understand that business is business, but creating cynical and jaded fans does not work in the long run.


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