Is Event Fatigue Real?

As the discussion continued about the reasons for Marvel’s sales drop as last year closed out a popular culprit was event fatigue, that some people are just tired of all the events that seem to be popping up one after another, and now we’re on the verge of the next event starting up, Marvel’s Secret Empire.  But is event fatigue a real thing?  Is there a saturation point at which more of them will turn more people off than on?  Or is this just internet projection at work, a few presenting their personal opinion as if it represents the voice of the masses?

We May Not Love Them, But We Sure Don’t Hate Them

Whatever people think, it’s pretty clear that we don’t hate the actual events themselves.  They almost always sell well, and even if a company’s whole line is down the event related books often outsell the regular ones.  And when done well we get an all time great story like Secret Wars from a few years ago or Blackest Night (my personal favorite).  

What we don’t like are bad events.  Civil War 2’s reception was a mixed bag at best and DC’s Convergence from 2015 did not go over well at all.

The event books still sell, I think largely because once you’ve invested you feel like you have to finish, but they can really poison the well afterwards after leaving a bad taste in readers mouths, especially if the follow up stories fall flat.  DC followed up Convergence with story arcs for their big three that broke down and deconstructed the characters in ways that pissed a lot of people off and tanked most of rest of their whole line.  That double whammy along Marvel’s Secret Wars high really put them behind the eight ball.

For Marvel Civil War 2 hit every mark on the bad news checklist.  The event itself did not go over well, there were a lot of delays, and then it ended like a commercial for what was to come instead of with a conclusive finish.  And it came during a time when there were already complaints about the directions that had been taken with some characters and plotlines as well as some of the choices for new books.  And it looks like it’s at least plausible that all of these phenomena fed on each other.

All that being said, Secret Empire looks like it will be good.  There has been a good and proper build up for it, and the main writer Nick Spencer has been crushing it with the HydraCap storyline that feeds into it.  It will likely outsell the rest of the Marvel line and if it goes over well then those ‘Marvel is back!’ overreaction pieces will come as quickly as the ‘Marvel FAILLLL!!!!!’ overreaction pieces have.  

So is there ever too much?

Well sure.  I do think Marvel has been doing too much in the past year or so.  We came out of Secret Wars into a company wide relaunch then not even six months later we get Civil War 2 with it’s numerous tie-ins and crossovers.  And then we go right into Inhumans vs X-Men and Monsters Unleashed right before Secret Empire starts up. That’s a whole lot of extra issues to buy, and if you’re on a budget then you just can’t do all of that, get regular stories from Marvel, and books from other companies be it DC or Image or whoever.  

I personally skipped both Inhumans vs X-Men and Monsters Unleashed; for me all that was doing too much.  But I by no means represent comic book fandom as a whole.  There are obviously some people who did like I did but there are plenty who did lap it all up.  I have no idea what your or anyone else’s saturation point is.  Like everything else it comes down to your time, money, attention span, and personal preferences. 

But the flip side is that if you stick with regular stories for too long, they can get monotonous and people will check out. Marvel is claiming that the next big event won’t be for another 18 months after Secret Empire is done.  I doubt that holds, and through no fault of their own.  The business demands something big happen sooner, no matter how we complain about it.  When they build it we’ll come.  

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