Summer-long event comics have become something of a benchmark in the comics industry, particularly in the past decade. Take an ensemble cast of heroes, pit ‘em against a threat that no single series can withstand, throw in a shedload of tie-ins and SHAZAM, you’ve got an event.
They often make for pretty predictable fare, some failing to live up to fan’s expectations, some just eschewing an ending altogether so as to lead into the next storyline. Marvel are as guilty of this as any of their rivals (“cough” AGE OF ULTRON “cough”). But every now and then they produce a work of art that seems akin to a blockbuster movie. The combination of a writer who ups the ante and an artist with the skills to deliver on the promise of heightened action , tension and kick ass moments.
And on that note, I give you my run-down Marvel summer event series that were better than the movies and would make pretty amazing movies themselves:
7. World War Hulk
Deciding Hulk’s just too dangerous to keep around, Reed Richards, Tony Stark and the rest of Marvels secret Illuminati shoot a sedate Hulk off in a capsule to a peaceful planet where he can live out the rest of his life with minimal rage issues. Instead he ends up going through a wormhole and being forced into slavery in a gladiatorial arena on planet Sakaar – where Hulk is far from the strongest one there is (Planet Hulk).
But it’s far from over yet! Overthrowing Sakaar’s Red Emperor and becoming their new king, Hulk returns to earth with his Warbound (a horde of hard as nails alien gladiator bastards), a giant stone ship and a bad case of REVENGE!
If this was a movie it would be the ultimate superhero revenge flick, as Hulk takes on all of earths mightiest heroes from The Avengers (he beats them almost to death including his Cousin She-Hulk) to all the X-Teams (he breaks both of Colossus’s arms and beats Wolverines brains to mush in his adamantium skull just for starters). It’s big green vengeance, and whats better is they all f**king deserve it. Imagine Old Boy starring the Hulk. Except you don’t have to, because it’s a comic instead.
THE MONEY SHOT:
Reduced to puny Banner on the psychic plane by Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange, Strange bargains with Bruce and tells him to cease the destructive madness. Banner seemingly complies and takes Strange’s hand’s in a gesture of goodwill, only to turn into Hulk and crush the good Doctors mittens in what turns out to have been a big Green sting. Banner’s on board with Hulk getting his revenge on you see. And punching Iron Man through Stark Tower and leveling the entire building was just his warm up.
6. CIVIL WAR
If we’re discussing summer events, we’re discussing Civil War. The story revolves around the Super Human Registration Act, a legislation brought in by the US government in the wake of a superhero and supervillain dust-up which decimated a small town. It called for all super-heroes to be registered and unmasked, or they’d be locked up in a prison in another dimension. Most of the characters took Iron Man’s side, working with the government, but a few stood with Captain America and went underground to oppose it. Political and societal overtones were on virtually every page, but it was refreshing to get them in a pulp-superhero comic. And writer Mark Millar is never one to shy away from causing some debate.
The series was rife with production delays, a seemingly infinite amount of tie-ins and an ending that didn’t match the quality it opened with, but the aim was to go big, and to this day they’ve never gone bigger.
THE MONEY SHOT:
Steve McNiven’s artwork is excellent from start to finish on this and he delivers a number of fan-pleasing moments, including my personal fave, Hercules bashing in the brains of Thor’s evil clone (it happened). But if there was ever an example of a “don’t skip to the last page” scene, it has to be in the 2nd issue, when Spider-Man unmasks on live television, complete with J Jonah Jameson fainting.