Ten years ago, Onslaught tore the Marvel Universe in two. Kind of literally. After Onslaught, there was the main Marvel universe and a separate but strangely similar universe where the Avengers and Fantastic Four lived. Sort of like the Ultimate Universe without Spider-Man, the X-Men, or good stories. I was 14 at the time, and had only been reading comics for a year, but I was blown away by the company-wide crossover. It was so epic, and it seemed to change the status quo so drastically. As far as I knew, the two universes would be separate forever. Thanks in great part to the skill of Rob Liefeld, that turned out to not be the case, but at least the ramifications of Onslaught’s onslaught lasted a good 18 moths or so.
Unfortunately the same can not be said about anything else Marvel’s done in the last 10 years. There weren’t many company-wide crossovers in the late 90s and early 2000s, and even fewer that I can recall of the top of my head. Operation: Zero Tolerance was seemingly just a way to introduce Marrow, Maggot and Cecilia Reyes (and thank goodness they did!). Contest of Champions II was fun, but probably not even on most writers’ continuity radar (except for series writer Chris Claremont’s, but what isn’t on his continuity radar?). Maximum Security? I don’t even remember.
Then came Joe Quesada’s reign as editor-in-chief, and along with it came a rash of poorly done mega-crossovers that meant nothing. Avengers: Disassembled ended up as an excuse to kick all the actual Avengers off the team so Bendis could write about a team comprised of over-exposed characters and forgotten superheroes only he cares about. House of M was a way for the EIC to get rid of all those stupid mutants nobody cares about and give Wolverine his memory back. The point of Decimation was to churn out as many bad mini-series as they could to capitalize on the de-powering of all those stupid mutants nobody cares about while pissing off every Generation X fan that may still be out there. Spider-Man: The Other gave Spidey a new costume that Marvel has already said he’ll be ditching in less than a year (and in the process made certain that Colonel Doom would never buy another Spider-Man comic).
Right now, there are three mega-events running at once (Planet Hulk, Annihilation and Civil War) with one more on the way (shudder). All you need to know about Planet Hulk is he’s gonna be mad when he gets back to Earth. All you need to know (so far) about Annihilation is Quasar died, and do you really even need to know that? Onslaught Reborn will be pure crap (do I even need to justify that one?).
But you know what? I’ve loved Civil War so far. I haven’t read a single crossover issue I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed (well, I haven’t bought an issue I haven’t enjoyed;the first New Avengers issue was pretty bad). I certainly haven’t loved every idea the House has come up with, but overall, it’s been great. I don’t know exactly what it is. There are so many factors I won’t even bother going into it now (but I will in future posts). But I do know that this is the crossover I’ve been waiting 10 years to see again. Knock on wood, fingers crossed.
I leave you with this:
House of M #3 featured Wolverine traveling around the new House of M universe wondering why things are different than he remembers, and ends with the “return” of Hawkeye (the dud that was supposed to crack the internet in half), which might have been exciting if he had, say, been gone for more than six months, or y’know, stayed returned.
Civil War #3 featured a huge fight pitting the pro-registration side against the anti-registration side, including one-on-one fisticuffs between Iron Man and Captain America, and the seeming return of Thor, who hasn’t been around (or hardly even mentioned) for about two years.
Now that is a crossover.