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Panel Bashing

Marvel and DC have both lined up crossovers to keep us reading in 2011 – but is the appetite still there for big events?

Ah, the crossover event. Love ’em or hate ’em, they just keep coming. Arriving on tidal wave of “things will never be the same” hype and “everything you know about Pantsman/Incrediboy/Photo Copier Girl is about to change” proclamations, they’ve become a familiar part of the landscape.

Fear Itself , penned by Matt Fraction for Marvel, is a fine example of the form: pertaining to be an “extinction level” threat to the Marvel universe that ropes in Norse mythology, Red Skull’s daughter and much more besides, it ticks all the “big event” boxes. While we don’t yet know the full extent of Fear Itself , Marvel has confirmed a central seven-issue series, a secondary Fear Itself: The Home Front series (also seven issues), and a number of other one-shots, mini-series and the like.

DC’s crossover, Flashpoint with Geoff Johns at the helm, was first teased way back in April last year, and is shaping up to be epic in every way. As you’ve probably cottoned on, this one centres on the Flash as opposed to, say, the Red Tornado (your time will come, Ma Hunkel ). Plot details are scant at the moment, but the teasers suggest all sorts of alternate time-line trouble for the fastest man alive, and the titles released are looking pretty juicy ( Flashpoint: Abin Sur The Green Lantern anyone? Yes please!).

In reality though, you’re going to need the spare time, cash and dedication of Bruce Wayne himself if you want to get the full Flashpoint picture. 15 mini-series of three issues each accompany the central five-issue run, and there’s talk of various one-shots into the bargain as well. Of course not everyone will want to snap up every single piece of Flashpoint or Fear Itself goodness, with many sticking to the main story and maybe a few tie-ins featuring favourite characters, but what if you did? It’s a hell of a commitment.

And anyway, all of this is based on the presumption that the readership still cares about crossover events. For some, they’ve become an annual annoyance, the comics equivalent of the office Christmas party – something you should in theory enjoy but is, in fact, pretty painful.

Here at Comic Heroes , our opinion is split: on the one hand, both of this year’s events are intriguing enough to warrant at least some investigation. But there’s an unmistakable whiff of over-familiarity, and our excitement levels aren’t exactly through the roof. A break might do the world of good – absence makes the heart grow fonder after all, so maybe a year or two without some kind of Earth-shattering upheaval would make us appreciate the enormity of the next one all the more. So should Marvel and DC give us all a bit of breathing space before launching into the next cataclysm? Or can you not get enough of the big, bold stuff? Or do you simply not care about this stuff at all? There’s more to life than Marvel and DC after all…