While I may try to fight it, I’ve always been a sucker for expansions to comic titles. The adjective-less X-Men title (damn your multiple covers) sewed a seed in the early ’90′s that has since managed to empty my wallet and pack full several short boxes many times over. As a Marvelite, this means X-titles dominate about a third of the collection, followed most recently by Avengers in all forms – new, dark, mighty and recently initiated.
I often wonder, though, just how close are we skirting the line between excessive and complete overkill? (Or was it crossed a while ago?) I am not going down the continuity rabbit hole here, by the by. Anyone spending more time talking about the plot time lines of comics rather than the significance of the ideologies comic heroes represent aren’t really reading comics. Get over it. A story well-told beats a chronologically consistent one any day. We comic readers (for the most part) are adults and should be able to wrap our heads around this fairly easily.
What I’m getting at is a complete desensitization to our beloved characters and the ideas and themes they represent. Take my personal fav. Wolverine. When I began reading X-Men I savored every last line and panel featuring the ol’ Canucklehead. Didn’t matter what the story was – as long as Wolvie was in it, I was, too. This was fine when that meant picking up two or three titles, but bring that concept through to today and I could easily find myself dropping an extra $20 or more a week at the comic shop in order to snap up every title featuring Wolverine. Not that I’m opposed to doing so, but it muddies the waters a bit when I can simultaneously see Wolvie battling his abandoned son Daken, bounding around San Francisco with the regular X-Men crew, carrying out covert wet-work ops with X-Force, teaching the New Mutants a canned lesson in life and three or four other story lines in the numerous new X titles I now cannot bring myself to buy.
The point here is that we’re treading steadily up the hill of the major marketing no-no of over-saturation. It’s simply too much and the ultimate victim ends up being the character. I don’t care, necessarily, what he does where and the order in which he does it. What I care about is whether or not he’s still on the mission to make sense of his past and balance the feral and human facets of his life. Unfortunately, amidst fighting the brood, his son, anti-mutant hysteria, Magneto, Romulus, government operatives and biker gangs, it’s hard to attach oneself that, through it all, the hairy little mutant is still trying to sort himself out. Hell, he doesn’t even have time to eat or fit in a good lay (that isn’t entirely true – thank you Jason Aaron and the consistently solid new Weapon X series).
Don’t get me wrong. I want to see my favorite characters doing as much as possible, I just want to keep the feeling that they’re actually being amidst all the doing.