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Saturday, September 27, 2014 

"But that doesn't mean a crossover was needed to launch it"

Ed Brubaker recently tweeted how Gotham Central mostly grew out of a Batman crossover, Officer Down:

But does that mean the crossover in itself was actually required in order to launch the series? I'd say not, and Chuck Dixon once set a better example by starting Birds of Prey as a handful of miniseries and one-shots. If Brubaker and Rucka wanted to, I'm sure they could've lobbied to have their pitch begun as a miniseries for testing and then prepared to launch an ongoing. Yet they went the easy route, which is like putting training wheels on a bicycle.

Kurt Busiek told him how Thunderbolts and the 3rd Avengers volume grew out of an event. Yes, in a manner of speaking, the former stemmed from the 1996 Onslaught "event" that saw the Earth's Mightiest Heroes and Fantastic Four shunted into a pocket universe, from which they came back a year later in another 4 part miniseries. Busiek admits he doesn't like crossovers, but does like what they lead to. But, that still misses the point: was a crossover really necessary to launch the Thunderbolts? The simple answer is "no". If the Avengers and FF needed to be out of the picture momentarily to pull it off, what Marvel could've actually done was craft a tale where the Avengers were abducted into another galaxy, or even a parallel world - maybe the Negative Zone - but in a setup where they're actually aware of what's happening, not one where they suffer from amnesia as seen in Heroes Reborn. The same idea I'm suggesting could also have served to reverse the embarrassment of the Teen Tony Stark mess.

And I'll even make one more point to this effect: Dixon once mentioned how he got Blockbuster to use as a Nightwing adversary through Underworld Unleashed. But was even that crossover needed to turn Blockbuster into a giant mastermind? Did they really have to knock off Blue Devil co-star Marla Bloom and turn the hero into a real devil in the process? Of course not. Blockbuster's transformation could've been done through a self-contained story, in a Batbook or even the briefly revived Showcase anthology at the time; they didn't have to go to all that trouble pushing the tale into so many books, interrupting the story flow, freedom of so many writers and escapism of so many readers. Nor did Blockbuster have to get his smarts from Neron; it could all have come via an accident in a technology center, or the machinations of a crooked scientist, not unlike what post-Crisis Metallo went through. That's what a lot of these professional writers are missing. There are alternatives, and even Secret Wars and Crisis on Infinite Earths weren't needed to achieve a lot of these goals.

Two more people brought up Starman as something they think was a great outgrowth from a crossover. But, I'd done some reevaluations over the years and decided a series that seems to be noteworthy for all the characters who got bumped off (David Knight and 3 Justice League members, to name but some) is not the classic some think it is. Still, with all the jaw-dropping PC-mania James Robinson increasingly sank into recently, that's why someday, I figure more people will begin to realize that.

IMHO, no company wide crossovers or events are needed to launch certain ideas that could work better conceived on their own. At the very least, the Big Two could've avoided forcing "wheel spokes" joined to a hub miniseries, and just gone with the main mini, rather than interrupting everybody's self-contained entertainment for the sake of ideas that nobody finds appealing when done as part of everything else. Now if only the writers like Brubaker would think about that, and all the problems that could've been avoided, financial and literary, by just keeping most ideas stand-alone, then we might be seeing improvement.

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Is there anything about Dixon that you don't or didn't like, or is he flawless as a writer to you?

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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