With Avengers: Endgame hitting cinemas soon the Marvel Cinematic Universe is about to experience the culmination of the events begun in Avengers: Infinity War. It is to the MCU what the big, line-wide crossover events are to comics. Thus, to celebrate this fact here is a look at five big “Event” comic storylines that every comics fan has to read!
Death of Superman
When your most famous character is flagging in sales, what do you do? Why kill him off of course! That’s what DC did to arguably the most famous superhero in history, Superman. While there is a little more to the story than just falling sales, the resulting story, which spread over Superman, Action Comics, The Adventures of Superman, Superman: The Man of Steel, Justice League America and Green Lantern shocked not only comic readers but people the world over and the event received mainstream media coverage across the globe. DC pulled no punches with the event, halting publication of all Superman titles for three months. After this time they introduced four new “heroes,” each claiming to be Superman’s replacement or Superman himself. Each was based upon one of the monikers of the original Superman, such as Man of Steel and Last Son of Krypton. Of course, Superman eventually came back – sporting a mullet no less – but Death of Superman is one of the impactful events in comics history.
Marvel Vs. DC: Amalgam
What happens when the two biggest superhero publishers in the world pit their characters against one another? Why, one heck of a biffo, that’s what! But even more interesting is what came out of that battle; the Amalgam Universe in which DC and Marvel heroes merged to become all new characters. There was Amazon, a melding of X-Men’s Storm and Wonder Woman. Doctor Strangefate, a merger of Doctor Strange and Doctor Fate; Brue Wayne, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Hyena, a crazy mixture of Joker and Sabertooth and Super-Soldier, a mix of Superman and Captain America to name just a few. These stories were truly out of this world and are lots of fun. Sadly, they have never been collected so you’ll have to track down the actual issues if you want to read them but if you do you’ll have a comics experience unlike anything else.
Death in the Family
When Jason Todd took over from Dick Grayson as Robin in DC’s Batman comics, fans were none-too-pleased. Gone was the cheery, optimistic character and Grayson was replaced with a bad-tempered, foul-mouthed, impulsive teen. As DC saw the dislike of their new character grow, then-editor Dennis O’Neil decided something had to be done. The result was the now infamous Death in the Family storyline which was morphed into a mini-event all its own. In the story, Todd takes leave of his duties as Batman’s sidekick and goes looking for his maternal mother. In the process, he is abducted by The Joker and tortured. In an interesting twist, O’Neil decided to let Batman’s fans decide Todd’s fate. Readers could call up a 900 number and vote for if they wanted to see Todd live to fight another day or die at the hands of the Clown Prince of Crime. Although it was a close call, the votes did not tally in Todd’s favor, and he was killed in an explosion. While the storyline only lasted four issues, its impact can still be felt in Batman comics today, and even in other Batman-related media such as the recent Arkham games and Scott Snyder-directed films. It’s a defining moment in the career of the Dark Knight and should be experienced by all his fans.
When a resurrected Black Hand becomes the embodiment of Death created the Black Lantern Corps– Whose ranks are filled with those who died in turmoil. Not only are former Green Lanterns recruited into the Black Lanterns, but also dead heroes and villains. Thus begins the War of Light in which several new Lantern factions are created; Red for rage, Orange for avarice, Indigo for compassion and Violet for love. These join forces with the already existing Green and Yellow Lanterns to battle the Black Lantern Corps. With each Corps representing a particular emotion, Black representing Death and White representing Life (on the color spectrum black and white are the complete absence and the total combination of all colors) writer Geoff Johns explores these themes with interest and the series becomes an exploration of life, death and human emotion all wrapped up in a vast superhero epic.
Crisis on Infinite Earths
While not the first event comic, it certainly showed the world what such stories are capable of being. Crisis on Infinite Earth is the standard by which all events that came after would be judged. Originally designed as a way to simplify the complex maze that was DC continuity, Crisis destroyed and rebuilt the entire DC Universe. An utterly cosmic tale in scope, nothing quite as grand has been achieved since even though many have tried. So important is the event to DC’s ongoing comics history that DC’s shared universe is continuously discussed in both pre- and post-crisis frameworks. If you’ve ever wanted to experience the epitome of superhero comic book events, there is none greater than Crisis on Infinite Earths.