The global virus did what no supervillain could. It stopped the comics industry dead in its tracks. For months, retailers and creators alike, have scrambled to survive while the world came to a grinding halt. The answer for some has been virtual conventions, panels, and streaming artist’s tables. Technology has kept creators alive with sites Artist Alley Shopping Network or the ongoing charity auctions held by mega-star artist Jim Lee to help the Comic Book United Fund. But still, retailers have shuttered their shops. Diamond halted distribution. The landscape of the medium has radically changed and no one knows the full impact of 2020 as the virus still rages.
There are too many unanswered questions. How many fans will step away from the hobby as incomes and the economy remain uncertain? How many professional writers, artists, inkers, colorists, letters, and staff will be forced out of comics in order to survive the long delays and uncertain future? Will the comics market recover once the danger has passed? Is digital the answer that so many fans have claimed that it is? Are graphic novels the answer?
There simply is no way to tell.
It’s too soon.
The wounds are still fresh.
But one fact is unavoidable. The industry is going to change because of Covid-19. Nothing will be the same after this. While fans have clamored for the return of regular shipping and shopping, there is no way to know if there will be another delay due to the virus. Is this round 1 of many? There is speculation that there will be a resurgence of the virus this fall. Could smaller retailers and publishers survive another industry-wide break? Will readers grow tired of waiting? Again, there are no answers. We as fans and creators have never faced something like this before.
But there is a chance that this could be the perfect opportunity to give the public what they have been demanding for years. A return of the biggest crossover in history. A crossover where publishers come together and break bread for the benefit of the industry itself. Not for sales, not for profit, but as a way to support the very people that have comprised the business for decades.
I’m suggesting that Marvel and DC come together and produce an industry-wide crossover where 100% of the sales go to a fund for creators and retailers affected by the shutdown. Where the funds can be directed to assist those who were stricken with the virus, retailers that lost income during the shutdown and give the fans a comic that they have been demanding since the two biggest comic book publishers in the world traded blows back in 1996.
It’s time for the world’s best superheroes to step up and help save some real-world lives. A lot has changed in comics in two and a half decades. Marvel and DC are no longer just powerhouses within the publishing world but have taken over Hollywood. Out of the top 10 highest-grossing movies of all-time, comic-based properties hold 5 of those spots. While Marvel may hold sway on the big screen, it’s been DC who has made TV and streaming it’s home. With shows like Flash, Supergirl, Arrow..etc keeping millions of fans tuning in every week.
A crossover on the big screen is seemingly impossible at the moment. As Marvel has shown that they are unable to get all of their own characters into one shared universe thanks to legal hurdles with Fox and other companies. The idea of Marvel and DC coming to an agreement that would lead fans to a Avengers Vs Justice League film is a bridge too far… but comics are a different story. The legal battles that resides in Tinseltown don’t apply.
With a groundswell of fan support, Marvel and DC could be swayed to let their biggest names come together under one title. And just like in 1996 fans could once again see the battles that they have been clamoring for; letting old questions of “who would win in a fight?” be settled. With proceeds going to charity this is the perfect chance for both publishers to wheel out some dream matches…or even use this as a chance to trot out new plans for their characters….return of the Ultimate Marvel Universe?… The new phase of the DCU? With this series happening outside of continuity it could be a chance for someone to create a crossover that is more than just hero vs hero or villain vs villain. This could be the opportunity to tell the greatest comic book story ever told!
This idea would also be a chance for both publishers to showcase some of their hottest talent. Not just big household names like Jim Lee, Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Ross, and superstar talent, but a moment to bring new faces and talents to mainstream attention. Who in their right mind would turn down the chance to be part of the biggest crossover in history?
If it were up to me (and thank God it’s not!) I would have this be a 12 issue maxi-series that broke out into multiple mini-series that would allow more talent to get work, while bringing in more media and fans. How it happens isn’t the point, the point is that the industry could use a massive shot in the arm and this is that steroid infused shot and then some.
In a time of complete uncertainty people are scared. Even if life is going to slowly go back to “normal”, there is no way of knowing if we are out of the woods. Hundreds of thousands are dead. Life is different now. The world need its heroes now more than ever. It’s time for the icons of comics to come down off their fictional mountain and help us. It’s what they were made for. Cue the Superman theme.