Comics have a terrible time actually ending a story!
As always, I was recently reading posts here at MajorSpoilers.com when I came across the review of The Human Target #12 by Matthew Peterson. He says the following: ”It’s just a shame to see an enjoyable story end in such a depressing and discordant way, a terrible finale for an intriguing limited series.” I won’t spoil the ending here, but it did go a direction I’m not used to reading in comics. Is this the end for the Human Target? Not likely!
I actually went back through several other comics I bought this week to see how other “endings” took place.
First off, I enjoyed Mark Waid’s conclusion to Batman Vs. Robin, a mini-series that drove the Dynamic Duo apart. As is often the case with his stories, I cheered at the end! Very strong!
Other books, well, not so much. Harley Quinn #27 and Tim Drake: Robin #6 were okay, but not as good as Waid’s conclusion. DC Horror Presents: St. Rock Vs. the Army of the Dead had me covering my eye and yelling in pain! Owwww! I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of that book! Radiant Black was pretty good. I enjoyed many of the stories in the Shazam! extra-sized book, but not all. Action Comics is moving the Metallo story along well, but it is far from over. I love Detective Comics from Ram V, but even I’m starting to long for some sort of resolution to the story there.
Several other comics are continuing the mini-series they belong to, including the new DC/RWBY #1, Blue Beetle: Graduation Day, and the latest Stargirl book.
You might get a sense that many of the comics simply do not come to an end, and if they do, it only happens occasionally!
Those of us who have taken writing classes know that there’s one basic component to storytelling—each tale needs to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. You ask most writers what the hardest part is, and they’ll tell you it is the middle because you have already set up your premise and know where you are headed, but you need something to do until you get there.
In comics, that’s not the case. It’s the ending, if there is one, that causes the problems.
See, it used to be that comics often had multiple stories in just one book. I’ve told previously how a friend let me read a Batman comic from the 1940s, which I touched only as much as I needed. There were, count them, FOUR stories in the comic. As stated previously, each one had a beginning, a middle, and an end.
You read today’s comics? For the vast majority of the time, that’s not what’s going on. You are mostly somewhere in the middle of the story! Now, in the current issue of Detective, which I previously referred to, there are two stories underway, but neither of them conclude there.
Believe me, I get the rationale for all this. Comics are a habitual medium, meaning you buy the books out of habit regularly–weekly, monthly, or whatever pattern you follow. The comics-producing companies need that income, so they stretch the tales out as long as possible to keep your money flowing in their directions. They believe that if you have stories that conclude, you’ll say, “Well, that was fun, but it’s over now, so I’ll buy something else.” THAT is the last thing they want you to consider!
And “endings” are just temporary stoppages when they do happen! They are mostly breaks from the story so the creators can pick it all back up soon! I just received the latest installation of HiLo from Judd Winnick. The good news is that the latest book wrapped up a storyline that’s been happening for a while. The bad news is that, once that was done, there was a full-page ad for the NEXT volume! Sheesh!
NOT ONLY COMICS
It would be something if comics were unique in that they do this. They aren’t. You watch television programs by binging them more these days. That means, most of the time, you get all the chapters released at the same time so you can watch them together… if you have the time.
Now, I like that, but not all shows do that. For instance, Star Trek: Picard is about three episodes into a ten-episode arch as I’m writing this. This final season has a new show released each Thursday. There are already stories online that the cast is vying for spin-off shows. So much for it being the “final” season!
The so-called “network” TV that I used to watch all the time has converted over to that style of program most of the time now. Famously, 24 used to show each hour in a specific day for Fox. They did that for like 8 or 9 seasons. I think it influenced how TV is being made today.
Hey, even audio dramas like the Batman one on HBO Max is sequential in nature. A new one is released on Thursdays now. Even Titans and Doom Patrol have followed that pattern even though they are in their final episodes!
Does any story EVER truly end anymore?
THE BATTLE FOR OUR ATTENTION
If you ever look at advertising around us today, you’ll see the ads desperately trying to grab your attention so you’ll hopefully buy their products. “YOU NEED THIS!” is the cry of everything from food to feminine hygiene products to cars. Even medicine producers are begging you to demand your doctor prescribe their product for you!
What we as consumers have done is, we’ve learned how to zone out the constant, droning attempts to gain our attention. You have to do something pretty spectacular to make us stop what we’re doing and look at what’s being sent our way.
The sad thing is that we are becoming used to things never really ending. I often talk about how Marvel mini-series’ never really conclude—they simply move into the following mini-series. I stopped buying the X-Men books because they never ever wrapped anything up. They’re not alone in this. DC is reshaping their universe through a “Lazarus Planet” story told in a mini-series so they can yet again relaunch their characters.
I have so enjoyed stories that actually have an ending, like mini-series such as Rust. I pull the four volumes of that book out every once in a while just to read a satisfying conclusion!
What do you think? Do you prefer stories that don’t wrap up? How do you pick and choose which stories to read? Do you binge-watch TV these days? Whatever your opinions, be sure to share them in the space below!