But then again, the majority of the crossovers I see seem to consist of the main characters of both comics dancing around in some contrived situation, which incidentally appear constructed to allow them to show off their abilities to the max, and seemingly more intent on going: "OMG! Look! Characters from two different comics on the SAME PAGE!" than you know, telling a goddamned story.
This has been a major beef with me for ages. I've seen far too many comics, good and well-written comics at that, that fall flat on their faces when attempting crossovers. It's weird. In their normal spheres they act rationally, talk normally, and have an interesting story. But when it's crossover time, characters suddenly start stiffening up and acting OOC (A common fanfiction term I borrowed. Stands for 'Out of Character'), very much like a self-conscious amateur acting in front of a camera for the first time.
As for the plot... There usually is no plot. They're usually a collection of scenes the creators thought would be 'uber-cool' to see their characters in, with the merest excuse of a plot to hang them together. Which usually runs along the lines of:
Some evil mastermind steals/kidnaps something that matters to both Team A and Team B.
Team A and Team B go afte the evil mastermind.
Team A run into Team B.
Team A and Team B get into a disagreement/misunderstanding and get into a 'fight' (Last part is optional, but this is usually to allow them to 'show-off' their powers/abilties)
Both cool down, teams decide to call a truce, and join forces to defeat the 'evil mastermind'
Yay all is happy, they become friends and go home with good cheer.
Can you spell "contrived pablum"?
I want to know why, for the love of God, can people NOT come up with something more original than this when doing crossovers? This kind of shoddy writing would not be acceptable in a normal comic, it should not be acceptable in a crossover either. It just shows a lack of respect to the reader, assuming they're going to lap up the substandard stuff just because characters from their two favourite comics are OMG, in the same thing together.
And of course, if you have a reader who only reads one of the comics, they're either going to be confused as hell or bored to tears. Either way, presenting an insipid story to introduce your characters to a new audience sure is a great way to get people interested. Uh huh.
Yes, that was sarcasm, by the way. I'm not going to point out which comics (and there are very very many, among them the 'big guys') who have been guilty of the crossover bug. You all know who you are.
I'm not saying that all crossovers suck, of course. Just those that don't are damned rare. For future reference, here's some stuff I'd like to see in properly executed crossovers:
- An original, non-cliched plot and plausible reason for Team A and Team B to get together. It usually helps if you plan the plot FIRST then base the scenarios on it later, and not the other way around
- A plot that should able to stand alone on its own merit even without the presence of Team A or Team B. Pap is not any more acceptable if your stick good characters in it. It just makes the good characters look poor.
- Proper introductions. Don't assume we automatically know who the other party is. Chanting their names to each other in two panels does not count either. Introduce the personalities of the other party to the audience.
- On the other hand, don't get too long-winded with the intros either. You don't have to go into excruciating detail, but introduce them as much as you would a secondary character in one of your normal comics.
- Get rid of the Automatic-Trust On button. It does not magically appear after 'disagreement' and 'fight', just so you know.
- Stop the characters from acting OOC! I swear, the moment most characters enter crossover mode they become as wooden and stiff and featureless as a board. Instead of being characters living their lives out, they usually become horrendously bad actors acting out scripted scenes without much heart in it. Some of them even get an inexplicable case of enhanced PMS and become irritable and irrationally agressive towards the other team for no apparent reason (except to trigger the 'big misunderstanding', mahybe). I hate this. HATE HATE HAET!
- Have the characters REACT to the other team as people. I cannot stress this enough. The other team should be treated as the individuals X, Y and Z, not 'members of Team B' who are coming along with us.
- Get rid of the 'Reset and everything goes back to the way it was' Button too. It's damned annoying. Just makes the whole N-number of pages done the crossover absolutely pointless.
In short, treat the other party as characters, not features. Just because it's a crossover doesn't mean you have to stop thinking. A good measure go with is the 'Secondary Character Replacement Rule'. Would the crossover still work if you replaced the guest characters with fascimile nameless secondary characters? If it doesn't, you're in trouble.
All that said, two of my favourite GS comics, Killroy and Tina and Reckless Life, appear to be entering some sort of crossover thing. Both comics are very similar at heart, with a mix of outrageous goofball humour, strong characterization and dramatic plot/action.
So far my "Ping sense" says it looks promising, because the premise behind them meeting appears to be fairly sound and fitting in context. Tina is currently busy playing vigilante. Locke is an anti-hero thief. The non-appearance of the 'evil mastermind' is a definite plus. The plot would work even if Locke was replaced with Random Thief X or Tina with Vagabond Vigilante Y.
We'll see if the rest of it soon enough, but I really hope it lives up to the start.
Also, be sure to check out the Modern Tales sites on Free Comic Book Day (May 7th). A little bird tells me Joey Manley's doing something special to celebrate. Something like free comics... *cough*