Shared universes: Still Possible?
Submitted by Anonymous on November 6, 2003 - 06:16
This question came across after what had happened at Crossgen (financial troubles, staff quiting, that sort), and then looking back at all the comic companies in the past.
The question is about shared universes.
That's right. The one where Superman & Batman come together to fight tougher criminals, or where X-Men and Avengers fight each other.
The past shared universes have been nothing more than mere marketing gimmicks. Nowadays, any mention of those two words, "shared universes" has already repelled away audiences like a 'squito to an aerosol. Perhaps, it's the terrible lesson from the past decades that most people are not willing to learn about, like what had happened at Image & Valiant. Now, Crossgen is most likely to be the next victim unless somthing must be done.
The thing is, shared universes has a lot of potential beyond being marketing gimmicks for DC & Marvel. Here's what I see shared universes basically as; a set of singular stories that are loosely connected to one universe, and each of these stories soon climaxed together in the end for an upcoming Big Event To End All Events. Sort of like all your fave Final Fantasy characters and their mothers coming together to battle a villain nastier than Sephiroth, Sin & all other baddies combined. Another analogy is Streetfighter, where a story of each fighter is told before they come face to face with the Big Event.
Imagine this: In one story, there's one about a martial artist, another about a magical girl, & another a boy and his mecha, and so on. And they share the same universe. Five or more series for the price of big epic story. The best part would be what I called the Gathering part, where the respective characters unite to fulfill their Big Destiny; fight an uber-Baddie or whatever Big Event they must face. Even better when these heroes co-operate and work on their differences to overcome their foe. One of the potential here is having a variety of fans & readers following the story of their fave characters until the Gathering and seeing their reaction. The same can be said across any other mediums beyond comic.
I meant shared universe not as in chronological terms where a story about a generation of heroes ala Gundam or Dragonball, where one event preceeds or proceeds another, but rather something like DC but better told. Shared universes should be something beyond a mere marketing gimmick. It should be a Story That Must be Told, something like what Hideaki Anno wants to say in Evangelion, except bigger.
Thus, I'd like to leave with some questions that I wish to ask:
Are you still skeptical about shared universes?
Are shared universes still possible?
Do shared universes stories have potential as a form of storytelling?
Can they transcend themselves beyond it's predecessors to become something of a high art or high literature?
Consider the potential of shared universes, can we expect more authors to take advantage of this?
Should there be shared universe stories for webcomics?
BTW, when I meant by a shared universe, I do not mean the Archie meets the Punisher kind. That's already two unrelated universes clashing.
Thank you for your time. Hope you can reply.