Philippe, you make a compelling argument, but I'm going to suggest that this is only part of the problem. In honor of Comic Book Guy, let's call it:
Problem the First
To recap, you argue that: 1) summer comics events are too obsessed with getting the reader to buy every tie-in; while 2) the main series loses its own narrative structure as it tries to integrate these stories; and 3) the tie-in series require too much background knowledge of the current narrative arc, outside the narrative arc of the summer event. Taken together, this leads to a frustrating, irksome and expensive reading experience.
|I am lodging my complaint on the internets|
The biggest, most sinful affront to an event is when necessary plot points are in another book. Final Crisis does this in spades. Okay, to understand who the Tattooed Man is and why he’s gone to the Hall of Justice to help the heroes (Tattooed Man is a villain after all), you probably needed to read Final Crisis: Submit. It’s not even that great of a book, and it could have been explained in less than a page of exposition. But the biggest gripe I have is the 3-D two-part story Final Crisis: Superman Beyond. Each issue came laced with acid. If you lick a page, all you have to do is throw on those 3-D glasses and let Grant Morrison blow your mind. The idea of the book is actually quite brilliant, but the gripe comes in is if I didn’t want to read that book? If all I wanted to read was Final Crisis proper, I would have been screwed. I would have no idea who the shoehorned big bad of Final Crisis was if I didn’t read Superman Beyond. Why couldn’t the main event series be eight or nine parts long instead of requiring a tie-in to understand the end battle? Why don’t people, when so many bitch and moan about tie-ins to events, call DC on their shenanigans with Superman Beyond? Forget how unbelievably confusing the final issue of Final Crisis is (yes, I freakin’ know “time is broken”… I’m just saying nothing is actually explained and “time is broken” is about as shitty of an excuse for nonsensical conclusions as it comes), my biggest problem was actually the necessity of a tie-in to explain the sudden appearance of a vampiric Monitor that not once appeared in the event series proper.So yeah, I totally agree with you. That said, I don't think it's the only problem summer crossover events have, nor do I think it affects all of them similarly. So, on to:
Problem the Second
Take DC's BLACKEST NIGHT or Marvel's SECRET INVASION, for example. You don't actually need to read the tie-ins to get everything you need from the narrative arc. Unfortunately, you don't actually need to read anything beyond the first and last issues of the series either. So if Problem the First breaks down to Marvel or DC saying "we've got this story and need 36 issues to tell it, and you have to buy all of them," then Problem the Second breaks down to "we've got this story and need 36 issues to te--oh **** we just told the whole ****ing thing in issue 1." Only, readers don't know this yet, so they inevitably keep buying the main series, and possibly the tie-ins too, even though absolutely nothing happens except for a bunch of repetitive battles that do exactly zilch to develop the story.
|No repetitive battles shall escape my sight|
|ARG, what could have been...|
Problem the Third
If some crossover events empty the clip in issue one, others find themselves needing to resolve a slow-building story too quickly. CIVIL WAR comes to mind here. I actually really liked the first five issues: the story was good, it was well-paced and it was clear just from the main series why it all mattered. Everything looked good up to this point. Then Mark Millar had to two issues to end things, and in the rush, things started to come apart, most egregiously in the sudden, abrupt and unsatisfying ending. Given the nature of the narrative arc, I see no reason why this couldn't have been a year-long, 12-issue series. It should have been. But that would have screwed up Marvel's plans for THE INITIATIVE and the set-up for SECRET INVASION. (Oh wait...that sucked? Sorry Mark Millar!)
|It was over too soon|
Well, there's my rant to complement yours. Now I'd like to change direction somewhat, and ask what, if any, summer crossover events have gotten it right? What would it take for a summer event crossover to get it right?