With the release of Original Sin #1, I started thinking about all the major, mostly summertime events that the Big Two have released over the years. And I realized that I've been reading these universe-shattering story lines for 30 years now. Secret Wars, if I remember correctly, was the very first event book that I followed avidly. That was back in 1984.
Then I started to think about all the events that I have read since: Crisis on Infinite Earths, Secret Wars II, Ten Nights of the Beast, Evolutionary War, Inferno, Infinity Gauntlet, Second Clone Saga, and so on. Since the late '80s, every year has seen the publication of several event books, major crossovers, maxi-series--or whatever you want to call them--that promise, and sometimes even deliver, world-altering outcomes. The Big Two have put out so many of these books, in fact, that you could easily compile a top 100 list of events. And readers could argue endlessly over not only which books are best, but also which books qualify as events.
And finally, I tried to think of which event, however defined, I enjoyed most as the story unfolded. Which book, issue after issue, sparked in me the emotional glee of "Oh my God, what will happen next? I can't wait to find out. I have no idea how this impossible situation can ever be resolved." Most events, even the mediocre ones, start off this way. The opening issue promises so much--a cool premise, an unusual pairing of heroes, and high-stakes threats--but all too often they lose momentum (Secret Invasion) or they fall apart and resort to contrived plot devices (Civil War/One More Day) to resolve the action.
So, because of the abundance of truly mediocre events, I didn't have to think hard or long to select my favorite one. It's easily Kraven's Last Hunt. I know, I know ... it's a classic, regarded as one of the very best superhero stories of all time, so that makes it an easy choice. A safe choice. But it's also my favorite event because I remember how it was released: each week, for three weeks each month, over a two-month period, a new chapter would come out. Every Wednesday, as the newest Spidey issue hit the shelves, whether it was Web, Amazing, or Spectacular, I would race to my local comics shop and pick up the latest installment. And I would read the issue in the shop before purchasing my books, because I had to find out what happened next. I'm not sure any story, in any medium, has ever excited me more. Maybe the early seasons of 24 or the very best episodes of Breaking Bad are comparable. But that's about it. And those shows, even at their best, couldn't sustain that level of tension through an entire season.
Kraven's Last Hunt is perfect. But more important, it was
perfect. Perfect writing. Perfect art. And maybe, equally important, a perfect publication schedule that unfolded over a tight, white-knuckled, two-month period in 1987. Nothing before or since has ever possessed me more. No story has ever been so consuming, so addictive. And I probably continue to read comics to this day, three decades later, because I keep longing for stories that can reignite some of that excitement. It won't ever happen, of course. But it's fun looking and hoping.