Avoiding the Apocalypse of Armageddon
The impending doom of all humanity, the end of the planet earth, the defeat of all that is good ushering in a reign of eternal evil, fire from the sky, dogs and cats living together, yeah we get it. Does every comic book written need to follow this storyline about the world coming to an end if the hero doesn’t save the day? I’m a bit tired of this hackneyed attempt at creating suspense. It’s every episode of Dr. Who, every issue of White Spandex Squad, every Saturday morning cartoon episode, every Hollywood blockbuster. Does it really have to be your comic too? I hope not. I find myself rooting for the villains in comics like this. When confronted with this tired plot device, I want Lobo to win and Superman to die (it seems fitting too that Lobo destroyed his home planet and all the people on it, while Superman only survived the destruction of his home world). How many comic book fans are ignoring pleas from comics begging them to “follow how Dr. Dweebles will usher in the doomsday to end all doomsdays if the Super Dupes don’t stop him.”
I remember the first Sandman story I read where “saving the world” was the starting plot and in the end, Sandman just destroyed the world anyway. Thank you, Neil Gaiman. I felt vindicated even back then. While the save-the-world schtick can still be done right, this clichéd plot line is often just lazy writing. There are limitless ways to raise the stakes of a story and create suspense without having to ask your readers to care yet again about another imaginary land about to be wiped out from existence. All of us writers use elements in stories that have been used before. It’s impossible not to. The problem is when we continually resort to the same ones en masse. If you do go down the save-the-world route, at least consider a non-traditional ending like Alan Moore used in Watchmen or as was witnessed in the sad fate of the planet Namek in the Frieza Saga from DragonBall Z Kai. I still say your best bet is to take a break from saving everything and find a less-used angle or even a clever new one. Please. The future of the entire comic book making universe depends on it.
The Pathetic Prophetic
Another story element that needs to die is the “secret savior” storyline. This simple trope is often connected to our overused apocalypse storyline. “Dorkella grew up a snot-dripping, ugly loser living in a happy meal box, but little did she know that she was the most important person in the whole fragging universe and was chosen by the Fates to enter the Black-Hole Bomb and stop it before it wiped out everything (chosen mainly because she was the only one dumb enough to enter it).” I know this worked well with Harry Potter (which even used the appallingly old addition of him having to die in the process to save everyone) and those books are fantastic examples of great writing, but unless you’re JKR, try coming up with something different.
Proceed with Caution
While its true any well-used archetypes can be done fresh, if you pick a popular one, you risk being lost in the current deluge of whatever’s cool. With that in mind, think twice before resorting to following central characters in your story as they may be hazardous to your readership: zombies, vampires, monster hunters, superheroes, space pirates, and Cthulhu. Yes, even the Great Old One. For more on the dangers of writing about the squidly menace, check out “Time To Stop Calling Cthulhu?” (It even has an awesome, eldritch list of all things Lovecraftian).
Or do like I did and I write a story about a metal band. See previews of Satanic Hell at Comixology.