A few thoughts on the Collected Edition blog discussion from last week of which collection to read first, continuity-wise, Batman: RIP or Final Crisis:
Among a number of great comments (thanks all!), Spooky notes that "if you want to read the two hardcovers without interruption, then you should read Batman: RIP first, because the majority of it takes place before Final Crisis. But be aware that both hardcovers (when read uninterrupted) spoiler each other!"
Therein, as they say, lies the rub.
The results of our (first ever) Collected Editions blog poll had 90% of respondents for reading Batman: RIP first, versus 10% for reading Final Crisis first. From what I understood from everyone's comments, Final Crisis #5 spoils Batman #683 (at the very end of Batman: RIP) while Batman: RIP spoils the first chapter (I think) of Final Crisis, but not in a major way. If I've got all that right, then indeed Batman: RIP is the one to read first, though I'm not happy about the situation.
This strikes me as a problem unique to wait-for-trading, one we might see come up more and more as more crossovers, and their ancillary titles, are collected in trade. Identity Crisis tie-ins like Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen and JSA: Lost branched off the main story rather than intersecting, but Teen Titans: Titans East and Countdown to Final Crisis Volume 1 intersected and each spoiled the death of a character found in the other book.
I think this comes from an increased effort on DC's end to let independent titles stand on their own during crossovers (Infinite Crisis versus The Sinestro Corps War, for instance), but what we get is the awkward intersection of stories as we see here. It's good, don't get me wrong, for Batman, and good for Final Crisis, but troubling for the trade reader. Ultimately it seems there no perfect order to read these two volumes completely, and I object as a trade reader to having to go back and forth between two volumes to avoid spoilers.
But such is life. Thanks for thinking this through with me. I'll touch on this topic again, for sure, when I read these two books, and I'd love to hear any additional thoughts you may have. New reviews coming soon!
Separately, I was re-reading Nightwing: The Lost Year last night -- anyone know if the new Vigilante is supposed to be a character we've already met? I have a sick idea who it might be -- I don't want to spoil it here, but email me at the address at right if you want to know.