Now that we're beginning to see some of the shape of how Blackest Night will be collected in trade, I thought it would be interesting to compare the collections with those of the most recent previous crossover, Final Crisis.
It bears comparing the way DC has collected recent crossovers because I dare say it's a work in progress. Consider that of the last four crossovers (defined as a major line-wide event where the main story took place in a minseries) before Identity Crisis -- Final Night, Genesis, DC One Million, and Day of Judgment -- only two of them have been collected at all, and certainly not to the extent that Infinite Crisis and many of its crossover issues were.
So let's look at Final Crisis and Blackest Night in the categories of lead-ins, the event, crossovers, and aftermath. I'll choose "winners" for each category, loosely based on which approach I favor or gives the most bang for the buck.
Final Crisis had a whole year's worth of lead-in stories, Countdown to Final Crisis. Of course, if you consider that all the nearly fifty-plus issues of Geoff Johns' Green Lantern run have been leading in to Blackest Night, that's pretty hefty, too. It looks like ten Green Lantern trades versus four volumes of Countdown -- but then, for completists, there's Countdown to FInal Crisis: Lord Havok and the Extremists, The Search for Ray Palmer, Arena, and Countdown to Adventure, plus Salvation Run (and even Amazons Attack was involved), and none of the Countdown books have really been considered breakaway successes. Winner: Blackest Night
Previously we examined all the issues going in to Blackest Night -- not only the eight issue miniseries, but also seven three-issue miniseries (another eighteen issues) plus seven "resurrected" titles -- thirty-six issues that are specifically titled Blackest Night. Final Crisis, in contrast, had seven issues, plus the Requiem, Resist, Submit, and Rage of the Red Lanterns specials, the Final Crisis Secret Files, the two-issue Superman Beyond, the three issue Rogues' Revenge, and the five-issue Revelations and Legion of Three Worlds -- twenty-seven issues total, and some of them extra-sized. We had thought Blackest Night was a behemoth as compared to Final Crisis, but it actually looks a little more even.
In terms of collections, Final Crisis had the main hardcover (which included some of the specials), the Final Crisis Companion, Revelations, Rogues' Revenge, and Legion of Three Worlds -- just four hardcovers and a paperback if you'd like to say you read the whole thing. At this writing, however, Blackest NIght has the main hardcover plus Rise of the Black Lanterns, Black Lantern Corps volumes one and two, and Blackest Night: Tales of Corps volume one and two. That's five hardcovers (so far) to Final Crisis's four. Winner: Final Crisis
Final Crisis distinguished itself by a general lack of crossovers, though there were some: Justice League of America #21 and #31 dealt specifically with the fallout of Final Crisis, as did Titans #16; we also can't forget the "Last Rites" story that appeared in Batman after Batman RIP. Mostly, however, we can agree that Final Crisis kept to itself. Not so Blackest Night. I count at least sixteen issues of regular DC Comics series with ties to Blackest Night (and I probably missed some), plus at least eight issues each of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps. Some of these will likely be collected in the hardcovers above, but if you're going for the complete Blackest Night picture, you'll probably be updating your collection with a good wide swath of the DC Comics Universe. Winner: Final Crisis
Of course, it's hard to judge the aftermath of Blackest Night given that we don't know what will be released yet (though more hardcover Green Lantern volumes are sure to come). Final Crisis saw in its wake four six-issue miniseries, Run!, Dance, Escape, and Ink, all of which will be collected in softcover. As contrast, Infinite Crisis only had two follow-ups specifically labeled as "aftermaths": Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven (really a very early Final Crisis prelude) and Crisis Aftermath: The Spectre. We'd be surprised if the upward trend didn't continue with at least four miniseries coming out of Blackest Night. Winner: To be determined
It surprises me that Final Crisis "wins" above, because I prefer how much more Blackest Night is tied into the DC Universe. One thing that sticks out to me, however, is the question of crossovers into monthly titles.
As I mentioned, Final Crisis has a lot of "fallout" -- that is, not monthly titles that cross over into the main event as with Infinite Crisis and Blackest Night -- but rather its effects are felt later in Teen Titans, Robin, Nightwing, and the like, and you get a complete story even if you only read the Final Crisis miniseries.
This reminds me of Identity Crisis, "the crossover that wasn't" -- as I understand it, Identity Crisis didn't start out as a crossover, but as it gained attention, writers began incorporating it into their stories and eventually it became a cornerstone of Infinite Crisis. I think this is how I'd like crossovers to be -- there's some thrill to seeing issues co-branded with Blackest Night, but something more organic like Identity Crisis and Final Crisis (or even how Blue Beetle and Teen Titans eventually crossed over with Sinestro Corps War) seems a better hedge against event fatigue.
Love when a crossover involves your favorite monthly? Wish those pesky events would stay in their place? Let me know in the comments!