War of the Supermen, Flash hardcovers solicited

Friday, May 07, 2010

This past Monday, DC Comics' Source blog released solicitations for two hardcover collections coming out in Spring 2011 (that is, first half of the year) -- Superman: War of the Supermen and Flash: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues, collecting the event and first issues of the series respectively.

Here's the actual solicitations, and then my comments:

SUPERMAN: WAR OF THE SUPERMEN HC
Writers: Sterling Gates and James Robinson
Artists: Eddy Barrows, Aaron Lopresti, Jamal Igle, Eduardo Pansica, CAFU, Bernard Chang and others
In stores: January
Collects: SUPERMAN: WAR OF THE SUPERMEN #0-4 and SUPERMAN #700
$24.99 US, 144 pages

THE FLASH: THE DASTARDLY DEATH OF THE ROGUES HC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Francis Manapul and Francis Manapul
In stores: February
Collects THE FLASH #1-7 and material from THE FLASH SECRET FILES AND ORIGINS 2010
$19.99 US, 208 pages

I'm always happy for collected edition news, but I find this announcement a little curious. First, did anyone doubt these two storylines would be collected? The Source's announcement of the remaining 2010 collections in February had some surprises in it, but there's no real headline here.

Second, this announcement comes between the first and second issues of Flash, and just after the Free Comic Book Day issue of War of the Supermen but before issue #1 of that series comes out. At this point, I think (and hope DC realizes) there's no connection between trade solicitations and buying habits -- someone who was going to buy the issues will buy the issues, and someone who was going to wait for the trade will wait -- and this announcement didn't make a difference. If someone's buying choice was specifically influenced by this, I'd be curious to hear about it.

So why announce these two books which are not really a surprise, at a time that seems less than ideal (these books don't arrive until next year; War of the Supermen will be over in a month)? My guess is that it has to do with when DC has to put information on their books into their Random House catalog, etc.; War of the Supermen, at least, has already begun showing up on retailer sites, and as long as that was about to happen, why not have DC make their own announcement? That's my guess.

What's disappointing is that it looks like we'll see Supermen no earlier than January 2011, a good eight months after the series itself debuts. The Superman trades these days are paced pretty well, about one a month, but trade releases still remain frustratingly long behind the single issues. And woe be it to anyone waiting for the paperback, as New Krypton will have only just started up for them by 2011.

Some good and some bad here, but certainly something is better than nothing.
Get the Collected Editions scoop before anyone else -- on Facebook!

23 comments:

  1. This is why the business side of DC Comics is a bit of a joke to me. I understand their desire to encourage more people to buy their monthly issues. That I perfectly understand. But why would they limit themselves to one base of customers, when there is another sizable group that prefer trades/collections that DC Comics are richly tap.

    Marvel gets it. Image gets it. Oh heck, even Vertigo and Wildstorm gets it. Hopefully in the future, DC will get it. But to tell you the truth, it's going to be awhile.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think DC has locked themselves into a pattern they would now find it very difficult to get out of. I've said it countless times before: a 12 month gap between HC and TP is ludicrous for a collected edition/graphic novel. If everyone did it that way, fine, but they don't.

    I really don't see how DC continue to justify it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I ask this not to antagonize, but to understand. What are the other companies you mention doing that is better than DC? I ask because I have recently gotten back into comics and mainly buy DC. I also prefer to wait for the trades, mostly because $4 is too much to spend on a single comic, and also because trades look so much better on a bookshelf than a box of comics on the floor.

    I look forward to hearing your answer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm not completely sure I understand your question. The issue is that there's about an eight-to-twelve month gap between when a single issue comes out from DC and when it's released in collected form; if the first release is a hardcover, it can be another year before the same book comes out in paperback. The single-to-trade release time for other companies like Marvel and Image is better, as I understand it; I can't give as specific examples as I can with DC, but maybe another commenter will be along soon and can add an example. Did that get to what you were wondering?

    Thanks for chiming in!

    ReplyDelete
  5. In reference to this comment: "If someone's buying choice was specifically influenced by this, I'd be curious to hear about it."

    Mine ALMOST was. That is, I ended up buying Flash: Rebirth in singles (although haven't read it yet, gotta get the Final Crisis paperback in June first!), and I figured I'd wait for the new Flash series in paperback, but then there was this Secret Files and Origins issue. I didn't know if it'd be collected with Rebirth or the first volume of the new Flash series, so I bought it. If this announcement had been made a few weeks ago, I wouldn't have bought it and just waited for the Flash trade, which I plan on getting.

    It's these one-shots that I'm really unsure about. I'm currently about to start reading Countdown to Final Crisis, and I noticed that two one-shots, DC Universe 0 and DC Last Will and Testament never seemed to make it into any collections (although I think parts of them may have). Also I thought I remember reading that one of the Faces of Evil books never got collected?

    I'm really on the cusp of potentially buying monthlies again; it seems like a good jumping-on point, with the new Flash series and Brightest Day just starting, and Green Lantern coming out of Blackest Night. I prefer reading the trades, but I hate being so far behind. It seems like all the big surprises are ruined for me.

    For example, I'm almost up to the Sinestro Corps War. I've avoided reading about it on Wikipedia, but just from the cover of Volume 2 I know that the Anti-Monitor returns! That should be a WOW moment. Kind of like how I know which heroes were revived during Blackest Night, and that Barry Allen comes back during the Final Crisis. I don't know how any of these things happen, but I know they happen. There's no more "cliffhanger endings."

    So I'm really on the fence about this! I want to be "caught up" but it's hard to ignore all the advantages that a trade provides. What to do?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm starting to feel like DC is trying to FORCE buyers to buy their monthlies. I was tempted to catch all of The Great Ten for the whole international look, and felt particularly guilty that because I hadn't bought the monthlies the series has gone from 10 to 9 (I know, it's one person, but everything counts...)

    This announcement possibly seems vindictive: "Look Wait for Traders, you're going to have to wait a whole year for our Superman Story... and it'll cost you an arm and a leg! If you plan to get paperback, you'll have to wait longer. Why not buy our monthlies now and, if you want to keep something in posterity ALSO buy our Trades?"

    I don't know, that's just how I feel.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm pretty sure the DC executives (Jim Lee maybe? I don't remember) have recently come right out and said that they want to drive people back to their monthlies.

    ReplyDelete
  8. If you want to see the difference between Marvel and DC collected editions, just compare Grant Morrison's Batman run (DC) and Ed Brubaker's Captain America run (Marvel). The stories these writers are telling have some superficial plot similarities but I think they're quite different in tone and theme.

    Anyway, if you're following those stories in hardcover, you're about equally caught up in both: Batman is collected up to November 2009, Cap is collected up to January 2010. But if you're following in paperback, there's more than a year's discrepancy: Batman is collected up to April 2008, while Cap is up to July 2009.

    Brubaker's run has been collected in more formats than just the standard trade with six issues or so. The run is also partially collected in omnibus hardcover and "ultimate collection" paperback for readers who prefer those formats.

    You could compare the scheduling and available formats of Secret Invasion and Final Crisis, House of M and Infinite Crisis, Daredevil and Green Lantern, New Avengers and Justice League, Spider-Man and Superman, you name it, and get similar results.

    We could also talk about spoilers on covers (Sinestro Corps War vol 2, as D. Mark Simms mentioned above, as well as Final Crisis) and padded trades to gouge the reader (Justice League of America by George Perez could easily have fit in a single volume, but they split it into two $40 volumes instead).

    Regarding Jim Lee's comments (at Wondercon, if not elsewhere), it's hard to take a publisher seriously in 2010 when he announces a focus on periodicals but has no announcements to make about digital distribution of periodical content.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'd like to comment by name, but not sure how that would be possible posting here?
    Through the convention season there has been a clear message from the DC management - forget collections and digital, we only want you to purchase the original publications. We will ensure that you do this by declining to set up a digital channel for published comics and running a collection programme that is neither comprehensive nor easy to navigate.
    Five points to make on that:
    1. Local retailers are sadly closing down in smaller locations on both sides of the Atlantic. For most buyers it means a special trip to the big city to buy your comics, and you can't do that every week.
    2. Successful retailers have embraced collections as an integral part of their business model, and are even generally positive about the implications of trading once digital distribution becomes introduced:
    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/the-Q-retailers-ipad-100408.html
    3. As the average cost of a single comic heads towards $4, younger readers and those on a limted income are priced out of buying.
    4. A modern comic gives the story and that's it. A copy of Adventure Comics from the mid 60s might offer a complete Legion main story, a complete Superboy back-up story, a two page letter column, a text feature about the Legion, various single page cartoons and a number of house advertisements - all for 12c. Has inflation over this period really run at 3200%?
    5. In the absence of a digital programme, widespread piracy (which I do not condone nor would ever engage in or support) is inevitable, which would be stemmed if an affordable legal alternative was available, such as Marvel Digital and various iPad applications.

    We are living in 2010 and not 1985 and no matter what business we in are have to adapt to the changing times - we have all been there in our various lines of work. If DC had decided in the 1980s that they give would no or grudging support to the direct market to encourage their readers to return to the newsstand, they would no longer be in business. I would be interested to hear from John Rood and Patrick Caldon on this issue (the other two of the DC Big 5) - whilst Johns, Lee and DiDio will clearly be more interested in the creative side of business, the other two are no doubt charged with developing the characters and content of DC comics to their full potential, and one would hope they would be more open to fresh channels of distribution.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've mentioned it before, and I'll say it again: I would love for DC to offer digital distribution. The ideal thing for me would be a monthly unlimited subscription service (even if it's only the current month's comics, with no archive) and then I'd purchase trades that I really wanted to own. Similar to paying for cable TV for watching new shows (and some re-runs), but then being able to buy the DVD box sets of shows for ones that warrant it.

    I didn't realize that Marvel was doing so well in releasing timely softcovers; I'm pretty much exclusively DC (Atomic Robo being the big exception) and it annoys me so much how much of a wait it is for a softcover trade.

    ReplyDelete
  11. You know what you should try?
    The Jonah Hex paperbacks written by Gray & Palmiotti.

    Movie is gonna ruin all the fine work by those authors. Believe me it´s a great read. Unless you´re already reading them and still not published a single review.

    Try at least one. It´s what make comics great!

    ReplyDelete
  12. That DC might have announced those two collections not to entice readers, but rather to warn them away from the collections -- "It'll be a while before these are out in collection, so if you want to read the story, might as well buy the single issues now" -- is something I hadn't considered.

    I try to avoid what sound like conspiracy theories here -- I'd rather believe DC released information about the collections because they're as excited about them as I am at the end of the day, and not that DC released the collection information to punish trade-waiters in a behind-the-scenes way -- but that line of thinking is something that makes a lot of sense to me.

    Indeed, if that were DC Comics' intent, as Mark demonstrates (thanks for being my test case, Mark!), it might be working. I understand exactly what Mark means when he says there's "no more 'cliffhanger endings'"; indeed I too pretty much know the ending of Blackest Night even despite my best efforts to stay unspoiled. Even if I didn't scan convention reports and the like, which though I try to avoid them sometimes curiosity gets the best of me, I'd basically have to abstain from the very homepages of Newsarama, Comic Book Resources, and DC Comics in order not to see spoilers. And that's aside, as Mark notes, from the very covers of the Sinestro Corps War and Final Crisis collections.

    Me, I get frustrated, and also I get excited for books like Superman: Earth One and Samaritan X, where I might get to read them alongside everyone else, and hope for more books like those to come. Also I find myself enjoying (or at least being surprised by) some of the more subtle cliffhangers, like the end of Superman: New Krypton Vol. 3 or Oracle: The Cure, cliffhangers that don't make the "nightly news" but are surprising nonetheless. That balances it out, of sorts, but indeed many times I'm just plain frustrated.

    (From DC's point of view, if a single issue is important to them but necessarily fleeting, and something like the Sinestro Corps War or Final Crisis collections are going to be around for years, I understand DC putting salient details like the Anti-Monitor on the front cover. I firmly believe that despite the ever-increasing comics blogosphere and news industry, we're still dwarfed in comparison to the number of casual readers who walk into bookstores and pick trade collections up off the shelves with not even an inkling that we're out there, and that's who DC has to appeal to long-term. So there's a part of me that understands, even if I don't like it.)

    None of that excuses what seems a very long time between collections (Mon-El, Nightwing and Flamebird, and New Krypton Vol. 3 could've all hit the same month, for instance), but this is terribly complicated. It's amazing Superman has been published non-stop for 72 years, and in a time when many monthly magazines are having trouble staying in business, it's curious and terrifying to see the winds of change blowing DC Comics back and forth.

    At random:

    I read the Jim Lee quote -- “We’ve had a lot of internal discussions about how to put the emphasis back on periodicals.” -- at a Blog@Newsarama post by Russ Burlingame. I can say nothing for the context in which it was spoken, but you can see why it upset the trade-waiters.

    @Mark - Off the top of my head, I know DC Universe #0 pages appear in Batman RIP and Wonder Woman: Rise of the Olympian; not sure about anywhere else. Last Will and Testament isn't collected, though it really ought have been in an Outsiders trade.

    @Lucho - I've never been much of a western fan. What do you enjoy about Jonah Hex? I've heard good things.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I´ve never been a western fa myself. But Jonah Hex is just EXCELLENT STORYTELLING. Read at least the frist TP. And enjoy the reide =)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I just read the latest issue of Brave & the Bold (the one monthly I do buy) and there were an awful lot of ads in it for Super Friends books (including bonus stickers!) for a story I consider slightly more mature than a current Super Friends fan would be reading. It was annoying enough to swing me back to the wait-for-trade side (not that I ever left), despite how much I want to read that new Flash series!

    Speaking of Flash, I finished reading The Return of Barry Allen. Great story, and I always enjoyed Greg LaRocque's art (when I first discovered The Flash in the late 80's, I'm pretty sure he was the artist, so that's the "definitive" Wally West for me). However, I was definitely annoyed at knowing the "secret" all along, because there were some obviously big reveal moments there, which I know would have been more impactful had I still been in the dark as to what was going on.

    But it's hard to complain about knowing the ending to a story that came out almost 20 years ago!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I'm glad to hear you weighing in on the idea that this solicitation reveal was a warning against traders... but I'm disappointed to see you agree with me on it. I had hoped you would come up with some sort of explanation as to why that was wrong, but it really does seem like that may be the secret behind this reveal especially with Jim Lee's emphasis on periodicals.

    I'm disappointed that, as a Hush Fan, I hear about his big comeback in Streets of Gotham this and next month. But as a trade waiter I'll actually only get to see this story in a year from now (If I use the wait it took for Vol 1 to come out).

    ReplyDelete
  16. Is it just me or does the pricing look wrong on those collections?

    Superman 144 pages $24.99 US
    Flash 208 pages $19.99 US

    Both hardcovers, with the Superman book only 66% of the Flash's pages but it costs 25% more.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The price for all the New Krypton hardcovers and spin-offs has been $24.99; what I've spent on this series is, at the moment, now making me ill. It doesn't surprise me that, 144 pages or 14, DC's charging the same on the cap for said storyline.

    ... Resisting the urge to actually do the math ...

    ReplyDelete
  18. How much were the individual issues of those Superman books? $2.99 or $3.99? Are you actually saving money buying the hardcover for $24.99 vs. buying the individual issues?

    ReplyDelete
  19. I think it just depends.

    The World of New Krypton series was $2.99, and there were five issues plus one story from Action Comics Annual #10 in the Superman: New Krypton Vol. 3 hardcover. That retailed for $24.99 and the issues (minus the one annual story) would total to $14.95, but with a discount the hardcover comes to about $14.95, too, so maybe it's about the same.

    However, one of the Action Comics Nightwing and Flamebird issues had a co-feature for $3.99, so those issues together would come to $15.95, versus $24.99 for the hardcover or $14.95 with a discount, so there's an instance where we come out ahead.

    Another: six issues of Blue Beetle at $2.99 would be $17.95, whereas the most recent collection was $14.99, before any discounts. That's definitely ahead.

    In general I like to believe I'm saving money on trades, though I know hardcovers might be where I'm not. That's why I like the deluxe format size -- at least for the extra price I get some additional benefit.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I feel you're definitely losing money by getting Hardcovers, but the hardcovers add the "safety" factor to your comics that most definitely doesn't exist when buying issues and even comes up as a problem with softcovers.

    What I mean is fairly obvious, trades stand up much better to multiple readings. Softcovers sometimes have trouble, too. The air conditioning in my apartment hasn't been turned on for the season yet so I had my old hand fan from college on. That night I put two of my trades on the nightstand, one hardcover and one softcover. The softcover actually got blown off and some of the pages got bent (sadness) but the hardcover was fine.

    So yeah, safety factors for re-reading are "built into the price". In my opinion.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Where are you getting $10 discounts? I buy most of my trades from a local comic store; sometimes I'll pick one up at a book store, but their selection isn't as good and the books tend to be in worse shape.

    I've seen cheaper prices for books online, but once you add in shipping (I guess unless you're buying a bunch at once) I found there were no savings.

    Also I'm in Canada, so the cover prices are higher, and depending on where I order from the shipping is higher too.

    Finally, I like the idea of supporting my local comic store; I'd rather see them get my money than some major online retailer who's not going to re-spend that money in my local economy.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I get good deals as a longtime customer at my LCS, but I know you can find a good 30-40% off online from a variety of venues. Shipping is the sticking point for me, too -- I know stores have to make money and recoup costs where they can, but I'd as soon pay tax at my LCS or lose a little discount than have my money go toward transit rather than content.

    Liang gets it right that, while I still think there's some cost savings to trades, moreover it's the complete reading experience and absence of advertising that keeps me reading this way.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I agree with that as well; lack of advertisements (usually geared towards readers I would think too young to read the book, given the content!), having a "complete story" (more or less) to read in a short period of time, rather than one issue a month spread out over many months, and having a book that I can loan out to friends, rather than worry about giving them 6 individual issues. I just wish there wasn't such a lag in the softcovers coming out!

    ReplyDelete