Trade Perspectives: For and Against DC Comics Presents

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I have been wary of DC Comics's new line of DC Comics Presents books for a couple of reasons. First, as a dedicated trade paperback collector and continuity wonk, it just hurts my heart that DC releases these books essentially in "monthly" (comics shop/newsstand) format, and not as collections with bar codes. To this end, you may be able to catch these while you can at your local comics shop, but when they're gone, they're gone, unlike their graphic novel fellows that you might find hanging around your local bookstore or Amazon a little longer.

Second, despite DC binding these in square "Prestige" format and writing the books' names on some of their spines, I'm not sure these are all that different from the Countdown Specials that DC published around Countdown to Final Crisis time, though they cost twice as much. Most of these "100-Page Spectaculars," as the covers announce, contain only four issues, or 88 pages, for $7.99. Countdown Special: Eclipso, touted as an "80-Page Giant," contained three issues and cost $4.99; so did the Jimmy Olsen volume, and so did the New Gods volume.

That is, there's some excitement that the DC Comics Presents books are a good approximation of a trade paperback-type product released monthly and at a price more affordable than trades. Instead, I'd suggest these are not overmuch different than the 80-Page Giants or Specials that we're already used to reading, but at a greater price point than those other books.

I accept the argument that the stories in these books might not otherwise support a trade paperback collection. There are stories among these DC Comics Presents collections that I'm thrilled to see available again to the public -- Geoff Johns and Jeph Loeb with Ed McGuinness on Superman, especially -- but that aren't tied to any specific event nor are they "big" in their own right, and I agree it wouldn't be worth DC's money to publish them as trades. Probably they will sell in these smaller chopped-up versions.

But I still don't like the precedent of these "newsstand" trade volumes, here today and gone tomorrow. If DC is going to reprint these stories, they might as well reprint them in a way that'll last more than just a couple of months; else I'm not sure these stories necessarily needed to be reprinted at all.

Let me be nothing, however, if not inconsistent. All of that said, I love DC Comics history, and I especially love getting to fill in the little gaps I have in my DC Comics reading -- when Jason Rusch teamed up with original Firestorm Ronnie Raymond in Jason's Firestorm series, for instance, or when Checkmate's Sasha Bordeaux appeared in Ed Brubaker's Batman prior to Batman: Murderer/Fugitive, for another. And I was nice enough to have a friend who slipped me some of these DC Comics Presents volumes, many of which fit between trades that I already own. I am reading and enjoying DC Comics Presents, even despite my misgivings.

So, coming tomorrow is a look at all three issues of DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day, considering how the books read and also offering a bit of context for new readers -- this timed to coincide with the Collected Editions review of the first Brightest Day hardcover collection that we ran last week. More DC Comics Presents reviews will follow over the next few months, sometimes timed with a look at a relevant book.

I'm curious your thoughts on the DC Comics Presents books, and be here tomorrow for the first review.
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16 comments:

  1. I'm still not entirely clear on them. Do they have advertising?

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  2. The advertising in the DC Comics Presents books varies by issue. DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day #3, which contained the fewest issues, had a noticeable amount of advertisements between and within each issue. DC Comics Presents: Brighest Day #1 and #2 had limited numbers of advertisements. Certainly this is not an instance, like trades, where there are no ads at all.

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  3. hey....
    living in a country where I can't find something not having an ISBN makes me all the more frustrated.
    The only way I can get these is online....at the same time, I can always get the individual issues that way....
    so not really concerned
    On the othr hand if they come out for TPBs of alla these, especially a BATMAN BY ED BRUBAKER OMNIBUS (except the issues covered in MURDERER & FUGITIVE) & a SUPERMAN THE NEW ERA OMNIBUS (LOEB/MCGUINNESS,SCHULTZ/MAHNKE, DEMATTEIS/WONG, KELLY/GARCIA & IMMONEN/MILLAR)

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  4. If these books are successful, I have wondered if a DC Comics Presents trade paperback might follow, collecting all the DC Comics Presents: Batman or DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day issues.

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  5. Any idea on the vertigo one or young justice one? I was curious about the ads in those ones.

    Sad to hear that it's not really like a standard prestige release either.

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  6. Got 'em but they're deep in a pile of comics; maybe someone else can answer

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  7. Or, might this be testing the water for a larger monthly anthology at a higher price point?

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  8. That is, a $6 or $8 monthly with new material.

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  9. I was very tempted to get the Brubaker Batman one, but I'm am a bit weary of the format too. I wonder how the sales are on these...

    Some of the issue choices are bizarre - the Chase one has issues 1, then 6-8. Huh? Why not just do a big 10+ issue trade (a la Aztek) or 2 smaller 5-6 issue trades and get the whole series in?

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  10. Been enjoying these, and have asked my local comic shop to hold a copy for me each time they come out.

    Much like searching through a back-issue bin and finding that pivotal comic which explains the background to the arc you're currently reading, i'll take my DC history however i can get it.

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  11. These sound good, but I just can't help you with the adverts - one of the main reasons I buy trade in the first place....

    I don't know how people can concentrate reading something to the be interrupted half way through with adverts.

    Prestige no problem.....

    I relation to your previous post, it would be great if these came out in digital.....

    I'm assuming the digital stuff doesn't have adverts? I've only picked up a few issues so far, but would be up for getting more once I have a tablet.

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  12. None of the digital comics I've read have had ads, but the only ones I purchased were 2 Atomic Robo issues, and I don't think the paper copies have ads in between the pages either (I believe their ads are at the end of the issue, and are all house ads). The other digital comics I've gotten from Comixology and Comics+ were free ones, and also did not contain any ads. I'm kind of assuming none of them do, but until I buy a regular DC issue I can't say for sure.

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  13. Well, I guess I'm on board with some of these. I've gotten all the Batman ones and put them on my shelf just before Bruce Wayne: Murderer? They're not trades, but I prefer them to issues or digital copies.

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  14. I was looking at how you could read that run straight through, and it's a trade waiter's dream (or nightmate). It would be:

    DC Comics Presents: Batman #1 (comic) (Batman #582-585)
    Batman: Arkham Asylum Special (comic) (Batman #586)
    Batman: Officer Down (trade) (Batman #587)
    Batman: False Faces (trade) (Batman #588-590)
    DC Comics Presents: Batman #2 (comic) (Batman #591-594)
    DC Comics Presents: Batman #3 (comic) (Batman #595-598)
    Batman: Bruce Wayne: Murderer (trade) (Batman #599-600)

    Somewhere along the way, you get a complete story ...

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  15. The Rucka 'Tec issues that came out at the same time were awesome and important since they introduced Sasha Bordeaux as Bruce's bodyguard. The slow-burn of her suspicion of Bruce to his induction of her into the Bat family remains one of my favorite Rucka stories.

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  16. I'd like to see that full run of Rucka's Detective issues, with the limited color palette, collected beyond just Batman: Evolution. Maybe Brubaker's run became a DC Comics Presents because it was more self-contained, but I wouldn't mind Rucka's getting the same treatment, indeed because of the Bruce Wayne/Sasha Bordeaux interplay.

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