Rather, the bottom line of this post will be more along the lines of that I entirely understand why DC Comics is now soliciting hardcover Omnibus editions of Johns's Flash, Hawkman, and Teen Titans work, but that I think these will ultimately be somewhat funny and awkward collections. Much admiration, much understanding -- but these are going to be somewhat funny and awkward collections.
It is very clear to me why DC Comics will publish a Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus series. Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. aside, Flash and JSA are the two series where Johns first gained public notice. Half of his Flash run (about the third Flash Wally West) featured art by Scott Kolins, who continues to contribute art to Johns's new Flash series about the second Flash Barry Allen. Johns's Flash stories were a big deal at the time, including the anniversary issue Flash #200; Johns's Flash stories carried over into a number of specials and such that were not originally collected in paperback; and Johns wrote a complete Flash story from beginning to end, with a distinct and pointed ending -- the series even went on an extended hiatus when Johns left.
The same cannot be said for Johns's Teen Titans and Hawkman runs.
Don't misunderstand -- these are both really great comic book runs. Johns breathed new life into the Teen Titans franchise once considered dead for good, and the initial trade paperback, Teen Titans: A Kid's Game, remains one of my all-time favorite trade paperbacks. Johns's Hawkman, as well, was a remarkably accessible take on a character also considered unworkable, and Johns's Thanagar story that brought in the mid-1990s Hawkwoman is also a personal favorite.
Johns's Teen Titans fares very well through about issue #26 -- that includes crossovers with Outsiders and Legion of Super-Heroes, and popular artists including Mike McKone and Tom Grummett. The two fill-in issues by Gail Simone probably won't be collected; then issues #30-33 deal with Infinite Crisis. Still good-ish issues, but a lot of artists roll in and out -- Tony Daniel, Todd Nauck, and others.
Post-Infinite Crisis, Johns's Titans "One Year Later" stories are also quite good, from about #34-40. Tony Daniel became the series' regular artist, but bows out after this, and a spate of guest artists finishes Johns's final "Titans East" storyline through #46. That last issue, co-written by Adam Beechen as Johns himself leaves the title, ends on something of a cliffhanger (or at least a downer) -- it's a far cry from the strong, distinct end of Johns's Flash story.
Ditto Johns's Hawkman. This book starts strong with co-writer James Robinson and artist Rags Morales with Ethan Van Skiver and Don Kramer. The book goes strong through issue #19 and even into the great "Headhunter" three-parter #20-22. Issue #22, however, ends on an uncertain and emotional cliffhanger for Hawkman and Hawkgirl, just before the JSA: Black Reign crossover. The cliffhanger (Hawkman taking on a more violent persona) is not resolved in those issues, and Johns leaves the book right after; the single issue and collected reader never quite got any closure, and neither too would the Omnibus reader.
I should mention here that I'm one hundred percent certain there's a JSA by Geoff Johns Omnibus coming right down the pike behind these books. I'm sure as the day is long, DC wouldn't be collecting Johns's Flash, Hawkman, and Teen Titans without the intention to collect his JSA issues too (including, one hopes, the first five issues by David Goyer and James Robinson without Johns). Johns's JSA is pretty great throughout, but Johns leaves just in the middle of JSA's run up to Infinite Crisis, then Keith Champagne takes over for a bit, and then Johns pops in for one more issue before Paul Levitz takes over.
JSA is a bit more straightforward than Teen Titans and Hawkman, but all three beg the question: Does anyone really want to read only Geoff Johns's issues of a book, if reading just Johns's issues and not the ones right after or ones by fill-in writers leaves you with just half the story? Maybe one would want to see a collection of unrelated stories by one artist to examine that one artist's work, but to read three-fourths of a story just because the story is by Johns seems, again, rather awkward.
And I imagine the reader who has never read these stories before, who buys two or three hardcovers at $50-$75 each, and then comes to the end of these books only to find them ending on a sour or somewhat uneven note. These books seem like a good idea, and will probably look good on the shelf, but I fear they'll end up disappointing in the end.
If I were DC Comics (I say, self-righteously), I might not be marketing these as "by Geoff Johns" omnibuses. Sure, Johns's name could be on them as loud and large as Brad Meltzer's on Identity Crisis or Grant Morrison's on Final Crisis, and Johns might indeed be the selling point for these collections, but it would seem to me the company gets more freedom calling these just the Hawkman Omnibus and the Teen Titans Omnibus. Bill them as
I'll be interested to see DC's official solicitation for these books, how the final volumes from each series shape up, and what omnibus editions DC publishes next outside of the "Geoff Johns series." Which of these are on your definite "to buy" list?