Trade Perspectives: DC August 2011 Solicitations: JLA and other concerns

Monday, May 23, 2011

A couple of collected comics items from DC Comics's August 2011 solicitations have garnered discussion in the Collected Editions comments sections and elsewhere, such that I wanted to take a specific post to address them. First up is the paperback release of JLA Volume 1.

The solicitation for this book, which for all intents and purposes should match that of the JLA: Deluxe Edition Volume 1 hardcover published previously, does not mention specific issues, but does mention the JLA's "Hyperclan" adventure found in the JLA: New World Order trade paperback. That's true for the original solicitation for the hardcover as well, and based on page count, we can take for granted that the paperback contains at least New World Order and JLA: American Dreams, much the same as the deluxe hardcover did.

What's at issue is the final line of the paperback solicitation, which reads:
This new trade paperback includes several issues written by Mark Millar (Kick-Ass, Ultimate Fantastic Four) that were not collected in the hardcover JLA DELUXE EDITION series.
One tenet of the JLA Deluxe series has been that it only collects the Grant Morrison-written issues of JLA, and not the rather well-regarded fill-in issues by Mark Waid and others. The hardcover JLA Deluxe actually does contain an issue (co-)written by Mark Millar, the "Star Seed" story from the JLA Secret Files and Origins #1. It does not include Millar's other stories from Secret Files, about Superman and Martian Manhunter, despite that the original solicitation for JLA Deluxe credits the artist of those stories, Don Hillsman. Hillsman's stories do not appear in JLA Deluxe.

Therefore, when talking about "several issues by Mark Millar" to be included in the JLA Volume 1 paperback, it's my speculation that this refers to the Superman and Martian Manhunter stories from Secret Files. Perhaps the "was not/was" in regards to Hillsman's credit indicates these stories were considered for the original hardcover edition; interestingly, DC has both volumes listed with the exact same page count.

Of concern here is that fans spent $30 for the JLA Deluxe hardcover under the reasonable assumption that this was DC Comics's new, definitive edition of the largely out-of-print original JLA trade paperbacks, only to now find that DC is releasing a $20 paperback with additional issues -- a less expensive edition with more content, only three years later. There is an unspoken contract among readers and publishers, I believe, that a primary hardcover release of a book is the "definitive" edition, and the following paperback will contain the same or less material, and this violates that contract.

The difference between including or excluding two short Mark Millar stories is, I grant, not all that great. This precedent of returning stories excluded from the JLA Deluxe volumes to the JLA paperbacks will become much more significant one book hence, however, as JLA Deluxe Volume 2 excluded JLA #18-21 by Mark Waid, and the paperback JLA Volume 2 could now bring those back. This would make the difference between the second hardcover and paperback JLA volumes much more significant, and increase the possibility that someone who collected the JLA Deluxe hardcovers is going to feel cheated.

Other August 2011 Anomalies
There are certainly books of interest in DC's August 2011 solicitations, including Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle and Flash: The Road to Flashpoint, and I'm still riding high on DC for continuing their Suicide Squad reprints, and for collections like Infinity Inc. and Legion Lost.

But at the same time, their complete Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War paperback emerges as something of a disappointment, since the solicitation suggests the Tales of the Sinestro Corps material won't be included. Having read Tales separate from Sinestro Corps War, I can tell you it does fill in some necessary, otherwise-confusing holes in the main stories. This seems to me a missed opportunity for DC to release a single, comprehensive edition of Sinestro Corps War, and it's a pity.

Another head-scratcher is DC's Showcase Presents: All-Star Comics Volume 1, a black and white reprint of the two color Justice Society trade paperbacks from a few years ago. I understand DC releasing Showcase Presents: Booster Gold, for instance, when Booster's series isn't otherwise available in trade, but this seems needless duplication of already-released material. Worse, this is "Volume 1"; will volume 2 collect further adventures of the Justice Society at this time, like All-Star Squadron, in black and white format instead of continuing the color trade paperbacks? Another disappointment, in my opinion, for readers of those early trades.

Right now there's not anything else on the horizon I can think of that's directly related to a collection already released -- that is, I don't see anything else coming up that I think bears the risk of disappointing the way the above do. However, I think DC has muddied a bit of reader/publisher trust with these volumes, and with some shifts going on in DC's collections department, that's not a great foot to be starting on.

[Felt this was important enough to interrupt our regular review schedule; new reviews coming here tomorrow and later in the week.]
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15 comments:

  1. I believe the page count of the Sinestro War book does leave room for the four "Tales of..." issues. There have been some changes between the solicitations and publication lately, so it's tough to take them seriously.

    For example, Showcase Presents: Green Lantern #5 was supposed to be issues 76-100, leaving out the Flash backups. But the actual book has 76-89 and includes the backups, but not issues 90-100.

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  2. Not sure DC has a "collection department", per se, anymore. It was my understanding that most of that department was laid off, and that individual editors were now responsible for collections of the books they edit. If true, perhaps that explains the scattershot collection strategy. DC is IMO a total mess these days as far as these types of things are concerned.

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  3. @Devin: The page count for Sinestro Corps not only doesn't show null possibility for "Tales...", but it was published that the book will contain only the main Sinestro Corps War GL and GLC.

    @matches: Dude, if this is a strategy from DC, then is the dumbest strategy of all time. Missleading publicity of a non-released product will put buyers against the product and push them to buy books from the other company instead.

    I don think there's not a "collection department" either. To make a collection and launch it to the market is not only take a bunch of magazines, put them together and release. You need to make a market study, check some costs and average them with the public's opinion. So far a lot of products have less content for more money. Because of this a lot of hardcore DC guys are crossing the street. DC's fault!.

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  4. Per JLA, That's the first thing I though of - cheated. It's a shame that DC didn't have the foresight to include all this issues in the JLA Deluxe the first time around. I really wonder what they were thinking.
    Then I read Sinestro Corps War - cheated again! I'm very glad I bought all three hardcovers when I did.
    All-Star Showcase is an odd one. It would have been nice to combine the, already released, two volume TPB's into one full edition. Again, what were they thinking?
    Chris

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  5. @xavico - I wouldn't recommend crossing the street (I assume to Marvel?) based on value for money, as Marvel's collections typically offer very poor value for money. (They LOVE those HCs that only collect 4 issues and retail for $20). Marvel is, however, far superior to DC in terms of collecting material reliably and comprehensively. No trades that are solicited and then cancelled. No (current) series that are only partially collected. No year-plus-long waits between HC and SC releases. I'm sure DC has business reasons for its policies, but Marvel's certainly are more fan-friendly.

    There's also quality to consider, of course, and at least IMO Marvel's kicking DC's rear-end in that area right now...

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  6. I'd like if they publish a 5th deluxe vol with the back ups....would even like it further if they include stuff like:
    JL A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE
    JLA TITANS THE TECNIS IMPERATIVE
    JLA WORLD WITHOUT GROWN UPS
    DC ONE MILLION
    & the umpteen million JLA minis & one shots like:
    WELCOME TO THE WORKING WEEK, FOREIGN BODIES, GODS & MONSTERS, BLACK BAPTISM, GATEKEEPER, PARADISE LOST etc.

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  7. Okay I messaged (Facebook, naturally) erstwhile (current?)collections editor Anton Kawasaki about this....hope something can be done for the people who bought all those deluxe HCs

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  8. Anton Kawasaki was always very nice and forthcoming with information as he was able, but I thought I understood he was no longer with DC ... I'm doubtful he'll be able to offer any insights if that's the case, but it's worth a shot.

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  9. Yeah, in the introduction (or was it the foreword?) to the last Starman Omnibus volume, Kawasaki said he wasn't working at DC anymore.

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  10. so are the JLA paperbacks standard size ? I was really surprised that they didn't include more 1 Mil in vol 3. I was also surprised how much more I liked Porter's art oversized. I 'm not really a fan of his, but after rereading these great stories I have to say that Porter's art looks better big. I don't think I'll be double -dipping to buy the fill in issues,although they really are great.Now looks like the time to sell your HCs if you are gonna tho.

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  11. On a more related note, I wonder when DC Comics is going to collect the last three issues of Greg Rucka's Batwoman (Action Comics) run with Jock.

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  12. Solits are often wrong and the safest thing to do is to wait for the book to come out. As far as the JLA thing, people knew these were not complete books and bought them. They are oversized,nicely built and simply awesome. If DC would put out a matching Deluxe of fill in issues, I would pick it up, but either way , I don't feel butthurt if the paperbacks have the fill issues.Any more, all I care about is Morrison anyway. Just my 2 ameros.

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  13. I have learned to take solicits with a grain of salt (early ones, at least, page count and such), though when we get down to the actual text solicits, I feel DC needs to get these right(er) -- if a customer pre-orders a book and then the contents weren't what they were expecting, the local comics shop is the one who has to take care of it. That Hillsman was mistakenly listed as a contributor to JLA Deluxe Vol. 1 is a small thing, but it's still an error.

    I do see some sense in what Deano says. However, one can also read this situation as DC trying to get readers to buy both the JLA hardcover and paperback -- they published the hardcover with one thing, but oops, now if you want the full story you have to go in for the paperback, too. Consumers make their own choices, and DC is in the business of making money, but it could be interpreted as bait and switch.

    @Jackie -- I'm still hopeful that we'll see those Rucka issues collected with the first of JH Williams's new Batwoman series, whenever it is that comes out. Hopeful, though not optimistic.

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  14. I, too, am a little indifferent about the announcement of more content for the newer thicker JLA paperbacks. That's because I was one of those who was actually miffed by the announcement of the hardcovers...just as I was beginning to pick up the original thinner paperbacks. So what did I do? I halted getting the thinner paperbacks to wait out what the hardcovers would contain. When it turned out that the hardcovers omitted the non-Morrison stuff, I figured I might as well continue with the thinner trades to get the complete story. Now, if these newer, thicker trades will divide the issues more along the lines of the thinner trades (UNLIKE the hardcovers), then I can hopefully pick up later volumes of these newer thicker trades and my collection will be complete. At least that's the plan!

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  15. I understand businesses have to make money, and I'm fine with that. But if DC's intentions were to try and make people buy JLA twice then I feel that is just greed.

    You want to make money, then release the remaining JLA trades in collected hardcovers/paperback ominbuses; but content-wise they should contain the same material inside. I'll let stuff like more extras (scripts, designs) in hardcover editions slide but not when it comes to stories.

    I know it's still early and solicits can change but it seems like DC might do it again with the Marshall Rogers's omnibus too which I think is an August release. I believe it will collect the Strange Apparitions and Dark Detective issues but it's leaving out an issue which I think leads in to SA. Really? I understand it's a Marshall Rogers collection but it's just one issue. I'm thinking ahead and feel like when a paperback edition is releaed they'll include that issue.

    On a similar note, I don't understand what the point is of not including other issues in collections. I'm thinking about Titans 15, DCU 0, and AC 864. Out of the handful of BN trades you're telling me there was no room to put a single issue? DCU 0 could of included in the FC companion; At least for me I would of prefered that over a reprint of issue one without dialogue. Something like that should be in the FC hardcover maybe. And AC 864 could of been included in the Superman/Legion arc of FC:Lo3W.

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