released the details last week. And now that DC's plans are more clear -- the Flashpoint books in March, and then the New 52 staggered about seven per month for the rest of the year -- 2012 is shaping up to be a very exciting year.
That said, when I sit back and look at it all, I find myself a bit ... underwhelmed.
Where are the deluxe editions with flashing lights and moving covers?
Where are the hardcovers?
Seriously -- where are the hardcovers? Just over a quarter of DC's New 52 books will be collected in hardcover -- less than half -- and of those, no Edge, Dark, or Young Justice books at all. In terms of collection schemes, the New 52 isn't much different than what came before; maybe just a little more timely.
I must say, I did not expect the company of Absolute Identity Crisis, of Batman: Hush Unwrapped, or the massive DC Comics: The New 52 hardcover to be so ... reserved.
Our largely unscientific poll about how you wanted the New 52 collected came back largely in favor of paperbacks. I said at the time that I thought those people would be disappointed -- further, I said (in bold, no less), "I cannot imagine that DC would release their new big name titles in paperback."
Wrong on that one, it seems.
I just don't believe a company like DC leaves money on the table. If the Batman or Green Lantern franchise can be parlayed into four or five different titles, they'll do it. If a series has gained enough steam to jump to hardcover mid-run (looking at you, Green Lantern Corps), they'll change it. If they can sell a book in hardcover, paperback, and then also Absolute format, they'll do it. So if someone out there thought an entire line of hardcovers of DC's New 52 series would sell, we'd have them. Instead, DC's hardcover line (not counting new titles) has actually shrunk.
* I always figured the average, read-about-the-New-52-in-USA Today consumer was more likely to buy a hardcover collection in their local bookstore than a paperback. Did DC find that paperbacks were selling better?
* What does this say about collections sales overall? We've been in a boom time, to be sure, with a proliferation of books arriving in hardcover and other pricey formats. Did DC fly too close to the sun and is this a "bust" now, with collections being scaled back overall? The recent spate of cancellations certainly seems to suggest so.
* Alternatively, is this the kind of "testing the waters" that DC seemed to do after Infinite Crisis and their last (more minor) reset, "One Year Later," where many books saw initial paperback releases followed by hardcovers for their next volume -- paperback Superman: Up, Up, and Away before hardcover Superman: Last Son and paperback Batman: Face the Face before hardcover Batman and Son, for instance? Is my Swamp Thing Vol. 1 paperback going to have to sit next to a Swamp Thing Vol. 2 hardcover? Or will two Swamp Thing paperbacks, two years down the road, equal one omnibus Swamp Thing hardcover?
The winner in all of this is you -- those of you, at least, who steadfastly refused to buy DC books in hardcover and truly waited for the trade. You've won your victory now with a predominant number of first-run DC paperbacks coming out every month through a significant part of 2012 -- you'll be able to read your books in the format that you want at the exact same time as everyone else.
Only, I would ask, with your newfound paperback bounty, maybe spare a couple bucks for one of the New 52 hardcovers, if you can. We newly endangered hardcover fans need all the help we can get, apparently.