Tuesday, October 16, 2012
With yesterday's January 2013 solicitations, DC Comics announced Absolute Blackest Night, a 360-page, $99.99 hardcover in DC's Absolute size, collecting DC Universe #0, Blackest Night #0, Blackest Night #1-8, and Untold Tales of the Blackest Night #1.
DC Universe contains a few Blackest Night pages never collected, and Untold is a special published after Blackest Night; otherwise, Blackest Night #0-8 all appeared in the Blackest Night hardcover and trade paperback.
If you're excited about Absolute Blackest Night, good on you and go get it -- everyone should be able to find whatever comics they want in whatever form they want. However, criticism is already rising that Absolute Blackest Night essentially collects just the same as the original collections.
Many fans had been hoping for some sort of larger collection that interweaved the Blackest Night, Green Lantern, and Green Lantern Corps series. The three can be read on their own, but Blackest Night and Green Lantern specifically make for a more complete reading experience than just Blackest Night by itself. Of course, an 800-plus-page full Blackest Night collection would be too unwieldy for the Absolute format.
It is not too large for DC's Omnibus format, however, which has recently produced such volumes as the Infinite Crisis Omnibus, the 52 Omnibus, and the Invisibles Omnibus, all more than a thousand pages long.
At one point, the Absolute brand was the gold standard of DC Comics collections. The Absolute Batman: Hush, for instance, was the first whole collection of the Hush series, released after the two-volume hardcover and paperback sets. Absolute DC: The New Frontier is the only combined version of the Darwyn Cooke story. The Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths and JLA/Avengers collections each included a second book with copious extra materials.
Compare this to the recent Absolute releases. Absolute Green Lantern: Rebirth included no previously-uncollected stories, and extras reported to be somewhat slim. Absolute Sinestro Corps War included just the main story and not the extra tie-ins, to the chagrin of many fans. Absolute Identity Crisis contained almost the same material as the hardcover.
It would seem that what fans want from an "Absolute Blackest Night" is really a "Blackest Night Omnibus," doing more than just re-collecting the same thing in an oversized format. We theorized before that the Omnibus format might have killed DC's Archives format; is Omnibus also replacing the Absolutes?
* Is there a market for an Absolute Blackest Night edition, three years and one continuity after the original series ended?
* Has readership interest shifted from Absolute editions (oversized, artful reproductions of stories themselves) to Omnibus editions (thick volumes collecting all parts of a story plus tie-ins)?
* Has the era of the Absolute edition ended, or what stories would you reasonably still want published as an Absolute? As an Omnibus?
UPDATE: Two months after this post, DC Comics cancelled and resolicited the Absolute Blackest Night collection to include most of the related Green Lantern issues. Whether DC's Absolute program is dead or not -- whether anyone actually wants an Absolute Blackest Night at all -- is still debatable, but this change to the book at least succeeds in producing something that the reader can't get from the original books, a pseudo-combined edition of Blackest Night. A victory, to be sure, and congratulations to everyone who spoke up about this. More discussion at the post about the resolicitation.