Cancelled Trade Cavalcade: Starman Omnibus Vol. 3, Legion Worlds, Justice League Chronicles

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Starman Omnibus Vol. 3 by James Robinson (DC Comics)[In times of tragedy, you can always help by donating blood with your local Red Cross. If they have sufficient donations, please make an appointment to donate another time.]

In all the hubbub these past few weeks about the Death of the Family, Throne of Atlantis, Grell Green Arrow and other collections, and then the new DC Villains Month and omnibus, there hasn't been time to recognize some significant cancellations in our midsts.

Not only did DC cancel the Legion Worlds and Starman Omnibus Vol. 3 trade paperbacks, this week they've also cancelled the first Justice League of America Chronicles collection.

Standard disclaimers apply that DC is a company and companies have to make money, and I don't necessarily expect DC to publish books that aren't going to net them a profit. Each of these cancellations is a shame, however; let's take a moment to see what we've lost.

Whither Starman?

Perhaps the most startling here is the cancellation of the paperback Starman Omnibus Vol. 3. In canceling this, DC must definitely be suggesting they no longer intend to continue paperback reprints of the original Starman Omnibus hardcovers, many of which are out of print.

Once upon a time I might have expected Starman, like Sandman or Watchmen, to remain perpetually in print at DC, essentially printing money. But any number of factors -- from writer James Robinson having left comics for a while, to (wisely) the number of Starman spin-offs being few, to the entire saga's ejection from continuity with the New 52 -- seems to have dimmed the larger public's knowledge of Starman (even as the stories themselves remain a treat).

I'm reminded of a particularly daft blog post on the DC Comics site that not mis-characterized the plot of Starman, but treated it like a bygone, forgotten relic. Though the post seems silly, I fear it's probably not far from an accurate portrayal of where Starman stands now.

The problem is that readers who already bought the paperback Starman Omnibus Vols. 1 and 2 are now stuck with two paperbacks that will likely never see their companion volumes. Some part of me expects DC might still release Starman in true omnibus format (the whole series in just one or two hardcover volumes), but that still doesn't help anyone stuck with those two paperbacks.

The Pre-Order Dilemma

On one hand, I might suggest to anyone thinking of starting to collect a series, especially a paperback series with hardcover equivalents, to wait and see if all the books come out before you do so. Readers of the classic Justice League International collections faced a similar problem when DC released four hardcover volumes, then two paperback volumes, and then the series abruptly ended. At the same time, a catch-22 -- by not buying a collection series when it comes out, readers also risk that those same low sales will cause the very cancellation they're hoping to avoid.

So, I must say again, pre-order, pre-order, pre-order. More than likely what killed the Legion Worlds collection was lack of pre-orders; this collection of Dan Abnett/Andy Lanning Legion specials followed sequentially from the Legion Lost miniseries, which itself saw a hardcover release in 2011 but the paperback, too, was cancelled by DC.

Legion Worlds was one of those esoteric collections that probably wasn't going to appeal to a large audience, but that I and others had hoped to see. And I'm telling you, I think books like Green Arrow: Hunters Moon (Mike Grell) and Deadshot: Beginnings, and even Superman: Man of Steel Vol. 8, Superman: Dark Knight Over Metropolis, and Nightwing: Old Friends, are on equally shaky ground. All of these are collections of "old" (1980s) comics and none of these are very much in continuity any more. Superman, Nightwing, and Green Arrow all have name recognition, but I'm shocked frankly that DC is even releasing the Deadshot collection after having cancelled the second collected volume of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad. If you want to see these books released, they need your support.

Omnibus Rising?

Justice League of America Chronicles was meant to be the start of a chronological reprint of the classic Justice League stories, in step with the Batman and Superman Chronicles books. I wonder if we can find a hint to Justice League's fate in the fact that DC has solicited a Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1 which itself collects the first four(!) Superman Chronicles volumes; perhaps Justice League Chronicles will be replaced with a Justice League of America: The Silver Age omnibus.

So, disappointed Starman fans out there? Someone other than me really looking forward to that Legion Worlds collection? Let me hear from you.
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25 comments:

  1. Oh, you will hear from me.

    I have Starman vol 1 and 2, the paperbacks. I have volume 3 on pre-order from Barnes and Noble.com as part of their big "Buy 2 get 1 free" DC sale last November.

    So now what? What happens to the sale I ordered? I have no idea what to do now, and I'm very upset I can't continue this series (btw, I haven't started reading it, I just heard so many fantastic things that I bought all 3 volumes during the B&N.com sale.)

    And I am not paying tons of money for a used hardcover. I really hope DC changes it's mind. Right now Barnes and Noble isn't sure what to do, it keeps postponing my order every few weeks...

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    1. I have seen that before -- when you've pre-ordered a book from a retailer and it gets cancelled, the order itself tends to die a slow death. Twisting the knife, unfortunately ...

      Let me know how or if you eventually finish your collection, Jordan. It's a shame this might affect readers who decided to check out Starman for the first time.

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    2. As with many books on my list, I suppose I'll just be checking the used bins at comic stores for some cheap Starman Omnibus hardcovers. I actually have a little list I printed out and keep in my wallet of all the stuff I'm missing, and I've had some good luck finding rare things.

      But I'm still annoyed I kind of got cheated out of the B&N sale thing..I am also waiting on Crisis on Multiple Earths vol.6 which keeps being delayed...

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    3. Oh and of COURSE 2 weeks I JUST bought Suicide Squad Trial By Fire, thinking "oh awesome! Can't wait to read this series." I googled to find more about future trades and your blog was one of the first things to come up. Not having good luck lately with my reading choices!

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    4. Yes, Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Nightshade Odyssey was an unfortunate loss. That's what makes me concerned about the Deadshot trade.

      And I'll believe Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 6 when I'm holding it in my hands.

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  2. Well... at least they were able to collect the really rare issues in Omnibus format. I've never seen a copy of "A Wicked Inclination" in person. The theoretical third Omnibus would collect issues in trades that are at least a bit more prevalent. But still, for the OCD collectors alone, much less Starman fans in general, this must be craziness.

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  3. If DC doesn't intend to release softcover versions of the remaining Starman Omnibus volumes, they should at least give the first 3 hardcovers a second printing, just like Marvel's about to reprint many of their sold-out omnibi. If there weren't any demand for them, they wouldn't have sold out to begin with, right?

    Good thing I bought the six hardcovers when they were all still available, and I'm even more glad that all four Jack Kirby's Fourth World Omnibus volumes got softcover reprints after the HCs sold out. I almost missed out on those.

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    1. puce lantern corps4/18/2013 07:44:00 AM

      "they should at least give the first 3 hardcovers a second printing"

      This - I bought the 2 softcovers, and wouldn't mind tracking down 3-6 in HC so much if it wasn't for volume 3 being so stupidly pricey. The 4,5 and 6 hardcovers seem to be available in all the usual online places, albeit second-hand.

      Although I'm sure some of you guys can appreciate the OCD-fuelled discomfort of having a series sitting there on your shelf in a mixture of TPB/HC :D

      Marvel run fucking rings around DC in the collection department, I'd rather have too much choice than not enough...

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  4. That DC blog about Starman is weird. "Are you a fan of James Robinson’s current miniseries THE SHADE? And did you know that THE SHADE is a spin-off of STARMAN, a classic DC Comics series by the same writer?" Was anyone even reading The Shade other than Starman fans?

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    1. I *know*. It's like, "You whippersnappers may not remember this, but once upon a time there was this series called Starman ..." I seem to recall DC had a couple of odd blog posts like that around that time.

      I Tumbled it then, for good measure: collectededitions.tumblr.com/post/13896821649/cant-believe-ive-been-reading-comics-for-a-long

      And the summary! Mikaal Tomas is a great character, no question, but "forming one of the most famous and long-lasting homosexual relationships in comics history"? It's like the person who wrote the post hadn't read the books. Jack Knight doesn't get a mention until James Robinson brings him up. Bonkers.

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  5. I have to believe that a true Starman omnibus is planned for some point.

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  6. The Starman news is super annoying. The first two paperback volumes are sitting on my shelf unread being saved up for a binge next year when I had all 6 in my hands.

    I have never read the series but have heard so many good things about it that when these paperbacks were announced I decided to jump on. Now I don't know when I'll get to read the run because those second hand copies of the hardcovers are both really expensive and generally in pretty bad shape.

    I am your typical OCD collector: I can't deal with having to piece together multiple formats to make up a run.

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    1. puce lantern corps4/18/2013 07:55:00 AM

      Just echoed your sentiments in a post above, Chaz - I feel your pain!

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  7. i had an alert set up to buy the Showcase Presents: Strange Adventures from cheapgraphicnovels.com, and they are listing that volume as cancelled. i wonder what the break even point is for books like these? i wouldn't think the SP are that expensive to make, but what do i know.

    i was fortunate to be able to find all the OOP Starman and Fourth World omnibi at good prices on Ebay and Amazon, but have paid through the nose for a few JLA and LSH archives, though...

    just looked at Amazon, and they have the Strange Adventures listed as coming out in December. maybe it was re-solicited. *shrugs*

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  8. I am a big fan of Starman but I don't think it's the kind of evergreen material that Watchmen or Sandman is. It's very well-done but it's rooted very heavily in the particular DC continuity of that era. It's kind of a DC fanboy's wet dream, really - it's got all these obscure characters played completely straight, and in many ways the whole thing is a love letter to DC continuity, but I suspect that limits its appeal to dedicated DC readers. As far as I know none of those collections have really been big $$$ items for DC. The HCs at least had that $50 price point and the "this is the whole story collected for the first time" thing going for them - not sure the SCs really had the same cache.

    I am a little bummed to see DC's first real attempt at SC versions of their "Omnibus" editions fail, though.

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    1. Actually, DC's first attempt at softcover versions of their omnibi was Jack Kirby's Fourth World, and all four volumes got enough pre-orders to go to the printers, thankfully. I guess it can be considered evergreen material.

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  9. I was looking forward to "Legion Worlds" and thank you DC for pulling the rug from under me. But then again, I am not terribly surprised. There is $15-20 of my money DC will not get.

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  10. I'm so pissed that Starman paperbacks got cancelled. I had heard about the series and purchased the first paperback and loved it. I immediately bought the second and preordered the third and fourth. Now I know why Amazon has removed the book from their site. This is maddening. I want my Starman!

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  11. Shoot. I just decided to cancel my Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus pre-order to stick with the Chronicles format (since I already have a few and pre-ordered The Justice League). Now I don't know what to do. I can't help but think that this could be the end for Chronicles.

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  12. Oh, boy. I had also been wanting to get into Starman but hadn't bought any of the books yet. Perhaps DC is gearing up to re-release it in their current, larger omnibus. Sorry for everyone who has those trades, though.

    What really troubles me is JLA Chronicles. The problem is DC has such a massive back catalog and they don't know what to do with it. The obvious answer would be to put these issues up on Comixology, but I guess that would make too much sense. If this is the end of the Chronicles line, they need to get it in gear and start making making more omnibi a la Golden Age Superman. Alternatively, they could release color versions of the already-existing Showcase Presents. We know they've remastered the old JLA issues for the Archives, it shouldn't be that hard. I'd gladly pay a few extra bucks for a color version of that line.

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  13. Quite a few (but not nearly all) of the old JLA series is already available on Comixology:

    http://www.comixology.com/Justice-League-of-America-1960-1987/comics-series/6792

    Personally I don't like the $1.99 price for old comics that used to be 10 cents and that DC made their money off of years ago, but I've ended up buying most of them during $0.99 sales. $1.99 is fine for a new comic, but the older ones shouldn't be anymore than $0.99.

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  14. Starman... that's such a shame. I just bought v. 1 & 2 a couple of months ago. Had heard the series was good and I've always avoided the HC's. So with the TPB releases I was all in. Guess I'll have to decide whether or not to pick up the HC's now. Booooo -urns.

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  15. I have every Starman HC Omnibus except 3, so this is annoying

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  16. Still very bizarre... some online retailers (Overstock, etc) have this still listed as coming out 2/2014. One can only hope...

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    1. I really think it's just a matter of some retailers having trouble keeping their systems updated when a book is solicited and then cancelled. DC doesn't have this on their release schedule and they haven't announced it; I think there's very little chance (none) that DC would "stealth release" this book without letting customers know they're doing so.

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