Absolute Identity Crisis and more from DC Comics May 2011 solicitations

Friday, February 18, 2011

I am a fan of Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis.

I understand, to be sure, why that book is controversial, but Identity Crisis marked for me a distinct rebounding of the quality of DC Comics's crossover events, and the beginning of much greater line-wide cohesiveness. Say, again, what you will about Identity Crisis, but it was far greater than Millenium Giants, Genesis, or Day of Judgment, and DC's crossovers have been blockbusters ever since.

I do not, however, think it deserves a $100 oversized Absolute edition.

First, the book has a hardcover and a paperback edition that are both still in print. At the time that Batman: Hush and Superman For Tomorrow each came out in Absolute editions, neither had one single collection of the entire story; Batman: The Long Halloween has never had a hardcover printing except for the Absolute edition [hardcover is out of print], and Crisis on Infinite Earths was out of print in hardcover at the time of the Absolute edition.

While it does not necessarily follow that a book must lack an edition to deserve an Absolute edition -- it's perfectly reasonable with the Green Lantern movie coming out that Green Lantern: Rebirth should get an Absolute edition -- I feel it's not as though there was a dearth of ways to read Identity Crisis that an Absolute edition could solve.

Second, if we warrant (perhaps incorrectly) that the publication of one Absolute edition means a delay in the publication of another, there are potential Absolute editions out there that I think are more deserving than Identity Crisis. Numerous readers, in my opinion, would snatch up an Absolute Sinestro Corps War, especially re-ordered with the specials mixed in -- or Absolute Blackest Night presented in reading order, again to tie in to the upcoming Green Lantern movie. Rags Morales lovely art will certainly be lovelier in Absolute format, but a collection of just the Identity Crisis issues, no different than how they're already available, seems to me a waste of the format.

Third, $100? Really, DC Comics? When Absolute Green Lantern: Rebirth was $75, and historically Absolute editions have been $75, to price an Absolute Identity Crisis at $100, more than just being expensive, seems an overestimation of the value of the item they're selling. Indeed, Absolute All Star Superman is $100, but it doesn't have a full hardcover collection yet, and there's a movie based on it coming out. Identity Crisis is a seven-year-old miniseries that I enjoyed, but that I can hardly imagine someone now paying $100 to read.

For all of these reasons, I'm a bit stymied by this particular solicitation.

Hail and Farewell
The pre-crossover purge, in this case Flashpoint, begins here with the loss of Outsiders, JSA All-Stars, Freedom Fighters, Doom Patrol, and REBELS. I'm not altogether disappointed to lose the first two, which I felt needlessly expanded upon franchises that didn't need expanding (see Outsiders: Road to Hell), while I'm genuinely sorry to see the latter two go (Freedom Fighters I managed to entirely lose track of, even as I liked the initial miniseries). REBELS has been a lovely blast from the 1990s past, with writer Tony Bedard effectively capturing everything I used to love about the morally gray Vril Dox; Keith Giffen's Doom Patrol was in the first book a wonderfully madcap, self-destructive, psychologically thoughtful romp, and it played nice with continuity, too.

This happens all the time, I know -- it wasn't much before Final Crisis that we lost Blue Beetle, Manhunter, Checkmate, Mark Waid's Legion of Super-Heroes, and others too -- and the old adages still of course apply, that if a book doesn't star a member of the Justice League or have a Super- or Bat-character in it, much good luck wished to you. I'm rooting for Booster Gold, Power Girl, and especially Gail Simone's Secret Six that these "independents" in the DC Universe can keep on keeping on.

At the same time, I was struck that there seem to be thirteen new collections -- hardcovers, paperbacks, and Absolutes -- and five reprint collections solicited by DC Comics for May 2011. All of these, of course, won't actually come out in May, but that's a big host of collections to solicit. I won't make more of that right now than to say this obviously demonstrates the viability of and the fan interest in comics collections, as if there was still any doubt. A solicitation list that includes Showcase Presents Doc Savage, Absolute Identity Crisis, Tales of the Batman by Gene Colan, Power Girl: Bomb Squad, Aquaman: Death of the Prince, and Batman: The Road Home is quite a significant mix of new, old, high profile, standard collections, and so on, to suggest there's not a fan out there anymore who couldn't find something of interest to them in collected format.

What do you all see in DC's May 2011 offerings?
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  1. Actually there is a prior (regular-sized) HC printing of The Long Halloween. I own it - it came out prior to the softcover edition. There is a similar HC of Dark Victory. Not sure if either is still in print, though.

  2. Whoop; you're quite right -- edited. Talk about hard to find!

  3. Agree completely on the redundancy of Absolute Identity Crisis. I may be unusual around here, but I'm yet to own any Absolutes. Being a trade waiter for 11+ years, I tended to already own a copy of everything absolutised and I'd rather sink my cash into something new to my shelves. Though, I'll immediately contradict myself and admit I'm totally grabbing Deluxe We3, but it has 30 new Quitely pages!!

    From the May rundown, I have my eye on Red Robin, Hush Money, Long Shadows, Power Girl, Red Hood and Knight & Squire.

  4. Interesting thoughts on abs identity crisis. Maybe they're just reprinting the Crisis' in order, as abs Crisis on Infinite earths was already done ~2 years ago.

  5. That would be something I wouldn't mind, but I think the next "Crisis" was ZERO HOUR: CRISIS IN TIME. I can see why that would be even more controversial had it been released in such an edition. Despite the confusing crossovers I feel that Jurgens is a great artist & storyteller. IMHO none of the yearly crossover "events" were bad, a few were simply lackluster-maybe because of the body count-every event had a major casualty after Identity Crisis. I'd rather see collections of

    and reprints of


    than reprints in umpteen formats of already available stuff

  6. Reprinting Zero Hour would be pretty worthless unless they included some of the tie-ins. I've got the cheapy paperback trade they put out forever ago. It collects only the issues of Zero Hour itself. It reads like crap that way, effectively being a victim of making the tie-ins too important to the actual event. I don't consider it a Crisis either, but that's just personal opinion.

    I have no freaking clue why Identity Crisis is getting an absolute. It must be a combination of it being an important story and the well regarded artwork. I like Identity Crisis just fine - though it takes a fair amount of suspension of disbelief on re-reads - but worthy of an absolute it is not. This one skated into the format based on being a Crisis, I think; there's no other reason for it to get an edition like this.

  7. I'd be surprised if this was an Absolute as part of an Absolute Crisis series; my expectation would be, if that were the case, it would be Absolute Crisis, Absolute Infinite Crisis, and then maybe Absolute Final Crisis. But at this point, I don't know that I'd be real excited about the latter books, either.

    What I'd like to see in these Absolutes is additive material. Chris Marshall at the Collected Comics Library mentioned that maybe the Absolute Identity Crisis should include the tie-ins. I'd like to see an Absolute volume with just Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-ins, myself.

  8. @collectededitions: Megnificent critic!.
    I love Identity Crisis, and when I learned it was going to be absoluted I jumped to the roof... and then I saw the specifications: 288 pages (the same number of pages as the softcover and HC edition) at $100.
    DC again killed a good chance to release a quality product to the market.
    No matter a movie is on the way, Absolute Rebirth was a complete waste of effort. I thought it was odd, but I study echonomics and this is very common in business: release a bogus overprice product with good publicity. Pay some sites and adds so consumers fell in love with the product. The company must have some kind of goal. If the goal is achieved (lets say, 5000 copies were sold) then the next fase is approved... to keep making BS products bath with great love and high prices.
    I love IC but I won't pay even the Amazon disscount. Maybe if they make it 350 pages with tie-in's (Crisis of concience maybe) and extras, THEN I'll pay what they ask.

  9. Or even the one-issue JSA tie-in. What I like about the Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus, for instance, is that it includes issues that weren't in the original paperbacks. I don't knock the Absolute format -- I really like seeing the art in large form -- but for $100, I need some value added, personally.

  10. Yup!. Definably angree. I also want a better deal for that price.

    I also dig the Flash Omnibus, but I don't think I'll get that either. $75 for 400 and some pages, even when some of those issues are difficult to find, is pushing.

    Marvel have way better deals for that price. 600 and more pages and shuch. Too much greed, DC...

  11. @Xavico: It's kind of a give and take; Marvel's really not all that nice with their trade pricing either.

    While I'll take your word for it about their big thick volumes being priced appropriately, their regular trades are not. Full priced premium hardcovers - usually averaging seventeen dollars on up a pop - are the norm now and it seems Marvel is putting less and less with each volume. A four issue hardcover for twenty bucks is not uncommon anymore.

  12. @dl316bh: lol, I also take your word regarding the Marvel regular trades. I´m a DC guy, so I wouldn´t really know about the normal soft and hardcover editions.
    I know about the Omnibuses because THAT I do check everywhere to compare prices.
    Regarding normal trades in DC, that´s also a shame. Before, a paperback or a hardcover was made to put an entire saga. If the saga is too big they split it in two books. Now we have books like "New Krypton" that could be compilated in 2 magnificent editions, but they made 4 lame little books out of it.
    Even "Sinestro Coprs War" wasn´t big enough to be splited in 2 volumes, but they did. And the prices are not very good either.
    Greed is the path to the dark side...

  13. About the time DC published Hush as two separate small hardcovers, I thought maybe we, the consumer, were in trouble. New Krypton definitely, and to an extent Sinestro Corps War, is the fruition of that trouble.

    But as I've said, the collected edition is the new single issue. I think we can't expect any more a full story in a trade; rather a trade is one piece of the larger collecting puzzle (multiple volumes, various series, etc.) just like the single issue was and is.

  14. Well at least they are available longer than the single issues......

  15. And while I feel that quite a few DC events were lackluster none of them were offably boring...not even GENESIS & DAY OF JUDGMENT. Had they included DAY OF JUDGMENT in ABS GL REBIRTH for $100, would have bought it in a heartbeat.

    Technically while some people may feel that ZERO HOUR wasn't a CRISIS, I personally feel that every event is a CRISIS....in the dictionary usage of the term.

    4 issues in a HC is bad. I agree but the larger collections, ultimate collections & omnibuses have always been nice.

    The Flash omnibuses are overpriced, with other stuff in the same page range selling for 50$

  16. I'm kind of the same. Actually, it seems that DC is the only company to do events I end up enjoying. I've tried, really tried, with Marvel events, but it feels like they always blow it. Not that DC doesn't - and man, when DC screws up with events, do they ever screw up - but I've read events from them that struck me as worthwhile stories that had merit.

    I'm starting to pick up more Marvel stuff of late - though it's still dwarved by my DC reading - but I don't opt into their events anymore. Just the ongoings. Even the coming "Fear Itself" is having a hard time getting me interested enough to want to bother and I actually LIKE the creative team.

  17. Regarding these Flash Omnibus editions...speaking as someone who recently tracked down all of the Geoff Johns Flash trades, half of which are out of print, I think while the Omnibuses may be overpriced when compared to other Omnibuses, they are still cheaper than paying the premium prices on eBay for the out of print trades. Even the single issues are expensive; I remember pricing the singles of one trade (maybe 8 issues?) at Mile High and it was $60 or $70 total!

  18. For me, Geoff Johns's Flash Wally West series is exactly the kind of thing that needs an omnibus. When the trades are out of print and hard enough to find that they're going for big bucks on the used market, that says to me that the demand is there for some kind of comprehensive omnibus edition. And as Mark says, I think $75 for these books (minus Amazon or other discounts) might eventually come out better than tracking down the trades.

    Same thing for the New Teen Titans Omnibus; I'm happy with my Archive editions, but I know those are out of print, so for someone wanting to read New Teen Titans, I think DC has the right idea in this instance.

  19. @ all
    that was just a nitpick...the price point...even I'll jump when the Flash omnibuses come out...& even higher when the Mark Waid Flash volumes arrive

  20. I love the idea of an Absolute Blackest Night in chronological order. They really fu**ed the hardcovers by dividing them in "Blackest Night" and "Blackest Night: Green Lantern".

    I would love to get Absolute Sinestreo Corps War, absolute Infinite Crisis, Absolute Final Crisis (maybe) and Absolute DARK VICTORY... all of them with a good amount of extra material on the side.

    With the late offers DC is convincing me to leave comics, or to get them for free online. IS not the same, but at least I'll get to know what happen without having pay crazy prices for so little content.