It’s a new era over at DC Comics, or should I say DC Entertainment, with last week’s announcement of its new lineup of executives who will guide the comics publisher into the second decade of the 21st century. But while there’s an atmosphere of renewed energy and drive at DC, I noticed that in some other information it released last week, the publisher appears to be on the cusp of repeating the same mistake it made last year when it came to the collection edition of a crossover event.
Along with its advance solicitation information for its May comics and other products, DC also released some information about collected editions slated for release later this summer. Most notable among those listings were the seven — count ’em, seven — hardcover collected editions of DC’s popular Blackest Night comics. The Blackest Night hardcover is priced at $29.99 US, while the other six books ring in at $24.99 US. The first three are slated for release July 7, while two each will reach stores July 14 and 21.
To my surprise, the Blackest Night hardcover collects only Blackest Night #s 0-8 inclusive. That would seem to be logical, but those such as myself who’ve been following the event know that there are key developments in the story that take place in other titles. Green Lantern and the Atom & Hawkman one-shot come to mind. What’s worse is that DC’s own solicitation information for these hardcover collections acknowledges that shortcoming. The solicitation information for the Blackest Night: Green Lantern hardcover reads as follows (the emphasis is mine):
The Black Lanterns descend on a spectrum of Corps across the universe in this hardcover collecting GREEN LANTERN #43-52. Plus: Black Hand’s connection to the Black Lantern Corps is explained, and key plot points essential to enjoying the storyline to its fullest are revealed.
That’s just the most obvious instance of breaking stories up among collections. Deadman’s story arc through the event really begins in Blackest Night: Batman, but it’s wrapped up in Phantom Stranger #42 (one of those “resurrected” DC titles issued as a one-shot in January). Here’s the problem: those comics are included in different collected editions (Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 1 and Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns, respectively). Here’s another example: James Robinson began the story of the Black Lantern Superman of Earth-2 in the Blackest Night: Superman limited series, and he picked up the plot again in Blackest Night: JSA. But those two limited series are collected in two different books (Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Vol. 1 and 2). Also consider that the three issues of Blackest Night: Wonder Woman didn’t feature one cohesive plotline but rather offered unconnected vignettes of the title character at various points during the events of Blackest Night. It won’t read well as a story on its own because it’s not a story on its own.
One of the reasons I find DC’s handling (or mishandling) of its Blackest Night collected editions so interesting is that it made the same missteps about a year ago when it announced its plans to collect its various Final Crisis stories. Originally, DC announced the Final Crisis hardcover collected edition would contain Final Crisis #s 1-7 — and that was it. Readers and retailers alike complained that critical chapters in the FC story were omitted, namely the Final Crisis: Submit one-shot and the two-part Final Crisis: Superman Beyond limited series.
To its credit, DC announced a short time later it was rectifying that mistake, including those other comics in the main hardcover. It was the right reaction to a legitimate complaint. What’s troublesome now is that DC clearly hasn’t learned from its own history, and as they say, those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat their mistakes.
Well, DC may have messed up again, but at least it’s accomplished something: it’s proven an old adage to be true.
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