Geoff Johns, Scott Kolins, Phil Winslade & various (DC)
DC has well-polished machinery in place for repackaging their successes, ancient and modern. If a comic book generates massive sales there will be a collected edition, (often in a plethora of differently priced formats). If a storyline or mini-series garners critical approval despite low sales, expect a glossy paperback. If a new incarnation is hot, there will be an album of the issues that didn’t sell first time out. If Hollywood picks up an option, look for a tie-in (of which, see me after class).
And of course, some iconic characters deserve to be in a more substantial form for sheer posterity’s sake. Some stories are actually genuine classics.
If you were a comic fanatic and a gambler, you might stop buying the periodicals and simply wait for those spiffy book editions. But what if the publishers change policy or publish incomplete editions? If you were a discriminating fan looking just for the good stuff you’d be right in thinking a lot of material gets included simply because it’s next in the comics run and so doesn’t fit the page count requirements. A lot of mainstream comic books have even changed their production systems so that they are easier to collect into a volume. Which brings us to The Flash.
Specifically, Blitz (reprinting issues #192-200 of the monthly comic). The storyline continues from previous editions Rogues and Crossfire – so you’d better have read those first – and has the third (Wally West) incarnation of the Fastest Man Alive fight a seemingly endless parade of super-villains, whilst agonising over his pregnant wife, culminating in the newest retrofit of his beloved predecessor’s greatest foe, the “Reverse Flash” called “Zoom”. As I typed that I felt an almost irresistible urge to switch to upper case, To Bold Text, TO MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION MARKS!!!
And that, I suspect is the point. With my comic fan goggles on, and in comic fan terms, this is good stuff. Sharply written, enthrallingly drawn and designed to thrill the socks of the stunted eight year old in my head. Unfortunately he’s the one who dashed out every month and bought this off the racks of his comic shop. So why would he want a collected edition? Are there now enough comic fans out there that will wait for a trade paperback? If so, what are the monthly magazine sales figures like, now?
I couldn’t show this book to a visitor to my world. (I do this often. Many is the Civilian who’s gone away converted to Uncle Scrooge, Omaha the Cat-Dancer, Tin-Tin, Fables, Ex Machina, Lone Wolf and Cub, Asterix, Halo Jones, Sandman, Modesty Blaise, Charley’s War, Fat Freddy’s Cat, Crumb, Eisner or Spiegleman, or even Judge Dredd, Dan Dare, Dark Knight, Batman: Year One or Watchmen.)
This isn’t in that league, nor does it have that crossover appeal. The fans that support the character already have the story.
So, explain once more please: Why, exactly, is this a graphic novel?
© 2005 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.