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Friday at the Finish Line

Okay, so here is where I admit to being stupid. Or maybe it’s just naive.

A couple of years ago, as we comics columnist types love to do, I was playing around with ideas for what the comics market might look like in the future. One of the thoughts I had then was the notion that mainstream superhero comics could quit trying to be monthly periodicals and just take the plunge into book publishing, along the same model as licensed paperbacks do. In other words, you’d keep the good things about a shared universe, but you could get rid of a lot of pacing and format problems. Problems that only exist because we are habituated to getting superhero comics as monthly booklets of a uniform size and page count, despite the fact that the spinner racks the format was specifically designed to accommodate no longer exist.

My idea was, you know, if the stories are being written for the trade paperback format anyway, what’s the point of holding creators to the artificially rigid, clumsy format of a strict 22-page-per-chapter, six-chapter formula? Why not let creators pace things how they want to? Just put out the trade paperbacks to start with and be done with it.

Shared-unverse licensed novels. Like Marvel and DC trades but without the pictures. Some of these are actually pretty good. If you, y'know, like Buffy.

Shared-universe licensed novels. Like Marvel and DC trades but without the pictures.

There are good arguments on both sides of this — on the pro side, you could give creators lots of lead time, you could have a variety of talent working on a character, you’re not shackled to a specific format size, shape, or page count. Con, you have to get over the problem that trade collections only work financially if the monthly comics serve as loss leaders up front, comics retailers wouldn’t be able to adapt, etc., etc.

I still like the idea. But one of the arguments that was brought up when I floated the notion a couple of years back was, “Companies would still do strictly continuity-driven serials, they’d just drag them out to fit the new trade-paperback format.”

I snorted that this was ridiculous, fans would never stand for that kind of super-sprawl, no one would support an idea that stupid.

I stand corrected.

When they called it a Never-Ending Battle, they weren't kidding. When they called it a Never-Ending Battle, they weren't kidding. When they called it a Never-Ending Battle, they weren't kidding.

When they called it a Never-Ending Battle, they weren't kidding.

So this week, the third issue of Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton came out. That was allegedly the conclusion to a nine-part crossover story running through all the Super books the last couple of months. That spun out of the conclusion to the twelve-part World of New Krypton maxi-series, which in turn was launched from the six-part “Brainiac” arc that ran through the summer of 2008. And “Last Stand of New Krypton” didn’t end either, it turns out that it’s just the prelude to War of the Supermen.

Still with me? That means that means that the last time we actually had a Superman story conclude — and by that I mean finish, no cliffhanger, no shocking last-panel twist, simply get to THE END — was the Toyman story that preceded the Brainiac six-part arc. That was in May of 2008.

Two years ago.

Since that time, DC has released — first in hardcover, priced at $24.99, and then in trade paperback for $17.99 — Superman: Brainiac, Superman: Mon-El, Superman: New Krypton volumes one, two, and three… and none of these stories finish. There is no conclusion. Nor does there appear to be one on the horizon any time soon. These trade paperbacks collect “arcs” that don’t really significantly arc. The numbering means nothing. These books don’t end, they just stop.

Now, if it was just the Superman books, I’d shrug it off. But it’s happening all over the place, at both Marvel and DC. At Marvel we have Civil War which led to The Initiative which became Dark Reign that led to Siege. DC had Omac Project and Villains United and Rann-Thanagar War — all miniseries that were collected in trade paperback, none of which had an ending, but instead all led in to Infinite Crisis. And so on. More recently there was all the Green Lantern stuff that sprawled on from Sinestro Corps War through the rainbow of six-part colored-Lantern stories that culminated in Blackest Night, which it turns out was the prelude to Brightest Day.

So, okay, it’s event fatigue.

Except it’s not confined to event books any more. It really jumped out at me when I took an interest in the current run of Black Panther, as I mentioned last week. I’ve been reading the series in trade, and I was a little annoyed when I realized that of the six trade paperback collections that arrived over the last couple of weeks, only two of them actually concluded. The others ended in cliffhangers… “to be continued.” I thought, if it annoys me when I’m getting these books heavily-discounted, used, and more or less in a bunch, how much more maddening would it be for readers who paid full price in good faith, thinking that they’d get a complete reading experience and not just a fragment of one?

This phenomenon has been creeping up on us for a while, but it startled me to realize that it had become the norm. Captain America, The Dark Tower, Immortal Iron Fist, JSA, Invincible Iron Man…. all series I’ve been reading in collected editions — many of which only collect partial bits of a story.

Ends on a cliffhanger with nothing resolved. Ends with a lead-in to FINAL CRISIS.

I thought the whole POINT of a 'collected edition' was to collect the ENTIRE STORY.

And those are the books that aren’t particularly known for soap-opera sprawl. God knows what the poor X-Men fans are going through.

There’s a truism in psychology. It goes something like this — the more a subject is aware of being manipulated, the less successful the manipulation becomes.

Or, as we used to grumble after the fourth season or so of The X-Files, “Okay, enough is enough, now you guys are just milking it.”

I suspect that this habit of stretching stories out to an interminable length and spinning every plot point off into its own separate mini-series is born of desperation. DC and Marvel are hemorrhaging readers and editors are flailing around for any gimmick they can think of to keep any more of us from jumping ship. And these companies are in the business of selling books, after all; if they can sell more books on a tie-in mini-series gimmick, they will beat that gimmick into the ground. I get it. I do.

Let me clarify one point. I don’t object to long-form stories, not at all. I love 24 the television show and I quite liked both 52 and Trinity. I was fine with Batman: No Man’s Land.

This one? Fine. This one? Fine too.

Be honest about the length of your sprawling mega-epic, and hey, we won't have a problem.

But all those comics examples A) said right up front it was a year-long commitment, and B) kept that commitment honestly. After the year (or whatever) was up, they were done. That’s fine with me and I’ve liked a lot of those efforts.

What I object to is this thing (like this week’s really egregious example in the Superman books, but there are LOTS of others) where you get the ostensible finite commitment but then it turns out that, whoops, it’s actually continuing on and the “ending” isn’t really an ending at all. It’s given us a bunch of trade collections that are not satisfying as entertainment, it’s incredibly poorly-constructed as storytelling, and it has the added bonus of being false advertising.

How something this irritating on that many levels got to be almost the industry standard baffles me.

Look. At some point, even when you are trying something really long-form like 52 or Seven Soldiers or whatever, if you are doing it properly then you have to pay it off. People stick with a long-term story like Fringe or Lost or The X-Files on the premise that it’s all leading up to something. And if you promise that your series is in six parts or twelve parts or even fifty-two parts then, goddammit, the audience has a right to expect that the last part ends with The End. Not “The story continues in….”

That kind of bait-and-switch won’t get you new readers, and it doesn’t even keep your loyal readers loyal. That just pisses them off. Eventually they’ll get wise to the trick and leave.

If that kind of angry exodus happens often enough, then it really will be The End. And not the good kind.

At least, that’s my guess. But as I said in the beginning, I might be really naive. God knows, I’ve underestimated the amount of crap the superhero audience will put up with before.

But sooner or later the bubble’s gotta pop, doesn’t it?

See you next week.

34 Comments

One really noticeable example of a story not ending is JMS’ Thor run. I mean, we all know why, but people that didn’t already realize this are gonna be really bummed out when they get the omnibus that was just solicited to find that it’s not a complete story AT ALL.

I don’t see any serious problems with the Dark Tower collections. However, I think it’s really the only one that sticks out from your examples. Batman R.I.P. definitely doesn’t collect the whole story. You essentially need Morrison’s whole run to fully comprehend R.I.P..

“You essentially need Morrison’s whole run to fully comprehend R.I.P..”

I read it on it’s own without reading anything else and understood it just fine?

I think that for a story to have a beginning, middle, and end, the situation at the end has to be different from the situation at the beginning.

The problem with the endless cycle of events isn’t that it isn’t ending, but that it will inevitably run out of juice and crash-land back in the Status Quo Zone. I don’t care if events keep spinning out of events–in all franchises that don’t have such messed-up continuities, looking back to past stories is considered a good things–but if it doesn’t change anything except “Gee I wonder who’s going to be running SHIELD this year” then I have no interest.

Unless Hank Pym is running SHIELD. That would lead to such hilarity that I would read every comic Marvel published that whole year.

Well, I have Morrison’s run of Batman and I’m not sure I fully comprehend RIP :) I love it all anyway.

Part of the problem seems to be companies not wanting to collect a huge run in one book (I’m thinking of the recent JSA Kingdom Come stuff, which ran from, what, issue 9-22, with a few specials. That’s about 20 issues, if I can count, and it got collected in what, 3 trades?). Part of it is people who “wait for the trade” — if they’re going to wait, they’ll keep waiting for the next one, too. Part of it is transferring the current monthly “to be continued” storytelling from monthly 22 page books to semi-annual 120 page books. It’s hard to break out of old writing habits as well as marketing habits. Also, since decompression, arcs that could be 2-4 issues are spread over 6-8. Longer “stories” mean less writing to do. Perhaps part of it too is writers hoping that if they spread out a storyline on a certain book, they’ll be kept on that book longer.

But yeah, there definitely need to be more finished stories.

However, back to Morrison, what do you think of someone like him who is writing arcs, but each arc is building to something else, that eventually, in some manner, pays off? I’m thinking of his run on JLA or New XMen, or what he appears to be doing with Batman. Like those conclusions or not, is it ok if you know that eventually there will be a conclusion to the storyline (when the writer is done with the characters, in Morrison’s case)?

You briefly mentioned that this isn’t a new phenomenon, but i don’t think you realize how long this has been happening. Take a look at some of the middle Essential X-Men volumes, and you see this happening. Those books collect roughly 2 years of comics per volume, and none of them really end, because the creators were operating on so much steam that the title had been building, that there was really just one long arc collected in 9 essential books.
In a more recent example, also tying in to Morrison’s Batman, the first 6 trades of JLA don’t really end either. They all cullminate into one mega climax, but reading them only gives the appearance of an ending if even that.

Batman R.I.P. definitely doesn’t collect the whole story. You essentially need Morrison’s whole run to fully comprehend R.I.P..

Right on, Mario, right on!

When I jumped back into comics this year, I hunted down Final Crisis and R.I.P., because, I was told, they provide a nice jumping point. Wrong!

I barely understood a PAGE of Final Crisis because there was so much prelude stuff I’d have to read first! And that’s bullcrap! That should NOT happen in a huge universe-shifting story.

R.I.P. had less of that problem, but it was still incomprehensible, because of all the allusions and threads from Morrison’s Batman run that crept in there. It was maddening!!!

Thankfully, the 3 monthlies I buy have been beautifully self-contained…so far…

…is it ok if you know that eventually there will be a conclusion to the storyline (when the writer is done with the characters, in Morrison’s case)?

Well, it’s “okay,” I suppose, since it’s clearly working for DC. I just personally am annoyed at the way so many of these books and mini-series are packaged and marketed as complete when they’re not. For example, The Black Glove was a hodge-podge collection that ended with the prelude to R.I.P. Not to mention “collections” of mini-series that lead to nothing and conclude nowhere, like Amazons Attack or World War III.

I’m mentioning the DC examples because they are being especially bad about this lately, but I actually NOTICE it more with Marvel because I tend to sample their trade paperbacks at random. It makes me livid when, for example, I buy a trade collection of a series thinking it’s, y’know, a complete story and not just the first half of one, and there’s nothing anywhere on the cover that lets me know it’s part one of something that continues… and the story itself is so decompressed that I feel like I spent about the same amount of time on a trade paperback that I used to spend reading a single monthly issue of something.

“And those are the books that aren’t particularly known for soap-opera sprawl. God knows what the poor X-Men fans are going through.”

Ha.

You know, speaking of X-Men, the story Brubaker started in Deadly Genesis still isn’t over. When was that 06? Since then Messiah Complex started and is now allegedly finishing with Second Coming, which of course all spun out of House of M.

Assuming Second Coming (sorta) wraps up everything that started with House of M, the story Brubaker started still isn’t finished or will be in the new Thanos storyline, which has nothing to do with the X-Men.

They’re not mutually exclusive; maybe you’re stupid AND naive. (I’m just kidding.)

Have I been misinformed? I thought I heard that Marvel was going to stop the endless mega-events after Siege. (Although they’ll still have smaller crossovers and stuff.)

I think a major problem the publishers are not facing up to is that all these massive crossovers only increase short-term sales, but they decrease long-term sales, since they make it too hard for new readers to jump in. I know when I first started reading comic-books, I would only buy a title occasionally. And if the characters and premise were different each time I picked it up, I don’t think I would’ve continued with a series.

I see your point when it comes to mini series. If it’s a separate, finite title it should have a definite ending to the story. But on the ongoing series it makes sense that there’s not really an ending. That’s the way Marvel has done it since the beginning. Each story led into the next. There was almost never a “The End” type final panel and then the next issue starts fresh. The self-contained arc in an ongoing series has been around for a while, but it didn’t become the norm until the last decade or so. Now, I agree with the event fatigue sentiment. And I haven’t read many of the examples you list above, so they might be really bad cases of the story never truly ending, as opposed to one story flowing into the next. But for me one of the appealing things about comic books is the continuity and continuing nature of the storytelling. I personally think Marvel has done a pretty good job with that the last few years. That’s not saying it’s all been good or pulled off flawlessly, but Dark Reign is a different story from Secret Invasion. One led to the other, but they’re two different stories.

Solution: read Secret Six.

That’s a bit facetious, but it’s true. I get annoyed when the stories tend to go longer than, say, a couple of years, because at times it’s worth it (Brubaker’s first four volumes of Daredevil). If you’re actually good at your craft, like, say, Ennis’s Punisher Max, people won’t even realize that you’re telling an overarching story that has an end.

“I barely understood a PAGE of Final Crisis because there was so much prelude stuff I’d have to read first! And that’s bullcrap! That should NOT happen in a huge universe-shifting story.”

Not true at all. I read Final Crisis by itself without any preludes or tie-ins that aren’t in the collected edition and understood that fine. Everything you have to know is explained within the pages of Final Crisis.

Louis Bright-Raven

April 30, 2010 at 10:55 pm

*Chuckles* I’m surprised you didn’t realize this sooner, Greg. Why do you think I keep saying the monthly mag is for the 22-24 page self-contained short fiction story, and the trade is meant to be a self-contained complete story of whatever length it is?

Hnh. THIS is why I’m not reading much from them these days. Never-ending crossovers bludgeoning everyone’s stories that now never end themselves either. I like the little bits of crossovers where it matters. Wolverine getting thrown out into the snow on his ass by Molly cause he didn’t see it coming, with the muttering about only being ### mutants left on the whole damn planet and of COURSE the kid has to be one, STILL makes me crack up. Even with the fact that it also meant acknowledging the whole No More Mutants thing. It made sense for them to be there, it worked in the story, it wasn’t some huge rippling effect to the rest of the Universe, and it wasn’t a mega-event. When did I drift from reading Runaways? When it got full on dragged into the damn epic crossover thing.

It happens in television series as well. More often on failed series, but not always – see The 4400, for instance.

Mike Loughlin

May 1, 2010 at 4:21 am

I read Walking dead in trade, and got pissed when a trade ended on a cliffhanger. Waiting 6 months or more for a story to be reolved meant i had forgotten the particulars of the story. I stuck with the series because I was already invested. Similarly, an underwhelming volume of a series i enjoy normally (e.g The Great Fables crossover) won’t always stop me from getting the next volume. I can only imagine how ripped off a less invested reader would feel.

On the other hand, manga sells very well, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this situation comes up in certain manga series. Does this bother you, manga readers, or is the “to be continued…” ending par for course?

funkygreenjerusalem

May 1, 2010 at 8:25 am

Your point still stands, but the Brainiac arc had a clear ending – Superman defeats Braniac and frees his people.
That’s a legit ending.
We know there will be more, but that story arc came to an end.

Also, what’s the difference between this and Claremont’s X-Men?
Those stories never had endings any more definitive than these did.
The only real difference is that these books are being marketed as being what they are, and perhaps, the marketing is telling the creatives what they are.

Also, what’s the difference between this and Claremont’s X-Men?
Those stories never had endings any more definitive than these did

There are quite a few, but let’s start with these.

1. In the beginning, at least, Claremont knew that he had to at least finish an arc. That there had to be some sort of pause, a breather, a jumping-on point. You can see it if you look at the older material — that was, oddly enough, collected and sold successfully in trade. Dark Phoenix, Demon Bear, From the Ashes, etc.

2. When I say ‘definitive ending,’ I mean a clear break between this adventure and the next, with no overt come-on to buy the next installment. I think you can argue the point on Brainiac — that doesn’t strike me as a clear break, especially since Superman and company just spent a 9-part crossover fighting him again, but whatever, let’s say you get that one. That still means that Action #870 was the last time anyone even tried to finish an actual arc.and that’s still in 2008.

3. My feeling, which again, may not be shared by the universe, is that a lot of the annoyance springs from my conviction that a trade paperback collection should be a complete reading experience, with no come-on at the end. A monthly 22-page comic is much more likely to be continued, and serialization isn’t so jarring there.

Look at it this way — you turn on a half-hour soap opera in the afternoon, you know what you’re getting is likely to be incomplete and you’re jumping into the middle of something. However, that’s an unrealistic expectation for a screenwriter to have for a moviegoer attending, say, the new Bond film. Both forms are part of a series starring continuing characters but the movie is expected to finish, the afternoon soap is not. Bundle a bunch of those soap opera episodes on to a DVD and market it as a movie and you surely can see where that would be annoying.

4. Claremont got lots of fan scorn for the fact that he ‘never finished anything.’ A lot of us gave up on the X-books in the late 80s for precisely that reason. Certainly no one expected it to become an industry norm for structure, let alone market it in book-sized chunks. The X-Men stuff that was collected in paperback was carefully chosen to be self-contained as best it could until very recently, relatively speaking. (I think Cable and the New Mutants is about when they gave up trying.)

I could go on but I think four is enough.

You nailed it Greg specifically with #2. The hard sell into the next story seems unique to comics. Imagine if you went to a movie and at it ended with “To be continued..” in another movie. Its been done a few times with long sequels but its generally frowned upon because it pisses of the paying customer.

Since you mentioned them, on the X-FIles, I would argue that they weren’t milking it. They just didn’t have a plan from the get go, and only introduced the alien mythology arc to deal with Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy. (maybe I’ll ask Brian to do a legend about that :-). Fringe on the other hand seems to do well in the overall story plan and continuity area.

Marvel and DC have basically become AOL now: “Our business plan is broken, we’ve lost all ability to attract new customers, so we just have to make it impossible for our current customers to leave.” It doesn’t work.

As for why they’ve failed to attract a new generation of readers, go read that Alias anal sex scene over on Brian’s post and remind yourself that this is now a key part of the backstory of the New Avengers. Kids reading the Avengers who want to read that character’s first appearance will track down this issue, even if it has a MAX label on it. It’s one thing to publish terrible comics. A terrible comic ruins one month. But truly terrible comics like Alias don’t just kill a month, they kill off the reputation of the whole brand. They eliminate a whole generation of new readers. Where are the editors? Why is no one protecting the brand? I realize that I sound like Mrs. Lovejoy on the Simpsons: “Won’t someone think of the children?”, but, seriously, won’t someone?

(And I think I’ve told the story here before about how I liked Gotham Central, so I picked up a Daredevil trade by the same team that had a big number one on the spine, indicating that this was the beginning of a new set of trades. The trade started in mid-story, with the hero in prison with no explanation, not even a “previously” text piece, and ended on a cliffhanger, too!)

Matt Bird, who are you kidding? How is ALIAS is a terrible comic? That was a quality title that has elements that you find questionable for children, but by no means does that make it a bad book, let alone one that would “kill a whole brand.” Btw, how the hell does that sex scene make up a major cornerstone of the new Avengers series? Do they reference Jessica and Luke having anal sex every issue, or is there something more sinister in there that I’m not aware of?

There are very few children reading the current books, something that Marvel and DC have been half-ass addressing by making stuff like Marvel Superhero Squad or Super Friends to try and draw in young children.

I wouldn’t give my daughter any of Alias until she’s at least in her teens, but that wouldn’t prevent her from enjoying the current books: their shoddy quality would ensure that instead.

Yeah, I’m doing sort of a troll trick by stating my opinion as if it’s accepted fact. Sure, I know that there were people who liked Alias, though I despised it (the writing, the art, the concept, the execution, pretty much everything about it). And yes, I should just state flat out that I’m in the John Byrne camp that feels that the entire superhero shared mainstream universe (which Alias is a part of) should always be kept PG-13. For me, it’s not about censorship, it’s all about having a consistent editorial policy that establishes a certain “high-adventure” tone, so that you have a universe in which becoming a superhero might actually make sense. And, back to the original point, one which is always open to new young readers, who will want to read every story in that shared universe.

Superhero Squad and Superfriends seem to me to entirely miss the point. When I was a kid, I didn’t want to read about a side-kiddie-universe. I wanted to read the real thing, man! What kid wouldn’t?

funkygreenjerusalem

May 2, 2010 at 12:12 am

I think you can argue the point on Brainiac — that doesn’t strike me as a clear break, especially since Superman and company just spent a 9-part crossover fighting him again,

Magneto comes back every other month, but we don’t consider it all on big story.

The story ends with a villain defeated, a people freed, and if not for the odd death of Clark’s father, no feeling that it isn’t a totally happy ending.

That still means that Action #870 was the last time anyone even tried to finish an actual arc.and that’s still in 2008.

True dat, and even though I’ve enjoed parts of it, I’m a little annoyed by it – as it seems to be going down hill, but without an end, all the other HC’s I’ve got are useless!
It was alright when there was Pete Woods and Renato Guedes art, but now… Eddy Barrows isn’t ready for a top slot.
And I could go on about the wasted potential of a year with Mon-El and Nightwing and Flamebird, or why The Guardian is the worst character ever (let alone from Kirby)…

But Superman is the worst offender.

You’ve also listed Morrison’s Batman and Brubaker’s Captain America, which I feel do have as definitive endings as a Claremont arc on X-men did.

3. My feeling, which again, may not be shared by the universe, is that a lot of the annoyance springs from my conviction that a trade paperback collection should be a complete reading experience, with no come-on at the end. A monthly 22-page comic is much more likely to be continued, and serialization isn’t so jarring there.

I think that’s a personal feeling rather than a shared view – since everything started getting collected, it hasn’t been a rule.
Personally, I like mini-arcs withing a larger arc, Morrison is good at this, and say, Incredible Hercules is full of them.

A lot of us gave up on the X-books in the late 80s for precisely that reason.

No you didn’t.

Sales were ever climbing on the title – some gave up, but others replaced them.

[...] Friday at the Finish Line (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) [...]

funkygreenjerusalem

May 2, 2010 at 10:20 pm

You’ve also listed Morrison’s Batman and Brubaker’s Captain America, which I feel do have as definitive endings as a Claremont arc on X-men did.

On the other hand Ben, weren’t you swearing up a storm after getting the Iron Man omnibus, and finding out the 18 issue collection ended on a cliffhanger?

(I was, but lemme explain – it wasn’t just that it was a cliffhanger at the ‘end’ of a twelve issue storyline – which I’d brought the omnibus of despite having the first two parts, because I couldn’t wait for the softcover release of the third trade – and it came out of nowhere and made no sense except as part of another books storyline).

Matthew Johnson

May 3, 2010 at 7:10 am

Adam K: If you really only read Final Crisis and none of the tie-ins, weren’t you at all confused when the final issue featured a) a deus ex machina device (or maybe two of them — I forget) that had not previously appeared in the series and b) a confrontation with a master villain who had not previously appeared in the series?

On the other hand Ben, weren’t you swearing up a storm after getting the Iron Man omnibus, and finding out the 18 issue collection ended on a cliffhanger?

Not for nothing, but I wanted to point out that the tipping point for the decision to do a column on this annoyance was that very Iron Man Omnibus, coupled with only two out of six Black Panther trades that had an actual non-cliffhanger ending.

So I’m confused. Are you sharing in my annoyance or not? I can’t tell which side of the argument you’re on. It’s looking like I could just step back and let you thrash out both sides all on your own.

Interestingly, when I suggested the same flaw in the original Final Crisis monthly presentation as a self-contained mini-series that Matthew brings up, I got told I should quit trying to read comics that were too hard for me. And yet DC addressed that same flaw by including several of the tie-ins in the Final Crisis hardcover. The book packaging is what I’m talking about here, and I really can’t complain about how DC handled the FC book collections. (The Batman books are another matter.)

funkygreenjerusalem

May 3, 2010 at 8:30 am

So I’m confused. Are you sharing in my annoyance or not? I can’t tell which side of the argument you’re on. It’s looking like I could just step back and let you thrash out both sides all on your own.

I didn’t wholly agree until I remembered the omnibus.

Superman I think has crossed the line – I didn’t mind it for a bit, and maybe wouldn’t have minded the whole hog – but the quality has dropped so far down in the dumps, it’s pathetic.
(I was alright with it, up until the Flamebird and Nightwing collection).

Capt. America and Batman I disagree with, as I think the collections work as ongoing, and as good solid reads in their own rights – kind of like a fantasy novel.

But that Iron Man is the worst offender of all – it’s a deus ex machina cliff hanger.

SO… I don’t mind it, IF it’s good.

Adam K: If you really only read Final Crisis and none of the tie-ins, weren’t you at all confused when the final issue featured a) a deus ex machina device (or maybe two of them — I forget) that had not previously appeared in the series and b) a confrontation with a master villain who had not previously appeared in the series?

I believe he’s referring to the Final Crisis TPB, which does include those issues.

The mini-series and one-shots are silly – DC should have just made Final Crisis a 12-issue series rather than a 7-issue series, since Morrison was clear from the get-go that he was going to treat the Superman Beyond mini-series, the Resist one-shot and the Batman two-parter as parts of Final Crisis. DC let him do it, but then did not collect them all into one trade!! Heck, they put Last Rites at the end of Batman RIP, thereby turning a story with a reasonable enough “end” into a trade that ends with Parts 8-9 of a 12 part story!

Not a good performance by whoever is in charge of collecting DC stories into trades. And then they were going to originally not have Resist and Superman Beyond BE in the Final Crisis trade!! But then they corrected that – although they still should have thrown in those two Batman issues.

A lot of us gave up on the X-books in the late 80s for precisely that reason.

No you didn’t.

Man, I sure did. When everyone was dead in Australia, that was the last straw for me. 1988 was pretty much the last time I read an X-book at all, aside from leafing through a few Morrison and Whedon trades out of curiosity.

I stopped buying X-Men in 1989. I picked up a couple a few years later, but I didn’t buy it regularly again until a year or so ago.

I just avoid the X-books all together. It’s been one ongoing story since the ’70s for the most part, although I did like Deadly Genesis/Rise and Fall of Shi’ar/Emperor Vulcan, mostly because that was a self-contained story with the same main characters. The rest of the X-books, however, are nothing like that.

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