Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Barriers to Entry

When new crossovers come out, I hear from many comic fans (often Jim, Thomm, & Lee), how the slew of tie ins stop them from even bothering. Normally I think this is ridiculous. Normally I just concentrate on whether or not the main series interests me and pick up the tie ins if the creative team interests me and/or if I’m already reading the book.

Well, with Flashpoint I’m finally starting to understand.

Keep in mind, I haven’t actually read Flashpoint as of this writing. But the quality of the actual book is irrelevant to this conversation. DC is putting out 20 (!) Flashpoint Tie-In mini series! Now the precedent here is obvious. They’re trying to ape what Marvel did with Age of the Apocolypse back in the 90’s.

For those who don’t know, Age of the Apocalypse was probably the best X-Men crossover of the 90’s. Now I know that A) this is damning faint praise and B) its probably a lot better in my head than it was in reality, but it was still really cool. Basically, an obscure villain went back in time and killed Charles Xavier, resulting in a world where Apocalypse took over and Magneto formed the X-Men as a resistance cell. Everything was slightly off center and different, but what really made it cool was how hard Marvel sold the concept. Every single X-book got cancelled and replaced with a corresponding mini-series. It lasted for about 4 months, but in the early days of the internet, fans didn’t know as much as they knew now. It was pretty rad.

The problem is that Flashpoint is doing it wrong. The miniseries are clearly meant to illustrate the differences and nuances of this world and do a level of world building that will immerse the reader in this new world. The problem is no books (aside from Flash, which is basically Flashpoint for 7 months) are being cancelled (or put on hold) for this. So the illusion remains incomplete.

Flashpoint is giving us a whole new world, spun out of a book I’ve been largely ignoring (and internet chatter is any indication, I’m not alone), and its publishing 20 minis to get me immersed in it. That’s enormously intimidating. And while I normally I don’t care about whether a book affects the status quo or not, it doesn’t help a mini where “everything you know will change” when half the DC line is going to ignore this crossover is even happening.

The minis are being presented as an important and quick way to get caught up on the universe, but instead of having a manageable number of them, there’s 20! 20! Now I’m far more likely to not even try to get involved.

For the last few years, the crossover model has been to have a main mini series, a couple ongoings that are affected, and tie in mini series for the major franchises that aren’t crucial must reads. Now we have a model that just inundates fans with a massive stack of mini series all at once. I understand the balance is hard to get right, but this is completely out of wack.


  1. Now that I have read Flashpoint, I actually like the start of this series. Also it has resolved my issues with the 20 add on series as it appears that none of those are needed for the actual story. The actual story looks very self contained with teasers about how the DCU has changed. If you want to see details about certain characters and how they are in the changed world you can grab the mini-series, but you don't need to pick up any other series. Granted this is based on my impressions of the first issue. Finally this will only effect Flash and maybe some other minor character, but I'm expecting this is a way to do some retro-con on Barry to set him up as perhaps more of a player in the DCU or at least make him single again or some other change to cut loose any continuity baggage.

  2. You know after reading Flashpoint I think it is the perfect entry point for new, lapsed, or regular readers. Thought it was fun. The minis and one-shots are only designed to flesh out the characters more. The main series is 5 issues long and August ships two issues. It's not going on for half a year. It won't even go past four months.