Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Great Batman Digital Comics Sale of 2011

Happy New Year’s day everyone! Digital comics were all the rage in 2010, and it looks like they will continue to be big news on this new year. Just on the first day of 2011, DC is having a massive sale of Batman comics. Just how massive? There are currently 101 Batman comics from his eponymous title that can be purchased for 99 cents each. A great idea to get people to sample and hooked into digital comics, but there’s some incredibly obvious issues with it. What am I talking about? Hit the jump to see more.

The Background

This is not the first time that a sale of this kind was carried on in digital devices. On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving in the United States), DC put all of their Blackest Night comics on sale for 99 cents each. That time, it was around 79 comics, as it included all of the tie-ins. I had an issue with the way it was presented, as each comic had a “Part X of 79” in it, which would lead people to read every single issue of Blackest Night, which we all know isn’t necessary (or I would say even recommended, but that's a question of personal taste). 

Other than that though, I thought it was a great idea. It must have proved popular, or else they wouldn’t be doing it again. Marvel has also done similar sales, even including it regularly on their digital schedule under “Marvel Mondays”, though I've noticed they have done it on other days as well.

The Problematic Sale

In this case, you can purchase Batman #600 through #700 for under a buck each. This is a pretty good deal, and it includes comics by industry heavyweights like Ed Brubaker, Paul Dini, even one by Neil Gaiman, Jeph Loeb, and (of course) Grant Morrison. There’s also several important and well known storylines, such as Hush, and R.I.P., that can be found there. And at a buck each, you can sample a lot of them for relatively cheap. So what’s the problem?

Batman is a comic that often crosses over with its sister title, Detective Comics. Many story lines take place over both titles, usually half in each book. Take for example the story line War Crimes, which starts in Detective Comics #809, follows into Batman #643, then back to Detective #810, and finishes in Batman #644. To get the full story you need to read all four issues, or else you would be missing a considerate part of it. Now, ideally, the issues of Detective Comics in question would be on sale as well. But they aren’t.

As a matter of fact, they aren’t there at all.

Of course, if it were only one single crossover, it would be forgivable. A common oversight in a brand new delivery system, something that can’t be easily fixed. It is not the only incidence of this happening though, as in these 100 issues, the Batman title crosses over several times with Detective Comics (and other titles). The only crossover that seems to be available in its entirety is the Resurrection of Ra’s Al Ghul. In total, there’s only four (4!) issues of Detective Comics to go with the 100 Batman ones.

To make matters worse, the very first issue available on this sale, Batman #600, is the start of such a crossover: Bruce Wayne: Fugitive. The following available issue, Batman #601, is part 3 of this story, with part 2 nowhere to be seen or found. The pattern occurs throughout the event, with only part 1, 3, 11, and 18. Even if you are terrible at math, you can see that’s less that one quarter of the story! You figure most people are going to start at the beginning, and I can only imagine that it would be a turnoff to get an incomplete story, no matter how cheap it is.

The situation improves as the title approaches closer to the 700th issue, but it’s not without it’s faults. For example, the very high profile “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?” by Neil Gaiman, a two issue storyline in Batman and Detective Comics. Another noticeable oversight is the lack of any way to read Final Crisis, which is where Batman actually "died", and where the R.I.P. storyline ties into (and as we all know, written by the same person that handled a good portion of the Batman title for the issues on sales). Battle for the Cowl is nowhere to be seen either.

I honestly think this sale is a good idea, and an incredible way to catch new readers into the digital comics realm. However, these simple but crucial oversights make it counter intuitive to the whole enterprise. The whole point of digital comics is that comics should be easily available without having to go hunting through longboxes. To present only parts of a storyline in the middle of such a public push for this format is simply foolish. I should also mention that DC is not the only one to commit errors like this. For the longest time, Marvel had all of the Astonishing X-Men series on their Marvel App, but was missing the final issue, Giant Size Astonishing X-Men, that provided the conclusion to the overreaching storyline.


In any case, there’s still some good comics to be found in this sale, just be on the lookout for those with missing parts, and hurry because it seemingly ends today at 11 PM (EST). You can purchase them through the DC or ComiXology apps in Apple devices, and through their website interface in the ComiXology website. Do let me know if you bought any of these comics on sale. Which ones were they? Were they your first reach into the digital comics world? Post away in the comments section.

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Klep said...

When I heard about this, I briefly considered buying all of them but then I a) remembered that Loeb wrote some of them and b) noticed the crossover problems, so instead I am buying none.

This is a step in the right direction though. Hopefully DC will be able to do this kind of thing properly next time.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I bought 4 issues, the 3 issue Black Glove story arc (golden) and also issue #700. The rest I've either read already or just don't really care about reading. All in all, the sale worked for me because I got what I wanted.

Thanks DC! Do this stuff more often!

Space Jawa said...

Even if I'd known about it, I still would have passed. Much like digital 'regular' books, digital comic books just aren't my thing.

If DC was giving them out for free, I'd consider it, but otherwise, nah.

Matt Duarte said...

@Space Jawa: There was one free comic that was offered (Batman: The 10 Cent Adventure, I think it was called). I haven't checked to see if it's still there now that the sale is over.

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