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Special Guest article from @SolonDragoon/Michael

Note from your humble GeekWhoLanded/Wesley: Okay you all this is something my friend Michael wrote stating his current views on the comic industry. I’m going to post this with full disclosure that anything said in this post does not reflect my own personal views. Make note though don’t be surprised if some of them do. I’ve been poking at him to write something for awhile and he finally got this up. If you want to leave him feedback follow him @SolonDragoon. From here on it’s all him. Take it away Michael!

The comic book industry is dying.  And it’s all your fault.  Yes, you.  Personally.  Unless what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to you.  In which case, just ignore that.  But do me a favor first, and make sure it actually doesn’t apply to you and you aren’t just being sublimely ignorant of your role in the destruction of comic books as a medium.  The source of the medium’s coming destruction?  We just can’t have nice things.  Or, at this point, things period.  Because all we seem to do is bitch about them.

Remember back in the 80’s?  Back when there was no internet.  There were no blogs.  No twitter, no face book, no social networking of any kind.  When, if you wanted to know what was going to happen in a particular comic book, you had to go buy it and read it to find out?  Long time ago, galaxy far far away my friends.  Everything is now about what’s going to happen.  Not what’s going on in the books right then.  Action Comics 901 is coming out you say?  Who the hell cares!  Old news!  Have you heard about what they might be doing to celebrate 925?

Please take a moment to note, I do not blame the sources of this information; nether the creators who talk to bloggers nor the bloggers themselves.  The creators want to talk about what they’re doing.  Hell, if I were writing Superman, I’d want to scream it from the rooftops.  Lord knows most of them aren’t doing it for the rich financial rewards.  And the bloggers, with several notable exceptions of course, tend to just report.  No, I blame the fans.

It has already been reported, and I use that term insanely loosely, that Flashpoint is officially the worst thing that DC has ever done, that everything about it is wrong, and that the mysterious ending to issue #5 will spell out the end of comic books as we know it.  There is only one problem with this.  Issue one came out two weeks ago.  As I write this, it’s May 22.  Flashpoint #5?  That ships to stores for sale on August 31st.  Glad we aren’t jumping the gun or anything, huh.

Now, I’ll admit a personal bias here.  I LIKED Flashpoint #1.  Best issue ever written?  Hell no.  But it was fun, it had some interesting twists, and it accomplished what it needed to accomplish.  To intrigue me enough to pick up Flashpoint #2.  Probably even check out several of the minis and one shots going along with it.  Will I get every single one?  Do I look like I’m made out of gold?

I’m certainly not trying to indicate that Flashpoint, either the series or the event, is not open to criticism.  The sheer number of tie ins, minis, and one-shots is stupid-crazy.  Especially if DC plans on continuing all of it’s normal series right along side them.  That’s a LOT of books DC will be putting out for three months.  That’s certainly a valid concern.  It also certainly had an inauspicious lead in, what with the Flash series leading up to it coming out chronically late and feeling incredibly rushed towards the end.  Also still unclear as to what the lead in to Flashpoint had to do with, you know, Flashpoint, but I’m willing to accept that might be more cleared up as the series progresses.  Flashpoint is supposed to be something of a mystery story after all.  I’ll even accept broad criticisms of bringing back to life and using Barry Allen.  I was certainly quite happy with Wally West as the Flash.  Barry’s return just felt, well, kind of arbitrary.

On the other hand, it seems amazing just how many fans seem to have a vested interest in Flashpoint being one giant pile of whale dung before the first issue even came out.  And just how much they seem to enjoy using every single thing DC says to prove their point in their own minds.  Let’s all take a step back people, alright?  Take a deep breath.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  Good.  Now, let’s look at this slightly less rabid.

Flashpoint is a seven issue event series.  It involves the current Flash, Barry Allen, waking up in an Earth that was not the one he went to sleep in.  There’s no Superman, Wonder Woman is a conquering despot, as is Aquaman, Batman is…different, let’s say.  History has changed.  It’s designed as a mystery.  What happened to change so much history in such ways as to make the world Barry suddenly finds himself in?  Mysteries, excepting Columbo, of course, are designed around the idea of not really knowing what the hell is going on.  On finding out just who did what with what to whom and why.

To a certain extent, that’s what some of the minis and one shots are about.  Others are going to be about fleshing out more fully this changed world our protagonist finds himself in.  There are a lot of these, of course.  I’ll admit, probably too many.  Seriously, DC, that’s a lot of books.  On the other hand, I doubt you’ll have to buy all of them to know what’s going on.  Take Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis and Blackest Night; all of these had several crossovers and minis attached to them.  And you were perfectly fine just buying the main series.  You knew who the good guys were, who the bad guys were, what was going on, and how it got resolved.  I highly doubt that DC is going to change that with Flashpoint.  The minis are there for flavor.  They’re taking a magnifying glass to specific sections of the world to highlight better what’s changed.

And now, I’ll address the true elephant in the room.  What’s going to happen after issue #5?  Something is, probably something big.  DC is double shipping like crazy in July and August, a lot of storylines are finishing up just in time, and the only thing DC is shipping on August 31st is Flashpoint #5.  So, something’s happening.

Is it a total reboot of the entire DC universe?  Probably not.  Do Crisis on Infinite Earths and Zero Hour ring a bell?  Hell, Infinite Crisis.  DC’s had plenty of chances in the past to say, “Alright, starting from scratch.”  They haven’t done it yet, and it would be hard to persuade me that they’re doing it now.  Some continuity reshuffling?  Almost certainly.  DC does this.  It’s kind of their thing.  “We’ve got an event coming up.  Who do we most need to hand-wave out of a corner?”  It’s a thing they do, for good or for ill.  I could even see DC relaunching a bunch of titles at #1 with all new creative teams.  The end of a major event centered around reality rewriting is a pretty good time to do that.  One Year Later and the various issue #0s anyone?

DC’s certainly not saying.  I follow a number of DC creators on twitter and most of them have been downright giddy over things they’ve said they can’t talk about yet.  No one’s talking, and if certain rumors are to be believed, there are legally binding non-disclosure agreements involved to keep it that way.  Plus, you know what?  Sometimes creators like surprising you.  So.  What’s going to happen to DC after August 31st?  I’ll tell you in September.  Because that’s probably as soon as anyone’s going to know for sure.

So, breath.  Relax.  The world is not ending.  It’s an event.  It might suck.  It might be awesome.  It might fall somewhere in the middle.  It might have lasting ramifications to DC lore and it’s stable of characters for years to come.  None of us might remember it in five years time.  We just don’t know.  Because it hasn’t happened yet.  So,  my plan for Flashpoint?  I plan on looking forward to reading the first batch of minis as they come out, picking up some, passing on others.  Some I’ll pass because I don’t like them.  Some I’ll pass because there are just too many of them to get them all.  Some I’ll buy because they’re highlighting important characters or events to the main series and helping flesh that out.  Some I’ll get not because they’re important to the event, but because they just really spark my interest.  Seriously, Canterbury Cricket?  Wow.

And I plan on buying the main series.  And I plan on reading it, and if the first and only issue that has come out as of the writing of this article is any indication, I’ll be enjoying it.  And I’m not going to worry about what happens after August 31st.  It might be awesome.  It might be stupid.  Hell, this is comics.  Stupid-awesome is always a possibility.  But what I don’t plan on doing is working myself into a rabid, frothing lather over vague rumors and internet gossip of something that may or may not happen three months from now.  Reading comics, at least reading the serials from the big two, are not about the destination.

Superman will always fly around in a red cape saving the day.  Batman will always be Bruce Wayne, and he will always protect Gotham from whatever evil is occurring.  The status quo is god.  Very very rarely does the status quo change irrevocably.  Yes, there are times that it has.  And, especially for DC, most of those haven’t stuck.  Comics are not about where the story is going.  It’s about how we’re getting there.  And, as of right now, unless you work for DC and have been in those planning meetings?  You don’t know where this is going anymore than I do.  And I, for one, plan to sit back, read some comics.  And enjoy the trip.


The Finale of Tokyopop.

Yesterday was one hell of a big day in a horrible way being that the death of the US operations of Tokyopop is shutting down.

This is where I first read on it:

Then it just went from there.

On a personal note Tokyopop was actually my second big manga reading time. Between Viz and Dark Horse then once Tokyopop introduced the unflopped format being right to left reading experience my mind was blown. It was one fun period of time too. New manga in this unflopped format and it’s stuff I’d not heard much about till that point and it was absolutely exciting. When you went into the bookstores there was this sort of life about it that was absolutely cool. Here it was manga hitting huge and it was spreading everywhere else. Viz started to hit full steam with that and then everyone else started following suit. I swear I’d never had seen anything like it nor ever since. Then it spread into the graphic novels and it just exploded from there.  Walking into the bookstores with my comic interest in full steam with the manga push and I was in heaven.

It’s strange to think about the manga scene without Tokyopop. For there’s new people out there doing it now and Tokyopop is a shell of it’s former self but it’s sad to think about for me. For the manga industry in the states is still in a precarious situation. It’s doing okay but the boom is definitely in the rear view mirror and growing distant. I think in my heart of hearts that it could perk back up again but in what time period I couldn’t tell you. I think also the other hit of this is the fact that Tokyopop just started to have even the slightest potential to get into some sort of track again. I just don’t think it was soon enough. Just keep a thought for all those people that are losing their jobs and hopeful for you all that any manga you might have been following from them find new homes.

Here’s hoping next week brings brighter news and better thoughts for believe me it seems the past two weeks have had one wicked piece of news in it. Keep a thought out eh? Good luck Tokyopop employees and hopefully you all find new gigs soon. Here’s hoping for a brighter week to come.