Sunday, 7 November 2010

Object of Desire - Batman and Robin Deluxe HC Vol.2: Batman Vs Robin

This ‘deluxe’ hardcover collecting Batman and Robin issues 7-12 by Grant Morrison and co. was released last week, and with a recommended retail price of £15.75, it seems quite expensive for a book that only collects six comics. Still, I imagine that it will be even more expensive by the time Titan Books get their evil mitts on it, as the Titan Books edition of Vol.1 had a recommended price of £18.99, so it might be wise to snap up a copy now, while Amazon are selling the DC edition for £11.87.

Personally, I will be waiting until I see a cheaper copy on eBay, as I did with Vol.1, eventually managing to bag myself a copy for around £6.00. If I buy it new I may only encourage DC to produce even more of these ‘deluxe’ hardcovers, and I really don’t want to do that. I am not someone who needs to own hardcovers at all and most of the time I actually prefer to own softcover editions of books and graphic novels. However, the long gap between DC’s hardcover and softcover editions these days tends to make me quite impatient when there is something like this coming out that I really want (thankfully, it doesn’t happen very often) and I occasionally crack.

The main problem I have with these ‘deluxe’ hardcovers is the fact that DC call them ‘deluxe’, a move that was no doubt inspired by Marvel’s decision to call all their hardcovers ‘premiere’ hardcovers. If this escalates, we could soon end up with ‘super deluxe’ and ‘ultra premiere’ hardcovers – books that sound more like feminine hygiene products than collections of comic books – and maybe even worse. What was wrong with just calling them hardcovers? There should probably be some kind of law against releasing hardcover books that only collect six comics anyway, but calling any book that only collects six comics ‘deluxe’ is just taking the piss.

DC have at least made their ‘deluxe’ hardcovers slightly larger than their trade paperback editions, but with this slightly larger size comes a slightly larger price. As far as I am aware, Marvel have kept their ‘premiere’ hardcovers at the £12.99 price point – which is still too much for my liking – but seem to be reducing the number of comics reprinted in each volume. Last year I made the mistake of buying a Thor ‘premiere’ HC that only collected four comics, which is about as far from ‘premiere’ as it gets, as far as I am concerned.

I would rather see Marvel and DC releasing their books as softcovers only – perhaps releasing hardcover editions of the odd truly deserving series at a later date – or at least see them releasing their softcovers and hardcovers simultaneously. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there with more money than sense who would buy the hardcover edition anyway, but I am not one of those people. Spending upwards of £12.99 on a book it takes me less than an hour to read tends to make me feel like a fool, so until the day they start releasing some ‘value’ or ‘no frills’ hardcovers – fat chance! – my preference will remain the humble softcover.


  1. Well said, that man. I'm sure I've said to you off blog before, Rob, but if DC were publishing Watchmen today, they would release it as a two part collection, at least. This would have lessened the impact on the world at large less familiar with comics’ often bizarre publishing strategies. All Star Superman could have had a similar impact to The Dark Knight Returns, except DC insist on publishing it as two slim volumes therefore making it look like very other collection they pump out and glut the shelves with.

  2. It is odd that the only way you can currently buy all twelve issues of All Star Superman in one volume is by buying the (bloody expensive!) Absolute Edition. DC didn't release the Watchmen book in that format until they had already milked about 20 years' worth of sales out of the softcover. I guess all these bizarre publishing decisions must be working out for DC and Marvel, but I don't see how.

  3. At least Marvel give you decent quality paper in their hardcovers. I bought DC's first four JLI hardbacks and they were printed on sandpaper. Wish I'd waited for the softcovers!

  4. I know what you mean. I've got the first two hardcovers collecting Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run and they are printed on really crap paper - even the dust jacket is printed on crap paper for the first volume - but the Batman and Robin Vol.1 Deluxe HC I've got is printed on better paper, at least.

  5. Aren't DC trying to recreate something of the original experience by using paper similar to the first print comics?

  6. I'd rather they tried to recreate the original experience by selling these books at 1980s prices.