Have I griped recently about how poor a job DC does with distributing their hardcover/TPB collections and using them to build readership? I have? Ah, well consider this another anecdote on the pile, then.

So I was at the Barnes & Noble yesterday, and noticed a few collections of Geoff Johns' Action Comics run: Last Son, Brainiac, and Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes. Having heard good things about his stuff, I thought I might see about giving these books a chance. But where should I start, and what order should I read them in?

The trade dress was no help; nowhere did they say which issues they contained, nor were they numbered in any way to indicate their relationship to each other. Well, fine; I know where that information is contained in the copyright page, so I can hunt it out there. Except...a problem. Two of them were paperbacks, so that was easy, but the hardcover was wrapped in cellophane — no way to get to the copyright page.

After much finagling, I was able to ultimately discover the following:
Superman: Last Son — reprints Action Comics #844-846, 851
Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes — reprints Action Comics #858-863
Superman: Brainiac — reprints Action Comics #866-870

Which is great and all, except...look at those gaps in issues between books. Does that mean that these are not the full sequence? Was that other stuff filler, and so not "necessary" for following Johns' run? I don't know. I decided to leave the books un-looked at and came home.

Later, I went to DC's website, hoping I could get some guidance there, but no such luck; it was as mum about the relationship between one book and another as the books themselves were. And so...I won't be giving Geoff Johns' Action Comics run a TPB try because I don't know how to know if I'm missing anything.

And once again, to DC's reprint publishing approach, I say "Feh."

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This situation was brought up at the DCU panel at SDCC, but there was no resolution stated there. My feeling is that, if there were fill-in issues during a collected run, they should be put at the back of the book.
I certainly think the books should be numbered -- though there also needs to be a way of differentiating the second volume of Geoff Johns' run from the second volume of Joe Kellys' (or even more problematic, the first volume of Greg Rucka's first run with the first volume of his second).

That said, I'm not certain I want to be paying for the extra fill-in issues in the same volume where the stories originally appeared chronologically. If I want to read Johns's Superman, would 2 issues of Fabian Nieczia stories be worth it to me to pay the added coast? Unless there's a good story tie-in, it might be better to not reprint the fill-ins at all, or save them for another, themed, collection ("Best Braniac stories" or something like that.) Not every story needs to be collected, and if a fill-in doesn't have much to offer the story being collected, why add it?
I agree that it's OK to leave out fill-in issues if they don't contribute to the main storyline (unless they're really good!). DCs approach to Hellblazer collections has been even more haphazard than this. There is a single series numbering for guidance, and they've filled in more and more of the early issues recently. But there are still no volume numbers. Maybe at some future point when they've reprinted everything they intend to, they'll do a new printing with volume numbers.
I don't have a problem with them. To me, they left out the crap and only left in the delicious goodies.

I hate numbered trades. Blech.

Sorry, Alan! Usually we agree, but not today.

As I am just about to move into a new house (yay!), and I try to keep my TPBs organized (their name is Legion... literally, sometimes! :), I have to figure in what order to put them.

This way lies madness.

For Superman, I actually divided my TPBs into three groups; reprint collections (e.g., "Bottle City of Kandor", "Nightwing and Flamebird", etc.); standalone stories (e.g., "Last Son of Earth", "Superman/Doomsday", etc. - and yes, I'll probably have to split THOSE into Elseworlds and "in continuity" stories); and "in-series"collections, which you are making legitimate complaint about.

In addition to your notes, I don't differentiate between reprints from Superman or Action, so I try to do it the way that you are, by issues. Problems: 1) As you noted, some of them are not consistent collections. 2) Some of them swing between a number of titles. I'm having a little trouble organizing books between Superman, Action, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Superman/Batman, etc. 3) Occasionally - but not as rarely as I'd like - some issues are reprinted twice.

Numbering the in-series books would help a lot. It's not a perfect solution, but it's better than nothing at all.

And that being said... since the publishers are quite insistent on six story arcs - feh - it may be that the cannot put the in-between arc books into a collection - but that doesn't mean I don't still want them!

Yeah, it's nuts.

I remain,
Eric L. Sofer
The Silver Age Fogey
#851 should have been #847, but the bigger issue here is #847-850, 852-857 and 864-865, yes? Simply put, the issues reprinted in these three volumes each tell a complete story, beginning middle and end. I would call those other issues "filler" exactly, just not part of the story story being told. I don't think it's DC's intention to reprint Superman titles in their entirety, jusyt selected stories.
• Superman: Last Son — reprints Action Comics #844-846, 851

That represents the full Last Son storyline (assuming it also includes Annual #11). The story was running way behind schedule, which necessitated moving on to a number of fill-ins and then finishing the story in the Annual rather than in the regular series. The fill-ins include a Countdown tie-in and a Bizarro story- both of which are definitely skippable.

• Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes — reprints Action Comics #858-863
• Superman: Brainiac — reprints Action Comics #866-870

There were also a couple of one-shots printed between these two larger arcs: the first is mostly about a Lightning Lad guest appearance and the second focuses on Toyman. I think the latter story is pretty good, but it's unrelated to the big arcs surrounding it.

Honestly, you'd be in pretty good shape buying these three trades as they're collected.
The fill-ins include a Countdown tie-in and a Bizarro story- both of which are definitely skippable.

Sorry, I'm having trouble editing my earlier post. These are actually the stories between Last Son and Legion of Super-Heroes, not the fill-ins in the midst of Last Son (well, not exactly). Still skippable as neither have much to do with Johns' larger story.
Thanks for the feedback, all. I'll probably give these a look in the not-too-distant future.

Of course, I still think that requiring this amount of effort to find out if those books were the entirety of the Johns run still counts as a FAIL on the part of DC's publication arm. :-/
Chris Fluit said:
Honestly, you'd be in pretty good shape buying these three trades as they're collected.

That's probably pretty accurate - unless one is a cheap-a$$ cheeky monkey - such as your own SAF - who buys them from Half-Price Books or on eBay or Amazon when they are at a price I like.

Oh, I muddle through, but still, it'd be nice to have a numbering system. Maybe the triangles that they used to use in the 90's?
...and use again today.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
...and use again today.

Those are back? Now I'm getting all nostalgic...I read the Superman titles during the triangle period.

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