Though it took a while to track down a copy, I managed to lay my hands on Tales of the Sinestro Corps this week and was fairly pleased with what I found. This collection reprints the companion material that was released during the Sinestro Corps War series last year, which I discussed here and here. Yet aside from the content in this volume, I have begun to have serious questions about how the various comics from such events are compiled and then marketed in the collected editions.
Throughout the Kyle Rayner arc of the Sinestro Corps War, much emphasis is given to a painting from Kyle’s childhood that was so important to him that other Lanterns took great steps to get it for him after he managed to fight off Parallax. Yet not until the Ion special reprinted here do we find out just what is so meaningful about the painting, something that a dedicated reader of the individual titles would have already known because though the story takes places within Kyle’s mind as his body is held hostage by Parallax, it takes place concurrently with the main action and so this individual issue was released at a time to make reading the concurrent events side by side would have more resonance and make more sense.
Yet when DC put together these volumes, the Ion special was reprinted here is what is essentially a collection of side-stories from the Sinestro Corps War. As such, some of these tales were much less moving than they could have been. The specials involving the Cyborg Superman and Superman-Prime also are told somewhat concurrently with the main action, but from the perspective of the villains. There is a historical component to the issues to help orient readers unfamiliar with what has come before, but most of the content is germane to the actual storyline of the war.
What I am getting at is that with the way such comic events are published, with a main narrative and then half a dozen secondary ones, simply compiling the issues into a linear form doesn’t really do the material justice. While I understand that dropping the Ion special into the middle of one of the first two volumes might have hampered the flow and tension, not including it robs one of the main character’s arcs of necessary content.
The problem is that there isn’t a logical way to consolidate all this content. At first I was going to recommend that instead of two volumes and a companion one, the Sinestro Corps War be printed in three volumes, but to be fair there is a lot of content here that would do more harm than good in the primary narrative. But what I have realized is that this story wasn’t conceived to sell collected editions, at least not primarily. Instead, the idea was to sell individual issues, and from what I have been able to find, it was a huge success.
In many ways I am beginning to reconsider whether or not I want to continue to wait for the collected editions or instead start hitting the comic shop every week gain and read such stories the way they were conceived to be read. As I anxiously await the Rage of the Red Lanterns and Agent Orange collected stories that lead directly into Blackest Night, I am delaying myself from reading something available right now, in a purer form. It had been my thoughts that comic series were being conceived more and more as what would sell as a collected edition, and while this is true, it hasn’t changed the way that stories are being told all that much. Apparently, direct sales of individual issues are the lifeblood of superhero comics and much more influential than I had realized.