Monday, September 5, 2011

Digital Preservation

A thoughtful post on Collected Editions last week reassures readers that the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe is not gone forever, citing as evidence several DC characters who we once thought were long gone--like Barry Allen, Kara Zor-El, and Jason Todd--who eventually came back. Like them, the blogger posits, Wally West will also be back.

I agree that any characters discarded by the reboot will inevitably be back, but I don't see them as really "gone" now anyway. Maybe Wally West is not the current star of The Flash, but I can go back and read "Terminal Velocity" or "Rogue War" anytime I want to. I can read back issues of Birds of Prey to see Barbara Gordon as Oracle, and for that matter I can read back issues of Batgirl to see Stephanie Brown or Cassandra Cain as Batgirl. Back issues live forever.

And digital comics make that truer than ever. We're no longer limited to back issues that make sense as part of a trade collection. More and more of DC's back catalog is being added to Comixology every week, and apparently DC has plans to digitize everything. This week, on the same day Justice League 1 was released, DC also released digital back issues of JLA and Justice League of America that are likely no longer in continuity; issues of Legends of the DC Universe about Hal Jordan as the Spectre, which you'd think DC would want us to forget if they're trying to simplify things; and the entire Legion Lost miniseries, which may share a name with a New 52 title, but is about a Legion of Superheroes from a completely different timeline. Clearly, DC is not shying away from its history.

Apart from making it easier for readers to find stories about characters who are not featured in the new DC Universe, digital comics also give us another way to do what Collected Editions recommends: tell DC we still care about these characters. If you want to see Wally West in the present continuity, there's no better way to send this message to DC than to buy old comics featuring Wally West. Whether you do that by buying trades or by buying digital back issues of The Flash, the message will be delivered.

Wally West will be back, and even better, he's still with us now--in print and digitally.


  1. Agreed. One thing that's pleased me about DC's digital store is the sheer amount of just plain random uncollected stuff that's there (see our list of uncollected comics available digital). Some things, I imagine, no right-thinking person was immediately waiting for, but might want someday -- "When was the first appearance of this character? Uncollected? Oh, but look here at the computer ..."

    Digital comics introduces us, to an extent, to a post-back issue world, where anything you might want to read from DC's history is at your fingertips. There's a certain joy in thumbing through a box of back issues, never knowing what you're going to find; but removing the impediment between wanting an issue and buying an issue, so as to get to enjoying that issue faster, must be a good thing.

  2. Thanks for commenting and for sharing that link. I didn't realize how many holes in my trade collection are filled by what's already available on Comixology. I look forward to seeing even more of those holes filled!