DC Don’t Use Recap Pages and I Don’t Know Why

Last month I made a misguided attempt to read and review as many of DC’s ‘Future’s End’ titles as possible, to see if these new jump-on one-shots would grab the attention and make me want to start picking up any new series.

The concept of the books was that each one jumped five years ahead in the current storyline, imagining a future where the current status quo continues on and develops into something life-changing. So the current villain of a Green Lantern book would have developed into a major threat, for example, or a burgeoning relationship would’ve led into marriage. That was the basic sort of concept of the thing.

What I came away with – as somebody reading a lot of books I’d not touched before – was complete confusion. Whilst books like Batman had a fairly simple concept which anybody could understand, the majority of the books relied on me having reading the whole of the series up to that point in order to know what was going on. As I hadn’t been reading Earth 2 since the beginning, I was lost for most of the Future’s End issue. If I hadn’t already known about the existence of Batwoman’s sister, I would’ve been completely confused by who this new character appearing in Future’s End was.

And then came a breaking point, which cut me off entirely from trying any of the other DC books that month: I picked up a comic, Justice League: Future’s End, which was labelled as part 2 of 2. This wasn’t mentioned on the front, and at no point did the comic think to let me know where part 1 of the storyline was. If you were like me and tried the biggest title of DC’s line just for that one issue, you picked up the second half of a two-part crossover story and had no idea where to go to find part one.

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Why am I only just finding out that this is a crossover on page four?

You know what would’ve helped me with this? A recap page. When I pick up a new comic from Valiant, or Marvel, or any comic with a backstory to it – there’s a page right at the start which catches me up as to what’s going on currently. That DC had a whole month predicated on the idea of “there are five years of story you aren’t aware of” and didn’t offer new readers any form of recap page? Ridiculous.

I’m not alone in this either.

The thing is – DC aren’t using their comics space particularly well anyway. This past week, for example, they have a six-page teaser for Future’s End, followed by another page right at the end for them to promote the new season of TV show ‘Arrow’. If they’d had, y’know, a four page teaser and put in a recap page (you can also include the credits there, to stop design from having to plonk a great bit load of text over the artwork), would people really mind so much?

It seems crazy to me that DC would sink so much time and effort into a month-long promotion which baffled and distanced new readers like me. My guess is that part one of the Justice League story can be found in ‘Justice League United’, and the crossover was designed to send some of Justice League’s readership across to that title. Probably would’ve helped if, y’know, you’d told people what was going on.

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