Review: Flash Vol. 9: Reckoning of the Forces trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

After the momentous Flash Vol. 8: Flash War, which delivered a lot of important events though not everything I was hoping for, I resolved to take Joshua Williamson's Flash more as it comes — looking for less of what I want out of a Flash story and focusing more on what Williamson is delivering. In Flash Vol. 9: Reckoning of the Forces, the idea of the various "new forces" (first introduced in Scott Snyder's Justice League) possessing the Flash's Rogues is a clever one, Williamson's manner of spotlighting and updating the Rogues just as Flash writers have before him. Artist Scott Kolins helps immensely in making this feel of a piece with Rogue stories previous.

But it remains that each of Williamson's issues in this volume start with how Barry Allen only "used to be the fastest man alive" (which I don't even really understand, given Barry's still plenty fast here), another dour note in Williamson's stories about what should be one of DC's most optimistic heroes. Barry bemoans endlessly here how Central City is changing and he doesn't want it to; meanwhile he ignores good advice from Iris West and fails to consider an obvious mystery in his midst. Even after the big "Flash War" revelations, even after reuniting with Iris, Williamson still writes Barry as a wet blanket, the least fun guy at the party, and it seems a disservice to the character.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Thinking about what makes a Supergirl series, both Peter David and Sterling Gates had it right, an Earth-based setting in which Kara Zor-El practices superheroics with a cast of supporting characters, toward the same audience as the average Superman or Batman comic (that is, not "mature readers" but neither "all ages").

Marc Andreyko's new take achieves some of that. Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton is good, certainly enjoyable and much benefited by Kevin Maguire's expressive art. It is almost wholly space-set, presenting a kind of field trip across the cosmic DC Universe, which is also well-done and holds many possibilities, though it doesn't necessarily seem the right foundation for a Supergirl series. I'm happy to stick with it — this is better, by far, than recent Supergirl takes that confused accessibility with banality — but it seems gimmicky; when the road runs out on Andreyko's space trek, I wonder if he's got terrestrial plans or if that'll be that. Either way I'm glad to see Supergirl more tied to the Superman books and in all I'm happy with the new Brian Michael Bendis era.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

It remains a curiosity what James Robinson might have done on the Wonder Woman title if left to his own devices. Instead, Robinson spends his last volume, Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods, tying up others' storylines, none of which were particularly well imagined and none of which Robinson is able to wring anything particularly dramatic out of. After a strong Rebirth start, the Wonder Woman title has floundered, and I sincerely hope G. Willow Wilson can right this ship when she comes on the volume after next.

[Review contains spoilers]

Robinson posits here that the Dark Gods target Earth due to Wonder Woman's wish-gone-wrong at the end of Dark Nights: Metal — that apparently she wished for the gods to return, but didn't specify which ones. That's rather ridiculous, a clunky bridging of "Dark Gods" and Metal, made all the more so by the fact that the narrative really takes Diana to task for this as if she should be a more skillful wisher. The Dark Gods are exceptionally plain (to say nothing of Diana, Steve Trevor, and Diana's twin brother Jason under Robinson's pen), with names like "Mob God" and "Savage Fire." The writer who gave Copperhead hobbies surely has something better in his arsenal than this, and it contributes to the sense of Robinson as pitch hitter here, not driving force.

Review: Batman vs. Deathstroke hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Christopher Priest's Batman vs. Deathstroke is an old-school crossover in the best way, the kind of true miniseries-within-a-series we just don't see any more. It has all the hallmarks of Priest's great Deathstroke series, where it appeared, but reflecting a skill for writing Batman and his ilk, too. Priest is no stranger to writing the larger DC Universe, though his recent Justice League foray was perhaps a bit too stylized for some's tastes; Batman vs. Deathstroke shows that Priest can still write a straighter DC Universe piece that equally has some of Priest's trademark edge.

There are elements for which Batman vs. Deathstroke couldn't and wouldn't work in the modern comics landscape, but Priest pulls it off with aplomb, not that that's any surprise at all.

Review: Damage Vol. 2: Scorched Earth trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Artist Aaron Lopresti makes a significant contribution to Damage Vol. 2: Scorched Earth, moving the book away from B movie schlock toward something more superheroic. Writer Robert Venditti's story feels more focused this time too, especially in the straightforward Justice League-centric second half. But "straightforward" is also Damage's downfall, and this book remains so uncomplicated and predictable that it's no wonder it's cancelled after just four more issues. There is much worse on the stands than Damage, but the book fails to rise above being more than just an artist showcase and action romp.

[Review contains spoilers]

Lopresti comes on with the eighth issue, the last part of the book's first arc, and his presence makes an immediate difference. That first arc, "Doing Damage," is representative of what this title is doing wrong, among that some unremarkable art in DC's basic house style atop a crew of uninspired villains. Lopresti is not the grand shake-up that bringing Otto Schmidt or Riley Rossmo on this title would be, but the monstrous Damage here gets less absurdly "extreme" and more realistic-looking.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 05, 2019

The idea of giving Wonder Woman a long-lost twin brother is a controversial one, ill-conceived I think even if with the best of intentions. It wasn't writer James Robinson's idea and I believe he's trying gamely to make something out of it; unfortunately, we've got what doesn't feel like it has a lot of gusto here on one hand and what feels too familiar on the other.

The result is Wonder Woman Vol. 7: Amazons Attacked, a story that's by no means insulting to Wonder Woman and her ilk, just one that does not necessarily get the blood pumping. Notably, when Robinson abandons the twin brother/Darkseid plot for an issue and does his own thing, that issue is much more compelling, suggesting the direction DC maybe should have gone with this fill-in run.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 4: Plain Sight trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Steve Orlando gets it right with Supergirl Vol. 4: Plain Sight, his final volume of the Rebirth series. That's fortunate and unfortunate; fortunate that this run finally lives up to its obvious potential, and unfortunate it should come right at the end. There's something to enjoy here for fans of many of Supergirl's iterations, but wisely Orlando also fills a gap in the present Supergirl landscape; again, this is quite good -- we can assume co-author Jody Houser contributes to the uptick -- and it's too bad there's not more of this particular take.

[Review contains spoilers]

Orlando's inaugural Rebirth Supergirl Vol. 1: Reign of the Cyborg Superman did a fine job setting up a distinct-but-TV-familiar supporting cast for Supergirl Kara Zor-El, with foster parents, a new school, and an internship with Catco. Orlando's Supergirl was kind of like a CW Supergirl prequel -- many of the trappings of the Supergirl TV show, but with Kara still in high school. The subsequent volumes, however, abandoned that almost entirely, with nary a scene at school or work and almost no appearances by Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers.

Review: Teen Titans Vol. 1: Full Throttle trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Adam Glass' Teen Titans Vol. 1: Full Throttle is surprisingly enjoyable, which is good because I had extensive concerns about it going in. DC Comics' Teen Titans franchise has been a series of train wrecks for years, which is astounding given how recognition of the team has grown in popular culture. Glass and artist Bernard Chang's take, which at first glance seemed to include an aged-up Robin Damian Wayne and a slate of new characters each more impertinent than the last, seemed headed in the wrong direction, with shades of Glass' too-attitudinal New 52 Suicide Squad launch.

But Glass pulls it off, proposing a Teen Titans paradigm where the team is not (for the most part) bratty, but is violent and unapologetic — a rather adult, "extreme" Teen Titans. Done in a pearl-clutching, "what will our mentors think" kind of manner, this might feel like attitude for attitude's sake, but presented as a natural evolution of many of these characters' experiences, it works. Between Damian, Red Arrow Emiko Queen, and Lobo's daughter Crush, this is kind of a team of teen psychopaths let loose, and that's pretty entertaining. Chang's oft-gritty art is miles from Brett Booth previously on Titans, focused more on story and action than titillation, and that adds intentionality to the book as well.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Deface the Face trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

James Robinson returns for a Detective Comics Batman story that, cards on the table, is entertaining and well-done and even coincides with goings on in Tom King's Batman, but seems mainly just an inventory story to bridge the gap till new ongoing writer Peter Tomasi's run starts. The title of Robinson's Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Deface the Face would seem to suggest it's a sequel to Robinson's 2006 Batman: Face the Face, both of which involved Two-Face, but it's not, at least not explicitly. I do believe there's some connections to be made between the two, but Deface can be read so independently that connections to Face can't necessarily be called a reason to pick up this book.

For a fill-in story, we could do a whole heck of a lot worse. I liked this volume, but a discerning reader would have to decide whether they want to stop over here or just proceed to when Tomasi comes on.

DC Trade Solicitations for July 2019 - Bronze Age All-Star Comics and Justice League of America, DeConnick Aquaman, Batman: Black and White Omnibus, Wonder Woman by Rucka Vol. 3, Hitman's Greatest Hits

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The big surprise for me in DC Comics' July 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations is All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever; this is not previously uncollected material, but it does feel like an unexpected nod to the Justice Society at a time when those characters have been off the stands for a while. Justice League of America: The Last Survivors of Earth! is another one that is not new material, but still the validation that collections of this kind of stuff is not dead and gone — especially since these are both squarely Bronze Age books — is nice to see. The big hope is that the All-Star book sells well and we get into collections of All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. (again).

What else? The Rebirth Suicide Squad and Curse of Brimstone and Sideways all take a bow. We've got the first volume of Kelly Sue DeConnick's new run on Aquaman, and then various reprints — Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 3, which I know many of you are glad to see; the second paperback Orion cutdown from the omnibus; and a Hitman piecemeal collection that I can't really understand (versus an omnibus or etc.). So not a whole lot happening in these listings, DC taking a summer break of sorts ...

Let's take a look at the full list.

Absolute Death New Edition HC

Collects Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life, plus Sandman #8 ("The Sound of Her Wings") and #20 ("Facade"), "Death and Venice" from Sandman: Endless Nights, and the never-collected stories "Winter's Tale" and "The Wheel." Introduction by Amanda Palmer.

All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever TP

Though most of this has already been collected, this is a nice nod to the Justice Society at a time when they're relatively absent from the DC Universe. This is All-Star Comics #58-74, the 1970s revival of All-Star, picking up the numbering from the 1950s when the Justice Society was sidelined and the book became All-Star Western. Issue #74 marks the book's end with the DC Implosion, but Adventure Comics #461-466 is a set of follow-up stories, plus an origin story from DC Special #29. Previously collected in two full-color Justice Society volumes in the early 2000s and a Showcase Presents black-and-white volume, it's now all in one book. Features the debut of Power Girl and Huntress and the death of the Earth-2 Batman.

Aquaman Vol. 1: Unspoken Water TP

The first collection of the new Kelly Sue DeConnick run, issues #43-47 in paperback.

Batman: Black and White Omnibus HC

Stories from Batman: Black and White #1-4, Batman: Black and White Vol. 2, Gotham Knights #17-49, and Batman: Black and White (2013) #1-6.

Batman: Death of the Family Saga TP

Previously billed as an Essential Edition, I think, this is the Batman issues plus tie-ins: Batman #13-17, Batgirl #14-16, Nightwing #15-16, Batman and Robin #15-16, and pages from Batgirl #13, Nightwing #14, Red Hood and Outlaws #14-15, and Teen Titans #16.

Batman: Kings of Fear HC

The new six-issue miniseries drawn by Kelley Jones and written by Scott Peterson.

Batman: Nightwalker: The Graphic Novel TP

Graphic novel by Marie Lu and Christian Wildgoose, based on Lu's YA novel. I really, really enjoyed Wildgoose's art on Hope Larson's Batgirl and I'm sure he'll be excellent here.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II TP

Issues #1-7 from DC and IDW. Given all the different iterations of these characters, seems James Tynion and Freddie Williams could do this forever; surely Batman Beyond and the Justice League are overdue to get in on the action.

The Curse of Brimstone Vol. 2: Ashes TP

Issues #7-12 and the Annual #1, the end of the Justin Jordan series.

The Flash by Geoff Johns Book Six TP

This goes farther than the original Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus hardcovers, being now Johns' Barry instead of his Wally. This should contain Flash: Rebirth #1-6, Blackest Night: The Flash #1-3, and Flash #1-6. Johns still has Flash #8-12 and Flashpoint, likely for a seventh and final volume.

Harley &Amp; Ivy Meet Betty &Amp; Veronica TP

Six-issue miniseries by Paul Dini, Marc Andreyko, Laura Braga, and Adriana Melo, with covers by Amanda Conner.

Hitman's Greatest Hits TP

Given that Hitman is already fully collected, I'd think what fans would want is an omnibus or Absolute edition, not necessarily a "greatest hits," but this is Demon Annual #2; Hitman #4-7, #13-14, and #34, and JLA/Hitman #1-2, by Garth Ennis and John McCrea.

Justice League of America: The Last Survivors of Earth! TP

These stories have already been collected as part of the Justice League of America: The Bronze Age omnibuses, and were set to be re-released in paperback as Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Vol. 1. I've been taking a wait-and-see approach with rumors that DC is drastically changing their collections policies, as for instance that Bronze Age volume is cancelled, but is now being released as a "titled" volume, Justice League of America: The Last Survivors of Earth!. Possibly this is a backstop against low sales; if a "collections series" can't continue, at least this no longer has "Volume 1," "Volume 2," etc. on it.

This was the start of the "Satellite Era," and includes appearances by Snapper Carr and Red Tornado.

Justice: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe-size hardcover of the 12-issue miniseries by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Doug Braithwaite. With bonus material; now seems as good a time as any to release a Legion of Doom tale.

The Kitchen New Edition TP

New collection of the eight-issue 2014 Vertigo miniseries series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, ahead of the new movie.

Orion by Walter Simonson Book Two TP

Issues #12-25 of the Walt Simonson series; should be with the back-up stories and other extras. Includes a Joker: Last Laugh tie-in and a Captain Marvel/Shazam! appearance.

Powers Vol. 6 New Edition TP

Issues #1-11 of the third iteration of Powers, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

The Sandman Vol. 11: Endless Nights 30th Anniversary Edition TP

Newly branded as volume 11, this was one of Neil Gaiman's graphic novel follow-ups to the series.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up: Doomed! TP

Supergirl, Swamp Thing, and Metamorpho. Sholly Fisch is a national treasure.

The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid TP

Kirk Scoggs' DC Zoom graphic novel about a kid Swamp Thing. It'd be great if this kid was not actually Swamp Thing, but rather could meet Swamp Thing in the course of his adventures.

Sideways Vol. 2: Rifts and Revelations TP

Issues #7-13 and the annual, the final issues of the series. With guest-writing by Grant Morrison and appearances by the Seven Soldiers and other significant multiversal characters.

Suicide Squad Vol. 8: Constriction TP

The final collection of Rob Williams' Rebirth Suicide Squad, collecting issues #41-44, #47-50, and the Annual #1. That's skipping the "Sink Atlantis" crossover with Aquaman, collected on its own.

Swamp Thing by Nancy A. Collins Omnibus HC

First ever collection of novelist Nancy Collins run on Swamp Thing, issues #110-139, Annuals #6-7, Black Orchid #5, and a story from Vertigo Jam #1. Following this would be Grant Morrison's and Mark Millar's runs, before the iteration of the title that included the Alan Moore run would be brought to a close.

Tales of the Batman: Gerry Conway Vol. 3 HC

Batman #349-359 and Detective Comics #515-526. This means the book includes the fourth part of the story that first introduced Killer Croc, Detective #526, which was missing from the Batman: Arkham: Killer Croc trade, plus the first pre-Crisis appearance of Jason Todd.

Watchmen: International Edition New Edition HC

"Features a new lenticular cover," it says. Do you think there's someone out there who's such a fan that they own every single different printing of Watchmen?

The Wild Storm Vol. 4 TP

Issues #19-24, the final trade of the series.

Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 3 TP

Again, your patience has paid off (and then some), because here's Wonder Woman #218-226, completing this re-collection series, plus Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1-3.

Wonder Woman Year One Deluxe Edition HC

A deluxe edition of just the past-set issues of Greg Rucka's Rebirth Wonder Woman run, with art by Nicola Scott in deluxe hardcover format. They should follow this with a collection of the sequentially ordered parts of the other half of the story in the same format. Issues #2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14, plus a story from the Wonder Woman Annual #1.

Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Vol. 3 TP

The contents of this have shifted since the catalog solicitation and you all will have to tell me what makes more sense. It used to be Sensation Comics #49-71 and Wonder Woman #16-23; now it's Sensation Comics #25-36 and Wonder Woman #8-11, and Comic Cavalcade #6-8.

What's a must-buy for you here? Anything I overlooked? Chime in and sound off in the comments.