Review: Catwoman Vol. 3: Friend or Foe? trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

It feels like there's a good Catwoman story somewhere within Joelle Jones' Catwoman Vol. 3: Friend or Foe? and the volumes that lead up to it, but this book is pulling in so many different directions that it's tough to find it. What's a cogent crime noir plot, even tying well into the Year of the Villain event, is often derailed by nonsequitors or irrelevant action sequences; a lot of what shows promise in the beginning comes to naught by the end.

Friend or Foe? feels like a conclusion because it is — these issues mark Jones' last on the series — but without Jones getting to tie up all her loose threads. The book continues, with issues promised at least to tie in to the upcoming "Joker War" storyline, but I wonder if this title will continue much after that.

Review: Batgirl Vol. 7: Oracle Rising trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

In thinking over Batgirl Vol. 7: Oracle Rising, I was surprised how much less I enjoyed this book than the previous volume, thinking they'd been done by the same team. Instead, I realized Batgirl Vol. 6: Old Enemies was Mairghread Scott's, and that Oracle Rising is the very first by Cecil Castellucci. Though I have a lot of reservations about Oracle Rising, I would note that my confusion stems from Castellucci heavily using the new supporting cast that Scott introduced, so much so that in my faulty memory I thought they'd been created by Castellucci.

That's rare, I feel, given that Scott only introduced Congresswoman Luciana Alejandro and reintroduced Jason Bard one collection ago, not to mention bringing in the Terrible Trio of Fox, Shark, and Vulture. There's been more than enough reinventing Batgirl Barbara Gordon with every new team that Castellucci wouldn't have been without precedent for doing so. I'm particularly impressed that she did not, but rather built on Scott's stories via both the heroes and the villains.

Review: Martian Manhunter: Identity trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

About every solicitation for Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo's Martian Manhunter: Identity touts some version of this, that "back on Mars, J'onn J'onzz was about as corrupt as a law officer can be." It has been the most concerning thing in the run-up to Identity, and fortunately, it turns out not to be true. What is the truth is more complicated and complex in this masterwork of a book that is surely destined for greater formats than a mild, under-the-radar paperback.

For more than a few reasons, Identity reminds of Tom King's Omega Men, not in the least because, arriving outside the mainstream day-to-day of the DC Universe, there does not seem to be the fanfare it deserves — Omega Men got a deluxe edition eventually and surely Identity must, too, if not an Absolute. Dangerously, this book raises one's expectations for Orlando immensely, and not again will that writer be able to get away with the somewhat workaday adventures of his Justice League of America after the powerful, edgy sci-fi we see here. Already since Batman: Night of the Monster Men we've known anti-house-style art like Rossmo's should be DC's rule and not their exception, but this just seals it.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Greetings From Gotham hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

1 comments | Tags:

Sunday, June 28, 2020

With Peter Tomasi's Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Greetings From Gotham, it suddenly seems not just force of habit, but intentional, that the book's trade dress echoes that of Detective Comics collections from Paul Dini's run. After two volumes with traditional six-issue, six-part story arcs, Greetings collects a two-parter, a one-off, and a three-parter, all relatively untethered and un-dependent on continuity.

I still prefer something like James Tynion's Detective run where the title, for the first time in a long time, held its own in relevance against the Batman title. However, if one is going to admit defeat, this is the way to do it, as Dini did before, making Detective the Batman anthology title, the place for the experiment, the one-off, the quick spotlight on an oft-neglected corner.

Review: Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

It's hard to ignore the static surrounding Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy, whether there's anything to read in the initial creative team replaced by another or the rumors regarding editorial edicts. But it's the blandness of the story that most prominently suggests trouble behind the scenes; anyone with a real affection for these characters or any sense of their shared history would know their miniseries should be much more dynamic than this. Ultimately I'm surprised and impressed by a miniseries as well set within the day-to-day goings on of the DC Universe as this one, something that doesn't happen all that often; the miniseries itself, however, in no way lives up to the promise it might have held.

Review: Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

I admit I was wary of Dan Jurgens taking over the Nightwing title, piggybacking on the "Ric Grayson" storyline started by Scott Lobdell, but I've been impressed so far. Jurgens takes this ill-advised, weirdo plot and makes something palatable, even going so far in Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy to try and make plausible the idea that this was planned all along. It most assuredly was not, and that particular plot thread turns on Batman being a terrible detective, but at least we have a how and why now beyond just giving Dick Grayson amnesia for shock value. I'd very much like some glimmer that all of this is not for naught — that, as soon as another writer takes over, this all won't disappear faster than Wonder Woman's brother — but it's entertaining enough until DC decides what exactly they want to be doing with the Nightwing character.

Review: Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Who Are the Secret Six? hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Joshua Williamson's Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Who Are the Secret Six? poses a question in its title, but unfortunately the answer isn't much of a mystery. Despite what was suggested in the lead-in epilogue from Williamson's Heroes in Crisis: The Price, this is not a paranoid thriller about allies who can and can't be trusted; instead the so-called Secret Six (aka the "Infected") show up wherever Superman and Batman are and attack them en masse over the course of this story. So whereas this book feels like a must-read on the continuity wonk level — tying together the Dark Nights: Metal/Death Metal books with "Year of the Villain," the Superman titles, and Supergirl — in terms of story it's a bit light. Neither are the Infected — culled from DC's second-tier precisely because they're B-listers in need of spotlight or because they're in limbo enough not to be missed — terribly compelling as villains, which also puts a damper on things.

DC Trade Solicitations for September 2020 - Detective #1027 Deluxe, Batman Vol. 1 by Tynion, Batman: Knight Out by Dixon, Jimmy Olsen by Fraction, Doomsday Clock Complete, Hard Time by Gerber, New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 5

Sunday, June 14, 2020

It sure is a big Batman month in the DC Comics September 2020 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations, as the seemingly out-of-the-blue Detective Comics #1027 arrives (and a deluxe edition is solicited) alongside the beginning of James Tynion's new Batman run, the hardcover of Sean Murphy's Batman: Curse of the White Knight, and a long overdue hardcover of some of Chuck Dixon's work, Batman: Knight Out. I haven't heard much about the Hill House Imprint series of comics, but a bunch of those see hardcovers this month, too.

Outside of that, I note Doomsday Clock gets its first full collection here, in paperback — undoubtedly there's a deluxe or Absolute coming, but I wonder if it says anything that neither of those came first. There's the first collection of the John Constantine: Hellblazer from the Sandman Universe imprint, but given that imprint seems all but discontinued, my interest has somewhat waned, and frankly that even makes me debate the Sandman Deluxe Edition book that's coming out also. I'm a lock for the Jimmy Olsen miniseries, of course, and probably sometime eventually I'll read Tom King's Mister Miracle, too, out in deluxe edition.

Let's dig in and see what else is coming.

Absolute Planetary HC

If I'm not mistaken, DC has released an Absolute Planetary before, but it only contained the preview from Gen 13 #33 and Planetary #1-12, whereas this has the preview, Planetary #1-27, Planetary/Batman: Night On Earth #1, Planetary/The Authority: Ruling the World #1, Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta #1, and a pinup from WildStorm: A Celebration of 25 Years. That tracks closer to the Planetary Omnibus from 2014, though I don't believe that had the Wildstorm anniversary story.

Basketful of Heads HC

Issues #1-7 of the Hill House Comics imprint title.

Batman Adventures: Nightwing Rising TP

Collects The Batman Adventures: The Lost Years #1-5 and Batman: Gotham Adventures #1.

Batman by Tom King and Lee Weeks Deluxe Edition HC

What had originally seemed like just a joint collection of Batman Vol. 9: Cold Days and Batman Vol. 10: Knightmares in deluxe format, following from the previous Rebirth Batman deluxe format collections turns out indeed to be a specific King/Weeks spotlight volume. On one hand, I’m not sure that’s what the market wants; on the other hand, this collects the Batman/Elmer Fudd by King and Weeks special alongside the sequel issue, Batman #67, and that seems well worthwhile.

The solicitation seems at cross-purposes, advertising Cold Days and Knightmares, but the contents are said to be Batman #51-53 ("Cold Days") and #67 (just the Weeks chapter of "Knightmares" that includes "William Ernest Coyote"), Batman Annual #2 (the acclaimed future Batman/Catwoman story), and the aforementioned Batman/Elmer Fudd — plus chapters of "Prodigal" (!) from 1994 with art by Weeks. Y'know, I often theorize, there's a buyer for everything.

Batman Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs HC

The first collection of the Batman run by James Tynion with Tony Daniel, in hardcover (and newly renumbered). Introducing Punchline, if you like that kind of thing.

The Batman Who Laughs TP

Paperback of the miniseries by Scott Snyder, Jock, and Eduardo Risso, following the hardcover.

Batman: 80 Years of the Bat-Family TP

Collects Detective Comics #1000 (and not also Detective Comics #1000: The Deluxe Edition, as a previous solicitation suggested), Detective Comics: 80th Anniversary Giant #1 (formerly Walmart exclusive), Robin 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1, Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1, and the The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1. I wonder if this is indeed the entirety of all of these issues or just the new material. Anyway, I wondered if there’d be a way to read these without buying each one individually, and I’m glad there is.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight HC

Hardcover collection of the eight-issue miniseries by Sean Murphy, plus the Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze special.

Batman: Detective Comics #1027 Deluxe Edition HC

Solicited alongside the regular issue, this deluxe edition doesn’t seem to have any additional contents, so much as being hardcover and the bigger size. Due out in November, vs. September for the single issue. I don’t mind these special single issues coming out as “trades”; looks good on the shelf and all that.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Greetings From Gotham TP

Issues #1006-1011 by Peter Tomasi, including appearances by the Spectre Jim Corrigan, Joker, and Deadshot, in paperback following the hardcover.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight Deluxe Edition HC

Collects all the various "Gotham by Gaslight" character appearances, including Gotham by Gaslight, Batman: Master of the Future, Convergence: Shazam! #1-2, and Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Gotham by Gaslight.

Batman: Knight Out HC

We're long overdue for some dedicated Chuck Dixon collections, given his outsized contributions to the Batman titles in the 1990s and on. The solicitation says this collects Detective Comics #703-718 (previous solicitations had this skipping #716 for no reason I can see), bridging from "Legacy" to "Cataclysm" (and from there to "No Man's Land") and including a Final Night tie-in. Art too by Graham Nolan.

Batman: The Man Who Laughs: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe edition of the graphic novel by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke (whose recent depicition of the Joker in Detective Comics reminded me just how good Mahnke’s Joker is). Also includes Detective Comics #784-786 by Brubaker and Patrick Zircher, teaming Batman with Green Lantern Alan Scott.

DC Poster Portfolio: Greg Capullo TP

Timely, this’ll include covers from both Dark Nights: Metal and Dark Nights: Death Metal.

The Dollhouse Family HC

Collection of the Hill House series by M. R. Carey and Peter Gross.

Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds TP

All seven issues of the Gerard Way series.

Doomsday Clock: The Complete Collection TP

In paperback, collecting all 12 issues — so if I’ve got this right, there’s two six-issue hardcovers, but we’re getting a full paperback before a full hardcover. Only a matter of time, of course, and probably deluxe or Absolute when it comes.

Fables Compendium One TP

Collects issues #1-41, Fables: The Last Castle, Fables: 1,001 Nights of Snowfall, and the prose story "A Wolf in the Fold" from the Fables: Legends in Exile collection. This equals about the first six trade paperbacks or the first four/five-ish deluxe editions.

Hard Time: The Complete Series TP

Hard Time was one of the titles under the short-lived DC Focus imprint from the early 2000s (with Kinetic by Kelley Puckett, Fraction, and Touch by John Francis Moore). Written by the late Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes, I read some early issues and liked it, and I’ve always understood it to be well-regarded. The first series ran 12 issues, and Hard Time: Season Two ran seven and was never collected, so this seems a smart release.

House of Whispers Vol. 3: Watching the Watchers TP

Collects issues #13-22, the final issues of the “Sandman Universe” series, from which titles seem to be dropping quickly.

John Constantine: Hellblazer Vol. 1: Marks of Woe TP

The first five issues of the new Sandman Universe series by Si Spurrier, plus the Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer special and Books of Magic #14.

JSA by Geoff Johns Book Four TP

Collects JSA #32-45, the Stealing Thunder and Savage Times trades.

Justice League International Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Collects Justice League America #31-50, Justice League Europe #7-25, Justice League America Annual #4, Justice League Europe Annual #1, Justice League Quarterly #1, and Justice League International Special #1, which have largely not, to my knowledge, been previously collected. With a recent new paperback released (collecting almost three volumes worth of earlier collections), hopefully there's more to come. One more omnibus would probably finish this, but the paperbacks are, of course, something else.

The Low, Low Woods HC

Issues #1-6 by Carmen Maria Machado from the Hill House imprint.

Mister Miracle: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe-size edition of the Tom King/Mitch Gerads 12-issue "maxiseries," with sketches, scripts, and the full pencil art for the first issue.

New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 5 HC

The New Teen Titans #32-49, The New Teen Titans Annual #3 (first appearance of Danny Chase) and #4, Tales of the Teen Titans #91 (as this was a reprint of New Teen Titans #31, this is probably just the cover or a short recap section), Secret Origins #13, Secret Origins Annual #3, and Infinity, Inc. #45. The title became New Titans with issue #50.

The Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book One HC

I just finished collecting the 30th anniversary Sandman paperbacks, and now here comes a hardcover collecting both "Preludes & Nocturnes" and "Doll's House" (issues #1-16) plus the Sandman Midnight Theatre special. That special is welcome and relevant, though an anachronism, and I wonder if there’s any more stories like that (issues of the old Dreaming series, maybe?) that’ll appear in subsequent volumes. Still thinking about whether I’ll double-dip or not.

Shazam!: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe-size edition of the New 52 Justice League backups that introduced Geoff Johns' new Shazam. Said to have “never before seen extras” and a new introduction by Johns.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? TP

The 12-issue miniseries by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber.

Young Justice Book Five TP

The final collection of Peter David's Young Justice, issues #33-55. This includes tie-ins to "Our Worlds at War" and "Joker's Last Laugh," as well as the "World Without Young Justice" crossover with Impulse #85, Superboy #99, and Robin #101. Just “pages from” the Superboy and Impulse issues are listed in the solicitation (previously it was none of them); we’ll see if Robin gets there once it’s printed.

Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 4: The Final Trial trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Sam Humphries' then-nascent Harley Quinn run hit a snag a couple volumes back, but it improved with the third volume and with Harley Quinn Vol. 4: The Final Trial, clearly this series has found its new groove. Typically, that comes with only one volume left for Humphries, but should the next creative team have the same mandate for tying Harley closer to the DC Universe, this fourth volume is the model for how to do it.

With no small amount of fourth-wall-breaking and comics within comics, The Final Trial manages to be funny and satirical, both irreverent and relevant when it comes to the ongoing "Year of the Villain" event, and also moving and emotional in the way that shows just how far Harley has come from her one-note origins. Were this even Humphries' finale, I'd happily say he stuck the landing, and one can only hope that the actual ending will live up to what came before.

Review: Superman Vol. 3: The Truth Revealed hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 07, 2020

[Review contains spoilers]

Cynical as we are, there's no use debating whether Brian Michael Bendis should or not have had Superman reveal his secret identity in Superman Vol. 3: The Truth Revealed. Given Bendis inevitably one day moving on or some higher-up worrying that Superman's moved too far from the corporate IP baseline or the back-to-basics approach of another reboot, it won't be long till Clark Kent's just a mild-mannered reporter again.

If anything, the fact that Clark's secret is out and that other thing happened in Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part 1 suggests we're pretty far from baseline IP already. It's these kinds of landscapes where one starts to expect a reboot as is, if (1) that wouldn't be completely ludicrous right now and (2) seemingly one was already in the offing with 5G before it was torpedoed. Basically, it's not 1992 anymore and none of us sooner believe Superman will have lost his secret identity forever than we did — checks watch — less than a half-dozen years and a continuity ago when Superman's identity was also revealed. The impermanence of that speaks volumes for this.