Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 7: Darkstars Rising trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Congratulations to Robert Venditti for a masterful conclusion to his Green Lantern run. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 7: Darkstars Rising hits lots of the right notes, paying deference to some of the best parts of this series before it ends. If the previous volume was too action-focused, Darkstars has exactly the right balance of action in service of character moments, sending this series out on a high note.

[Review contains spoilers]

This nine-issue collection comprises one long story, but split into three parts: the two-part "Darkstars Rising" prelude, the four-part titular story itself, and the three part "Last Charge." Though assuredly containing the most compelling title, "Darkstars Rising" itself is not actually the climax of this book; rather "Rising" involves Earth's four main Green Lanterns (absent Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz) seeking unexpected allies in their fight against the Darkstars, before they face off against the Darkstars in "Charge." Though "Charge" is thrilling in its own right, "Rising" is the jewel of this book, stalling in some respects the forward action of the story for some welcome character moments.

Review: Batwoman Vol. 3: Fall of the House of Kane trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Marguerite Bennett sticks the landing in the finale of her Batwoman Vol. 3: Fall of the House of Kane. With its aspirational ending, Bennett brings this Batwoman chapter to a strong close, in many respects more of a long-form Batwoman miniseries than a full-fledged series. That's fine, as it was nice to have a visit with Kate Kane at this point in the Rebirth juncture, and assuredly with the Batwoman TV pilot on the horizon, we'll see Kate in comics again one day. Bennett's series would make a great all-together omnibus (or large-form paperback Essential edition), and if nothing else, Bennett has proven that someone other than Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams can write a viable Kate Kane after some previous false starts (a nod also to James Tynion's Batwoman work in Detective Comics).

Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 6: Zod's Will trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Robert Venditti's Rebirth Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps series began with the premise of the joined Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps trying to work together. That offered suspense for a while, some strong character moments and political stories, through to when the partnership imploded in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 4: Fracture. But since that time, through the fifth volume and into Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 6: Zod's Will, it feels as though little is happening in this book, with minor developments only coming at the tail end of action-focused plots. I had hoped for more from the penultimate volume of Venditti's long Green Lantern run; one never wants to see a good run peter out, but this volume plus the one before make me think the time is right for the switchover to Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp's The Green Lantern.

Review: Nightwing Vol. 7: The Bleeding Edge trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 03, 2019

After a dynamic run on Green Arrow with lots of character and heart, Nightwing would seem a sure thing for writer Benjamin Percy, a logical next step in his DC Comics career. We know, however, that Nightwing Vol. 7: The Bleeding Edge ended up being Percy's sole solo Nightwing outing, with Scott Lobdell quickly taking over in the next book. Thus this is the beginning of the Nightwing title in a quandary, what should be a solid seller for DC about to be mired in a poorly regarded amnesia storyline and wanting for a regular creative team.

Bleeding Edge seems rather good Benjamin Percy material and problematic Nightwing, if you will. The techno-terror found here is quite in line with Percy's The Dark Net novel and his Green Arrow Vol. 8: The Night Birds, among others, revisiting themes very much in Percy's wheelhouse. At the same time, Nightwing Dick Grayson is far from the Luddite protagonist Percy needs for this story, and his attempts to shoehorn Nightwing into that role ring false. Especially after we have just seen how well a writer new to this title can spin a fresh story while using what came before, the lack of much to center this specifically as a Nightwing story is glaring.

DC Trade Solicitations for April 2019 - "New Justice" Justice League Vol. 2, Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1, Wonder Woman and the Justice League Dark: Witching Hour, Batman: Faces in the Shadows Essential Edition, Outsiders by Winick Book One

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

DC Comics's April 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations has a selection of interesting books in it, the second volume of Scott Snyder's "New Justice" Justice League and the first volume of Joshua Williamson's Justice League Odyssey, plus the hardcover of the Wonder Woman and the Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour crossover. We also see a DC Essential Edition of Batman: Hush just as news arrives that the Batman: The Hush Saga Omnibus has been cancelled. All this and the start of expanded collections of one of my all-time favorite series, Judd Winick's Outsiders, and Batman: Faces in the Shadows, an Essential Edition that isn't all it seems ...

Read on for more about this month's books.

Absolute Art of Adam Hughes HC

I'm updating this as news of some high-profile layoffs at DC is spreading. I tend to let these kinds of things shake out before speculating too much, but for a company that says it's going back to its roots, I wonder what place books like an Absolute edition of Adam Hughes' covers has. Certainly, if this is your thing, by all means enjoy, but clearly this is a book for a reader with a more studious interest in comics than just whether Batman will marry Catwoman, and again I wonder how profitable that is and what place it holds in the modern "superheroes as mass media" landscape. I do think books like this are important, but also I just lost my Batman: Hush Omnibus, so what do I know.

Astro City: Aftermaths HC

Hardcover collection of the final issues of the latest Vertigo Astro City series by Kurt Busiek, #47-52.

Batgirl Vol. 5: Art of the Crime TP

Collects issues #26-29, the Annual #2, and a story from issue #25, being the first collection of the new run by Mairghread Scott and Paul Pelletier.

Batman: Faces in the Shadows (DC Essential Edition) TP

The DC Essential Edition line has so far been paperback collections of major DC events or storylines, sometimes in slightly expanded or newly combined editions. The so-called Faces in the Shadows, however, is an interesting beast, being a combination collection of Tony Daniel's New 52 Detective Comics Vol. 1: Faces of Death and Detective Comics Vol. 2: Scare Tactics. The hook is good, and it's obvious why DC would want to make sure this one is perennially out there -- this is the story in which the Joker has his face cut off, ahead of Scott Snyder's best-selling Death of the Family -- but that's only the first four issues of this.

From there, as my reviews linked above attest, Daniel's Detective run becomes wildly uneven, with stories melodramatic, broken, and confused -- in one story a character is erroneously referred to by different names, in another Daniel tries halting to reconcile pre- and post-Flashpoint continuity, and there's also a Two-Face story completely out of step with anything. One issue picks up from events in David Finch's Dark Knight Vol. 1: Night Terrors; another is a "Night of the Owls" tie-in issue.

All of that is to say, while the initial Joker issues are actually great, there's a lot more going on in this book than just that, and a lot of it problematic. I don't recall seeing another Essential Edition book like this, which is not one whole story but rather a collection of multi-part stories. They are stripped down and continuity-light (mostly just Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred), and maybe that would appeal to the Essential Editions' audience, but this seems to me stretching the perceived definitions of this line.

Batman: Hush (DC Essential Edition) TP

Far more logical for DC Essential Edition paperback format is Batman: Hush, the perennial Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee story, now released in another format. To be sure, this is a piece of DC canon and well-deserves to remain in print.

I'd be remiss however not to mention that word just came down of the cancellation of the Batman: The Hush Saga omnibus. Sad day, though I tend not to attribute this to the current shakeups at DC so much as that there was not as much interest as I had hoped among the general pre-ordering public for a large collection of Hush's lesser-regarded cackling appearances in the pages of Gotham Knights. I'm disappointed but I can't say I'm terribly surprised.

But we've been conditioned of late not to see an omnibus cancellation as the end, so I very much look forward to a "Hush Saga" paperback set, separating out the Loeb/Lee stories from AJ Lieberman's and Paul Dini's, with matching spines a la the newest "Death of Superman" and "Knightfall" paperbacks.

Challengers of the Unknown by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale TP

Trade of the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale miniseries, which I admit I've never read. Aside from being by Loeb and Sale, the Challengers aren't exactly a known quantity, and I'm somewhat surprised DC keeps it so constantly in print unless it's just that good. This is the paperback release of last year's hardcover but I don't see that this has any additions from earlier collections, except for the more market-friendly title vs. the original title, "Challengers of the Unknown Must Die!"

Cover Vol. 1 TP

Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack's miniseries about comics creators recruited to the intelligence community, apparently based on a true story (sounds a bit like Argo), now collected.

The Flash by Mark Waid Book Six TP

Collects Flash #119-129, Flash/Green Lantern: Faster Friends #1-2, Flash Plus Nightwing #1, and a story from DC Universe Holiday Bash. These are kind of interstitial Flash/Waid stories, coming after "Dead Heat" and "Race Against Time" and leading up to when Grant Morrison and Mark Millar took over for ten or so issues, before Waid returned for his final twenty-ish issues (for then). There's a tie-in to Final Night and a sequel to Waid's Underworld Unleashed, and I'm very glad to see some of these specials and miniseries included too.

Frank Miller's Ronin TP

Black Label trade of the six-issue miniseries, with promotional art and fold-out pages.

Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1 TP

Paperback of the Earth One OGN by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow: Hard-Traveling Heroes New Edition TP

The classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76-87 and #89 and the backups from Flash #217-219 and #226. No word on anything special here aside from a new printing.

Green Lanterns Vol. 9: Evil's Might TP

The final volume of the Green Lanterns series, collecting issues #50-57, by Dan Jurgens.

Harley Quinn by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti Omnibus Vol. 3 HC

Collects issues #1-34 of the Harley Quinn Rebirth series, plus the Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary special. This may be the end of this omnibus series, as all the New 52 material and most of the miniseries and specials seem to be in the first two volumes, unless I'm overlooking something.

Hitman Book One TP

A new set of more-issues Hitman collections by Garth Ennis; this is Hitman #1-8, the Demon Annual #2, Hitman Annual #1, and a story from Batman Chronicles #4, having been the Hitman Vol. 1: A Rage in Arkham and Hitman Vol. 2: Ten Thousand Bullets collections.

House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

The 1970s House of Secrets #112-154.

Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1: The Ghost Sector TP

The new cosmic "New Justice" series by Joshua Williamson, collecting issues #1-5. This is also said to include a behind-the-scenes art section by Stjepan Sejic; at some point Sejic had to redraw two issues due to some kind of problem and Sejic has shared "lost" art from that time, so it'll be interesting to see if this is some of that art.

Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods TP

Collects Justice League #8-12, Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1, and Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1, in paperback. I'd feel there's some restraint here in DC not plastering Aquaman's name at the top, except of course last month just saw the solicitation of Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth in hardcover, being the same two specials, Justice League #10-12, and the Aquaman and Titans tie-in parts.

This is either good news or bad news, depending on whether the Aquaman and Titans issues are also collected in their own independent trades. If you can find all the disparate parts of the hardcover also in paperback, then it's all good and read it how ever you want. But if the Aquaman and Titans issues are only available in the hardcover (and my guess is, the Titans issue will appear in its own trade, but the Aquaman issues are up in the air), then it's double-dip city and nobody likes that.

Legends of the Dark Knight: Michael Golden HC

In hardcover; includes Batman Family #15-20, Batman #295 and #303, DC Special Series #15, Detective Comics #482, Batman Special #1, and Batman: Gotham Knights #22, plus cover work.

Lucifer Omnibus Vol. 1 TP

Collects Sandman Presents: Lucifer #1-3, Lucifer #1-35, and the Lucifer: Nirvana special, by Mike Carey. The series continues to issue #75, followed by a second series by Holly Black and others, and a new "Sandman Universe" series. It remains to be seen if these omnibuses will only collect the Mike Carey run or all of it.

The Outsiders by Judd Winick Book One TP

Among my all-time favorite series, Outsiders by Judd Winick is what Titans series are always striving to be -- hip, mature, smart, and character-driven. This is Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #1-3, Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files #1, and Outsiders #1-7 (being the Graduation Day and Outsiders: Looking for Trouble trades).

Pearl Vol. 1 TP

Collects issues #1-6 of the new series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos.

Raven: Daughter of Darkness Vol. 2 TP

I am not enthused by DC collecting this twelve-issue miniseries in two volumes, and I didn't hear much praise for Marv Wolfman's first iteration of this ("Daughter of Darkness" is the sequel to the first six-issue miniseries). But, the pairing of Wolfman's Raven and his Night Force creation is inspired, one of those things that's astounding it didn't happen sooner, and that piques my interest for this a bit more.

Sandman Vol. 8: Worlds' End 30th Anniversary New Edition TP

Issues #51-56 with a new introduction by Joe Hill.

Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 5 HC

Collects issue #25-30; this series will be ending with issue #36, so probably one more trade after this.

Shazam!: The World's Mightiest Mortal Vol. 1 HC

Collects issues #1-18 of the 1970s series with Dennis O'Neil, Otto Binder, Elliot S. Maggin, E. Nelson Bridwell, C.C. Beck, and Dave Cockrum, among others. This series went 35 issues, so maybe one more volume after this. Do I need to say "Where is Power of Shazam?"

The Silencer Vol. 2: Hell-Iday Road TP

Collects issues #7-12 and Annual #1. Silencer is one of the few "New Age of Heroes" titles still going strong, and I'd like to think it'll last at least until Brian Michael Bendis' "Leviathan" event.

Suicide Squad Vol. 8: Legerdemain TP

Collects the final issues of John Ostrander and Kim Yale's Suicide Squad, issues #59-66, including a War of the Gods tie-in issue (which guest-stars Grant Morrison as a character). After so many collections series cancelled before their time, I'm glad this one made it (also Mike Grell's Green Arrow).

Superman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Four TP

The solicitation for this volume describes the events of Superman Vol. 6: Imperius Lex as well as Superman Vol. 7: Bizarroverse, but the Imperius Lex issues were in the last Rebirth volume, so clearly they're not here. This is then issues #37-45, Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Superman Special, and their story from Action Comics #1000, which is a couple single issue stories from Vol. 6 plus the entirety of Vol. 7 and two parts of the "Super Sons of Tomorrow" crossover.

Swamp Thing: Protector of the Green (DC Essential Edition) TP

This is Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette's New 52 Swamp Thing series. The solicitation says issues #1-10, the Annual #1, and Jeff Lemire's Animal Man #12 and #17. Those latter issues, however, are part of the "Rotworld" crossover, tying in around the end of Snyder's run, issues #12-18. I'd guess this is the entirety of Snyder's run; indeed the 2015 deluxe edition was all of those issues and the Animal Man ones.

Takio New Edition TP

The first Takio graphic novel about two super-powered siblings, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Book Three TP

Issues #20-26, #29-31 of the Geoff Johns run, with Outsiders #24-25 (Teen Titans #27-28 were a Hawk and Dove story by Gail Simone and Rob Liefeld. This starts with an Identity Crisis tie-in and goes right up to Infinite Crisis.

Wonder Woman and the Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour HC

People, we haven't even talked about the fact that the first Justice League Dark trade collects issues #1-3 and #5-7 of that series, and for issue #4 (and Wonder Woman #56-57 and Justice League Dark/Wonder Woman: The Witching Hour #1 and Wonder Woman/Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour #1 [!]), you have to go to this hardcover instead.

It is not even that the first volume is in paperback and the crossover is in hardcover (so if you wait for the paperback, you'll probably have to wait another year to fill in that gap), so much as that there is that gap in the first place. I don't mind crossovers, even crossovers in other volumes, but pulling the fourth issue from a book seems inconvenient; I'd as soon they put the "Witching Hour" issues in the first volume and save #5-7 for the second.

Omitting the crossover issues didn't work recently, for instance, with Teen Titans Vol. 3: The Return of Kid Flash, where reading all the way through, Titans Tower is suddenly destroyed because of events in Super Sons of Tomorrow; I fear the same kind of thing here.

Anyone who's read Justice League Dark in single issues, will omitting the crossover from the trade affect my reading of issues #5-7?

Review: Curse of Brimstone Vol. 1: Inferno trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

With shades of Walking Dead, Curse of Brimstone is suddenly, unexpectedly the horror book that's been missing from DC Comics' Rebirth lineup. Despite that the title is already cancelled, against all odds Brimstone Joe Chamberlain might be among the most viable of the characters to come out of the "New Age of Heroes" initiative, easy to slot into Justice League Dark or elsewhere. In Curse of Brimstone Vol. 1: Inferno, writer Justin Jordan offers a set of stories episodic and terrifying, anchored by a brother-sister team not often seen in mainstream superheroics. This book is surprisingly strong, and if DC can't make it work for Jordan with an unknown protagonist, they'd do well to get Jordan on another title with a similar aesthetic posthaste.

Review: Batgirl Vol. 4: Strange Loop trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Through a couple of stories in Batgirl Vol. 4: Strange Loop, Hope Larson seems to be finding a distinctive voice for the series, making the fact of the end of her run unfortunate. But no sooner does this book get good than it stumbles, reminding of some of the other misses over the past 25 issues, and at that point the end seems right. There's sufficient here to remind of the best of the Burnside era, including plenty good art, but also sufficient tidbits to whet my appetite for Mairghread Scott's new run, too.

[Review contains spoilers]

The premise of Larson's Rebirth Batgirl run has been to affect a certain distance between Batgirl Barbara Gordon and her adopted Burnside neighborhood. Larson -- being the first (and essentially only) writer to tackle the Burnside Batgirl besides creators Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and company -- first sent Barbara overseas; upon her return, Barbara was still "of" Burnside, but the narrative was peppered with Barbara's recognition of differences, including Burnside's growing gentrification.

Review: Trinity Vol. 4: The Search for Steve Trevor trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

That Trinity Vol. 4: The Search for Steve Trevor marks the end of the Rebirth Trinity series is not a great surprise. The series started with an interesting premise, the pseudo-New 52 Batman and Wonder Woman getting to know the pre-Flashpoint Superman, but with Superman Reborn, this became simply a "Big Three" team-up book.

Not that that might not have a place, but especially with Trinity Vol. 3: Dark Destiny, we've increasingly been seeing a title that wants for a regular creative team and also a storyline with some relevance. I like that this volume launches from Wonder Woman's search for Themyscira, but nothing significant happens in that regard; with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman regularly appearing in one another's titles these days and in Justice League, a toothless team-up of this sort no longer impresses just for existing.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 8: On the Outside trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bryan Hill's Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 8: On the Outside whets my appetite for Hill's Batman and the Outsiders series, just as the future of that series unfortunately becomes murky. Even so, as my first exposure to Hill's comics work, I was satisfied and would be happy to read this author again; I also thought artist Miguel Mendonca was solid here, with shades of Eddy Barrows' good work earlier on Detective.

In this age of multiple Leagues and ubiquitous Bat-families, the dynamic original Mike W. Barr Outsiders lineup has less to distinguish it now as necessary and relevant except for nostalgia value. However, I thought Hill did a good job here of presenting Black Lightning Jefferson Pierce as a teacher above all, and that's a laudable hook on which to hang a team book, teen heroes with leader as teacher-mentor. Hill also brings a believable "outsider's view of the Bat-family" perspective to the book; we see this both in Pierce's interactions and in some of the missteps in Hill's story, totally forgivable from a new Bat-writer in an overall impressive first outing.

Review: Superman Vol. 7: Bizarroverse trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Superman Vol. 7: Bizarroverse brings to a close Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's run on Superman. Surely this series was better than Superman has been in a while, though this volume offers prime examples of how quickly heartfelt in this run could turn to cloying. No doubt there's something to be said for humorous, all-ages Superman stories like these and an ode to the rural Superman aesthetic we're probably unlikely to see again for a while. I wouldn't besmirch what Tomasi and Gleason have accomplished here, but this finale makes me more excited for the new team than nostalgic for the past.

[Review contains spoilers]

Tomasi and Gleason's Superboy Jon Kent has grown on me. There's a particular tone the writers give Jon when he's semi-panicking -- usually caught between a hard place and his parents finding out about the hard place -- that cracks me up every time, here when "Boyzarro" has crashed into Jon's room. I also think the writers' conception of a boy Jon's age is particularly apt, as when Jon has been eager to venture to Dinosaur Island to save Captain William Storm but then gets cold feet right before departure.