Review: Batgirl Vol. 6: Old Enemies trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mairghread Scott and Paul Pelletier depart Batgirl, unfortunately, just as it was getting good. Scott spins a story often buffeted by unexpected characters and continuity ties, and in the end she ties up the final threads of the Burnside era well in a way that clears the decks for the next creative team. The final issues are unexpectedly moving. And where the story in Batgirl Vol. 6: Old Enemies struggles, Pelletier's art looks as good as ever (with inks by Norm Rapmund). Again, this feels like Scott and Pelletier finding their stride, and one can only hope that some of the situations and supporting cast established here carry over into the forthcoming Cecil Castellucci/Carmine Di Giandomenico run.

[Review contains spoilers]

Old Enemies is a seven-issue trade consisting of the three-part "Old Enemies" and the three-part "Terrible," bridged by the one-off "Blow Out." In this way, the book is exceptionally well structured; "Old Enemies" is strong and eventually quite shocking on its own, establishing Barbara Gordon's new status quo and cast well, and then "Terrible" raises the stakes further. Both stories are simultaneously so short on their own, but also so well realized and connected, that the book never seems to drag but at the same time I came away feeling like I'd been with these characters for a while. And not only does "Blow Out" connect the two, it also grounds Batgirl firmly in larger events in the DC Universe.

Review: Batman Vol. 11: The Fall and the Fallen trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

With just over 10 issues to go before the end of Tom King's regular Batman run, Batman Vol. 11: The Fall and the Fallen is a big one, giving us our clearest look yet at Bane's overarching plan to break the Batman. The answers, when they come, describe a plan so outlandish as to challenge even the limits of comic book believability, but no one can say King's run so far has not been about pushing the limits. And wonderfully — in the weirdo, mad, loopy storytelling style that has come to define this run — we begin to see various thematic elements coming back home to roost, demonstrating above all else that nothing has been accidental in this run and nothing has been wasted. I am so, so very tempted to end King's run by going back and reading the whole thing over again.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Marc Andryeko's Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle is the other half of a crossover with Superman, collected as Superman was without its missing pieces, and it shows. Whereas Andreyko's run on Supergirl started well, with a bunch of cosmic cameos that it was fun to see Kara Zor-El interact with, at this point we're down to a bunch of fight scenes in what seems like time-biding in an effort to let Superman catch up. The Superman half of "House of El" lacked some answers and Sins of the Circle provides them, but I'm not sure the answers are all that meaningful (perhaps more so had the whole story been collected together, but maybe not even then). The best news is the new direction posited for Supergirl at the end of this book, though with Andreyko about to depart, unfortunately this leaves his run with a shaky legacy.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Arkham Knight hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, January 05, 2020

I found Peter Tomasi's debut on Detective Comics somewhat disappointing, so I'm pleased to find his Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Arkham Knight workable and interesting. There's great art too from Brad Walker, whose work I enjoyed early in Dan Abnett's Aquaman. Though it feels that Detective here still suffers from its "that other Batman title" status, Tomasi does fine in creating a new Bat-rogue, though I think the final tally depends on what happens next; it's hard to see what Tomasi's run is "about" just yet. I would note that I found Tomasi's depiction of the Bruce Wayne/Robin Damian Wayne relationship more tolerable here than in the latter days of Batman and Robin; that's good, because I enjoyed it, but at the same time I'm dismayed that Tomasi's Detective is tending toward a kind of Batman and Robin-light.

Review: DCeased hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Tom Taylor's DCeased is wonderful and terrible (in the zombie apocalypse visted on the DC Universe and the wrenching sacrifices the heroes must make) and also terrible (in a variety of odd continuity choices and mischaracterizations that otherwise distract from the tale). Despite or perhaps because of its hangups, DCeased is prime summer blockbuster fare (though with the collection, of course, arriving in the wintertime). I'm game for Taylor's villain-focused follow-up to this book, but that's not exactly a sequel; I'd be interested to see Taylor return to chronicle what happens after this book's final pages.

Review: Teen Titans/Deathstroke: The Terminus Agenda hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Though ostensibly a Teen Titans/Deathstroke crossover, Christopher Priest's Deathstroke is somewhat tertiary to Teen Titans/Deathstroke: The Terminus Agenda. Indeed, Priest does move Deathstroke from point A to point B here, setting up the final volume of Priest's run, but in large part Deathstroke is a bystander who happens to get drawn into the Titans' web; the real drama here is how Deathstroke's presence reveals the long-standing secrets of Adam Glass's Titans, bringing that team to a crisis point.

Though the final cliffhanger gives Glass's Titans other things to worry about, it'll be interesting to see where the team goes from here. The aforementioned secrets have always been bound to come out, bound to change the team; the question is, will this launch a new iteration of Glass's Titans or will the team be able to stay together, and in what ways will they be changed — especially as it comes to Robin Damian Wayne's leadership? As I've written before, in loosing some of the tropes of DC's Teen Titans past, Glass has created something new, unpredictable, and often dark; I'm interested to see how that trend continues.

Review: Hawkman Vol. 2: Deathbringer trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 22, 2019

I'm always pleased when DC Comics gives Hawkman another go; most assuredly the character's history is not as complicated as he has a reputation for and there have been a couple of particularly good runs over the years, so I'm usually game to try again. Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch's first new Hawkman volume was quite good, building on recent Hawkman paradigms in expansive ways.

This second volume, Hawkman Vol. 2: Deathbringer, does not quite live up to the first; the book starts out very well, but peters out toward the end. Many mysteries are resolved here, which may be part of the problem, but also it feels like Venditti has a few more pages than he has material for. But I'm still on board; with this first twelve-issue introductory arc out of the way, I'm happy to see what Venditti has in store for the day-in, day-out of a Hawkman comic.

DC Trade Solicitations for March 2020 - Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part One, Last Knight on Earth by Snyder and Capullo, Superman: Up in the Sky by King and Kubert, New Gods by Conway, Batman/TMNT III, Joker: 80 Years

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Continuing our theme of late, the DC Comics March 2020 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations have a bunch of books I'll be reading, though not really anything too long-awaited or surprising. That itself is not particularly surprising, as these solicitations follow the catalogs, so we know more or less what we're going to get (but not always what we're not going to get) through this coming summer.

Mostly my buy list is the "regular series" trades — Tom King's next Batman and Peter Tomasi's next Detective Comics, the new Batman/Superman, the next Catwoman and Wonder Woman and Teen Titans. Aside from those, I'm interested of course in the next collaboration between Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, Batman: Last Knight on Earth, the collection of post-Jack Kirby New Gods material by Gerry Conway, and the formerly-Walmart-exclusive Superman: Up in the Sky by Tom King and Andy Kubert, which seems a pretty big deal just overshadowed by how it was released.

Anything on the list that I didn't mention that you're really looking forward to? Here it all is ...

Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part One HC

The penultimate collection of Tom King's Batman, collecting issues #75-79.

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

Issues #1006-1011 by Peter Tomasi with Doug Mahnke and others, guest-starring the Spectre.

Batman: Kings of Fear TP

Paperback of the six-issue miniseries by Scott Peterson and Kelley Jones, previously in hardcover.

Batman: Last Knight on Earth HC

Three-issue Black Label miniseries by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, due in hardcover in April.

Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Who Are the Secret Six? HC

In hardcover, the first collection of Josuha Williamson's new series, spinning off of the Batman Who Laughs miniseries.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III HC

Issues #1-6 by James Tynion and Freddie Williams.

Catwoman Vol. 3: Friend or Foe? TP

Issues #14-19 by Joelle Jones, tying in to "Year of the Villain."

DC First Issue Special HC

Issues #1-13 of DC's 1970s anthology series 1st Issue Special. Stories by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Walt Simonson, and Mike Grell, with characters like Atlas, Manhunter, Dingbats of Danger Steet, Warlord, Metamorpho, the Creeper, the New Gods, the Green Team, and Lady Cop.

DC Poster Portfolio: Stanley "Artgerm" Lau Vol. 2 TP

Apparently the first one sold so well they're doing it again.

Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds TP

Collects the entirety of Gerard Way's latest Doom Patrol series, with issues #1-7.

Freedom Fighters: Rise of a Nation TP

Twelve-issue miniseries by Robert Venditti and Eddy Barrows (pretty glad they didn't split this up into two volumes).

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Book Three TP

Collects Green Lantern #18-25, Green Lantern Corps #14-18, Green Lantern Sinestro Corps Special #1, Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime #1 and Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps: Secret Files #1, so pretty much all of the "Sinestro Corps War" story, give or take an issue or so (not Green Lantern Corps #19, for instance, but that might be outside this series' purview).

The Joker: 80 Years of the Clown Prince of Crime HC

Said to collect stories from the original Batman #1 to issues by Scott Snyder, Tony Daniel, and Paul Dini (who wrote an especially good one in Detective Comics #826 and I hope that's in here). In hardcover.

The New Gods by Gerry Conway HC

Collects the late 1970s post-Kirby relaunch of New Gods, including 1st Issue Special #13, New Gods #12-19 by Gerry Conway and Don Newton, Adventure Comics #459-460 (the end of the previous series), Super-Team Family #15 (team-up with Flash), and Justice League of America #183-185 (New Gods, Justice League, and Justice Society).

Shazam!: The World's Mightiest Mortal Vol. 2 HC

Collects Shazam! #19, #20, #25-35, and All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58 (Captain Marvel vs. Superman) from the 1970s, running parallel to the TV series; these are the final issues of that Shazam! comic. The issues skipped seem to have been reprints of stories from the 1940s-1950s. Creative teams include Elliot S! Maggin and E. Nelson Bridwell.

Superman Smashes the Klan TP

Paperback of the three-issue miniseries for young readers by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru.

Superman: The Golden Age Vol. 5 TP

World's Finest Comics #6-8, Superman #16-19, Action Comics #48-57.

Superman: Up in the Sky HC

The Walmart-exclusive stories by Tom King and Andy Kubert. That's a strong team; though I might not ordinarily be so quick to nab a one-off out-of-continuity volume, I'm curious to read King's take on Superman outside of the Batman title.

Tales of the Batman: Steve Englehart HC

What was previously solicited, I believe, as Legends of the Dark Knight: Steve Englehart is now "Tales of the Batman," collecting Detective Comics #439 and #469-476, Batman #311, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #109-111, Legends of the DC Universe #26-27 (Joker and Aquaman in a "Joker Fish" sequel), Batman: Dark Detective #1-6, and a story from Batman Chronicles #19.

Teen Titans Vol. 3: Seek and Destroy TP

Issues #31-36 in the wake of the Terminus Agenda crossover with Deathstroke, now tying in to "Year of the Villain."

Transmetropolitan Book Three TP

Issues #25-36 and a story from Vertigo: Winter's Edge #3, the fifth and sixth original trade paperbacks.

Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield HC

Wonder Woman #66-73 by G. Willow Wilson, in hardcover. Wilson's run goes to issue #81, so likely one more collection.

Wonder Woman: Her Greatest Victories TP

Collects Wonder Woman #329 (final pre-Crisis issue; Diana marries Steve Trevor), Wonder Woman #9 (1987) (first post-Crisis Cheetah), Justice League #13-14 (2012) (New 52, Cheetah vs. Wonder Woman and Superman), Wonder Woman #10 (2017) (Rebirth "Year One" issue), Wonder Woman #24 (2017) (poignant issue with Veronica Cale and Steve Trevor), and Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor #1 (2017) (recent special). Clear to see how this would fit in bookstore table displays to tie in to the new movie.

Young Justice Vol. 1: Gemworld TP

Paperback collecting issues #1-6, following the hardcover.

Review: Nightwing: Burnback trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Surprising as it is, even to me, the ill-conceived adventures of former Nightwing "Ric" (nee Dick) Grayson have yet to be so bad. We're not talking about the operatics of Christopher Priest's Deathstroke or the post-modern art of Tom King's Batman, but for something that seems questionable on paper ("Ric Grayson and the Nightwings!"), the result is better than a couple other books I've read lately.

Among other things in Nightwing: Burnback, the supporting cast is decent; as easy as it would have been for the writers to populate this book with "the angry Nightwing," "the smart Nightwing," etc., they've actually got some personality, explored particularly in this volume. Second, artists Travis Moore and Ronan Cliquet bring a particularly clear-eyed, attractive vision of Nightwing and his pseudo-hipster world to the page. This buffets the book even when the story lags, and the consistency between Moore and Cliquet bridges a change in writers that makes the transition almost seamless.

Review: Catwoman Vol. 2: Far From Gotham trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

I like Joelle Jones' art a lot, and I enjoyed her first volume of Catwoman. The decked stacked against this series is high; though I enjoyed the heist-and-horror tone of the book, it seemed clear Jones' spinoff series was no better informed about Tom King's plans over in the main Batman book than the ill-fated Preludes to the Wedding was. I wouldn't scoff at a well-written Catwoman book, but this series seems very much intended to capitalize on the interest in Selina Kyle around the Bat-wedding and not necessarily because someone had a great idea for a Catwoman series proper. That can be shaky ground when purpose comes before premise.

The trouble begins to show in Catwoman Vol. 2: Far From Gotham. Jones takes the characters from the first volume and moves them along a typical Catwoman plot — Selina steals something, a villain goes after Selina's friends to get it back. We've seen this before and with more emotion and resonance; Jones' writing isn't poor by any sense, it's just that the story isn't adding anything new to the Catwoman genre. Along with that, the book is rife with filler, action sequences that just fill the page count. In all of this, we see a Catwoman book biding its time until it can hit its next mark in line with the Batman book, and if that's the case then this spinoff may have been better off as a true limited series or such.