Review: Supergirl Vol. 5: Red Daughter of Krypton trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Rather like Superboy and other similar New 52-launched titles, the Supergirl series showed signs of going downhill even before we knew it would be cancelled with the next volume before Convergence. The book started with two relatively strong volumes, then had a volume almost entirely devoted to the "H'El" crossover that didn't acquit Supergirl Kara Zor-El well. Then the creative team changed for a troubled fourth volume, and now the creative team (and title direction) has changed again for Supergirl Vol. 5: Red Daughter of Krypton, and then the team and direction is going to change one more time in the final volume. That many new teams, and that many new shifts, and you can sense trouble in the air.

Review: Loki: Agent of Asgard Vol. 3: Last Days trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

The cascade of titles ending and beginning during Secret Wars is about to reach its height today. Not only is the event just two-thirds complete, but the All-New All-Different era starts with Invincible Iron Man before the old universe ends in the pages of the “Last Days” titles such as Ms. Marvel. Because the mystery of the new female Thor’s secret identity took precedence in the Thor title, it fell to Loki: Agent of Asgard to tell the “last” story of the Asgardians in Loki: Agent of Asgard Vol. 3: Last Days. Al Ewing and Lee Garbett complete Loki’s arc of redemption and truly move him/her into a new phase ... I’ll get back to that pronoun trouble shortly.

Review: Joker: Endgame hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, October 05, 2015

Among the many ways DC Comics got the "comics event" format right this time with Batman: Endgame was to tell a complete story in the pages of Batman, and then to publish specials that involved the Bat-family's ancillary titles, wholly separate from the main "Endgame" story and without interrupting the other titles' ongoing stories. The result is that The Joker: Endgame is entirely optional reading, but also enjoyable reading that makes a fitting companion to Endgame proper. There's some sense of the individual titles' identities here, but moreover they all work together to make a book about stories -- and indeed, a book about stories about the Joker -- making Joker: Endgame a volume that celebrates the Clown Prince of Crime and reasonably stands on its own apart from the "Endgame" event, too.

Review: Constantine Vol. 3: The Voice in the Fire trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 01, 2015

It only took three volumes, but in Constantine Vol. 3: The Voice in the Fire, writer Ray Fawkes finally gets five issues of Constantine to tell a story uninterrupted by crossovers or the needs of other titles, and the book is better for it. Ultimately the book is neither so mature nor involved as ardent John Constantine fans might like, but there's some cogent riffs on ghost stories here and interesting crosses and double-crosses. I know Constantine is headed back to crossover-land in the next volume, but these five issues (and the Futures End tie-in issue) continue to hint at what a Constantine book might have looked like left solely to Fawkes's own devices.

Trade Perspectives: Was (Not Was) Omega Men

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

[Column by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

The mission of Collected Editions is to appreciate comic books in their trade paperback format. In a perfect world, this would work as an inviolable philosophy. Unfortunately, trade-waiting is not a tactic embraced by comic book companies. Some are better about it than others, such as Valiant, which has the title's next trade solicited on the last page of the current one. Marvel is getting a little better at putting out trades faster and at releasing softcover versions of hardcovers and omnibuses. DC may well be getting faster too, but in the case of one book, it isn't going to be fast enough. The first trade of Omega Men won't be released until March 2016. By then, the title will be gone.

Review: Batman Vol. 7: Endgame hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, September 28, 2015

At the turning point of an overall impressive run, Batman Vol. 7: Endgame is the best thing Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have done so far.

As a sequel to Batman Vol. 3: Death of the Family, Endgame serves the best possible role of a sequel, enhancing and buffeting the first story even as it stands triumphant in its own right. As a Joker story, Endgame offers an origin for the Clown Prince of Crime that reaches deep into the Batman mythos, even as it preserves the mystique that makes the Joker who he is. And as a Batman story, Snyder puts his strongest mark on the character yet, redefining what has been Batman, the myth, into now Batman, the man.

Review: Justice League Dark Vol. 5: Paradise Lost trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, September 24, 2015

I enjoyed Phantom Stranger under Dan DiDio, but then J. M. DeMatteis came on the title and delivered as good if not better on the (sadly mostly overlooked) series. In Justice League Dark Vol. 5: Paradise Lost, DeMatteis's first independent Dark trade, he takes over from Jeff Lemire (and artist Andres Guinaldo takes over for Mikel Janin), which seems to me a much tougher act to follow. DeMatteis doesn't present the Dark characters poorly, but the trade contains two "secret origin"-type stories, and neither improved on the character it profiled. The book lacks complexity at a time when comics need it all the more.

Review: Ant-Man Vol. 1: Second-Chance Man trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

Though it's mostly through coincidence, there's a lot in common between Ant-Man Vol. 1: Second-Chance Man and this summer's excellent film. They have the same plot on a macro scale and share specific plot beats -- an interview ruined by Scott Lang's prison record, a job gained by cracking another hero's complex safe, a motley crew of good-intentioned thieves that operates a robbery out of a van, and so on. The villain is even Darren Cross, making his return after thirty years of stasis. Because there are few Ant-Man stories in trade form, Nick Spencer made the wise decision to tie this story back into Scott's origin, the one story casual fans will most likely have read in reprints like the Ant-Man Prelude trade.

DC Trade Solicitations for January/February 2016 - Batgirl Cassandra Cain, Batman by Brubaker, Black Mirror Noir, Grayson Vol. 2

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The January/February 2016 list of DC Comics hardcover and trade paperback collection releases (posted September 2015) is out; as opposed to last month, when we saw a lot of new solicitations of 1980s/1990s comics collections, this month is a little more humdrum (they can't all be winners).

If you've never read Kelley Puckett and Scott Peterson's Cassanda Cain Batgirl, first of all shame on you, and second there's a collection for you this month; also Batman by Ed Brubaker, Batman Noir: Black Mirror, and the start of a Supergirl trade reprint series. But nothing to really, really get the blood pumping, I don't think. Let's take a look:

Batgirl Vol. 1: Silent Knight TP

We had previously believed this to be called Cassandra Cain: Batgirl Vol. 1, though now it's just "Batgirl." That's a little unfortunate -- I'd like to see this better differentiated from the Barbara Gordon volumes -- but the title is cute, "Silent Knight" being a mix of the original Batgirl Vol. 1: Silent Running and Batgirl Vol. 2: A Knight Alone.The book collects all of the previous volume 1 and most of volume 2, going right up to Officer Down. The Batgirl annual that's included has never been collected before, so that's nice; all in all a good start to this.

Batman by Ed Brubaker Vol. 1 TP

The contents remain consistent from the earlier solicitation of this. The inclusion of the "Our Worlds at War" issue will make fun placement on the DC Trade Paperback Timeline. The new solicitation text for this ("Ed Brubaker’s legendary run on Batman is collected, starting with ...) strongly suggests future volumes to come.

Batman Noir: The Black Mirror HC

Previous solicitations had just Detective Comics #871-877, but the new solicitations include #871-881, the entire original volume. There are not many books I'm interested in reading in black and white nor buying twice, but Black Mirror was such a good story and Jock and Francesco Francavilla's art would look so good in black and white, this is very, very tempting.

Batman: Shaman TP (New Edition)

Nice to see the collection of the very first Legends of the Dark Knight storyline getting a reprint.

• DC Comics Presents: Darkseid War 100-Page Super Spectacular #1

Collects the first Jack Kirby issues of Mister Miracle, New Gods, and Forever People, plus New Gods #7. I won't spoil it if you're not up to date, but New Gods #7 is a triumph of serial storytelling back in the day, with events from that title significantly affecting the other Fourth World titles even though the effects wouldn't be felt right away.

• DC Comics Presents: Robin War 100-Page Super Spectacular #1

Includes Teen Titans #29 (Tim Drake vs. Jason Todd), Batman #657 (Tim Drake vs. Damian Wayne), Nightwing #139 (Tim Drake vs. Dick Grayson), and Battle for the Cowl #3 (everyone vs. everyone), all of which rather suggests Tim Drake has some anger issues.

Grayson Vol. 2: We All Die at Dawn TP

Another Grayson collection that's not so long, just four issues and an annual, but darned if Tim Seeley and Tom King don't make it worth it. Sorry all who bought the first Grayson hardcover, but this one is paperback only. Midnighter appears, of course.

New Teen Titans Vol. 4 TP

Collects New Teen Titans #21-27 and the Annual #1, which is still in the midst of New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2 (or New Teen Titans Archive Vol. 2, which included a Titans vs. Greek gods tale, and also details Changeling's past with the Doom Patrol. This is all plenty of issues ahead of Judas Contract, and still a ways to go until these paperbacks start reprinting previously-unreprinted material.

Red Hood and The Outlaws Vol. 7: Last Call TP

The final Red Hood collection before Convergence collects issues #35-40 and the Futures End tie-in.

• Supergirl Vol. 1: The Girl of Steel TP

Collects the previous Jeph Loeb Supergirl: Power and Joe Kelly Supergirl: Candor trades, featuring the mid-2000s "bad girl celebrity"-type Supergirl.

Not poor stories, though assuredly controversial. One certainly wonders, in the advent of the Supergirl TV series, why DC isn't reprinting the more-closely-related Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle issues. Possibly (unfortunately) there's a bit more obvious prurience to these issues that might help sell them off the shelf, though the Gates stories will again seem more familiar to TV-watchers.

Superman: Emperor Joker TP

Glad to see a reprint from one of my favorite Superman eras (behind the Triangle Titles) though why it's being reprinted necessarily is hard to say, short of the ubiquity of all things Joker these days. This is a straight reprint of the original volume, though at some point I wish this volume would include Action Comics #784, a "Joker's Last Laugh" tie-in, which was a rather poignant epilogue to Emperor Joker by Joe Kelly.

Swamp Thing Vol. 7: Season’s End TP

The final Swamp Thing collection before Convergence, including issues #35-40, the Annual #3, and the Futures End tie-in.

What are you buying? Anything I overlooked?

Review: Flash: Season Zero trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, September 21, 2015

The downside of television tie-in comics, in my opinion, has been that in an attempt not to contradict the show, the comics offer either vague character origins or inconsequential between-the-episodes tales that put all the pieces back where they're found; the ye olde Smallville monthly had this problem, as did the inaugural Arrow digital comic. To that end, I was intrigued by the announcements of both the Arrow: Season 2.5 and Flash: Season Zero digital comics (the latter of which newly collected in trade paperback), which, acting as "seasons," might sooner provide a cohesive story than a series of one-off tales.