Review: Catwoman Vol. 5: Race of Thieves trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ann Nocenti's Catwoman Vol. 5: Race of Thieves is not as strong as the previous volume, Gotham Underground, which was itself somewhat troubled. On its face Race of Thieves should have the upper hand, being at least a Catwoman-style heist story, instead of Gotham Underground's weird fantasy milieu. But, despite not really being a "Catwoman story," Underground's bizarre subterranean tribes and villains made it an interesting read in general; Race's more generic supervillain theatrics combined with Nocenti's trademark, but sometimes off-putting, leaps in logic make for a confusing and not very engaging volume.

Review: Hawkeye vs. Deadpool trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Various delays have led to the final issue of Matt Fraction's Hawkeye being released in July ... a few months after the debut of its replacement title, Jeff Lemire's All-New Hawkeye. While the Hawkeye vs. Deadpool mini-series would likely have been created without the long interruptions on one of its titles, its existence helped tide eager fans over while serving as part of a new Deadpool franchise extension. Bloat is always a worry when it comes to spin-offs and Deadpool had to pick up a bit of the slack left over from the lack of Wolverine. While Deadpool's Art of War was disappointing, the time-travel romp Deadpool vs. X-Force was fun and the Hawkeye vs. Deadpool collection is good enough to stand on its own merits.

DC Trade Solicitations for September/October 2015 - Multiversity Deluxe, Absolute Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Suicide Squad, Deathstroke Book and Mask

Monday, May 25, 2015

Last month had a whole bunch of New 52 collections -- though I guess we almost can't call them that any more -- and now the September/October 2015 DC Comics hardcover and trade paperback collection releases (posted May 2015) have the opposite; almost no new collections, with an emphasis on reprint material. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it makes for a sparse month relatively.

I would mention that while the Convergence collections aren't solicited yet, they are due in the same month as many of these collections, October, so that might help round out the month when all is said and done. But let's take a look at what we've got so far:

New 52: Futures End Vol. 3 TP
Multiversity Deluxe Edition HC
Crisis on Infinite Earths Deluxe Edition HC

In a group of solicitations that doesn't have much in the way of brand-new material, most assuredly the star is the deluxe collection of all nine Multiversity issues plus the Multiversity Guidebook.

I'm glad the final volume of Futures End lands the month before (Futures End in September, Multiversity in October) so that I can read them "in order," so to speak. And no waiting -- the Convergence collections will also be along on October, so it's not a long wait to finish this whole story once the end is in sight.

Deluxe Crisis on Infinite Earths in the same month as the Multiversity and Convergence collections is a nice touch. Who could've predicted back in 1986 we'd end up here?

Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Trial by Fire TP

No doubt meant to coincide with interest spurred by the new movie, Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Trial by Fire has the same contents as the edition of the same released in 2011. As we've discussed here before, that first collection of John Ostrander's Suicide Squad was meant to be followed by a second, The Nightshade Odyssey, but that book was canceled. I bought Trial originally so I'm disinclined to buy it again, but this has got to be one of those times that pre-ordering matters if we're to see more volumes of Ostrander's run.

UPDATE: A new edition of Suicide Squad Vol. 2: The Nighshade Odyssey has just become available for pre-order. Again, I know we've been burned on this one once, but I'm certain that if you want to see these reprints go through, pre-ordering is going to be your friend. (Hat tip to Hix -- check out his Waiting for Doom podcast.)

New Teen Titans Vol. 3 TP

Three volumes in, and this third trade paperback is just now reaching the end of the first New Teen Titans Omnibus. At this point, it's going to be a heck of a long time before we discern whether these paperbacks will correct the mistakes of New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3 or not.

• Deathstroke Book and Mask Set

I haven't yet read an issue of Tony Daniel's new Deathstroke series, so I can't comment whether it's good or not, but anecdotally I can also say that neither have I heard anyone else raving about it. Surely a Deathstroke series is a good and useful thing for the DC Universe (all the more so because however popular a present-day Deathstroke series is, that can only buoy collections of Marv Wolfman's 1990s Deathstroke series), and releasing a Deathstroke mask is obviously a good marketing decision.

I do question the claim of "new, hit series" in this solicitation, however, and wonder which inspired what in this set. Whereas the similar Joker mask was directly brought forth by Scott Snyder's Death in the Family storyline that was collected with the mask, here I have a sense the book is almost incidental (and could as easily have been, for instance, a copy of Identity Crisis, which for all its flaws has one of the top ten best Deathstroke fights).

Arrow Season 2.5 TP
The Flash Season Zero TP

I felt the first handful of Arrow digital comics dragged, basically just echoing the episodes or otherwise being too careful not to step on the toes of what the episodes might establish. I haven't read the Arrow Season 2.5 stories nor Flash Season Zero, but my sense is they're better in those regards, telling fresh stories to some extent off on their own. I'd be especially curious to check out the Flash book, which if I understand correctly takes place more or less before Barry is actually called "the Flash."

Absolute Green Lantern/Green Arrow HC

Just to establish, this Absolute edition contains exactly the same material as previous Green Lantern/Green Arrow collections. That in no way lessens this collection -- and if you haven't read these staples of DC Comics literature, then you should -- but the first thing I look at when I see these kinds of reprint collections is whether they stuck something new in there, like a Kyle Rayner and Connor Hawke team-up or something. No dice.

New reviews later this week. Be sure to drop by the comments section and let me know what's on your to-buy list for September/October, and what you think of DC Comics's potential new trade dress examined last Friday.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 6: Icarus launches new DC trade dress

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thanks to Collected Editions readers James Harvey-Richardson and Aleks Ivic (@thedeluxedition) for pointing out that the newly released Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 6: Icarus omits the "New 52" moniker and offers the first new trade dress for DC Comics collections since the start of the New 52 initiative.

Though labeled "Volume 6," Icarus is the first Detective collection by the superstar creative team of Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato after their run on Flash. The issues collected within (#30-34 and Annual #3) were published within the New 52, as were the issues that will be collected in Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 7: Anarky (presumably issues #35-40) -- but, Manapul and Buccellato will remain as Detective Comics's creative team after Convergence in the new, post-New 52 DC Universe.

Which begs the question: Is this a special trade dress just to celebrate Manapul and Buccellato's arrival on Detective, or are we looking at the new trade dress for DC's post-Convergence collections, launched a little early and "grandfathering in" those books whose creative teams continue post-Convergence?

Photo by Aleks Ivic

By my calculation, the next "main universe" series to see collection (excluding collections of older comics, etc.) is Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral two weeks from now in the first week of June (followed the next week by both the hardcover and paperback of Batgirl Vol. 1: The Batgirl of Burnside). Barring official word from DC, that'd be our next indication of whether this is a one-series or line-wide change.

Prior to the New 52, the DC Comics collections trade dress tended to have some commonality by series or storyline, but varied wildly from series to series. Front covers had logos and some image, back covers had images and text, but the spines might have little graphics of the characters at the top or middle, or not at all, and the character and book title broken up by an image or all together. About the only thing that was consistent, especially most recently, was the DC Comics logo that ran across the bottom of the books.

Photo by James Harvey-Richardson

With the New 52, almost all DC trades had essentially uniform spines -- some block of color at the top, then a black background with the full book name, maybe the name of the creators, then the volume number, then the DC logo. As the images show, this allowed for a variety of different New 52 series to be lined up side by side and still more or less look "uniform."

The new Detective trade dress is certainly attractive, no doubt, and seems to take its cues from what came before. The volume numbers and DC logo still essentially line up with the New 52 volumes, but the fonts are different, the background color here is purple, and there's a character image (Batman here, in blue) at the top. Again, we'll have to see some additional volumes before we can determine how this will vary from book to book.

Photos by James Harvey-Richardson

This would seem as much a matter of good timing as anything else -- the new Detective team, getting their first collection right now, gets the new trade dress, but Action Comics team Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder's first collection has the old trade dress (at least in hardcover), as will continuing series like Geoff Johns's Justice League.

Change isn't bad, I don't think, and I appreciate that DC's new trade dress, if that's what it is, resembles the old while moving toward the new. What do you think? Would you like the Detective Comics design to become DC's new trade dress going forward?

Review: Batgirl Vol. 5: Deadline hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I've eulogized Gail Simone's Barbara Gordon work before when it seemed at an end, to the point where I'm disinclined to eulogize it again (at least overtly). Certain writers leave such indelible marks on characters -- Geoff Johns on Hal Jordan, James Robinson on Starman, Neil Gaiman on Sandman, Simone herself on Secret Six -- that it's hard to imagine them not returning to those universes at some point. And as Batgirl Vol. 5: Deadline marks the end of Simone's fourth or fifth act with the Barbara Gordon character, I have a suspicion there will someday be more to come.

Review: Daredevil Vol. 2: West-Case Scenario trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

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

Mark Waid's Daredevil unfortunately loses a bit of momentum between its first two trades, Daredevil Vol. 1: Devil at Bay and Daredevil Vol. 2: West-Case Scenario. The Shroud is no longer present and the Owl looms in the background as part of the trade's unusual opening. Called "Issue #1.50," the first story celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Daredevil's first appearance with three tales that don't quite click. Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev reunite for a noir-inspired short story about the lethal nature of dating Daredevil. While the art is gorgeous, it revolves around a love interest -- and a marriage! -- that we've never seen before. After this, Karl Kesel writes and draws a short about Mike Murdock, the fake identity Matt created in the 1970s to convince people that he wasn't Daredevil. It's fun but unfocused; the framing story peters out halfway and the ending lands with a thud.

DC Comics's Convergence collections solicited

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thanks to Collected Editions contributor Hix* for the tip -- a number of online retailers are now listing collections of DC Comics's Convergence event for pre-order.


Based on these solicitations (which, please note, are preliminary and subject to change), it looks like Convergence and its miniseries will be collected in a total of nine collections -- one for Convergence itself and two each for the miniseries "eras" -- all paperback, and all arriving in October-November 2015. Each collection costs less than $20.

What looks good here, for me, is that all of these collections will be out relatively soon, before the end of the year. I am admittedly a tad surprised to see them all in paperback and not hardcover (though who knows, maybe there will be a Convergence Omnibus), but I guess when you're dealing with twenty issues per era, two competitively-priced paperbacks per era maybe makes sense.

One twist is that whereas I might expect the collections to be released in their publication order -- Flashpoint, Zero Hour, Crisis on Infinite Earths (or "Crisis," as the collections are calling it) and pre-Crisis (or "Infinite Earths") -- they're actually being released as listed above: Zero Hour, Crisis, Flashpoint, Infinite Earths. Granted I believe the miniseries eras are modular in terms of when you can read them, and again all of this is subject to change, but it struck me as odd.

Online retailers have these listed as coming out starting the week of October 11 and going into the first week in November, which I think means that your local comics shop should basically have these in each of the four full weeks of October.

No telling at this point exactly which of the miniseries will appear in which Book One/Book Two of their eras. However, if you missed it the first time, here's links to the Collected Editions guide to the Convergence miniseries and the trades that lead into each one:


So which Convergence collection are you most looking forward to?
*(Go nudge Hix about writing a new "Uncollected Editions" for us, won't you?)

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 5: Gothtopia hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, May 18, 2015

I've had some hesitation about reading Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 5: Gothtopia for a while, sensing correctly that the villain of the piece is fairly obvious to guess. I am not the biggest fan of "alternate reality" stories anyway, since they have a tendency to "run in place" while the character explores their new surroundings instead of moving the larger story forward -- and three issues for "Gothtopia" is a long time to spend navel-gazing. At the same time, the work John Layman and Jason Fabok have done recently on Detective Comics is the best we've seen on the title of late, and that gave me confidence to check out Gothtopia despite my misgivings.

Review: Batman: Earth One Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The currency of the Earth One line as a whole is thwarted expectations; in Geoff Johns and Gary Frank's first Batman: Earth One, for instance, Harvey Bullock is a handsome television star instead of the slovenly, grizzled detective from the regular books. In Batman: Earth One Vol. 2, Johns elevates this tendency to the theme of the book itself, as what expectations the reader has and the other characters have for one another spiral into the book's mystery and ultimate denouement.

In some ways Johns's second Batman: Earth One volume reads too much like a Batman story instead of a young Batman story, and the story's throughway may be too familiar to long-time Batman fans in the vein of Year Two or Mask of the Phantasm. But it's overall a solid book, literate and smart, surprising and scary, and with well-choreographed action by writer and artist. Finishing volume two, it'd be hard to believe this book hasn't won itself a volume three.

Review: Avengers: Ultron Unlimited trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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

Here's how mismanaged Marvel was in the 1990s: prior to Avengers: Ultron Unlimited, one of the very few stories featuring him in that era ended with Daredevil decapitating the robotic despot with a stick. Another saw him as the drunken comic relief in a Vision mini-series. It was a far cry from Roy Thomas's arch-villain; someone had to bring Ultron back to his roots. Kurt Busiek and George Perez's reinvention of the character could be compared to what happened to Doctor Light: classic villains who went from joke to lethal in an instant due to an appalling act of violence. While Doctor Light never really made it big after Identity Crisis (even though DC tried), the recent blockbuster sequel to 2012's The Avengers shows how Ultron is one of the Marvel Universe's greatest threats.