Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 3: The Trials of Harley Quinn trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Sam Humphries' Harley Quinn Vol. 3: The Trials of Harley Quinn is a big improvement on the previous volume, back to the levels where I'd say Harley's in good hands after all. Humphries' locale, supporting cast, and general thrust of the Harley Quinn series is different than what came before, but all of these are perfectly workable. Away from some of the character difficulties of Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Harley Destroys the Universe, and with the eight issues collected here all loosely connected under the "Trials of Harley Quinn" moniker — flitting self-referentially in, out, and around DC continuity — this volume flows smoothly; this is plenty fine Harley entertainment.

[Review contains spoilers]

The Christmas issue that begins this book, something of a prologue to the "Trials of Harley" stories, solidifies the break with what came before. Gathered around the table toward the end of the issue are Harley; her mother, father, and brothers; Catwoman (as an awkward stand-in for Poison Ivy); Coach; the Apokoliptian Tina; continuity cop Jonni DC; and prescient young comics artist Meredith Clatterbuck. These final three have been newly introduced to this title by Humphries over the last dozen or so issues; notably, nowhere pictured are Harley's stalwart companions from the Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti run like Big Tony, Eggy, or Red Tool.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

In its musings on love and immortality, Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield seems to hint at the upcoming revelations of Wonder Woman #750, on the way to the new DC timeline and the 5G event. That's all in flux now, of course, another element frustrating G. Willow Wilson's run, which we already know has ended with Steve Orlando taking over.

There's nothing particularly off-putting about this volume, which is an improvement over Wilson's previous in that Wilson does more that's new and different here, introducing her own threats and own situations. There's also an issue or so where Diana hardly throws a punch, which I appreciate in terms of emphasizing Wonder Woman as a thinking person and not a bruiser.

Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Harley Destroys the Universe trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Unfortunately, what had seemed a good start to Sam Humphries' Harley Quinn run fizzles out here. I'm not sweating it too much, as news just broke that Humphries run will end with issue #75, which probably means only one more trade to be released before the series apparently relaunches with a new creative team. That's fine; Humphries' Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Harley Destroys the Universe feels off but is by no means terrible, with plenty of fun moments, and of course what we're headed toward here is Harley's intersection with the "Year of the Villain" event. I'm satisfied to bide my time with Humphries for a bit with the promise of something else on the way; is it too much to hope Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are coming back?

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3: Leviathan Hunt hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

If you like what Brian Michael Bendis is doing with Superman (and/or Event Leviathan) then you probably won't mind Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3: Leviathan Hunt's quirks too much; ditto perhaps if you were a fan of the Triangle Title's "large cast" approach. The flip side is that for a five-issue trade, Superman only appears on about nine of the first 50 pages (or two issues), which may not be to everyone's liking.

[Review contains spoilers]

Largely this volume (and seemingly the next) are about tying together the criminal element Bendis has been introducing in Action with his Event Leviathan crew, and that together with the ongoing "Year of the Villain" event. If one believes the stories of writers' competing fiefdoms across the DC Universe, this is undoubtedly a positive sign, Bendis weaving Scott Snyder's Justice League et al. into the very fabric of his Action Comics work.

Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Harley vs. Apokolips trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sam Humphries' Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Harley vs. Apokolips is a fine follow-up to the long run that came before. It's mundane to say everything's not the same with the creative change, though Humphries gets a lot closer to the target than I expected and covers the transition well. There is not a lot of Harley's classic supporting cast in this volume, and so perhaps one can better judge the next volume more than this, after Humphries has gotten acclimated a bit, but again, Humphries does his own thing well enough — especially under the auspices of "tighter ties to the DC Universe" — that I don't think long-time fans will be much disappointed.

[Review contains spoilers]

Overlapping a bit the last iteration of this title's dual finales by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti and Frank Tieri respectively, Humphries' start sees Harley taking a vacation to get away from recent tragedies. That's interrupted, appropriately apropos of nothing, by Harley being kidnapped by and transformed into a Female Fury. At play here is Humphries taking Harley immediately out of the familiar and keeping her away for four issues, enough time for Humphries to hit a stride without the added presence of Harley's Brooklyn friends.

DC Trade Solicitations for August 2020 - Post-Crisis Flash by Baron and Messner-Loebs, Robin: 80 Years, Power of Shazam! by Ordway, Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2, Batman: Road to No Man's Land Omnibus, Aquaman by Skeates/Aparo

Sunday, May 17, 2020

I couldn't say exactly if this is just what happens in the summer or if current events have caused DC Comics' August 2020 hardcover and paperback solicitations to be a little lighter. But out of 25 books solicited this month, only two are "regular series" collections (and one of those, the second half of a miniseries), and all the rest are older series, graphic novels, and etc.

Among those regular series are Justice League Odyssey Vol. 3: Final Frontier (is it bad I still haven't decided if I like this book?) and Wonder Twins Vol. 2, really kind of some slim pickings for this month (maybe I'll get around to finally finishing Mind MGMT!).

Which is not to say there's not some cool ones among the "reprints" — the long awaited post-Crisis Flash: Savage Velocity, the first Power of Shazam! collection (finally!), and Aquaman: Deadly Waters, completing a trilogy of Silver/Bronze Age Aquaman books. Books Of Magic gets a nice omnibus collection, as does Batman: The Road to No Man’s Land ... y'know, it's not nothing, but it's not a whole lot, either.

Let's take a closer look.

Absolute Transmetropolitan Vol. 1 HC New Edition

Released under the DC Black Label imprint; no contents listed, but the original printing collected Transmetropolitan #1-18, Transmetropolitan: I Hate It Here, and Vertigo: Winter's Edge #2.

Aquaman: Deadly Waters Deluxe Edition HC

Continuing and finishing the Steve Skeates/Jim Aparo run with issues #49-56, following the previous Search for Mera volume; #56 would end that series. Three years after these issues, Aquaman would appear in back-up stories in Adventure Comics and then regain his own series numbered starting with #57, which would be the storyline collected in Death of a Prince. This is a nice trilogy of Silver Age Aquaman that I'd be interested to read all together.

Batman: The Demon Trilogy HC

Have Batman: Birth of the Demon, Batman: Bride of the Demon, and Batman: Son of the Demon been collected together before? Seems only logical.

Batman: The Road to No Man’s Land Omnibus HC

Omnibus of the previous two-volume paperback Road to No Man's Land series. Contents are about the same give or take an issue if the solicitations are to be believed. Said to contain Azrael: Agent of the Bat #40, Azrael: Agent of the Bat #47-52 (previous solicit only went to #50), Batman #554-562, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #73-82, Detective Comics #719-722, Detective Comics #724-729, Catwoman #56-57, Robin #52-54, The Batman Chronicles #12, The Batman Chronicles #14-15, Nightwing #19-20, Batman: Arkham Asylum - Tales of Madness #1, Batman: Blackgate - Isle of Men #1, and Batman: Huntress/Spoiler - Blunt Trauma #1.

Blackest Night Brightest Day Box Set

Twelve hardcovers at $300 total, collecting two enjoyable but pretty gosh darn out of continuity event miniseries; if there's an audience for this, God bless. Not only does it include all of the below, but also nine plastic Corps rings — where those fit in the box, I'm not sure.

  1. Blackest Night: Prelude collects Green Lantern #26-28 and 36-43 and Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1
  2. Blackest Night collects Blackest Night #0-8 and pages from Untold Tales of the Blackest Night #1
  3. Blackest Night: Green Lantern collects Green Lantern #44-52
  4. Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps collects Green Lantern Corps #39-47
  5. Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Book 1 collects Blackest Night: Batman #1-3, Blackest Night: Superman #1-3, and Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1-3
  6. Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Book 2 collects Blackest Night: The Flash #1-3, Blackest Night: JSA #1-3 and Blackest Night: Titans #1-3
  7. Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns collects The Atom & Hawkman #48, Phantom Stranger #42, Green Arrow #30, Adventure Comics #7, Starman #81, The Question #37, Catwoman #83, Weird Western Tales #71, and The Power of Shazam! #38
  8. Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps collects Blackest Night: Tales of the Black Lanterns #1-3, Adventure Comics #4-5, Untold Tales of the Blackest Night #1, stories from Green Lantern #18-20, 40, and 49, Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps: Secret Files, Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime, and pages from Blackest Night #0
  9. Brightest Day: Green Lantern collects Green Lantern #53-62
  10. Brightest Day Book 1 collects Brightest Day #0-11
  11. Brightest Day Book 2 collects Brightest Day #0-11 [obviously TBD]
  12. The Book of the Black collects sketch material (both previously released and new), series proposals, variant covers, posters, all or at least most of the Blackest Night outline scripts, and a few other things

Booster Gold: Future Lost HC

Collects the second half of Dan Jurgen's 1980s Booster Gold series, issues #13-25. Also included is Action Comics #594 and Secret Origins #35, which appeared in the Showcase Presents: Booster Gold black-and-white collection, "pages from" Millennium #3-7 (previously this was listed as the whole issues, but probably this makes more sense), and "more." The previous solicitation suggested the Booster entry from Who’s Who Update 1987 #1 might be there too.

DC Poster Portfolio: Clay Mann TP

Includes covers from Action Comics #959, #961, #964-969, and #983; Batman #36, #50, #78, and #79; Batman Eternal #28, DC Nation #0, Doom Patrol/Justice League Special #1, Harley Quinn #1, Heroes in Crisis #1, Justice League #46, Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #2, and Trinity #3-4 and #12, printed on card stock at 12 x 16.

The Flash: Savage Velocity TP

Solicited before and cancelled, but I'm glad to see it finally on the schedule. Collects Mike Baron's and William Messner-Loebs' Flash immediately post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, issues #1-18 and the first annual, with ties to Millennium. This'll fit real well with the Superman by Byrne books, the new post-Crisis Batman books, Wonder Woman by Perez, and so on. Includes Wally vs. Kilg%re, Velocity 9 (which later appeared in the CW Flash TV series), and Vandal Savage.

gen:LOCK TP

Based on the web show, the comic is written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and drawn by Carlo Barbieri, among others. Collects issues #1-7.

Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2 HC

Been a while since we've seen an Earth One volume; here's a sequel to Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko's Green Lantern: Earth One. John Stewart and Yellow Lanterns join the fray.

Hellblazer Vol. 23: No Future TP

Collects Hellblazer #261-266, Hellblazer Special: Papa Midnite #1-5, and the Hellblazer: Pandemonium graphic novel.

JLA by Grant Morrison Omnibus HC

Well, this is the big 'un, all 41 issues of Grant Morrison's JLA plus at least the JLA One Million miniseries and the JLA: Earth 2 graphic nove. (We should maybe quibble that Morrison's first JLA: Classified arc should be in there, maybe a Secret Files but oh, well.) Those JLA issues are #1-17, #22-26, #28-31, #34, #36-#41.

Justice League Odyssey Vol. 3: Final Frontier TP

Third collection of the Dan Abnett series; collects #13-18, including "Year of the Villain" issues.

Justice League Unlimited: Galactic Justice TP

One of a couple animated Justice League Unlimited collections solicited lately; this is issues #4, #6, #18, #24, #34, and #46, with Green Lantern John Stewart, Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange, Sinestro, and Space Cabbie.

Lucifer Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Issues #36-75 by Mike Carey, with the DC Black Label branding (previously this was supposed to say "Sandman Universe" on it, but I'm not sure if that's the case any more).

The Power of Shazam! Book 1: In the Beginning HC

Glad all that waiting paid off — finally, finally, we get the first-ever collection of Jerry Ordway's superlative Captain Marvel series, the longest-running and most substantial Captain Marvel series of the post-Crisis era. Running almost 50 issues, Ordway's Power of Shazam series was tonally similar to his Superman Triangle Titles work, attacking head-on everything from Mr. Mind to Tawky Tawny in ways that preserved the absurdity but updated the concepts for the modern era (without being grim and gritty). All that and one of the few series to directly cross over with James Robinson's Starman. This will have the Power of Shazam graphic novel that started it all off, plus issues #1-12 and a Captain Marvel story from Superman & Batman Magazine #4. Twelve issues per book would finish this off in four books. In hardcover in August.

Robin: 80 Years of the Boy Wonder HC

Said to collect Batman #368, Batman #410, Batman #411, Batman #466, Detective Comics #38, Detective Comics #165, Detective Comics #394-395, Detective Comics #535, Detective Comics #796, Robin #25-26, Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet #1, World’s Finest Comics #141, Star Spangled Comics #65 and #124, Teen Titans #14, Batman and Robin #0. Mentioned in previous solicitations was Batman Incorporated #1, and Super Sons #5.

RWBY TP

By Marguerite Bennett and Mirka Andolfo, based on the anime series; collects issues #1-7.

The Sandman: The Books of Magic Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

A variety of the appearances of kid mage Tim Hunter collected in one place, though the contents don't mention the original Neil Gaiman miniseries. Collects The Books of Magic #1-32 (of 75 issues total, of which only #1-50 are previously collected), The Children’s Crusade #1-2, Vertigo Preview #1, Vertigo Visions - Doctor Occult #1, Arcana Annual #1, Mister E #1-4, and The Books of Faerie: Auberon’s Tale #1-3. (Earlier solicitations also had Vertigo Gallery: Dreams and Nightmares #1 and Who’s Who #15. This was also previously branded "Sandman Universe: The Books of Magic Omnibus," not just "Sandman: Books of Magic ...")

Super Sons Omnibus HC Expanded Edition

The adventures of Jon Kent and Damian Wayne, all collected together and now including the final twelve issue miniseries. This is Superman #10-11, Superman #37-38, Teen Titans #15, Super Sons #1-16, DC Rebirth Holiday Special #1, Super Sons Annual #1, the Super Sons/Dynomutt Special, and the Adventures of the Super Sons miniseries #1-12.

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade TP New Edition

New printing of the Landry Q. Walker miniseries collection, now targeted to DC's kids imprint.

Superman vs. Wonder Woman (Tabloid Edition) HC

A team-up, first printed as I understand it in Limited Collectors' Edition #C-54 from 1978, by Gerry Conway and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Set during World War II with, I believe, the Superman and Wonder Woman of Earth-2.

Teen Titans: Raven and Beast Boy HC Box Set

Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo's two young adult graphic novels, in hardcover for the first time.

Wonder Twins Vol. 2: The Fall and Rise of the Wonder Twins TP

Issues #7-12 by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne as part of Brian Michael Bendis' Wonder Comics imprint; the end of the series unless they renew it.

Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield TP

Paperback by G. Willow Wilson, Cary Nord, and others, following the hardcover. Issues #66-73; the book flips over to #750+ numbering after issue #80.

Review: Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part 1 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Overall I've been enjoying Tom King's zany, experimental take on Batman, but with Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part 1, even I can see where this minimalist storytelling hits some difficulty. The trouble, I think, is in the name — I have a sense that the forthcoming Batman: City of Bane: The Complete Collection will be a much better read in that we'll get the introduction and denouement to this story, and not just the introduction.

City of Bane spends a while setting up the new status quo when the status quo is pretty clear, and from there it turns to Batman's recovery from injury, et al., which is not insignificant but in broad strokes we've seen this kind of thing before. There's two major events within the pages of this book, so it's not as though Part 1 doesn't move the story forward, but each has mitigating factors such to lessen one's full enjoyment of them. I tend to think all this could have happened faster and Part 2 come quicker, or again, maybe it'd be better to just read City of Bane all together.

Review: Y: The Last Man Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores trade paperback (Vertigo/DC Comics)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

I have questioned whether, leading into its 10th volume, Y: The Last Man has lost some of its mojo. If that's the case, then it regains it when it counts, in the final volume, Y: The Last Man Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores. The final story is epic and controversial, delivering exactly what it should, and smoothing over some recent bumps in the series along the way. And after that, the epilogue is wonderful and bizarre, an unexpected left turn for the series, with an ending rather completely unexpected. If Y did not land every jump it made, it sticks the landing, and that's what it should be remembered for.

[Review contains spoilers]

Among excellent moments throughout the final volume is when Yorick, newly reunited with lost love Beth, discusses the revelations of Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland. Struggling to describe the happenstance elements that kept him alive when all other men died, Yorick calls it "monkeys and clones and ... some kind of morphing thing" (the psychic morphic resonance). He continues, "As far as answers go, it was ... vaguely unsatisfying." Beth replies that after all they've been through, "Is there any explanation that would have been satisfactory?"

Review: Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland trade paperback (Vertigo/DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

The penultimate volume of Y: The Last Man brings some answers, but those answers are so far-fetched and improbable as to not really be answers at all. In this way, Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland does and does not read like the second-to-last volume of the series.

Y is one of those series — mind you, I've been reading it on and off for over 15 years now — that I've had built up in my mind as one of the Vertigo greats, spoken in the same breath as Sandman, Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, and Fables, but now that I'm getting to the end, my esteem is fading. Well-written, sure, topical, sure, and well-drawn, definitely, and Y is certainly better than the dregs sometimes found on the comic book stands. But the "kidnapped and have to break out" pattern of the stories has long since gotten repetitive, and the slow exploration of this world and the little hints as to the origins of the "gendercide" plague, enticing at the beginning, don't offer the same high nine volumes in. Also none of the romantic relationships feel earned to me.

Review: Superwoman Vol. 2: Rediscovery (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 03, 2020

K. Perkins and Phil Jimenez' Superwoman Vol. 2: Rediscovery is fine, as it goes. The story is wildly buffeted by the continuity changes in Superman Reborn, which it really only partially tries to address. Much of the book is then spent getting title character Lana Lang back in the position she was in at the end of the last book, which is a lot of going in circles for just the second volume. For fans of Lana, or Steel John Henry Irons, or some classic one-off villains from the Triangle Titles age, this is satisfactory reading, but it never rises to the level of anything truly shocking or surprising. Nothing about this book is offensively wrong; it just lacks gusto.

[Review contains spoilers]

Jimenez writes a single issue here that, at least to its credit, meta-acknowledges the vagaries of other titles that are affecting this book. Branching off Superman Reborn, the New 52 Superman and Lois Lane come in a dream sequence to a semi-conscious Lana, needing her to give up the red energy source of her powers so they can merge with their Rebirth counterparts (or whatever happens in Reborn). In story, Lana not only acknowledges the strangeness of two sets of Kent-Lanes and the understated continuity changes happening as they speak; she also questions why it is that her own reality (and Steel, and his niece Natasha, etc.) should have to change just to benefit Superman and Lois. The answer is, of course, because he's Superman, and of course Jimenez knows this, but there's something wonderful (almost Grant Morrison-ian) about his writing this relatively minor-ish character asserting her right to her own being just before Jimenez takes his leave.