Review: Batman: War Drums and Batman: War Games, Act One trade paperbacks (DC Comics)

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Monday, March 28, 2005

To begin with, I wish more trade paperbacks were more like Batman: War Drums. By that I mean, War Drums is mostly a collection of Batman issues, pretty much unrelated to one another. There's some rumblings about the upcoming War Games crossover, but mostly this feels like five or six issues of Detective Comics collected in a trade to pad out three significant issues of Robin. And I don't mind that. "Waiting for the trade" isn't about forsaking or disliking the monthly experience -- for me, it's about convenience, expedience, and economy. So if DC ever wants to collect some "non-event" issues -- you know, middle of April, Batman just hanging around in his shorts -- cool with me.

As for Batman: War Games, Act One, I think overall this trade held up. The first four chapters are a little slow -- lots of the Bat-family punching random small-time crooks, many of whom remain largely indistinguishable from one another through out the book -- but the end, where the previously spread-out characters come together for one close, creepy, claustrophobic rescue mission, read like gold. I'm interested to see the "plot" of War Games when this is all over -- a breakdown of the major events, where we can say first this happened, then this happened, just to see in the end what the story was really about. So far, so good, and we'll see what happens next.

I was also impressed with how, for the most part, the individual books kept their own identities, while still contributing to the plot as a whole. It was easy to tell which was Nightwing, Catwoman, Batgirl, and Robin, but for the most part, events of those titles didn't interrupt the story (Nightwing could have, and I thought it was brought in fairly well). Catwoman veered off for a bit, but even it came back, revealing integral information about Spoiler (and can I say, since I'm still in the Cameron Stewart Relentless phase of Catwoman, I had some trepidation about Paul Gulacy taking over the art. But those colors! And Dylan Horrocks writes a great Batgirl, very silent and sedate.) In fact, the only title that I thought really couldn't conform was Gotham Knights, with a seemingly random cameo by Hush. But I just read some previews (I can't help myself!) and it seems that Hush plays a role in War Games after all, so maybe it's OK. We'll see, we'll see.

Two days 'til Countdown to Infinite Crisis! I'm off to re-read Flash: Blitz before Flash: Ignition, and then on to some JSA.

Did you read Batman: War Games, Act One? What did you think?
Collected Editions 2015 Comic Book Gift Guide

New DC trade paperbacks 3/26/05

Saturday, March 26, 2005

A couple of new DC trade paperbacks, courtesy of Amazon Canada:

Nightwing: Year One, collecting Nightwing #101-106 ...
Space Ghost, collecting the Joe Kelly miniseries ...

and ...

The Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen! Given that Flash: Ignition covered Flash #201-206, this trade paperback must at least (I think) collect issues 207 to 216, making this a massive ten issue trade paperback. Could it be? Or will they skip some issues (boo!)? Either way, how cool is this? Here's hoping it (and Manhunter: Street Justice) are just the start of the Identity Crisis-crossover trade paperbacks.

And hey, DC? Just because Nightwing's issues 101 to 106 are being collected, don't forget 61 to 100, OK? OK.

Three more days to Countdown to Infinite Crisis!

Comicon Pulse spoils Outsiders secret

Friday, March 25, 2005

Nice article at the Pulse about the new Outsiders artist ... except that the art that's included seems to spoil a major Outsiders plot point. I didn't click on the links, but even a casual glance speaks volumes.

Such are the burdens of those waiting for the trades ...

Your daily Countdown to Infinite Crisis minute

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Can anyone explain to me why April's Day of Vengence #1 says it's six months to Infinite Crisis, and May's Villains United says it's five months to Infinite Crisis, but May's later The Rann/Thanagar War says it's four months to Infinite Crisis? A hint something's wrong with the time stream, perhaps?

And is it a fuzzy JPG, or does The Rann/Thanagar War say "#1 of X"? Was this the numbering "to come," or is that how they do it on Rann (or Thanagar. Not to take sides in the war, you know).

And in all this excitement, is anyone else dreading how very. long. it's going to be before we see trades of any of this? Sob!

Countdown to Infinte Crisis

Monday, March 21, 2005

Countdown to Infinite Crisis.

I just felt like saying it.

On one hand, here we are one week away from Countdown, and we won't have an Identity Crisis hardcover for months. For shame.

On the other hand, kudos to DC for making Countdown and Identity Crisis cool, even a year after Identity Crisis happened. I mean, do you remember Final Night being this cool a year afterward?

And if you think Countdown to Infinite Crisis is cool, how about Infinite Crisis itself?

Review: Catwoman: Relentless trade paperback (DC Comics)

To be sure, Catwoman: Relentless is a good book. But anyone buying Relentless with the expectation that the content would resemble that of Crooked Little Town and Dark Side of the Street would be in for a shock. While there were certainly gunshots and dead bodies in the previous trades, Relentess raises the violence considerably, almost from the first few pages. Though much of the violence is suggested instead of shown, these still certainly aren't the comics I read as a kid.

Relentless (separate from the other story collected in this trade, No Easy Way Down), is certainly moving, though it moves from triumph to tragedy so quickly that it's slightly difficult to appreciate (and therefore feel any emotion for) the new, good parts of Selina Kyle's life. Specifically, I think the strong hint that Sylvia Sinclair was up to no good took a lot out of the story; the reader never has any time to feel good for Selina, because we already know something bad is coming. But I do certainly give Ed Brubaker credit for the bad -- he took a lot of risks in this trade, showing the consequences of being a hero long before Identity Crisis did it, and I appreciate him for writing outside the box.

What really takes this trade from good to great, however, is No Easy Way Down.

(And a special kudos, by the way, to whoever it is in the DC Collected Editions department that made the trade dress such that when you get to No Easy Way Down, there's a page that looks like the beginning of a new trade paperback, so it actually feels like you're reading a new trade paperback. Brilliant stuff, and that -- along with the fact that there were no titles in any of the collected comics other than the initial story title, making Relentless really read like a graphic novel -- is what suggests that DC trades are moving into a new era. Thanks, DC Person! Write to me, and if you can prove who you are, I'll send you a Kudos. No, really!)

No Easy Way Down is great for the art. It's great for the story. And it's great for whomever it was, writer or artist, who came up with telling the story in short, two page jumps, putting us deeply in all the characters' heads and making them just make sense. From Slam Bradley, whaling on a suspect for flirting with Selina, or Karon, the unsung hero of the tale, every little bit of No Easy Way Down just shined. And now I can't wait for Catwoman: Wild Ride, which promises still more character bits to come.

More Wizard World LA news: Absolute Watchmen

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Two other bits of WizardWorld LA news ... on the horizon are a Space Ghost trade paperback, and also Absolute Watchmen, an oversized version of the original maxi-series. Cool, yes, but when are we going to start seeing Absolute DCU titles? My top votes are Absolute Batman: Hush and Absolute Superman: For Tomorrow, but unfortunately I fear we're in for the two year, two-volume-hardcover/two-volume-paperback wait for Superman ... come on, DC, prove me wrong! Also, what're the chanced DC will follow Marvel's Ultimate line collection policy, and go issues to trade to oversized hardcover? We can hope!

Manhunter trade news!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

This just in from Wizard World LA - Manhunter gets a trade--Manhunter: Street Justice coming this fall. Could it be released alongside the Identity Crisis hardcover?

DC Comics June 2005 trade paperback guesses

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Since DC Comics solicitations for June 2005 will be out on Monday, here's my last-minue predictions for the month's trade paperbacks. One of these days, I'll post my predictions for upcoming, non-Amazon listed trades.
June 2005
Batman: War Games Act Two
Green Lantern: Rebirth hardcover
JSA: Black Reign

Y - The Last Man: Ring of Truth
And for July 2005
Superman: The Healing Touch

The JSA ... by Jeph Loeb?!

Well, this is interesting. Obviously a misprint, but right now Amazon has the JSA: Black Reign trade paperback listed with Jeph Loeb as the author. Check it out--somebody'll probably fix it pretty soon.

March price wars ...

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Now this is interesting. Overall, Mailordercomics is offering the lowest prices on trade paperbacks this month, but then they have to go and charge shipping, making Dreamland Comics, who offer free shipping over $30, the best deal. I tell you, Amazon has the right idea -- free shipping is where it's at.

Except, Dreamland doesn't seem to have all the DC trades for May listed. So now it's Dreamland as the best deal for the trades it has, and Mailordercomics as the best deal for the trades that Dreamland doesn't. I was going to place my comics orders tonight, but now I think I'm going to wait a bit -- let's see if Dreamland updates it's listings.

Anyone else found good deals?

Slowest DC comics-to-trades?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

As I mentioned to a commenter the other day, the Superman/Batman: Absolute Power hardcover will make Superman/Batman one of the most caught-up titles, trade-wise, that DC produces. It should come as no surprise to anyone, I think, that one of the least caught-up titles, relatively, is Gotham Central. But what other titles are in the lowest tier?

Catwoman. And Flash.

Came as a suprise to me. Two of the, arguably, higher selling DC Comics titles, and they're getting the short end of the trade stick, too. So maybe that negates any argument toward a vast conspiracy against Gotham Central, at least. But I think it also has to do with when DC's trade program woke up, if you will. At the top of the list for most up-to-date trades are Teen Titans and Outsiders, and Robin, Batman, and Adventures of Superman--titles that either began or got new creative teams recently, just as the DC trade boom began. It's those comics that really started buzzing around the beginning of 2002 that seem to have fallen through the cracks.

Now, DC's doing a great job bringing JSA up to speed--I'm not sure which I'd want to see more trades of, Catwoman or Flash. The Catwoman delay makes reading Batman: War Games a little weird, but I'd like to see the Flash trades catch up roundabouts Identity Crisis. And granted, my chart's unfinished, too--I have a feeling Nightwing and Batgirl are toward the back of the line, too.


Shout-out to Gail Simone

Monday, March 14, 2005

Hi all --

A shout-out to Gail Simone to say thanks for stopping by and adding a little class to the joint!

Hey DC -- when are we going to see that Rose and the Thorn trade paperback?

(And you know, come to think of it, since Gail Simone's got Action Comics now, maybe Thorn can drop in on Superman and clear up some of the continuity confusion between Simone's Thorn and Roger Stern's? Who knows?)

Superman/Batman: Absolute Power hardcover revealed!

Sunday, March 13, 2005

I have it on good authority that the New Teen Titans: Who is Donna Troy trade paperback isn't the only yet-unannounced DC trade paperback coming out in June. We also get ... Superman/Batman: Absolute Power hardcover! Hey DC -- THANKS!

And that's being solicited in March, when the "Absolute Power" storyline itself only ends, I believe in April -- that is excellent response time on DC's part. (That is, as opposed to JSA: Black Reign, also to be announced tomorrow, which is more than a year after the story itself.) I'm working on a timeline of the trade paperbacks (more info to come), and I'll be keeping an eye on the trade paperback release time as we go.

Apparently, this means we get Batman: War Games Act Two, JSA: Black Reign, New Teen Titans: Who is Donna Troy, and Superman/Batman: Absolute Power HC in June, leaving the Green Lantern: Rebirth HC, Superman: The Healing Touch, and Y - The Last Man: Ring of Truth for July. Looks good!

UPDATED: Looks like Superman/Batman: Absolute Power hardcover isn't coming out until July. Wonder why DC solicited it in June, but not any of the other July trade paperbacks ... weird ...

Review: Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street trade paperback (DC Comics)

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Ed Brubaker's got a way with words. Well, that is, as far as Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street is concerned. Brubaker's always been kind of a cypher for me -- the half of Gotham Central that I don't know from Batman or anywhere else (I have heard that his Sleeper is good, and I know I ought to read it).

But Catwoman: The Dark End of the Street could be a close-to-flawless trade paperback -- nary a false note to be found. Excellent dialogue: a Batman who doesn't say a word more than he has to, and Selina, with all her charm springing from how tentative Brubaker writes her, afraid to even ask Oracle for information for fear of rejection. Great art, too -- Darwyn Cooke and Mike Allred's cartoony style works well with Catwoman's athletic prowess, and I think it adds something just plain creepy to the darker aspects of this story. I know the stories will get even darker as I read toward Relentless, and I'll be curious to see how the art holds up.

If anything didn't sit well with me, it was Catwoman triumphing over the bad guy due to just plain luck. I mean, she found out what bar the killer went to, and learned that he had a face like a famous actor, but in the end, it was an offhand comment in the right place, at the right time, that got her the gold. Coincidences in life are one thing, but when you have a coincidence in a story, it feels to me like that's the writer's hand, waving right at you. So I had to blink there, but it's a minor point; I'll have to see if it remains the case in the other books.

Oh, and favorite line? Holly going, "For the past few years, we thought you were dead." Just goes to show, there is a train that drives out of limbo every once in a while. And hey, does anyone know the pre-Crisis (or is it pre-Zero Hour?) issue where Holly died? I can't find it. And was Selina's sister Maggie supposedly dead, pre-Zero Hour, too?

DC Comics June 2005 trade paperback guesses

Since DC Comics solicitations for June 2005 will be out on Monday, here's my last-minue predictions for the month's trade paperbacks. One of these days, I'll post my predictions for upcoming, non-Amazon listed trades.

June 2005
Batman: War Games Act Two
Green Lantern: Rebirth hardcover
JSA: Black Reign
Y - The Last Man: Ring of Truth

And for July 2005
Superman: The Healing Touch

Let's see what happens!

Review: Birds of Prey: Sensei and Student trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Let me say first of all that Gail Simone has breathed the life into Birds of Prey that I think was there once upon a time, perhaps back when Birds of Prey was actually one-shot specials, but recently got lost among Bat-crossovers and slews of guest stars, often pushing the Birds out of their own book. Simone writes a Birds that, stylistically, doesn't always hit me quite right, but I would nonetheless proclaim it as fun, interesting, suspenseful, and more than anything else, true to the characters and their sometimes long, complex histories.

I applauded Simone's choice not to start Sensei and Student with Huntress as an automatic Bird, but to let her choose to join at the end of this trade. Though it still seems like Huntress joined without much complaint, I imagine that for those reading Birds as a monthly, it felt like more of a natural progression. And while the middle of Sensei and Student lost me somewhat, it certainly redeemed itself with the last chapter. Simone points out, rightly so, that Oracle and Black Canary are (with no diminution intended) the female Batman and Green Arrow (or, at least, Nightwing and Arsenal). In essence, through Huntress's relationships with Nightwing and Arsenal in other books, the powers-that-be have placed Huntress right in-between the two -- she has Nightwing's overall idealism, with Arsenal's loose cannon tendencies. I oversimplify, certainly, but the point is that I have great respect for Simone for realizing Huntress's natural place as a Bird.

Having just read Simone's two Birds of Prey collections, Sensei and Student is definitely my favorite. I've always felt Birds of Prey works best with the characters in exotic locations, and Sensei and Student delivered, all the while letting the characters drive the location--Black Canary travelling to visit her sensei, and ultimately being the target of Cheshire's plot. Simone adds a level to Lady Shiva that raised her above the standard "I want to fight everyone" characterization, and I think I understand Cheshire, from her poison to her feelings for Lian, better than ever before. These villains (if they can still be called that after Simone's excellent "shades of grey" portrayals) were so good that I was somewhat disappointed to see Savant there, so soon after Of Like Minds. Two things, I think, can ruin a villain faster than anything, and that's overexposure and camp (It's true! Doomsday, Bane, Darkseid -- they all go sour when they show up everywhere, and when they start spouting Ming the Merciless dialogue). Savant's got both. I think he's a good villain, I like the whole "can't remember anything" bit, but he needs to go out to pasture for a while, and then reappear when we least expect it. Otherwise he'll just become old hat.

And speaking of villians, I still can't understand what made Black Canary go look up her mother's files to discover that the Senator's father was a serial killer, and I think it's indicative of a small difficulty I have with Simone's comics. There are times that she takes dramatic leaps, withholding information from the audience for purposes of suspense, that instead of going "hmm," I just go "what?" For instance, in Of Like Minds, Simone whips past Savant demanding Batman's secret identity from Oracle, so that the reader is surprised by the request later. A good narrative idea, in theory. But in practice, we're reading along and for a moment, Oracle has a handle on the situation, and the next time we see her, she's in a panic and calling Huntress. To me, it was more confusing than suspenseful. This was true, too, in the above example, where Dinah goes to read her mother's journal. I didn't, and still don't, see what made her think of this (nor, for that matter, what made Cheshire think the Senator was her father). The books were still enjoyable, but these parts bugged me, and the fact that the issue reocurred makes me think that it's just an aspect of Simone's style, where her tendencies and mine differ. I'll be interested to see if there's another example in the next Birds trade.

And how about that next Birds trade? And while we're on the topic, how about Simone's Rose and Thorn mini-series collected in trade as well? Now that she's about to get the reins to Action Comics, it seems only fair.

I'm on to re-reading the first Catwoman trades, toward Catwoman: Relentless, then Batman: War Games Act One, Flash: Ignition, and JSA: Prince of Darkness. Come with me, won't you?

Geoff Johns to pen a JSA novel?

Monday, March 07, 2005

Just noticed this on Amazon -- looks to be a JSA novel penned by Geoff Johns, published by the same company that's publishing Marv Wolfman's Crisis on Infinite Earths novel. Sounds interesting ... anyone know any more details?

Manhunter trade petition

Friday, March 04, 2005

An interesting article at the Pulse on the DC series Manhunter lead me to go over to the Manhunter message board at DC Comics, and, of course, to a board topic titled "Will this book be collected as a trade?" As an Identity Crisis tie-in, I'm certainly interested, so let me answer a resounding "I hope so," and invite any who're interested to reply like-wise to this topic, and I'll send the petition to DC's Letters to the Editors if I get enough responses. And, for that matter, let's see a trade of the new Firestorm series, too.

At the same time, let me answer the comment of "rjdroll" on that thread, who said "Morons who are possessed with the 'Wait for the Trade' mentality are what is killing this industry." Everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion, but I'm reminded of what Joe Casey wrote (I think. I could be wrong), that it's not the fault of "wait for trade-ers" if the industry's going bad (if it is at all. Of which I'm not convinced either. But.). Consumers are allowed to want what they want. In a (very) rudimentary form, that's "demand." If waiting for the trade is hurting the industry, it's because comic book companies aren't meeting supply -- that is, maybe the fact that all the (hypothetical) people waiting for the Manhunter trade and not buying the monthly issues will ultimately cause the series' (or Fallen Angel's demise, but if there's enough people waiting for the trade to save the monthly title, that's DC's fault for not coming up with the marketing research and strategy that puts the trade out there, despite low monthly sales. I know I'm talking about something of an overhaul of the comic book industry, but that's not the consumers' faults; that's lack of imagination on the part of the companies. Marvel, at least, seems to have something of the right idea in that you can count on their trade schedule like (most of the time) the Long Island Railroad. They're making trades the means, instead of leaving them for the end. DC's gotten better--highly, extremely better--but they still need to find a way of tapping the trade market with these new, do-or-die titles like Manhunter.

So come on -- let's see that petition grow!

March comics prices

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Mailordercomics has their March listings up (for comics coming out in May) and so far, so good -- over half the trade paperbacks I want are fifty percent off. So far, not much on the other sites -- Dreamland Comics proclaims their March pre-orders, but I can't find many listed, and Discount Comic Book Service still has February up. Why the delay? Well, I guess it's this week is still part of February, but I hope to see some updates soon.

Used to be I compared prices every month with Mailordercomics, Dreamland, DCBS, Mile-High Comics, X-World, Lonestar Comics, and maybe one or two others, but the first three kept coming up the winners every time, so now I tend to check there first. Keep watching -- I'll list my low-price leader soon.

Absolute Batman: Hush hint ... ?

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

When Bob Greenberger, he of the DC collections division, discusses a chatroom meeting with Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee on his blog, could this be for the introduction to the Absolute Batman: Hush oversized harcover? Inquiring minds want to know ...