Wednesday, August 31, 2005
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
More than likely, when I see Black Mask coming, I should probably look the other way, because Black Mask-style violence just isn't my bag. Joker-style violence, I can deal with. Exploding fish, while tragic, at least I know where I'm at. But there's a scene here where Black Mask heads for a guy's eyes with a can of cayenne pepper and a razor blade--they don't even have to show it; the screaming alone is enough to turn my stomach.
And maybe that's good. Maybe comic books are finally going to earn their "rep," as it were, when the villain isn't the bleeding eyes of the Clench, but the drill bit of Black Mask. If the bad is more real, the heroes are more heroic, sales go up, people read trade paperbacks on the bus in little towns in America, and God save the local comic book shop. Do I necessarily think this is the best of strategies? No. But then again, I thought Identity Crisis was a pretty good mystery, and DC's gearing up to sell the trade like a Brad Meltzer novel, so hey, whatever works.
But I digress. And the point is, the violence ramps up a notch in War Games Act Two. And though I still have trouble fully identifying the crossover-level threat here--are regular people getting hurt? Are they trying to keep the bad guys from killing each other?--there are at least two significant deaths in this volume. One of them, by the way, is a long-time Robin stalwart, but not the one you're thinking of, and when the death happens, it happens so quickly that I hope it will be followed-up on later, for the edification of those of us who were fans, if nothing else.
Batman, in this volume, comes to recognize the War Games plan as his own, though he appears wildly less apologetic about it than when Ras al Ghul usurped his JLA-takedown plan. He offers to take control of the police, which offends both Comissioner Atkins and James Gordon for reasons that I didn't find entirely convincing. Batman also seems to rub Oracle the wrong way at almost every turn, a product of six writers all trying to make the same point. The Batman plots, in short, are interesting, but there are so many different characters here to focus on that when you get back to Batman, one wonders why he hasn't accomplished more in the meantime. The linear focus here, essentially, is less tight than War Games Act One, and we can only hope for the best with Act Three.
It's more the supporting characters who each get their chances to shine. The Batgirl/Leslie Thompson scene is classic, as really they represent two opposite sides of Batman, and it's about time that came to light. Tim Drake steals the show, and his new ground with his father is made all the more tragic if you know what's coming. Having just completed a read of all the Chuck Dixon Nightwing trades, however, I'll say that the whiny Nightwing as written here just doesn't do it for me, nor do his run-on monologue boxes that are supposed to stand-in for panic. In the same vein, it seems that the artists couldn't quite decide what was what with Spoiler, as she acts seriously injured but only seems to support cuts and bruises.
Bat-drama, as Batman acts like a jerk and his team reacts, is becoming ever-so-slightly predictable. That said, like weekly episodes of ER, it's also a fix that you just need every once in a while. So here's looking forward to Act Three, to see if the conclusion works to redeem the sum of its parts.
Onward and upward ...
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Monday, August 22, 2005
But I will say, however, that even though Black Reign is good (and it's good), for trade-reading purposes it could probably stand to be just one issue longer. The book does a great job starting right in the middle of the action, and then chapter two pauses to check in with the JSA and catch the reader up on their lives. The problem is, we don't get that same breather issue at the end, so that the book seems to start very fluidly, and end very suddenly. All of this, no doubt, will be easily solved once the next trade, JSA: Lost, is in hand, but until then, get ready for Black Reign to start and send you careening -- careening toward a sudden stop.
Like all good roller coasters, however, the ride's the thing, and this roller coaster has at least two sudden drops in it I never saw coming -- the ends of chapters four and five, specifically. We get a resolution, or at least some heavy movement, to a long-standing JSA plot at the end of chapter four, and the end of chapter five is just weird -- one of those comics geek-out moments you can rely on Geoff Johns for, and I only wish more had been made of it in the resolution. And the identity of Hawkman's insurance is somewhat predictable (the gag's getting old, really), but where the insurance is hiding is a nice touch, hearkening back to JSA as a legacy title once again.
As I'm flipping back through Black Reign again, I keep landing on a couple of different instances of Hawkman and the Flash having very powerful, serious dialogue, and I think Johns handled this really well. It's fun to read JSA because some of these characters, as written, have known each other for fifty years or more, and Johns does a great job letting that show through. And check out Don Kramer drawing the JSA in-costume around their table in chapter three -- hands down, the JSA have cooler costumes than the JLA and the Titans, no question.
See here for Hovy's review of JSA: Black Reign over at Gotham Lounge.
And now I'm off, most likely, to Batman: War Games Act Two, in order to put a little space between my reading it and when Act Three comes out. From there, Superman/Batman: Absolute Power, and then catching up on my Vertigo reading? Who knows?
Thursday, August 18, 2005
If you haven't already, check out Bob Greenberger's blog, where Bob has been nice enough to answer a bevy of questions, mostly regarding DC's trade paperback program. Some of the later questions are mine; I thought his mention that lettering is mostly digital now, explaining the ease in removing writer/artist credits from individual issues now, was especially fascinating. All in all, this was a darn nice thing for Bob to do--maybe drop him a line over at his blog and tell him thanks.
Most people have probably already seen this, but DC announced that they're rush soliciting the Superman/Batman: Supergirl trade paperback to coincide with the new Supergirl series. That DC can rush solicit something is interesting--maybe a topic for another time.
JSA: Black Reign review to come later this week. See you then!
Monday, August 15, 2005
The reason I think Hawkman: Wings of Fury works so well, and I can only hope this remains true now that Geoff Johns has left the book, is its versitility. There's strong versitility in the plot; the four adventures (collected over eight issues) in this volume range from a super-hero story about an alien attacker, a glance at fifteenth century Germany, an archeological adventure, and a supernatural mystery. Each tale feels true to the characters, and it never gets stale. Second, there's a great emotional range; Hawkman could be one of the bloodiest, most violent DC comic on the stands right now, but that violence is balanced with almost Smallville-like romantic twists and turns. It's enough to keep anyone hooked the whole time.
I was surprised to find that I was the most engaged in the last story, "The Headhunter," when I initially thought it sounded the least interesting. "The Thanagarian" deals with a visit from Hawkwoman, come to find out what happened to Katar Hol now that Carter Hall has returned. This story reiterates well the origin of the new Hawkman, filling in some gaps, and sets the stage for the upcoming Adam Strange series and the Rann-Thanagar War. I felt that Shayera Thal was perhaps portrayed a bit too "alien," especially when we consider that she's been a Detroit police officer for several years now, but I understand the effort toward contrast. Following this are two enjoyable, seemingly stand-alone Hawkman stories, each of which work well in their own right, but also smoothly foreshadow the Headhunter tale. And once the Headhunter story begins, the book goes racing (you'll excuse the pun) head-first toward its conclusion, with wonderful intrigue and emotion from the title characters, Hawkman and Hawkgirl.
I also appreciated the character cameos in this book. The Atom takes almost a supporting character role, appearing in a number of stories. It's both nice to see his friendship with Hawkman displayed on the page, and important in that it reiterates the bond of the satellite-era JLA as the DC trades draw ever closer to Identity Crisis. Given the Atom's actions there, there's a double meaning when the Atom talks about his marriage here. In addition, there's a cameo in "The Thanagarian" that I won't spoil here, but it was both unexpected and fitting, and fun to watch.It's twists and turns like these that give me good faith in Geoff Johns for Infinite Crisis. Now I'm going to read JSA: Black Reign heralded in many circles as the best JSA story; I'll let you know how it goes.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Regarding the Gotham Central: Soft Targets trade paperback, here's an update from Greg Rucka via his message board:
"I thought it was to be released this year, as well, so I'm afraid I'm as confused as you are. There is a third trade scheduled, as far as I know, so it should be coming soon. The trade ISN'T being called Soft Targets, however--it's combining both the Soft Targets and Unresolved storylines, so I believe the title is--wait for it--
Soft Targets is issues #12-15; Unresolved is issues #19-22--I don't know if the issues in between would be in there, too. That Greg is as confused as we are is interesting ... doesn't seem like good news. No way of telling if that title is a joke or not, either. If it is, that's pretty clever.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Back in the spring of 2004, I remember seeing a message board post about that summer’s DC trade paperbacks and thinking it was a joke, or someone’s imaginary wish list. I mean, after all, Superman: Godfall was a given, but Robin: Unmasked? A contemporary Legion trade after all this time? The idea was nearly preposterous, and man, was I excited when I found out it was all true. I couldn’t wait for that summer, let me tell you.
DC’s trade paperback announcement today brings back that feeling, and then trumps it, exceeds it, throws it a surprise party and takes it to bed.
I saw the link on Newsarama for DC’s trades for November/December and I thought, ho hum, we’ve already had that here, at Gotham Lounge, and on Lying in the Gutters. But at least, I thought, we’ll get to see what issues are included.
As you know, what we got was a Whole. Lot. More.
Bravo to DC Comics. Bravo. I could not be more impressed. The speed with which the Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries trades are coming out, the sheer unadulterated volume of trades in November and December, the size of all of these trades—not only I not have reasonably hoped for better, not only did DC completely exceed my expectations, but it gives me great hope for what’s coming in 2006.
But enough of the gushing. As wise women once said, now it’s time for the breakdown. Some thoughts on items from the list:
Day of Vengeance TP – this collects not only the miniseries, but—it took me a minute—the three-part Superman/Shazam/Eclipso story as well. This makes the Day of Vengeance TP the first Superman trade to pick up after Superman: For Tomorrow—and you’ll note that Superman: Apocalypse, as announced on Amazon.ca, is actually not on the list for November/December. I do want that one, “rave” reviews aside, so here’s hoping DC hasn’t cancelled it.
I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League TP – again, I’m surprised that the other issues of JLA Classified didn’t come out first, but I imagine that we’ll see the Grant Morrison issues either collected with Seven Soliders (you did know that JLA Classified #1-3 lead in to Seven Soliders, didn’t you?) or collected with Warren Ellis’s JLA Classified run. A Grant Morrison/Warren Ellis JLA trade … now that’s a marketing idea!
Legion of Super-Heroes: Teen Revolution TP – I’m glad to see that both this and the Teen Titans trade have parts of the Teen Titans/Legion crossover, this one taking the six-page Legion prelude. Judging by the artists listed, I’m guessing that this trade also includes the back-up stories from each issue.
Manhunter: Street Justice TP – it’s about time! One Newsarama poster made the good point that to draw fans in, the price of this really should be $9.99.
The OMAC Project TP – Yes, I am bummed not to see all five parts of “Sacrifice,” but at the same time I’m very glad we don’t have OMAC Project Vols. 1 and 2, so I’ll be happy with small favors. I’m sure we’ll see the other parts of “Sacrifice” collected elsewhere.
Teen Titans: The Future is Now TP – Man alive, does this make me happy. Almost nine issues for a buck, and it guarantees that the next Titans trade will be Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders. Oh, and for all of you wondering about issue 15’s inclusion here—one page of 15 that ties into “Titans Tomorrow” was left out of Teen Titans: Beast Boys and Girls, and I imagine we’ll see that here.
Batgirl: Kicking Assassins TP – jumping straight to the middle of Andersen Gabrych’s run, this trade includes a Villains United tie-in issue.
Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups Vol. 1 TP – Someone more knowledgeable than me will have to tell you what this means for the Crisis on Multiple Earths trades—are these issues placed in the right place, or is this a deviation from the order? However, Mark Katzoff posted this to the Newsarama message board, which details what’s included:
including 4 team-ups of the Earth 1 and Earth 2 Flashes including their first meeting and the story that led to the return of the JSA, the first team-up of the two Green Lanterns, in a story which ultimately served as an inspiration for Crisis on Infinite Earths, a team-up of Starman and Black Canary and two team-ups of Hourman and Dr. Fate, including the one that introduced the Psycho Pirate who looks like he has a role to play in Infinite Crisis.
Plastic Man: Rubber Bandits TP – the missing issue 12 was a fill-in by Scott Morse. No word as to whether this one’ll have a rubber cover, too. I heard rumors the rubber covers smelled, but mine didn’t. Oh, well.
Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon TP – Glad to see DC putting out larger trades of Rucka’s incredible Wonder Woman run. This trade goes right up to the Flash/Wonder Woman crossover collected in Prelude to Infinite Crisis; my guess is that the next trade will take us in to “Sacrifice” (heck, that might even be the place that the Superman “Sacrifice” issues get collected).
That’s not everything, but I hope it’s a little taste. What do you think? What are you buying? Weigh in, shout out, let me know. Ciao!
(The Superman-as-Shazam action figure picture brought to you just because I think it looks cool.)
OLD POST: THANK YOU DC!!!
Collected Editions is floored, I tell you, floored by DC's announcement that all four Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries will be collected in November and December. I tell you, I haven't been this excited since I can't even remember when.
Read the full story at Newsarama via the link below, and tune in here tonight for commentary from your truly.
And did I say: THANK YOU DC!!!
Monday, August 08, 2005
The flip-side of all the detail in the Nightwing series, however, is that Nightwing is a story. told. slow. Looking to find out why Dixon brought Amygdala to Bludhaven way back in the second trade? You get closer, but no cigar. Wondering what's going to happen with Soames and Tad sharing the same cell block? It's not in here, bippy. This, like the much-praised Starman, is a story that truly won't read complete until the last book is out. There's some nice closure to a few of the main stories in On the Razor's Edge, but if you're looking for a book that doesn't require a commitment, Nightwing isn't it (Plastic Man is.).
In Nightwing: On the Razor's Edge specificially, there are some decidedly cute moments. If you're a Birds of Prey fan, the Birds factor pretty heavily into the main story, and you can more or less count on the characterization since Dixon wrote both titles at the time. I could have done without Dixon writing Black Canary as the damsel in distress, but it was fun to see Oracle come to Nightwing's rescue (and answer the age-old question, what would happen if some one fingerprinted one of the Bat-Squad). Shrike, the vaunted villain from Robin: Year One, was far less impressive and dangerous than I expected (and, consider, Shrike takes on all of Blockbuster's henchmen and wins, but even with a couple ninjas for backup, he can't beat an exhausted Nightwing? Really?), but again the whole thing is balanced out by the Birds presence, and I'm somewhat interested to see what Shrike is like going up against the new Robin, instead of getting whipped by the old one.
So that's Nightwing down, and now I'm on to Hawkman, followed by JSA: Black Reign. Nightwing seems to be one of those titles on a one-a-year schedule, like Birds of Prey, Batgirl, and Gotham Central--here's hoping we can see another one a little sooner, and maybe get this title collected while the collecting's good.
Sunday, August 07, 2005
While I don't recommend reading Newsarama's report on the Crisis Counseling session at Wizard World Chicago if you don't want some of the lead-in to Infinite Crisis spoiled, I have skimmed it and picked up this little tidbit regarding trades of the Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries from DC's VP of Sales Bob Wayne:
Speaking of how the Countdown miniseries and other associated issues leading to Infinite Crisis will be collected, Wayne said that they will be collected in the coming months, and plans will be announced shortly. Speaking directly to a collection of the recent “Sacrifice” arc which ran through the Superman titles and Wonder Woman #219, and why the company opted to return to press on the four parts of the story rather than rushing a trade collection to press, Wayne said that reprinting the individual issues was the fastest way DC could get the material back on shelves and into people’s hands.
"Collected in the coming months." Woo-hoo! You heard it here first ... er, from the fine people at Newsarama!
Friday, August 05, 2005
The August 5, 2005 Dynamic Forces Weekly Emailer spoils the Superman/Wonder Woman crossover. No two ways about it--if you don't want to know the big reveal, don't read that.
I've been making a strong effort to quarantine myself from spoilers--I'd like to try to make it through Infinite Crisis without knowing anything before the trade, if possible. That's one of the reasons for this blog--a place that those waiting for the trade can come to read news and reviews without worrying about learning "the news of the day."
I've subsequently cancelled my subscription to the Dynamic Forces Weekly Emailer.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Second, I think this just about cleans up the most wanted list for the end of 2005--we see Action Comics, Teen Titans, Manhunter, Wonder Woman, and Legion. Small disappointments in that there's no Green Arrow, Gotham Central, or Birds of Prey, and one does have to wonder as to their individual trade schedules (one a year? really?), but on the other hand, we see the completely unexpected Plastic Man and Batgirl. The Batgirl trade lists Andersen Gabrych as the author, meaning the Batgirl trades have finally jumped from the Kelly Puckett era to modern times--disappointing, but it was bound to happen. I wonder if DC is hedging their bets that the Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood trade will drum up some Batgirl interest enough to direct fans to the new trade. I'd keep my eyes peeled for an advertisement therein.
Finally, we see a new Crisis on Multiple Earths trade, though the listing notes this as "The Team-Ups." Could this simply be listing verbiage, or are we to see a change in the Multiple Earths trade formats? Also, personally I hadn't expected to see I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League before the first JLA Classified trade, but there you go. And Majestic: Strange New Visitor must have done well enough to warrant another trade, collecting the first issues of the new series. Guess I have to uphold my promise to buy it now.
So good stuff, all around. I'm looking forward to it. As it gets closer to December (I know, coming up already, right?) I'll do a year-in-review on 2005's trades. For now, back to reading Nightwing--there's so many good trades I have stacked up to read, I want to get to them!
OLD POST:Ladies and Gentlemen, please point your browsers over to Gotham Lounge, where the Amazing Hovini has discovered the seemingly full list of DC trades for November and December. Click on over and show him the counter-hit-love. He deserves it.
My comments on this list to come tomorrow when I'm feeling a little more awake.
Gotham Lounge: DC Comics Collected Editions for Nov/Dec '05:
Edited 11:59 AM PST - Here are some of the collections planned for November and December. Please keep in mind that this is a tentative list, and is not official until formally announced by DC Comics. All titles and release dates are subject to change at anytime by the publisher. CMX titles have been omitted from this list, in addition to titles such as ELFQUEST, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS ARCHIVES, and the SPIRIT ARCHIVES.
Wonder Woman: Eyes of the Gorgon TP
Majestic: While You Were Out TP
Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1:Teenage Revolution TP
I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League! TP
Teen Titans Vol. 4: The Future is Now TP
Superman: Apocalypse TP
Manhunter: Street Justice TP
Best of the Spirit TP
Plastic Man Vol. 2: Rubber Bandits TP
Light Brigade TP
Fables Vol. 6: Homelands TP
Lex Luthor: Man of Steel TP
Batgirl: Kicking Assassins TP
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 4 TP
The Losers Vol. 4: Close Quarters TP
Swamp Thing Vol. 8: Spontaneous Generation TP
The Golden Age Hawkman Archives Vol. 1 HC