Review: Birds of Prey: The Battle Within trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Birds of Prey: The Battle Within could be my favorite of Gail Simone's four Birds of Prey trades. The book starts with three seemingly stand-alone Birds of Prey tales, but everything comes together at the end of the third, in a startling (and long-awaited) scene where all the Birds shine, especially the Huntress, leading in to the real meat of the trade, the "Battle Within" storyline. Though the very end feels slightly rushed, it's obvious that Simone tried to finish the trade with a bang, and the gesture is much appreciated. I felt a little nervous to see that artist Joe Bennett gets top billing here over Ed Benes--perhaps because I had Bennett confused with someone else--but his art shines, especially his Barbara Gordon, and without the bevy of nipples brought by Benes. Ultimately, The Battle Within is a fantasic conclusion to the "old Earth" Birds of Prey stories (the next trade contains both "old Earth" and One Year Later stories), and I'm eager to see what Simone brings One Year Later.
Collected Editions 2016 Comic Book Gift Guide

Review: Birds of Prey: Between Dark and Dawn trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 22, 2007

As a whole, I liked Birds of Prey: Between Dark and Dawn very much, in line with all of Gail Simone's run on Birds of Prey so far. Is it rare, perhaps, that a second writer's run on a book, following the writer who created the series, is as good or better than the original? Devin Grayson's Nightwing, for instance, didn't quite mesh with Chuck Dixon's; Simone's Birds of Prey does. If anything, it was only little moments that troubled me: the art teams shift drastically, for instance, nearly every issue, such that it quickly becomes distracting; the second Terra, despite what this volume claims, is not actually dead; and, while I haven't read much with Vixen in it before, Huntress's awe of her--that Batman spoke so highly of her, that Vixen was reportedly so powerful--when Huntress was JLA and Vixen was Justice League Detroit, rang false. (I did like that Simone returns Huntress to some of her vigilante roots here, not losing sight of Huntress's violent streak). Not to mention, it was never quite clear to me what Brainiac's ultimate plan was with the cult leader Brusaw, though it hardly matters--pairing Oracle against Brainiac was inspired, and long overdue, let alone Simone bringing back the time-lost Lady Blackhawk.

This is high-quality stuff, and worth checking out if you haven't. I'm on to read Birds of Prey: The Battle Within now, and here's hoping Gail Simone stays on Birds of Prey for a while.

DC Countdown begins in May ...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

DC Countdown begins in May. With 51 issues, counting backward to one*. Which is just ... dizzying, frankly. And apparently, a character dies, sending ripples through the DCU. Y'know, again.

* (Or to issue zero, which would make 52 issues total).

Update: I actually thought that was a fairly astute deduction. Meanwhile, the entire rest of the world came to exactly the same conclusion.

Trade Perspective: On recent delays ...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Newsarama posted a DC Comics press release yesterday, noting new content for Wonder Woman #5, as Alan Heinberg's "Who is Wonder Woman?" story gets bumped back an issue. Fans are already chewing their arms off, as with the Action Comics change announced on Tuesday. Sure, these are legitimate concerns from the fans, but I just can't help but think ... if you were a strict "wait-for-trader," you might never know the difference. And the fact that DC's willing to interrupt a monthly storyline--that is, completely derail the reading experience of the comic book fan who goes into their local comic book shop monthly and picks up single issues, without being up on the news or reading message boards or the like--suggests that (A) there's some sense that the "casual" comic book fan just doesn't exist any more, and (B) that the focus really is the trades, because, after all, what does it matter if "Who is Wonder Woman?" is printed out-of-order in the monthlies, as long as it can show up whole and hearty on DC's trade backlist. At some point, one wonders if DC shouldn't have just saved themselves the grief and printed "Who is Wonder Woman?" as trade first.

Meanwhile, all orders for the Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman? hardcover have been cancelled, and the book is to be resolicited. Containing the Pfeifer issue too, maybe?

Update: see one diverse comic book nation and Sequentially Speaking for additional thoughts on the "delay issue."

Update again: Meanwhile, Alan Heinberg chimes in at Newsarama that the delayed Wonder Woman #6 might be a special, extra-sized issue with back-up stories. Which begs the (trade) question, will those back-up stories be collected? And if so/if not, does delayed issue plus extra content equal good for the "wait-for-traders" or bad for the "wait-for-traders?"

JLA: Crisis of Conscience mini-review

I thought I heard horror stories about JLA: Crisis of Conscience, but maybe it was World Without a Justice League, because I thought this volume was pretty good. The action is somewhat scattered--I never quite understood how it was that Despero came back to life, or why this world-conquorer was so concerned with a bevy of minor super-villains--but Johns and Heinberg more than make up for it with some excellent character moments. From Hawkman calling out Superman to make the final decision on the mind-wipes, to Wonder Woman and Zatanna's heart-to-heart (and lead in to Seven Soliders), to a distinctly Meltzer-ian revelation that Batman's concern about the mindwipes surrounds Selina and not himself, to the full-circle Martian Manhunter moment when he realizes that much of this scenario is due to his own snubbing of Blue Beetle in Countdown to Infinite Crisis, a lot of the emotion that played out in Infinite Crisis begins here. Well worth the read before continuing on.

Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Death and Return of Donna Troy mini-review

Sunday, February 11, 2007

I read The Death and Return of Donna Troy in conjunction with the recent New Teen Titans: Who is Donna Troy trade paperback, and I recommend that everyone else do the same. Return is very nearly a direct sequel to the "Who is Donna Troy?" stories, and if you aren't familiar with the characters from the first, you'll be completely lost as to what they're talking about when they re-encounter one another in the second. That said, "Who is Donna Troy?" remains a classic, with the "classic" group of 1980s Teen Titans fighting alongside one another (and, if you've ever tried to understand how the Titans can be considered a "family" while the JLA's just a "team," count the number of times the Titans here tell each other how much they love and value one another before they go into battle), while Return is suffused again with much of that 1980s magic, if still a five-issue story compressed into only four issues. But there's a lot of Titans goodness here, especially for longtime fans, and in terms of Infinite Crisis, these books are absolutely essential.

Superman/Batman: Vengeance mini-review

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Superman/Batman: Vengeance was fun, I'm sure, in a nostalgic kind of way, with the various versions of Superman and Batman as gratifying for a certain population of fans as the various cameo appearances of eccentric DC heroes were in Absolute Power. Some of the thrill of a Composite Superman-Batman is lost on me, though, as is using Bat-Mite as the big reveal. I guess, given Darkseid's role here, I was looking for more of something that would tie together the "Man of Tomorrow" Superman with Metallo and the death of Bruce Wayne's parents and all the other threads from the past twenty-five issues of Superman/Batman. Now don't get me wrong, though; I'm happy to see a sequel to Emperor Joker (and the "no trade" line, though now rectified, was classic); high points for a Linda Danvers cameo appearance, too, and a hint, amazingly early, at DC's next, post-Infinite Crisis crossover. So I guess this was good, though with so many characters in the madcap plot, combined with the fairly streamlined, non-madcap newly matured art of Ed McGuinness, left me a little cold. Or maybe it's because, since I'm not a Marvel reader to begin with, the incessant Marvel in-jokes in a DC comic went right over my head. For better Superman/Batman action, I think, see Loeb's Supergirl: Power.

DC Announces June-August 2007 Trades

Friday, February 02, 2007

BATMAN: TURNING POINTS TP
Writers: Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and Chuck Dixon
Artists: Steve Lieber, Joe Giella, Dick Giordano, Brent Anderson, Paul Pope
and others
Collects BATMAN: TURNING POINTS #1-5
$14.99 US, 128 pages

I was interested in this Batman/Commissioner Gordon mini-series when it first came out, but didn't buy it; I'm glad to see it in trade. Obviously DC's finding that backlist mini-series plus popular creators equals potential trade paperback. See below.

BLUE BEETLE VOL. 2: ROAD TRIP TP
Writers: John Rogers and Keith Giffen
Artists: Cully Hamner, Duncan Rouleau, Casey Jones and Rafael Albuquerque
Collects BLUE BEETLE #7-12
$12.99 US, 144 pages

Continuing right along nicely.

CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME TP
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale
Collects CATWOMAN: WHEN IN ROME #1-6
$12.99 US, 160 pages

Glad to see a paperback.

GOTHAM CENTRAL VOL. 5: DEAD ROBIN TP
Writers: Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker
Artists: Kano, Steve Lieber and Stefano Gaudiano
Collects GOTHAM CENTRAL #33-40
$17.99 US, 192 pages

Nicely done; takes us right through the end of the series. So DC's finding that backlist mini-series or cancelled series plus popular creators equals a fine life in trade paperback, even if the series is cancelled. This means good things, upon which I'll expound later.

JSA PRESENTS: STARS AND S.T.R.I.P.E. VOL. 1TP
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Lee Moder and Dan Davis
Collects STARS AND S.T.R.I.P.E. #1-8
$12.99 US, 192 pages

And then there's this. Wow. Already I think we're seeing a trend for 2007--the year of cancelled fan-favorite series making their return in trade paperback. Don't miss the "JSA Presents" moniker, either; if this does well, I bet JSA Presents: Hourman is right around the corner.

(I'm pretty sure Collected Editions predicted this one a few years back, but I can't access my links right now. Link to come.)


TRIALS OF SHAZAM VOL. 1 TP
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Howard Porter
Collects TRIALS OF SHAZAM #1-6 and a story from DC: BRAVE NEW WORLD #1
$14.99 US, 160 pages

Glad to see this, and that the story from Brave New World is included, though these volume 1/volume 2 trends for miniseries bum me out; seems like money-grabbing on DC's part.

52 VOL. 2 TP
Writers: Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid
Artists: Keith Giffen, Dale Eaglesham, Shawn Moll, Joe Bennett, Chris
Batista, Eddy Barrows, Patrick Olliffe, Drew Johnson, Phil Jimenez and
others
Collects the lead stories from 52 WEEKS 14-26
$19.99 US, 304 pages

So it does look like every two months for the 52 miniseries. So we'll finish up by the end of the year.

MARTIAN MANHUNTER: THE OTHERS AMONG US TP
Writer: A.J. Lieberman
Artists: Al Barrionuevo and Bit
Collects MARTIAN MANHUNTER #1-8 and a story from DC: BRAVE NEW WORLD
$19.99 US, 208 pages

So glad to see this in one, and not two, volumes.

OUTSIDERS: PAY AS YOU GO TP
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Ron Randall, Pop Mhan and Carlo Barberi
Collects OUTSIDERS #42-46 and OUTSIDERS ANNUAL #1
$14.99 US, 160 pages

Glad to see the annual included.

UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS TP
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Artist: Daniel Acu?a
Collects UNCLE SAM AND THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS #1-8 and a story from DC: BRAVE
NEW WORLD
$14.99 US, 208 pages

BATMAN AND SON HC
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang and John Van Fleet
Collects BATMAN #655-658 and #663-666
$19.99 US, 128 pages

Hardcovers for the new Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman runs--DC has
their big guns right up front. But if I'm not mistaken, all these issues aren't even out yet; retailers are going to have fits ...


BIRDS OF PREY: BLOOD AND CIRCUITS TP
Writers: Gail Simone and Tony Bedard
Artists: James Raiz, Paulo Siqueira and others
Collects BIRDS OF PREY #96-103
$17.99 US, 208 pages

CATWOMAN: IT'S ONLY A MOVIE TP
Writers: Will Pfeifer
Artists: David Lopez and Alvaro Lopez
Collects CATWOMAN #59-65
$19.99 US, 168 pages

GREEN LANTERN: WANTED - HAL JORDAN HC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert
Collects GREEN LANTERN #14-20
$19.99 US, 144 pages

Glad to see all of these continuing.

JACK KIRBY'S FOURTH WORLD OMNIBUS VOL. 2 HC
Writer: Jack Kirby
Artists: Jack Kirby, Vince Colletta and Mike Royer
Collects NEW GODS #4-6, FOREVER PEOPLE #4-6, JIMMY OLSEN #141-145 and MISTER
MIRACLE #4-6
$49.99 US, 396 pages

Two volumes in one year (and possibly more)? Santa's going to have a
heavy sleigh in December ...


MANHUNTER VOL. 3: ORIGINS TP
Writer: Marc Andreyko
Artists: Javier Pina, Stephen Sadowski, Rags Morales, Sean Phillips, Shawn
Martinbrough and Diego Olmos
Collects MANHUNTER #15-23
$17.99 US, 224 pages

And another fan favorite series continuing on. This is such a good idea--I'm telling you, I bet these series, which couldn't support monthlies, will sell like gangbusters in trade. Now the idea is to figure out how to skip the failing monthly part, and go right to the trade ...

On any or all of this, your thoughts?