Thursday, May 31, 2007
* DCU: World War III trade paperback ships with 52 #50 included. I was wondering how they were going to make this trade stand alone (if at all); there you go.
* I was glad to see the next Flash trade includes the final issues by Danny Bilson and Paul DeMeo instead of skipping them. Also has DC's two mysterious "big deal" Flash issues from Marc Guggenheim, #13 and #14.
* Legion fans should be happy about Legion of Super-Heroes: An Eye for an Eye, a collection of Paul Levitz stories. That these characters are, I think, appearing elsewhere in the DCU right now may have something to do with it (or the equally-popular cartoon series). Great Darkness Saga is one of the few DC Comic's classics I haven't gone and read; maybe I'll have to rectify that soon.
What's on your to-buy list?
The granddaughter of the original Whip joins the original Vigilante in the desert, where they and four other heroes fight a giant spider that Vigilante defeated once before. They're overwhelmed and possibly killed by aliens known as the Sheeda, and the mysterious seven beings that recruited them put "plan B" into action. In ancient Camelot, the Shining Knight fights the Sheeda and is transported to the present. Ex-police officer Jake Jordan becomes the heroic Manhattan Guardian and fights subway pirates, one of whom finds a dice-shaped power stone. A city of underground people--including Klarion the Witch Boy--prepare for an attack by the Sheeda, as Klarion escapes to the subways above. Zatanna fights a shape-shifter with the help of her new mysterious apprentice, who also carries a magic dice.
As concieved, the Seven Soldiers mini-series were meant to be read either separately or together; one difficulty seems to be that, since Morrison couldn't be sure how many or few of the series a reader would read, he's taken care to make sure that every reader gets the same information no matter which series they pick up. To that end, one can't turn around without getting popped in the head by the threat of a Sheeda invasion, and once you know it's coming, it makes a lot of the suspense in the stories somewhat moot. (And if the big conspiracy is just an alien invasion, that feels somewhat mundane for a story of this size.)
There's plenty more inter-connectivity--Zatanna's in a support group with one of Vigilante's original six, for instance, and I'm pretty sure the subway pirate's train in Manhattan Guardian hit the monster attacking Klarion at the end of his first issue, not to mention the constantly reocurring dice cube--but at least so far in the series, it's sound and fury equalling nothing; none of the connectivity seems to have a great impact on the plot of the story overall. That said, it's still early, and few of these series have yet to get off the ground.
The first two issues of the Seven Soldiers series so far seem to comprise complete adventures for the heroes; the first issue ends with a cliffhanger, and the second wraps things nearly completely (the first issue cover is a dynamic rendering of the Soldier, while the second is a close-up face shot, a la the DC month-long cover event a few years back). Of the four, my favorite so far was Manhattan Guardian, perhaps because the story was so accessible in a generic-superhero-origin way; the story also features mad Morrison-esque ideas without being overboard or tough to read. Klarion, Zatanna, and Shining Knight I found overboard and tough to read--there's a lot of wild magic-oriented language and strange double-speak. Now, I'm a fan of intellectualism in my comics, but a lot of this felt showy, as if it was less to drive the plot and more to convey a certain faux mood for the comics.
There's no faulting the art, which was both beautiful and series-appropriate in each instance, though sometimes I did have trouble figuring out what was going on until I read a panel or two more--on page 57, at the bottom, is the fairy hit with something, or is she pointing (and is she standing up or laying down)? On 83, did it take anyone a minute to figure out that Jake put on the armor? And so on.
All of this seems extra-ordinarily picky, but again, I think my high expectations for the series have a lot to do with it. I also recognize, of course, that I'm only at the beginning, and it's hard to look at this trade as if it's the meat of the story, knowing that it's not. In all, Seven Soldiers of Victory Volume 1 does deliver a bunch of complete stories with interesting characters and good art, with no false notes to be found--at the end of the day, is there much more you can ask from a trade paperback?
[Contains full covers, introduction by Grant Morrison.]
Tune in tomorrow for the Collected Editions review of volume two!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Not too many surprises here--Grant Morrison's JLA: Ultramarine Corps contains JLA/Wildcats, which I think was notable (aside from the rumored Wildstorm universe now becoming part of the DCU) for a tie to DC One Million, if I recall correctly. Supergirl: Identity has a story from the DCU Holiday Special, which is a nice extra. Suicide Squad fans should be happy; otherwise, I think this list is as expected.
A good conversation about the Crisis on Multiple Earths trades is a little lower on that Newsarama page, in the comments section.
* Black and White Wonder has links to a couple of DC's Showcase reviews, including The War that Time Forgot, as well as rumors regarding upcoming Marvel Essentials.
Don't forget, tomorrow starts Collected Edition's own multi-part saga, as we spend a day on each of the four Seven Soldiers of Victory trade paperbacks. Don't miss it!
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
In the aftermath of Superboy's rampage in Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders, Donna Troy arrives on Earth to recruit Cyborg, as the Titans learn of Wonder Woman's murder of Maxwell Lord, and the Red Hood comes to battle Tim Drake. The Spectre's rampage in Day of Vengeance resurrects Brother Blood with the spirits of dead Titans, who the remaining Titans defeat with the help of Kid Eternity. Superboy is attacked by Superboy-Prime and rescued by a combined team of the Titans, the JSA, and the Doom Patrol; Kid Flash disappears into the Speed Force. The remaining team must steal a serum from Lex Luthor to help heal Superboy's injuries; they succeed just as Bludhaven is destroyed. Most of the team goes to Bludhaven while Wonder Girl and Superboy remain behind, ultimately ending up in Smallville; Superboy rejoins the Infinite Crisis fight, following Nightwing to Alexander Luthor's base in the Antarctic, where Superboy dies fighting Superboy-Prime.
In the middle of this trade, as Superboy-Prime attacks Superboy and draws him back into the action, the story really becomes Superboy's alone. We see both his faults, in his intial reluctance to help the other heroes, and also his ties to Robin and Wonder Girl, which I feel really brought the character to life. There is, of course, the love scene between he and Wonder Girl toward the end of the trade, which, rather than controversial, upholds a long-standing Titans tradition. In the 1980s, New Titans writer Marv Wolfman added a dose of reality to his series by showing Nightwing and Starfire in bed together, and here too Johns offers a realistic portrayal of Superboy and Wonder Girl's lives.
I've followed the Superboy character since his first appearance in Adventures of Superman, and more than many others, Superboy is a character who's been written to both grow and change--more so than the newest Robin, Tim Drake, who's remained essentially the same, and more so than Bart Allen, who's changes seem to come title-by-title and not through storyline progression. In this way, it's both sad to see Superboy's story end, and at the same time appropriate. Born from the death of Superman (which Superboy-Prime blames for the darkening of our Earth), Superboy fought in the beginning against being called "Superboy," and as he dies (in the over-generous inclusion of quite a number of pages from Infinite Crisis #6) finally accepts the Superboy name for the last time. If anything, I can acknowledge Superboy's death as a fitting end to his arc.
There's a great countdown feel to this trade (not that kind of Countdown) as the team slowly shrinks down until only Superboy is left. Even as Johns has discussed plans--had he remained on Titans--to re-address the "Titans Tomorrow" seen in Teen Titans: The Future is now, he does a good job wrapping up that storyline as Superboy recognizes that the time that the future Titans predicted--the time when the Teen Titans would break apart--may have now arrived. Nightwing, of course, offers a hopeful alternative, but it's still hard not to be a little mournful--to me, the core new-era Titans are Robin, Wonder Girl, Superboy, and Kid Flash, and upstarts like Kid Devil and Miss Martian just don't appeal to me--it's kind of like the JLA without the Big Seven (which I know we have right now, too, but that's a different story). Come One Year Later, Johns is going to have to work very hard to make me like the new guys; we'll see how it goes.
[Contains one of the funniest biography pages ever, cover thumbnails, excerpts from Infinite Crisis #5 and #6.]
Beginning in a few days, Collected Editions will offer a Seven Soldiers of Victory extravaganza! Four days of Seven Soldiers trade reviews, followed by a wrap-up day! Come join us!
Friday, May 25, 2007
That said, however, the one-storyline aspect of this trade does give it the feel of a Green Arrow graphic novel, and there are some especially good moments sprinkled throughout: Black Lightning's role, an appearance by Dr. Light II, the story climaxing with Green Arrow in an archery contest, and one of the best One Year Later cliffhangers of the bunch. Some of the villain silliness from the last trade is gone, too, and even Tom Fowler's art seems less exaggerated--all in all, this trade is a nice improvement from the last, and makes me quite eager to follow Green Arrow's adventures into One Year Later, especially given recent hype.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Now, that's just an honest difference of opinion, though I'd note that Nightwing's portrayal is considerably more consistent between Outsiders, Teen Titans, Batman, Infinite Crisis and others than it is in Nightwing's own series. And personally, I was quite excited when DC announced that Devin Grayson would be writing Nighwing--we all know she's a fan of the character, and her Titans mini-series and run on the title were brilliant--I still think Grayson wrote the single best issue of No Man's Land in her Leslie Thompkins/Huntress/Mr. Zsasz meeting and frankly, between Gotham Knights and The Titans, Grayson can be credited with bringing character-driven stories back to comics at a time when the pendulum had shifted back the other way--but frankly, between the too-hot-to-handle Tarantula in the previous storyline and the wait-in-need-of-guidance Ravager in this storyline, one begins to worry that the author may be just too invested in her character.
Not to mention, the whiny, sarcastic Rose Wilson written here seemed somewhat far afield from what I recall from Teen Titans, or even her recent appearance in Batgirl. So these are quibbles, though it seems like Nightwing may be hard to write all around--the One Year Later creative team that followed Grayson left too--but here's hoping that Marv Wolfman and DC's upcoming big plans for Nightwing can help the title get back on track again.
* A little late, DC's released a list of their trades for October, over at Newsarama. Mystery in Space is listed as a "volume 1" (Boo! Hiss!), and there's rumblings about two CMX graphic novels, Presents and Variante at a larger trim size, 5 1/2 by 8 (still smaller than a "regular" trade paperback).
Meanwhile, a Newsarama message board poster points out what I missed, that Flash: Wonderland does not contain Flash: Iron Heights. Oh, well; something's better than nothing. But I wonder ... will the Flash: Wonderland trade have the same trade dress as the other Geoff Johns Flash trades?
* Collected Editions is still taking guest reviews on Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, even select Vertigo trades, as well as independent and what-have-you. If you're interested, send an email to the address at right.
* The RSS feed may show some old reviews for a little while as we update our post labels. Sorry for the inconvenience, and enjoy the flashback!
Monday, May 21, 2007
GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY: FOR BETTER OR WORSE TP-- but most of these are just Green Arrow/Black Canary team ups. I think Justice League of America #75 is when Canary first discovers her Canary-cry and Longbow Hunters is the infamous special where Canary is tortured ... anyone have details on the rest?
Written by Dennis O’Neil, Alan Moore, Brad Meltzer and others
Art by Dick Giordano, Klaus Janson, Mike Grell and others
Cover by Alex Ross
Collecting stories from JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #75, ACTION COMICS #428, #434, THE JOKER #4, GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW #94-95, DETECTIVE COMICS #549-550, GREEN ARROW: LONGBOW HUNTERS# 1, GREEN ARROW (VOL.1) #75, #101, GREEN ARROW(VOL.2)# 4-5, #12, #21 and BIRDS OF PREY #88!
Advance-solicited; on sale September 19 • 200 pg, FC, $14.99 US
Have I mentioned, by the way, that I love, love these new DC "flashback" trades, and moreso, say what you will, but I love New Earth. So much old DC material is now back in continuity without having to retroactively replace characters ... it's really a lot of fun.
The Sword of the Atom trade --
SWORD OF THE ATOM TP-- just looks cooler and cooler to me all the time. Hey, maybe Sword of the Atom and Sword of Atlantis should do a team-up. A little underwater shrinking action. Hey, wait ...
Written by Jan Strnad
Cover by Kane
Art by Gil Kane, Pat Broderick and Dennis Janke
Collected for the first time in a single graphic novel! Sword of the Atom #1-4 and Sword of the Atom Special #1-3 take readers on a fantastic journey into the heart of a Central American jungle, where a race of 6-inch-tall aliens treats The Atom as their protector against titanic beasts and primeval sorcery!
Advance-solicited; on sale September 5 • 232 pg, FC, $19.99 US
Meanwhile, Absolute Sandman Vol. 2 --
THE ABSOLUTE SANDMAN VOL. 2 HC-- is jam packed with goodies, if not a little hard on the wallet.
Written by Neil Gaiman
Art by Shawn McManus, Kelley Jones, Mike Dringenberg, Bryan Talbot, John Watkiss, Matt Wagner, Stan Woch, Colleen Doran, Duncan Eagleson, John Bolton, Malcolm Jones III, George Pratt, Dick Giordano, P. Craig Russell and Vince Locke
Cover by Dave McKean
DC Comics is proud to present the second volume of the comics classic THE SANDMAN in Absolute format! The second of four beautifully designed slipcased volumes, THE ABSOLUTE SANDMAN VOL. 2 collects issues 21-39 of THE SANDMAN and features remastered coloring on all 19 issues as well as brand-new inks on THE SANDMAN #34 by the issue’s original penciller, Colleen Doran, and a host of bonus material, including two never-before-reprinted stories by Gaiman (one prose and one illustrated), a complete reproduction of the never-before-reprinted one-shot THE SANDMAN: A GALLERY OF DREAMS, and the complete script and pencils by Gaiman and Kelley Jones for Chapter Two of "Season of Mists" from THE SANDMAN #23.
Advance-solicited; on sale October 31 • 616 pg, FC, $99.00 US
And Wildstorm solicits a whole bunch of scary trades this month -- Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Brrr!
Meanwhile, someone at DC Direct wrote this advertising copy with a straight face: "POWER GIRL is the newest female addition to DC Direct's line of realistically proportioned, super-heroic 1:6 scale figures [emphasis mine]!" Yeah, and I have a bridge between Keystone and Central City to sell you.
Go watch Heroes! (and Law and Order: Criminal Intent could use your help, too.)
As far as Jason's concerned, I thought I knew the whole story -- Jason was dead, then an other-dimensional Superboy-Prime banged on the walls of reality in DC's Infinite Crisis and what we thought happened was erased, and Jason secretly crawled out of the wreckage. Instead, Winick tempers Infinite Crisis science-fiction mojo with gritty Batman sensabilites, and what surfaces is incredibly digestable -- an explanation for Jason Todd's return that both preserves what we know so far, and moves us forward into the future.
Batman: Under the Hood Volume 2 opens as Batman investigates the return of Jason Todd, while Jason, as the Red Hood, continues to take apart Gotham ganster Black Mask's hold on the city. When Black Mask accepts help from the assassin Deathstroke, Batman fights beside Jason, but when Jason kills the villain Captain Nazi, Batman realizes he has to stop his former partner. Black Mask seemingly kills Jason, but it's only a decoy; Batman is lured to Crime Alley, where Jason holds the Joker prisoner. As the Secret Society decimates the neighboring town of Bludhaven with the villain Chemo in Infinite Crisis, Jason makes Batman choose between killing him or killing the Joker; Batman wounds Jason, and then loses him in the ensuing explosion.
The new policy at DC appears to be one of immediate, rather than retroactive continuity; as with character Donna Troy's new origin, Green Lantern Hal Jordan's possession by an alien being as an explaination of a controversial storyline, new Flash Bart Allen's powers of information retention in Teen Titans, and others, it seems that writers have a greater ability to tweak facts as they go along -- which isn't necessarily a bad thing. In the case of Jason Todd, as the Batman Annual #25 at the end of this trade shows, it's not that Jason didn't die, it's just that Superboy-Prime's reality shift resurrected Jason -- in his coffin. What follows is a terribly creepy, but incredibly effective origin of the Red Hood. Fans of Jason's demise in Batman: A Death in the Family get to keep this tale, while at the same time Jason returns from the dead. Inasmuch as this story could have left a bevy of fans feeling cheated, I was especially impressed with this solution.
As I mentioned in my review of Under the Hood Volume 1, Winick writes an older Batman, more George Clooney than Christian Bale. This continues here, and the take on Batman is most fitting considering his enemy. Winick does a great job demonstrating why the Red Hood is a dangerous villain for Batman -- because he makes Batman doubt himself. The scene where Batman and Jason fight side-by-side (and, prior to this, where Batman is frozen, unable to decide whether to help Jason or not) show a Batman uncharacteristically shaken and unsure -- and people around him get hurt and die because of it. Winick conveys the sense that, whenever Batman is fighting Jason, he'd just as soon be letting Jason get away, and this makes for a very compelling story. I'd hardly think the Red Hood character could hold up a series on his own, but I'm not sorry to see he's getting more exposure in the post-Infinite Crisis DCU.
The nits in this trade are small and far between -- Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen provide excellent art as always, and Shane Davis's Batman annual steals the show, but I might've preferred more Mahnke and less Eric Battle in the middle. And, even as Winick provides a perfectly good explanation of how Jason Todd can still be alive, his explanation plays continuity hash with villain Talia Al Ghul's timeline, enough that her role is mainly worth ignoring altogether. But these are, again, small issues with an overall great story -- an excellent effort of a writer working under crossover constraints and coming out on top.
[Contains full covers, character biographies.]
Continuing on now reading Infinite Crisis crossover trades -- Nightwing: Renegade next, then Green Arrow and Teen Titans. Tag along!
Saturday, May 19, 2007
Essentially, this book — crossing over with the fifth chapter of DC Comic's recent Infinite Crisis series — is something of an Elseworlds or "what if" tale, imagining what would happen if the modern Superman and the Golden Age 1940s Superman existed in the others' world. The modern Superman, known as the Earth-One Superman, finds the classic Earth-Two deceptively simple, while the Earth-Two Superman imagines taking a no-nonsense approach to a fight with Doomsday, the monster responsible for 1992's Death of Superman and champions the mind-wiping of villains by Earth's heroes as seen in the recent Identity Crisis series.
Predictably, each Superman finds out that the other's life is not as easy as they thought, but as "what-if" stories go, this one is especially enjoyable. Both scenarios feature a nice retrospective of modern Superman events — including the first time Superman meets Lois Lane and Batman, and his early battles with Lex Luthor — serving as an epilogue to the final issues of the Adventures of Superman comic book collected here. As a special treat, especially for long-time modern Superman fans, we have art cameos not just from recent favorites Ed Benes, Karl Kerschl, and Ed McGuinness, but also 1980s and 1990s Superman artists Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, and John Bogdanove, among others.
For hard-core fans of DC's Infinite Crisis, this trade is worth it (it also contains the Infinite Crisis Secret Files). It's especially interesting how even though Geoff Johns wrote Infinite Crisis presumably without the full script for Joe Kelly's stories in-hand, you can now re-read some of the dialogue between the Supermen — both around their fight and later when they battle Doomsday in Infinite Crisis — and there's an extra level to it when you know what they've experienced in these pages. Worth a look.
[Contains full covers, profile pages from the Infinite Crisis Secret Files]
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Superman: Kryptonite - Collects the first arc of Superman Confidential, by Darwyn Cooke and Tim Sale
The Brave & Bold: Lords Of Luck - The first new Brave & Bold arc
Wonder Woman: Amazons Attack - The Will Pfeifer miniseries, in hardcover. If all the Countdown crossovers come out in hardcover, that’s going to get annoying.
The Flash, The Fastest Man Alive: Full Throttle - Next Flash trade may contain the much touted issues #13 and #14, or end right before
Supergirl: Identity - Picking up the Joe Kelly run
Hawkgirl: Hawkman Returns - Even as this series has been cancelled, this should collect the Hawkgirl/JSA Classified crossover
JLA: Ultramarine Corps - Finally, the first JLA Classified arc (and Seven Soldiers of Victory lead-in); I wouldn’t be surprised if this contains additional Global Guardians material
Batman Death In The City - The next Paul Dini Detective Comics trade
Wonder Woman: Love & Murder - The Jodi Picoult collection. Kind of a disappointing title, no?
Green Lantern Corps: A Darker Shade Of Green Robin: Teenage Wasteland Green Arrow: Road To Jericho
Batman Rules Of Engagement - The first Andy Diggle Batman Confidential trade
The Flash: Wonderland - AT LONG LAST! Collected Editions readers know how long I’ve been waiting for this. Collects Geoff Johns first Flash issues. See, good things eventually do come to those who wait-for-trade!
Nightwing: Love And War - Collecting the first issues of the recent Marv Wolfman run
The Question - A Dennis O’Neil trade
The Creeper: Welcome to Creepsville - The Steve Niles Brave New World miniseries
Mystery in Space
The Helmet of Fate - Collecting the one-shot specials, if not the first issues of the new series
Justice League Elite Vol. 2 - Also at long last, the second volume of Joe Kelly’s Justice League Elite miniseries
The Spectre: Tales of the Unexpected
Dr. Thirteen: Architecture and Morality - Collecting the Tales of the Unexpected backup stories by Brian Azzarello
Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or Worse - Hard to say if this is a collection of old Green Arrow/Black Canary stories or something new, but the author is listed as Brad Meltzer
Ion: The Dying Flame - Second volume of the Ion miniseries
Checkmate: Pawn Breaks Supergirl and the Legion of Super-heroes: The Dominator War Teen Titans: Titans East
Sword of the Atom - By Jan Strnad, collecting issues of the old Ray Palmer series
The Atom: Future/Past TP (Gail Simone)
Tales of the Multiverse: Batman - Vampire TP - This is undoubtedly the Crimson Mist miniseries; interesting that it’s got "Tales of the Multiverse" added to it, though. I imagine we’ll see more of those.
DC: World War III TP - Seems to arrive just after the fourth 52 trade.
What are you buying?
DC has also announced two other 52 trades, coming in August: 52: The Covers hardcover, at $19.95, and a 52: The Companion trade paperback, at $19.99. I'm surprised to see the covers hardcover so early, but there you go. As for 52: The Companion, it contains the following (with my explanation of the issue in bold): MYSTERIOUS SUSPENSE #1, (a Charlton Comic featuring the Question's first solo debut) GOTHAM CENTRAL #40 (Renee Montoya's last issue before 52, also found in Gotham Central: Dean Robin), ANIMAL MAN #16 (Animal Man with Ralph Dibney and other members of Justice League Europe), METAL MEN #45 (a significant issue for the Metal Men's creator, Doctor Magus), SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #97 (a Steel issue by the great Mark Schultz, Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen team), RIP HUNTER: TIME MASTER #6 (a time travelling Rip Hunter adventure; anyone know more?), JSA #43-44 (time-travelling JSA story that looks at Black Adams origins; also found in JSA: Savage Times), and stories from DETECTIVE COMICS #350 (I'm betting the Elongated Man story), STRANGE ADVENTURES #226 (Adam Strange story), SECRET ORIGINS #35 (Booster Gold origin).
I love these "old-with-the-new" trades DC's done lately (Power Girl and Superman: Back in Action for two), so I'm quite excited about this 52 companion.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Now is it just me, or have you too always equated The Spirit with the likes of Dick Tracy? I know The Spirit got graphic at times, but always in Eisner's somewhat cartoony style. In the vein of Batman Begins and Sin City? Really? What do you think?
Sunday, May 13, 2007
From the beginning of Rucka's Wonder Woman run--as one of Diana's staff deals with a legal challenge regarding whether Diana's Lasso of Truth violates a criminal's Miranda rights--Rucka examined the idea of truth as it related to Diana, and moreover, the difference between truth and perception. Indeed, one of the precipitating actions of the first of five trade paperbacks collecting Rucka's Wonder Woman run, Down to Earth, is Diana's publishing a book of essays--a book of her opinions, her perceptions, meant to evoke debate between her ideas and the ideas of others. However, one difficulty Diana encounters, almost immediately, is the confusion of truth versus perception--a conservative group wants to censor Diana because they believe their her truth threatens their own, a confusion of truth versus opinion.
This tension is found throughout Rucka's Wonder Woman stories, culminating most severely in Diana's killing of rogue Justice League liaison Maxwell Lord in Mission's End. Max specifically tells Diana that the only way to stop him from mind-controlling Superman is to kill him, and yet Superman still maintains to Diana that there had to be another way. When Diana asks Max a question, with her lasso wrapped around him, is this the truth? Or is it only Max's perception of the truth, and if so, does this point to a failing in Diana's powers? Can Diana compel a person to speak a truth beyond their own knowledge? Rucka suggests the answer over Diana's two televised battles; her aide Jonah McCarthy suggests that, even though Diana killed both Maxwell Lord and, earlier, the fearsome Medousa in the public eye, it is Max's death that will end Diana's mission because Medousa looks like a monster, and Max doesn't. In the end, it seems, Diana is defeated as perception wins out.
That the two major battles that bookend Rucka's Wonder Woman run--Medousa and Maxwell Lord--are televised speaks to the issue of perception. Television is of course the very essence of perception--someone else's visual ideas being fed into one's living room, whether a fictional TV drama or the daily news filtered through the TV channel's own politics. Perception appears in opposition to Diana's mission of truth, and this is no more clear than when the newly-blinded Diana, fresh from rescuing a room full of kidnapped children in Land of the Dead, is instead questioned by a TV reporter as to how she'll style her hair now that she's blind. It's notable that Diana never appears on television in the trades except when the villains Circe and Brother Eye, respectively, film her secretly; the one time Diana is supposed to take part in a debate on TV, one of her staff substitutes at the last minute. Rucka reinforces the struggle for truth that Diana undertakes by creating this spectrum, with television on one end and, perhaps, open debate on the other; witness how quickly Doctor Leslie Anderson, once an opponent of Wonder Woman, joins Diana's cause once they sit down and talk. That Diana's tool for debate is a book, rather than an impassioned televised speech, is also important.
Indeed, the issues of perception versus truth can also be viewed as issues of violence versus debate, or war versus peace, that are interrelated throughout the stories. In the end of Down to Earth, reflecting on her book, Diana notes that "you do not change the world with the stroke of a pen or the sweep of a sword." Later, regarding the murder of the head of the conservative group, Diana mentions to Batman in Bitter Rivals that "no one has the right to silence a debate with a bullet." Here, the peaceful, debate-centered aspects of Diana's personality rule out. We even see Diana side with Athena against Zeus in a war of the gods only when it's revealed that Zeus no longer believes in mercy, and Athena does.
However, when Diana learns that Medousa has returned, she resolves nearly immediately to kill the Gorgon, influenced heavily by the recent deaths of her mother Hippolyta, sister Donna Troy, and friend Trevor Barnes. This fight results in Diana's blinding in Eyes of the Gorgon, and indeed, it seems that throughout the stories, when Diana's more violent, warrior instincts emerge, there's a bad outcome. Killing Maxwell Lord has consequences not only for Diana herself, but for her mission, her embassy employees, and for the Amazons; it's only after the Amazon Io sees that Diana has killed Max in Mission's End that she resolves to build the Purple Death Ray to kill the swarming cybernetic OMACs. Diana's mission isn't technically ruined by killing Max, any more than it was ruined by killing Medousa, but the perception of Diana's mission is ruined; the actions of Maxwell Lord and Brother Eye have made her appear violent. Though Mission's End finishes on a high note, with some of the public still supporting Diana, her violent actions have given the overall perception of failure.
Over five trades, Greg Rucka explores the contradictions inherit in Diana and her mission, and through these contradictions, suggests a Diana who is very much human. Indeed, if we judge by the gods alone in these stories, changed from lofty ancient specters to modern-looking contemporaries, Rucka's may be the most human Wonder Woman run of all. Over a number of artists--including Drew Johnson, whose clean art in Down to Earth defines the run, and Rags Morales, fresh from Identity Crisis, who adds star power to the run's end--there's a constant emphasis on Diana's battle scars, which often last for a number of issues. From the beginning, Rucka lets us know that Diana is grieving over Donna Troy's death, and this seems to inform some of the violence that follows; certainly, it makes Diana work all the harder when Diana's friend Vanessa is returned to her after having been kidnapped. Both Jonah and the Flash suggest that Diana's comportment make her seem less than human, but through these many aspects, Rucka suggests the opposite. It's fitting that the story finishes with the sense that Diana has lost everything, but gained, in a way, herself, with a new secret identity and a new life to be explored in her newly restarted series.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
So there: your random thought for the day.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Strange Attractors begins as Superman battles Dr. Polaris, and one of his multiple personalities, over Metropolis, only to have Polaris whisked away by Zoom and the Secret Society. After the events of Sacrifice, Dr. Psycho tries to take advantage of Superman's shaken mental state; Black Adam intervenes, fighting with and then ultimately helping Superman. On Halloween, the Spectre comes to take Satanus, and Superman learns Satanus' identity as Colin Thornton; Lois gets a visit from her supposed-dead father. Then, while Superman is captured by the Queen of Fables, Lois is kidnapped first by a corrupt senator, and then by a Daily Planet photographer who's been stalking her; the photographer's half-sister, the villain Livewire, ultimately leads Superman to Lois.
Whereas other writers seem to burn bridges between Clark and Lois, Gail Simone builds them. Both Clark and Lois are used well throughout the trade. Clark, of course, gets more airtime, but Lois has a swiftly moving plotline that has her chasing a Daily Planet story throughout the trade; many of the issues collected here end with Lois and Clark discussing their respective adventures. At one point, Lois enlists Lana's help to get background information of a villain that Clark needs. That Simone writes a good relationship between these three characters so naturally, and easily, is wonderful, and it is unfortunate that seeing the characters portrayed this way is such a wonder. I fondly recall the days of the Death of Superman, when Lois and Clark were each star reporters and any rivalry was good-natured, and Lana was a trusted friend to both. Lately we've seen writers try to reintroduce the love triangle in a way that makes all the characters less endearing, instead of more.
Simone's portrayal, if anything, swings too far in the other direction -- Superman saves Lois twice in the book, and carries her three times, and Lois swoons a bit too dramatically; however, as compared to all the bickering and infighting, I'll take a little swooning any day.
John Byrne, aided here by inker Nelson, turns in fantastic work; sometimes I feel that Byrne's art has too many tics (people in vests, for one), but his Superman work here is fresh and modern, especially the Black Adam fight and the Halloween issue. Jimmy Olsen, throughout the trade, looks to be about twelve years old, but in general is was quite nice to see Byrne back on Superman.
And lest I forget to mention, a big THANK YOU to Gail Simone for finally tying up the Colin Thornton/Satanus plotline. It's been over ten years since readers learned that Satanus was Colin Thornton, and in that time, though Superman's come close to learning the truth once or twice, there's never been the big revelation. Simone handles it in one panel here, and the quick, humorous nature of the reveal makes it all that much more fun. Great work all around.
[Contains full covers, summary pages]
On now to Greg Rucka's last Wonder Woman trade, and from there more Infinite Crisis crossovers.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
1) This hardcover is the spitting image of the mainstream Identity Crisis hardcover, which will look sweet together sitting together on your shelf ... unless, of course, you bought the comic shop hardcover version like me. Oh, well.
2) DC says specifically that this collects the first six issues of Justice League. Now, that's got to be issues one through six, otherwise it would miss the end of "Tornado's Path." Which means if you didn't buy the much touted issue zero, you may not find it in the hardcover unless DC changes it's mind. Time to see if your local comic book store still has any Free Comic Book Day copies left ...
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Premiering the Collected Editions Cafepress store!
... and more! Hope you all have as much fun looking around as we did making it. Now you can show your love of trade paperbacks everywhere you go.If you don't see something you want, just email us and we'll make it happen. Wear trades!
Friday, May 04, 2007
Superman, reeling from a tragedy near his Amazon Fortress of Solitude, brutally battles the villain Blackrock. At the Daily Planet, he believes he sees Brainiac seducing Lois, and nearly kills Brainiac in their fight. Superman wakes in the Fortress and learns from the Justice League that he's instead been fighting Batman. The League deduces that Maxwell Lord is mind-controlling Superman, and Wonder Woman goes to confront him; Lord forces Superman to attack Wonder Woman, and ultimately Wonder Woman kills Lord to stop Superman. As worldwide catastrophes interrupt, Superman and Wonder Woman ponder the implications of their actions.
Certainly, Sacrifice brings home the brutality of Maxwell Lord's attack on Superman, which OMAC Project can only hint at. The writers, lead by Greg Rucka, do well to show Superman witnessing Lois Lane's brutal death not once, but twice, bringing home to the reader the horror that Superman witnesses off-screen when he fights Wonder Woman, believing her to be Doomsday. Superman and Wonder Woman's fight, shown in the midst of all this violence, becomes all the more startling. I can understand DC's reasoning for not placing Sacrifice within the OMAC Project trade -- after reading Sacrifice, I can grant they're two separate stories -- but certainly the short text page in OMAC Project is no substitute for Sacrifice.
It's stuck with me since OMAC Project one simple fact: Wonder Woman asks Max Lord how to stop him, and Max says, "Kill me." Superman would argue that there must have been another way, but if we take Wonder Woman's legend as gospel, that the Lasso of Truth forces anyone inside it to tell the truth, then, in fact, Wonder Woman took the only action she could. And, given the destruction Superman created while Lord controlled him, one might think Wonder Woman made the right choice.
Diana, after all, has killed before, but what I think Greg Rucka has set up in his Wonder Woman run comes to fruition in what Jonah McCarthy says to Diana: "Medousa had snakes for hair, it was easy to see she was a monster" -- this is the conflict of Wonder Woman's Amazon values, where a supernatural beast can be beheaded without a second thought, with modern society, where killing the head of Checkmate, even justly, could condemn Diana in the court of public opinion. It is Greg Rucka's two epilogue chapters -- one told from Wonder Woman's perspective, one from Superman's, and both ending in a meeting with Batman -- that truly make the Sacrifice trade special, showing all the emotional angles of this rocky ground. Superman's final conversation with Lois is the perfect lead-in to Infinite Crisis.
[Contains full covers, "Previously ..." page]
Now to look at this from the Wonder Woman side with Wonder Woman: Mission's End, and then on to Superman: Infinite Crisis and more. See you then!