Review: 52: The Companion trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Collected Editions welcomed a whole bunch of new readers after our breakdown of the issues collected in 52: The Companion (as well as a nice mention from The Collected Comics Library), and now we've finally had a chance to read that volume.

This volume is all about range, probably not unlike 52 itself. 52: The Companion ranges from old stories--Rip Hunter, in 1962--to the JSA in 2003. It ranges from stories completely unrelated to 52, to stories from Gotham Central and Metal Men. It works exceptionally well, probably because the stories seem to have been selected by DC-history-buff Mark Waid. The range of these stories--that not every one, for instance, is an origin story--keeps them from growing repetitive, and makes for a nice read overall.

In fact, the 52 Companion contains an amazing cross-section of DC Comics history, from the aforementioned recent Gotham Central and JSA issues, to Steve Gerber and Walt Simonson on the Metal Men, to an Adam Strange text story by Gardner Fox with illustrations by Murphy Anderson. The Question story here, rather than one by Dennis O'Neil, is a classic written and drawn by Steve Ditko, and it's an alarmingly text-heavy piece, with seemingly Ditko's own value system dripping from the page; rather than feeling offput, however, I was charmed by how challenging this story is to read. This is a rare chance to see glimpses of DC history often set aside for more contemporary material.

Overall, I'm a fan of DC's publishing these "companion" volumes, showcasing stories related to various DC plotlines or events. The Power Girl trade is another example, as it included a couple of old Power Girl stories; in Superman: Back in Action, we saw a couple of additional older Superman team-ups. One of the many things I like about the Dan Didio era of DC Comics is the way Didio, Johns, and company seem to be trying to resurrect or make more relevant older DC history--I don't mind the corniness of old Justice League stories, for instance, if I know they're "in continuity" with current storylines.

[Introductions by Mark Waid to each issue, but no covers.]

So if you're not familiar with the characters in 52, I think 52: The Companion is a good place to start. There aren't any spoilers found inside, so you could even read 52: The Companion before the books themselves--though, do be warned about a spoiler on the back cover--anyone else spot it? Leave a comment and let me know.

13 on 52: Week Thirty-Three

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 3.)

Thirteen words for Week Thirty-Three: Question's illness casts pall even over Nightwing/Batwoman gift-giving. Ralph's drinking Ginko.

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Thirty-Three? Post them here!

Trade Perspectives: Fed Up With DC Comics Hardcovers!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

I've had it with DC Comics hardcovers!

Yes, that's right. Nothing so drastic, of course, as giving up my trade reading or reviewing (heaven forbid!), but I did make some buying decisions this month that made me realize how DC's new glut of hardcovers is beginning to affect my comics-buying budget.

Consider that, for this buying month, DC is producing in hardcover no less than:
Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul - $14.99 (hardcover)
Booster Gold: 52 Pickup - $12.49 (hardcover)
Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Quest for Cosmic Boy - $8.99 (paperback)
Superman: Escape from Bizarro World - $14.99 (hardcover)
Mystery in Space Volume 2 - $10.79 (paperback)
The Starman Omnibus Volume 1 - $24.99 (hardcover)
Captain Carrot and the Final Ark - $9.99 (paperback)
Jack Kirby's OMAC - $12.49 (hardcover)
JLA Presents: Aztek, the Ultimate Man - $9.99 (paperback)
The Question: Poisoned Ground - $11.99 (paperback)

That's not including various Showcase editions and such. Even reflecting the lowest prices online (I think), that's still $141.69 to buy that month's selection of DC trades. And of those, three of the most prominent are hardcovers.

Personally, I try to spend no more than $60 a month on trade paperbacks (what's your trade paperback budget?). To buy the three hardcovers alone, with shipping, is almost $50; that makes it only possible to buy three or four books this month, when before the rise of hardcovers I might have been able to buy five or six. And don't even get me started on the cost per issue equation!

So for me, whereas I might otherwise have checked out The Question or supported the new JLA Presents series, I've had to stick them all on a wish list for birthdays or holidays. I'm doing it more and more each month; the effect of the rise in DC Comics hardcovers is that I'm getting choosier about what I buy, and I'm buying less--even if I'm spending about the same.

Hard to say if that's good or bad for DC. I imagine that hardcovers come with more bookstore prestige and shelf-life, so it's in DC's interest to produce hardcovers. As long as DC makes the same off me each month, I imagine the quantity I buy hardly matters. We talk here some times about the trade paperback boom; if the increase in DC hardcovers made customers buy less, so DC produced less trades, but targeted the trades they did release so that only lasting storylines got collected, that might be OK, too. The likely losers, unfortunately, are the local comics shops, who could see profits go down as customers purchase fewer books because of the increased price of the hottest sellers.

This, of course, posits my own buying habits as true for the whole, which probably isn't the case. But let me say that I think we've entered the third era of trade paperbacks now--the first era was when trades were scarce and you never knew what was going to be collected, pre-, say, 2004; the second era was the rise in trades, where for about two years DC collected everything pretty regularly and affordably, 2004 to mid-2006; and now, the third era, where trades are hot, hot, hot, and subsequently getting expensive.

I'll leave it there, without going into what to do or what happens next, and instead ask, what do you think? Is this similar to your experience? What's to be done, if anything? Leave your comments, and we'll talk about this more as the year unfolds.

Review: Nightwing: Love and War trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, January 28, 2008

If we were to put Nightwing collections on a scale where New Titans: The Judas Contract was a story most true to Nightwing's character, and Nightwing: Brothers in Blood (read our review) was the story farthest afield, I'd place Marv Wolfman's new Nightwing: Love and War right smack in the middle.

There's essentially two stories here--one, where Nightwing tries to solve the mystery of the armored Raptor, who's falsely accused of a string of murders; and the second, where Nightwing fights the supernatural serial killers Bride and Groom. Of these, I liked the first the best, as it was a more urban-style Batman-type mystery than the second. Wolfman does a superlative job tying Nightwing's outer and inner lives together; as Nightwing faces death from both Raptor and, apparently, a renegade Crisis on Infinite Earths Monitor, he's forced to reflect on the state of his life and his need for a secret identity. Some of this I feel we've read before, but I liked the solution Wolfman posits late in the book, that Dick Grayson become an acrobatics instructor in line with his circus upbringing.

On one hand, the Bride and Groom storyline felt to me like a Chuck Dixon Nightwing storyline--Nightwing up against a couple of super-powered assassins, a team of motley super-villains helping out in the end. On the other hand, the Bride and Groom section is a remarkably gruesome story--shockingly so, at some points--and it almost seemed like Wolfman was overreaching, using Nightwing in a story better left to the Shadowpact or the Spectre (though, admittedly, some of Wolfman's writing roots are in the horror genre). There are also plenty of faux curses in the book (the eponymous "!@#$") that just seem out of place for Nightwing--really, does Nightwing say "!@#$ me"?--as if, if Wolfman portrays Nightwing as a "mature" book, it'll in some way be taken more seriously.

To his credit, Wolfman--who, of course, essentially created Nightwing--writes a perfectly readable comic here, and moreover, it's a story that treats Nightwing with far more respect than the preceeding Bruce Jones run did. What problems arise here are ones that I think any Nightwing writer would face at this point: Wolfman's Nightwing is rudderless, trying to "find himself," and while this may be interesting for new Nightwing readers, longtime fans have seen this before, and we're ready for Nightwing to get over it. And while I'm a big fan of anything drawn by Dan Jurgens, his artwork gives this story an old-school feel that unfortunately contributes to making Wolfman's writing seem less-than-hip, too.

So whereas anything is an improvement over the recent Bruce Jones Nightwing run, I still find myself vaguely unsatisfied here--would it be so hard for someone to write a Nightwing without doubts, a Nightwing who knows what he's doing and does it? Perhaps Nightwing isn't meant for his own series, really--I mean, aside from Dick Grayson's occasional solo adventures as Robin, he's for the most part always been portrayed as either a sidekick or the leader of a team, and his various supporting casts outside of this have always seem forced; should Nightwing's only title be Outsiders, or Titans? Much as I enjoy the character, I'm not convinced a solo series really does him justice.

[Contains full covers.]

A review of 52: The Companion coming Thursday. Be good!

Friday Night Fights: No One Says Slam ...

Friday, January 25, 2008

... Like the Hulk says SLAM!


With one eye, no less!

(And don't forget the world-devourer who always keeps his eyes on the prize -- Bahlactus!)

What'd you say about Batman?!

Trade Perspectives: Batman and the New Earth

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Batman ... laughing? Putting his feet up?

This is a strange image to most of us, even though Batman's spent nearly as much of his time as the fearsome Dark Knight as he has the man who slaps Robin on the back and calls him "chum." And even as Grant Morrison muses in prose on the new era of the Joker in Batman and Son, he also helps introduce a new era of the Batman, one where Batman worries whether Robin knows that Batman is proud of him, and where Batman, in Paul Dini's Batman: Detective, does sit back and put his feet up once in a while.

In the wake of DC's Infinite Crisis, we're met with a kinder, gentler Batman, one far different than most post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Comics readers are used to. And yet, it's not as though the "grim and gritty" Batman was uniquely a Crisis-retcon, now reversed by Infinite Crisis; I recently read Mike Barr's Son of the Demon, and there we find a Batman who's friends with the Gotham police, concerned about the victims as well as the criminals, and ready to marry and start a family when the opportunity arises. All of this in 1987, a firm year after Crisis on Infinite Earths.

We know that Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns likely sparked much of the pre-Infinite Crisis era's dark portrayal of Batman; still another early was the necessary darkening of Batman after the death of Jason Todd. In that instance, however, Batman's darkness had a story purpose; in comparison, Mark Waid's JLA storyline "Tower of Babel," where Batman's secret files on other JLA members fall in the hands of Ra's al Ghul, seems a darkening of Batman to force a story, instead of to tell one. A good story, but when you think about it, not necessarily good for the growth of the character.

Interestingly, I note a struggle throughout much of the recent portrayal of Batman against this grim and grittiness, even as the result was a Batman so arrogant he became a parody of himself. Consider Knightfall, for instance, where Batman's decision in the end was to walk in the sun for a while. In No Man's Land, too, Batman learns he has to rely more on his partners; the Bruce Wayne: Murderer/Fugitive and War Games storylines taught him much the same thing. But even as the writers made these attempts to "lighten" Batman, the result was still the dark Batman that began Infinite Crisis.

The new, lighter Batman was inevitable, given how far the pendulum had swung toward a dark Batman before Infinite Crisis; the character was almost unreadable. My concern for this new Batman is reflected in Robin: Teenage Wasteland (review to come), where Batman offers to delay going out on patrol in order to talk to Robin about how he's feeling; Batman could very well become too kind and gentle, a "whiny" Batman akin to a similar charge leveled against Superman just before Infinite Crisis. And while Batman-as-father-figure is a perfectly precedented take on Batman, I feel it never tends to last -- the George Clooney Batman inevitably sheds his partners and becomes Christian Bale. But who knows -- if DC can keep the core Batman-Robin-Alfred-Commisioner Gordon dynamic, without loading things up too far with Huntress, Oracle, and the like, maybe we can have our emo Batman and our loner Batman, too.

This is all, of course, cut from the same cloth as the new, lighter Johns-ian take on the DC Universe that we've discussed here before -- a slightly happier Batman, one who enjoys being a vigilante, is right in line with a more confident Superman, a friendlier Justice League, and a Justice Society of costumed heroes who rush out to fight costumed villains -- in short, a comic book universe more interested in telling good super-hero stories than in meta-interpreting the heroes' motivations. The danger is that the DC Universe will become too simplistic, though with Final Crisis on the rise, this hardly seems the case; moreover, what I think we see here the death of irony in the DC Universe, in favor of more straightforward super-heroics.

Once upon a time, I might have thought this was too short-sighted a goal for comic books, but I've been impressed overall with the post-Infinite Crisis DCU, and I'm willing to believe that simpler might be better. And certainly this has more to do with than just comic books -- as the economy continues to be a worry and war proceeds overseas, it's no wonder our comic books reflect a simpler base, even if the plotlines are more mature.

What do you think of the kinder, gentler post-Infinite Crisis Batman?

Look for more thoughts on DC's New Earth, probably around when we start to get back into Superman collections. New reviews on Monday; thanks for reading!

DC Comics April 2008 Solicitations, Green Arrow/Black Canary: The Wedding cancelled, and more

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Strange week in the comic book industry. We all know about the untimely death of actor Heath Ledger; this tragedy would be news in and of itself, but as he's soon to star in The Dark Knight, this becomes not only news, but comics industry news. At least on this end, I couldn't reach Newsarama for a couple hours yesterday, between the Ledger announcement and DC Comics's April 2008 solicitations--stepping back, it goes to show how much more comics are becoming part of mainstream media, and vice versa, when an otherwise unrelated actor's death becomes comics news. Good for comics, though an unfortunate occurrence to serve as an indicator.

No big surprises in DC's April solicitations, though plenty of notable trades: the first volume of Countdown clocks in as a $19.99 trade, while Greg Rucka's The Question: The Five Books of Blood comes in the same as a hardcover. Rucka surely deserved hardcover treatment, though the issues-per-dollar ratio continues to depress. Superman: Last Son is finally solicited, with 3-D glasses no less. Green Lantern fans get both the second Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War volume and Tales of the Sinestro Corps in the same month, which is nice, along with the first (!) new Green Lantern paperback. Don't miss the Vertigo: First Cut sampler, as well.

Finally, our friends at ComicList have tipped us off that the Green Arrow/Black Canary: The Wedding hardcover has been cancelled, apparently to be resolicited. No word on why the cancellation--maybe someone printed the invitations upside down? ComicList, by the way, is a fantastic comic lover's resource and a supporter of Collected Editions; for over ten years, they've been posting comics news and new release lists--I used to check ComicList all the time before I headed out to my local comics shop. Check 'em out at www.comicslist.com.

Thanks for reading; be good to one another.

13 on 52: Week Thirty-Two

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 3.)

Thirteen words for Week Thirty-Two: Suicide Ralph's destiny? Liked Titans, Great Ten cameos. Is Yeti an Intergang weapon?

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Thirty-Two? Post them here!

Collected Legion Trivia - The Answers!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Legion trivia either in the comments or by email, and a special thanks to the Legion Omnicom for providing the trivia questions. For your Legion needs, the Omnicom is your place to go! Here's the trivia answers:

1. It's commonly known that Dave Cockrum originally invented the X-Man we know as Nightcrawler as a member of a Legion spinoff group, before he left DC in the early 1970s. What other major X-Man was inspired by a character Cockrum created for a Legion spinoff?

It was Storm. Cockrum had created a character named Quetzal for his "Outsiders" spinoff, and another character called the Black Cat. He took Quetzal's look, Black Cat's costume, and put them on a weather character the X-Men editors wanted, and got Storm. Cockrum's Wolverine was going to have been a Devastator, but that one ended up being used for Fang, the Imperial Guardsman (who was a Timber Wolf analog), not Marvel's Wolverine. See my page on Cockrum's Outsiders and Devastators.

2. Which Legion-related character suffers from Taphephobia?

Taphephobia is the fear of being buried alive - that's Mordru's weakness.

3. What warning appeared on the box for the Legion Flight Rings offered by DC Direct in the mid-90s?

Warning: This ring does not enable the wearer to fly! (see here for a picture)

4. Name the charter members of the Legion of Super-Pets.

It was Krypto, Streaky, Comet, and Beppo (though why these 20th century residents never teamed up as the Super-Pets, I have no idea). Proty I was never a member, and Proty II joined later.

5. Supergirl and the Legion recently traveled to Rokyn, the planet where Kandor was enlarged. What was the first appearance (of sorts) of Rokyn in Legion history?

Rokyn was named in the Legion story in Adventure Comics #356 (May 1967), though the planet never actually appeared until a Superman story in 1979 when the pre-Crisis Superman actually succeeded in enlarging the bottle-city of Kandor. Rokyn is Kryptonian for "Gift from God".

6. In current continuity, which members have joined the team since the series started? (All others were shown to be members in issue 1. This question refers to "real" Legionnaires with flight rings and code names and pictures in the opening credits.)

Invisible Kid, Timber Wolf, Supergirl, and Dream Boy have joined since issue 1.

7. Lar Gand was held in a Zone that has had at least three different names across the various continuities. What names has the Zone gone by in that time?

Depending on which reboot we're talking about, it was either the Phantom Zone, the Bgztl Buffer Zone, or the Stasis Zone.

8. In Adventures #247, when the Legion traveled back in time to recruit/tease Superboy, how did the powers of each of the three Legionnaires manifest themselves?

Cosmic Boy had magnetic eyes from special serums, Lightning Boy (yes, that was his name there) clapped his hands to make electricity, and Saturn Girl read minds and sent mental commands.

9. When several members of the Legion went back to the 20th century and first met the Byrne-reboot Superman in the "Pocket Universe Saga", what was the inside joke behind choosing those specific Legionnaires?

Byrne had just come off the Fantastic Four. The four Legionnaires who went to the 20th century were the FF's closest counterparts: Brainiac 5 (Mr. Fantastic), Invisible Kid II (Invisible Woman), Sun Boy (Human Torch), and Blok (Thing). He even did a Superman cover the same as an earlier FF cover, switching out Gladiator for Superman and the FF for the Legion.


10. What is the full name of the current Princess Projectra?

Princess Wilimena Morgana Daergina Annaxandra Projectra Velorya Vauxhall of Orando.

News, reviews, and views on the way. Stay tuned!

Review: JSA Classified: Honor Among Thieves trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, January 21, 2008

I have difficulty overall with the JLA and JSA Classified series and their Superman and Batman Confidential offshoots -- supposedly these are a-continuity series that anyone can pick up and get a quick story. Not coincidentally, they make great trade paperback fodder, for which you might think I'd be pleased, except that these are essentially inconsequential stories that glut the market and make it harder for the "true" trade paperbacks to shine. But I did buy JSA Classified: Honor Among Thieves (the second JSA Classified collection after the Power Girl trade) and read it the other day looking for something quick, and what I found did exceed my expectations.

The two JSA stories here, one by Jen Van Meter and the other by Peter Tomasi, read like try-out stories by first-time writers, in an appealing way. Both stories have their problems--Meter's work, as with Outsiders, suffers from a confusing denouement and some off characterization, while The Comic Treadmill does a good job showing how Tomasi's story seems to favor bloodletting over sense--but these are slight mis-steps in two stories where it's obvious the writers are learning to find their way. Meter adopts the tones of a crime procedural in "Honor Among Thieves," and while this is not nearly as slick as Bill Willingham's early Fables heist, the narrating Icicle is an interesting character. Tomasi's story, "The Spear and the Dragon," plays well with a bunch of old JSA history, and any admission price is worth artist Don Kramer drawing Wildcat.

Both stories are Infinite Crisis tie-ins, and it's interesting in retrospect to see how some of the "outer" titles, like the loosely-connected JSA Classified, tried to tie themselves in. "Honor Among Thieves" features characters from Villains United, but the heist that takes place here is never actually reflected in the mini-series itself. "Spear" proportedly takes place between the pages of Infinite Crisis, though it's hard to believe either Wildcat or Jay Garrick had that much free time, letting alone the completely incongruous reference to New Year's Eve. One can hardly blame the writers and editors for taking advantage of the crossover, but the result reeks slightly of desperation.

[Contains full covers, short profiles of JSA members and villains.]

So JSA Classified: Honor Among Thieves isn't going to win any battles, but it does strike me as an interesting study piece for someone looking for short pieces from which to learn about writing comic books.

Friday Night Fights: Man in the Mirror

Friday, January 18, 2008

So caught up in his reflection ...


... he gets a KNOCKOUT!

(And don't forget the guy who never falls for it -- Bahlactus!)

(Have you visited the "wait-for-trade" headquarters lately?)

Review: Outsiders: Pay as You Go trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I've been a fan of Judd Winick's Outsiders since the beginning, and constant readers know how much I liked the first One Year Later trade, The Good Fight (read our review). Perhaps, unfortunately, nothing could quite measure up, because while the next Outsiders trade, Pay as You Go, is quite well-written and readable, it lacks a certain "oomph" that The Good Fight possessed.

The main difficulty with Pay as You Go is that, by its nature, this is a flashback story. The tenet of One Year Later is that all the DC Comics stories jumped one year ahead, with the details to be filled in later; the details of the missing year that Pay As You Go fills in, however, are ones the reader can more or less already guess at. Additionally, anyone reading one or more DCU titles already knows the status of a bunch of these characters, making any concern for their lives and limbs non-existent.

That's not to say there aren't some fun moments here. How Thunder and Grace started a relationship is hardly as important as the fact that they're together, but Winick's characterization of Grace, letting her vulnerability show, is great writing. The secret of the character Shift was not as shocking as I'd imagined, but seeing him go up against the Flash character Warden Wolfe was a thrill, as was the Checkmate cameo. And we can't fault Winick for a somewhat gratuitous Red Hood appearance when we remember that he was the one who created the character's current incarnation in the first place.

What's best about Pay as You Go is that it functions as a nice farewell to this series. Sure, there's two more trades left, but both are crossovers; Pay as You Go is the last pure Outsiders trade. As such, most of the original team is together here, and the short present-tense chapters pit them against Dr. Sivana, who reveals how he's been beside the team for most of the series; even the burgeoning relationship between Thunder and Grace hearkens back to the team's origins. Outsiders has been a gigantically controversial series for DC Comics, but I enjoyed it very much and will miss it when it's gone.

[Contains full covers, "Previously" page.]

You want reviews? We've got reviews! More coming soon.

Trader's Dilemma: Justice League: The New Frontier

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Well kids, we've got here what I'd like to call a wait-for-trader's dilemma. I want to buy trades almost exclusively? Check. I don't really have a good place to keep or display floppy single issues? Check.

But we all know I loved the Absolute DC: New Frontier and I'm eager to read the Justice League: New Frontier special coming out in March. What to do? Will it be collected one day, like in a Darwyn Cooke tribute trade? Will it be folded into new editions of Absolute New Frontier? To buy, or not to buy?

What would you do? Ever had a problem like this with another comic?

13 on 52: Week Thirty-One

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 3.)

Thirteen words for Week Thirty-One: Supernova's powers come from Fortress--Eradicator? Super-Robot? Beef with Booster--Brainiac from future?

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Thirty-One? Post them here!

Collected Legion Trivia (Part 4)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Whew! We've been burning up the future here on Collected Editions with Legion reviews and Legion trivia (questions provided by the Legion Omnicon). One more round left to go -- do you know the answers to these Legion questions?

9. When several members of the Legion went back to the 20th century and first met the Byrne-reboot Superman in the "Pocket Universe Saga", what was the inside joke behind choosing those specific Legionnaires?

10. What is the full name of the current Princess Projectra?

And a bonus Collected Editions survey question:

* I usually read Collected Editions (a) on the blog, (b) by email, (c) by RSS, or (d) other?

Special thanks again to Legion Omnicom (adventure247.blogspot.com) for the trivia questions. Coming up on Collected Editions, we've got Outsiders, we've got JSA Classified, we've got Nightwing, we've got 52: The Companion, and more! Thanks for stopping by, and happy 2008!

Review: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: Dominator War trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, January 14, 2008

The fifth volume of the newest Legion reboot, Dominator War, feels obviously rushed, as writer Mark Waid hurries to finish the long-running storyline before his run on the book comes to an end. I actually didn't mind the rush altogether much--one quirk of Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes has been what a slow, detail-oriented book it's been, and this rush at the end of the story at times feels like the boost this story needed.

I've mentioned before that I read Mark Waid's Legion arc as a story about the growth of the Legion from revolutionary group to mainstream organization. This is completed in the fifth book, I think, when Cosmic Boy has to make the decision to both commit genocide against the Dominators and send a Legionnaire to their death; this kind of weighty and unpopular decision, falling to Cosmic Boy alone and so reminiscent of the difficulties of current politics, cements Cos as a government figure, just before the Legion holds their first elections.

Waid, however, offers a twist. Not only does Cos figure out how not to kill the Dominators in the end, Waid also sends Cos off with three Legion look-alikes from even farther into the future. In this way, it's as if Waid shows that even though this current incarnation of the Legion may have "grown-up" a bit, the innocence and youthfulness of the Legion still prevails in time.

One thing that makes the hurried end of Legion sit better with me is that Waid, in my opinion, caught all the dangling plotlines before he finished. Mon-El, the hero known as Valor, returns to status quo, for another writer to pick up later. We learn the final fate of Dream Girl, whose power now to appear in dreams literally lives up to her power. And I was skeptical about how Legion would tie into 52 (though I love the Dominators running around shouting, "Remember the Fifdee-Tu!"), but guest-writer Tony Bedard explains it and makes it all make sense, so I'm satisfied (Booster Gold fans, look for a cameo here, too).

One drawback of the so-called Dominator War is that it's really more of an invasion than a war, and an invasion markedly similar to Lemnos's invasion back in Legion of Super-Heroes: Death of a Dream (big scary guys coming through portals and such). What might be interesting (and what Legion titles may well have done before) would be an actual war between the planets, where the Legionnaires, with loyalties to their various home planets, are caught in the middle. I imagine it's difficult for Legion writers to find larger and larger cosmic menaces for the team to fight, and I'll be curious to see how upcoming writers Tony Bedard and Jim Shooter build on the groundwork Mark Waid created.

[Contains full covers.]

Well, I'm a Legion fan. Mark Waid has finally sold me on a Legion team, and I intend to keep reading about this incarnation, as well as those appearing in JLA and Superman. And what if this Legion gets rebooted? Well ... I guess we'd have to see what happens from there, but if you've been on the fence about the Legion before, I highly recommend these new Legion trades. One more trivia quiz tomorrow; thanks for reading!

Friday Night Fights: Dynasty!

Friday, January 11, 2008

Look, I know a lot of people didn't like Kyle Rayner to begin with, but ...


... "You are not a dynasty?" I mean, that's kind of harsh, no?

(This here watery knockout brought to you by the letter F, the number 8, and Bahlactus!)

Collected Legion Trivia (Part 3)

And we're back! Collected Editions continues to celebrate the arrival of 2008 with some trivia from the future! Do you know the answers to the following Legion trivia questions, provided by the Legion Omnicon?

6. In current continuity, which members have joined the team since the series started? (All others were shown to be members in issue 1. This question refers to "real" Legionnaires with flight rings and code names and pictures in the opening credits.)

7. Lar Gand was held in a Zone that has had at least three different names across the various continuities. What names has the Zone gone by in that time?

8. In Adventure Comics #247, when the Legion traveled back in time to recruit/tease Superboy, how did the powers of each of the three Legionnaires manifest themselves?

And a bonus Collected Editions survey question:

* A book I would like to see reviewed on Collected Editions is ...

Come back next Monday for the final Legion review, and Tuesday for one last trivia challenge. And as always, get your Legion fix with the Legion Omnicom, adventure247.blogspot.com.

Review: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: Adult Education trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Mark Waid's run on Legion begins to come to a close with this fourth-to-last trade, Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: Adult Education. As the story ends, it seems that Waid's arc is to show the Legion growing from counter-culture to mainstream; while this may be, in a way, something of a letdown for those of us wanting to see this Legion remain "revolutionary," it's probably the most realistic exploration of how a phenomenon like the Legion might actually play out.

The fourth volume finds the Legion troubled by problems with their new partners on multiple fronts, both the United Planets government's interferring and Supergirl's grand-standing. Cosmic Boy thinks he's in love with Supergirl, but finds out it's a reaction to residual Zeta radiation; Shadow Lass is jealous when she thinks Ultra Boy will leave her for Supergirl. Fearing the Girl of Steel's impetuousness, the team takes her to Kandor for education by her own people; there, they're attacked by the Wanderers, an anti-Legion team lead by Light Lass and Lightning Lad's brother, Mekt. On Kandor, the Legionnaires find a Phantom Zone projector still containg Mon-El, the hero known as Valor. Meanwhile, Brainiac 5 believes he's resurrected Dream Girl, but only he can see her.

The Legion here is far more pro-active than Waid has shown them before. Along with fighting interstellar threats, they're now working to take care of their own in seeking help for Supergirl's mental issues. Freeing the teenage hero Valor also shows growth for the Legion; though previously reluctant to take on new members, they're now actively seeking them out.

We get an even greater sense of the Legion's move toward the mainstream in their decision to hold open elections. The Legion is now a democratized voice of the people, and in that way loses some of it's revolutionary stance. In these pages, the Legion must also deal with the Wanderers, a Legion knock-off group that views the super-heroes as too commercial. In fighting revolutionaries of their own, the Legion may find themselves more like the United Planets than they want to admit.

Never fear, however--Legion is still just as much a soap opera as a political missive. There's an uncomfortably long sequence here, a la your favorite Friends episode, where Karate Kid tricks Ultra Boy on behalf of Shadow Lass to find out if he's in love with Supergirl. I say "uncomfortably long" because the emphasis here is unusually more on feelings than super-heroics--I never read the series Young Heroes in Love, but I imagine this is much what it was like. And lest I be misunderstood, I think what Waid is doing here is very interesting; Legion, in its genre focus, is a series like few others, and I think that's worth recognizing.

I'm not entirely sure what art here is Barry Kitson's and what is Adam DeKraker (incorrectly called "Mike" on the back cover), but the art is the best of all the volumes so far. Kitson has a distinctive style that I sometimes feel gets repetitive, but there's a fluidty to this art, helped by very detailed coloring, that makes it all shine. With Kitson's departure, I'd be happy to see DeKraker stay on once Mark Waid's Legion run is over.

[Contains full covers, roll call, Tales of the Legion pages.]

One more Legion trade to go, and more Legion trivia coming up. Who will live? Who will die? Who will date whom? Stick around!

13 on 52: Week Thirty

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 3.)

Thirteen words for Week Thirty: Bat-family is nice change, but so sudden; doubtful Bruce would abandon mantle again.

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Thirty? Post them here!

Collected Legion Trivia (Part 2)

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hope you're enjoying collected Editions' Legion of Super-Heroes reviews. Here's more great Legion trivia, provided by our friends at the Legion Omnicon.

4. Name the charter members of the Legion of Super-Pets.

5. Supergirl and the Legion recently traveled to Rokyn, the planet where Kandor was enlarged. What was the first appearance (of sorts) of Rokyn in Legion history?

And a bonus Collected Editions survey question:

* Collected Editions reviews (a) are timely enough for me or (b) should focus on more recent trades.

We're got another Legion review on Thursday, and more trivia on Friday!  And as always, your source for Legion info is the Legion Omnicom at adventure247.blogspot.com!

Review: Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes: Strange New Visitor trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, January 07, 2008

From almost the moment she steps on the page, Mark Waid Legion-izes Supergirl. It's hard to put your finger on the special brand of weirdness Waid has introduced in his latest incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes, but the fact that the time-lost Supergirl thinks all the other Legionnaires are characters in her dreams is a pretty good example. The third Legion volume, and the first under the new name of Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, keeps the same slow pace that Waid used in the first Legion trades, but also with the same snappy dialogue that makes this series so interesting.

In the wake of Lemnos's attack against Earth, the United Planets offers to deputize the Legion; in order to keep the Science Police from arresting some members, temporary leader Lighting Lad accepts. One of their first tasks is to stop a Dominator projectile targeting Earth, where they encounter the time-lost Supergirl. Despite some members' uneasiness, Supergirl is accepted into the Legion. The Girl of Steel, and later Chameleon, help the Legion defeat rogue underground robots, and the team confronts Brainiac 5 about stealing deceased Legionnaire Dream Girl's body.

Mark Waid creates an interesting dynamic with the newly-mainstreamed Legion. Even as the Legion now has the backing of the United Planets, this only seems to serve to make them more revolutionary, not less; Waid immediately follows the scene of Lightning Lad's acceptance with one of Ultra Boy and others disrupting Earth's staid society in the name of peacekeeping. Even as the Legion has been legitimized, they get absolutely no respect in these pages from their rivals, the Sciece Police, up to and including the Science Police's arresting of Chameleon. Waid risks much of what makes this incarnation of the Legion special should they become "everyday" super-heroes, and I'm glad to see the transition is not an easy one.

In portraying Supergirl as a kind of Alice in Wonderland, "it's all a dream" character, Waid breaks down the fourth wall -- Supergirl, in this case, stands in for the writer himself. Within these pages, there are a number of crazed fans -- some who argue about Supergirl's origin, another who believes himself to have dated Dream Girl -- and when Waid writes about the "dark side of fandom," it's hard not to read this as something of a commentary on the Legion's own wide fanbase. This continues to the humorous "letters pages" section at the end of the trade, where the Legion members answer real (sometimes ardent) reader emails.

Not much happens in this trade besides Supergirl's introduction, and I'm eager for the story to move in the next -- Brainy's hold on Dream Girl's corpse, for instance, has gone on almost seven issues now. And while I applaud Waid's decision not to delve into the earliest origins of the Legion quite yet, some aspects of this universe -- like Earth's war against artifical intelligence -- possibly needed a little more explaining than they get in these pages, at least if they'll become more important later. We'll see.

[Contains full covers, "Letters to the Legion" sequences.]

Coming tomorrow -- more Legion trivia!

Friday Night Fights - True Blue!

Friday, January 04, 2008

Two Against One - No Fun!


Two Against Two - That's True Blue!

(That's Wildcat delivering that knock-out for playboy millionaire Bruce Wayne, by the way. And don't forget the wildcat that always delivers a knockout, Bahlactus!)

Collected Legion Trivia (Part 1)

Happy New Year! Collected Editions is kicking off 2008 in style with reviews of Mark Waid's new Legion of Super-Heroes series. And to celebrate, we've got some great Legion trivia provided by the Legion Omnicon! Leave your answers in the comments, and we'll post the answers soon.

1. It's commonly known that Dave Cockrum originally invented the X-Man we know as Nightcrawler as a member of a Legion spinoff group, before he left DC in the early 1970s. What other major X-Man was inspired by a character Cockrum created for a Legion spinoff?

2. Which Legion-related character suffers from Taphephobia?

3. What warning appeared on the box for the Legion Flight Rings offered by DC Direct in the mid-90s?

And a bonus Collected Editions survey question:

* Do you (a) read Collected Editions reviews before you buy a trade paperback, or (b) read the trade and then the review?

More Legion reviews coming Monday, and more trivia on Tuesday! Meanwhile, be sure to check out the Legion Omnicom at adventure247.blogspot.com for more Legion-y goodness!

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes: Death of a Dream

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Admittedly, before Mark Waid's most recent incarnation of Legion of Super-Heroes, I had never been a fan of the series. I thought the Legion were interesting as guest-stars in other series, but as a whole Legion was too remote from the DC Universe proper, and as well the post-Zero Hour reboot always seemed to skew a little young in the art and plotlines, as opposed to the various Teen Titan groups of the time.

I find Waid's newest Legion, however, smart and funny, science-fictiony without being unrelatable, and most of all intriguingly political (read our review of the first volume, Legion of Super-Heroes: Teenage Revolution). This, combined with my excitement over the (lately hit or miss) Legion of Super-Heroes cartoon, has finally made me a fan, at least as long as the Legion keeps its current level of maturity.

The second volume, Legion of Super-Heroes: Death of a Dream, finds Brainiac 5 and a team of Legionnaires travelling to Colu, site of the next attack by the evil Lemnos, who plans to destablize the United Planets government. Meanwhile, Legion leader Cosmic Boy breaks into Brainiac's private lab searching for secrets; this leads to a fraction (and battle) among the team members, with Cos leaving as leader. Brainiac and the team fight Lemnos's forces on the planet Helegyn; they're saved by Cos, who makes his peace with Brainiac. Cos splits the team into three groups to try to stop Lemnos's invasion plans; they succeed, but Lemnos's attack on Earth destroys the team's headquarters and kills Legionnaire Dream Girl.

Mark Waid's first trade in this Legion series set up the kids as revolutionaries, vying against a society that just wants kids to behave. This second trade offers an intriguing wrinkle with the villain Lemnos that only the Legion can see; the Legionnaires become like Chicken Little, warning a disbelieving government that the sky is about to fall. By, in the end, taking over the government's child-tracking system and using it for Legion purposes, and deputizing every teenager in the universe to fight for their planet, the Legion overtakes the government, becoming a society of their own.

It's interesting that it's in this same trade that Waid shows the Legion (for a short time) fracturing. Cosmic Boy and Brainiac 5's complaints against each other are ultimately the same--each resents the other for the perceived keeping of secrets from other Legionnaires. Waid makes the interesting choice of having communication between Legion flight rights (something that's been standard in other Legion series) here be a new technology, one not entirely welcomed by all Legionnaires. This new forced closeness, itself a symbol for the growing legimitization of the Legion in their universe, ultimately causes Sun Boy to resign in order to be his "own person." It will be interesting to see how the Legion reacts to no longer being rebels in their own time.

Obviously, if you enjoyed the first volume of Legion, you'll like the similar tone of the second (and will want to read the second to see the cliffhangers of the first resolved). At the same time, the difficulties of the first trade are perhaps even more apparent in the second. This is a remarkably long trade despite the fact that little, relatively, happens, and much time is spent either on character bits of the Legionnaires, or the team members standing around talking; not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily, but Legion is truly just as much soap opera as it is superhero book.

The book also seems to lack some finesse in moving from single issues to collected form, as Cosmic Boy reiterates ad nauseum the details of Lemnos's threat, with often the very same invading hordes artwork in the background. There's also a jarring sequence where the Legion fights a battle off-screen, wins, and then reiterates the battle in flashback, in a way that suggests that the story structure was reorganized so that Barry Kitson could draw the fight, but it makes for a jumbled experience overall.

I tend to think, with two mainly identical trade paperbacks, that Legion of Super-Heroes would have trouble keeping up it's same level of intrigue for much longer; as such I'm pleased to see the addition of Supergirl in the next trade to shake things up. Stay with us, if you will; more Legion on the way!

[Includes full covers, summary of first trade, roll call pages.]

Tune in tomorrow for Legion trivia, and then come back Monday as we continue our Legion review series!

13 on 52: Week Twenty-Nine

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 3.)

Thirteen words for Week Twenty-Nine: JSA's end sudden; where's Terrific and rest? Magnus's pain touching; what's Project X?

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Twenty-Nine? Post them here!