Review: Justice Society: The Bad Seed trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, January 31, 2011

It's been a little more than a year since the last time I read Justice Society, which is surprising given that in its JSA incarnation, at least, this was one of my favorite titles (JSA: Stealing Thunder remains a classic -- and hey, DC, how about a JSA by Geoff Johns omnibus?). But the book's quality lessened in my opinion in Johns's switch from JSA to Justice Society, and my experience with writers Matt Sturges and Bill Willingham's work (Fables notwithstanding) and tepid early reviews of their run on this book made me slow to pick up this newest volume.

[Contains spoilers]

I finally read Justice Society of America: The Bad Seed in the lead-up to the Justice League/Justice Society crossover The Dark Things, and what I found is that I liked Bad Seed better than I thought I would. That Justice Society splits into two titles at the end of this story still seems like one Justice Society title more than DC Comics needs, but the reason for the split actually makes a lot of sense. Willingham and Sturges manage to create warring factions with the Justice Society without making any of the team members caricatures of themselves. I felt Willingham's writerly persona came through perhaps a bit too much, but otherwise Bad Seed is surprisingly compelling.

Where Bad Seed works is in the conspiratorial attack against the Justice Society. The team is targeted by mysterious villains far earlier in the book than they realize, and the true intentions of the bad guys kept me guessing throughout. Mid-way through the book, there's a great sense of locked-room paranoia as the team interrogates one another to find the traitor among them (the tone is good, even if the traitor is obvious). Power Girl, Flash Jay Garrick, Jesse Quick, and others at moments do seem frightened, as if panicked, and this is a great shift for a team that starts the book almost overly self-assured.

Though there are plenty of ways in which the Justice Society fractures in this book, Willingham and Sturges represent the two sides most directly in the conflict between Wildcat and Magog. Magog is a relatively new (and therefore somewhat outcast) militaristic Society member, and Wildcat is the tough-as-nails, often gruff, former-heavyweight senior member -- in short, they're a lot alike. One could argue that Magog is a 1990s comics caricature, and the writers present Wildcat as overzealous in his attacking Magog, but it worked for me; they are enough the same as to convincingly show the Society turning against itself, whereas I didn't think the writers could convince me.

Especially when JSA became Justice Society, Geoff Johns injected a certain Normal Rockwell ethos to the stories; we saw the team help out at a fire station, for instance, and go with Stargirl to the dentist. This is well and good and different from other DC Universe titles, but it seems to stretch suspension of disbelief that an "actual" superhero team could get away with it for long. In that way, the Justice Society's split in this book feels rather natural; Magog expresses the audiences own misgivings about the direction of the Justice Society, and I do appreciate the way this plot puts focus on the title's incongruity.

The writers also consistently remembered that Power Girl is the Justice Society's chairwoman and presented her as in charge, which is a plus; as well, I liked their use of the new Dr. Fate (maybe hearkening to both writers' considerable work writing supernatural characters), and their portrayal of him as an inexperienced but ultra-powerful sorcerer learning the ropes.

Bad Seed's let-down, perhaps, is the villains themselves. The Justice Society fights a random assortment of villains from the silly, like Willingham's Tape Worm, to the powerful Eclipso whom the writers unfortunately also write as silly and cowardly. This "villain blitz" plot seemed cribbed whole cloth from a similar story Willingham wrote in Robin: Days of Fire and Madness, using many of the same villains, and one character even identifies Tape Worm as the villain "who fought Robin." Anyone who read Willingham's Shadowpact: The Pentacle Plot will recognize the team's traitor right away, and Kid Karnevil plus Tape Worm is a bit too much.

I like when writers use reoccurring characters amongst their work -- Greg Rucka does it to good effect between his Huntress, 52, and Question stories -- but Willingham's here seems gratuitous. There's so many more Justice Society-specific villains that this team can fight than Tape Worm, and Kid Karnevil is a rather incongruous choice; as compared to Rucka, Willingham does not seem to be telling large-canvas stories so much as plugging (or reusing) his earlier work, and the instances were so glaring as to take me out of the story.

That aside, however, I liked Justice Society: The Bad Seed. It has not the scope of Geoff Johns's JSA: Stealing Thunder, but there's nothing specifically embarrassing, for instance, to be found in this book; artist Jesus Merino remains consistent throughout, with some heavier inks toward the end that makes his work look like Howard Chaykin's (if you like that kind of thing). It might be a while before I pick up this title's spin-off book, JSA: All-Stars, as I'm not a big fan of Freddie Williams's art, but I'm in for Justice Society: Axis of Evil -- in part again because of Justice League: The Dark Things, but I'm looking forward to it more than I thought I would.

[Contains full covers]

What do you think of the new direction for Justice Society? Like it or hate it? Going to keep reading?

Review: Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood trade paperback (DC Comics)

6 comments | Tags:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When Greg Rucka was still a new writer at DC Comics, I read the collection of his post-Batman: No Man's Land miniseries Huntress: Cry for Blood mainly because I was a fan of anti-hero Helena Bertinelli. Looking back on this miniseries now that Rucka's tenure at DC has ended, it's astounding to see how this book sets out the pieces that would make up much of Rucka's later DC work.

[Contains spoilers]

Most specifically, this is a Question/Huntress team-up, where later Rucka would write the Question Vic Sage's death in 52, introduce the new Question Renee Montoya, and then team Huntress and Renee in Final Crisis: Revelations and The Question: Pipeline. Silly me, that when I read 52, I thought that was Rucka's first adventure with Vic Sage, but now I'm reminded of this earlier story (and one in the criminally-uncollected Batman Chronicles #15). I have long thought that Rucka is DC's Batman heir apparent to Dennis O'Neil, and this is only confirmed by the sheer amount of detail Rucka referenced from O'Neil's earlier Question run in Rucka's 52, Question: Five Books of Blood, the Question Blackest Night special, and so on.

Also, I specifically did not remember that not only does Vic Sage appear in Cry for Blood, but also that the book strongly suggests (while also remaining nicely coy and vague) that Helena and Vic sleep together. I will now have to go check my copy of Final Crisis: Revelations to see if Rucka has Huntress regret Vic's passing as more than just a friend (and if not, I hope he references their relationship in Question: Pipeline). I had thought that the Justice League Unlimited cartoon's Huntress/Question relationship was an original creation, but now we see that indeed it had its origins in Rucka's work.

Despite all of this, I would not actually call Huntress: Cry for Blood Rucka's strongest work; rather it seems an early template for the kind of story that Rucka would re-tell and improve upon both with Renee Montoya in 52 and to some extent with Kate Kane in Batwoman. That is, Huntress begins the story vengeance-filled and angry, and through the training of Question and sensei Richard Dragon finds inner peace (though she keeps in the end her violent streak); this is almost exactly the same as Question training the similarly-vengeful Renee Montoya.

There are aspects to the book that are too easy. With only six issues for Cry for Blood rather than in fifty-two in 52, Rucka achieves much of Helena's character transformation in just one chapter and about six pages with Helena and Richard Dragon. There's a two-page tai chi spread where Helena seems to recognize her suicidal tendencies just because Dragon says so; this should be momentous, but perhaps artist Rich Burchett doesn't give enough expression to Helena's face, so it's tough to tell if she's moved by Dragon or just bored.

I like Burchett's art a lot, especially his work in Detective Comics, but there are a number of sequences where he has Helena walking down the street in a sports bra while everyone else is clothed, that seemed to me might have benefited from a second thought.

I also couldn't quite conscience Rucka's final revelation in this book that Helena Bertinelli is not actually a Bertinelli at all. Thankfully this seems to have been largely ignored by other writers since, but for that reason or despite it, it seems silly to me that Rucka might have tried to change Huntress's very secret identity in this miniseries. (Those fans who knew Huntress originally as Helena Wayne and not Helena Bertinelli are considering they should have such problems at about this point.) By and large I didn't feel Rucka did enough to differentiate the various mob families here, as opposed to Jeph Loeb's work on the Gotham crime families in Long Halloween, and though I know Rucka does a lot of research for his books, the Italian mobsters seemed to me rather sterotypical as written on the page.

What I did like here is Rucka's Huntress -- tough and wry and continually struggling against herself to do good. As in any great anti-hero crime story, Rucka makes the right decision in the end by having Huntress do wrong; even despite the relevations she's come to about herself, Huntress can't escape her ingrained sense of justice, even as it might conflict with Batman and the Question. Vic Sage fans will appreciate Rucka's references here to O'Neil's Question series, and I even thought Rucka did well spotlighting all the Bat-family's differing relationships with Huntress -- Nightwing seeing her as a lost love, Robin as a substitute mentor, Oracle as a rival, and so on.

Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood lacks the full punch of Greg Rucka's Batman: Death and the Maidens or 52, but it's an interesting example of the writer's early DC Comics work -- a prelude to some of the stories he'd write later, both in story and in structure.

[Contains full covers. Printed on non-glossy paper.]

New reviews next week. Also, don't miss our running list of uncollected comics available in digital format -- we hope it's a valuable resource!

Review: REBELS: Son and the Stars trade paperback (DC Comics)

5 comments | Tags:

Monday, January 24, 2011

Despite a slow but well-written second volume, R.E.B.E.L.S. rebounds in this new book, bringing to a satisfying close the series' first major storyline. R.E.B.E.L.S.: The Son and the Stars uses the scope of the large cast to create some epic-seeming battles (even if not really using each cast member themselves) and it has one of the better Blackest Night crossovers in addition to the book's swashbuckling ending. My biggest question: where can the book go from here?

[Contains spoilers]

One aspect of recent events in the Green Lantern titles that I've really enjoyed has been the multi-front battles -- the Green Lanterns fight the Sinestro Corps, and then both groups have to fight the Red Lanterns, and then all three fall victim to the Black Lanterns. R.E.B.E.L.S. writer Tony Bedard accomplishes something similar here when the Black Lanterns interrupt a major skirmish between Vril Dox's team and Starro the Conqueror's henchmen, and watching the good guys fight the bad guys and also the other bad guys makes for frantic fun.

On one hand, Bedard does well making the Blackest Night crossover seem like a sudden, unplanned event, even knocking out key members of Starro's team in the process. On the other hand, the reader certainly sees where the Black Lantern resurrection of former L.E.G.I.O.N. member Stealth, mother of Dox's son, fits into the ongoing between Dox and the so-called Brainiac 3. The best Blackest Night crossovers, I've said before, are the ones that are less about the faux resurrected hero themselves and more about what emotions or issues the resurrection generates among the living, and having Stealth around only heightens how Brainiac 3 blames Vril Dox for his mother's death.

Indeed, as Brainiac 3 didn't show up in the initial R.E.B.E.L.S. volume, The Coming of Starro, at first it seemed R.E.B.E.L.S. might be "about" something else. Between Strange Companions and this volume, however, Dox's relationship with Brainiac 3 came to the forefront, never moreso than when Brainiac 3 betrays his father and defects to Starro in this book. Dox is the DC Universe's best morally-gray hero, and Bedard makes it purposefully hard to tell from one moment to the next whether Dox mourns the loss of his son, or just the loss of the use of his son's intellect as a weapon. Dox and his son have become the overriding plotline of R.E.B.E.L.S., greater than the conflict between the heroes and Starro, and it makes for fascinating, nuanced reading.

In concluding the Starro storyline, Bedard evokes a feeling of classic sci-fi swashbucklers. The heroes try to make a weapon to defeat the villain; the weapon succeeds, then fails; a last-second save almost bails the heroes out of trouble; and finally it all comes down to a face-to-face showdown between Dox and Starro. There's an extent to which, as R.E.B.E.L.S. takes as its setting the cosmic elements of the DC Universe, this title and Green Lantern Corps are rather similar; at the same time, Corps has been so dark (and yet exciting) of late, while R.E.B.E.L.S. evokes the science-fiction joy of classic Buck Rogers, for instance.

I'm left wondering, however, what's next? The R.E.B.E.L.S. are only such in book-name only now; the end of this story, it seems, ushers in a new era for L.E.G.I.O.N. Dox-on-the-run offered a fair enough differentiation from the aforementioned Corps, but I fear a new L.E.G.I.O.N. book would threaten to become old hat; possibly all the L.E.G.I.O.N. stories have been told the first time around (and hey, DC, where's my L.E.G.I.O.N. collections?). My biggest hope is that Bedard takes this turning point as a chance to cement the book's cast; even as Dox, Adam Strange, Kanjar Ro and others found the spotlight here, there's still characters like Bounder that have barely spoken. Maybe in firming up who's on the team, that will help to give the title future direction.

[Contains full covers]

Either way, a big thumbs up for Tony Bedard on R.E.B.E.L.S.: The Son and the Stars. As other new series have risen and fell, Bedard is three books for three on R.E.B.E.L.S., and it's a lock I'll be picking up the next book as well.

Review: Outsiders: Road to Hell trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

In a recent Comic Book Resources interview, DC Comics co-publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talked about how they've looked at DC's entire comics line and considered what purpose each book has in the DC Universe. This is interesting considering the one book whose purpose I can't figure out is the one DiDio himself writes. Compared to other team books, Outsiders has neither the preeminence of Justice League, the tradition of Justice Society, the youth of Teen Titans, the weirdness of Doom Patrol -- it doesn't even have the political machinations of Checkmate.

I picked up Outsiders: The Road to Hell for the Superman: New Krypton tie-in (which is miniscule) and I'll be back for the next trade's role in "Reign of Doomsday," but I'm scratching my head as to what DiDio wants to accomplish here. At times fairly interesting and at times laughably bad, Outsiders has going for it a group of intriguing characters who don't quite fit in another title, but neither am I quite sure they can support their own.

Road to Hell picks up a hazy distance from Outsiders: The Hunt to find Owlman, Katana, Metamorpho, Black Lightning, and the Creeper all "guests" (read: glorified prisoners) of Geo-Force, the increasingly mad king of Markovia. This, DiDio accomplishes very well -- there's a palpable sense of paranoia in the book, both on the part of the Outsiders who realize their leader is slowly going insane, and on the part of Geo-Force, whose grip on Markovia tightens in response to his grip on his sanity loosening.

All the characters actions are believable at the outset, and DiDio makes good use of Blackest Night to explain why Geo-Force and Katana have become as militant as they are. DiDio's Owlman is especially strong, becoming something of an awkward-but-compelling leading man a la Watchmen's Nite Owl. I also found moving the Outsiders' growing realization that Geo-Force did not defeat Deathstroke in DC Universe: Last Will and Testamant as everyone believed, but rather won only by accident in the process of killing himself (and may still be suicidal). This was unclear at the end of Last Will and previous Outsiders writer Peter Tomasi made no mention of it, so I'm not sure if that's what was intended all along or if DiDio is spinning the facts for his story; it's true to the characters, however, and adds another welcome layer to Geo-Force's troubles.

But on top of what's a good story of danger and madness, DiDio piles on a layer of silliness. The Outsiders fight classic villains the Masters of Disaster, but the Masters' costumes and names (New Wave, Coldsnap) seem hopelessly stuck in the 1990s, as does DiDio's dialogue. "Oh yeah! Now that's what I'm talking about! Am I good or what?" spouts one villain; another replies, "Less talk, more action. Stick with the plan."

DiDio also introduces what could be the worst character find of the twenty-first century, Freight Train, a muscle-bound bruiser spouting the most cliched slang I've ever encountered. "Better listen to your pet bird, Sparkles," Freight Train emotes to Metamorpho at one point, "'Cause I'm just looking for an excuse to bust you up."

Both instances use cookie-cutter stereotypical characters and easy, hackneyed dialogue, and it comes off as a rush job. DiDio does fine for the most part in his portrayal of the Outsiders, established characters with strong personalities and histories to call upon; when he gets to creating his own characters, however, Road to Hell almost seems like it has two entirely different writers.

Given both the good and the bad, when I wonder what Outsiders is meant to be about, I keep returning to an extended sequence in Road to Hell, almost three-fourths of an issue, that leaves Markovia entirely and instead focuses on the vampire Looker, a former Outsider. If one wasn't versed in Outsiders history, they'd have no idea why the book almost completely changes its focus. I would guess, if Outsiders actually continues for a while, that DiDio's intention is to bring the old band back together -- Looker, Halo, and the rest -- and this sequence is the beginning of that story.

That's a worthy goal, I guess; the original incarnation of the Outsiders lasted fifty-some issues and still has a good regard in the consciousness of DC Universe readers, so why not return to the book's classic lineup. At the same time, I don't know that I've really heard a clamoring for Outsiders to be resurrected -- it worked for Doom Patrol and R.E.B.E.L.S., but I'm not sure Outsiders has that kind of popularity. Big fans of the classic Outsiders will no doubt be excited by this homecoming party -- but I wonder if DiDio's not setting the table for a party where no one will show up.

I mentioned before that "New Krypton"'s role in Road to Hell is miniscule; rather, it makes no sense. Unless there's going to be a quick change in Last Stand at New Krypton, no part of what I've read so far suggests that the Kandorians have an Earth-bound representative in the Eradicator; DiDio is fudging facts, essentially, to make it work. On one hand, I don't mind this -- I like the Eradicator how ever he appears -- but on the other, I hope "Reign of Doomsday" helps explain both Doomsday and the Eradicator's origins in post-Infinite Crisis continuity; that will help erase some of the sting of this "New Krypton" tie-in that's actually, let's face it, just marketing fluff and not much more.

[Contains full covers.]

I picked up Outsiders: The Road to Hell because it crossed-over with another comic; that cross-over turned out to be peripheral at best, and at worst not even a crossover at all so much as a blatant attempt at cross-marketing with no real regard for story or continuity. The next trade of this same book will also be a crossover, and chances are despite being completely -- perhaps willfully -- burned here, I'm likely to pick up that volume, too.

I have an awareness, of course, that this situation likely represents what's worst about comics right now -- unapologetic profiteering on the part of DC with no regard to the actual content of their product -- and that I'm only reinforcing these bad habits by going along with it. Yet, I'd argue that if comics is two parts reading, it's one part collecting -- collecting all the team's baseball cards in your album even if you like some of the players better than the others, just so you have the whole team.

I have to say, I breathed a little sigh of relief when I saw that DC is canceling their latest Azrael series -- I never read it, I admit, but I'm hard-pressed to believe we ever needed another Azrael series, nor did I think it would succeed, and as such it seemed a waste of space in DC's comics line. Even as someone who adored Judd Winick's Outsiders, if I hear in a couple months that this incarnation of Outsiders is at its end, I think I'll feel a little relief then, too.

Uncollected Editions #3: Firearm by James Robinson (Malibu Comics)

Monday, January 17, 2011

[Continuing our "Uncollected Editions" series by Paul Hicks]

It was June 1993 and the comic industry thing to do was create a new shared universe. The guys at Malibu Comics called theirs the Ultraverse. From the get-go they did some smart things, engaging talented writers to structure the universe, create some history and texture, and then populate it with licensable characters. The writers included veterans such as Steve Englehart, Steve Gerber, and Mike Barr as well as newer writers like James Hudnall, Gerard Jones, Len Strazewski and the mostly unknown pre-Starman James Robinson.

The Ultraverse launched, starting small with a handful of titles, introducing comic readers to names like Prime, Hardcase, Mantra and The Strangers. These books were pretty good superhero fare, each with a distinctive feel. The line slowly expanded and September 1993 saw the debut of something very special: James Robinson's Firearm.

It looked like a standard early '90s bad-ass big gun book. It wasn’t. It was in fact, a character-driven P.I. book, more in common with Powers than Punisher. Violent, but never mindless, it was a comic for reading and savouring.

The star of the series was Alec Swan, a rumpled and scarred ex-pat Brit living in Pasedena, LA. The high-concept: despite being a regular bloke he was always embroiled in cases with super-powered freaks, or Ultras as they’re known in this comic-book universe. The name "Firearm" was a leftover call-sign from his days with mysterious British spook outfit, the Lodge. It’s not a name Swan ever used in introduction, but one other people called him, much to his chagrin. It was accurately descriptive in that he did carry a big gun, but Robinson seemed to delight in making him constantly lose it in action, just when it would be most necessary. Swan was far more John MacLean than James Bond, more likely to be bloodied and desperate, than suavely using a gadget to save his skin. Robinson showed much of the flair that he applied in his next series, Starman. Both had extremely accessible lead characters with particular tastes and vulnerabilities.

The stories were full of action, with mysteries and shady character’s worthy of a classic P.I. novel. Another of the delights of this series was Alec Swan’s inner monologues. His running commentary was often witty, populated with cool cultural observations and slyly addressed to the readers. Swan’s tastes in films, food, cars, books and architecture were all covered, in a way that made you feel like you were getting to know a friend. He also constantly referred to earlier missions that sounded all the more alluring for never being related in full. After a few issues I would happily have read 22 pages of Swan buying groceries, as long as we got to hear his thoughts. An example from two pages of a shootout in issue # 9:


Let me tell you about Pasadena. And if all you out there in Podunk, Middle America are asking why should you care about my town, I say . . .

. . . Hey, Droopy, where are your manners? I’d listen if you wanted to tell me about your one whore, one diner, one gas station dump you call home.

‘Sides you got another of my mindlessly violent exploits to look at, at the same time, so what’s your problem?

James Robinson was open in his influences on the series. He wanted to capture the energy of John Woo Hong Kong action films. Remember this was 1993 when Woo was a cult director famous for The Killer, A Better Tomorrow, A Better Tomorrow II and especially Hard Boiled, and definitely not the disappointing American debut Hard Target. Robinson's used the Woo stock ingredient of spectacular gunfight mayhem and combined it with wry monologues. The concoction was unique at the time and is still compelling today.

Review: Teen Titans: Ravager: Fresh Hell trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I've said before I wasn't too keen on Sean McKeever's Teen Titans work, but I would definitely read a Ravager series based on his work in Teen Titans: Ravager: Fresh Hell. McKeever's is a pitch-perfect morally-gray action/adventure story in the vein of Deathstroke the Terminator and Manhunter before it; it's assisted mightily by it's role as a co-feature, demonstrating some of the value of that format.

[Contains spoilers]

From Fresh Hell's very first flashback of Rose Wilson being drugged by her father Deathstroke to become the assassin Ravager, McKeever offers us a wonderfully complicated take on the title character. Rose Wilson holds much of the appeal to me that Robin Damian Wayne does -- raised by bad guys, the character's only identity is as a fighter, and now she has to find a way to bend her skills for good.

McKeever does well tying everything -- including Ravager's quest to save enslaved women -- back to Ravager's dual goals of being as tough as her father without actually becoming him. Along the way, Ravager perhaps fails at being a hero more than she succeeds, leaving a trail of bodies behind her, and that's OK; the sheer joy of this book is in watching the character fail and then struggle to succeed nonetheless.

The book starts with the Faces of Evil: Deathstroke special by David Hine, and then one issue of McKeever's Teen Titans that appears in Child's Play before the "Fresh Hell" co-feature stories begin. After the prologue, McKeever moves Ravager swiftly, almost mysteriously, from San Francisco to remote Alaska, where she stumbles into a strange, remote town. The "stranger rides in" approach is straight out of the Westerns, and the fact that neither Ravager nor the reader knows how she arrived to Alaska gives the story a dreamlike quality -- to the end, the reader is never sure if Ravager is actually committing all the heroism and mayhem that she does, or if it's just another of her drug-induced illusions.

Fresh Hell was absolutely the right story for DC to release as a 10-page co-feature. McKeever seems to have no problem packing just the right amount of content into each chapter, neither omitting details nor ever seeming rushes; the single-page flashbacks are a good example of just the right amount of storytelling. Indeed, a cliffhanger every ten pages makes Fresh Hell seem peppier, with Ravager always moving and always in danger; I think it benefited this as an action story overall. As I mentioned in my review of Blue Beetle: Black and Blue, it's a shame DC Comics can't "draw the line at $2.99" and continue with these co-features, as I think they open ways of storytelling we don't normally see in the DC Universe.

I've been on the fence whether the Faces of Evil: Deathstroke issue ought have been collected here or in Outsiders: The Deep. I still say the latter, because Deathstroke's actions have a more direct effect on the Outsiders (and collecting DC Universe: Last Will and Testament there wouldn't have been such a bad idea either), but I see the reasoning behind having it here, too. The Faces of Evil special includes a prominent appearance by Ravager, though frankly it ties in more with the two-part Blackest Night crossover that also includes Ravager at the end of Teen Titans: Child's Play than it does with Fresh Hell; the present book could have been just as easily understood (if not be as thick) without the Deathstroke special.

Overall, however, I think Sean McKeever has a victory here with Teen Titans: Ravager: Fresh Hell. The scene where Ravager spares a villain's life, and then returns later to kill him, is remarkably powerful, reminiscent of Greg Rucka's work on Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood, too. I hadn't seen much art by Yildiray Cinar before now, but it's exactly right for this story, clear and level like Joe Bennett or Dan Jurgens; Georges Jeanty brings a lot of emotion to the Deathstroke special, too.

Perhaps the only drawback is that this marks the seeming end of McKeever's work on Ravager, and not the beginning of something more; it's up in the air whether new Teen Titans writer J. T. Krul will ever do something more with Ravager's adventures here. If not, some may want to pass over this book as "non-essential," but I enjoyed it very much.

[Contains covers of the two full issues, new collection cover by Yildiray Cinar. Printed on glossy paper.]

Review: DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day #1-3 comic book (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Being a Collected Editions look at the three DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day issues, in conjunction with our review of the first Brightest Day hardcover.

DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day #1
Contains: Hawkman #27, 34 and 36, and stories from Solo #8, DCU Holiday Special 2009 and Strange Adventures #205
Context: The Hawmkman issues take place between Hawkman: Wings of Fury and Hawkman: Rise of the Golden Eagle.

Of the three, perhaps I best enjoyed this first volume, which focuses on Brightest Day characters Hawkman and Deadman. This is aside from what's a somewhat strange order in which the stories are presented -- the Deadman Solo story first, three Hawkman issues (one of which guest-stars Deadman), then the holiday story, and only at the end Deadman's origin; in terms of indoctrinating a new reader, one might think leading with Deadman's origin would be preferable.

This aside, Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art assists from Ryan Sook and Joe Bennett in different issues, write what I think were great and under-acknowleged Hawkman issues; Rise of the Golden Eagle was great stuff. Their Hawkgirl is young, tough, and still finding her way, and their Hawkman is brooding and violent and much what one wants from a Hawkman.

The stories don't make a lot of sense collected here, as they include allusions to villains and cut-scenes that are never resolved, but if you read the aforementioned Golden Eagle some of this will be familiar and even fill in a plot hole or two.

DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day #2
Contains: Martian Manhunter #11 and #24; Firestorm #11-13.
Context: The Firestorm (Jason Rusch) issues take place before the Firestorm: The Nuclear Man: Reborn collection.

The three Firestorm issues here by Dan Jolley, one with Dale Eaglesham on art and two with Jamal Igle on art, are obviously appropriate, as they team Jason Rusch with original Firestorm Ronnie Raymond; the only drawback is that they start in media res and we never quite know how Jason encountered Ronnie in the first place.

The other surprise is how serious and together Ronnie is here, and how well he and Jason get along; this is not the tempestuous relationship we find in Brightest Day. Indeed reading Brightest Day I was sooner under the impression that Jason and Ronnie had never met. I'd be happy to see Brightest Day acknowledge this previous adventure, because it's such a far cry from what we see right now, and because this version of Ronnie is so different (more heroic, even?) than the Brightest Day version.

In terms of the Martian Manhunter, certainly the issues collected here demonstrate writer John Ostrander's strong creative range. One issue takes place in the far future (after JLA: One Million, surprisingly enough) and the other is set between the pages of Justice League International. The latter is funny, the former great science-fiction. Neither offers any good sense of Martian Manhunter's ongoing adventures in his previous monthly series, and that's a shame -- nor do they deal with the Manhunter's Martian heritage as Brightest Day does -- but in contrast to the Hawkman and Firestorm issues, there's nothing you need to know to enjoy this section.

DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day #3
Contains: Teen Titans #27-28; Legends of the DC Universe #26-27.
Context: Between Teen Titans: The Future is Now and Teen Titans: Life and Death.

This third DC Comics Presents volume was my least favorite. Not only is it shorter than the others in containing only four issues, but the two two-issue stories only reinforce the book's brevity.

The stories here are rough. It's hard to sneeze at work by Steve Englehart of Batman: Strange Apparitions fame, but his Legends of the Dark Knight Aquaman story turns on Aquaman not knowing who the Joker is, and the people of Atlantis making the Joker their king. It's so far-fetched, even for comics, and the Atlantians are so one-sidely atonal as to make the story a little boring. Artist Trevor Von Eeden's work here is fine for the most part if a little dated, but toward the end of the story it loses a lot of detail, and the fight scenes get hard to follow.

As a Hawk and Dove fan, I've wanted to read these Teen Titans issues for a while, despite that they're widely despised by fans. Writer Gail Simone does a good job presenting Robin Tim Drake's pain over the death of his father, but Rob Liefield's art is terribly distorted; at one point Wonder Girl seems to be flying while bent nearly in half, solely for the art to accentuate her breasts. It's a shame, because the art distortion ruins any fun nostalgia that would have come from Liefield drawing Hawk and Dove again (after originally drawing the modern version); Simone's story is passable, but doesn't distinguish itself above the Geoff Johns Titans issues and such.

So there you have it. There are long-uncollected issues in DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day like Teen Titans that I'm glad to see, but that fail to impress; there's better ones like the Hawkman issues that read well but don't serve much purpose. In all, the DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day were a fun next read after the Brightest Day hardcover itself, and it was interesting to see Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, and the rest "out in the wild" of the DC Universe, though I'm not sure any one of the books on its own would be worth the $8.00 price tag.

Again, we'll be looking at additional DC Comics Presents books in the coming weeks and months. Coming tomorrow, the Collected Editions review of Teen Titans: Ravager: Fresh Hell. See you then!

Trade Perspectives: For and Against DC Comics Presents

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I have been wary of DC Comics's new line of DC Comics Presents books for a couple of reasons. First, as a dedicated trade paperback collector and continuity wonk, it just hurts my heart that DC releases these books essentially in "monthly" (comics shop/newsstand) format, and not as collections with bar codes. To this end, you may be able to catch these while you can at your local comics shop, but when they're gone, they're gone, unlike their graphic novel fellows that you might find hanging around your local bookstore or Amazon a little longer.

Second, despite DC binding these in square "Prestige" format and writing the books' names on some of their spines, I'm not sure these are all that different from the Countdown Specials that DC published around Countdown to Final Crisis time, though they cost twice as much. Most of these "100-Page Spectaculars," as the covers announce, contain only four issues, or 88 pages, for $7.99. Countdown Special: Eclipso, touted as an "80-Page Giant," contained three issues and cost $4.99; so did the Jimmy Olsen volume, and so did the New Gods volume.

That is, there's some excitement that the DC Comics Presents books are a good approximation of a trade paperback-type product released monthly and at a price more affordable than trades. Instead, I'd suggest these are not overmuch different than the 80-Page Giants or Specials that we're already used to reading, but at a greater price point than those other books.

I accept the argument that the stories in these books might not otherwise support a trade paperback collection. There are stories among these DC Comics Presents collections that I'm thrilled to see available again to the public -- Geoff Johns and Jeph Loeb with Ed McGuinness on Superman, especially -- but that aren't tied to any specific event nor are they "big" in their own right, and I agree it wouldn't be worth DC's money to publish them as trades. Probably they will sell in these smaller chopped-up versions.

But I still don't like the precedent of these "newsstand" trade volumes, here today and gone tomorrow. If DC is going to reprint these stories, they might as well reprint them in a way that'll last more than just a couple of months; else I'm not sure these stories necessarily needed to be reprinted at all.

Let me be nothing, however, if not inconsistent. All of that said, I love DC Comics history, and I especially love getting to fill in the little gaps I have in my DC Comics reading -- when Jason Rusch teamed up with original Firestorm Ronnie Raymond in Jason's Firestorm series, for instance, or when Checkmate's Sasha Bordeaux appeared in Ed Brubaker's Batman prior to Batman: Murderer/Fugitive, for another. And I was nice enough to have a friend who slipped me some of these DC Comics Presents volumes, many of which fit between trades that I already own. I am reading and enjoying DC Comics Presents, even despite my misgivings.

So, coming tomorrow is a look at all three issues of DC Comics Presents: Brightest Day, considering how the books read and also offering a bit of context for new readers -- this timed to coincide with the Collected Editions review of the first Brightest Day hardcover collection that we ran last week. More DC Comics Presents reviews will follow over the next few months, sometimes timed with a look at a relevant book.

I'm curious your thoughts on the DC Comics Presents books, and be here tomorrow for the first review.

List of Digital Comics Unavailable in Trade Paperback

Monday, January 10, 2011

I haven't traded in all my paper comics for digital ones just yet, but I am pleased to see DC Comics releasing increasing numbers of un-collected comics in digital form. Though I'm at base a completist and enjoy trade paperbacks that collect all the issues of a series, I understand non-germane issues sometimes have to be skipped, and might not equate an entire graphic novel on their own; a digital release is a good compromise.

What follows is a list (last updated 8/17/11) of all the uncollected comics available in digital format on the DC Comics/Comixology website, along with explanation and context for the issues where possible. Please bookmark this link ( and share the URL as you see fit; this list will be constantly updated, and I appreciate any corrections or suggestions.

Action Comics #683
Only the last page of this issue, showing Doomsday breaking out of his underground prison, has been collected in the Death of Superman trade paperback. Roger Stern's Action Comics run was one of the gritter of the Superman titles at that time, and this issue pits moral Superman against a more Punisher-like (or should we say Wolverine) vigilante called the Jackal.

Action Comics #879-889
The main stories in these eleven issues are collected in Superman: Nightwing & Flamebird, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, but the Captain Atom co-feature by Greg Rucka and James Robinson remains uncollected, except available here.

Adventures of Superman #496
Only the last page of this book has been collected, in the Death of Superman trade paperback. Features Superman against Mr. Mxyzptlk by Jerry Ordway and Dennis Janke. From one of my favorite Superman eras (with Dan Jurgens on Superman and Louise Simonson on Man of Steel).

Azrael: Agent of the Bat #91
The Azrael series that spun out of Knightfall became Azrael: Agent of the Bat at the beginning of No Man's Land with issue #47 (Agent of the Bat seeming a precursor to the current Batman Inc.). Issue #91 crossed over with Batman: Gotham Knights #30 (also available digitally), both issues take place during the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 collections, but neither were collected.

Batman #462-464
Mostly due to the release of Batman Retroactive: The '90s, DC has made available these three issues by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle that see Batman on the West Coast in a mystery that involves a Native American Shaman. These stories took place between Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying and Knightfall, at around the same time as Robin: A Hero Reborn.

Batman #465
One of Tim Drake's earliest appearances as Robin, just after the events of Robin: A Hero Reborn.

Batman #601-602
Batman #601 is collected only in part in Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol. 1; Batman #602 has never been collected. Both involve Batman fighting the pyrotechnic villain Nicodemus, tangentially related to Fugitive.

Batman #634
This epilogue to Batman: War Games Vol. 3 crossover has not been collected. Takes place just before Batman: Under the Red Hood.

Batman #642
This fill in issue by Andersen Gabyrch (Gotham Knights) follows up on some of the changes to Killer Croc post-Batman: Hush and Batman: Broken City, and takes place between the Batman: Under the Hood Vol. 1 and Batman: War Crimes collections.

Batman #659-662
The four-part "Grotesk" story by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake of Spectre fame (among others). Came as an unrelated fill-in story during Grant Morrison's Batman: Batman and Son stories.

Batman #684
Continued from Detective Comics #851 (available digitally), this "Last Rites" story, called "Last Days of Gotham," followed Batman: RIP, but has not been collected.

Batman Beyond Vol. 2 #1-24
This is the Johnny DC (young readers) series released in conjunction with the cartoon; the Batman Beyond cartoon miniseries has been collected, but not this ongoing series. It's unlikely the new Batman Beyond series by Adam Beechen will reflect the continuity of this Johnny DC series.

Batman/Catwoman: Trail of the Gun
This was originally a two-part Prestige Format series, released later on as one DC Comics Presents volume mainly due to art by Green Lantern: Rebirth and Flash: Rebirth's Ethan Van Sciver. Ann Nocenti writes the story of Batman and Catwoman vying for a legendary untraceable gun.

Batman: Gotham Knights #1-12, #14-15
The Gotham Knights series that focused on Batman and his allies is entirely uncollected except for Batman crossovers like Batman: Officer Down, which collects issue #13.

Batman: Gotham Knights #28
Selections from this issue appear in the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol. 1 trade paperback; however, the full issue has never been collected.

Batman: Gotham Knights #30
This issue, crossing over with Azrael: Agent of the Bat #91, has never been collected. It takes place between the pages of both the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 collections, which take place essentially simultaneously.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #21-23
Legends of the Dark Knight issues #1-20 -- the stories Shaman, Gothic, Prey, and Venom -- are all collected in trade paperback and available as DC/Comixology digital comics. Issues #21-23, the "Faith" storyline, are the first issues of Legends of the Dark Knight not to be collected.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #24-26
The Flyer story by Howard Chaykin and Gil Kane is also not collected; the story deals with characters from Batman: Year One.

Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #27
This is the second of the three-part "Destroyer" story that also ran in Batman #474 and Detective Comics #641, which reshaped Gotham City's architecture to resemble the first Tim Burton Batman film.

Batman: Shadow of the Bat #7-12
Only the first four issues of Shadow of the Bat are collected in Batman: The Last Arkham; the series is otherwise uncollected except for in Batman crossovers and the Batman: Anarky collection.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #1-13
While the first stories in these Streets of Gotham issues are collected in Batman: Streets of Gotham: Hush Money and Streets of Gotham: Leviathan, DC cancelled the collection of the Manhunter backup, Manhunter: Face-Off, due to low pre-orders. The co-features are available here along with the main story.

Birds of Prey: The Ravens
This one-shot, part of DC Comics's "GirlFrenzy" fifth-week event, was published around the same time as Birds of Prey: Batgirl. The latter special and the first six issues of Birds of Prey are collected in Birds of Prey: Old Friends, New Enemies, but not Ravens.

Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #41, #43
These two issues were collected in part in Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol. 1, but have never been collected in whole. These issues take place before Birds of Prey: Of Like Minds.

Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #91
This fill-in issue by Jim Alexander with art by Brad Walker takes place during the Birds of Prey: Perfect Pitch collection.

Birds of Prey Vol. 1 #125
This single issue, never collected, fits between the Birds of Prey: Platinum Flats and Oracle: The Cure trade paperbacks, and teams Oracle and Black Canary one final time (for that iteration of Birds of Prey) before the end of that series.

Deadshot #1-5
A five-issue miniseries by Christos Gage, not really notable except for Deadshot's later appearance in the popular Secret Six by Gail Simone.

Detective Comics #851
This "Last Rites" story, called "Last Days of Gotham," followed Batman: RIP, but has not been collected. Continues in Batman #684, also uncollected but available digitally.

Detective Comics #861-863
The three part "Cutter" story by Greg Rucka followed Rucka's Batwoman: Elegy and starred Batwoman and Flamebird. Regrettably, it so far remains uncollected.

Detective Comics #866
DC Comics writer and editor Dennis O'Neil wrote this single issue that celebrated Batman's anniversary alongside Batman #700; the latter issue is collected in Batman: Time and the Batman, but the former remains uncollected.

Flash Vol. 2 #1, #15-18
Selected issues from William Messner-Loebs's early Flash Wally West run, published in conjunction with DC Retroactive: The Flash -- The '90s. The first issue of Flash Vol. 2 took place after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths and Legends.

Flash Vol. 2 #142
The wedding of Wally West and Linda Park, by Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn. This story took place just after Flash: Emergency Stop and Flash: The Human Race by Grant Morrison and Mark Millar, and before the uncollected "Chain Lightning" storyline.

Green Arrow #22
Green Arrow versus Count Vertigo, in a story published between the end of Brad Meltzer's Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest and Judd Winick's Green Arrow: Straight Shooter.

Green Arrow #23-25
Begins a six-part story, "Black Circle: Urban Knights," teaming up the newly-resurrected Green Arrow Oliver Queen with Green Lantern Kyle Rayner for the first time. Takes place between the Green Arrow: The Archer's Quest and Green Arrow: Straight Shooter collections, and also after Green Lantern: Passing the Torch (but well before Green Lantern: Rebirth).

Green Arrow #33
DC excluded this single issue, by guest writer Scott Beatty with art by Shawn Martinbrough, from the Green Arrow: City Walls collection (stories otherwise written by Judd Winick). The story has to do with the Arrowcar and Green Arrow's relationships with the former and current Speedys, Roy Harper and Mia Dearden, and guest-stars a villain from Superboy's Hawaii days.

Green Arrow #53
This single issue by William Messner-Loebs was omitted from the Green Arrow: Heading into the Light collection.

Green Lantern: Mosaic #1
This short-lived Green Lantern series set on Oa starred Green Lantern John Stewart. A personal favorite.

Hawkman #26
Following Hawkman: Wings of Fury and the Justice Society crossover JSA: Black Reign, Josh Siegel wrote a one-shot vampire-focused issue, pencilled by John Byrne.

Hawkman #27
A "Times Past"-type issue by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, riffing on pulp detective stories in one of Hawkman's past lives.

Hawkman #28-36
These issues by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti saw Hawkman fighting Satanna (who'd later appear in their Power Girl series) and meeting their character Monolith. Their issues #37-45 are collected in the Hawkman: Rise of the Golden Eagle trade paperback.

Hawkman #46-49
These issues followed the Hawkman: Rise of the Golden Eagle trade paperback before the Hawkman series became Hawkgirl. The issues tied in to the Rann-Thanagar War and Infinite Crisis storylines.

Impulse #85
The Impulse series remains almost entirely uncollected except for the first six issues in Impulse: Reckless Youth, Flash: Dead Heat, Flash: Mercury Falling, and Brave and the Bold: Demons and Dragons. This issue is a crossover with Young Justice #44.

JLA #90
This issue by Joe Kelly deals with romantic fallout between Batman and Wonder Woman after the events of JLA: The Obsidian Age, published after the JLA: Trial By Fire collection.

JLA #91-93
A three-part story by longtime DC writer and editor Denny O'Neil that pits the Justice League against an alien threat, published between theJLA: Trial By Fire and Tenth Circle collections.

Justice League of America #29
This "Faces of Evil" issue by Len Wein focuses on the villain Starbreaker, late of Adam Strange: Planet Heist. This issue is skipped in the Justice League of America: When Worlds Collide collection.

Justice League of America #35-37
A diminished group of Justice Leaguers fight the Royal Flush Gang in this three-part story by comics legend Len Wein, published between the Justice League of America: When Worlds Collide and Justice League: Team History collections.

Legends of the DC Universe #1-3
This series featured a variety of out-of-continuity story arcs featuring heroes of the DC Universe, this first one pitting Superman against the Ultra-Humanite, written by James Robinson. The only issues of Legends of the DC Universe collected are in Batman: The Ring, the Arrow, and the Bat (issues #7-9), Green Lantern: Traitor and Superman: 3-2-1 Action.

Legends of the DC Universe #4-5
A two-part Wonder Woman story by William Messner-Loebs with art by Mike Deodato, who together were the long-time Wonder Woman creative team following the George Perez post-Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot. Their end-of-the-run Wonder Woman work is collected in The Contest and The Challenge of Artemis.

Legends of the DC Universe #6
This single issue retelling of Robin Dick Grayson's first meeting with Superman, by Kelley Puckett with Dave Taylor and Kevin Nowlan.

Legends of the DC Universe #12-13
A "classic" Justice League story by Christopher Priest. This incarnation of the Justice League is apparently Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Aquaman, the Atom, and Zatanna.

Legends of the DC Universe #15-17
Three Flash Barry Allen stories by well-known comics and science-fiction novel writer Michael Jan Freedman.

Legends of the DC Universe #18
A New Teen Titans story, focused on Raven and written by Raven's creator Marv Wolfman, that takes place just before the events of the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1.

Legends of the DC Universe #19
This Impulse story lead into the 1999 crossover JLApe, which involved the annuals of all the Justice League characters and saw them transformed into gorillas (no, really).

Legends of the DC Universe #22-23
The two-part "Transilvane" Superman story, featuring a number of Jack Kirby's Jimmy Olsen/Project Cadmus concepts.

Legends of the DC Universe #24-25
This is a two-part Darkseid story by James Delano and Steve Pugh.

Legends of the DC Universe #26=27
This is a two-part Aquaman/Batman team-up, following the events of the classic "Laughing Fish" Joker story, and written by noted Batman writer Steve Englehart.

Legends of the DC Universe #30-32
This three-part story by Christopher Priest addressed continuity issues regarding the Young All-Stars character Fury.

Nightwing #68-69
These two issues were collected in part in Bruce Wayne: Fugitive Vol. 1, but have never been collected in whole. These issues take place after Nightwing: On the Razor's Edge but before Nightwing: Year One.

Peacemaker #1-4
This 1988 series presented the first appearance of Peacemaker Christopher Smith in DC Comics continuity, after DC bought Peacemaker, Blue Beetle, the Question, and others from the former Charlton Comics. Peacemaker has recently appeared in the Blue Beetle books, and in Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape.

The Question (2004) #1-6
This Question miniseries by Rick Veitch and Tommy Lee Edwards was intended as part of the "Superstorm" event that saw the Superman books published by DC's Wildstorm team in Superman: Godfall, Brian Azzarello and Jim Lee on Superman For Tomorrow, Greg Rucka on Superman: Unconventional Warfare, and Chuck Austin on Superman: The Wrath of Gog. Also related was Azzarello's Lex Luthor: Man of Steel and an uncollected Vigilante miniseries, though problems with the Vigilante book and the onset of Infinite Crisis ended the "Superstorm" direction, hence DC never collected the Question miniseries.

Robin III: Cry of the Huntress
The first and second Robin miniseries are collected in Robin: A Hero Reborn and Robin: Tragedy & Triumph, but the third miniseries remains uncollected. After the third miniseries, Robin Tim Drake would gain his own ongoing series, first collected in Robin: Flying Solo.

Robin Vol. 4 #7, 10, 14-16
Robin: Flying Solo collects Robin #1-6, following the uncollected "Batman: Knightquest" storyline. Issue #7, also uncollected, is also part of the "Knightquest" storyline, while issues #8-9 appear in the Knightsend trade paperback. Issue #10 is an uncollected tie-in to the Zero Hour crossover event; issue #11 appears in the Prodigal trade paperback, and then few other Robin issues are collected until issue #121 with Robin: Unmasked.

Robin Vol. 4 #101
Part of the "World Without Young Justice" crossover with Young Justice #44.

Robin Annual #7
DC included the Damian Wayne story here in the Batman: The Resurrection of Ra's Al Ghul collection, but the Tim Drake and Dick Grayson stories are uncollected.

Showcase '93 #1-6
The first six issues of this anthology series spotlighted Catwoman, with backup stories starring Cyborg, Blue Devil, Geo-Force, Flash Wally West, and Peacekeeper. The Robin/Huntress stories in Showcase '93 #5-6 were collected in the Robin: Flying Solo trade paperback.

Static Shock Special
I'm including this one for now, though I'm not sure if the Static Shock Special will appear in the first collection of John Rozum's new Static Shock series or not. Static collections include Static: Trial by Fire, Static: Rebirth of the Cool, and Terror Titans.

Superboy #99
Only one issue of the Superboy series begun by Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett after the Death of Superman storyline has been collected -- issue #74, in the Young Justice: Sins of Youth trade paperback. Superboy #99 is part of a "World Without Young Justice" crossover with Young Justice #44.

Superman #73
The last page of this book is collected in the Death of Superman trade paperback, and the rest is in the Superman: Time and Time Again trade; however, the entire book is not collected together. Superman encounters Waverider and the Linear Men in a story about not changing time to undo past tragedies, purposefully ironic before the death of Superman.

Superman: The Man of Steel #17
Superman fights Metropolis's mutated underworlders; only the last page of this issue was collected in the Death of Superman trade paperback. Some of these Underworlders appear as level-end opponents in the Death of Superman video game (true fact!).

Superman/Batman #7
An issue teaming Robin and Superboy, published between Superman/Batman: Public Enemies and Superman/Batman: Supergirl, in which they fight the Hiro Toyman.

Superman/Batman #26
Sam Loeb, Jeph Loeb's son, wrote this issue shortly before he passed away. The issue contains art and writing assists from a slew of comics talent, including Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Michael Turner, Joss Whedon, Ed McGuinness, Rob Liefeld, Tim Sale, and more. Published between Superman/Batman: Vengeance and Enemies Among Us, and deals with fallout from Infinite Crisis.

Superman/Batman #34-36
This uncollected story between Superman/Batman: Enemies Among Us and Superman/Batman: Torment features the Metal Men after their appearance in 52.

Superman/Batman #43
Superman and Batman fight Dr. Light in this issue by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning with art by Mike McKone, which references Identity Crisis, published between the Torment and Search for Kryptonite collections.

Superman/Batman #57-59
The three-part "Nanopolis" by Abnett and Lanning pits Batman and a miniaturized Superman against the Prankster; DC published the uncollected story between the
Superman/Batman: Finest Worlds and Night and Day collections.

Superman/Batman #76
Bannered as a "Return of Bruce Wayne" tie-in, this issue by Batman writer Judd Winick takes place after Final Crisis, and was published between the Superman/Batman: Worship and Sorcerer Kings collections.

Superman/Batman #77
This one-shot by Joshua Williamson with art by Ale Garza, teaming Supergirl and Robin Damian Wayne, was also published between the Superman/Batman: Worship and Sorcerer Kings collections.

Superman/Batman Annual #2
This non-continuity re-telling of World's Finest #178, by Joe Kelly and Scott Kolins, has not been collected. The story it re-tells served as the inspiration for 52's Supernova character. The only Superman/Batman annual that has been collected is the first, also by Joe Kelly, in Superman/Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told.

Superman/Batman Annual #3
Comics legend Len Wein retells World's Finest #142, in which Superman and Batman must defeat a composite robot with numerous powers, created by Professor Ivo.

Supergirl Vol. 4 #36-37
These two issues of Peter David's Supergirl series are part of a crossover with Young Justice #12-13. Only the first nine issues of this series are collected, in Supergirl, and the the last six, #75-80, in Supergirl: Many Happy Returns.

Supergirl Vol. 5 #20
This issue, which takes place between the Supergirl: Identity and Supergirl: Beyond Good and Evil trades, ties in to the Wonder Woman: Amazons Attack crossover.

Supergirl Vol. 5 #21-22
These Countdown to Final Crisis tie-in issues deal with discrepancies between the Legion of Super-Heroes that appear in Countdown, and the ones Supergirl encountered in the Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes series.

Untold Tales of the Blackest Night
This Halloween special includes stories of Ragman, Donna Troy, and Animal Man during Blackest Night, and is uncollected.

Wonder Woman #72-75
In the mid-1990s, these issues marked a new starting point in the William Messner-Loebs Wonder Woman series. Released in conjunction with Wonder Woman Retroactive: The '90s.

Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #5
DC published this issue between Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman? and Wonder Woman: Love and Murder. Contains ties to Countdown to Final Crisis as Wonder Woman discovers the women's shelters ultimately run by a cosmic foe.

Wonder Woman Vol. 3 #11-13
Between Wonder Woman: Love and Murder, Wonder Woman: Amazons Attack, and Wonder Woman: The Circle, these are three fill-in issues that deal with Amazons Attack and its fallout.

Young Justice #8-55
Only the first seven issues of Peter David's much loved Young Justice series are collected. The entire series is now available digital, including the issues that crossed over into David's Supergirl series at the time, and also the "What Would Young Justice Do" crossover to that era's Superboy and Impulse comics. Also collected is the Young Justice: Sins of Youth "fifth week event," that took place between Young Justice #19 and #20.