Review: Justice League: Generation Lost Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 28, 2011

We now know that the first collection of Judd Winick's DC New 52 Catwoman series will arrive in May 2012, and I'm very curious to read the first arc in one book. We know from Winick's Green Arrow and especially from his Outsiders that Winick is not someone who writes without consciousness or thought, and I would like to see if I can find some semblance of that in Catwoman outside of mere pruriency (my outside guess right now is that Winick's Catwoman is a twisted exploration of cosplay culture -- just a guess).

I'm all the more interested in a comic where Winick seems from the outset to have failed because the second volume of Justice League: Generation Lost is in my estimation about as close to a perfect comic as we come. It's a thick DC Comics hardcover; the plot is exciting, moving, and unexpected; three different artists remain in relative lock-step; and there's depth here -- the heroes are neither so right nor the villain entirely so wrong. Hands down, Judd Winick and company have done a knock-out job here.
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Review: The Torch hardcover/paperback (Marvel/Dynamite)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

[This guest-post comes from Timbotron, who (impressively) reviews a comic every day at Comic-Per-Day Reviews]

What a fascinating trade paperback! I am always a little leery of series produced by two publishers. Too often, they can lead to a muddied product that doesn’t stand out as belonging in either company’s catalog, but The Torch, this joint venture of Dynamite and Marvel, is really quite well done.

I’m not sure when Alex Ross became the go-to guy for all Golden Age characters, but since he has that role, it makes sense that he’s responsible for plotting and character design in this trade. Mike Carey's character-based scripting really brings this story to life.

Review: Superman/Batman: Worship trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 21, 2011

I have been wary of these Superman/Batman books of late. With no ties intentionally to continuity and a mission just to "tell stories," the individual issues have tended to be hit or miss -- there's some gems among Mike Johnson and Michael Green's Superman/Batman: Night and Day, but Joe Kelly's Big Noise overall disappointed. Continuity is not the be-all and end-all, of course, but at times this title seems aimless.

Superman/Batman: Worship gave me special pause not only because it seemed to be one of these disconnected stories (this turns out not to be the case), but also because former DC Comics president Paul Levitz's writing has also been hit or miss for me. His first outing on the new (pre-DC Relaunch) Legion of Super-Heroes series, The Choice, was great stuff, but his Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes was not, and I recall calling his JSA: Ghost Stories "stodgy."

Worship, however, is a delight. With art by Jerry Ordway, the "Worship" story feels like its cut from the 1990s Superman "Triangle Titles" heyday, while at the same time adhering to the unspoken rules of the Superman/Batman title. Add a few contemporary twists at the end, and Worship emerges as something entirely satisfying -- a little bit classic, a little bit new.

Trade Perspectives: Here Come the New 52 Collections, Same as the Old 52 Collections ...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Star Clipper Comics, St. Louis, MO
I'm doubly excited to start reading DC Comics's New 52 collections ever since they released the details last week. And now that DC's plans are more clear -- the Flashpoint books in March, and then the New 52 staggered about seven per month for the rest of the year -- 2012 is shaping up to be a very exciting year.

That said, when I sit back and look at it all, I find myself a bit ... underwhelmed.

Where are the deluxe editions with flashing lights and moving covers?

Where are the hardcovers?

Seriously -- where are the hardcovers? Just over a quarter of DC's New 52 books will be collected in hardcover -- less than half -- and of those, no Edge, Dark, or Young Justice books at all. In terms of collection schemes, the New 52 isn't much different than what came before; maybe just a little more timely.

DC Trade Solicits for February 2012: Flashpoint details, Absolute Final Crisis, Batman Incorporated, New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Still enjoying DC Comics's new habit of teasing out their solicitations all day on the Source blog -- you get single-issue appetizers throughout the day, and then a big helping of trade collections at 5 pm. It's a good day -- and an interesting set of collected comics this month. Here's what caught my eye:

* Absolute Final Crisis

Some will be disappointed that this book does not include the Batman tie-in issues; I am not one of those people. Different than Superman Beyond, the Batman story is a tertiary part of Final Crisis better left to another volume, just like you wouldn't include Black Lantern Terra attacking the Outsiders in the Blackest Night collection -- you don't need it to get the gist of the main story. This is controversial, I know.

(Related, didja see the solicitation for All-Star Western #6 in the same month? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Hex fighting Darkseid's Final Crisis/Batman-related Hyper Adapter in that issue? Did DC hand writers Gray and Palmiotti a copy of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and say "Here, don't come back until you've squeezed every last story out of this?")

* Flashpoint
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Superman
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring The Flash

When all is said and done, I guess DC's Flashpoint collection plans kind of, sort of make some sense. The good news here is that every single Flashpoint miniseries and special finds its way into one of these collections, including the Booster Gold tie-in issues. I might still wish these were hardcovers, but my wallet's probably better off that they're not. It's a nice touch that the tie-in books arrive in stores at the same time as the main Flashpoint paperback, and it's all prior to when the New 52 collections start arriving ... so I guess I'm making my peace with this.

* New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2

In my opinion, perhaps the coolest thing on this list is the second New Teen Titans omnibus, for which we now have confirmation that this'll include the final DC Archives: New Titans edition, the Terra Incognito collection, Judas Contract, and a handful of never collection New Teen Titans issues plus material from Batman and the Outsiders. New question: how much do we think this omnibus series will collect -- through Tales of the New Teen Titans #59, or also the New Teen Titans volume two series?

* Batman: Birth of the Demon
* Batman Incorporated Vol. 1 Deluxe Edition

Birth of the Demon is just a darn cool collection of three classic, related stories all together. That's about all I have to say about that, except I wish it was hardcover.

As for the Batman Inc. collection, I knew it was about to be re-solicited, but for some reason I thought it was actually landing in December. No such luck. Oh, well.

* Justice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso

I know we pick on DC a bit when we're not happy with this or that collection, but fair is fair: someone at DC did a really nice thing here. Even as it may not relate to the Eclipso story (or maybe it does) and even as the storyline it was part of is two trades back, DC's including James Robinson's Justice Society of America #43 here, an epilogue issue excluded from the Dark Things trade. This makes the collection of Robinson's Justice League stories complete -- good on you, DC.

* Gotham City Sirens: Division
* Red Robin: Seven Days of Death

Collects the final issues of these series up to Flashpoint. Don't mean to sound cynical, but I wonder if Gotham City Sirens: Division will actually make it to publication or be cancelled due to low pre-orders.

So, who's throwing down $100 for Absolute Final Crisis? What's on your pull list?

Comic Book Gift Guide 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The weather is colder, the holidays are nigh upon us, and once again it's time for the Collected Editions blog's picks for the top trade paperback collections and graphic novel presents you can give as a gift for your favorite comic book fan. (See the 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists for more suggestions, too!)

And of course, I've built this list to help you get free shipping on all your gifts (nothing worse than cutting into your holiday budget with shipping!).

I think I've got a fun list this year with lots of variety for every readers' interest -- and of course, everyone appreciates additional suggestions in the comments.

* Avengers Prime
* Avengers Forever
* Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide
* Marvel Adventures Avengers: Captain America
* The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection

You might've heard there's a little thing called the Avengers movie coming next year, so Avengers gifts are bound to go over well this holiday season. As crowdsourced from the Collected Editions Facebook page, our suggestions for Avengers collections include Avengers Prime, a story focusing on Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor that's controversial because it contains more talking than action, but might be interesting for fans of the "Big Three"; Avengers Forever, by popular Avengers writers Roger Stern and Kurt Busiek, is a continuity-heavy story of Avengers joined together from different eras -- most likely meant for the educated fan, but might pique the curiosity of a newcomer, too (comes with free shipping on its own, so you could pair it with the Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide).

Though set in Marvel's Ultimate universe, The Ultimates is a back-to-basics, no-nonsense recreation of the Avengers by Mark Millar with breathtaking art by Bryan Hitch. For a fan new to the Avengers, this is a book with no previous knowledge required. And for the younger fan, Marvel Adventures Avengers: Captain America is one in a series of young readers Marvel graphic novels. This might be a nice follow-up for a young fan of the movies; there's Iron Man, Spider-Man, and plenty other entries into this series as well.

* Batman: Noel
* Batman: Arkham City (graphic novel)
* Batman: The Black Mirror

Between the new Arkham City video game and the new Dark Knight Rises movie coming out next year, DC Comics has a slew of Batman books coming out for the holidays. Their biggest push is Batman: Noel, a graphic novel written and drawn by Lee Bermejo and based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Bermejo drew the Joker and Lex Luthor books that we listed for the holidays in past years, and it seems his holiday work is becoming something of a tradition.

Speaking of Arkham City, you can pair Noel with the Batman: Arkham City graphic novel by popular Batman writer Paul Dini, and get both for just over $25 with free shipping. Also getting good reviews is Scott Synder's Batman: The Black Mirror, a classic mystery starring former Robin Dick Grayson as Batman -- pair Black Mirror with either of the other Batman books for free shipping.

* Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
* Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes
* Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

I love to give books about comics out to my comics-reading friends as stocking stuffers, and there's just hundreds of them out there. Hot this year, of course, is writer Grant Morrison's tome on all things comics, Supergods. For free shipping, I'd like to suggest pairing it with either of two books by comics-website writers that I like, Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes edited by GeniusboyFiremelon's Tim Callahan, and also Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed by Brian Cronin of the Comics Legends Revealed column on Comic Book Resources.

* The Spirit: A Pop-up Graphic Novel

Writer and artist Will Eisner is considered the father of the modern graphic novel, essentially, and what better gift for a graphic novel fan than a pop-up Will Eisner graphic novel (because you can never have too many pop-up comic books!). The Spirit: A Pop-up Graphic Novel collects Eisner's last two Spirit issues re-designed as a pop-up book -- and any other item on this list will qualify for free shipping with this collection (or if you hurry, I think there's still some bargain copies available!).

* Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm

ABC's mystery series Castle seems to be popular with comics fans (at least that's what I see on my Twitter feed), and an episode last September even featured a graphic novel starring fictional writer Richard Castle's character Derrick Storm. That graphic novel, Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm, was actually published by Marvel and ought be a must-have for any fan of the show. Pair with Stuffed! and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (see both below) and get three graphic novels somewhat off the beaten path for just over $25 with free shipping.

* Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
* Tintin in America

Admittedly I'm not all that familiar with The Adventures of Tintin, the European comic (and television series, and radio broadcast, and so on), but I imagine everyone's going to be when Tintin comes to theaters next month. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets is the very first black and white collection, available in hardcover and paperback -- pair the hardcover with Marvel Adventures: Captain America as a gift for your favorite young reader with free shipping, or get the paperback with Captain America and the The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet The Muppets (see also below), all for just over $25 with free shipping.

(See comments section -- some readers in the know have suggested Tintin in America might be a better place to start.)

* Infestation (IDW)

I'm a bit enamored with IDW's Infestation collection -- you might call Infestation "just another crossover," except that it was a crossover that included Transformers, GI Joe, Star Trek, and Ghostbusters segments! This hardcover lands in stores pretty close to Christmas, but I think the cool factor makes it worth it. This one just about qualifies for free shipping on its own -- you can pair with the Meet the Muppets collection to spend just over $25, or any other title on the list for free shipping.

* New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1
* New Teen Titans: Games

* Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse (deluxe)
* Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga (deluxe)

* Flashpoint
* The Flash: Road to Flashpoint

DC got a bunch of impressive-looking goodies coming out this season, sure to make you look good at gift-giving time. A nice two-fer is the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1, which was supposed to only contain sixteen issues of the classic 1980s series and instead included twenty-four plus issues; that gets free shipping on its own, and you can pair with the brand new New Teen Titans: Games graphic novel for a great gift package. The Omnibus gets free shipping on its own, as would anything else with it.

There's also Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse, a deluxe oversized follow-up to one of last year's top-rated gifts, the deluxe Legion: The Great Darkness Saga. And chances are your favorite comics fan is already on top of this one, but there's the collection of the recent universe-changing event (which heralded DC's New 52 titles), Flash: Road to Flashpoint that lead in to the event, and DC Comics: The New 52, a whopping, expensive collection of all the DC New 52 #1 issues. Legion: Curse gets free shipping on its own, the Flashpoint books would get shipping together, and just about anything would get free shipping with the New 52 book.

* Dolltopia

* Stuffed!

Looking for things your favorite graphic novel fan may not already have, I recently had a chance to flip through Abby Denson's Dolltopia and really enjoyed it. Call it the un-Toy Story, this is the tale of dolls who run away to try to escape their pre-determined societal roles. Definitely "indie" in art and story, this might also be a good present for that friend you've been trying for a while to interest in comics (read preview). Pair with Supergods, Batman: The Black Mirror, an Avengers book or more for free shipping.

Also off the beaten path is Stuffed! by Colbert Report and Daria's Glenn Eichler with art by Nick Bertozzi. Two sons must decide what to do with their late father's stuffed African warrior known as "The Savage" in a comedy that looks both at family dynamics and race relations. This'll probably be another new addition to most collections; you can get Stuffed!, Dolltopia, and the Spirit pop-up for just over $25 with free shipping and look really clever on Christmas morning.

* The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet The Muppets

Of course you know there's a new Muppets movie around the corner, so the Muppets are back en vogue (when have they not been?!). Not only is this funny Muppet Show collection fairly well regarded, but it comes in at just about $4.00. If you were going for Batman: Noel and Batman: Arkham City, for instance, or Castle and Tintin, consider tossing in the Muppets comics either for your favorite young reader or just to give away to charity (Barnes and Noble, for instance, is collecting kids books this holiday season). If your free shipping can get a child reading, hey, why not?

We're in the middle of Collected Editions sixth year right now, and couldn't be having more fun. Thanks for reading -- and happy holidays and happy New Year to all!

(Lots of bloggers, by the way, have affiliate links like the ones above, and when you do your holiday shopping after clicking these links, the blogger gets a few cents. This year, if you're buying gifts online, consider clicking on someone's link before you buy -- when I buy online, I always try to click through a blog before I do. There are lots of hard-working bloggers out there [see blogroll], and this is a great, easy way to support them. Thanks!)

Review: Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle marks the beginning of the end of the DC Universe as we know it. If memory isn't failing me, this is the first book reviewed here that presents the final issues of a title before the Flashpoint/DC New 52 relaunch (a variety of cancellations notwithstanding). There's still a ways to go before we reach the New 52, with the final collections of certain pre-Flashpoint titles arriving even as late as May of next year, but this Birds of Prey trade marks the beginning of the old DC Universe putting the chairs up on the table and turning out the lights.

In terms of story, Death of Oracle does not necessarily provide the closure one might expect from the series's last book. Rather, Death of Oracle is about new beginnings, more like the first book instead of the last, and maybe that's fitting. There's also a heavy dose of wish-fulfillment here, with a couple of unexpected mash-ups of Birds writer Gail Simone's various titles, and even guest-writer Marc Andreyko penning the Manhunter character again. In this way, what defines the final volume of Birds of Prey is what also defines much of the series -- it's just plain fun -- and that's not a bad note to go out on after all.

Review: Invincible Iron Man: Stark: Disassembled hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

[This review by Doug Glassman, who blogs at Astrakhan Industries.]

When last we left Tony Stark (in Invincible Iron Man: Worlds Most Wanted), he was brain-dead and Norman Osborn was victorious as the Iron Patriot. As the Siege of Asgard unfolds around him, Tony battles for life. Siege isn’t too important to this story, except that it does explain where these issues fit into the overall event narrative thanks to the Ghost.

The title Iron Man: Stark: Disassembled refers back to the Avengers: Disassembled event, which precipitated Iron Man’s Extremis armor, House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion and Dark Reign. Matt Fraction clearly intends this story to end that chapter of Tony Stark’s life and start a new one. I believe that he succeeds in reference to both Stark’s story arc and Stark’s character. Tony starts over in more ways than one, and while the ending of this story has been called a deus ex machina, the context of later issues diffuses feelings of a simple ending.

New 52 hardcovers solicited on DC Comics Source blog

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

As just announced on the DC Source blog, the 52 new DC Comics series will be released as collections between May and November 2012.

Missing on the list (thanks Yonatan) is Wonder Woman. I have to guess that this is an oversight or details on Wonder Woman are just forthcoming, and not that DC is not publishing a collection of this series. (Newsarama reports from DC that news of a Wonder Woman collection is coming.)

Here's some statistics on these to help get the conversation started:

Hardcovers: Action Comics, Aquaman, Batman & Robin, Batman, Batwoman, Batgirl, Detective Comics, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: New Guardians, Justice League, Superman, Batman: The Dark Knight

Cancelled Trade Cavalcade: REBELS: Starstruck and cancellation musings

Cancelled Trade Cavalcade -- where the Collected Editions blog looks at some trades that never quite made print. Big news last week was the cancellation of DC Comics's REBELS: Starstruck (which you can still see listed at the link on DC's site even though they've announced it cancelled).

So big was the news about REBELS that despite that we've lost Doom Patrol: Fire Away, JSA All-Stars: Puzzle Men, and the Weird Worlds collection officially, and good money says Nick Spencer's Supergirl: Good Looking Corpse is going to go soon, too, this is the first time the recent cancellations have scored mainstream comics news coverage, with an article posted at Bleeding Cool.

Fan Joe Kontor posted about the cancellation to Dan DiDio's Facebook Wall, and Dan replied, "Sorry but the sales were not there to support this book going to press."

On the Collected Editions Facebook Wall, reader Matt Adams shared anecdotally that he heard from his local comics shop that the "print slots" are being used for DC New 52 reprints instead.

Review: Brightest Day Vol. 3 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Readers of this series will likely feel let down by Brightest Day Volume 3. It is moving, the plot unfolds swiftly, and -- unusual for a weekly-type series -- adeptly drawn nearly the whole time. The final book, however, purposefully fails to give its gathered characters much closure, and the supposed trade-off for the reader -- the surprise re-emergence of two popular supernatural characters -- had been long since been spoiled at least for this reader from a number of corners. Brighest Day would otherwise simply be another serial run-up to another series to follow, but with the DC New 52 Relaunch essentially ending many old stories, instead Brightest Day emerges just incomplete.

[Contains major spoilers for the end of Brightest Day]

By the second chapter of Brightest Day Vol. 3, Deadman Boston Brand has already been usurped by the White Lantern and forced to seemingly kill his fellow heroes. Hawkman and Hawkgirl fall first, then Aquaman two issues later, the Martian Manhunter an issue after that, and Firestorm enters the mix right after. That is, in the concluding book, Brightest Day sets up its pins and knocks them down with alarming swiftness. If the earlier volumes seemed to plod along, to their detriment, but also give a good mix of stories to their benefit, the third volume's focus is more singular, and it's the most cohesive of all three books.

Review: Siege: Thunderbolts hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

[A new guest review by Doug Glassman, who blogs at Astrakhan Industries.]

It’s time to move past the “Dark Reign” era and on to “Siege,” recounting a war between the Asgardians and Norman Osborn’s H.A.M.M.E.R. Many of the “Dark Reign” plot threads were wrapped up in “Siege” and the new “Heroic Age” era began. The Thunderbolts have come a long way, too, since my review of Justice, Like Lightning.

The title has gone through some changes of concept recently. What began as a team of redemptive criminals masquerading as superheroes was first retooled into a Fight Club rip-off (if you’ve ever heard the derogatory term “Fightbolts,” it refers to the last few issues of the original run). The New Thunderbolts reboot in 2004 returned the team to its roots, eventually growing into an army of villains during “Civil War.” Warren Ellis then famously had Norman Osborn take over the team, resulting in violent new members like Venom and Bullseye and a change of concept from redemption to Marvel’s version of Suicide Squad. That team then became the Dark Avengers, which went back to the original concept in some ways, while a new team of Thunderbolts emerged as Osborn’s personal killing squad.

Cancelled Trade Cavalcade: Nightwing: Target and Weird Worlds

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Cancelled Trade Cavalcade -- where the Collected Editions blog looks back at some trades that never quite made print. Today we've got an interesting item called Nightwing: Target. Here's the description:
Dick Grayson, the first Robin and teen sidekick to Batman, stepped out of the Dark Knight''s shadow to become Nightwing. This is the story behind that transformation and how it affected Batman, the Teen Titans, and Dick himself.
Nightwing: The Target (note difference) was a Nightwing one-shot by the early Nightwing title team of Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel (some would argue McDaniel's art never looked as good as it did on Nightwing), published after McDaniel had left the title. Whether this was a leftover stock story from the Dixon/McDaniel days on Nightwing or if DC just saw some profit in getting the band back together, I'm not sure.