Review: Hulk Vol. 6: World War Hulks hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

[The final of our trio of Marvel guest reviews this week comes from Zach King, concluding his look at Jeph Loeb's Hulk. Zach blogs about movies as The Cinema King]

With World War Hulks, Jeph Loeb's six-volume run with the Gamma Green Giant and his Crimson Counterpart comes to a close, and it accomplishes everything a conclusion should in an ongoing title. It isn't perfect, and it's far from Loeb's best work (for my money, The Long Halloween), but there's enough here for comics fans -- myself included -- to enjoy.

[Spoilers ahead -- it's impossible to discuss this volume without assessing the revelations behind Red Hulk and Red She-Hulk's identities. Then again, maybe everyone already knows those secrets.]

Review: Daredevil: Reborn hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[Continuing our trio of Marvel guest reviews, Damien Lockrow has some strong feelings about this one ...]

It’s interesting to compare and contrast Marvel and DC’s takes on the "Rebirth/Reborn" story. While DC typically uses it to denote the start of a new status quo, if not necessarily a completely fresh start -- Green Lantern: Rebirth, Flash: Rebirth, Batman Reborn, etc. -- Marvel seems keen to use the “Reborn” moniker for the end of long-running storylines. Or in the case of Daredevil: Reborn, the end of an era.

Daredevil has been immersed in crime noir for so long it’s almost difficult to think of a time when he wasn’t. Certainly seems like it’s been forever since we haven’t seen him falling into dark depths, clutching dead lovers; Murdock’s record of dead love interests nearly matches Mobile Suit Gundam, a series known for the rule of “you hook up with a Newtype, you will die in the next few episodes.” You can’t destroy your main character's life forever -- I’m amazed they managed it this long -- so Andy Diggle is left to clear the deck for a more optimistic take on the character.

Review: Agents of Atlas hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

[Beginning three days of Marvel guest reviews! First up, a new review from Doug Glassman.]

While Marvel may have a literal Justice Society of America analogue in the Invaders, Agents of Atlas is more similar in tone to Geoff Johns’ vaunted JSA run. Both books feature veteran heroes -- kept young through unusual means -- assembling to take on new threats from their past. But whereas the Justice Society was the most widely respected superhero team in the DCU, the Agents of Atlas pretend to be criminals.

It’s all explained in the original Agents of Atlas story. The seed of this tale goes back to What If? Vol. 1 #9: “What If . . . The Avengers Had Fought Evil During The 1950s?” This issue united some of early Marvel Comics’ heroes from back when they were called Atlas Comics. The resulting team broke up after it was decided that such a concept was far too revolutionary for the time. For a while, this was simply just a fun out-of-continuity tale, and it played a huge part in Kurt Busiek's Avengers Forever. Writer Jeff Parker takes this a step farther by transplanting this time into the main Marvel Universe, but without calling them the Avengers. The Agents of Atlas trade collects the What If issue along with the first historical appearances of all of the major characters, plus Parker's 2006 miniseries.

Review: Stormwatch Vol. 1: The Dark Side trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, June 25, 2012

For fans not even of the original Stormwatch necessarily, but of Stormwatch's bolder, edgier, more popular sibling The Authority, the title page of the DC New 52's first volume, Stormwatch: The Dark Side, is the realization of all the hope that followed DC Comics's announcement of the revamped title as part of their relaunch. Apollo, Midnighter, the Engineer, Jack Hawksmoor, Jenny Quantum, and randomly yet fittingly Martian Manhunter sit around a table peering at threats to the earth below. Call it what you like -- this is the Authority come to the DC Universe, and that's a good thing even if the concept must necessarily be watered down for mainstream consumption.

Writer Paul Cornell succeeds in what feels like a two-hour television pilot for Stormwatch. The story is clumsy at times, accidentally and also in the way Authority had of running at top speed and leaving the reader to keep up and fall behind. There is however great joy in seeing these characters together, and what Stormwatch offers is something that can't be found anywhere else in the DC Universe; those facts alone argue for this title continuing through its second collection and beyond.

DC Comics announces Spring 2013 collections: Night of Owls, Legion Worlds, Day of Judgment, Titans Omnibus Vol. 3, Impulse and more

Friday, June 22, 2012

Just when we thought solicitations for a handful of DC Comics trade solicitations was a big deal, the DC Source blog proceeded to drop a slew of Spring 2013 collection details on our doorsteps.

Now I know Night of the Owls this and "zero issues" that, but hold on, because there's a couple collections we've just got to get to first ...

Collected Favorites
Legion Worlds TP
Collects: LEGION WORLDS #1-6
That DC released a hardcover of Legion Lost, the excellent Legion miniseries by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, was pretty cool, but I'd read that mini. What is even cooler -- if it makes it to publication -- is this collection of specials that came out after Legion Lost, showing what was happening to the rest of the Legion during the Lost period.

All of this is a little academic since this refers to the "reboot" post-Zero Hour/pre-Infinite Crisis Legion, distinctly no longer in existence, but these are well-regarded stories and it's nice to have them collected.

Though -- I believe Legion Worlds ends on an uncertain note, like Legion Lost, and the real "Legion reunion" doesn't happen until the Abnett/Lanning The Legion series that followed. I wouldn't mind seeing DC stick a couple issues from that into this volume; or otherwise, maybe a Legion collection will follow.

Remember -- pre-ordering is your friend! If you want to actually hold this collection in your hands like I do, this book must be pre-ordered. The Legion Lost paperback was cancelled due to low pre-orders; I am sure this book is in danger of the same fate.
The New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3 HC
Collects: TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #45-61 and 66-67, THE NEW TEEN TITANS #38, THE NEW TEEN TITANS #1-6 and SECRET ORIGINS ANNUAL #3
Good news here, though I can tell you straight off that the contents of this book as listed are not correct. The good news is that this book picks up right from where the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2 left off, and continues through to the previously-released Terror of Trigon collection, so we gain a bit here and don't lose anything that hadn't been published before.

However, I'd betcha the contents are actually Tales of the New Teen Titans #45-58 and New Teen Titans (second series) #1-6 or #1-9, since Titans (first series) #59-68 is actually the same content at Titans second series #1-9. Unless there's some pin-ups or something to be included, chances are these contents will change.
Day of Judgment TP
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Matt Smith, Steve Mitchell, Chris Jones, John McCrea and others
Collects: DAY OF JUDGMENT #1-5 and a story from DAY OF JUDGMENT SECRET FILES #1
$14.99 US, 160 pg
Day of Judgment is by most accounts a rough crossover -- not unreadable, just slow and rather dense. It also, however, represents a significant moment when then-new DC Comics writer Geoff Johns first penned the (albeit deceased) Green Lantern Hal Jordan. Thus for a while we collectors have felt this would probably not be a great collection, but a series worthy of being collected -- and here it is. Between this and Legion Worlds, there's not much still left on my "wish DC would collect" list. (OK, there's still a lot on that list.)

Not insignificantly, Day of Judgment also features a heavy presence by Golden Age (and now Earth 2 resident) Green Lantern Alan Scott ...
Impulse Vol. 1: Runs in the Family TP
Collects: IMPULSE #1-6, 8-9 and 12-13
This'll brighten anyone's day. Maybe because of the character's renewed presence in Young Justice, it looks like DC intends to release a couple volumes of the wonderful Impulse series, which was as close as you could get at the time to a DC Comics sitcom. This book skips Impulse #7, which wasn't written by Mark Waid, and Impulse #11, part of the Flash "Dead Heat" crossover collected elsewhere; it does, however, include the Underworld Unleashed tie-in issue. One more volume that goes to about issue #26 would collect all the Mark Waid issues; the stories in the first volume are good, but the second volume will be even better. (Pre-orders. Your friend. Get it?)
The Shade TP
Collects: THE SHADE #1-12
Call me a cynic, but I don't necessarily believe this series had all the sales problems that were claimed, and I'm disappointed to see this in trade paperback, not in hardcover to sit next to my Starman omnibuses. I'll still get it, mind you, but disappointed.

Night of the Owls, Collected
Batman: The Night of the Owls HC
Collects: BATMAN ANNUAL #1, DETECTIVE COMICS #9, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #9, BATWING #9, BATMAN AND ROBIN #9, RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS #9, BIRDS OF PREY #9, BATGIRL #9 and ALL-STAR WESTERN #9
$29.99 US, 360 pg

Batman Vol. 2: The City of Owls HC
Collects: BATMAN #8-12
$24.99 US, 192 pg

All-Star Western Vol. 2: The War of Lords and Owls TP
Collects: All-Star Western #7-13

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Scare Tactics HC
Collects: Detective Comics #8-12

Batgirl Vol. 2: Knightfall Descends HC
Collects: Batgirl #7-12

Batwing Vol. 2: In the Shadow of the Ancients TP
Collects: BATWING #7-12

Birds of Prey Vol. 2: Your Kiss Might Kill TP
Collects: BIRDS OF PREY #8-13

Catwoman Vol. 2: Dollhouse TP
Collects: CATWOMAN #7-12
A number of eagle-eyed Collected Editions readers have pointed out that the writer and credits for these books don't necessarily match the contents, and that there's certain series -- Nightwing and Catwoman, for two -- strangely not represented. If you don't know by now, these solicitations are early, incomplete, and subject to change; I wouldn't stress too much about one or two items that don't add up here and there.

What this does show us, however, is that the "Night of the Owls" crossover is going to be collected as such -- one Batman-specific collection, and one collection of all (or most) of the tie-in issues.

It seems like most of the tie-in issues will also be collected in their own individual series collections, too. Which leaves a problem. If the Batman annual is also collected in the individual Batman volume, probably many of us can pass up the Night of the Owls hardcover altogether in favor of the individual books and City of Owls. If not, that means a trade-waiter could potentially pay for the Night of the Owls hardcover just for the annual, which would be a sorry state indeed.

(The Batgirl solicit suggests that the paperback of volume one will contain issues #1-13 and #0, and the second hardcover will have issue #7-12. There's a misprint somewhere there, I'm sure; probably the second volume has #7-12, the contents of the first paperback are the same as the first hardcover, and the zero issue will be in the third collection as with most of the other books.)

Other Crossovers in the New 52
The Culling: Rise of the Ravagers TP
Collects: LEGION LOST #8-9, SUPERBOY #8-9, TEEN TITANS #8-9 and TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #1

Blue Beetle Vol. 2: Blue Diamond TP
Collects: BLUE BEETLE #7-12 and GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #9

Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Vol. 2: Son of Satan's Ring TP

Collects: Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #8-11 and MEN OF WAR #8

I, Vampire Vol. 2: Rise of the Vampires TP
Collects: I, VAMPIRE #7-12 and JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #7-8

Justice League International Vol. 2: Breakdown TP
Collects: Justice League International #7-12, THE FURY OF FIRESTORM: THE NUCLEAR MEN #9 and Justice League International [Annual] #1

Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Basilisk Rising TP
Collects: Suicide Squad #8-12 and RESURRECTION MAN #9

Red Lanterns Vol. 2: The Death of the Red Lanterns TP
Collects: RED LANTERNS #8-13 and STORMWATCH #9

Stormwatch Vol. 2: Enemies of Earth TP

Collects: STORMWATCH #7-12 and RED LANTERNS #10

Animal Man Vol. 2: Animal Vs. Man TP
Collects: ANIMAL MAN #7-11 and ANIMAL MAN ANNUAL #1

Swamp Thing Vol. 2: Family Tree TP
Collects: SWAMP THING #8-12 and ANIMAL MAN #12
Despite a handful of guest-appearances, the first round of DC New 52 collections were all self-contained; the first issues of the individual series and that was it. The DC New 52 volume twos take a different tack.

The Culling collection is probably the best way to go about collecting the "Young Justice" crossover; this follows from the end of all three of those series' first collections, and allows each one to pick up with issue #10 in volume two.

Blue Beetle's got New Guardians, Justice League International's got Firestorm, Frankenstein's got Men of War, I, Vampire has Justice League Dark, and Suicide Squad has Resurrection Man. Hopefully this doesn't discount a final Resurrection Man collection; Stormwatch and Red Lanterns reciprocate their crossover issues, so maybe that will be the DC New 52's new collections norm. On the other hand, the Animal Man collection stops before it's Swamp Thing crossover issue, and that issue is found in Swamp Thing, so it could also be either-or.

Elsewhere in the DC New 52
Batwoman Vol. 2: To Drown the World HC
Collects: BATWOMAN #6-11

Dial H Vol. 1: Into You TP
Collects: DIAL H #1-7

Earth 2 Vol. 1: The Gathering TP
Collects: EARTH 2 #1-6

G.I. Combat Vol. 1: The War That Time Forgot TP

Collects: G.I. COMBAT #1-6

Green Arrow Vol. 2: Triple Treat TP
Collects: GREEN ARROW #7-12

Green Lantern Vol. 2: Revenge of the Black Hand HC
Collects: GREEN LANTERN #7-12 and GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #1

Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey HC
Collects: Justice League #7-12
$24.99 US, 176 pg

Voodoo Vol. 2: The Killer In Me TP
Collects: VOODOO #7-12 and 0

Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Guts HC
Collects: Wonder Woman #7-12

Worlds’ Finest Vol. 1: The Lost Daughters of Earth 2 TP
Collects: WORLDS’ FINEST #0-5
Again, looks like most series will include their zero issues with their third collections, not their second. Some exceptions are Voodoo, which ends with this volume, and World's Finest, whose zero issue comes in the middle of its first story arc. I'm surprised the first Earth 2 volume doesn't also contain its zero issue, unless that story is stand-alone enough to move to the next collection.

Green Arrow: Triple Treat just sounds icky. That they're calling Wonder Woman "Guts," after first volume Blood, however, is hilarious.

The Man of Steel Connection
Superman vs. Zod TP
Collects: ADVENTURE COMICS #283, ACTION COMICS #473 and 548-549, DC COMICS PRESENTS #97 and ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #10
I actually liked Superman Returns, I'll admit it, and I'm excited for a new Superman movie of Dark Knight proportions. If it nets us a couple months of Superman collections like this one, all the better.
Superman: Last Son of Krypton TP
Collects: ACTION COMICS #844-846, 851 and 866-870, ACTION COMICS ANNUAL #11 and SUPERMAN: NEW KRYPTON SPECIAL #1
This is an interesting kind of Superman by Geoff Johns Omnibus, if you want to look at it that way. The book collects Superman: Last Son, Superman: Brainiac, and the beginning of Superman: New Krypton. It's a great couple of stories, especially Brainiac, though I'm struggling to figure DC's intentions with this one. Brainiac and the New Krypton special are related (originally collected together, even), but Last Son is not related -- at least, not until much later in the "New Krypton" storyline. Last Son has Zod in it, hence the tie to Man of Steel, but Brainiac/New Krypton doesn't (yet). Stick a "volume one" on this one and it makes much more sense; otherwise I'm puzzled.
Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 7 TP
Collects: SUPERMAN #13-15, ACTION COMICS #596-597 and ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #436-438
Here's a good one -- the next Byrne-era collection of Superman titles. We saw the last of these back in 2008(!), and I'd all but figured DC had decided to stop with these (and I'm half-disappointed, because I'd love for them to switch these over to omnibus format). As it is, this will be a strange collection, almost two-thirds filled with Millennium crossover issues that are only going to appeal to the most ardent of fans. The first post-Crisis Brainiac appears here, but his visage is a far cry from what most fans know of the character.

(Enter my stock wonder here whether DC will ever reprint Superman #21-22 and etc., "The Supergirl Saga," not too far from the issues above, in which Superman kills an alternate-universe's General Zod and the Phantom Zone criminals. This book, along with a good essay by John Byrne or the series editor Mike Carlin, would be fascinating.)
Superman Vs. Shazam! TP
Collects: ALL-NEW COLLECTORS’ EDITION C-58, DC COMICS PRESENTS #33-34 and 49 and DC COMICS PRESENTS ANNUAL #3
This leads one to wonder if there's a new Shazam series on the way, though the age of the material collected here doesn't interest me in the book.
Superman: The Death and Return of Superman Omnibus HC
Collects: SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL #17-26, SUPERMAN #73-82, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #496-505, ACTION COMICS #683-691, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #69, SUPERMAN: THE LEGACY OF SUPERMAN #1 and GREEN LANTERN #46
The existing Death of Superman omnibus has been a sore spot for fans for a while, since it includes an ugly "sticker" (advertising the Superman: Doomsday animated movie) that's actually printed on the book. This volume contains almost the exact same items as the previous edition, except it also has the Legacy of Superman special (which, I know off the top of my head, contains a variety of stories including one about Sinbad, the hero of Middle Eastern descent that was to appear in a Superman: Grounded issue by Chris Roberson until DC pulled it. Now you know).
Superman: For Tomorrow TP
Collects: SUPERMAN #204-215 and the JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA SPECIAL #1
The Justice League Special collected here is a bit of a misdirect. The special itself is a collection given away with action figures or such, which included Brad Meltzer's initial Justice League issue plus a number of origin tales, including the Brian Azzarello/Jim Lee Superman origin that originally appeared in the Absolute Superman For Tomorrow. So really what this includes is the full contents of the Absolute.

Last But Not Least ...
DC Universe Secret Origins TP
Collects: SECRET ORIGINS #1, MORE SECRET ORIGINS #1, EVEN MORE SECRET ORIGINS #1 and WEIRD SECRET ORIGINS #1
This collection of a bunch of recent 80-Page Giant specials, which themselves collected various origin stories mostly from DC's Silver Age, will no doubt appeal to someone, though I'm about as stymied why DC would muddy the waters with this while most fans are trying to figure out the New 52, as I am about that Superman by Geoff Johns omnibus ....

Whew! That's a lot of trades!

A scheduling note: Next week, we'll have the Collected Editions review of Stormwatch: The Dark Side that was unfortunately delayed this week. Then, we'll have a guest reviewer triple-play -- three Marvel reviews, one each from three of our distinguished guest reviewers.

And then ... fireworks won't be the only thing exploding July 4th week, when we present the Collected Editions review of Catwoman: The Game and Batman: Earth One. That'll kick off our second month of DC New 52 reviews -- mark your calendars!

You've seen all that DC has to offer for their Spring 2013 collections -- what's on your buying list?

DC Comics solicits New 52 Justice League, Green Lantern, Batman Vol. 2 trades, The New 52 Zero

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Just the other day with DC's September 2012 solicitations, we were speculating that it wouldn't be long until the DC New 52 Volume 2 collections would be popping up. Well, today is that day.

* Batman: Night of the Owls
* Green Lantern Vol. 2: Revenge of the Black Hand
* Justice League Vol. 2: The Villain's Journey

* DC Comics: The New 52 Zero

Least controversial of these initial listings are the Justice League and Green Lantern books (both, at the moment, hardcover). While I'm excited about the storyline for each, this is about what we expected for each book's second volume. Justice League (for now) seems to be 160 pages, which would be about issues #7-14; Green Lantern is at 192 pages (for now), which might suggest the inclusion of the annual.

More controversial is the Batman: Night of the Owls hardcover (specifically, or maybe just an oversight, not called "volume 2" in the listing). At 360 pages, this hardcover would seem to collect more than just the next Batman issues, but also at least some of the "Night of the Owls" tie-in issues. Whether DC should collect the crossover in one volume or separate books has already been a point of some debate on this site -- undoubtedly this is just more fuel for the flame until the official solicitation copy arrives.

Finally, we also see here that talk of the zero issue omnibus was more than just idle speculation; even before these issues arrive, there's already a solicit for this 1,328 book (more than the original first issue omnibus), arriving just in time for your Christmas tree in December.

It's great to finally be back in solicitation season -- more news coming soon!

Part 2: Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1 trade paperback review (Dark Horse)

[The second of Doug Glassman's two-part review of the Aliens Omnibus. Read part one here.]

From the end of "Outbreak" in the Aliens Omnibus, we follow Wilks (formerly Hicks from Aliens), Billie (the grown-up Newt), and Billie’s damaged android boyfriend Bueller as they discover a bioweapons outpost—the first human contact they’ve had in weeks. Unfortunately, said outpost is headed by General Spears, a madman in the vein of Dr. Strangelove’s General Ripper. If you’ve read some of my old reviews, such as Carnage: Family Feud and Sinister Spider-Man, you’ll know that I love gloriously insane villains, and General Spears is in the top tier. He keeps his outpost under his thumb with promises of glory and instant death sentences for anyone who opposes him.

Review: Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Master trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, June 18, 2012

With the success of Grant Morrison's JLA in the late 1990s, Justice League comics got serious, a far cry from the Keith Giffen/J. M. DeMatteis Justice League International super-comedy of the 1980s. In between those two extremes, however, had been a short, cogent Justice League run by Dan Jurgens in early 1990s, which combined humor with action and notably connected with the famous "Death of Superman" storyline.

Jurgens therefore approaches the DC New 52 Justice League International: The Signal Masters with some level of experience and prior success, as does artist Aaron Lopresti, who just drew Justice League: Generation Lost, the virtual "old" DC Universe precursor to Justice League International. What humor is contained in International, some might mistake for a lack of sophistication, but indeed the book has a nostalgic charm in the vein of the older Justice League stories. More's the pity that Justice League International is cancelled after the next volume, but hopefully Jurgens will show up elsewhere on the DC Comics line with these characters in tow.

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Midas Touch trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Even before the DC Comics New 52 relaunch, Green Arrow saw changes from Smallville to Flashpoint. Gone was the activist hippie, old man out-of-time, or unrepentant philanderer Oliver Queen, replaced with a young billionaire playboy, technologically savvy, using his boardroom brains and a cadre of trick arrows to bring down the bad guys. If it sounds like the Dark Knight lite, it is, but that's not necessarily a drawback for those who like their Dark Knight a little lighter.

Green Arrow: The Midas Touch is a compelling recreation of Oliver Queen himself, but struggles to find an equally compelling backdrop in which to place the character (the original creative team of J. T. Krul, Dan Jurgens, Keith Giffen, and George Perez were all replaced after this volume). The volume sets Green Arrow on a good foundation for further adventures, but may not have enough pizzazz to bring many readers back.

Review: Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1 trade paperback (Dark Horse)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

[Guest review by Doug Glassman]

During the six-year stretch between Aliens and Alien3, Dark Horse Comics turned to screenwriter Mark Verheiden to create a comic book continuation of the it first movie. What resulted, collected in Aliens Omnibus Vol. 1, not only redefined the franchise, but also brought Dark Horse into the spotlight. I have so much to say about the first part, “Outbreak,” that I’m splitting this up into two reviews.

“Outbreak” answers one of the franchise’s major questions: “Why do these stupid humans keep trying to capture, breed, and even train the Xenomorphs?” The answer is a combination of two major themes: the Xenomorph hive mind has a telepathic influence, and humans are utterly greedy bastards. Drawing from the scene in Aliens wherein the Queen reacted strongly to Ripley destroying her eggs, as well as the Xenomorphs’ strong communication despite lacking sense organs, Verheiden extrapolated a powerful psychic influence. A “Queen Mother” on their homeworld induces motherly feelings in other beings, drawing them towards her and her children so that they can continue to breed. Artist Mark A. Nelson takes it a step further and uses the Xenomorph’s toothy grin as a memetic image of this psychic link.

DC Trade Solicitations for September 2012: Zero Issues, Justice League: Eclipso, DC New 52, and more

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The end is near ...

No, of course I don't mean the end of the world (that was last September). I'm talking about how collections from DC's final month of DC New 52 are already showing up in the DC Comics September 2012 solicitations.  We waited so long for the DC New 52 collections to arrive, and even though we're just a month-or-so into them, the end of the first round of volumes is already in sight.  It might be as soon as next month that we start to see solicitations for the volume twos ... Batman Vol. 2: Night of the Owls, anyone?

We also see what seems like a slight increase in the number of "old" DC Universe collections in these new trade solicitations -- my pet theory is that a number of these were held, not in the least James Robinson's final Justice League collection, so as not to confuse or conflict with the DC New 52 collection releases; now that we come to the end of that, we see things like Justice League and Birds of Prey paperbacks.  Fingers crossed that none of these suddenly disappear before publication.

Zero Month Redux

Those of us who actually bought all the zero issues that followed the original Zero Hour are feeling severe whiplash about now.

I don't usually comment on the single issues, but a couple of 'em caught my eye as I was looking over DC's September zero issue offerings. First, I know Judd Winick faced a lot of ire lately with his DC New 52 Catwoman, but I adored his early Green Arrow run and I'd be happy to see him back on the character. Four different writers for the DC New 52 Green Arrow in the span of thirteen issues is a bad sign (as it is, too, for Superman), but if Winick's on board that makes me more hopeful.

Two to watch will be Nightwing #0 and Teen Titans #0. Between the origins of Dick Grayson and Tim Drake, you'll basically know everything you need to know about what's lost and found in the DC New 52 universe. Though I have to say it seems to give the concept of an origin short shrift to do it in a single issue -- Tim Drake's journey from meeting Batman to donning the Robin costume took months if not years, and now they're going to do it in one issue? I don't want to say it can't stack up, but ...

It's been a bit since I read Batwoman: Elegy, but I don't remember Kate Kane needing to turn away from a "life of excess" as Batwoman #0 promises. One would hope DC won't remove her military service and discharge from her origins.

And as for Smallville Season 11 #5 -- I don't understand the licensing issues involved such that what's not OK onscreen is OK in the comic, but good on you, Bryan Miller; I don't know if there will be a "season 12," but way to leave it all on the field.

Next to the last DC New 52 Vol. 1 collections

* All-Star Western Vol. 1: Guns and Gotham
* Flash Vol. 1: Move Forward
* I, Vampire Vol. 1: Tainted Love
* Justice League Dark Vol. 1: In the Dark
* Nightwing Vol. 1: Traps and Trapezes
* Savage Hawkman Vol. 1: Darkness Rising
* Supergirl Vol. 1: Last Daughter of Krypton
* Superman Vol. 1: What Price Tomorrow?

The Nightwing volume I'm eager for, given it's ties to Batman: Court of the Owls; also Supergirl and Superman, titles I followed previously, though it seems almost besides the point to read Superman (and Hawkman, for that matter) knowing brand-new teams are along in the next volume. Six issues, I think, is too short a run for any writer not on a "short story" book like Superman/Batman; if one can't stay at least twelve issues/two volumes, a book seems almost skip-able.

* Huntress: Crossbow at the Crossroads
* Legion: Secret Origin

I think of these two as DC New 52 runners-up; I have no interest in the Penguin miniseries that also ran alongside the DC New 52 premieres, but these two series are both directly relevant. I'm surprised DC didn't market these stronger as DC New 52 titles, maybe to preserve the surprise on Huntress and because Legion: Secret Origin, I'm almost certain, started out as an "old" DC Universe title.

Various and Sundry

* Dc Comics: The Sequential Art of Amanda Conner

Amanda Conner's art deserves its own collection anyway, but kind of like the Showcase Presents: Amethyst collection, we know a little better now why DC might have a sudden interest in having a Conner collection out there than we did months ago when this was first solicited.

* 52 Omnibus

I adored 52, as did we all, and if you missed it the first time around, this will probably be the most cohesive reading experience of any of the recent omnibus collections DC has released lately -- an immediate, compressed, well-imagined story. My hope is that someone takes all the notes pages from between the chapters of the paperbacks and shunts them all to the end of the omnibus -- let the story speak for itself and then offer the explanatory material afterward.

* Justice League Of America: The Rise of Eclipso

Below are a handful of paperback reprints of previous "old" DC Universe hardcovers as the last of these reach the pipeline -- the last Batman collection, the last Birds of Prey collection, and so on. Most notable, however, is Justice League Of America: The Rise Of Eclipso, which was cancelled in hardcover probably so as not to be confused with Justice League: Origin. If I don't miss my guess, that makes James Robinson's Justice League: Eclipso the last-released mainstream collection of the "old" DC Universe, with the Dick Grayson Batman capping off that thirty-year period of comics. Really looking forward to this one; hope it arrives.

* Batman: Eye of the Beholder
* Birds Of Prey Vol. 2: The Death of Oracle
* Green Lantern Corps: The Weaponer
* Superman/Batman: Sorcerer Kings

* Showcase Presents: The Flash Vol. 4

Speed Force has intelligent things to say about the contents of this one.

So ... definite to pick up the 52 Omnibus? Fingers crossed for Justice League: Eclipso? What's your next most anticipated DC New 52 collection? What will you be buying for September?

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, June 11, 2012

Brian Azzarello writes dystopian takes on the DC Comics universe. From his villain-hero stories Luthor and Joker or to those like Flashpoint: Batman: Knight of Vengeance, Azzarello's stories show the harsher side of the DC Universe -- grotesque villains and overwhelmed heroes with bitter pasts.

In the DC New 52's Wonder Woman: Blood, artist Cliff Chiang does his best impression of Azzarello's often-gritty collaborator Eduardo Risso for a decidedly darker Wonder Woman tale. The story here is not so groundbreaking -- Wonder Woman writer Greg Rucka pitted Amazon princess Diana against human-formed gods; Gail Simone fomented strife between Diana and the Amazons themselves -- as is the way the story is told; readers have never seen Wonder Woman's world so bleak, for better or worse, than they do here.

DC Comics to publish New 52 Zero Issue Omnibus

Friday, June 08, 2012

In all the news of DC Comics's September plans to release zero issues for all their New 52 titles, don't overlook some specifically collected editions-related news.

See this, from the Associated Press via the Washington Post:
After zero, all the titles will go back to their regular numbering, though each of the 52 “zero” issues will end up in a bound omnibus edition in fall.
And in this interview with DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio from Comic Book Resources:
We've talked a lot about the new series launching alongside the #0 issues in September. What are the zero books you're most excited to get on the stands from the series we've already got ongoing?

What I'm looking forward to is that in "DC Universe Presents," we're doing a ten-page origin beat for OMAC with Brother Eye that I'm really looking forward to, as you can only imagine. A lot of these stories are coming in now, and really we started the process of working on the zeroes back at the beginning of the year. And we've been spending an inordinate amount of time writing and rewriting and thinking these books through. We want these issues to feel as special as the #1s. We know they're going to be compared to the #1s, so they've got to be as good or better. They've got to create mysteries and that level of excitement that we had last September again this September. That's the real challenge right now because we've got to capture lightning in a bottle for the second time. And I believe we can, so much so that not only are we looking to do the zero month, but we're looking to again like with did the giant compendium with all the #1s to do a big book with all the #0s for December as well. [Emphasis added]

Review: Wonder Woman: Odyssey Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

J. Michael Straczynski's Wonder Woman: Odyssey is better than his Superman: Grounded. Both were year-long stories that in their own way rebuilt their title character; Straczynski's name, however, remains on the book's credits the whole time, alongside co-writer Phil Hester, which they do not in Grounded, and indeed Odyssey feels more cohesive and polished.

As is inevitable for an "alternate universe" tale like Odyssey, it is an exercise in character study, not really a "story" in the truest sense nor something liable to make a strong mark on the Wonder Woman canon (compare one-off Odyssey with Greg Rucka's graphic novel Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia; the former is a study of Wonder Woman while the latter is a story that serves to define Wonder Woman's character).

But Odyssey is sprightly and downright inspiring at times, even; it is not the ultimate Wonder Woman story necessitated by the end of the old DC Universe and the beginning of the DC New 52, but it's a book that's complimentary of Wonder Woman, defines her elements, and at least sets forth some expectations for what the DC New 52 Wonder Woman should entail.

Before Watchmen arrives; trade-waiters are bored

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Hurm

I'm kidding, of course. But days like today -- a big day for readers of single issues (and you digital folks) with the release of the first Before Watchmen issue, Darwyn Cooke's Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1 -- can get a little lonely for those of us who wait-for-the-trade, with all the hullabaloo passing us by and whatnot.

(This being a tongue-in-cheek post with plenty of internal linkage. You've been warned.)

While your friends run to and fro waiving their copies of Minutemen above their heads, going on about "Mothman this" and "Hooded Justice that," fret not as you sit before your neatly organized bookshelf, staring at the empty space saved with hope that maybe, one day, an Absolute Before Watchmen might fill it. Periodical fans ought not have all the fun -- here's things you, yes you, can do right now to take your mind off the hard fight of being a trade-waiter.

Review: Heroes Reborn: Avengers trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

[Guest review by Doug Glassman]

Heroes Reborn: Avengers is a study in bad comics and good. What starts out as as early exercise in alternate continuity (like the Ultimate Universe) goes terribly wrong, but some smart writing brings it back from the brink.

Issues #1-7 of the "Heroes Reborn" Avengers collected here were co-plotted by Rob Liefeld; the scripts for these issues were provided first by Jim Valentino, then by Jeph Loeb. Because of this, Avengers feels like an early Image title, with clich├ęd dialogue and a bland plot which serves as an excuse for a series of fight scenes.

What bogged me down in the first issue is Loki's truly horrible narration. A lot of people mock Thor and the other Asgardians for the Old English tone of their words, but Old English is actually a language with rules. Valentino doesn’t seem to realize this. Every other sentence has a “what be” or an “e’en” in it, and it becomes incredibly distracting. I have an English degree, and for a class, I had to be able to translate passages Beowulf into modern English for a test. To see such a blatant disregard for language is insulting, similar to a bad translation from Spanish.

Review: Batman: Gotham Will Be Judged trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, June 04, 2012

The first thing to recognize about Batman: Gotham Shall Be Judged is that it contains two issues of Batman, one each of Red Robin and Gotham Central Sirens, and five of David Hine's Azrael series. Batman may get top billing, but don't be fooled -- Gotham Shall Be Judged is really DC's third collection of the latest Azrael series (would've been the fourth until Killer of Saints was cancelled).

I picked this up because I'm a completist and it contains issues of Batman and Red Robin skipped over in other trades. Come to think of it, that's why I picked up Hine's Arkham Reborn, too. Like Arkham Reborn, I enjoyed this collection far more than I thought I would, though I recognize it won't be for everyone. What with the DC New 52 and most of the Bat-family ignoring the Azrael title before the relaunch anyway, it's hard to argue this trade as required reading.

On digital comics: Insufferable, Avengers vs. X-Men: Infinite, and more

Friday, June 01, 2012

Insufferable by Mark Waid and Peter Krause

My time collecting single-issue comics far outpaces my time reading collections-only. When I switched from issues to collections, it was for specific reasons: the price of a single issue no longer justified the time it took to read it; single issues no longer provided a complete reading experience, requiring multiple months to get a "full story"; and juvenile advertising increasingly junked up every other page of single issues. All of this pushed me squarely to the collected side of things.

There are things that I miss about reading single issues, however. Collections don't come out as frequently (though the DC Comics New 52 is challenging this) so I don't always have the ceremony of the weekly trip to the comics shop. I certainly serial fiction, and when comics were both full stories and had a weekly aspect -- i.e. the Superman "Triangle Titles" -- that was fun to "experience" week after week. And the internet, I believe, has only increased the value of serial fiction -- you can go to your comics shop, pick up an issue, and then chat about it with almost the entire world for a week before you go back and do it again, something that's tougher with collections.