Review: Batwoman Vol. 3: World's Finest hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, December 29, 2014

Of all the titles that DC Comics is about to cancel around Convergence, I think the cancellation of Batwoman gave me the most pause. No offense to current Batwoman writer Marc Andreyko -- whose Manhunter series I'd still put on anyone's DC Comics required reading list (hey DC, how about a New 52 revival of that?) -- but perhaps the only thing that mitigated my disappointment over Batwoman's cancellation is that JH Williams and Hayden Blackman are no longer the team on Batwoman, and I'm not sure if the book can be quite the same without them, and especially without Williams's art.

Case in point, while I enjoyed the second Batwoman volume's story well enough even despite the guest artists (and especially on my second read), Batwoman Vol. 3: World's Finest, with Williams's return to art duties, is really something exceptional. Surely Williams and Blackman's writing plays a great role, effortlessly and vividly bringing to life the voices of Batwoman, Wonder Woman, even bizarre mythological creatures, but Williams's art here is second-to-note, especially in the one- or two-page individual-character sequences. Arguably no other book has been so readily filled with spreads suitable for framing.
Collected Editions 2017 Comic Book Gift Guide

Review: Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 2 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

[Guest review by Wayne Brooks; Wayne's local comics shop is AfterTime Comics in Alexandria, Virginia.]

Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 2 collects Green Lantern #182, 183, 185-193. It follows three journeys: John Stewart settling in as Earth's Green Lantern, Hal Jordan’s coming to grips with choosing his love of Carol Ferris over being a Lantern, and the beginnings of something epic in the Green Lantern universe. I remember when I bought this series in 1984. DC hasn’t used John Stewart much since he debuted in Green Lantern #87 in 1972. This run (and, later, the animated Justice League cartoon) took the “abandoned” character of John Stewart and made him into a mainstay.

Review: Planetary Omnibus hardcover (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

As I’ve mentioned a few times in my solicitation round-ups, I’m not that big of a fan of huge, hardbound omnibus editions. However, I do agree that there are cases where an omnibus is the best way to collect a comic -- specifically, if it collects the entirety of an otherwise uncollected series, such as Kurt Busiek’s Untold Tales of Spider-Man or the upcoming omnibus of Walter Simonson’s Orion. The Planetary Omnibus released earlier this year also falls into this category despite having previous collections. Due to the very erratic release schedule, the trades are no longer in print, while the Absolute Editions are both rare and expensive. For less than the price of one Absolute Edition, this omnibus gives you the entirety of the series in the way it was meant to be read: all at once.

Review: Nightwing Vol. 5: Setting Son trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, December 22, 2014

In the chicken-and-the-egg that is Nightwing Vol. 5: Setting Son, it's hard to say if the book's cancellation was spurred by the tepidness of the material, or if the impending cancellation ruined writer Kyle Higgins's plans such to result in the lackluster stories. Either way, though Higgins continues to have a good handle on the Nightwing character and writes Dick Grayson's voice well, this volume indicates it was about time to bring Nightwing to a close, though neither does it make the new Grayson series seem particularly appetizing.

DC Trade Solicitations for April/May 2015 - Deathstroke by Wolfman, post-Crisis Superman vs. Darkseid, Batman: Earth One Vol. 2, Deluxe Dial H

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Quite a bit of news in DC's March 2015 comics solicitations (which came out simultaneous with their April/May 2015 hardcover and trade paperback collections solicitations), most notably the cancellation of thirteen different titles. Some of these hurt -- Swamp Thing and Batwoman, specifically -- though in each case I can see how the titles have outlived their usefulness or lessened in impact under new creative teams. I'm curious to see just how many of DC's replacement titles in a couple months are "franchise" titles, given that the Aquaman spin-off Aquaman and the Others went under, plus almost all the Green Lantern titles.

Notable how many new series like Klarion, Infinity Man, Secret Origins, and Arkham Manor are also going; DC's not releasing new title "waves" any more, but I'm curious what if any titles launched after the original New 52 launch still survive other than newer titles like Harley Quinn, Justice League United, and the like. By my count, not many, if at all, though I'm hopeful that the rumored diversity of writers and artists on the new line might help bolster things.

Anyway, let's look at the trades:

Deathstroke, the Terminator Vol. 1: Assassins TP

Three years ago DC Comics solicited a Deathstroke, the Terminator: Assassins trade, ahead of the New 52 relaunch, only to then cancel it before publication. Well, surely meant as a companion to the new New 52 (All-New New52 NOW?) Deathstroke series, I'm thrilled to see this back on the schedule.

Assassins collects issues #1-9 of the Marv Wolfman Deathstroke series, plus the lead-in, New Titans #70. Issues #1-5 were previously collected as Deathstroke, the Terminator: Full Cycle. That book is long out of print -- I've never seen a copy. Deathstroke was a good spy/espionage title, often dealing with international missions, just violent and mature enough to be "Deathstroke," but under Wolfman's pen the book lacks the mindless carnage that has seeped into Deathstroke's later appearances. Titans fans, Suicide Squad fans, Deathstroke fans, I implore you to pre-order this one so DC collects more of the series (and I'm still waiting on that Titans Hunt collection).

Deadshot: Bulletproof TP

Though I feel less passionately about this collection of the 2005 Deadshot miniseries by Christos Gage, though DC soliciting a Deathstroke and Deadshot trade in the same month amuses me -- Assassins Month! I don't mind Deadshot getting some trade love, though, and I know this miniseries introduces some elements that continued into Deadshot's pre-Flashpoint Secret Six appearances.

Batgirl Vol. 1: Burnside HC

It drives me absolutely Bat-bonkers that DC is re-numbering this trade as volume one in the series when it isn't being re-numbered in the title itself. I pity the retailer with a customer who wants to start at the beginning -- "You mean the beginning-beginning or the most recent beginning?" I can understand it somewhat with Teen Titans and Suicide Squad (though I rather wish those books had continued their previous numbering ... as DC allowed Batgirl to do), but this ... Bat-bonkers, people.

The trade includes both the much-lauded issue #35 and at the same time the controversial issue #37.

Batman – Detective Comics Vol. 6: Icarus HC

I've been enjoying lately John Layman's run on Detective Comics, but Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are a powerhouse team and I'm curious to see their take on a DC hero other than Flash (Francis Manapul variant cover month, anyone?). The trade includes issues #30-34 plus the Annual #3.

Batman Earth One Vol. 2 HC

Jeff Lemire recently knocked Teen Titans: Earth One out of the park, so my excitement about Earth One is high right now, especially with Superman: Earth One Vol. 3 coming up soon. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank did a fine job with Batman: Earth One Vol. 1, and the Vol. 2 solicitations mention Killer Croc, whom I don't remember from the first volume, so I'm curious to see where this goes.

Batman/Superman Vol. 3: Second Chance HC

I've enjoyed Greg Pak's work on this title, but there's a whole lot of artists listed for it, some of whom I don't favor and none of whom are original series artist Jae Lee, so I'm a little concerned about this one. It does include the Futures End tie in issue.

Dial H Deluxe Edition HC

Much gnashing of the teeth can be done about the fact that this deluxe edition of the New 52 Dial H series doesn't include the Villains' Month "Dial E for Evil" one-shot. I can say, having read the whole series including the one-shot, you're not missing all that much without "Dial E" and in fact, the book might even read better. Some stories in this one are better than others, but it contains one of the best single issues I've ever read.

I believe many of us would like to see deluxe editions of the New 52 titles like this, though I imagine this one earns the format largely because of writer China Mieville.

Gotham City Sirens Book Two TP

A pleasant surprise that DC has finished their re-collection of Gotham City Sirens in just two volumes. This one ends the series shortly before the New 52 relaunch, and includes the "Judgment on Gotham" crossover tie-in issue that also involved the Azrael series of that time.

Green Arrow Vol. 6: Broken TP

I am sorry to see Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino leaving the Green Arrow title (I sincerely hope DC keeps Sorrentino). Despite some confusing solicitations, this is their last volume, not the first volume of the new Arrow-centric team. This trade's a bit on the short side, as some previous Green Arrow collections have been around team-changes, with just three regular issues plus the Futures End tie in and a story from the (newly canceled) Secret Origins.

Green Lantern Vol. 6: The Life Equation HC

Curiously, this is a bunch of parts of the "Green Lantern: Godhead" crossover, but supposedly without the New Gods: Godhead issue that kicked it off. DC does have a pattern lately of collecting individual series's parts of crossovers in their own books, but usually with the revelant lead-ins; I'd be surprised if New Gods: Godhead wasn't in here, and I can't quite figure where else it might be collected instead.

Justice League 3000 Vol. 2: The Camelot War TP

I'm still not sure what to make of Justice League 3000; if the title's world turns out to be one of the Convergence bottle earths, that'll make more sense. This is the one with Booster Gold, Blue Beetle, Fire, and Ice, but which continuity's version of those characters makes all the difference.

Justice Society of America: A Celebration of 75 Years HC

Remains to be seen what's in here, though the fact that the Justice Society is also turning 75 made me realize that all these Batman, Superman, Robin, Flash, etc. anniversaries are all of their Golden Age iterations, even though largely what we're celebrating are their Silver Age incarnations. The Justice Society book is therefore a little different in that it's actually celebrating the team's inception, more or less, as opposed to what came after.

Superman vs. Darkseid TP

I adore this collection probably for about the same reason a lot of people aren't going to like it. It appears, first of all, to be an almost entirely post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, pre-Flashpoint trade (aside from the Villains' Month story). The real meat of the trade is a three-part Legends tie-in, wonderful as it is to fans of that era but perhaps dated to everyone else.

Then we have the Superman vs. Darkseid: Apokolips Now from late in the Jeph Loeb/Mark Schultz/Doug Mahnke Superman era (the actual book has art by Mike McKone), which is equally weird and of its time, and includes the time-lost Silver Age Kara Zor-El side-by-side with Linda Danvers in a tie to the end of Peter David's Supergirl. And then we have just two issues from the six-part Superman/Batman: Supergirl, and then two issues from Countdown to Final Crisis (fer gosh sakes) and just one issue from Death of the New Gods, both panned in their own rights.

So I think we can conclude from all that that this collection won't be great necessarily (and the absence of original Jack Kirby material is somewhat startling), but at the same time it has a certain charm for those of us who sat through these stories the first time.

One last time for 2014, you know what I'm thinking of buying ... what's on your wishlist for this month?

Review: Cable and X-Force Vol. 1: Wanted trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

It’s apparent that for the Marvel NOW! initiative, the X-editors couldn’t figure out what format to use for X-Force. On the one hand, Rick Remender’s weirder and more continuity-laden Uncanny X-Force had been a hit. On the other hand, readers were clamoring for the return of classic X-Force characters, especially since Cannonball and Sunspot had been upgraded to Avengers. As a result, they made an interesting decision: “Let’s try both and see what happens." Unlike the multiple Avengers titles, there’s not a wide enough readership for multiple X-Force books, so there was a sense that only one format would survive. Dennis Hopeless and Salvador Larroca’s series won, at least in the sense that the books merged into a team led by Cable after a crossover. The first volume is Cable and X-Force Vol. 1: Wanted.

Review: COWL Vol. 1: Principles of Power trade paperback (Image Comics)

Monday, December 15, 2014

Part Ex Machina (which was itself part West Wing), part Watchmen, Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel's COWL Vol. 1: Principles of Power is another great addition to Image Comics's pantheon of self-contained, imaginative series. The first volume is largely introductory, with a maybe too-split focus between introducing the characters and establishing what the rest of the series will be about, but there's a lovely amount of superhero politics involved that places COWL firmly next to Ex Machina and Greg Rucka's Checkmate, for instance.

Review: Deadpool Vol. 5: The Wedding of Deadpool trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

This is a weird trade -- not because of what’s in Deadpool Vol. 5: The Wedding of Deadpool, but rather in how it’s assembled. It collects issues the first Annual along with issues #26-28 ... but the Annual is also included in a later trade, this particular book starts with #27 and ends with #26, and the Annual came out before any of the issues published here. Since they’re in the book out of order, I’ll talk about them out of order.

The Annual was the first work for Marvel by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker of Thrilling Adventure Hour fame, and it simultaneously brings back a character while explaining away a format change. The previous volume of Deadpool by Daniel Way featured a second set of captions to go along with the traditional yellow boxes. The white boxes weren’t as funny, took up too much room on the page and often interrupted the story’s flow. Acker and Blacker reveal that this is because during an adventure, Deadpool and fellow immortal vigilante Madcap died and fused together; the white boxes were Madcap’s thoughts. This actually makes re-reading Way’s Deadpool a lot more worthwhile; it’s also reminiscent of Deadpool bodily merging with Cable in the Cable and Deadpool book.

Review: Batman Eternal Vol. 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, December 08, 2014

As I've said before, sometimes if something isn't good, it's a consolation at least that there's a lot of it. Such is the case with Batman Eternal Vol. 1, which is about a 500-page trade, such that if you take it along on a plane trip you'll have plenty to occupy you until you touch down. And I appreciate that whereas sometimes DC has collected their weekly series into four or more volumes, the first year of Eternal will be done in two volumes that, again, offer a hefty amount of reading.

This doesn't make up for the fact that Eternal bows significantly under its own weight. Trimmed down to a monthly series, Eternal might make for a peppy Bat-epic, but as a weekly title, Eternal is bloated and repetitious. The book would seem to have a number of lofty goals, including serving as something of a backdoor pilot for DC's newly revised line of Bat-titles and adhering the New 52 Batman mythos closer to the Gotham TV show. But this volume of Eternal turns out to be a lot of prelude for the supposed "real" story in the next volume, and I think it'll leave readers wondering if all this build-up was worth it.

DC Comics Convergence: Guide to What to Read Before: Week Four

Friday, December 05, 2014

It's Week Four, the final week of our Convergence coverage, where we look at what DC Comics trade paperbacks and collections lead in to the Convergence miniseries that DC announced this week.

I was pretty on the mark with my guesses last week that this week would spotlight DC's Silver Age Justice League "Crisis"/Multiverse stories that pre-dated Crisis on Infinite Earths this week. We've got representation from Earth 2, Earth 3, Earth 4, Earth S, and Earth X, though I was wrong about the inclusion of the Batman of Earth 5. I am glad to see spotlights not just on the Justice Society, but also Infinity Inc., and also Infinity Inc. stars Huntress and Power Girl in their own Convergence miniseries.

Here's the run-down:

• Justice Society of America (Dan Abnett)
• Crime Syndicate (Brian Buccellato)

What to read:
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 1
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 6

Probably the latest-most appearances of the Multiple Earths-era Justice Society is Infinity Inc. Vol. 1: The Generations Saga, which collects that series's issues just prior to Crisis on Infinite Earths. The classic Justice League/Justice Society team-ups, however, including the introduction of the multiple Earths and "Earth 2" concept," can be found in the Crisis on Mulitple Earths series of books. Because each volume deals with different Earths, these will be sprinkled throughout this list, but the first volume is a good starting place both for the Silver Age introduction of the Justice Society. The very earliest individual-character team-ups, like the first meeting between Earth 1's Flash Barry Allen and Earth 2's Flash Jay Garrick, can be found in the Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups volumes.

The Earth 3 Crime Syndicate (who've re-appeared in a number of continuities, including Grant Morrison's troublingly-named JLA: Earth 2 and the recent Forever Evil) also first appeared in a story collected in Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 1. They battle the Justice League and Justice Society in Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 6 as well.

• Infinity Inc. (Jerry Ordway)

What to read:
Infinity Inc.: The Generations Saga
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5

It's a thrill to see Jerry Ordway, noted artist of the classic Infinity Inc. series, involved with this book, though I dare say I wouldn't have minded seeing him pencil it as well. Irrespective, one can catch up with Infinity Inc. with the sole collection of this series. DC solicited a second collection but later canceled it before publication; I can only hope that maybe if people buy the heck out of Convergence: Infinity Inc., maybe we'll see that book solicited again.

Infinity Inc. apparently fights Jonah Hex in this one; Hex meets the Justice League and Justice Society in Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5.

• Detective Comics (Len Wein)

What to read:
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Huntress: Darknight Daughter

It's similarly interesting to see long-time Batman and Detective Comics scribe Len Wein writing Convergence: Detective Comics. Given the presence of Huntress Helena Wayne in this one, though, it's surprising the book didn't go to Huntress-creator Paul Levitz, who's instead writing the Convergence: World's Finest Seven Soldier's story. Regardless, the second volume of Crisis on Multiple Earths includes the first appearance of the grown-up Earth 2 Robin Dick Grayson, and Huntress: Darknight Daughter collects Levitz's Silver Age Huntress back-up stories.

• Action Comics (Justin Gray)

What to read:
Power Girl

In the way that all of this week's books deal with some of the same time period, there's some overlap; case in point, both Huntress and Power Girl can be found in the Infinity Inc. trade. The Earth 2 Power Girl's Silver Age origin from Showcase Comics is reprinted in the Power Girl trade that came out just before the series by Jimmy Palmiotti and Convergence: Action Comics-writer Justin Gray.

• World's Finest Comics (Paul Levitz)

What to read:
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 3

The classic Seven Solders of Victory cross over with the Justice League and Justice Society in a story collected in Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 3. Correct me if I'm wrong but I don't believe the Seven Soldiers exist on a different Earth in this one, just that they're time-lost.

• Blue Beetle (Scott Lobdell)

What to read:
Crisis on Infinite Earths

Though this is called Convergence: Blue Beetle, it actually seems to represent DC's Charlton characters -- Question and Captain Atom, at least. The Charlton characters joined DC very late, such that the main pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths appearance of the Earth 4 iteration of these characters is actually Crisis on Infinite Earths; after Crisis, they were retconned as being originally from the main DC Earth.

• Shazam (Jeff Parker)

What to read:
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 4

At first I thought it was Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil and Bone's Jeff Smith writing this one, but it's Jeff Parker -- maybe not as headline-making, but the Aquaman scribe is OK, too. The Silver Age Justice League and Justice Society first encounter Fawcett's Marvel characters, now of Earth S, in Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 4.

• Plastic Man and the Freedom Fighters (Simon Oliver)

What to read:
Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 3
Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron Vol. 1

The Freedom Fighters from Earth X meet the Justice League and Justice Society also in Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 3. The Silver Age Plastic Man appears alongside other heroes of this era in Showcase Presents: All-Star Squadron.

• Booster Gold (Dan Jurgens)

What to read:
Justice League International Vol. 1: The Signal Masters
Justice League International Vol. 2: Breakdown
All Star Western: Gold Standard

Though this is listed as a "Multiple Earths" book, my guess is the Booster Gold here is the New 52 Booster Gold, so required reading would be Dan Jurgens's two volumes of Justice League International, which finished with Booster involved in a time-crisis. True completists might want Booster's appearance in All-Star Western, but the Dan Jurgens-penned books ought be good enough. Now, if this turns out to be some pre-/post-Flashpoint Booster Gold hybrid, the Geoff Johns Booster Gold series might then come in to play.

So that does it for DC Comics's Convergence announcements. I'm more excited about some of the upcoming weeks than others, but all in all I think DC's done a pretty good job of covering their various eras here; at least one I might have liked to see was an immediately post-Crisis on Infinite Earths week, using the Byrne-era Superman, Perez-era Wonder Woman, Miller-era Batman, etc. Any eras or titles that you think DC missed with Convergence?

Check out my previous weeks' Convergence Reading Guide features. Thanks!

Week One
Week Two
Week Three

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: The Wrath hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Thursday, December 04, 2014

John Layman and Jason Fabok continue their impressive run with Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: The Wrath. Layman again tells interesting stories about Batman versus his various rogues, both established, esoteric, and ones Layman has created fresh for this volume. The storytelling twists and winds at times, though for the most part not unpleasantly, and again Layman's deep-character backups stories form the jewels that help this crown sparkle. Detective Comics is really engaging here, something it isn't always, and Layman and Fabok are to be commended for it.

Review: Deadpool Vol. 4: Deadpool vs. SHIELD trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn’s Deadpool Vol. 4: Deadpool vs. SHIELD carries a bit of a misleading title. Admittedly, Deadpool vs. ULTIMATUM and One Crooked Agent of SHIELD would be a less interesting title despite its accuracy. Much of the reasoning behind the trade’s title is synergy with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The issues collected here came out shortly before the release of Captain America: The Winter Soldier and concurrently with the Agents of SHIELD television show’s build-up to the film. As a result, John Garrett (Bill Paxton’s character in Agents) gets name-checked, Batroc the Leaper and Crossbones appear, and Phil Coulson plays a major role along with his flying car Lola.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Emperor Penguin hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, December 01, 2014

Detective Comics has been of late one of the also-rans of the Batman family line, paling in comparison to the big doings in Scott Snyder's Batman and Peter Tomasi's Batman and Robin. It's therefore well worth mentioning that Chew writer John Layman's arrival with Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Emperor Penguin heralds a group of relevant, surprising Batman stories that evoke a tone of Batman: The Animated Series or Paul Dini's previous run on Detective. No offense to Brian Buccelato and Francis Manapul to come on this title, but based on Emperor Penguin I'd have been glad to see Layman writing Detective for the long haul.

Review: Transformers: Dark Cybertron Vol. 1 trade paperback (IDW Publishing)

Thursday, November 27, 2014

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

The Transformers: Dark Cybertron crossover is not an event that could have happened before, or even soon after, the launch of the two ongoing titles. Each book was able to feed on years of previously set-up clues to slowly inch More Than Meets the Eye and Robots In Disguise towards James Roberts and John Barber’s desired point. This is especially clear in hindsight when it comes to Robots In Disguise, which treaded water after its Volume 4 trade while Roberts delivered the fantastic “Remain In Light” arc in More. That’s not to say that Robots didn’t matter in the meantime; Barber gave us insights into the minds of Starscream, Soundwave, and Shockwave while the main Autobot and Decepticon forces were exiled to the wildernesses of Cybertron. “Syndromica” also finally concluded and hinted at Shockwave’s overall plan.

DC Comics Convergence: Guide to What to Read Before: Week Three

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Welcome to the Week Three of our Convergence coverage, looking at what DC Comics trade paperbacks and collections lead in to the various Convergence miniseries that DC has announced this week.

Last week I theorized that DC would offer pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths stories this week, and that turns out to be the case, though some, especially the Convergence: Wonder Woman miniseries, are much more pre-Crisis (some years earlier) than others. Looking at DC's original Convergence promo image, just about every character group on that image has been used as a hero or villain except Superman: Red Son, an OMACed Justice League (Futures' End?), Justice Riders, Silver Age-ish Justice Society/Infinity, Inc., Crime Syndicate of Earth 2, Charlton characters, Fawcett characters (Captain Marvel family), Quality characters (Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters, Plastic Man), and the DC One Million characters.

This suggests to me that next week might spotlight the multiple Earths of DC's Silver Age Justice League "Crisis" stories that pre-dated Crisis on Infinite Earths. That'd be Earth-2 (Justice Society), Earth-3 (Crime Syndicate), Earth-4 (Charlton), Earth-S (Fawcett), and Earth-X (Quality) (the lone Batman in the Convergence image could be the Batman of Earth-5, introduced in Detective Comics #500).

For this week, however, back to the Crisis on Infinite Earths-era titles:

• Batman and the Outsiders (Marc Andreyko)

What to read:
Showcase Presents: Batman and the Outsiders

Both Batman and the Outsiders and Outsiders on their own have a significant post-Crisis on Infinite Earths collections library (roundabouts Infinite Crisis). For pre-Crisis adventures, a reader's only option is the black-and-white Showcase Presents volume, which collects the first 19 issues of the Mike Barr/Jim Aparo series.

• Adventures of Superman (Marv Wolfman)

Marv Wolfman's Convergence: Adventures of Superman visits Superman and Supergirl prior to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, so the final Crisis-era Superman story, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, doesn't really count here since it takes place after Crisis. Nothing really to read to get current here short of maybe Wolfman's own Crisis itself.

• Wonder Woman (Larry Hama)

What to read:
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 1
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 2
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 3
Diana Prince: Wonder Woman Vol. 4
Tales of the Multiverse: Batman – Vampire

The pre-Crisis "mod" era Wonder Woman Diana Prince, created by Mike Sekowsky, battles creatures from Doug Moench and Kelley Jones's Elseworlds Batman vampire tale. DC has helpfully collected all the Diana Prince stories in four volumes, and collected the three "Red Rain" stories in one volume, though to call this the pre-Crisis-era Wonder Woman is something of a misnomer. Yes, Wonder Woman's Diana Prince stories predated Crisis, but Wonder Woman had well since returned to her original costume as of Wonder Woman: The Twelve Labors long before Crisis.

• Flash (Dan Abnett)
• Justice League of America (Fabian Nicieza)

What to read:
Tangent Comics Vol. 1
Tangent Comics Vol. 2
Tangent Comics Vol. 3
Tangent: Superman's Reign Vol. 1
Tangent: Superman's Reign Vol. 2

Tangent was a DC Comics "Fifth Week" event in the late 1990s that gained some traction later on when the characters were made an "official" alternate DC Earth around Infinite Crisis and Final Crisis. The stories themselves, especially the early ones, are enjoyable, positing certain DC heroes created from scratch in an environment of Cold War paranoia; the individual tales are also related in subtle fashions that might remind one of Jack Kirby's Fourth World or Grant Morrison's Seven Soliders of Victory. The solicitation of Convergence: Flash doesn't offer much in the way of continuity notes for Barry Allen, but these books will fill in all a reader needs to know about the Tangent characters.

Similarly there aren't any collections of the "Detroit era" of the Justice League, including Elongated Man, Aquaman, Batman, Steel, Vibe, Vixen, Gypsy, Martian Manhunter, and Zatanna, but here again, the Tangent books will catch you up on their Convergence foes.

• Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes (Stuart Moore)

Here, too, the solicitation doesn't offer much to signify the exact era for Superboy or the Legion of Super-Heroes. In general Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga is one of the more well-known pre-Crisis Legion stories, written by Paul Levitz.

• Green Lantern Corps (David Gallaher)

What to read:
Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 1
Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 2
Green Lantern: Sector 2814 Vol. 3

The stories by Steve Englehart and Joe Staton recently collected in the Green Lantern: Sector 2814 series saw Hal Jordan retiring and John Stewart and Guy Gardner vying for the role of Earth's Green Lanterns, the general premise of Convergence: Green Lantern Corps (the Green Lantern title would become Corps after Crisis). The third volume includes stories that specifically tie in to Crisis on Infinite Earths.

• Swamp Thing (Len Wein)

What to read:
Roots of the Swamp Thing
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 1
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 2
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 3
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 4
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 5
Saga of the Swamp Thing Vol. 6

I'm pretty excited about Convergence: New Teen Titans later in this week's releases, but the double-threat of Convergence: Swamp Thing written by Swamp Thing creator Len Wein and with Kelley Jones's always-spooky art takes the top spot. Wein's first Swamp Thing stories appear in the Roots of the Swamp Thing collection, though if the theme of the day is post-Crisis, the real refresher will be Alan Moore's Saga of the Swamp Thing volumes. Saga Vol. 4 is where Swamp Thing intersects with Crisis.

• Hawkman (Jeff Parker)

What to read:
Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth Omnibus Vol. 1
Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth Omnibus Vol. 2

There also aren't any collections of the "Shadow War" era of Hawkman (specifically the 1985 miniseries by Tony Isabella and Richard Howell, Shadow War of Hawkman). That Hawkworld writer/artist Tim Truman provides the art here is welcome, though something of an anachronism since Hawkworld was specifically post-Crisis and contradicted some pre-Crisis Hawkman lore. Hawkman and Hawkgirl meet Kamandi and his anthropomorphic friends in this one, an inspired team-up that should have happened already.

• New Teen Titans (Marv Wolfman)

What to read:
New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1
New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2
New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3
New Teen Titans: Games

Between Titans, Speed Force, and New Teen Titans, DC's definitely giving fans what they want in this event (I wonder if Convergence could become a yearly event, or a regular series in which a writer has free reign to use any DC character currently in limbo). The appearance of both Jericho and Kole puts Convergence: New Teen Titans firmly in the era of the second New Teen Titans series; issues #1-6 of that series are collected in the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3, though Kole wouldn't join the title until issue #9. Wolfman last wrote the Titans in the long-awaited graphic novel New Teen Titans: Games.

Check out my previous weeks' Convergence Reading Guide features, and come back next week as we finish out DC's Convergence announcements.

Week One
Week Two
Week Four

DC Trade Solicitations for March/April 2015 - Batman Snyder "lost issues," DC Essentials, Azzarello's Wonder Woman ends

Monday, November 24, 2014

As we saw last time, DC's begun naming their hardcover and trade paperback collections solicitations by the actual month they'll come out, not by the month for which they're also soliciting the regular comics, so these are the solicitations, truly, for March/April 2015. Last month's were February/March, so it'll be interesting to see if next month is April/May or if the months will start to consolidate to just May, etc.

There's not really a whole lot here, just collected releases of regular series and the paperback editions of some hardcovers, but there are a couple books I'm interested in, including that Batman Vol. 6 "lost issues" trade and the end of Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman run. Let's take a look.

Batman Vol. 6: The Graveyard Shift HC

For me, one of the most hotly anticipated trade releases this month is Batman Vol. 6, now titled "The Graveyard Shift." If you've been with us long enough to remember when non-event-connected comics were sparsely (if ever) collected, then you'll understand what a pleasure it is to have this collection of Scott Snyder's issues printed roundabouts Death of the Family and Zero Year. Only a pity that this book, which leads in to Batman Eternal, couldn't come out before the first collection of that title and not after.

• DC Entertainment Graphic Novel Essentials and Chronology 2015

I covered the contents of the 2013 and 2014 DC Graphic Novel Essentials and Chronologies previously; these books will never be as comprehensive, understandably, as we we trade-obsessed may like, but I appreciate very much that DC publishes them and that they've continued to publish them now for going on three years. I don't necessarily recall a solicitation of the book before, but I think this again speaks to DC's growing commitment to this guide.

Earth 2 Vol. 5: The Kryptonian HC

I was not so thrilled with Tom Taylor's first volume of Earth 2, but all this Futures' End/World's End/Multiversity/Convergence stuff does have my attention, and Earth 2 Vol. 5: The Kryptonian marks the last volume of Earth 2 before World's End. Also included is the Futures' End tie-in issue.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two Vol. 2 HC

Speaking of Tom Taylor, I really am pretty excited about the next chapter of his Injustice saga. The first part of Year Two ran a lot slower than all of Year One, offering more time for character beats and less senseless slaughter or bickering between Superman and Batman. As such, I felt Injustice really opened up in Year Two Vol. 1, and I'm eager to see what Taylor does next in this no-holds-barred environment.

Robin, the Boy Wonder: A Celebration of 75 Years HC

I'm not much the target audience for these 75th anniversary collections, having usually read or owning in other collections anything that would be of interest to me here. But I am glad to see that alongside Bill Finger and Don Cameron, the other creator specifically named is Chuck Dixon. In my opinion DIxon is the driving force behind what we understand to be the Robin character today; surely any Tim Drake story you read owes a debt to Dixon, but likely any Dick Grayson story, too. DC hasn't been much for Chuck Dixon collections these days, but I'm glad that's set aside for the Robin book.

Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Bones HC

I have enjoyed Brian Azzarello's take on Wonder Woman, but I've also seen it become a bit repetitive, and I'm glad for this conclusion that will allow the writer wrap it up and move the story into legend. Looking forward to this one.

Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Power Outage HC

Satire comics aren't necessarily to my taste, but I have to admit that between Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International: San Diego and the Futures' End tie-in issue, the second Harley Quinn collection is a bit of a draw. I'm also glad to see that Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti seem to make character Sy Borgman a part of Harley's regular supporting cast with this volume, which kind of helps mitigate Harley and Sy's truly ridiculous first adventure.

All-Star Western Vol. 6: End of the Trail TP

All-Star Western is a title I've really never been able to get fully in to (I know, I know), and at least with this cancellation I don't have to keep feeling bad about not reading it. I still mean to check out Jonah Hex and Booster Gold's adventures, though that'll probably only come when I'm ready to settle down with the whole series.

That's the end of my rather short list ... what are you thinking of buying this month?

Review: Teen Titans: Earth One Vol. 1 graphic novel (DC Comics)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

I have been a fan of DC Comics's Earth One books from the beginning. I like the format (a trade-waiters dream, no waiting!) and I have liked the edgier, riskier takes on DC's Big Two characters that J. Michael Straczynski and Geoff Johns have submitted so far. But I'm not sure I've liked an Earth One quite as much as Jeff Lemire and Terry Dodson's Teen Titans: Earth One.

It is not just that Lemire's Teen Titans feels like the first Earth One without something to prove -- telling a good story, not necessarily making a writer's mark on a character -- though this certainly helps. It is also how recognizable and at the same time new that Lemire's Titans characters are, such to make one wistful, for a moment, that this wasn't what DC used as the New 52 iteration of the Titans. And the sheer breadth of Titans references that Lemire brings to the book -- especially Marv Wolfman/George Perez Titans-era references -- will charm any Titans fan, even as the book remains accessible enough for the uninitiated or fans only of the cartoons and not the classic comics series.

Review: Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

Carol Danvers has been in the press a lot in the last few weeks and that will likely continue for the next four years until the Captain Marvel movie is finally released. The movie is the payoff for years of fan support, allaying any fears that Carol would return to being Ms. Marvel or that the title would be cancelled any time soon.

The All-New Marvel NOW! initiative relaunched the Captain Marvel title with the same writer and used a change in setting as an excuse for the new #1 (collecting these new first issues in Captain Marvel Volume 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More), in the same way that Daredevil was relaunched after a move to San Francisco. I won’t give Marvel too much criticism for this relaunch since there really is a shift in the title’s paradigm; specifically, Carol has become an interstellar adventurer.

DC Comics Convergence: Guide to What to Read Before: Week Two

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Week Two of our special Convergence feature, where we look at what DC Comics trade paperbacks and collections lead in to the various Convergence miniseries that DC has announced this week.

Last week focused on titles that ended immediately preceding Flashpoint (and saw those characters battling the Flashpoint characters); this week offers Zero Hour-era characters fighting Kingdom Come characters (with Kingdom Come having come out just a couple years after Zero Hour). (It's 40 miniseries, if I'm not mistaken, of which we already know 20 titles. Seems to me we should expect Crisis on Infinite Earths-era titles next, and then maybe Silver Age? Elseworlds?)

Something interesting I'm coming to find in writing up these lists is that it illuminates how well or spottily each era of DC Comics has been collected. Pre-Flashpoint, we see most series have extensive collections; pre-Zero Hour, titles like Green Arrow, Aquaman, Steel, and Superboy all lack significant collections. If DC were to turn next to just-post-Crisis on Infinite Earth titles (like Legends-era John Byrne Superman, Year One Batman, George Perez Wonder Woman, all of which would be really cool), we'll see a lot of collections for the offering; if the era is just-pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, those collection numbers drop considerably.

We'll start off with a little background:

Kingdom Come
Kingdom

Everything you need to know about Kingdom Come you can find within Mark Waid and Alex Ross's imaginative generational tale of the DC Universe's future. I maintain there's some nice character beats in DC's Ross-less sequel ("Kathy?"), though it's not universally well-regarded and my guess is that Convergence will stick with Kingdom Come proper. And now on to this week's titles ...

• Batman: Shadow of the Bat (Larry Hama)

What to read:
Batman: Sword of Azrael
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 2
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 3

Shadow of the Bat was a 1990s in-continuity Batman series, but built from smaller multi-part arcs that were often darker or more psychological than the regular Bat-fare. (The series was to some extent replaced after No Man's Land by Gotham Knight, which served something of the same function with an emphasis on the Bat-family.) Convergence: Shadow of the Bat seems to take place firmly in the Knightfall era of Shadow, roughly issues #16-30, though the first issues of the series are collected in the unrelated Batman: The Last Arkham collection.

For interactions specifically between Batmans Bruce Wayne and Jean-Paul Valley as covered in Convergence: Shadow of the Bat, one will want to consult the Knightfall books or Batman: Sword of Azrael that introduced Jean-Paul Valley.

• Suicide Squad (Frank Tieri)

What to read:
Suicide Squad: Trial by Fire

This iteration of the Suicide Squad ended a couple years before the Zero Hour era of this week's Convergence books, and what it's related to will probably be largely based on what villains are involved when this book comes out. However, there is one collection of the classic 1980s-1990s Suicide Squad series by John Ostrander that would pre-date Convergence: Suicide Squad; Ostrander also penned a Suicide Squad miniseries many years later, Suicide Squad: From the Ashes.

• Green Arrow (Christy Marx)

What to read:
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time
Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or For Worse

Little of the Zero Hour-era Green Arrow material is collected; DC has recently begun collecting the early issues of this series by Mike Grell, but not those by Chuck Dixon and especially not the stories of Green Arrow Oliver Queen's son Connor Hawke. Queen plays a pivotal-enough role in Zero Hour itself that I've included it; the closest other collected issue of this time is Green Arrow #101 in the multi-era Green Arrow/Black Canary: For Better or For Worse collection, which took place about ten issues after Zero Hour but did involve Hawke.

• Catwoman (Justin Gray)

What to read:
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 2
Batman: Knightfall Vol. 3
Catwoman: The Catfile

The Jim Balent era of Catwoman (written by a number of writers but drawn by Balent) is also largely uncollected. For specifically pre-Zero Hour material, one would have to look again to the Catwoman issues within the Knightfall books, specifically the second and third volumes. The stories in Catwoman: The Catfile took place right after Zero Hour (Catwoman's involvement in Zero Hour was tertiary at best).

Post-Zero Hour, issues of this specific Catwoman series can be found in the Batman crossover books, Contagion, Legacy, Cataclysm, and No Man's Land.

• Superboy (Fabian Nicieza)
• Superman: Man of Steel (Louise Simonson)

What to read:
Superman: Death and Return of Superman Omnibus

Neither the Superboy or Steel series that emerged post-Zero Hour have been collected, so for both of these characters a reader's only resource is their appearances in the "Return of Superman" storyline. Note the Convergence: Superboy solicitation contains an anachronism in that Superboy wouldn't be called "Kon-El" until many years later.

• Justice League International (Ron Marz)

What to read:
Justice League International Vol. 1
Justice League International Vol. 2
Justice League International Vol. 3
Justice League International Vol. 4
Justice League International Vol. 5
Justice League International Vol. 6

The Keith Giffen/JM Dematteis/Kevin Maguire "bwa-ha-ha" era of Justice League ended well before Zero Hour, so this, too, seems like something of an anachronism; as well, Red Tornado was not appearing regularly during that time and wouldn't be until the Primal Force series after Zero Hour. But, those wanting to catch up with the pre-Zero Hour adventures of this Justice League can do so (and have a good time, to boot) in DC's Justice League International collections from a couple years back (sadly never completed).

• Supergirl: Matrix (Keith Giffen)

What to read:
Superman: Panic in the Sky
Superman: They Saved Luthor's Brain

DC hasn't yet collected the original John Byrne Superman issues that introduced the "Matrix" iteration of Supergirl (almost, but not quite), but she does figure prominently into the classic Superman trades Panic in the Sky and They Saved Luthor's Brain prior to Zero Hour. Some time after Zero Hour, this Supergirl (modified again) had her own series by Peter David, of which the first issues are collected in Supergirl and the very last issues are collected in Supergirl: Many Happy Returns.

• Aquaman (Tony Bedard)

What to read:
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time

In keeping with the theme, there are no collections of the Peter David-written Aquaman series. Another anachronism, Aquaman is shown in the solicitation image with his hook hand, but he actually didn't get it until after Zero Hour. A reader's best bet is just the Zero Hour collection, which includes minor appearances by a hand-less Aquaman.

• Green Lantern/Parallax (Tony Bedard)

What to read:
Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight/New Dawn
Zero Hour: Crisis in Time

What with Ron Marz's involvement elsewhere in Convergence, it seems rather a shame DC doesn't have him writing Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax, which takes place right smack in the middle of Marz's Green Lantern run. Irrespective, Green Lantern: Emerald Twilight: New Dawn chronicles the fall of Green Lantern Hal Jordan and the rise of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, leading right in to Zero Hour, where both Hal and Kyle factor prominently (here, too, exactly how the Convergence events fit in with Zero Hour and Hal and Kyle's first meeting should be interesting). Another major Hal/Kyle storyline, well after Zero Hour, is Final Night.

Check out my previous weeks' Convergence Reading Guide features, and check back here next week for my run-down of the books to come.

Week One
Week Three
Week Four

Review: Batman/Superman Vol. 2: Game Over hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 17, 2014

In Batman/Superman Vol 2: Game Over, Greg Pak once again writes another volume that evokes well the spirit of the now-classic Jeph Loeb team-up series. Even when the book is too flip in places, it's impossible not to see the influence of the Loeb series all over this, from storylines to villains to narration, and I have no problem with Pak giving us more of what we love. Artist Jae Lee shines brightly as always, and though Brett Booth is a jarring addition after Lee's first volume, it's hard to miss the similarities between Booth on this title and Ed McGuinness before, so precedent resounds.

DC Comics Convergence: Guide to What to Read Before: Week One

Friday, November 14, 2014

In the two-month break in which DC Comics moves their offices from New York to California, they've recently announced they'll publish Convergence, a nine-part miniseries with forty two-part companion miniseries, spanning April and May 2015.

This past Tuesday, DC released details on the first ten of these two-part miniseries, all of which will venture into different parts of DC's publishing history (or "multiverse," as it's often called in-story). The ten announced so far each deal with DC's continuity and characters immediately prior to the Flashpoint event that launched the New 52 reboot.

Each week, this series of posts will look at where we last left these characters, and what trade paperbacks or collections you can pick up to bring you up to speed on them. If, in essence, you wanted to read the character's last published appearance, collection-wise, before you read their Convergence miniseries, this is your guide how to do so.

• Superman (Dan Jurgens)

What to read:
Superman: Grounded Vol. 1
Superman: Grounded Vol. 2

Superman: The Black Ring Vol. 1
Superman: The Black Ring Vol. 2

Superman: Return of Doomsday
Superman: Reign of Doomsday

The Convergence: Superman miniseries, according to solicitations, involves the pre-Flashpoint married Superman and Lois Lane, now expecting their first child. Lois's pregnancy happened "off the page" after we left these characters, but there was some emphasis on Clark and Lois's relationship toward the end of Paul Cornell's Reign of Doomsday and to some extent in Grounded, too.

The absolute last place we saw the pre-Flashpoint Superman and Lois was in Reign of the Doomsday, but the two-volume Grounded, Black Ring, and Doomsday books make up the larger "last Superman" stories between Blackest Night and Flashpoint (depending on how much you want to read).

The DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline, by the way, lists the reading order for these books as Grounded Vol. 1, Black Ring Vol. 1, Grounded Vol. 2, Return of Doomsday, Black Ring Vol. 2, Reign of Doomsday.

Readers wanting even more can find some consideration of Clark and Lois having children in Geoff Johns's Superman: Last Son.

• Atom (Tom Peyer)

What to read:
All New Atom: My Life in Miniature
All New Atom: Future/Past
All New Atom: The Hunt for Ray Palmer
All New Atom: Small Wonder

Titans: Villains for Hire
Titans: Family Reunion

Writer Tom Peyer has some experience with the Atom Ray Palmer, penning two Atom specials in the 1990s, but unfortunately these aren't collected. Convergence: Atom deals with Palmer learning that his Atom successor Ryan Choi actually isn't dead, and they hunt down his supposed killer, Deathstroke. Readers who just want the bare bones of when Choi died should pick up Titans Vol. 4: Villains for Hire. The All-New Atom books, however, involve Choi and Palmer's first meetings, and Titans Vol. 5: Old Friends sees Palmer chasing Deathstroke to avenge Choi's death. The very final issues of Titans, however, weren't collected.

Note too that Arsenal Roy Harper, featured in Convergence: Titans, was also a character in this latest Titans title; Donna Troy and Starfire, also in Convergence: Titans, were involved in James Robinson's Justice League (see below).

• Batgirl (Alisa Kwitney)

What to read:
Red Robin: The Grail
Red Robin: Collision
Red Robin: Hit List
Red Robin: Seven Days of Death

Batman, Incorporated Vol. 1
Batman: Gates of Gotham

Batgirl: Batgirl Rising
Batgirl: The Flood
Batgirl: The Lesson

In the main Batgirl Stephanie Brown's final pre-Flashpoint appearance was in Batgirl Vol. 3: The Lesson, but if one hasn't read all of Bryan Miller's superlative series, you really should. Red Robin (former Robin) Tim Drake and Black Bat (former Batgirl) Cassandra Cain also both appear in Convergence: Batgirl, and their most recent appearances are above.

The DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline suggests this reading order for Red Robin and Batgirl, which intersect: Red Robin Vol. 1, Batgirl Vol. 1, Red Robin Vol. 2, Batgirl Vol. 2, Red Robin Vol. 3, Batgirl Vol. 3, Red Robin Vol. 4.

• Nightwing/Oracle (Gail Simone)

What to read:
Nightwing: The Great Leap
Batman: The Black Mirror

Birds of Prey: End Run
Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle

Collections of the Nightwing Dick Grayson as Gotham's Batman post-Final Crisis are a bit spotty, but the final-most, and probably best-known, is Scott Snyder's The Black Mirror. Nightwing: Great Leap is the actual end of the pre-Flashpoint Nightwing series, but far from the character's last appearance before Flashpoint.

Birds of Prey relaunched after Brightest Day, and Death of Oracle marks that character's latest pre-Flashpoint appearance.

Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle deals with the characters' wedding; Nightwing actually proposed to Oracle in Devin Grayson's Nightwing: Renegade prior to Infinite Crisis, but this was largely ignored as of Nightwing: Brothers in Blood (which involved the pre-Flashpoint "Red Hood" Jason Todd).

• Speed Force (Tony Bedard)

What to read:
Justice League of America: The Lightning Saga

Flash: The Wild Wests
Flash: Rebirth

Convergence: Speed Force involves second Flash Wally West and his super-powered children. Readers wanting to go way back can read Geoff Johns's Flash run, in which Wally's kids are born; in Infinite Crisis, Wally, wife Linda Parks, and the babies disappear into the Speed Force. In Johns and Brad Meltzer's Justice League: Lightning Saga, Wally and family return, with the children now aged to pre-teens.

The Speed Force miniseries looks most similar to Flash: The Wild Wests by Mark Waid; subsequent issues of this series were not collected, before the title relaunched after Brightest Day with Flash Barry Allen in the lead. Wally and his kids also appear in Johns's Flash: Rebirth.

• Titans (Fabian Nicieza)

What to read:
Justice League: Cry for Justice
Justice League: Rise and Fall

Titans: Villains for Hire
Titans: Family Reunion

Justice League of America: Team History
Justice League of America: Dark Things
Justice League: Omega
Justice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso

REBELS: Sons of Brainiac

Much as I hate to recommend James Robinson's ultra-dark Justice League: Cry for Justice and the books that went with it, Convergence: Titans deals with Arsenal Roy Harper trying to resurrect his late daughter Lian, and Lian died in Cry for Justice; Arsenal's story continued Justice League: Rise and Fall and then into the Titans series (the last issues of which were uncollected before Flashpoint).

Also appearing in Convergence: Titans is Donna Troy, who most recently appeared in Robinson's Justice League, and Starfire, who appeared in Justice League and REBELS (the last issues of REBELS are also uncollected).

• Justice League (Frank Tieri)

What to read:
Justice League of America: Team History
Justice League of America: Dark Things
Justice League: Omega
Justice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso

One could go as far back as Cry for Justice for this one, but you're probably OK with just the James Robinson/Mark Bagley Justice League trades, which involve Convergence: Justice League's Supergirl, Jade, and Jesse Quick. Quick announced her pregnancy in Rise of Eclipso.

• The Question (Greg Rucka)

What to read:
52 Omnibus

Question: The Five Books of Blood
Final Crisis: Revelations
Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns
Question: Pipeline

Greg Rucka has written the adventures of Renee Montoya for a couple of years, most notably in the Gotham Central series, but the character became the Question in the 52 weekly series co-written by Rucka. Though the Question guest-starred in a number of books like Birds of Prey, her major Rucka-written appearances are Five Books of Blood, the Revelations Final Crisis miniseries, an issue included in Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns, and the backup stories collected in Pipeline. Renee is thought to have died in the line of duty in the New 52.

• Batman and Robin (Ron Marz)

What to read:
Batman and Robin: Batman Reborn
Batman and Robin: Batman vs. Robin
Batman and Robin: Batman and Robin Must Die
Batman and Robin: Dark Knight, White Knight

Batman and Robin was a title that continued mostly unchanged from the pre-Flashpoint to New 52 universes, so my guess is that the continuity emphasis in Convergence: Batman and Robin is on foes the Red Hood and the Extremists. Red Hood Jason Todd was significantly different in the late pre-Flashpoint era, with Grant Morrison portraying him as a semi-crazed caped anti-villain. For that, readers need only pick up Batman Reborn; Judd Winick mitigates this portrayal a little bit toward Todd's more normative Red Hood persona in Dark Knight, White Knight.

The Extremists, traditionally characters from "another Earth" in the DC Universe, are analogues for Marvel characters, who've usually fought the Justice League. There was, as a matter of fact, a Countdown Presents: Lord Havok and the Extremists miniseries collected in a book by the same name, which tied in to the prelude to Final Crisis.

• Harley Quinn (Steve Pugh)

What to read:
Harley Quinn: Preludes and Knock-Knock Jokes
Harley Quinn: Night and Day
Harley Quinn: Welcome to Metropolis
Harley Quinn: Vengeance Unlimited

Gotham City Sirens: Union
Gotham City Sirens: Songs of the Sirens
Gotham City Sirens: Strange Fruit
Gotham City Sirens: Division

Gotham City Sirens Book One

The promotional art for the Convergence: Harley Quinn miniseries bears a lot of resemblance to the 2000s Harley Quinn series started by Karl Kesel and Terry Dodson. That series remained uncollected for a long time, but is just now being collected with Harley's resurgent popularity.

Catwoman and Poison Ivy's presence in the story, however, suggests a greater tie to Paul Dini and company's Gotham City Sirens series, which ended just before Flashpoint; this series was collected and is currently scheduled to be re-collected in new volumes spanning multiple original trades.

That's what you need to know for this week. Tune in next week for another edition of "Convergence: What to Read Before!" And don't miss the other weeks:

Week Two
Week Three
Week Four