DC Trade Solicitations for August 2014 - Batman Anniversary editions, Arkham Asylum, Zero Year, Gordon of Gotham, Martian Manhunter, Harley Quinn

Monday, May 26, 2014

Some interesting 1990s-2000s stuff in DC Comics's August 2014 hardcover and trade paperback collections solicitations, including Batman: Gordon of Gotham and collections of the Martian Manhunter and original Harley Quinn series. There's a bit more Forever Evil material to be found here, too, and some controversy in the collection schemes of Blight and Green Lantern. Let's take a look, shall we?

Batman 75th Anniversary Commemorative Collection

This collection slipped past me the first time around, but it caught my eye after this discussion on Dan DiDio's Facebook page.

Not surprisingly I'm more in the William Lange camp than I am in the Ken Cramer camp. Irrespective, pairing from the last 30 years Dark Knight Returns, Hush, and Court of Owls in a slipcase is interesting to me -- you've got a little Bronze Age, a little New Millennium Age, and then a New 52 title. That's probably a good cross-section if you had to pick one prominent Batman collection from each of those eras (which, depending on your point of view, is not to say "great" or "noteworthy" or "groundbreaking," just "prominent"), though I can't help think there's an era somewhere between Dark Knight Returns and Hush that's probably underrepresented here; what comes to mind first is Knightfall, or then maybe No Man's Land, though the challenges to including either of those in a slipcase collection like this is probably obvious. (All the No Man's Land volumes in a slipcase? DC could just have my money for that.)

Batman: Arkham Asylum 25th Anniversary Deluxe Edition HC and New Edition TP

What I mainly find interesting here is the decision to release new twenty-fifth anniversary editions of Arkham Asylum simultaneously in hardcover and paperback. Just about every comics shop and chain bookstore has a copy of Arkham Asylum perpetually in stock, and I wonder if it was in recognition of that that this comes out in both versions at the same time -- whatever kind the bookstore doesn't have, that's the kind they'll order. I also wonder if DC might, or might do well to, stick the Arkham Asylum video game logo on one of these books. Blasphemy, I know, I know, but I also wonder if that might newly introduce this book to a new generation.

Batman: Gordon of Gotham TP

Regarding Gordon of Gotham, GCPD, and Gordon's Law, all collected here, the former is written by Dennis O'Neil and the latter two are written by Chuck Dixon. No knock on O'Neil, who made his own indelible mark on Batman, but much of the publicity I've seen for this book puts O'Neil first when he's only one third of this book to Dixon's two-thirds, and we really, really lack in the Chuck Dixon/DC Comics collections department. Draw your own conclusion whether this has anything to do with the reported bad blood between Dixon and DC.

Anyway, given that this is obviously being published in connection with the new Gotham TV series, I rather wish they'd included the Batman: Bullock's Law one-shot by Dixon also -- hat tip to the Dan DiDio Facebook page crowd for that one, too.

Batman Vol. 5: Zero Year – Dark City HC
DC Comics: Zero Year HC

When it was originally solicited I had called the DC: Zero Year book an "omnibus," but it actually doesn't have that moniker -- at 14 issues, it'll just be a pretty thick book. Most of these issues aren't being collected elsewhere, which makes a little sense since I don't believe they connect to events in the ongoing titles, though this does run contrary to DC's "collect every issue of a title in its own series's book" policy -- curious to hear if you're all happy with the "Zero Year" crossover issues being separated out or not.

Either way, I'm looking forward to this, not in the least because I'm curious what a Green Lantern Corps/"Zero Year" issue might be (no spoilers, please!). Nice touch by DC having the second Batman: Zero Year collection out at the same time.

Martian Manhunter: Rings of Saturn TP

As always, I think DC mining this mid-1990s stuff is an excellent step in the right direction, and the fact that it's stuff by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake doesn't hurt, either. Original solicitations mentioned issues #10-17 but not the DC One Million issue, but this one has it in it; hat tip to Paul Hicks for pointing it out (we miss your "Uncollected Editions," Paul!).

Earth 2 Vol. 4: The Dark Age HC

First Tom Taylor volume. This one is only four issues, #17-20, plus the second annual, which is kind of a small trade but I imagine that's because of the abrupt James Robinson/Tom Taylor switch and that things will even out after. Odd but not unwelcome that the Earth 2 collections include two annuals in two volumes.

Forever Evil: ARGUS TP
Forever Evil: Arkham War TP
Forever Evil: Rogues Rebellion TP

Wouldn't be a crossover without some spin-off miniseries. This reminds me a bit of Final Crisis and its aftermath, like Revelations (which ultimately didn't have much to do with Final Crisis) and Rogues' Revenge. (Remember Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape? Wasn't that a trippy comic). Glad to see a couple of the Villains Month issues in there, which makes those feel not so removed from the events at hand.

Forever Evil: Blight TP

Again from the "Bound to Make No One Happy Except the People That It Does" department comes the full-book collection of Forever Evil: Blight, including Justice League Dark, Phantom Stranger, Pandora, and Constantine (two of which we would note are now DOA shortly after this crossover). You can read 'em here, or you can read 'em each in their own collections too.

Green Lantern Vol. 5: Test of Wills HC

As the saying goes, "I've got a bad feeling about this." This collection includes Green Lantern #27-34 and Green Lantern Corps #31-33, the latter of which issues from both series are the "Uprising" crossover (I've been so unfocused on the Green Lantern titles, which will change soon, that I believe I even missed that this crossover was going on). The fifth Green Lantern Corps trade isn't officially solicited yet, but early word is that it will contain issues #28-33 and an annual, so yes, that's just a four-issue difference between the Green Lantern and Corps trades (and the Corps trade, at present, doesn't have the Green Lantern issues while the Green Lantern trade has the Corps issues).

A four-issue difference isn't as bad as some other trades we've seen (you know the one) but I imagine this will dissatisfy some out there.

Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City HC
Harley Quinn: Vengeance Unlimited TP

Occurred to me the other day that Harley Quinn is now what Catwoman was in the 1990s, the kind of go-to bad-girl sex-symbol Bat-character. Despite that I think many long-time fans didn't much like Harley's new costume et al in the New 52, DC must be getting a good return on the character to see her starring in her own new series plus these collections of the 2000s Harley Quinn series (I have to think the forthcoming larger reprint of Gotham City Sirens is mainly spurred by Harley, too). I'd further posit that the new interest in Harley comes at least in part from Arkham Asylum series video game players, which is an interesting new phenomenon, video games (vs. TV, etc.) influencing comics.

Wonder Woman Vol. 5: Flesh HC

With issues #24-29 and the Villains Month issue, seems to me this might be the penultimate volume of Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's Wonder Woman run. One more six-issue volume would put us at issue #35.

That's what I'm buying (or at least flipping through on the spinner racks). What's on your pull list from DC Comics for August?
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  1. Marvel: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=52933

    *The Secret Service HC—The trailers for the upcoming film look promising, and while I’ve had my issues with Millar, he’s usually at his best when he’s working in his own universe. Plus it’s Dave Gibbons on art duties, which is always a good thing.

    *Marvel 75th Anniversary Omnibus TP—Have you sent in your selections for this book? If not, make sure to get them in before the end of the month. There are some things that I’m sure will get in—“This Man, This Monster”, something from the Phoenix Saga, Gwen Stacy’s death—but if they take my advice and include “Thunderbolts” #1, they’ll get my attention.

    *Deadpool: Dracula’s Gauntlet HC—That’s quite a lot of money to charge for an Infinite comic, especially one whose first issue could be found in many FCBD bags. It’s a good story and it sets up the foundation of Deadpool’s wedding.

    *Ms. Marvel: No Human TPB—It’s Marvel’s most-talked-about title of the year, and deservedly so. Kamala Khan’s religious beliefs aren’t a gimmick, but rather a key part of her character, making her feel far more fleshed-out than I ever expected.

    *Fantastic Four Epic Collection: The World’s Greatest Comics Magazine TPB—Okay, now all the weird numbering and even these collections’ existence start to make sense. They’re TPB versions of the omnibuses… or color versions of the Essentials if you want to think of it another way.

    *She-Hulk Vol. 1: Law and Disorder TPB—I was initially trade-waiting for this title, but I decided to grab the first four issues on Comixology after the whole David Goyer debacle. It’s a great series and one I’ll definitely review in the near future.

    *X-Men: Asgardian Wars TPB—It’s sad that they didn’t use this new printing as an opportunity to add in the “What If… the New Mutants were stuck in Asgard?” issue. C’mon, Storm becomes Thor in that issue! Either way, it’s a story worth reading.

    Dark Horse: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?id=52832&page=article

    *Action Philosophers! HC—The first volume of this book has been in my “to review” queue for literally years, but I’ll wait a bit longer to get this full collection. It’s the most fun you’ll ever have reading* Ayn Rand. (*about)

    *Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens HC—That high-pitched squeal you hear in the background is me geeking out about this. Between the creative staff, the concept, and just the fact that it’s long out-of-print AVP stuff, I’m not sure I’m happier about.

    IDW: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=52936

    *Walt Simonson’s Manhunter and Other Stories Artist’s Edition HC—I’ll take a guess and say that the Batman story included here is the classic “Dreadful Birthday, Dear Joker!” (which as it turns out introduced the BANG! gun/harpoon gag). These collections are why it pays off for artists to keep all of their old drafts.

    *Transformers IDW Collection Phase 2 Volume 1 HC—In plain terms, this is a hardcover of the first “MTMTE” and “RID” trades. These are usually oversized and have some good extras to make up for the price hike.

    *Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two TP—My interest was piqued by some of the covers on this series, and it sounds like enough of a departure from the regular “Judge Dredd” to be worth a look.

    *Monster and Madman TP—If Steve Niles weren’t writing it, I’d laugh off a series which can be described as “Frankenstein vs. Jack the Ripper”. He makes it worth consideration.

    Image: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=52949

    *Nothing’s really standing out for me this month.

  2. I'll be getting Wonder Woman vol. 5 for sure, possibly Earth 2 vol. 4 as well.