Review: Titans Hunt trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 27, 2017

At the end of Dan Abnett's Titans Hunt, one does get the warm fuzzy feelings of seeing the Titans all together again, and so in that way this book accomplishes at least one of its goals. I have enjoyed these characters over the years and I am happy to see this team re-form, but I feel a great many hesitations in embracing Titans Hunt fully.

Though billed as a "Road to Rebirth" title, the ties in this to "Rebirth" proper are light until the end, and I suspect that this book was originally meant just to bring a classic version of the Titans to the New 52, and that the final in-story nod to the pre-Flashpoint continuity was decided late in the game (notwithstanding the Titans: Rebirth special also collected here). In this regard, Abnett brings back the Titans, but whether these particular characters suffice as those Titans remains to be seen. Additionally, though packed with plenty fun moments, Titans Hunt lags at times, either by its own volition or due to its potential course corrections.
Collected Editions 2017 Comic Book Gift Guide

DC Trade Solicitations for May 2017 - Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Superboy and the Legion, Action Comics Rebirth Deluxe, New Teen Titans Omnibus New Edition

Friday, February 24, 2017

Notable books from the May 2017 DC Comics trade paperback and collections solicitations include some notable hardcovers: Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, the Superman: Action Comics deluxe Rebirth hardcover, and a new edition of the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1. But what kind of double-dipping might you have to do for the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad hardcover? Will the new Teen Titans omnibus fix the errors of the past? Read on for more discussion.

Plus, a complete Batwoman by Greg Rucka, some never-before-collected Legion of Super-Heroes material, Hawkman, Young Animal's Cave Carson, and more. Let's take a look!

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad HC
Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Going Sane TP

Not surprising Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is in hardcover.

As we noted in earlier solicitations, Justice League vs. Suicide Squad includes the full miniseries plus the Justice League #12-13 and Suicide Squad #8-10 tie-in issues. Previously we thought that Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Going Sane collection would include issues #7-12 of that series, so if you wanted to read the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad miniseries but you were also a regular Suicide Squad reader, you'd be buying the second collection for only issues #8, 11, and 12.

However, it turned out that the first Suicide Squad volume only collected issues #1-4 (due to the addition of backup stories, I think), so the second volume now collects issues #5-8 plus the Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fool's Special. So this has four regular issues, one of which is also collected in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, and if we figure the next volume is issues #9-12, then half of the third volume will also be collected in Justice League vs. Suicide Squad.

Though I understand from DC's perspective they want to publish one Justice League vs. Suicide Squad volume with the complete event, it would be preferable at least from my perspective not to have included the tie-ins and to just let those be in the individual books. Now we have not one but two volumes that lose some issues to double-dipping, which is worse I think than when just one volume was affected.

New Teen Titans Vol. 1 Omnibus HC New Edition

Some years back the New Teen Titans Omnibus series started out auspiciously, with a nice-looking (if maybe problematically-bound) first volume that collected almost the entirety of the previously-released Archive editions. The second omnibus collected even past the Archives, though things got a little weird when DC omitted a single issue from the consecutive collecting order. And then things really got bad when New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3 jumped way ahead and collected a bunch of different issues from various eras (as I recounted at the link) mainly so as to collect just Marv Wolfman and George Perez's issues, which is not what we expected at the start of the omnibus series.

Which brings us now to a New Teen Titans Vol. 1 Omnibus new edition.

It might simply be that because the original Vol. 1 omnibus is out of print, this is a "new edition" of that book. But the other possibility is that maybe DC is looking to release this series right this time, and while it's hard to tell from the first volume (the solicitation lacks some issues from the original, but we know those solicitations can change), we'll really be able to tell once the second volume comes along if this is the same or different. If it's the same, I can't imagine a much better reaction than the first time around.

Superman: Action Comics – The Rebirth Deluxe Collection Book 1 HC

The first of DC's deluxe combination hardcovers of the Rebirth trades arrives with Action Comics - The Rebirth Deluxe Collection Vol. 1, collecting issues #957-966 and Justice League #52. It's curious that these are being released in a different order than the original Rebirth trades themselves, where Action Comics trailed Batman, Green Arrow, and even Superman, but I guess the point is it arrives at about the time of Action Comics Vol. 3.

Size is listed as 7.0625” x 10.875”; I think that means this is deluxe-sized, larger than a regular hardcover, but if you know differently, let me know.

Batman Beyond Vol. 1: Escaping the Grave TP

Collects the Rebirth special and the first five issues. If/when DC Comics brings back the Legion of Super-Heroes, I hope their future-looking also takes into account Batman Beyond. I can't claim a lot of interest in this series because it really doesn't tie into the DC Universe proper despite that it's supposed to be in-continuity. However DC might hack it, I'd mainly be interested in a series like this only if Terry McG regularly interacted with the present DCU; I've long-since thought the same would be true for the Legion. For these future-set titles, time ought be infinitely permeable, and the characters ought jaunt to Metropolis as easily as going outside, rather than wrapping up time travel in all sorts of rules and regulations that only limit the book's storytelling potential itself.

Batwoman by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III TP

A lot of this material was in the Batwoman: Elegy collection, but notably not the "Cutter" story (see my "Uncollected Editions" review) by Greg Rucka and Jock, among others. So whereas there's a lot of great JH Williams art in this book, for Batwoman completists the real draw is a non-Williams story that fills in some gaps on Kate Kane and Flamebird Bette Kane's partnership, among other things.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye Vol. 1: Going Underground TP

I'll probably sample all of the first Young Animal trades at some point, but Cave Carson is possibly the one I'm anticipating least, just because I feel no real connection to it aside that, oddly, it seems to have Wild Dog in it. The Doom Patrol is a team I enjoy, Mother Panic is set in Gotham, and Shade seems nicely quirky; Cave is the only one that hasn't grabbed me per se.

DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics: Batman vs. Predator TP

It's so wonderful that DC and Dark Horse are giving these artifacts of the 1990s new life in trade. And the creative teams are no slouch, either: Dave Gibbons, Andy Kubert, Doug Moench, and Chuck Dixon. Collects Batman vs. Predator #1-3, Batman vs. Predator II: Bloodmatch #1-4, and Batman vs. Predator III: Blood Ties #1-4.

Death of Hawkman TP
Hawkman by Geoff Johns Book One TP

The miniseries collection, perhaps tellingly, arrives in the same solicitations as a new paperback edition of the Hawkman by Geoff Johns series. I'd be happy to see DC revitalize Hawkman, and Geoff Johns's Indiana Jones approach would be a fine way to do that; it's so at odds with my perception of what Marc Andreyko's miniseries is about, at least, that I wonder how DC can reconcile the two.

Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Joker Loves Harley TP

Collects issues #8-13 of the Rebirth series.

Legion of Super-Heroes: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1 HC
Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1 HC

Some notable Legion material this month. The Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes collection includes the 1970s issue #234-240, ending just before the well-known "Earthwar" storyline that'll presumably be in the second volume; it does not appear much if any of this has been collected before.

Alternatively, it looks like most of the Legion of Super-Heroes: The Silver Age material previously appeared in Archives volumes, but not all together as in this omnibus.

New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made in China TP

The first collection of New Super-Man feels delayed, but I'm perhaps a little spoiled by it being only June and so much Rebirth material has come out in trade already. Doing a little back-of-the-napkin math, the next volume of New Super-Man should reflect some events of "Superman Reborn," but Superman and Action Comics won't get there until their fourth trades, and their thirds are still unscheduled. Given how quickly the twice-monthly books' trades are coming out, however, maybe Superman and Action will have a a third in the interim and then a fourth in time for New Super-Man Vol. 2.

Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven TP

Collects issues #9-15. We can now be assured this book skips the "Night of the Monster Men" crossover altogether.

Tales of The Batman: Gerry Conway HC

The solicitation for this mentions Two-Face, Deadshot, Killer Croc, and Jason Todd; I'm not 100% certain but I think those are mistaken listings, as glancing through the contents I don't think Croc or Jason show up here, at least.

Teen Titans Vol. 1: Damian Knows Best TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-5.

Trinity Vol. 1: Better Together HC

Francis Manapul is a big name, no doubt, but I'm surprised to see Trinity arriving in hardcover only because it doesn't seem to have been positioned very centrally to the Rebirth DCU despite its title characters; rather the big stuff seems to be happening in Justice League, etc. Also the book seems (without my actually reading it) to be taking a very long time on a Black Mercy storyline totally devoted to the heroes' fantasies, which is never my cup of tea. Anyway, like All-Star Batman, Trinity will be hardcover-first (All-Star I totally get as hardcover-first).

Wonder Woman By George Perez Vol. 2 TP

Late last year DC solicited the second Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus, due out in May, which will collect previously-uncollected issues from Perez's run. Not to be confused, this is just the next small paperback Wonder Woman by George Perez volume, collecting issues #15-24 and an annual that are already in the hardcover Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Vol. 1.

How will you solve the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad double-dip dilemma? What are you buying this month?

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Greg Rucka's first Rebirth Wonder Woman volume, Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies, is a challenging book, and I sense it's the start of more challenges to come.

Rucka's first Wonder Woman run is among my top favorite comics runs, and coming as it did during DC Comics's pre-/post-Infinite Crisis heyday that included Rucka's semi-connected runs on Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, and Checkmate, not to mention his Gotham Central. For this reason I received the news of Rucka writing the Rebirth Wonder Woman with much excitement and I've been anticipating this collection for a while, even as I'm aware you can't go home again; Rucka's short Blackest Night return to Wonder Woman, for instance, didn't quite capture for me the original run's magic.

Review: Fatale Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 hardcover (Image Comics)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

[Review by Haydn Spurrell]

A femme fatale is defined as an attractive and seductive woman who will cause distress and destruction to a man who becomes involved with her. It's an age-old trope, and was once an effective use of the leading lady in crime noir and hard-boiled detective stories, now worn with use. Ed Brubaker's women have always veered close to the stereotype, with purpose, but in Fatale he takes the concept, applies it to his protagonist, and then warps it so that his story becomes unlike any you've read before. Fatale: The Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 collects the first ten issues, the trades Death Chases Me and The Devil’s Business.

Review: Doomed trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 20, 2017

Hard to believe, but from about Crisis on Infinite Earths through Zero Hour, DC Comics had nearly no dedicated teen-character books on the stands. There were the rapidly-aging New Teen Titans, soon to become the New Titans, and Firestorm Ronnie Raymond (though that book's geopolitics skewed it older), but that was about it. It was not until about a year before Zero Hour that Robin Tim Drake's ongoing series arrived, followed in short order by Superboy and a variety of others long- and short-lived, including Impulse, Anima, Damage, and The Ray. What's de rigueur now with generally some combination of a Robin, Superboy, Supergirl, Blue Beetle, or Teen Titans title was once much more novel.

Writer Scott Lobdell has been an easy whipping boy among the New 52 set, and admittedly his Doomed collection does contain the dialogue "OMG -- how adorbs are you?!" and "OMG doubled!" But if we forgive Lobdell his excesses, I'd venture he's kept "teen spirit" alive pretty well in the New 52, and his Superboy had a strong start even if the quality of Teen Titans rose and fell. Despite that Doomed only lasted six issues, it's got a breathless youthfulness that reminds me of the best of DC's post-Zero Hour teen era. We're pretty far from Tom Joyner's Damage's conspiracy mystery (plug for a Damage collection one day, and also of Joyner's Scarlett), but there's shades of Damage here, if not at least Keith Giffen and John Rogers's original Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle series.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 1: The Drowning (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 16, 2017

In Dan Abnett's Rebirth Aquaman Vol. 1: The Drowning, he walks back what I thought was some of his major progress in Aquaman Vol. 8: Out of Darkness. That's a shame, and I do question some of Abnett's choices here, but in my opinion so far Aquaman is the best of the Rebirth debuts. Drowning is political and multi-faceted without lacking for superhero slugfests, and it reminds strongly in this way of Greg Rucka's original Wonder Woman -- high praise indeed. In all I've liked Abnett's Aquaman much more than I thought I would, and reading the next volume is a foregone conclusion.

[Review contains spoilers]

There's an astounding amount going on in The Drowning -- first, Black Manta blowing up the Atlantean Spindrift Station embassy, and then quite separately Atlantean terrorists attacking a US ship just as Aquaman pleads with the White House to reopen the embassy, and then Atlanteans guards getting caught investigating the incident by the US military, leading to Aquaman's incarceration. The big events -- plus Mera breaking Aquaman out of holding and a fight with Superman -- are in some respects unrelated, but cascade to create a particularly bad day for Aquaman and his Atlantean political cause.

Review: Black Monday Murders Vol. 1: All Hail, God Mammon trade paperback (Image Comics)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

[Review by Haydn Spurrell]

When you read a Jonathan Hickman book, you’re really paying for an experience; the layout of the trade, the designs, the blank pages, the quotes. These are purposeful breaths of fresh air between heavy, convoluted plotting. Hickman throws so many characters and so much world-building into The Black Monday Murders Vol. 1: All Hail, God Mammon that, if caught in the wrong mindset, you might give up on it.

[Review contains spoilers]

To call Hickman’s work ambitious is a moot point. It’s simply what you come to expect. His most straight-forward project is East of West, which says a lot. All Hail, God Mammon is a curtain raiser. It’s a bloated first act in a saga that promises more than it gives on the first serve. But in spanning so many years, and tossing so many personalities into the mix, it begs for a second and third read. That would be unfortunate, but Hickman’s writing is on the mark. The dialogue is captivating. The characters have fully formed voices. Many of them are startling and unsettling. It feels as though they’re all smarter than the reader, but not in a condescending way. It’s Hickman daring us to keep up.

Review: Gotham Academy Vol. 2: Calamity trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 13, 2017

With a series of connected but mostly standalone one-and-two issue stories, Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher's Gotham Academy Vol. 2: Calamity likely better reflects this series's actual status quo than the first volume's six-issue cast- and scene-setting. Calamity is entertaining as Gotham Academy goes, and likely more subtly complex than most other books on the stands.

At the same time -- though I grant I may not be Gotham Academy's wholly intended audience -- I thought the "monster of the week" format gave too much license for stories that were silly rather than mysterious or scary, and there's an occasional leap of logic here (mostly by dint of events in other books) that took me out of the story. Equally, however, there's a darn good Bat-family cameo late in this volume, and it's hard to argue with Gotham Academy being pulled closer in to the Batman titles' orbit.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 8: Out of Darkness hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 09, 2017

I've been hearing how good Dan Abnett's Rebirth Aquaman is, but I admit to some skepticism, mainly because I haven't been taken with the art I've seen on that series so far. But Abnett's Aquaman Vol. 8: Out of Darkness, essentially a prologue to his Rebirth series, is really fantastic, and if Darkness is representative of what's to come then Abnett has a winner. Abnett's Aquaman is exactly what I like, taking the character out of the often mundane Atlantean setting and spinning a story that's as much superheroics as political drama and mystery procedural. Special mention, too, of the extra-sized fiftieth issue collected here and drawn by Brett Booth, which is probably the most gorgeous thing I've seen Booth draw. If you're following Aquaman in Rebirth, definitely pick this one up.

Review: The Fade Out Deluxe Edition hardcover (Image Comics)

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

[Review by Haydn Spurrell]

From the opening pages of The Fade Out, Ed Brubaker gives us a clear message. “Something in the air made it easier to believe lies,” the protagonist narrates. That people are willing to believe the lies because it’s easier than the truth is a simple through-line, but it paves the way for the twelve-issue series to explore matters of gender and of systematic oppression in a 1940s Hollywood setting that’s equal parts strange as it is familiar, an exaggerated reflection of today’s world that is made even more upsetting because of how real it feels.

Review: Grayson Vol. 3: Nemesis trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 06, 2017

Just when a book like Teen Titans Vol. 2: Rogue Targets makes your faith in mainstream superhero comics begin to falter, a book like Grayson Vol. 3: Nemesis comes along to restore it. Whether you like or don't Tom King's Batman, Grayson is assuredly he and Tim Seeley's masterpiece. A gripping roller coaster, Nemesis begins as a straight-on spy story, though one that ultimately turns on its head one of the book's heretofore most wrenching moments. It ends with a pair of probably the most continuity-heavy and faithfully nostalgic issues in recent memory, demonstrating that despite how set-apart and in some ways post-superheroic Grayson has been, it's underlied by the writers' deep, abiding, and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of the DC Universe. Grayson continues to be something special, and Nemesis is just more proof of that.

Review: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Vol. 1 trade paperback (BOOM! Studios)

Friday, February 03, 2017

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

The idea of a genuinely good Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comic is still something I'm getting used to. While the IDW Transformers comics demonstrated that licensed books could truly be art, Power Rangers has its own issues as a franchise and a concept that have interfered with a decent adaptation. If you've seen a few episodes of any Power Rangers series, you can tell how formulaic they are: a monster attacks, the Rangers fight it and blow it up with their weapons, then the monster gets brought back as a giant. Cue the assembly of their giant Megazord robot and a final victory. It's the same reason why Voltron has hit so many stumbling blocks in all the attempts to adapt it to comics.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 7: Exiled trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 02, 2017

If we perceive the writer Cullen Bunn perhaps received instruction to radically change Aquaman but still tell a fairly recognizable Aquaman story, then I would say he succeeded. Aquaman Vol. 7: Exiled takes Aquaman away from most of the familiar elements that have populated the series so far (or at least, has turned them against him), but Bunn does so in a way that seems sensible and true to the Aquaman character to me. Though the dark-costumed Aquaman reads visually "gritty," it's ultimately his nobility that shines through in the story.

But Bunn's story is troubled not in the least because of these very marching orders, which among other things sees Aquaman Arthur Curry given a new power set that doesn't benefit the character, even despite Bunn's good writing of Aquaman for the most part. That's a cautious "for the most part," because whereas Aquaman's actions in Exiled mostly scan, the story turns on a point of naivete that gets exceptionally problematic.

Cancelled Trade Cavalcade: Justice League: Breakdowns, Green Lantern: Hal Jordan Vol. 2, and Gerard Jones

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

We've noted for a couple weeks now that it looks like the Justice League: Breakdowns collection that DC Comics officially solicited last month appears to have been cancelled.

It is still on Diamond's release list, but other sources have it listed as cancelled, it has disappeared from online listings, and Bleeding Cool is reporting it's been cancelled due to the recent arrest of comics writer Gerard Jones. Jones wrote the Justice League Europe issues of "Breakdowns" along with Keith Giffen; the Justice League America issues are by J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen.

Also having disappeared is the Green Lantern: Hal Jordan Vol. 2 collection, which would have collected Jones's post-Crisis Green Lantern #1-12. The first volume, collecting the first and second Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn miniseries with work by Jones (also Giffen and Jim Owsley [Christopher Priest]), just came out.

Note that there's also a Wonder Woman and the Justice League Vol. 1 collection currently scheduled for March that collects Justice League America issues between "Death of Superman" and Zero Hour. That book is mostly by Dan Vado, but if it were to get to Vol. 2, then it would contain Justice League International crossover issues written by Jones, and subsequent volumes would have issues entirely written by Jones. This suggests that some if not all of the Wonder Woman and the Justice League collections might be in trouble, too.

Jones also wrote the entirety of the John Stewart series Green Lantern: Mosaic, which I've wanted to see collected for a long time. Gerard also wrote issues that cross over with Mark Waid's Flash that we'd probably see in the next Flash by Mark Waid collection.

Let's establish that obviously the things Jones is accused of are horrific, and also everyone deserves a fair trial and they're innocent until proven guilty. Also, of course stopping wrongdoing and getting justice for victims is the most important thing here. But this is a comics-focused blog and we think about comics-industry issues, and it seems right now that what we have is a large swath of comics material, part of the established DC Universe tapestry -- and much of which that connects with work by other writers -- that's now become something of a third rail, persona non grata in terms of reprinting.

What should happen?

Obviously DC Comics is in a tough spot here, and I don't blame them for putting a hold on the books at least until there's more definitive news about Jones. Paying royalties to Jones for new collections would probably be impolitic, at least, and it's possible DC could get around that difficulty if Jones is criminally convicted.

The fan concern, however, is that DC might might find use of Jones's work so impolitic as to backburner any Jones-related work indefinitely. Again, I don't diminish the charges, but most of the already-solicited works listed above involve material in which Jones was just one of the writers on stories that involved other writers' series or characters, too.

Is there a separation between what Jones might have done and one's enjoyment of Hal Jordan's post-Crisis adventures? Is it possible to still value Breakdowns despite Jones's participation, or do the serious allegations taint it too significantly? Should further collections of "Return of Barry Allen" omit the Green Lantern chapter because of Jones, or does its importance to the completeness of Mark Waid's story overtake that?

I raise these issues because I am myself conflicted. I want to be a good citizen of the world and not support bad actions, but without sounding naive there's also a history of the DC Universe that I enjoy and feel some investment in. I have difficulty shunting my long-standing feelings for that material even as I now have concerns about the writer of said material. I welcome your reasoned thoughts on these issues.