DC Trade Solicitations for June 2019 - Crisis on Infinite Earths Box Set, Batman Post-Rebirth Deluxe, Swamp Thing and Wonder Woman Walmart Giant Trades, Green Lantern by Morrison, Animal Man by Lemire Omnibus, Trials of Shazam

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

DC Comics' June 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations kick off with a bang with the Crisis on Infinite Earths Box Set. Would it collect all of DC's "Crisis" events? Would it be the original series plus the recent deluxe companion books? No and no -- it's all the old Crisis on Multiple Earths paperbacks, now in hardcover, plus Crisis itself and then the deluxe books re-cut into character-specific hardcovers, plus History of the DC Universe(!). Fourteen hardcovers in all -- that is one heck of a box set!

To think, if not for that, the big headline might be stories from the Walmart "Giant" collections appearing this month in Swamp Thing: Roots of Terror and Wonder Woman Vol. 9. Good news for fans of the "Rebirth Deluxe" hardcovers, as the Batman Deluxe Edition Book Four (the wedding volume) solicited here sans "Rebirth" suggests those are still happening in the "New Justice" era. I also wonder if something's up with the Essential Editions line, as the New 52 Wonder Woman: Blood and Guts solicited here is a formerly listed Essential Edition now without that moniker.

All this and Doom Patrol: The Bronze Age Omnibus might be the first one of the "Age" omnibuses I pick up. Let's dive in and take a look ...

Absolute Dark Knight III: The Master Race HC

Collects Dark Knight III: The Master Race #1-9, the insert comics reproduced at normal size, and Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade.

Animal Man by Jeff Lemire Omnibus HC

Say what you will about the New 52, but Jeff Lemire's Animal Man was a superb take on the character, right up there with Grant Morrison's, and totally worthy of this omnibus. With Buddy Baker not really bopping around the DCU right now, I'm glad to see him get this recognition. Lemire's Animal Man is also another great example of how to do horror in the DCU, something I found lacking reading the Rebirth Hellblazer series.

Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason Omnibus HC New Printing

The contents of this seem exactly the same as the 2017 release of this omnibus (this solicitation doesn't mention the annuals and some short stories, but I'm skeptical anything was removed). Seems like a re-release mainly, understandably, because Peter Tomasi is now writing Detective.

Batman Beyond Vol. 5: The Final Joke TP

Issues #25-30 (formerly through issue #29) by Dan Jurgens, with Brett Booth, Cully Hamner, and Doc Shaner, among others. With "behind-the-scenes content."

Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

Also well deserving of omnibus, this is "the first 33 issues" of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman run, so the paperback volumes 1 through 5, to the end of "Zero Year." This run went through issue #52, so the second omnibus would be shorter than the first (though I agree with how they split it), though annuals and etc. have to be in there, too.

Batman Deluxe Edition Book Four HC

Issues #45-57 and the DC Nation #0 story, being the Wedding and Cold Days collections. An indication that these "Rebirth Deluxe" hardcover editions are continuing, that this is just called "Batman Deluxe" without the "Rebirth" moniker.

The Books of Magic Vol. 1: Moveable Type TP

First collection of the new Kat Howard Vertigo series, with issues #1-6 and the Sandman Universe Special #1 (apparently collected in all the first volume Sandman Universe trades).

Crisis on Infinite Earths Box Set

Holey moley. This is 14 Crisis-related hardcovers, being the six previously published Crisis on Multiple Earths paperbacks, now in hardcover, plus a Crisis on Infinite Earths hardcover, plus character-specific re-cuts of the recent Crisis on Infinite Earth Companion books. The re-cuts of the companion books are especially notable, because many decried the somewhat random groupings of the original companions, and now here they are more character-specific. It seems inevitable these books will be released individually, too, which might pique early adopters of the original companion books.

That's a lot of Crisis on Infinite Earths on the market, but then again, I think Crisis is going to be big come next November/December ...

I'm going to list the contents in full below because I think they're worth mentioning. Something that strikes me in particular is the inclusion of History of the DC Universe, which was really well-done and set the foundation for the post-Crisis DC Universe, and also served as something of an epilogue to Crisis. It seems long overdue that History should be reprinted alongside Crisis.

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 1
Justice League of America #21-22, #29-30, #37-38 and #46-47

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 2
Justice League of America #55-56, #64-65, #73-74 and #82-83

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 3
Justice League of America #91-92, #100-102, #107-108 and #113

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 4
Justice League of America #123-124, #135-137 and #147-148

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 5
Justice League of America #159-160, #171-172 and #183-185

Crisis on Multiple Earths Vol. 6
Justice League of America #195-197, #207-209 and All-Star Squadron #14-15

Crisis on Infinite Earths
Crisis on Infinite Earths #1-12

Crisis on Infinite Earths: All-Star Squadron
All-Star Squadron #50-60

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Green Lantern
Green Lantern #194-198, Legion of Super-Heroes #16 and #18, and Omega Men #31 and #33

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Justice League
Fury of Firestorm #41-42, Detective Comics #558, Wonder Woman #327-329, and New Teen Titans #13-14

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Legends
Losers Special #1, Swamp Thing #44 and #46, Legends of the DC Universe: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, Blue Devil #17-18, and Amethyst #13

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Infinity, Inc.
Infinity, Inc. #18-25, Infinity, Inc. Annual #1, and Justice League of America #244-245

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Superman
DC Comics Presents #78, #86-88 and #94-95, Superman #413-415, and Justice League of America Annual #3

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Behind the Crisis
History of the DC Universe #1-2, pre-Crisis appearances of the Monitor, behind-the-scenes material, and more

DC Comics: Bombshells Deluxe Edition Book Two HC

Issues #7-12 in deluxe hardcover.

Doom Patrol: The Bronze Age Omnibus HC

Collects Showcase #94-96, DC Comics Presents #52, Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #7-9, Doom Patrol #1-18, Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special #1, Superman #20, Doom Patrol Annual #1, Secret Origins Annual #1, Superman Family #191-193, which follows from the Silver Age Doom Patrol collections and includes both pre-Crisis and post-Crisis stories.

While I haven't always gone for these "era" collections, the "Modern Age" part of this book has a lot of appeal to me, collecting the Doom Patrol's immediate post-Crisis appearances, including crossovers with John Byrne's Superman and John Ostrander's Suicide Squad, and ending with Invasion! tie-ins just before Grant Morrison's Vertigo run started.

Flashpoint Box Set

Another box set, leading me to wonder if this is going to be a thing now, though this one's a whole lot more manageable -- just Flashpoint and the Batman, Green Lantern, Flash, Superman, and Wonder Woman tie-in books, all in paperback. Basically what was already released, with a box.

Green Arrow Vol. 7: Citizen's Arrest TP

Said to collect issues #43-47 and the Annual #2 by Julie and Shawna Benson, but it's hard to believe seeing as how the Rebirth Green Arrow series is ending that this won't also have issues #48-50 by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing.

The Green Lantern Vol. 1: Intergalactic Lawman HC

Hardcover collection of issues #1-6 by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp.

Hellblazer Vol. 21: The Laughing Magician TP

John Constantine: Hellblazer #239-249 and Hellblazer Special: Lady Constantine #1-4 by Mike Carey and Andy Diggle respectively.

House of Whispers Vol. 1: The Powers Divided TP

Issues #1-6 and the Sandman Universe Special #1.

Injustice 2 Vol. 5 TP

Issues #25-30 by Tom Taylor.

Injustice 2 Vol. 6 HC

Issues #31-36 and the Annual #2. Again, this is Starro and the Red Lanterns vs. the Titans, Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and Lobo. Hope Tom Taylor does this sort of thing in DCeased.

Joker TP

Previously listed as the Black Label edition by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, though "Black Label" is now gone from the solicitation.

JSA By Geoff Johns Book Three TP

JSA: All Stars #1-8, JSA Annual #1, JSA Secret Files and Origins #2, and JSA #26-31, the latter being a series of one shots in the wake of the return of Hawkman (previously collected in the JSA: Fair Play trade).

Justice League Vol. 3: Hawkworld TP

Issues #13-17 and the first annual by Scott Snyder and Jorge Jimenez, just after "Drowned Earth."

New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 4 HC

Resolicited, the new fourth New Teen Titans Omnibus, collecting through and then after the recent New Teen Titans Vol. 10 paperback (issues #10-31 of the second series, Annuals #1-2, and Omega Men #34).

The Sandman Vol. 10: The Wake 30th Anniversary TP

Issues #70-75, the end of the regular series.

Suicide Squad: Katana: The Revenge of Kobra TP

The Katana half of the recent Suicide Squad: Black Files miniseries, by Mike W. Barr.

Swamp Thing: Roots of Terror Deluxe Edition HC

Collects stories from Swamp Thing Winter Special 2018 and Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant. Tom King and Brian Azzarello are here, plus Len Wein's final Swamp Thing story with art by Kelley Jones. This'll mark the first collection of a story from the Walmart-exclusive books, though more collections are confirmed as coming.

The Trials of Shazam!: The Complete Series TP

Judd Winick's twelve-issue miniseries, following in some respects his Superman/Shazam: First Thunder mini, plus the Brave New World story in the wake of Infinite Crisis. This is when Freddy Freeman was "Shazam" and Billy Batson took on the Wizard's role, with a painterly style by Howard Porter. This was collected in two six-issue bursts before, now all together for the first time.

Wonder Woman by John Byrne Vol. 3 HC

This does not, as I'd hoped, include John Byrne's Wonder Woman-connected Genesis event miniseries, though it does include the Wonder Woman tie-in issue, plus significant JSA and Donna Troy material. Issues #125-136, finishing this collection set.

Wonder Woman Vol. 9: The Enemy of Both Sides TP

Collects issues #51-55, and now newly solicited, also stories from Justice League Giant #1-2 and the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special. That's Steve Orlando's mini-run ahead of G. Willow Wilson, plus Tim Seeley's two stories from the Walmart-exclusive Justice League Giant. Not sure what's coming out of the anniversary book.

Wonder Woman: Blood and Guts TP

Just the first 12 issues of the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang run, the Blood and Guts trades. It is a good introduction to the Azzrello run, though far from complete and it ends on a cliffhanger. I believe this was previously listed as an Essential Editions; interesting to see it simply "un-branded" now.

Y: The Last Man Omnibus HC

A heavy one that surely should be on the shelves with a TV-show in the offing. One day I'll finish reading this series.

So how about that Crisis box set, huh? Do you think DC will release the character-specific "companion" volumes individually? Would you prefer the already-solicited slate of Companion books or these character-specific ones? Sound off in the comments!

Review: Hellblazer Vol. 3: The Inspiration Game (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 17, 2019

The Rebirth Hellblazer Vol. 3: The Inspiration Game is tonally closer to what one might want from a John Constantine title. But it is also a collection of two one-off stories with no apparent attempt being made to set the foundation for an ongoing Hellblazer run; it's as if one were reading a John Constantine special or anthology series. That's good for casual readers -- this is a book that a fan of Constantine's televised appearances could pick up and enjoy -- but bad for dedicated comics fans who continue to lack any serious attempt at an ongoing series for Constantine since he was released to the DC Universe.

The book starts well enough with a three-part tale by Tim Seeley, which is better than what's come before if not entirely Vertigo-esque. The second three-part story, by novelist Richard Kadrey, also has its moments, but again I'm mystified by the use of artist Davide Fabbri here, who draws well but in a style much too bright for this material. This book has moments of horror, but they're fleeting, and in all when your average issue of Batman has more suspense and intrigue than this, clearly the mix isn't right yet.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 2: Escape From the Phantom Zone (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Steve Orlando's Supergirl Vol. 2: Escape from the Phantom Zone is a mixed bag. Certainly Orlando's portrayal of Kara Zor-El is more palatable than some of the extremes from when the Kryptonian Supergirl was first reintroduced, and seeing this Kara teamed with Batgirl (of Burnside) Barbara Gordon is a treat. But already almost a dozen issues in, there feels a lack of direction here, as if already Orlando is biding his time for when Marc Andreyko takes over. Again, the "original" Supergirl and Batgirl battling their way out of the Phantom Zone is nothing to scoff at, but an extended off-world story to the exclusion of most of this book's supporting cast in just the second outing seems a questionable choice.

Review: Titans Vol. 5: The Spark trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Dan Abnett's Titans will be cancelled after the next volume, so that might arguably mark this experiment as a failure. It bears considering, however, just what exactly "this" is. In the wake of the post-Dark Nights: Metal/No Justice "New Justice" era, Abnett heads a new Titans team in Titans Vol. 5: The Spark.

These are and are not the Titans in strange ways. In some respects Abnett's new paradigm for the team is stronger than many previous iterations, in that the team actually has a mission and reason for being aside from friends wanting to hang out. At the same time, what makes a team "Titans" is that oft-dysfunctional family bond that brings a certain set of characters together and inevitably breaks them apart, superheroic duty notwithstanding. There seems good intentions behind this new Titans and I hope that can be channeled elsewhere, but with Titans making a splash on TV now, it's not surprising this semi-off-brand take needed to be pulled.

Review: Hellblazer Vol. 2: The Smokeless Fire (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Well, that was rough. Simon Oliver's Rebirth Hellblazer run comes to an inglorious end in Hellblazer Vol. 2: The Smokeless Fire. What seemed a kind of charming, meandering fairy tale in Hellblazer Vol. 1: The Poison Truth devolves into something very rudimentary here, with plot turns at times ridiculous and nonsensical. Most of all, Smokeless Fire's attempts to be frightening or suspenseful fail remarkably. For decades Hellblazer was a crowning horror jewel in Vertigo's crown; this second Rebirth volume is a desperate cry to put this title back where it belongs or else (as is finally the case two volumes hence) put it out of its misery.

[Review contains spoilers]

Smokeless Fire has trouble from the start, but begins to go terribly wrong in its third chapter. We get whiffs of lampooning both British and American politics, which is good, but then Oliver gets mired in the tale of a Parliamentary figure, Mr. Carver, who apparently works for an angel, except that angel has been captured and tortured by the tale's pervading bad guy, a djinn. It is out of left field, and confusing -- we've never met Carver before and have no frame of reference for him, nor how and why he's in league with an angel. The book's politics are unclear, too -- the drug-abusing, brothel-visiting Carver apparently "sold" Brexit to the British people, positing that as an evil, but then again Carver has an angel behind him. All of this confusion is simply so the djinn can possess a military installation that's hardly mentioned again; it's a head-scratching bit that maybe Oliver meant to come back to, but all on its own it falls flat.

Review: Superman Vol. 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Brian Michael Bendis' Superman Vol. 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth is an interesting take on the Man of Steel, at times bold, at times irreverent. In using a wide swath of the DC Universe, Bendis doubles-down on his Man of Steel miniseries, demonstrating that the scope of that story wasn't just for the "pilot," but rather is what we can expect from the Superman title month in and month out. At the same time, the broad strokes of Phantom Earth are dangerously, even disappointingly, similar to Man of Steel, and that gives a problematic sense of Bendis treading water with his first real outing. Phantom Earth is good, but it doesn't feel as though it moves this story forward as much as one might hope the first volume would.

DC Trade Solicitations for May 2019 - Batman: Damned, Detective Comics #1000 Deluxe, Hawkman, Nightwing: Knight Terrors, Red Hood: Outlaw Vol. 1, Sandman Universe: Dreaming and Lucifer, Injustice Omnibus, Old Lady Harley

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

It feels like a smaller month looking at DC Comics' May 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations. Sure there's a couple of regular series releases -- Nightwing, Red Hood, Terrifics, Titans, and my most anticipated book of the month, Robert Venditti's new Hawkman -- but not a whole lot else. DC keeps churning out these paperback Essential Editions and rebranded Black Label editions, which is good if you're a new reader trying to catch up but doesn't exactly get my own blood pumping.

At some point we had heard that Geoff Johns' Killing Zone imprint was supposed to launch in May 2019, but there's no hint of that here. I wonder if that's forthcoming or indicative of some change in plans.

Let's take a look at this month's offerings ...

Absolute Swamp Thing by Alan Moore Vol. 1 HC

Previously solicited and cancelled, this is now resolicited for October of 2019 (which is why sometimes I take cancellations with a grain of salt). Alan Moore's Swamp Thing #20-34 and Annual #2 in Absolute format. Brand new coloring, too — I think that's new coloring exclusive to this edition.

Batman: Year One New Edition TP

Black Label paperback.

Batman: Damned HC

The hardcover of the first original Black Label book is offered alongside its own final issue, though the final issue comes out in May and this comes out in September. To answer your question, the solicitation contains this note, which surely you can read between the lines: "The DC Black Label collected edition is available in comic shops September 4 with an unabridged narrative and revised periodical art."

Batman: The Black Glove Saga (DC Essential Edition) TP

This Essential Edition of Grant Morrison's run was first solicited as "Batman and Son," now changed to "The Black Glove Saga." This had been said to be Batman #665-658 and #663-666, the contents of the Batman and Son collection, now expanded to include Batman: The Black Glove, ending just before Batman RIP (which surely deserves an Essential Edition of its own). Also included are stories from 52 #30 and #47, which tie in to these issues, and the summary of the "Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul" crossover drawn by Chris Burnham for the Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus Vol. 1.

Batman/The Flash: The Button TP

The deluxe hardcover of Batman/Flash: The Button came out in October 2017, and twenty months (till June 2019) seems like a long time to wait for the paperback. I wonder if this is timed for Doomsday Clock progressing a little farther, the recent second Batman/Flash crossover, or that, given Doomsday Clock's delays, this story never made quite the splash it was expected to (see also Oz Effect).

DC Comics: The Art of Jim Lee Vol. 1 HC

Previously solicited as "Graphic Ink: The DC Comics Art of Jim Lee," this new name certainly seems to brand it better. Said to collect work from Wildstorm on down to today.

DC Poster Portfolio: Frank Cho TP

Twenty covers, with Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman among others. Granted Cho engenders a lot of controversy, but some of his cross-hatch Harley Quinn covers have been particularly impressive.

Detective Comics #1000 Deluxe Edition HC

Three months after the issue itself, it's the deluxe edition of Detective Comics #1000. Bonus material here is a new story by Robert Venditti and Steven Segovia; this doesn't seem to me the most poignant creative team choice for a bonus story, but at least the deluxe has something to differentiate it.

The Dreaming Vol. 1: Pathways and Emanations TP

I am tempted, mainly due to this book spinning off from Dark Nights: Metal, but I'd want to be prepared and I don't really have the time to do a full Sandman read. I read Dreaming back in the day, but then it was mostly side tales; I haven't really had a sense enough is happening in this book to make the investment worth it. Collects the first six issues plus the Sandman Universe Special.

Hawkman Vol. 1: Awakening TP

Due out now apparently in June, when previously it seemed to be August. I have really high hopes that Robert Venditti can be the one to make a Hawkman relaunch stick this time.

Imaginary Fiends TP

Vertigo series by Tim Seeley and Stephen Molnar. Though I'm not headed there very quickly, I have enjoyed most of what I've read by Seeley.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

Just in time for Tom Taylor's DCeased, a 1,000+ page collection of the first three years of the Injustice digital-first series.

JLA: Tower of Babel (DC Essential Edition) TP

Paperback by Mark Waid and Howard Porter collecting JLA #43-46 and stories from JLA Secret Files #3. Pretty much all of JLA is rife for Essential Edition; "Rock of Ages," at least.

Lucifer Vol. 1: The Infernal Comedy TP

Collection of the first six issues of the new Sandman Universe series, also including the Sandman Universe special.

Luthor 10th Anniversary Edition TP

Tenth anniversary edition of the five-issue miniseries by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo. With new story pages, apparently; I'm curious what that entails.

The Man of Steel by Brian Michael Bendis TP

Paperback of the six-issue miniseries and DC Nation #0 story, less than a year after the hardcover came out (so doing better than Batman/Flash: The Button).

Nightwing: Knight Terrors TP

Well, online stores have this as Nightwing Vol. 1: Knight Terrors, while this solicitation is just Nightwing: Knight Terrors, no number. It seemed Nightwing was being renumbered with the arrival of new writer Benjamin Percy, but we know the title's gone through some changes since then, settling finally on Zack Kaplan Dan Jurgens (after two issues by Zack Kaplan). I'm hoping for Vol. 8, myself. This is said to collect issues #50-56 (up from #55 as previously announced) by Scott Lobdell and company, ending just before Kaplan's arrival.

Old Lady Harley TP

Paperback collection of the five-issue miniseries and Harley Quinn #42 by Frank Tieri.

Powers Book Five New Edition TP

Issues #19-30 and the Annual #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

Red Hood: Outlaw Vol. 1: Underlife TP

Scott Lobdell's Red Hood and the Outlaws is a book I've enjoyed in its various iterations, but I haven't had a chance to read the Rebirth series yet though I've heard good things about it. In skimming the solicitations, I had guessed this "Outlaw" turn was just a storyline and Jason Todd would reunite with his team eventually; I'm surprised to see this getting new trade numbering even though the series numbering continues -- that makes this seem like more than just a phase. Anyway, I'll check this out eventually. The solicitation notes it includes Annual #2, issues #26-31, and "a treasure trove of behind-the-scenes artwork."

The Sandman Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones 30th Anniversary Edition TP

The solicitation notes this as the "longest-ever Sandman story." Should be issues #57-69 and a story from Vertigo Jam #1.

Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect TP

Collects issues #985-992, also more than a year after the original hardcover.

The Terrifics Vol. 2: Tom Strong and the Terrifics TP

Still said to collect Terrifics #7-12, even though Jeff Lemire's last issue is #14.

Titans Vol. 6: Into The Bleed TP

The second and final collection with Dan Abnett's new team, minus Nightwing but gaining another (alt-continuity) Titan. Issues #29-36; surely I expect Titans to be relaunched before long.

The United States vs. Murder, Inc. Vol. 1 TP

Six-issue miniseries by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 4 HC

1940s stories from Sensation Comics #70-89, Wonder Woman #26-34, and Comics Cavalcade #23-29.

In other DC news, apparently the Walmart 100-pagers are coming to comics shops and the original stories will be collected in trade. Are these 100-pagers of any use to you or have you already read most of the stories before?

Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 5: Out of Time (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Rebirth Green Lanterns Vol. 5: Out of Time is light fare, the finale to Sam Humphries' thirty-two-issue run that solidifies this as a failed experiment. We've got an astounding four more volumes (under different creative teams) before this book comes to an end, so maybe this title still has a shot at redemption yet. But with a boilerplate paint-by-numbers plot, Time takes what ought have been Green Lanterns most climactic moment so far and squanders it.

[Review contains spoilers]

Of the six issues collected here, five are part of "Out of Time" and they unfold like this: 1) an issue of Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz establishing they've been sent back in time, 2) an issue of the ancient original seven Green Lanterns fighting one another, 3) an issue of Jessica and Simon training those Green Lanterns, 4) an issue of the Lanterns fighting the villain Volthoom, and 5) an issue of Simon and Jessica fighting Volthoom. Humphries takes the story step by step by step in very predictable ways, and the "first Lanterns" emerge as so much fluff, figures on the page for the sole purpose of fighting one another or fighting Jessica and Simon or fighting Volthoom to pad out a story that's ultimately not made of all that much.

Review: Hellblazer Vol. 1: The Poison Truth (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

I hadn't intended to start reading the recently cancelled Rebirth Hellblazer series any time soon, having found the initial Rebirth special too light and comedic for my John Constantine tastes. I was actually catching up on my Green Lanterns, but then looking ahead I saw that writer Tim Seeley is bringing Constantine to Green Lanterns at the same time Seeley was writing Constantine in Hellblazer. It seemed worthwhile enough to be able to compare/contrast Seeley's two Constantine portrayals to go ahead and read the Rebirth Hellblazer first, and for that matter to begin at the beginning with Simon Oliver's run. So here we are.

I ultimately liked Hellblazer Vol. 1: The Poison Truth more than I thought I would. This is not the gritty Hellblazer I'm looking for, though between the madcap DC You version (see Constantine: The Hellblazer Vol. 2: The Art of the Deal) and Constantine's growing inclusion in TV's Legends of Tomorrow, it's possible straight horror Hellblazer is a thing of the past.

Review: New Challengers trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 17, 2019

As with a number of books in the essentially now defunct "New Age of Heroes" line, I liked New Challengers presentation of new characters and thought writers Scott Snyder and Aaron Gillespie integrated them with the existing DC Universe well. The writers, and artists Andy Kubert and V Ken Marion, use the conceit of doppelgangers and the constraints of the comics medium to good effect here; there's some surprising turnarounds and reversals late in the book.

But whether New Challengers was always meant as a six-issue miniseries or whether that was a late-made decision, the end comes on the book fast, and it's far from satisfactory. Optimally the end of a story like this leaves you wanting to know more (as with Immortal Men); here, the end is tidy enough and lacks sufficient suspense as to be a good jumping-off point. New Challengers definitely entertained, but in the final tally it failed to impress; I'd as soon see Brimstone again, or Sideways or the Immortal Men, than these new Challengers of the Unknown.

Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 7: Darkstars Rising trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Congratulations to Robert Venditti for a masterful conclusion to his Green Lantern run. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 7: Darkstars Rising hits lots of the right notes, paying deference to some of the best parts of this series before it ends. If the previous volume was too action-focused, Darkstars has exactly the right balance of action in service of character moments, sending this series out on a high note.

[Review contains spoilers]

This nine-issue collection comprises one long story, but split into three parts: the two-part "Darkstars Rising" prelude, the four-part titular story itself, and the three part "Last Charge." Though assuredly containing the most compelling title, "Darkstars Rising" itself is not actually the climax of this book; rather "Rising" involves Earth's four main Green Lanterns (absent Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz) seeking unexpected allies in their fight against the Darkstars, before they face off against the Darkstars in "Charge." Though "Charge" is thrilling in its own right, "Rising" is the jewel of this book, stalling in some respects the forward action of the story for some welcome character moments.

Review: Batwoman Vol. 3: Fall of the House of Kane trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Marguerite Bennett sticks the landing in the finale of her Batwoman Vol. 3: Fall of the House of Kane. With its aspirational ending, Bennett brings this Batwoman chapter to a strong close, in many respects more of a long-form Batwoman miniseries than a full-fledged series. That's fine, as it was nice to have a visit with Kate Kane at this point in the Rebirth juncture, and assuredly with the Batwoman TV pilot on the horizon, we'll see Kate in comics again one day. Bennett's series would make a great all-together omnibus (or large-form paperback Essential edition), and if nothing else, Bennett has proven that someone other than Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams can write a viable Kate Kane after some previous false starts (a nod also to James Tynion's Batwoman work in Detective Comics).

Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 6: Zod's Will trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

Robert Venditti's Rebirth Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps series began with the premise of the joined Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps trying to work together. That offered suspense for a while, some strong character moments and political stories, through to when the partnership imploded in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 4: Fracture. But since that time, through the fifth volume and into Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 6: Zod's Will, it feels as though little is happening in this book, with minor developments only coming at the tail end of action-focused plots. I had hoped for more from the penultimate volume of Venditti's long Green Lantern run; one never wants to see a good run peter out, but this volume plus the one before make me think the time is right for the switchover to Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp's The Green Lantern.

Review: Nightwing Vol. 7: The Bleeding Edge trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 03, 2019

After a dynamic run on Green Arrow with lots of character and heart, Nightwing would seem a sure thing for writer Benjamin Percy, a logical next step in his DC Comics career. We know, however, that Nightwing Vol. 7: The Bleeding Edge ended up being Percy's sole solo Nightwing outing, with Scott Lobdell quickly taking over in the next book. Thus this is the beginning of the Nightwing title in a quandary, what should be a solid seller for DC about to be mired in a poorly regarded amnesia storyline and wanting for a regular creative team.

Bleeding Edge seems rather good Benjamin Percy material and problematic Nightwing, if you will. The techno-terror found here is quite in line with Percy's The Dark Net novel and his Green Arrow Vol. 8: The Night Birds, among others, revisiting themes very much in Percy's wheelhouse. At the same time, Nightwing Dick Grayson is far from the Luddite protagonist Percy needs for this story, and his attempts to shoehorn Nightwing into that role ring false. Especially after we have just seen how well a writer new to this title can spin a fresh story while using what came before, the lack of much to center this specifically as a Nightwing story is glaring.

DC Trade Solicitations for April 2019 - "New Justice" Justice League Vol. 2, Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1, Wonder Woman and the Justice League Dark: Witching Hour, Batman: Faces in the Shadows Essential Edition, Outsiders by Winick Book One

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

DC Comics's April 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations has a selection of interesting books in it, the second volume of Scott Snyder's "New Justice" Justice League and the first volume of Joshua Williamson's Justice League Odyssey, plus the hardcover of the Wonder Woman and the Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour crossover. We also see a DC Essential Edition of Batman: Hush just as news arrives that the Batman: The Hush Saga Omnibus has been cancelled. All this and the start of expanded collections of one of my all-time favorite series, Judd Winick's Outsiders, and Batman: Faces in the Shadows, an Essential Edition that isn't all it seems ...

Read on for more about this month's books.

Absolute Art of Adam Hughes HC

I'm updating this as news of some high-profile layoffs at DC is spreading. I tend to let these kinds of things shake out before speculating too much, but for a company that says it's going back to its roots, I wonder what place books like an Absolute edition of Adam Hughes' covers has. Certainly, if this is your thing, by all means enjoy, but clearly this is a book for a reader with a more studious interest in comics than just whether Batman will marry Catwoman, and again I wonder how profitable that is and what place it holds in the modern "superheroes as mass media" landscape. I do think books like this are important, but also I just lost my Batman: Hush Omnibus, so what do I know.

Astro City: Aftermaths HC

Hardcover collection of the final issues of the latest Vertigo Astro City series by Kurt Busiek, #47-52.

Batgirl Vol. 5: Art of the Crime TP

Collects issues #26-29, the Annual #2, and a story from issue #25, being the first collection of the new run by Mairghread Scott and Paul Pelletier.

Batman: Faces in the Shadows (DC Essential Edition) TP

The DC Essential Edition line has so far been paperback collections of major DC events or storylines, sometimes in slightly expanded or newly combined editions. The so-called Faces in the Shadows, however, is an interesting beast, being a combination collection of Tony Daniel's New 52 Detective Comics Vol. 1: Faces of Death and Detective Comics Vol. 2: Scare Tactics. The hook is good, and it's obvious why DC would want to make sure this one is perennially out there -- this is the story in which the Joker has his face cut off, ahead of Scott Snyder's best-selling Death of the Family -- but that's only the first four issues of this.

From there, as my reviews linked above attest, Daniel's Detective run becomes wildly uneven, with stories melodramatic, broken, and confused -- in one story a character is erroneously referred to by different names, in another Daniel tries halting to reconcile pre- and post-Flashpoint continuity, and there's also a Two-Face story completely out of step with anything. One issue picks up from events in David Finch's Dark Knight Vol. 1: Night Terrors; another is a "Night of the Owls" tie-in issue.

All of that is to say, while the initial Joker issues are actually great, there's a lot more going on in this book than just that, and a lot of it problematic. I don't recall seeing another Essential Edition book like this, which is not one whole story but rather a collection of multi-part stories. They are stripped down and continuity-light (mostly just Batman, Commissioner Gordon, and Alfred), and maybe that would appeal to the Essential Editions' audience, but this seems to me stretching the perceived definitions of this line.

Batman: Hush (DC Essential Edition) TP

Far more logical for DC Essential Edition paperback format is Batman: Hush, the perennial Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee story, now released in another format. To be sure, this is a piece of DC canon and well-deserves to remain in print.

I'd be remiss however not to mention that word just came down of the cancellation of the Batman: The Hush Saga omnibus. Sad day, though I tend not to attribute this to the current shakeups at DC so much as that there was not as much interest as I had hoped among the general pre-ordering public for a large collection of Hush's lesser-regarded cackling appearances in the pages of Gotham Knights. I'm disappointed but I can't say I'm terribly surprised.

But we've been conditioned of late not to see an omnibus cancellation as the end, so I very much look forward to a "Hush Saga" paperback set, separating out the Loeb/Lee stories from AJ Lieberman's and Paul Dini's, with matching spines a la the newest "Death of Superman" and "Knightfall" paperbacks.

Challengers of the Unknown by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale TP

Trade of the Jeph Loeb/Tim Sale miniseries, which I admit I've never read. Aside from being by Loeb and Sale, the Challengers aren't exactly a known quantity, and I'm somewhat surprised DC keeps it so constantly in print unless it's just that good. This is the paperback release of last year's hardcover but I don't see that this has any additions from earlier collections, except for the more market-friendly title vs. the original title, "Challengers of the Unknown Must Die!"

Cover Vol. 1 TP

Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack's miniseries about comics creators recruited to the intelligence community, apparently based on a true story (sounds a bit like Argo), now collected.

The Flash by Mark Waid Book Six TP

Collects Flash #119-129, Flash/Green Lantern: Faster Friends #1-2, Flash Plus Nightwing #1, and a story from DC Universe Holiday Bash. These are kind of interstitial Flash/Waid stories, coming after "Dead Heat" and "Race Against Time" and leading up to when Grant Morrison and Mark Millar took over for ten or so issues, before Waid returned for his final twenty-ish issues (for then). There's a tie-in to Final Night and a sequel to Waid's Underworld Unleashed, and I'm very glad to see some of these specials and miniseries included too.

Frank Miller's Ronin TP

Black Label trade of the six-issue miniseries, with promotional art and fold-out pages.

Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1 TP

Paperback of the Earth One OGN by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow: Hard-Traveling Heroes New Edition TP

The classic Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76-87 and #89 and the backups from Flash #217-219 and #226. No word on anything special here aside from a new printing.

Green Lanterns Vol. 9: Evil's Might TP

The final volume of the Green Lanterns series, collecting issues #50-57, by Dan Jurgens.

Harley Quinn by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti Omnibus Vol. 3 HC

Collects issues #1-34 of the Harley Quinn Rebirth series, plus the Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary special. This may be the end of this omnibus series, as all the New 52 material and most of the miniseries and specials seem to be in the first two volumes, unless I'm overlooking something.

Hitman Book One TP

A new set of more-issues Hitman collections by Garth Ennis; this is Hitman #1-8, the Demon Annual #2, Hitman Annual #1, and a story from Batman Chronicles #4, having been the Hitman Vol. 1: A Rage in Arkham and Hitman Vol. 2: Ten Thousand Bullets collections.

House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

The 1970s House of Secrets #112-154.

Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1: The Ghost Sector TP

The new cosmic "New Justice" series by Joshua Williamson, collecting issues #1-5. This is also said to include a behind-the-scenes art section by Stjepan Sejic; at some point Sejic had to redraw two issues due to some kind of problem and Sejic has shared "lost" art from that time, so it'll be interesting to see if this is some of that art.

Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods TP

Collects Justice League #8-12, Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1, and Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1, in paperback. I'd feel there's some restraint here in DC not plastering Aquaman's name at the top, except of course last month just saw the solicitation of Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth in hardcover, being the same two specials, Justice League #10-12, and the Aquaman and Titans tie-in parts.

This is either good news or bad news, depending on whether the Aquaman and Titans issues are also collected in their own independent trades. If you can find all the disparate parts of the hardcover also in paperback, then it's all good and read it how ever you want. But if the Aquaman and Titans issues are only available in the hardcover (and my guess is, the Titans issue will appear in its own trade, but the Aquaman issues are up in the air), then it's double-dip city and nobody likes that.

Legends of the Dark Knight: Michael Golden HC

In hardcover; includes Batman Family #15-20, Batman #295 and #303, DC Special Series #15, Detective Comics #482, Batman Special #1, and Batman: Gotham Knights #22, plus cover work.

Lucifer Omnibus Vol. 1 TP

Collects Sandman Presents: Lucifer #1-3, Lucifer #1-35, and the Lucifer: Nirvana special, by Mike Carey. The series continues to issue #75, followed by a second series by Holly Black and others, and a new "Sandman Universe" series. It remains to be seen if these omnibuses will only collect the Mike Carey run or all of it.

The Outsiders by Judd Winick Book One TP

Among my all-time favorite series, Outsiders by Judd Winick is what Titans series are always striving to be -- hip, mature, smart, and character-driven. This is Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #1-3, Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files #1, and Outsiders #1-7 (being the Graduation Day and Outsiders: Looking for Trouble trades).

Pearl Vol. 1 TP

Collects issues #1-6 of the new series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos.

Raven: Daughter of Darkness Vol. 2 TP

I am not enthused by DC collecting this twelve-issue miniseries in two volumes, and I didn't hear much praise for Marv Wolfman's first iteration of this ("Daughter of Darkness" is the sequel to the first six-issue miniseries). But, the pairing of Wolfman's Raven and his Night Force creation is inspired, one of those things that's astounding it didn't happen sooner, and that piques my interest for this a bit more.

Sandman Vol. 8: Worlds' End 30th Anniversary New Edition TP

Issues #51-56 with a new introduction by Joe Hill.

Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 5 HC

Collects issue #25-30; this series will be ending with issue #36, so probably one more trade after this.

Shazam!: The World's Mightiest Mortal Vol. 1 HC

Collects issues #1-18 of the 1970s series with Dennis O'Neil, Otto Binder, Elliot S. Maggin, E. Nelson Bridwell, C.C. Beck, and Dave Cockrum, among others. This series went 35 issues, so maybe one more volume after this. Do I need to say "Where is Power of Shazam?"

The Silencer Vol. 2: Hell-Iday Road TP

Collects issues #7-12 and Annual #1. Silencer is one of the few "New Age of Heroes" titles still going strong, and I'd like to think it'll last at least until Brian Michael Bendis' "Leviathan" event.

Suicide Squad Vol. 8: Legerdemain TP

Collects the final issues of John Ostrander and Kim Yale's Suicide Squad, issues #59-66, including a War of the Gods tie-in issue (which guest-stars Grant Morrison as a character). After so many collections series cancelled before their time, I'm glad this one made it (also Mike Grell's Green Arrow).

Superman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Four TP

The solicitation for this volume describes the events of Superman Vol. 6: Imperius Lex as well as Superman Vol. 7: Bizarroverse, but the Imperius Lex issues were in the last Rebirth volume, so clearly they're not here. This is then issues #37-45, Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Superman Special, and their story from Action Comics #1000, which is a couple single issue stories from Vol. 6 plus the entirety of Vol. 7 and two parts of the "Super Sons of Tomorrow" crossover.

Swamp Thing: Protector of the Green (DC Essential Edition) TP

This is Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette's New 52 Swamp Thing series. The solicitation says issues #1-10, the Annual #1, and Jeff Lemire's Animal Man #12 and #17. Those latter issues, however, are part of the "Rotworld" crossover, tying in around the end of Snyder's run, issues #12-18. I'd guess this is the entirety of Snyder's run; indeed the 2015 deluxe edition was all of those issues and the Animal Man ones.

Takio New Edition TP

The first Takio graphic novel about two super-powered siblings, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Book Three TP

Issues #20-26, #29-31 of the Geoff Johns run, with Outsiders #24-25 (Teen Titans #27-28 were a Hawk and Dove story by Gail Simone and Rob Liefeld. This starts with an Identity Crisis tie-in and goes right up to Infinite Crisis.

Wonder Woman and the Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour HC

People, we haven't even talked about the fact that the first Justice League Dark trade collects issues #1-3 and #5-7 of that series, and for issue #4 (and Wonder Woman #56-57 and Justice League Dark/Wonder Woman: The Witching Hour #1 and Wonder Woman/Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour #1 [!]), you have to go to this hardcover instead.

It is not even that the first volume is in paperback and the crossover is in hardcover (so if you wait for the paperback, you'll probably have to wait another year to fill in that gap), so much as that there is that gap in the first place. I don't mind crossovers, even crossovers in other volumes, but pulling the fourth issue from a book seems inconvenient; I'd as soon they put the "Witching Hour" issues in the first volume and save #5-7 for the second.

Omitting the crossover issues didn't work recently, for instance, with Teen Titans Vol. 3: The Return of Kid Flash, where reading all the way through, Titans Tower is suddenly destroyed because of events in Super Sons of Tomorrow; I fear the same kind of thing here.

Anyone who's read Justice League Dark in single issues, will omitting the crossover from the trade affect my reading of issues #5-7?

Review: Curse of Brimstone Vol. 1: Inferno trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 27, 2019

With shades of Walking Dead, Curse of Brimstone is suddenly, unexpectedly the horror book that's been missing from DC Comics' Rebirth lineup. Despite that the title is already cancelled, against all odds Brimstone Joe Chamberlain might be among the most viable of the characters to come out of the "New Age of Heroes" initiative, easy to slot into Justice League Dark or elsewhere. In Curse of Brimstone Vol. 1: Inferno, writer Justin Jordan offers a set of stories episodic and terrifying, anchored by a brother-sister team not often seen in mainstream superheroics. This book is surprisingly strong, and if DC can't make it work for Jordan with an unknown protagonist, they'd do well to get Jordan on another title with a similar aesthetic posthaste.

Review: Batgirl Vol. 4: Strange Loop trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Through a couple of stories in Batgirl Vol. 4: Strange Loop, Hope Larson seems to be finding a distinctive voice for the series, making the fact of the end of her run unfortunate. But no sooner does this book get good than it stumbles, reminding of some of the other misses over the past 25 issues, and at that point the end seems right. There's sufficient here to remind of the best of the Burnside era, including plenty good art, but also sufficient tidbits to whet my appetite for Mairghread Scott's new run, too.

[Review contains spoilers]

The premise of Larson's Rebirth Batgirl run has been to affect a certain distance between Batgirl Barbara Gordon and her adopted Burnside neighborhood. Larson -- being the first (and essentially only) writer to tackle the Burnside Batgirl besides creators Brendan Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and company -- first sent Barbara overseas; upon her return, Barbara was still "of" Burnside, but the narrative was peppered with Barbara's recognition of differences, including Burnside's growing gentrification.

Review: Trinity Vol. 4: The Search for Steve Trevor trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 20, 2019

That Trinity Vol. 4: The Search for Steve Trevor marks the end of the Rebirth Trinity series is not a great surprise. The series started with an interesting premise, the pseudo-New 52 Batman and Wonder Woman getting to know the pre-Flashpoint Superman, but with Superman Reborn, this became simply a "Big Three" team-up book.

Not that that might not have a place, but especially with Trinity Vol. 3: Dark Destiny, we've increasingly been seeing a title that wants for a regular creative team and also a storyline with some relevance. I like that this volume launches from Wonder Woman's search for Themyscira, but nothing significant happens in that regard; with Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman regularly appearing in one another's titles these days and in Justice League, a toothless team-up of this sort no longer impresses just for existing.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 8: On the Outside trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Bryan Hill's Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 8: On the Outside whets my appetite for Hill's Batman and the Outsiders series, just as the future of that series unfortunately becomes murky. Even so, as my first exposure to Hill's comics work, I was satisfied and would be happy to read this author again; I also thought artist Miguel Mendonca was solid here, with shades of Eddy Barrows' good work earlier on Detective.

In this age of multiple Leagues and ubiquitous Bat-families, the dynamic original Mike W. Barr Outsiders lineup has less to distinguish it now as necessary and relevant except for nostalgia value. However, I thought Hill did a good job here of presenting Black Lightning Jefferson Pierce as a teacher above all, and that's a laudable hook on which to hang a team book, teen heroes with leader as teacher-mentor. Hill also brings a believable "outsider's view of the Bat-family" perspective to the book; we see this both in Pierce's interactions and in some of the missteps in Hill's story, totally forgivable from a new Bat-writer in an overall impressive first outing.

Review: Superman Vol. 7: Bizarroverse trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Superman Vol. 7: Bizarroverse brings to a close Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's run on Superman. Surely this series was better than Superman has been in a while, though this volume offers prime examples of how quickly heartfelt in this run could turn to cloying. No doubt there's something to be said for humorous, all-ages Superman stories like these and an ode to the rural Superman aesthetic we're probably unlikely to see again for a while. I wouldn't besmirch what Tomasi and Gleason have accomplished here, but this finale makes me more excited for the new team than nostalgic for the past.

[Review contains spoilers]

Tomasi and Gleason's Superboy Jon Kent has grown on me. There's a particular tone the writers give Jon when he's semi-panicking -- usually caught between a hard place and his parents finding out about the hard place -- that cracks me up every time, here when "Boyzarro" has crashed into Jon's room. I also think the writers' conception of a boy Jon's age is particularly apt, as when Jon has been eager to venture to Dinosaur Island to save Captain William Storm but then gets cold feet right before departure.