Review: Red Hood: Outlaw Vol. 3: Generation Outlaw trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Red Hood: Outlaw Vol. 3: Generation Outlaw collects issues #37-42 of the series. With longtime series writer Scott Lobdell having announced he'll leave the book with issue #50, it's an easy bet that the next collection will be Lobdell's last on the book, whether or not the title continues. But even if we hadn't known the next volume was Lobdell's last, one can discern it here; a lot of storylines begin to get wrapped up in a very short amount of space. Some of these blithe resolutions feel unfair to long-time readers who've stuck with things this far; we can maybe hope Lobdell will offer more details before the finale, but no guarantees.

[Review contains spoilers]

Jason Todd managing a team of adolescent anti-heroes doesn't feel like the strongest direction for a title already struggling to find direction. The first volume of the new "Outlaw" title had Jason as a vengeful loner vigilante, the second had him as Gotham mob boss, and now the third has him as teen team mentor. At the moment the DCU already has a "tougher" Teen Titans team plus Young Justice, and so a third team of all-new characters seems unlikely to make a big splash.

Review: Justice League Dark Vol. 3: The Witching War trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 26, 2020

I wonder about the number of writers who've written lengthy runs for both Detective Comics and Batman, and specifically those who've "graduated" from Detective to Batman (not sure if Chuck Dixon fits this bill). Of course Detective wasn't always Batman's ancillary title, especially not way back in the beginning, but of late Detective has played second fiddle and writing on it hasn't always guaranteed a shot at the big time. Thinking about it further, Scott Snyder is one; I'm not sure the ten issues for Batman: The Black Mirror necessarily counts as a Detective "run," but assuredly Detective got him the shot at Batman.

Which is to say, it occurs to me that Justice League Dark Vol. 3: The Witching War writer James Tynion has accomplished something few have, and deservedly — his Detective run was great and I'm eager to see what he does on the main stage. Furthermore, whereas my initial conception of Tynion — as writer of backups on Snyder's Batman and the short-lived Batman spin-off series Talon, among others — was as one of DC Comics' pinch-hit writers, a sidekick and not a lead, that idea's going to have to change now that he's writing Batman (and following Tom King, no less!).

Review: Dial H for HERO Vol. 2: New Heroes of Metropolis trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Sam Humphries' Dial H for HERO remains an excellent project, truly one of the better and more viable miniseries I've seen from DC Comics in a while. Dial H for HERO Vol. 2: New Heroes of Metropolis starts off not quite as well as the first volume, if just because some of the surprise has worn off and one better knows what to expect from this title now — but the optimistic, otherwise-sappy ending hits just right, tonally perfect for the title, Wonder Comics, and this day and age.

Humphries gets this title where, in my opinion, it needed to go, while at the same time wholly subverting my expectations as to how it would get there, which is great. It feels as though artist Joe Quinones doesn't get quite as much to do here overall — the point in which, rather than having Quinones imitate other artists' styles, they just bring in actual other artists, doesn't quite land as well as one might expect — though there are strong points especially right at the end that evoke the rush of the first volume.

DC Trade Solicitations for October 2020 - Batman: Three Jokers HC, Wonder Woman: Death Earth HC, Lois Lane by Rucka, Underworld Unleashed 25th Anniversary, Supergirl: Infectious, Detective Comics Omnibus by Tynion

Sunday, July 19, 2020

I'm liking how DC Comics October 2020 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations are shaping up the more I'm looking at them. At first I felt like there wasn't much in terms of "regular series" trades this month, but I've been looking forward to Greg Rucka's Lois Lane: Enemy of the People and there's also the final Supergirl volume with ties to "Year of the Villain," well done or not. And Flash Vol. 13: Rogues Reign TP hits lucky volume 13, and I always find there's an uptick in the volumes with the Rogues in them.

Plus, two notable Black Label books, Batman: Three Jokers and Wonder Woman: Dead Earth. I sometimes find myself with reluctance to read these wholly out-of-the-main volumes, but Scott Snyder's Batman: Last Knight on Earth was just fantastic, and thinking of it that way I'm more inclined to give both those books a try (not that Three Jokers wasn't jumping to the top of the read pile anyway). So that's a big chunk of reading (noted, the Supergirl book comes out in September, not November/December), and between Rucka, Geoff Johns, and Daniel Warren Johnson, maybe of a higher reading quality than your average month.

Other books I thought might catch your eye this month include the big collection of James Tynion's Detective Comics, which gains a lot more cache now that he's the new hot Batman writer. Y: The Last Man arrived in "compendium" format, with probably just one more volume to follow. And if you weren't collecting comics 25 years ago, before "Year of the Villain" there was Underworld Unleashed, and that gets an expanded collection in November.

Let's take a look at the full list.

Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Who Are the Secret Six? TP

Paperback collection by Joshua Williamson, following the hardcover.

Batman: The Rise and Fall of the Batmen Omnibus HC

Collects James Tynion's impressive Detective Comics Rebirth run, issues #934-981 and the Annual #1, as well as pages from Detective Comics #1000 (I'd guess Tynion's "Precedent" story), and Batman #7-8 and Nightwing #5-6, the non-Detective part Batman: Night of the Monster Men. What a great set of stories; if you never read this before, you're in for a treat.

Batman: Three Jokers HC

Hardcover collection, with seemingly very Killing Joke-esque trade dress, due out in November 2020, by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok. As long as this has taken and as far out of its original moment as it might be, one can certainly tell Johns and Fabok have put a lot in to this. I’m hoping this is a redemptive book for Johns after Doomsday Clock.

Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader? Deluxe 2020 Edition HC

No different contents that I can see — Batman #686, Detective Comics #853, plus other contributions by Neil Gaiman to the Batman mythos — Secret Origins #36, Secret Origins Special #1, and Batman Black and White #2.

Daphne Byrne HC

Collection of the Hill House imprint series, in hardcover with a vellum dust jacket. Appearances make it look like this is supposed to appeal to the bookstore crowd, which is probably the right move for this.

Deadman Omnibus HC

Collects Strange Adventures #205-216; The Brave and the Bold #79, #86, #104 and #133; Aquaman #50-52; Challengers of the Unknown #74 and #84-87; Justice League of America #94; World's Finest Comics #223 and #227; The Phantom Stranger #33 and #39-41; Superman Family #183; DC Super-Stars #18; DC Special Series #8; Adventure Comics #460-466; DC Comics Presents #94; Detective Comics #500; Deadman #1-4 (1986); Secret Origins #15; and covers from Deadman #1-7 (1985). If I’m not mistaken, much of this was collected in a series of paperbacks, now all together in hardcover.

Flash Vol. 13: Rogues Reign TP

In paperback, collecting issues #82-87. I don’t know exactly where the stories begin and end, but issue #750 follows issue #88, so stopping this one with #87 makes it tougher to slot the Flash #750 Deluxe Edition in right after, unless Vol. 14 will contain just the relevant story from #750.

Flash: Year One TP

Paperback, following the hardcover, of issues #70-75 by Joshua Williamson. I enjoyed this one more than I expected, though I’m still bummed DC’s not collecting the backups from #75 anywhere.

Forever People by Jack Kirby TP

Collects the 11 issues of Jack Kirby's Forever People.

Girl TP

Collects the three-issue 1996 Vertigo miniseries by Peter Milligan and Duncan Fegredo.

Heroes in Crisis TP

The Tom King miniseries in paperback. If you can avoid spoilers till August 2020, I'd love to know your secret.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Collects Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four #1-12, Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four Annual #1, Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five #1-20, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Five Annual #1, and Injustice: Ground Zero #1-12.

Justice League by Scott Snyder Book Two Deluxe Edition HC

Collects Justice League #14-28, being more or less the Justice League Vol. 3: Hawkworld and Justice League Vol. 4: The Sixth Dimension volumes.

Justice League Unlimited: Time After Time TP

Collects Adventures in the DC Universe #10, Justice League Adventures #28, 30, and 34, Justice League Unlimited #9, and Justice League Unlimited #19, and for $9.99 apparently. Following the themed collections, this one is time travel, including appearances by the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Shining Knight, and Jonah Hex.

Legends of the Dark Knight: José Luis García-López HC

Collects Batman #272, #311, #313-314, #318, #321, #336-337, #353 (1940s series), Batman ’66: The Lost Episode #1 (2006), Batman Confidential #26-28 (2006), Batman Family #3 (1975-1978), Batman: Gotham Knights #10 (2000), DC Comics Presents #31 and #41 (1978-1986), DC Special Series #21 (1977), Detective Comics #454, #458-459, #483, and #487 (1937), The Best of the Brave and the Bold #1-6 (1988), The Brave and the Bold #164 and #171 (1955), The Joker #4 (1975), The Untold Legend of the Batman #1-3 (1980), and World’s Finest Comics #244, #255, and #258 (1941 series).

Lois Lane: Enemy of the People TP

The 12-issue Greg Rucka miniseries. The solicitations still don’t say this has the lead-in short from the Superman: Leviathan Rising special, but at least that was in the recent Event Leviathan collection.

Nightwing: The New 52 Omnibus HC

The good Kyle Higgins New 52 run, plus relevant parts of "Death of the Family." Collects Nightwing #0-30, Batman #17, a story from Young Romance: A New 52 St. Valentine’s Day Special #1, Nightwing Annual #1, a story from Secret Origins #1.

Plunge HC

Collection of the Hill House imprint title, by Joe Hill and Stuart Immonen. Again, I get a good “Barnes & Noble endcap” vibe from the hardcovers with vellum jackets.

Promethea: The 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition Book Three HC

Issues #24-32, the final issues, by Alan Moore and J. H. Williams.

Supergirl Vol. 3: Infectious TP

For a series that was doing so poorly, unfortunately, that not only was it cancelled, but the final two issues were only released digitally, this is a hefty, pricey collection. I was a buyer already, and I'm glad DC collected it all rather than not, but this feels ambitious. It's Supergirl #34-42 and the Supergirl Annual #2, so 11 issues already, plus the story from the Superman: Leviathan Rising Special. An embarrassment of super-riches.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3: Leviathan Hunt TP

In paperback, following the hardcover; issues #1015-1020.

Superman: The City of Tomorrow Vol. 2 TP

Following the "Superman Y2K" stories by Jeph Loeb and company, this is Superman #155-159, Adventures of Superman #577-581, Action Comics #764-768, and Superman: The Man of Steel #99-103, the 'Til Death Do Us Part and Critical Condition collections (plus a couple uncollected issues, I think). Next up would be the "Emperor Joker" storyline.

Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Deluxe 2020 Edition HC

Hardcover of Action Comics #593 and Superman #423 by Alan Moore, plus Superman and Swamp Thing from DC Comics Presents #85 (with art by Rick Veitch) and "For the Man Who Has Everything ..." from Superman Annual #11 (with art by Dave Gibbons).

Teen Titans/Deathstroke: The Terminus Agenda TP

Paperback of the latest crossover; collects Deathstroke #41-43 and Teen Titans #28-30 by Christopher Priest and Adam Glass.

Underworld Unleashed: The 25th Anniversary TP

Said to collect Underworld Unleashed #1-3, Underworld Unleashed: Abyss — Hell’s Sentinel #1, Underworld Unleashed: Apokolips — Dark Uprising #1, Underworld Unleashed: Batman — Devil’s Asylum #1, and Underworld Unleashed: Patterns of Fear #1. All the DC villains get an offer that powers them up and emboldens them to wreak havoc on the heroes — stop me if this sounds familiar.

Wonder Woman: Dead Earth HC

Hardcover collection of the DC Black Label four-issue miniseries written and drawn by Daniel Warren Johnson. I like what I’ve seen of this post-apocalyptic Wonder Woman story and I’m looking forward to this arriving in December.

Y: The Last Man Compendium One TP

The first 31 issues, being the first five trades — Unmanned, Cycles, One Small Step, Safeword, and Ring of Truth. The next collection should get the rest, #32-60.

Review: Flash Vol. 12: Death and the Speed Force trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

In terms of Mr. Barry Allen himself, Joshua Williamson's Flash Vol. 12: Death and the Speed Force is an improvement, and I'm happy to accept an improvement. Not to mention, there's a revelation in this book some fifteen years in the making that seems so obvious in retrospect it's amazing no one thought of it before, and good on Williamson for doing so. All of that helps a book that is otherwise fine but not great; what seems like it should be a pivotal arc in Williamson's Flash saga instead comes off tertiary, not in the least because the central conflict is far from well defined. With the end in sight, Williamson's Flash is better than it was, but I still wish it was a little stronger.

Review: Dial H for HERO Vol. 1: Enter the Heroverse trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, July 12, 2020

To be honest, I put off reading Sam Humphries' Dial H for HERO as long as I did (at least until the second volume came out) because of Young Animal. While I enjoyed the flagship of Gerard Way's imprint, Doom Patrol, I found the other titles less engaging (and also fleeting). Similarly I liked Brian Michael Bendis' Wonder Comics Young Justice, but then Naomi was good but not great and I started to worry, and that made me hesitant to dig in to another of Wonder Comics' ancillary titles.

Those fears were unfounded, because Humphries' Dial H for HERO Vol. 1: Enter the Heroverse is pretty great; as Brian Michael Bendis describes in his afterword, it's a fantastic pairing of Humphries and artist Joe Quinones. What we find is a DC teen title in the best classic style, reminiscent of Keith Giffen and John Rogers' Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes series or Chuck Dixon's Robin. It's also a fun reimagining of the "Dial H" mythos in the DC Universe — not faithful, I don't think, to any of the "Dial H"-type series of the past couple decades, but there's a lot of potential in the idea that disparate characters across the DCU have used the H Dial, from Angel and the Ape to Alfred Pennyworth.

Review: Catwoman Vol. 3: Friend or Foe? trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

It feels like there's a good Catwoman story somewhere within Joelle Jones' Catwoman Vol. 3: Friend or Foe? and the volumes that lead up to it, but this book is pulling in so many different directions that it's tough to find it. What's a cogent crime noir plot, even tying well into the Year of the Villain event, is often derailed by nonsequitors or irrelevant action sequences; a lot of what shows promise in the beginning comes to naught by the end.

Friend or Foe? feels like a conclusion because it is — these issues mark Jones' last on the series — but without Jones getting to tie up all her loose threads. The book continues, with issues promised at least to tie in to the upcoming "Joker War" storyline, but I wonder if this title will continue much after that.

Review: Batgirl Vol. 7: Oracle Rising trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

In thinking over Batgirl Vol. 7: Oracle Rising, I was surprised how much less I enjoyed this book than the previous volume, thinking they'd been done by the same team. Instead, I realized Batgirl Vol. 6: Old Enemies was Mairghread Scott's, and that Oracle Rising is the very first by Cecil Castellucci. Though I have a lot of reservations about Oracle Rising, I would note that my confusion stems from Castellucci heavily using the new supporting cast that Scott introduced, so much so that in my faulty memory I thought they'd been created by Castellucci.

That's rare, I feel, given that Scott only introduced Congresswoman Luciana Alejandro and reintroduced Jason Bard one collection ago, not to mention bringing in the Terrible Trio of Fox, Shark, and Vulture. There's been more than enough reinventing Batgirl Barbara Gordon with every new team that Castellucci wouldn't have been without precedent for doing so. I'm particularly impressed that she did not, but rather built on Scott's stories via both the heroes and the villains.

Review: Martian Manhunter: Identity trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

About every solicitation for Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo's Martian Manhunter: Identity touts some version of this, that "back on Mars, J'onn J'onzz was about as corrupt as a law officer can be." It has been the most concerning thing in the run-up to Identity, and fortunately, it turns out not to be true. What is the truth is more complicated and complex in this masterwork of a book that is surely destined for greater formats than a mild, under-the-radar paperback.

For more than a few reasons, Identity reminds of Tom King's Omega Men, not in the least because, arriving outside the mainstream day-to-day of the DC Universe, there does not seem to be the fanfare it deserves — Omega Men got a deluxe edition eventually and surely Identity must, too, if not an Absolute. Dangerously, this book raises one's expectations for Orlando immensely, and not again will that writer be able to get away with the somewhat workaday adventures of his Justice League of America after the powerful, edgy sci-fi we see here. Already since Batman: Night of the Monster Men we've known anti-house-style art like Rossmo's should be DC's rule and not their exception, but this just seals it.