Review: The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Jeff Lemire teams with the late Dennis O’Neil’s Question collaborators Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz for the DC Black Label collection The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage. In this time of uncomfortable Alan Moore sequels, what we have here — with a truly company-owned character and original members of the band directly involved — clearly falls more within the realm of tribute or homage. And it’s fantastic.

I gauge this book as someone sadly without direct experience of O’Neil’s Question, having mainly come to the character through Greg Rucka’s dedicated work. O’Neil’s full Question is collected, though not Question Quarterly or the other ancillary materials, and it’s all sadly out of print and the collections aren’t even available digitally. Were it to come around again — even a set that goes straight from O’Neil to Rucka, c’mon DC — I’d snap it up. But even just knowing the bare bits — Question Vic Sage is a TV reporter, his “Alfred” is named Tot and Richard Dragon hangs around the edges — I was still utterly taken from the start (some familiarity with Rorschach probably doesn’t hurt, either).

DC Future State collections, final Flash by Mark Waid, Death of Iris West, DCeased: Hope at World's End, Fourth World by Byrne, Suicide Squad movie tie-ins, Superman omnibus with Earth Stealers, more in Summer 2021 solicitations

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

It’s the DC Comics Summer 2021 hardcover and trade paperback catalog solicitations. Last December, that catalog had 92 books in it and that seemed small compared to the about-150 in previous catalogs. This one just has 62 books in it, and of those are the YA graphic novels (important as those are) and etc. Time to be concerned yet?

There are certainly some interesting books here, including all the Future State collections that we recently talked about. There’s also a bevy of Suicide Squad collections in time for the new James Gunn movie; the one really of interest is Suicide Squad: Casualties of War, collecting the previously uncollected Keith Giffen series, but then there’s also some anthology collections if you like that sort of thing.

A dour but important classic Flash story arrives with Flash: The Death of Iris West; we also see the first-ever collection of the (first) end of Mark Waid’s Flash run with Flash by Mark Waid Book Eight. The Fourth World by John Byrne Omnibus has Genesis in it(!), and the Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 3 by Byrne and company has Superman: The Earth Stealers in it(!!). I liked Tom Taylor’s DCeased: Unkillables and I’m eager for any more DCeased material, so DCeased: Hope at World’s End is a highlight for me, along with Steve Orlando’s Gotham City Monsters, Tales From the Dark Multiverse II, and the finale of the Wonder Woman series pre-Future State with Wonder Woman: Lords & Liars.

Look, if we found DC’s output getting lighter, I’ve still got a to-read pile miles long of older stuff or books I skipped over, not to mention branching out to indie series I’ve always wanted to read. So wanting for reading material isn’t the concern. The overall health and future of DC Comics, sure that’s a different story. And oh look, Penguin Random House just bought Simon & Schuster …

A reminder as always that the Red Cross often has a critical need for blood donations.

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So, let’s dive in and see what 62 books we’ve got …

Absolute Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals

This seems cool, George Perez's Wonder Woman #1-14 collected in Absolute edition; it's not often we see "regular series" get the Absolute treatment. Surely this is due to the movie, though it makes me thing Superman: Man of Steel maybe deserves the same (Batman: Year One's already been there).

Aquaman: Deep Dives

Collects stories from the Walmart Aquaman Giants #1-4 and the digital Aquaman: Deep Dives #4, 6-7, and #9.

Batman Adventures: Cat Got Your Tongue?

Collection of Catwoman stories set in the DC animated universe — Adventures in the DC Universe #2-19; Batman: Gotham Adventures #4-24 and 50; and Batman Adventures #10.

Batman by John Ridley: The Deluxe Edition

Recent Batman stories by John Ridley from Batman: Black & White #1, Batman: The Joker War Zone #1, Future State: The Next Batman #1-4, and a previously unpublished story by Ridley and Dustin Nguyen.

Batman Vol. 3: Ghost Stories

Hardcover from James Tynion collecting Batman #101-105, a story from Detective Comics #1027, and Batman Annual #5.

Batman: Dark Prince Charming

Paperback, following the hardcover, collecting Batman: The Dark Prince Charming #1-2 by European comics creator Enrico Marini.

Batman: Earth One Vol. 3

What I believe is the last book of a trilogy, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, coming in hardcover in June.

Batman: The Adventures Continue

Collecting the new digital-first series by Paul Dini, Alan Burnett, and Ty Templeton.

Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 9

Collects Batman #76-84, plus stories from Detective Comics #192-208 and World’s Finest Comics #63-70.

Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn

Spin-off of Sean Murphy's Batman books by Katana Collins, collecting Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn #1-6 and Harley Quinn Black + White + Red #4.

Batman: Zero Year

In paperback, collecting both of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s “Zero Year” collections in one volume, being Batman #21-27 and #29-33.

Batwing: Family Is Everything Omnibus

Not for no reason, a collection of Batwing's solo series, with both David Zavimbe and Luke Fox under the metal cowl. By Judd Winick to start, and then by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, I liked the Zavimbe parts better though the Luke Fox parts are more important going forward. Glad to see this underrated series getting a nod. Collects Batwing #0-34 and Batwing: Futures End #1.

Bizarro Comics: The Deluxe Edition

Deluxe reprinting of the early 2000s anthology featuring indie comics creators, including the once-pulped “Letitia Lerner, Superman’s Babysitter” story by Kyle Baker and Liz Glass from the Elseworlds 80-Page Giant.

Catwoman: Soulstealer (Graphic Novel)

Comics edition of the young adult nove by Sarah J. Maas, adapted by Louise Simonson and drawn by Samantha Dodge. I never did catch before that this was Catwoman vs. Batwing Luke Fox.

DC Comics: Generations

In hardcover, coming in June 2021, at 192 pages. That’s more than the Fractured and Shattered specials, but no word on the contents just yet.

DC Poster Portfolio: Jae Lee

Covers and artwork, including one would imagine from the New 52 Batman/Superman series.

DC Poster Portfolio: Joelle Jones

Covers and artwork, including I’m guessing Jones’ work on Catwoman.

DCeased: Hope at World's End

In hardcover, the digital-first series by Tom Taylor, taking place during the events of the original DCeased, and including Spoiler Stephanie Brown, Flash Wally West, and Jimmy Olsen, among others.

DCeased: Unkillables

Paperback collection of the three-issue miniseries, following the hardcover.

Fables Compendium Three

In paperback, collecting Fables #83-113, Jack of Fables #33-35, The Literals #1-3, and Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland.

Flash by Mark Waid Book Eight

The end of Mark Waid’s original Flash run, the “Dark Flash Saga,” which has never been collected before. These collections of Mark Waid’s Flash have been great, but this one, collecting never-collected material, makes it really worth it. This is Flash #151–162, Flash Annual #12 (”JLApe”), and material from Flash Secret Files #2.

Flash: The Death of Iris West

Cary Bates long saga of the murder of Iris West and its aftermath. This begins the story that ends, of course, with “The Trial of the Flash,” which has not (to my recollection) been collected so far in color (only in Showcase Presents in black-and-white). Hopefully this collection is an indication we’ll get a companion one of that. This is Flash #270-284.

Fourth World by John Byrne Omnibus

Y'know, I'd venture not every part of this was great, but I've got to give it to DC for including Genesis in this, a crossover I didn't entirely understand likely because I had not been reading all of John Byrne's other Fourth World work. Even again if Genesis struggled, this is a mighty attractive collection. Said to include New Gods #12-15, Jack Kirby's Fourth World #1-20, and Genesis #1-4.

Future State: Dark Detective

The solicitation compares Mariko Tamaki’s “Dark Detective” stories to 1984, showing the DC hype machine running full tilt. This book has Future State: Dark Detective #1–4 (including Grifters and Red Hood) Future State: Catwoman #1–2, Future State: Harley Quinn #1–2, Future State: Robin Eternal #1–2, and Future State: Batman/Superman #1–2.

Future State: Justice League

Collects Future State: Justice League #1–2 (with Justice League Dark), Future State: The Flash (called Future State: The Flash: Death Race here), and Future State: Green Lantern #1–2 (including Last Lanterns and Tales of the Green Lantern Corps). Again, seems like the collection where Aquaman might show up.

Future State: Suicide Squad

Collects Future State: Suicide Squad #1–2 (including Black Adam), Future State: Teen Titans #1–2 (called Future State: Teen Titans: Dead of the Class), Future State: Shazam! #1–2 (called Future State: Shazam: The Death of William Batson), and Future State: Swamp Thing #1–2 (called Future State: Swamp Thing: Obsidian Sun).

Future State: Superman

Collects Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1–2 (including Guardian and Mister Miracle), Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1–2 (including Midnighter, and Black Racer), Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #1–2, Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1–2, _Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes _#1–2 (the solicitation calls it “Legion 5000”), and Future State: House of El #1.

Future State: The Next Batman

Collects Future State: The Next Batman #1–4(including Outsiders, Arkham Knights, Batgirls, and Gotham City Sirens) and Future State: Nightwing #1–2, and the solicitation also says it collects Future State: Dark Detective #1–3, which isn’t a thing unless some of the backup stories from Dark Detective are showing up here.

Future State: Wonder Woman

Including early appearances by Yara Flor (called “Maria Flor” here), in the running to headline a new “Wonder Girl” TV series. This is Future State: Wonder Woman #1–2, Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1–2, and Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1–2 (including Nubia).

Gotham City Monsters

In paperback, Steve Orlando's six-issue miniseries including Frankenstein, Killer Croc, Lady Clayface, Orca, and I, Vampire's Andrew Bennett. Some great characters in there; I'm looking forward to this.

Green Arrow: Stranded

Juvenile fiction volume by Brendan Deneen and Bell Hosalla.

Green Lantern Season Two Vol. 2

In hardcover, coming in July, what I believe to be the finale of Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s The Green Lantern, collecting issues #7–12.

Green Lantern: John Stewart: A Celebration of 50 Years

Assuredly a deserved recognition of this character, and also a book that will skew more modern (and to my tastes) than the celebrations with early Superman or Batman stories. Includes Green Lantern Vol. 2 #87 (first appearance), #182, and #185 (serving as Earth’s primary Green Lantern); Green Lantern Vol. 3 #74 (John as a Darkstar) and #156 (spotlight issue in Judd Winick’s Kyle Rayner run); Green Lantern Vol. 4 #49 (Blackest Night issue); Green Lantern: Mosaic #18 (now could we get a full collection?10; and Justice League of America #110 (from 1974, with John subbing for Hal Jordan) — among others, possibly.

Indestructibles: The First Fracture

Young readers graphic novel by Ridley Pearson, focusing on an all-new super-team but set in some of the same locations as his Super Sons books.

Injustice: Year Zero

Collects Injustice: Year Zero #1–14, the prequel digital-first series by Tom Taylor, featuring the Justice Society.

John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol. 25: Another Season

The penultimate collection of the classic Hellblazer series, collecting issues #276–291 by Peter Milligan and Giuseppe Camuncoli.

Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 3

Collects Justice League of America #147–181, with appearances by the Legion of Super-Heroes, Jonah Hex, Enemy Ace, the Viking Prince, Phantom Stranger, Black Lighting, and more.

Justice League Unlimited: Girl Power

Collects Adventures in the DC Universe #3–6 and #9, Justice League Adventures #4, and Justice League Unlimited #20–22 and #35–42, with stories featuring Supergirl, Mary Marvel, and Wonder Woman.

Justice League: The New 52 Omnibus Vol. 1

Collects Justice League #0–22; Aquaman #14–16; Justice League Dark #22–23; DC Comics - The New 52 FCBD Special Edition #1; Justice League of America #6–7; Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger #11; Constantine #5; Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1–3. That’s the first four volumes of the series, from the start through “Throne of Atlantis” and in to “Trinity War.” The next volume — and I’d think this could be done in two — should include Forever Evil tie-ins on the way to “Darkseid War” and that’s that.

Krypto, the Superdog

Collects issues #1-6 of the comic based on the mid-2000s animated series.

Last God

The DC Black Label fantasy series by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Riccardo Federici. Collects The Last God #1–12, The Last God: Tales From the Book of Ages #1, and The Last God: Songs of Lost Children #1.

Mystery of the Meanest Teacher

A “Johnny Constantine” graphic novel, guest-starring Etrigan the Demon. Whoever would’ve thunk it? By Ryan North and Derek Charm.

New 52: The 10th Anniversary Deluxe Edition

On one hand, yes, this is a weird collection of New 52 #1 issues; on the other hand, if as the solicitation says this is showing the “breadth” of that first lineup of titles, I kind of get it. This is All Star Western #1 (so, a Western), Animal Man #1 (horror, and good at that), Aquaman #1 (there’s a pretty direct line between what Johns did here and the eventual Aquaman movie), Justice League Dark #1 (not the strongest the title ever was, but OK), Demon Knights #1 (swords and sorcery), Voodoo #1 (I don’t know, possibly Wildstorm plus a female protagonist), Justice League #1 (sure, the flagship book), Flash #1 (with those big Francis Manapul vibes), Action Comics #1 (a big creator, Grant Morrison), and Wonder Woman #1 and Batman #1, both of which ended up being significant runs for the characters. So I don’t know, we could cast about for Harley Quinn or Swamp Thing or Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE, but I can follow the thinking.

O.M.A.C by Jack Kirby

Collects Kirby’s OMAC: One Man Army Corps #1–8 in paperback; this was previously collected in hardcover.

Preacher Omnibus Vol. 2

In hardcover, collecting Preacher #34–66, Preacher Special: The Story of You-Know-Who, Preacher Special: The Good Old Boys, Preacher Special: One Man’s War, Preacher: Tall in the Saddle, and material from Absolute Preacher Vol. 2 and Absolute Preacher Vol. 3.

Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book 3

Collecting Sandman #32-50, which is the "A Game of You," "Fables and Reflections," and "Brief Lives" collections, but originally the issues were out of order between these. It's too bad there's no significant extras this time, but having the issues recomposed in order is interesting in and of itself.

Suicide Squad Case Files 1

Stories featuring first or major appearances by Bloodsport, Mongal, Polka-Dot Man, King Shark, Weasel, and the Thinker — can these all possibly be in the James Gunn movie? It’s Superman #4 and #170, Detective Comics #300, Superboy #9, Fury of Firestorm #38, Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #25, Vigilante #36, and Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller #1.

Suicide Squad Case Files 2

Stories focusing on Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Rick Flag, Ratcatcher, Savant, Javelin, and Blackguard. Collects Suicide Squad #44, Secret Origins #14, Detective Comics #585, Birds of Prey #58, Batman: Harley Quinn #1, Green Lantern #174, and Booster Gold #1.

Suicide Squad: Casualties of War

Collects all 12 issues of the early 2000s Keith Giffen series that followed the “Superman: Our Worlds at War” event. I thought this had been collected before but it seems it hasn’t, and now I’m not sure if I read it or not; I might be thinking of the John Ostrander miniseries from 2008, following Infinite Crisis.

Suicide Squad: Their Greatest Shots

All of these Suicide Squad books are, of course, timed for the new James Gunn movie. Good that DC already has all of John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad series collected, though indeed that seems to leave us with just anthologies left when DC needs new Suicide Squad books. This collects Suicide Squad #10 (1987) (emphasis on Waller vs. Batman), Suicide Squad #15 (2012) (”Death of the Family” tie-in), Suicide Squad #22 (2013) (including Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and King Shark), Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 (2016), Suicide Squad #16 (2017) (vs. Lex Luthor), Suicide Squad #20 (2017) (Harley leads the Squad), Suicide Squad #47 (2018) (Captain Boomerang spotlight), and Suicide Squad Special: War Crimes #1 (2016) (John Ostrander special timed to the first Suicide Squad movie).

Supergirl Adventures: Girl of Steel

Supergirl’s animated adventures, including Superman Adventures #21, Superman Adventures #39, Superman Adventures #52, and Justice League Unlimited #7.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow Vol. 1: Hero of Metropolis

Collecting the digital-first Robert Venditti series, issues #1-6 and #11-15.

Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 3

The third hardcover “omnibus” collection of John Byrne’s Superman-titles run. A lot of this is concerned with tie-ins to the Millennium crossover event, plus a crossover with Dan Jurgens’ Booster Gold series.

But the biggest deal in my opinion is this includes for the first time the Superman: The Earth Stealers graphic novel, written by Byrne with art by the legendary Curt Swan. That’s a big add to this collection series — I know I’ve said I’d rather see DC collecting further Superman stories than re-collecting the John Byrne material, but this is an interesting surprise.

Full contents are Superman #12–15, Adventures of Superman #436–438, Action Comics #594–597, Superman: The Earth Stealers #1, Action Comics Annual #1, Superman Annual #1, Adventures of Superman Annual #1, Booster Gold #23, and material from Who’s Who Update 1987 #5 and Who’s Who Update 1988 #2.

Swamp Thing: New Roots

In paperback, collecting the Walmart exclusive and digital-first Swamp Thing series — Swamp Thing Giant Direct Market Edition #1–4, Swamp Thing Giant #5, Swamp Thing: New Roots #6, and Swamp Thing: New Roots #9 by Mark Russell and others.

Sweet Tooth Compendium

Paperback, collecting Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth #1–40. Interestingly, the description says that the compendium is “a new story-only collection that places the reader directly into the action and doesn’t let up until the very last page!” Is that to say it doesn’t have covers between the issues (which I entirely support, because then the book reads more like a graphic novel!)? Otherwise I’m not sure how to interpret that.

Sweet Tooth: The Return

Issues #1-6 of the new miniseries by Jeff Lemire.

Tales From the Dark Multiverse II

In hardcover in June 2021, this sequel collection includes Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Hush #1, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint #1, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman: War of the Gods #1, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, and Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Dark Nights Metal #1, and Wonder Woman #8 (in the right George Perez era as “War of the Gods,” but I wonder if they meant another comic), Batman #608, Flashpoint #1, Dark Nights: Metal #1, and Dollar Comics: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 (surely there’s no reason this isn’t actually Crisis itself).

Teen Titans: Beast Boy

Hardcover of the YA graphic novel by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo.

Transmetropolitan Book Five

Issues #49-60.

Unearthed: A Jessica Cruz Story

Cool to see relatively new character Jessica Cruz getting the spotlight in this immigration-focused YA graphic novel by Lilliam Rivera and Steph C. I appreciate that DC’s mining new classic characters for these as well as old favorites.

Wonder Woman: 80 Years of the Amazon Warrior: The Deluxe Edition

I admit I’m confused at this point whether this is a reprint of a special or if it’s brand new, just in deluxe format. Anyway, George Perez and Phil Jimenez are among the creators mentioned as included.

Wonder Woman: Lords & Liars

By Mariko Tamaki and Mikel Janin, collecting Wonder Woman #759-769. This takes us right up to the Future State break.

Review: Batman: Three Jokers hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, November 22, 2020

A few refrains went through my head while I was reading Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok’s Batman: Three Jokers: “Time heals all wounds … if they don’t kill you first,” the veritable frontispiece of this very book; “That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day,” the recurring theme of Alan Moore and Brian Bolland’s Batman: The Killing Joke, upon which this book is largely based; and “You can’t heal under a mask. Wounds need air” (yup, still mulling HBO’s excellent Watchmen). Each of these relate in some way to the “three jokers” of the book, and by that I mean Batman, Batgirl, and Red Hood Jason Todd; this is their story, largely, far more so than the three clown-faced killers who populate these pages.

Three Jokers is about trauma, and impotence — the frustrating inability one can sometimes have to reach out to others, to help another through their trauma especially when one is traumatized themselves — and it also offers a moment of startling grace. Johns, whose long comics track record has only fleetingly included the Dark Knight, does well portraying Batman at his best and worst here, and in demonstrating why the relationship between this triptych of characters is so fraught. Often Three Jokers is best when it is its own thing; when it ventures to Moore’s territory, the strain more clearly shows.

DC Future State collections coming Summer 2021

Friday, November 20, 2020

DC Comics' Summer 2021 collections solicitations should be out before the end of the year, but while we wait, we’ve got early news of the collections for DC’s upcoming Future State two-month event.

That Future State is going to be collected is not necessarily a surprise, though we now that the books will arrive from mid-June to early July 2021 and be in paperback. (Though, I wouldn’t discount the possibility of deluxe-size hardcovers or an omnibus later down the road.) All of the various Future State series are accounted for here short of Brandon Thomas and Daniel Sampere’s Future State: Aquaman, but I’m sure it’ll end up somewhere, presumably in the Justice League-themed collection.

But first, the collections of two other notable titles:

DC Comics: Generations

In hardcover, coming in June 2021, at 192 pages. That’s more than the Fractured and Shattered specials, but no word on the contents just yet.

Tales From the Dark Multiverse II

In hardcover in June 2021, this sequel collection includes Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Hush #1, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Flashpoint #1, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Wonder Woman: War of the Gods #1, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1, and Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Dark Nights Metal #1, and Wonder Woman #8 (in the right George Perez era as “War of the Gods,” but I wonder if they meant another comic), Batman #608, Flashpoint #1, Dark Nights: Metal #1, and Dollar Comics: Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 (surely there’s no reason this isn’t actually Crisis itself).

And now the listings:

Future State: Dark Detective

The solicitation compares Mariko Tamaki’s “Dark Detective” stories to 1984, showing the DC hype machine running full tilt. This book has Future State: Dark Detective #1–4 (including Grifters and Red Hood) Future State: Catwoman #1–2, Future State: Harley Quinn #1–2, Future State: Robin Eternal #1–2, and Future State: Batman/Superman #1–2.

Future State: Justice League

Collects Future State: Justice League #1–2 (with Justice League Dark), Future State: The Flash (called Future State: The Flash: Death Race here), and Future State: Green Lantern #1–2 (including Last Lanterns and Tales of the Green Lantern Corps). Again, seems like the collection where Aquaman might show up.

Future State: The Next Batman

Collects Future State: The Next Batman #1–4(including Outsiders, Arkham Knights, Batgirls, and Gotham City Sirens) and Future State: Nightwing #1–2, and the solicitation also says it collects Future State: Dark Detective #1–3, which isn’t a thing unless some of the backup stories from Dark Detective are showing up here.

Future State: Suicide Squad

Collects Future State: Suicide Squad #1–2 (including Black Adam), Future State: Teen Titans #1–2 (called Future State: Teen Titans: Dead of the Class), Future State: Shazam! #1–2 (called Future State: Shazam: The Death of William Batson), and Future State: Swamp Thing #1–2 (called Future State: Swamp Thing: Obsidian Sun).

Future State: Superman

Collects Future State: Superman of Metropolis #1–2 (including Guardian and Mister Miracle), Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1–2 (including Midnighter, and Black Racer), Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #1–2, Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1–2, Future State: Legion of Super-Heroes #1–2 (the solicitation calls it “Legion 5000”), and Future State: House of El #1.

Future State: Wonder Woman

Including early appearances by Yara Flor (called “Maria Flor” here), in the running to headline a new “Wonder Girl” TV series. This is Future State: Wonder Woman #1–2, Future State: Superman/Wonder Woman #1–2, and Future State: Immortal Wonder Woman #1–2 (including Nubia). DC Future State collections coming Summer 2021

Review: Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Superman Pal Jimmy Olsen Who Killed Jimmy Olsen

Flipping through Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? — with its short, comic strip-like vignettes (up to and including a Calvin & Hobbes parody) and images of gorillas, dinosaurs in top hats, and a human-porcupine supervillain — one wouldn’t be blamed for thinking what we have here is a dedicated humor comic (and the space-cat vomiting blood. Don’t forget the space-cat vomiting blood).

The biggest surprise for me, then, was the actual murder mystery plot buried in the center of all of this. If the culprit isn’t exactly a mystery, then at least the motives take a little while to piece out, and in the meantime, writer Matt Fraction doles out the vignettes that make up the story in interesting fashion. The narrative skips forward and backward in time, revisits and doubles up on itself (including when Lois Lane seemingly gets caught in a time shift); in the end, Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? is absurd and wacky, but it’s also much more narratively clever than I expected. This is no mere humor book, or at least it’s also one that doesn’t underestimate the reader’s intelligence.

DC Trade Solicitations for February 2021 – Batgirl, Nightwing, Red Hood Joker War tie-ins, Dark Nights: Death Metal Deluxe, Who’s Who Omnibus, Constantine: Rise and Fall by Taylor, Morrison’s Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 3

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Dark Nights Death Metal Issue 1

It's the DC Comics February 2021 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations. My reading of these was tinged with concern given all the goings on at DC right now. I will say it's an auspicious thing to have a female, experienced comic book editor, Marie Javins, at the head of DC, and by all accounts Javins loves DC and isn't looking to, say, slash the output down to a couple reprint anthologies every month. At the same time, a lot of good people are getting let go and that's naturally worrisome, especially when we're on our third month of fill-in miniseries with no idea what DC's superhero line is going to look like when it all starts up again.

Also I just finished HBO's Watchmen (behind the times, I know), which was superb and frankly breathed new life into Watchmen: The Original for me, and when I see such good superheroic adventures on the screen, I can't help but be frustrated with the conclusion of something like "Year of the Villain"/Justice League Vol. 5: Justice/Doom War, which was barely an ending, really shirked most of the character development it had set up, and served in the end mainly as an advertisement for another comic (Dark Nights: Death Metal) whose collection won't be available until April of next year. It feels like excellence shouldn't be as hard to achieve as it seems to be, and now more than ever mainstream superhero comics seems to be more about making a buck than telling a good story. The layoffs at DC don't do much to assuage those concerns.

That said, if all else were equal this would be a pretty good month for DC Comics collections. Following the Batman: Joker War collection out in February, this coming March sees the Batgirl, Detective Comics, Nightwing, and Red Hood: Outlaw tie-in collections to "Joker War," all of which I'm a sucker for ('cause who knows when we might have a Bat-family event again?!) — if I'm seeing it all right, the only thing missing at this point is where Joker War Zone is going to be collected other than in the Joker War Saga book.

Also, hardly second fiddle, this month sees the solicitation for the aforementioned Dark Nights: Death Metal collection, with its tie-in books soon to follow. I talk a good game but I am excited to read this one. I know the Who's Who Omnibus is a big deal to some, and also I expect I'll enjoy Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 3 when I get around to reading it. Batman & the Outsiders and Justice League Odyssey, two series that improved over time, see their final collections, too.

Well, let's jump into it ...

Absolute Wonder Woman: Gods and Mortals HC

This seems cool, George Perez's Wonder Woman #1-14 collected in Absolute edition; it's not often we see "regular series" get the Absolute treatment. Surely this is due to the movie, though it makes me thing Superman: Man of Steel maybe deserves the same (Batman: Year One's already been there).

Batgirl Vol. 8: The Joker War HC

Coming in March, the final issues of Cecil Castellucci's run on Batgirl, issues #45-50, with ties to "Joker War" and also the first comics appearance of new CW Batwoman Ryan Wilder. In hardcover, a switch for this series.

Batman & the Outsiders Vol. 3: The Demon's Fire TP

Final collection by Bryan Hill, with issues #13-17. I wasn't too enthusiastic about the first volume, Lesser Gods, but found the second one, League of Their Own, to be an improvement. The conclusion will be high on my reading pile.

Batman Beyond Vol. 8: The Eradication Agenda TP

The final collection of the Dan Jurgens series, collecting issues #43-50. Booster Gold makes an appearance, and this didn't connect for me before but that means Jurgens writing Booster again.

Batman's Grave: The Complete Collection HC

Hardcover of the 12-issue series by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch.

Batman/Superman Vol. 2: World's Deadliest HC

Issues #7-15 and the Annual #1, including Zod and Ra’s al Ghul, the Atomic Skull, and a Batwoman/Steel team-up (I assumed John Henry Irons, but now I wonder if it’s Natasha. Ooh, don’t spoil it for me!).

Batman: A Death in the Family: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe-size hardcover collection of "Death in the Family," the death of Robin Jason Todd, and "A Lonely Place of Dying," the arrival of Robin Tim Drake. Being Batman #426-429 and #440-442 and New Teen Titans #60-61. The solicitation claims this inclues "several never-before-published pages that show what would have happened if Jason Todd had lived" — traditionally that's a page by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo that appeared in the Batman Annual #25 and other Death in the Family collections, so I'm not sure if "never-before-published" is really accurate.

Batman: Arkham: Talia al Ghul TP

Among other things, it’s nice that this collection acknowledges Talia’s graduation to a Batman villain separate from her father Ra’s. Collects Batman #232, Batman #656, Detective Comics #411, Batman: Son of the Demon #1, Batman: Death and the Maidens #9, President Luthor Secret Files #1, Batman Villains Secret Files 2005 #1, Red Hood: The Lost Days #1, Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #23, Batman and Robin #12, Batman Incorporated #2, Batman Incorporated #13 (the solicitation says #2-13 but that's got to be a typo), and Batman #34-35. I love that President Luthor is in there; I really enjoyed Joe Kelly writing Talia as a foe for Superman in his Action Comics run, and I’m glad that gets an acknowledgment.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 5: The Joker War HC

In harcover in late March, tying in to "Joker War" and collecting Detective Comics #1020-1026, a story from Detective Comics #1027, Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P., and Detective Comics Annual #3, by Peter Tomasi and company.

Black Canary: Bird of Prey TP

Collection of Black Canary’s Golden Age adventures, including Adventure Comics #399, Adventure Comics #418-419, Brave and the Bold #61-62, Flash Comics #86-88 and #90-104, DC Special #3, and Comic Cavalcade #25.

Dark Nights: Death Metal: Deluxe Edition HC

Coming at the beginning of April, it's the direct-to-deluxe edition of Dark Nights: Death Metal. Can't help but notice this only contains issues #1-7, which causes a ruckus back with Metal proper; hopefully the series is structured this time such that issues #1-7 make a whole story without any of the tie-ins.

DCeased TP

Paperback collection of DCeased #1-6 and DCeased: A Good Day to Die #1.

Final Night TP

New collection of the 1996 DC crossover event that included a major step in Green Lantern/Parallax Hal Jordan's return to the mainstream. Includes Final Night #1-4, Parallax: Emerald Night #1, Green Lantern #81, and Final Night Preview #1.

Flashpoint: The 10th Anniversary Omnibus HC

Ten years since Flashpoint. It hardly seems that much, and if you want me up on my soapbox, I think in part that’s because we’ve been through two continuities since then and DC’s history remains very, very muddled — that is, it’s been 10 years, but mostly that reminds me we haven’t come all that far in 10 years.

That said, this is assuredly the completest complete collection of Flashpoint you’re going to find; I’m curious whether the editors will try to slot in the various miniseries in their relative right places between the Flashpoint miniseries or just shunt all the ancillary material to the end.

I should also say, ignoring what came before and after, I thought Geoff Johns had some fine writing here, and I can clear a room discussing how this book relates to years and years of Johns writing Batman and Flash prior. As a matter of fact, here's my Flashpoint review.

This is (deep breath) Booster Gold #44-47, Flash #9-12, Flashpoint #1-5, Flashpoint: Reverse-Flash #1, Flashpoint: Abin Sur the Green Lantern #1-3, Flashpoint: Emperor Aquaman #1-3, Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance #1-3, Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1-3, Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint #1-3, Flashpoint: Deadman and the Flying Graysons #1-3, Flashpoint: Deathstroke & the Curse of the Ravager #1-3, Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1-3, Flashpoint: The Outsider #1-3, Flashpoint: Secret Seven #1-3, Flashpoint: The Canterbury Cricket #1, Flashpoint: Wonder Woman and the Furies #1-3, Flashpoint: Kid Flash Lost #1-3, Flashpoint: Project Superman #1-3, Flashpoint: Frankenstein & the Creatures of the Unknown #1-3, Flashpoint: Green Arrow Industries #1, Flashpoint: Grodd of War #1, Flashpoint: Hal Jordan #1-3, Flashpoint: The Legion of Doom #1-3, and material from Absolute Flashpoint.

JLA: The Tower of Babel The Deluxe Edition HC

Collects a number of Mark Waid's JLA stories, including issues #18-21, #32-33, and "Tower of Babel," issues #43-46. At some point a solicitation had said that Len Kaminski and Jason Orfalas' "JLApe" JLA Annual #3 would be in here, but that has become, more sensibly, two of Mark Waid's stories from JLA Secret Files #3.

John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol. 2: The Best Version of You TP

The second and final collection by Si Spurrier, issues #7-12, of what’s been said to be a return to form for the title. That does it for Sandman Universe short of the Dreaming miniseries, I believe.

John Constantine, Hellblazer: Rise and Fall HC

In hardcover, collecting the three-issue Black Label miniseries by Tom Taylor. I tell you what, one side-effect of following Taylor on Twitter these days to find out about the next Injustice project is seeing a lot of praise for his Suicide Squad, which I'm eager to read. Taylor's star is on the rise and I'm optimistic for his Hellblazer as well.

Justice League Odyssey Vol. 4: Last Stand TP

Final collection of the Dan Abnett series, issues #19-25. Justice League Odyssey Vol. 3: Final Frontier was really great and I’m eager to see Abnett stick the landing.

Nightwing: The Joker War HC

Also in hardcover, also a change for this title. Ties in to "Joker War" and collects Nightwing #70-77 and Nightwing Annual #3, which brings us right up to the "Future State" break. Coming in early March.

Red Hood: Outlaw Vol. 4: Unspoken Truths TP

Collects issues #43-50 by Scott Lobdell. These are Lobdell’s final issues of the series, but I haven’t seen an official announcement that the book is cancelled necessarily.

Revolver TP

Paperback reprinting of the 2010 graphic novel by Matt Kindt, in which a man seems to travel between two realities each time he goes to sleep.

Sheriff of Babylon TP

Paperback collecting issues #1-12 of the Sheriff of Babylon miniseries by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, with the extras from the recent Deluxe edition. The Deluxe was the first time the two original trades had been collected together.

Superman Adventures: Lex Luthor, Man of Metropolis TP

Collects issues #27, #54-55, and #65-66 of the animated tie-in series.

Superman Vol. 3: The Truth Revealed TP

Paperback, following the hardcover, of Brian Michael Bendis' Superman #16-19, and the Heroes and Villains specials.

Superman vs. Shazam TP

Collects a variety of Superman and Captain Marvel team-ups (or face-offs), including Superman #216, The Power of Shazam! #46, Kingdom Come #4, DC Comics Presents #33, #34, and #49, All-New Collectors' Edition #C-58, and DC Comics Presents Annual #3.

Who's Who Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

This is assuredly something that should exist, what seems like it’s going to be a collection of all of DC’s Who’s Who series, though this particular volume is the original post-Crisis Who’s Who, updates, and material from the annuals, ending before the loose-leaf Who’s Who that we’ll probably see in the second volume.

Like ... this is cool, and it definitely should be preserved in collections. I can’t necessarily imagine reading this whole thing now, given how far the characters are from what’s portrayed here (and once upon a time, I did read this kind of thing forward and backward and forward again). Mostly it makes me feel disenchanted, as with the Flashpoint Omnibus, that we’re so far from cohesion these days that a new Who’s Who hardly seems possible.

Collects Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #1-26 (1985), Who's Who Update 1987 #1-5, Who's Who Update 1988 #1-4, and the Who’s Who pages from Action Comics Annual #2, Batman Annual #13, Blackhawk Annual #1, Detective Comics Annual #2, Dr. Fate Annual #1, Flash Annual #3, Green Arrow Annual #2, Justice League Annual #3, New Titans Annual #5, Question Annual #2, Secret Origins Annual #3, Swamp Thing Annual #5, and Wonder Woman Annual #2.

Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 3 HC

The next and final volume in Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette's Wonder Woman: Earth One series. Seeing as how this has Max Lord in it, hopefully by March of next year the Wonder Woman 1984 movie will finally be out. Volume 1 of this came out in 2016, volume 2 in 2018; I'm going to have to reread so I remember what's going on. DC has published an Earth One box set but it's surprising they haven't taken some of these trilogies (Superman: Earth One, basically) and reprinted as one single volume — that'd make a good, large, cohesive book.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 3: Infectious trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

DC Comics' latest Supergirl title struggled in its end. If that wasn’t apparent from its ignominious conclusion that saw the final two issues go digital-only, it certainly becomes apparent reading Supergirl Vol. 3: Infectious itself. And I would even actually say this book fares better than expected; though simplistic and repetitive, it doesn’t actually besmirch Kara Zor-El as much as other troubled stories have before. As well, if you like this sort of thing, Infectious runs the gamut of DC Comics events over the past year, from Event Leviathan all the way through the various incarnations of “Year of the Villain.”

None of that is enough to save what most seasoned readers will find an unimpressive comic — lack of suspense, sparse art, a string of action sequences over a number of issues as stand-in for any kind of plot development. The answer to why DC can’t get Supergirl right can’t be found here — this rushed book is a consequence of that trouble, not the cause of the trouble itself.

Review: Batman: 80 Years of the Bat Family trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, November 08, 2020

There’s been a lot packed in to the recent Action Comics and Detective Comics issue #1000 specials, with perhaps enough pressure to deliver stories worthy of the monumental issues that at times they seemed too highfalutin, too grandiose. For Batman: 80 Years of the Bat Family, maybe it’s the occasion of the collected format, or maybe that the Robin, Catwoman, and Joker issues are “80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectaculars” rather than the #1000s, but I found the stories uniformly approachable and enjoyable.

There’s a fine mix here of creators historically or currently involved with these characters, one-off stories and stories revisiting specific instances of these characters' eras, and even stories set during current events in the characters' titles. All of that makes these specials feel wholly worthwhile, true anniversary parties and not just more skippable anthologies on the stands. I’m hopeful these serve as models for other such specials going forward.

Review: Batman Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, November 04, 2020

Among James Tynion’s mandates for his new Batman run starting with Batman Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs, I imagine chief among them was not to be Tom King. Hey, I liked King’s run very much (if fair is fair, in the final tally it’ll be recognized as something more than just superhero comics, approaching real art), but I recognize it was not the most accessible to the reader off the street, and that’s where DC’s got to cater. That’s by no means to denigrate Their Dark Designs, which is in its own way smart and multi-layered and has things to say about where Batman goes now in this strange new decade. But as was the case when King was on Batman and Tynion was on Detective, Tynion’s title is the more normative comics experience, a straightforward Batman romp without an instance of a character repeating only the same words of dialogue throughout an entire issue.

That’s ultimately good for Batman, which after a couple years of upheaval is due now for a calmer assessment of the new status quo. To Tynion’s credit (not that we expected anything less), Their Dark Designs is a respectful bridge, utilizing naturally what came before as it charts what comes next.

Review: Flash Forward trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, November 01, 2020

Flash Forward

Writer Scott Lobdell has no easy job in Flash Forward taking recently-turned-toxic character Flash Wally West and trying to make a miniseries out of him. Lobdell doesn’t even get the benefit of the years that DC let Hal Jordan lie fallow after his fall from grace, nor even the excuse of cosmic manipulation. No, in what is instead a rather vulgar exercise in storytelling, DC goes straight from crime to redemption tour, and the losers here are the poor characters already in limbo who’ve served as so much fodder for the whole endeavor.

None of that is Lobdell’s fault, and Lobdell and artist Brett Booth do exceptionally well here taking Wally from one of DC’s darkest moments and spinning out something that’s exciting, emotional, and most of all fun. It feels altogether too soon for “fun” with Wally and it’s hard not to see some of this as a tad grotesque; at the same time, Lobdell seems to get to the core of the character — reaffirms it, perhaps — and the book’s most redemptive moment is sweet enough to make a lot of this worthwhile.