Review: Catwoman Vol. 7: Inheritance trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Seven years later and now I’ve finally read the DC You-era Catwoman Vol. 7: Inheritance, the second part of Genevieve Valentine’s short run on the series. (There are good reasons for finishing reading this run that I left behind in the advent of DC Rebirth, which will become apparent soon.)

I’ve opined many times that comic book endings are hard. Beginnings are full of ambition and all the grand schemes writers can cook up, but by the time crossovers and the needs of other titles have had their way, many a good book limps toward the finish line. Inheritance fares well, actually, but the absence of artist Garry Brown from Catwoman Vol. 6: Keeper of the Castle steals some of what made this book distinctive, at the time too that the story turns more superhero-y in general. Inheritance is still strong, still multi-faceted, but it looks more like everything else on the stands, to its detriment.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: Riddle Me This hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, September 24, 2023

I was a little annoyed going in to Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: Riddle Me This, given that it was another short trade (a scant three issues, even including the “Gotham Girl, Interrupted” backup stories) following the similarly short Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Arkham Rising, which read like too much filler. Between those two books, of course, was the 12-part Batman: Shadows of the Bat event, which thankfully DC released all in one volume, but it’s made for some slim trades in the interim.

But by and large writer Mariko Tamaki has delivered with her Detective Comics run, and her final volume is no exception. Even at three issues, Riddle Me This turns out to be dense and compelling, buffered by a spotlight on one of my favorite of the new characters Tamaki introduced in Detective. It all falls apart spectacularly in the end, whether due to an unexpected end of the run or just regular storytelling woes, but it’s a good book nonetheless and definitely doesn’t feel as short as it is.

Review: Batgirls Vol. 2: Bat Girl Summer trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

If there was a word that came to me throughout reading Batgirls Vol. 2: Bat Girl Summer, it was “romance.” Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad’s Batgirls is, and tries to be, a lot of things — buddy comedy, superhero book — but a distinct change from last time to this, perhaps due to the shifting winds of the DC Universe — was romance title.

It is not something DC does all that often (or, perhaps, didn’t used to do all that often), and so in that way it’s appealing. Also that the writers bring exuberance to a certain “ship” that perhaps reflects a certain amount of pent-up fandom demand. In this — and in a book that feels more focused with one two-part story and one four-part story instead of last time’s six-parter, plus maybe a smidgen less irreverence than in Batgirls Vol. 1: One Way or AnotherBat Girl Summer is an improvement for a book that, unfortunately, only has one more volume to go before its cancellation.

DC Trade Solicitations for December 2023 - Knight Terrors, Fourth World Omnibus with Great Darkness, Absolute Superman by Johns, Creature Commandos: Frankenstein, Flash: One-Minute War, Milestone Compendium Three, final Batman: Urban Legends

Sunday, September 17, 2023

Knight Terrors is the big headline in the DC Comics December 2023 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations, some but not all of the Knight Terrors books answering some but not all of our questions about how it’ll be collected. We see three collections here, of five, though four are supposed to come out in February and one in March. It is somewhat unusual for DC to spread the collections of an event over two months, but at the same time DC’s collections releases have seemed slower lately, and I’ll happily take all of Knight Terrors slowly than no collections at all.

Late in looking through these solicitations did I notice that the Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 2 is not simply a reprinting of contents of the original four-volume Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus (all of which was collected in a previous one-volume omnibus too), but rather subsequent New Gods appearances (written by Kirby or not), including the revived Mister Miracle and New Gods series, Great Darkness Saga (!), and more! That’s very cool, and makes one wonder if a “modern stories” Fourth World omnibus isn’t coming up next.

The Milestone Compendium series keeps trucking, I’m glad to see (wish we might get these a little smaller); also I adore that Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. is all of a sudden back in the spotlight. Among regular series, aside from Knight Terrors, I’ve got my eye on Ram V’s second volume of Detective Comics, Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 6, and Flash: The One-Minute War. Can’t argue with an Absolute Superman by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank, though I’d like to see an omnibus collection of more of that era.

Let’s take a look at the full list.

Absolute Superman by Geoff Johns & Gary Frank HC

Said to collect Action Comics #858–863, #866–870 (issues #864–865 were by Geoff Johns but not Gary Frank), #900, Action Comics Annual #10, Superman: Secret Origin #1–6, and Superman: World of New Krypton Special #1, to be released in May. That would be Johns and Frank’s Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Brainiac, and Superman: Secret Origin, all of which were great, but one can’t help but feel this lacking a bit without the other, non-Gary Frank Superman stories written by Johns, the most important of which is Last Son (which was drawn, no slouch, by Adam Kubert). Neither does this have Escape From Bizarro World with Eric Powell (and many of these stories were co-written by Richard Donner). Probably what we need are both Superman by Geoff Johns and New Krypton Omnibus collections.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Gotham Nocturne: Act I HC

Ram V’s second Detective Comics collection, in hardcover in February 2024. Collects issues #1066–1070 and the Detective Comics 2022 Annual.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Arkham Rising TP

Paperback, following the hardcover, by Mariko Tamaki, collecting issues Detective Comics #1044–1046 and Detective Comics 2021 Annual #1.

Batman: Justice Buster Vol. 2 TP

Continuing the manga adventure from the Ultraman team, Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi, a collaboration between DC and Kodansha. Batman and Joker vs. Joe Chill, apparently, plus rumors of a ROBIN computer.

Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 6 TP

Collects issues #18–23, the final issue of the series, coming in January. I’m don’t think the solicitation is quite right, since it mentions things like Dennis Culver’s “Arkham Academy” story that was actually collected in Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 5, but it seems like at least we get a Nightwing story and a Renee Montoya story.

Creature Commandos Present: Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Book One TP

This collects Grant Morrison’s Seven Soldiers Frankenstein miniseries with Doug Mahnke, and also issues #1–7 of one of my favorite New 52 titles, Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE. Couldn’t be happier to see all the new DC media news giving Frankenstein a spotlight.

The Flash Vol. 19: The One-Minute War TP

Collects Jeremy Adams' Flash #790–796 and The Flash: One-Minute War Special #1, in paperback in January.

The Fourth World Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Collects (deep breath) Mister Miracle #19–25; New Gods #12–19; Adventure Comics #459–460; Brave and the Bold #112, #128, and #138; DC Comics Presents #12; First Issue Special #13; Justice League of America #183–185; Legion of Super-Heroes #290–294; Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #3; Secret Society of Super-Villains #1–5; Super Powers #1–5; Super Powers (Vol. 2) #1–6; Super Powers (vol. 3) #1–4; Super Powers Collection #13–23; Super-Team Family #15; and stories from DC Special Series #10 and Legion of Super-Heroes #287. So, not the original Fourth World saga as was collected in the original four-volume Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus series and in a previous all-together omnibus, but also Steve Englehart and Steve Gerber's Mister Miracle continuation, Gerry Conway's New Gods, the famous Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga, Kirby’s Super Powers stories, and the Justice League of America story “Crisis on New Genesis” — which is to say, subsequent, sometimes non-Kirby-written appearances of the New Gods. With a new intro by “Great Darkness” writer and one-time DC president Paul Levitz and other extras. This one’s awful tempting.

Icon vs. Hardware HC

In hardcover in November, the five-issue miniseries by Reginald Hudlin and Leon Chills. Depending on how far the twist in this one goes, I may find myself catching up on these respective series.

Joker: One Operation Joker Vol. 3 TP

Continuing the manga in which the Joker raises a baby Bruce Wayne, seemingly encountering Alfred and a Robin.

Knight Terrors HC

The Dawn of DC event by Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter, in hardcover on Feb. 6. Collects Knight Terrors #1–4, Knight Terrors First Blood, Knight Terrors: Night’s End, and a story from the Dawn of DC Knight Terrors 2023 FCBD Special Edition (missing from previous solicitations). In early February 2024.

Knight Terrors: Dark Knightmares HC

In hardcover on Feb. 13, collecting Knight Terrors: Batman #1–2, Knight Terrors: Detective Comics #1–2, Knight Terrors: Catwoman #1–2, Knight Terrors: Nightwing #1–2, and Knight Terrors: Robin #1–2. Looking at the Knight Terrors collections to come, the only thing I haven’t yet seen collected is the Joker two-parter; since it’s not here, I venture it’ll be in Knight Terrors: Knockturnal Creatures (not solicited this month).

Knight Terrors: Knightmare League HC

In hardcover on Feb. 20, collecting Knight Terrors: Action Comics #1–2, Knight Terrors: Green Lantern #1–2, Knight Terrors: Superman #1–2, Knight Terrors: The Flash #1–2, and Knight Terrors: Wonder Woman #1–2.

Milestone Compendium Three TP

Collects Deathwish #1–4, Blood Syndicate #24–27 (the series goes to issue #35), Hardware #22–28, Icon #22–27, Static #21–25, Shadow Cabinet #5–13, and Kobalt #1–14.

Monkey Prince Vol. 1: Enter the Monkey TP

Issues #1–6 by Gene Luen Yang and Bernard Chang, in paperback following the hardcover.

Nubia: Queen of the Amazons TP

Paperback in January, following the hardcover, and collecting the Nubia: Coronation Special and Nubia: Queen of the Amazons #1–4. I reviewed Nubia: Queen of the Amazons just this past March.

Peacemaker Tries Hard! HC

The six-issue Black Label miniseries by Kyle Starks and Steve Pugh.

Static: Shadows of Dakota HC

Collects the six-issue Static: Season Two miniseries by Vita Ayala and Nicholas Draper-Ivey, plus Static Team-Up: Anansi. In hardcover in February.

Superman vs. Meshi Vol. 3 TP

Third volume of the food-focused Superman manga, as Superman’s culinary tour of Japan is interrupted by Darkseid.

Review: Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 5 trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 5 is the volume of the series I’ve most enjoyed since the second one. All the standard disclaimers still apply that Urban Legends seems to have lost its way from its original premise, farther outside the mainstream Bat-narrative than in. Though, of the four stories in Urban Legends Vol. 5, at least two arguably take place in the “now,” so that’s half and half, and that’s generally better than what we’ve been seeing previously.

Writer Brandon Thomas continues to have a great take on this modern-classic incarnation of the Outsiders, particularly offering some positivity and health when Bat-characters aren’t always known for their good work-life balance. New Talent Showcase alum Joey Esposito pens a good Batman murder mystery with a sci-fi Silver Age twist. Of them all, I was least looking forward to the Alfred Pennyworth story, but perhaps not surprisingly, Chris Burnham writes and draws compelling work. And Dennis Culver’s “Arkham Academy” has lots of potential, and hopefully this is just the start.

Four stories; Batman: Urban Legends is still too much a “just because” anthology for me, but each of these was a pleasant surprise.

Review: Gotham Academy: Maps of Mystery #1 comic book (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 10, 2023

What makes a Robin a Robin? Do they need to live in Wayne Manor for a time? Is it important there’s at least one conversation where Alfred tells Bruce, “You’re being too hard on the child” and then consoling the Robin with cookies? If Batman crime-fights with the character and then, in the end, calls the character “Robin,” does that make a Robin a Robin?

[Review contains spoilers]

These questions (for which the answers are “Who knows?” and “Just enjoy it!”) become pressingly important in the context of the recent special Gotham Academy: Maps of Mystery, in which Gotham Academy’s breakout star Maps Mizoguchi appears in a Robin costume more often than not. Clearly, of course — because we haven’t had a multi-part “Battle for the Short Pants” event and Damian Wayne is still scheduled to appear in the new Batman & Robin series — Maps is not replacing Damian as the Robin du jour to appear on T-shirts and lunchboxes. But at the same time Maps comes from the Robin War time period where just calling yourself “Robin” (or wearing red shoes, apparently) made you a Robin, and before the end of the first story, Batman refers to her as Robin …

RSS Feed Updates

Friday, September 08, 2023

Please change your Collected Editions RSS subscription to

“I apologize …”

I’ve been doing some infrastructure work on the site (more details to come) and that includes updating the RSS feed. The Feedburner service that managed the RSS feed also let you receive posts by email, but that has been discontinued, and a few other drawbacks lead me to think it’s time to delete the Feedburner feed entirely.

So, I will be shutting down the RSS feed that contains “feedburner” in the URL on November 1, and just running the RSS feed from the blog domain. I apologize; I try to avoid updates that require changes on your end, but this one seems unavoidable. Hopefully if you change the URL in your RSS reader now, the disruption should be minimal.

Just to be clear, the “new” main RSS feed is already running, I still intend to have an RSS feed in perpetuity, and this is no indication of anything happening to the site.

RSS what?

I try to support all the popular ways to keep up with this site — you can just come visit, of course 👋, but also the Facebook page, the Twitter/X feed, and Mastodon. Another of these is RSS, or “Really Simple Syndication”; if that’s not your feed of choice, no problem, don’t worry, and none of the above will affect you.

I personally do most of my blog reading via RSS, a kind of XML feed for individual websites that’s updated every time the website has new content, presented to you via an RSS “reader.” Think about it like an email inbox just for website updates — Google Reader is a well known former example. Here’s the Wikipedia article on RSS, as well as a recent article from The Tyee that does a good job recounting RSS' history, though erroneously suggesting RSS' demise (Birchtree has a good pushback on that one).

I like RSS because by and large it’s open-source, free, anonymous, and easy — following or unfollowing a site is as simple as adding or deleting the feed from my RSS reader. And again, RSS feeds in this context are just XML, so you can customize the presentation of the text however you like, to the extent offered by your reader. If you’re wondering, I use NetNewsWire as my RSS reader — also free, also open-source.

There might be a theme here aborning. Stay tuned …

Review: Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 4 trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, September 06, 2023

The Batman: Urban Legends series started well enough, with consequential stories for Red Hood Jason Todd, Grifter, Azrael, Robin Tim Drake, and others, often as lead-in to future series, plus ties to the “Fear State” crossover. But since Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 3, that sense of “consequence” hasn’t been as strong, and that continues into Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 4.

The end of Batman: Fear State also marked the departure of writer James Tynion (and his grand plans) from the Batman franchise, after which the Bat-titles went into something of a holding pattern in expectation of Dark Crisis. With Urban Legends Vol. 4, I tend to wonder if the abrupt change in Bat-plans didn’t take some of the wind out of the sales of this book, too, with the franchise no longer needing or having the big content for an anthology title. Urban Legends Vol. 4 is entertaining in its variety, but ultimately seems composed of a startling number of inventory stories, as if DC is quite simply padding out its pages with whatever’s available until the book can reach its end.

Review: Superman Adventures Vol. 2 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 03, 2023

[A series on DC’s animated tie-in comics collections by guest reviewer Zach King. Zach writes about movies at The Cinema King and about comics on Instagram at Dr. King’s Comics.]

Superman Adventures, Vol. 2 is both a completionist’s dream and nightmare. That’s true not only because it’s a midpoint in the aborted reprints of the DCAU’s Man of Steel book (a conversation for another time) but also to the way that this particular volume reads, the choices its editors made, and the unusual structure imposed on this volume as a standalone anthology book. I didn’t notice these patterns and problems as a young reader, but taking this volume in one sitting, Superman Adventures becomes an exercise in apophenia.

Review: Batman: Shadows of the Bat: House of Gotham hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, August 30, 2023

At least one reason for the Batman franchise’s success in comics and beyond is surely the villains; no other DC franchise has such a spate of antagonists that routinely step out of the shadow of their hero — see, at the moment, series running or upcoming for the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy.

Matthew Rosenberg’s Batman: Shadows of the Bat: House of Gotham is an ode to this very thing, the staying power and rich characterization of Batman’s villains. Indeed, House of Gotham has both length and width, if you will — it is a travelogue through modern Batman history, on one hand, and also a showcase of Gotham’s villains' lives outside of Batman on the other. Artist Fernando Blanco is brilliant, even at times breathtaking, throughout.