Review: Silencer Vol. 2: Hell-iday Road trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

For the doomed "New Age of Heroes" title Silencer, the awkwardly titled Silencer Vol. 2: Hell-iday Road marks the shark-jumping beginning of the end. And yet, for what seems an ill-conceived introduction of the supernatural into this action sci-fi series, writer Dan Abnett pulls it off remarkably well. That underscores the strength of the characters Abnett has created here; while I doubt this book could have held up its "mom is secretly an assassin" premise through a hundred issues, Silencer Honor Guest is likable and interesting — and versatile for a variety of stories, we see here — and I hope she continues to be a player in the Leviathan-focused stories to come in the DC Universe even if not starring in her own book.

Review: Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1: The Ghost Sector trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Justice League Odyssey seemed an unlikely title, but Joshua Williamson pulls off something pretty great. This book is, to some extent, more "Titans" than Titans right now, and having even greater claim to the name. In broad strokes, Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1: The Ghost Sector starts to be about how people react to a certain kind of fame, and Williamson positions these characters such that conflicts, when they come, are both unexpected and feel wholly in-character. There's a lot of directions Williamson could go with this book, including graduating to a kind of Game of Thrones-type scope, and I'm more eager than I expected for the next volume.

[Review contains spoilers]

In scant glances at upcoming solicitations, I had seen that Odyssey involved in some way a planet or two that worshipped one or more of these heroes. It was still a surprise, however, to find that when Cyborg, Starfire, and Azrael find themselves trapped in the cosmic Ghost Sector, they're already considered gods — that there is some element of reality-bending or time travel here, such that the people of the Ghost Sector know a lot more about the heroes than the heroes do about them. That's very engaging, and Williamson gets a lot of credit for a conceit that builds a big world with a lot of stakes while requiring very low overhead from the characters or audience to get to that point.

Review: New Super-Man and the Justice League of China trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

The series that became New Super-Man and the Justice League of China (formerly just New Super-Man) had a slow start but came into its own once the titular Chinese Justice League became main players. This book marks the final issues after the book was already reportedly cancelled once and provides a nice send off that underscores where the book was having its most success. I'm glad Gene Luen Yang won't stray too far from DC and especially that he's working on a DC Zoom title, which matches in some respects the general tone of New Super-Man. Hopefully this isn't the last we see of Kong Kenan and friends; I'd be happy for them to appear in some other title's international adventure (though without losing the characters' pseudo-comedic tone) or to remain in their antecedent characters' supporting casts (as the Chinese Flash Avery has done in Joshua Williamson's Flash).

Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 6: A World of Our Own trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 02, 2019

I mostly know Tim Seeley's work from "earthbound" titles like Grayson, Nightwing, New Suicide Squad, and Batman books. I haven't seen him do as much cosmic work, and even his Hellblazer run shined the most when it blended the supernatural with mortal, criminal threats. I expected perhaps a little more realism to Seeley's Green Lanterns Vol. 6: A World of Our Own than I received, though the fault perhaps is in my expectations.

World is a step in the right direction for Green Lanterns, as Seeley makes Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz less one-note than they have been; there are also good political dilemmas set against a cosmic canvas, and good acknowledgment of Simon and Jessica as Green Lanterns who are people of color. I was not blown away; the book is not particularly fraught nor suspenseful nor emotionally involving, as compared for instance to Seeley's New Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Kill Anything. Fortunately, Seeley's got another couple of volumes on this title as it heads toward its conclusion, and I'm still optimistic for great things to come.

DC Trade Solicitations for August 2019 - Heroes in Crisis and The Price, Booster Gold by Jurgens, Detective Comics Vol. 1 by Tomasi, Young Justice by Bendis, Wonder Woman by Simone Omnibus, Batman Who Laughs

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

I've just finished reading the last issue of Heroes in Crisis (there won't be any spoilers in this post). I get it, I think, or maybe I don't; it seems a long way around and a lot of damage just to make one singular point. I'm not sure. I'm going to let it sit now, and then pick it up again with my questions and misgivings when the Heroes in Crisis hardcover arrives in September, as part of these DC Comics August 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations. Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Tales also arrives the same day (and, not coincidentally, a hardcover of Dan Jurgens' original Booster Gold stories, too).

So, Heroes in Crisis has come to pass, and I'm sure in the next few months we'll learn more about what comes next (which, in the custom of comics, may largely define how we come to see the book itself) and then, come September, I'll go back through and try to make sense of it all. I'm stymied, and pondering, which in some respects I believe was not the intention, but then again maybe that's better than a book you immediately understand and don't further think about at all.

(Also Doomsday Clock #10 was great.)

What would otherwise be a big deal this month is the first new Young Justice collection from Brian Michael Bendis in hardcover. We're only just beginning to see the shape of what Bendis has in store for the DC Universe between Young Justice and Event Leviathan, and I'm excited for more. There's the start of Peter Tomasi's run on Detective Comics, Tom King's Batman Vol. 10: Knightmares, the next Batman: The Caped Crusader book (odd, since its companion series seems to have been cancelled), and also the unexpected Justice League of America: The Wedding of the Atom and Jean Loring, a stand-in it seems for the cancelled Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 3.

Let's dive in ...

Absolute DC: The New Frontier 15th Anniversary Edition HC

New Absolute edition of the Darwyn Cooke miniseries includes the Justice League: The New Frontier Special and "Triangulation," the King Faraday story by Cooke from Solo #5.

Batman Vol. 10: Knightmares TP

Issues #61-63 and #66-69 of the Tom King run, omitting the Joshua Williamson-penned crossover with Flash, "The Price of Justice" (see the Heroes in Crisis companion book solicited in this list. At time of this writing, we still await official word of just how many Batman issues King has left.

The Batman Who Laughs HC

Hardcover collection of the seven-issue miniseries by Scott Snyder, Jock, and Eduardo Risso, plus the Batman Who Laughs: Grim Knight special.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Mythology HC

The new run by Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke; I think an original solicitation said paperback, but now it's hardcover. This is just issues #994-999; previously this was said to have Tomasi's story from Detective Comics #1000, but it's not listed for the contents now.

Batman: Hush New Edition TP

In time for the animated movie, another collection of Hush by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee.

Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 3 TP

This is a bit of a head-scratcher, though I'm hoping it indicates good news, that Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 3 is still being solicited, even after Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 3 was apparently cancelled. We've seen the cancelled Justice League of America: The Bronze Age resolicited with a new title, for instance, so my hope, at least, is DC's just taking a little time to regroup on these and not cancelling them outright.

What we've got here is Batman #445-454, including "Penguin Affair" (crossover with Detective Comics #615, also collected here), which was the first appearance of Harold; plus NKVDemon and the Joker (first appearance since "Death in the Family") and Peter Milligan and Kieron Dwyer's "Dark Knight, Dark City" (which factored into both Grant Morrison's run and also Dark Nights: Metal). Also Batman Annual #14, a truly great Two-Face origin by Andrew Helfer and Chris Sprouse.

Batman: The Killing Joke Deluxe Edition HC New Edition

Deluxe edition of Alan Moore's Killing Joke, with additional work by Brian Bolland from Batman: Black and White #4 and Countdown #31.

Batwoman: Elegy New Edition TP

A new collection of the "Elegy" and "Go" stories, Detective Comics #854-857 and #858-860 respectively, early stories of Batwoman Kate Kane, by Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams. Glad to see all of this reprint material in time for the new CW series.

Booster Gold: The Big Fall HC

This is a surprise, one I don't recall seeing in the advance solicitations, and one for which I might wonder "why now," except that it's due out the same day as the Heroes in Crisis hardcover. Not that Heroes in Crisis is an especially positive showing for Booster, and frankly I think DC overestimates interest in Booster such that I do wonder whether this is actually going to make it to print.

That said, Dan Jurgen's original tales of Booster Gold are wonderful. As I wrote in my review of Showcase Presents: Booster Gold (the 25-issue black-and-white collection, whereas this new hardcover is color), "Jurgens intricately structures the twenty-five issues of Booster Gold, long before the prevalence of trade paperbacks, into two distinct twelve-issue 'seasons' that are themselves split into six-issue arcs, and Booster's growth is clear through each of them," such that this collection of issues #1-12 is a great start. A little more from that review to whet your appetite:

"I've been reading about the Booster Gold character for almost twenty years, but I'd never read these initial issues that encompass Booster's first appearances. I can say they'll probably have me looking at Booster a little differently, and looking at the Showcase Presents format with new respect, too. Showcase Presents: Booster Gold is a deceptively deep collection of twenty-five issues worth of material, enough to really feel you're inhabiting the characters; I give this a high recommendation."

Like I said, I'm unsure this book will make it out, but I hope it does.

Crisis on Infinite Earths 35th Anniversary Deluxe Edition HC

A "new anniversary edition" of the 12-issue minseries.

Deathstroke: Arkham TP

Issues #36-40; this concludes just before the "Terminus Agenda" crossover with Teen Titans. Given that Batman vs. Deathstroke was set in the past (though very good), it'll be nice to get back to the forward action of Christopher Priest's series.

Final Crisis Omnibus New Edition HC

A "new edition" of the omnibus previously released in 2018. I don't see any changes to the contents (like, say, including the Infinity, Inc. issues); this is Batman #676-683 and #701-702, Birds of Prey #118, DC Universe #0, DC Universe: The Last Will and Testament #1, Final Crisis #1-7, Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds #1-5, Final Crisis: Requiem #1, Final Crisis: Resist #1, Final Crisis: Revelations #1-5, Final Crisis: Rogues’ Revenge #1-3, Final Crisis Secret Files, Final Crisis: Submit #1, Final Crisis: Superman Beyond #1-2, Flash #240-241, Teen Titans #59-60, and Terror Titans #1-6

The Flash Vol. 10: Force Quest TP

Issues #58-63 by Joshua Williamson. This ends just before the new "Coldest Case" crossover with Batman.

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Book Two TP

Green Lantern #4-20 by Geoff Johns, parts of the No Fear, Revenge of the Green Lanterns, and Wanted – Hal Jordan trades, ending just before the Sinestro Corps War crossover.

Green Lantern: The Silver Age Vol. 4 TP

Green Lantern #36-48, including Hal Jordan meeting Alan Scott and fighting Black Hand and Star Sapphire.

• Harley Quinn and the Gotham City Sirens Omnibus New Edition HC

A new edition of the Harley Quinn and the Gotham City Sirens omnibus released in 2018, collecting Gotham City Sirens #1-26 and Catwoman #83, no doubt movie branded now.

Heroes in Crisis HC

In hardcover, issues #1-9, due out September 25. At the writing of this, Heroes in Crisis #9 is due out on Wednesday. A strange series; the end seems to have come very suddenly and I'm interested to re-read this one to try to get more of the cadence of it, understand the rising and falling and inciting actions.

Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Tales TP

In paperback, collecting Batman #64-65 and Flash #64-65, the "Price of Justice" crossover, plus Flash Annual #2 and Green Arrow #45 and #48-50. For comparison, it looks like Green Arrow Vol. 7: Citizen's Arrest, due out in July, collects Julie and Shawna Benson's Green Arrow #43-47 and the Annual #2 (so, including #45), but that Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing's issues #48-50 may only appear here. Flash Vol. 10: Force Quest collects Flash #58-63 and then #66-69.

This Heroes in Crisis companion book is out September 25, same as Heroes in Crisis proper.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Two Deluxe Edition HC

Says issues #1-12 and Annual #1 of the Tom Taylor series; an earlier solicitation had it at #1-24. Includes "never before published behind-the-scenes material."

The Joker: His Greatest Jokes TP

Anthology collection of Joker stories in time for the Joaquin Phoenix movie. Wait till they get a load of this. Said to be Batman #8, #67, #145, #260, #353, and #366; Detective Comics #388 and #833-834 (a Batman/Zatanna story by Paul Dini);Spectre #51 (the Spectre inside Joker's soul, by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake); and Batman: Prelude to the Wedding: Harley Quinn vs. Joker.

• Justice League of America: The Wedding of The Atom and Jean Loring HC

Near as I can tell, this replaces the cancelled Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 3, said to collect issues #149-158 from the 1970s and Super-Team Family #13-14 (part of the Jean Loring story); the Bronze Age omnibus was #147-181 (no word on the discrepancy with issues #147-148, but I'd wager this month's solicitation is short).

I'm glad to see the Bronze Age collections not just going away, though things seem a bit disjointed right now; essentially the first two "storyline-based" Bronze Age Justice League collections are this, with issues #149-158, and Justice League of America: The Last Survivors of Earth! (solicited last month), which is issues #77-95 (filling in for the Justice League: The Bronze Age Vol. 1 paperback, a cutdown of the first omnibus) — so basically we're getting the beginning (of the beginning) and the (beginning of the) end (so far) without the middle.

The Sandman: The Dream Hunters 30th Anniversary Edition TP Graphic Novel Edition

Graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novella with art by P. Craig Russell.

The Sandman: The Dream Hunters 30th Anniversary Edition TP Prose Edition

The original prose version of Dream Hunters by Neil Gaiman with art by Yoshitako Amano. Which one should I read? Both?

Scooby-Doo's Greatest Adventures TP

Scooby-Doo #1, 10, 35, 68 and 72, Scooby-Doo Team-Up #2, 5 7, 8, 9, 12, 18, 37 and 40, and Scooby-Doo, Where Are You? #48, 51, 54, 71, 78, 79, 83, and 85, including appearances by the Super-Pets, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Swamp Thing, and the Jetsons and the Flintstones.

Stargirl by Geoff Johns TP

Ahead of the DC Universe TV series, and with photo covers, this collects the entirety of Geoff Johns' Stars and STRIPE series, #0-14, plus JSA: All-Stars #4. Previously this was also said to include related stories from DCU Heroes Secret Files and DCU Villains Secret Files.

Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 1 New Edition HC

Action Comics #1-31, New York World's Fair #1, New York World's Fair 1940 and Superman #1-7, back in print.

Superman/Batman: 80 Years Slipcase Set HC

Slipcase of the Action and Detective Comics "80 Years" hardcovers.

Transmetropolitan Book Two TP

Issues #13-24 by Warren Ellis, plus Transmetropolitan: I Hate It Here.

Watchmen TP New Edition

Trade paperback at $24.99

• Wonder Woman by Gail Simone Omnibus HC

Some excellent stories here, including Wonder Woman's truly brutal battle with enemy Genocide, plus a precursor to Gail Simone's Red Sonja stories as Diana teams with various swords and sorcery figures from DC history — plus Diana's relationship with Nemesis Tom Tresser. Collects Wonder Woman #14-44 (pre-Flashpoint), #600, Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman #1, and a story from the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special. A well-deserved accolade by Simone.

Young Justice Vol. 1: Gemworld HC

Never really thought I'd be holding an in-continuity Young Justice Vol.1 trade again. Issues #1-6 by Brian Michael Bendis, in hardcover.

Deaths, rebirths ... no, not Heroes in Crisis, it's the push and pull of DC's collections line. What's a must-buy for you?

Review: Batgirl Vol. 5: Art of the Crime trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 26, 2019

The transition from Brendan Fletcher and Cameron Stewart's "Burnside" Batgirl to Hope Larson's Rebirth run felt filled with tension; after such a radical redesign of Batgirl (which affected, in some ways, the DC line as a whole), could a second writer do justice to the same aesthetic? (Essentially yes, as it turned out.) Mairghread Scott taking over as second Rebirth writer feels less fraught, perhaps because the attempt is less to preserve an experimental approach and more to return to what came before.

Some might see the de-Burnside-ification of Barbara Gordon as a regression, but ultimately Scott writes an interesting comic in Batgirl Vol. 5: Art of the Crime and puts her mark on Batgirl in interesting ways, and that's good enough for the start. The story is imperfect, but Scott weaves together strands of Barbara's many incarnations well, and that's a good foundation on which to grow. Normally sunny artist Paul Pelletier takes a stab at horror here, to good effect, and I hope that's a path Scott and Pelletier continue on.

Review: Flash Vol. 9: Reckoning of the Forces trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

After the momentous Flash Vol. 8: Flash War, which delivered a lot of important events though not everything I was hoping for, I resolved to take Joshua Williamson's Flash more as it comes — looking for less of what I want out of a Flash story and focusing more on what Williamson is delivering. In Flash Vol. 9: Reckoning of the Forces, the idea of the various "new forces" (first introduced in Scott Snyder's Justice League) possessing the Flash's Rogues is a clever one, Williamson's manner of spotlighting and updating the Rogues just as Flash writers have before him. Artist Scott Kolins helps immensely in making this feel of a piece with Rogue stories previous.

But it remains that each of Williamson's issues in this volume start with how Barry Allen only "used to be the fastest man alive" (which I don't even really understand, given Barry's still plenty fast here), another dour note in Williamson's stories about what should be one of DC's most optimistic heroes. Barry bemoans endlessly here how Central City is changing and he doesn't want it to; meanwhile he ignores good advice from Iris West and fails to consider an obvious mystery in his midst. Even after the big "Flash War" revelations, even after reuniting with Iris, Williamson still writes Barry as a wet blanket, the least fun guy at the party, and it seems a disservice to the character.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Thinking about what makes a Supergirl series, both Peter David and Sterling Gates had it right, an Earth-based setting in which Kara Zor-El practices superheroics with a cast of supporting characters, toward the same audience as the average Superman or Batman comic (that is, not "mature readers" but neither "all ages").

Marc Andreyko's new take achieves some of that. Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton is good, certainly enjoyable and much benefited by Kevin Maguire's expressive art. It is almost wholly space-set, presenting a kind of field trip across the cosmic DC Universe, which is also well-done and holds many possibilities, though it doesn't necessarily seem the right foundation for a Supergirl series. I'm happy to stick with it — this is better, by far, than recent Supergirl takes that confused accessibility with banality — but it seems gimmicky; when the road runs out on Andreyko's space trek, I wonder if he's got terrestrial plans or if that'll be that. Either way I'm glad to see Supergirl more tied to the Superman books and in all I'm happy with the new Brian Michael Bendis era.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

It remains a curiosity what James Robinson might have done on the Wonder Woman title if left to his own devices. Instead, Robinson spends his last volume, Wonder Woman Vol. 8: Dark Gods, tying up others' storylines, none of which were particularly well imagined and none of which Robinson is able to wring anything particularly dramatic out of. After a strong Rebirth start, the Wonder Woman title has floundered, and I sincerely hope G. Willow Wilson can right this ship when she comes on the volume after next.

[Review contains spoilers]

Robinson posits here that the Dark Gods target Earth due to Wonder Woman's wish-gone-wrong at the end of Dark Nights: Metal — that apparently she wished for the gods to return, but didn't specify which ones. That's rather ridiculous, a clunky bridging of "Dark Gods" and Metal, made all the more so by the fact that the narrative really takes Diana to task for this as if she should be a more skillful wisher. The Dark Gods are exceptionally plain (to say nothing of Diana, Steve Trevor, and Diana's twin brother Jason under Robinson's pen), with names like "Mob God" and "Savage Fire." The writer who gave Copperhead hobbies surely has something better in his arsenal than this, and it contributes to the sense of Robinson as pitch hitter here, not driving force.

Review: Batman vs. Deathstroke hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Christopher Priest's Batman vs. Deathstroke is an old-school crossover in the best way, the kind of true miniseries-within-a-series we just don't see any more. It has all the hallmarks of Priest's great Deathstroke series, where it appeared, but reflecting a skill for writing Batman and his ilk, too. Priest is no stranger to writing the larger DC Universe, though his recent Justice League foray was perhaps a bit too stylized for some's tastes; Batman vs. Deathstroke shows that Priest can still write a straighter DC Universe piece that equally has some of Priest's trademark edge.

There are elements for which Batman vs. Deathstroke couldn't and wouldn't work in the modern comics landscape, but Priest pulls it off with aplomb, not that that's any surprise at all.