Review: Sweet Tooth Vol. 6: Wild Game trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Jeff Lemire succeeds in the end with Sweet Tooth Vol. 6: Wild Hunt. Success, as we’ve examined before, was not assured, given what seemed a rather large lift that would be needed, and maybe more than just eight issues, to tie up all of Sweet Tooth’s loose ends. In the end, not every question is answered, which is fine (neither for Y: The Last Man, nor certainly for Lost for that matter); in his finale, Lemire elides some of the most salient material, but the conclusion is perhaps all the more enticing for it.

Wild Hunt is sensitive and graceful, especially in that ending, a compassionate bow on an at-times-horrific story. Between Lemire’s sequel miniseries, soon to be collected, and the Netflix TV show — which connects to this volume in a very specific way — this hardly even feels like the end; in fact, as this book says, if we’re gifted a couple more seasons of the show, this story is “really only just beginning.”

Review: DCeased: Dead Planet hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Tom Taylor's DCeased has loosed its zombie apocalypse origins the longer it's gone on (the recent DCeased: Hope at World's End was downright cheerful), and with DCeased: Dead Planet, we see Taylor go fairly full-superhero. Not that there aren't Anti-Living around every corner, but a lot of what Dead Planet turns on are Taylor and artist Trevor Hairsine's wild DC Universe cameos. Freed of the restrictions of continuity — not just able to pick his own continuity, but rather to mix and match across continuities — Dead Planet is a buoyant who's who where a lot of the fun is just seeing who's going to walk in the door next.

There's a strong start and capable climax here, if not necessarily a perfect ending. But while DCeased: Unkillables remains Taylor's triumph, Dead Planet is a fine entry into this series — better than the original — and I don't image fans of this universe will be disappointed.

Review: Planet of the Apes Omnibus: Before the Fall trade paperback (Boom! Studios)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King. Don’t miss his recent April of the Apes review series of the Planet of the Apes movies at the site.]

While the first Planet of the Apes Omnibus is perhaps the stronger read, Planet of the Apes Omnibus: Before the Fall is, I suspect, the easier sell for the casual fan. The gorgeous cover by Phil Noto certainly caught my eye, boasting familiar simian faces like Cornelius, Zira, Ursus, and Dr. Zaius. Indeed, where the first omnibus only included winks and nods to the film franchise (save for the two-page cameo of the Lawgiver), Before the Fall is a proper prequel to the 1968 film, ultimately taking us through the opening sequence of the third film, 1971’s Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Though hampered by artwork that makes many of the apes indistinguishable, Before the Fall is nevertheless a compelling and intriguing work, even if a few dangling threads trip up the book’s hasty yet ambitious conclusion.

DC Trade Solicitations for October 2021 — Justice League: Endless Winter, Post-Future State Suicide Squad, Superman and the Authority, Batman: Dark Knight Detective Vol. 6, Swamp Thing by Ram V, new Batman: Long Halloween

Monday, July 19, 2021

Much like last month, it’s quality over quantity for me with the DC Comics October 2021 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations. Not a whole lot of books that I’m eyeing, but a few I’m really eager for (and even wish would arrive sooner — talking to you, Justice League: Endless Winter).

Others on the list include Catwoman Vol. 5: Valley of the Shadow of Death, Suicide Squad Vol 1: Give Peace a Chance, Superman and the Authority, Superman: The One Who Fell, and Swamp Thing Volume 1: Becoming — all specifically post-Future State volumes, another new-new DC Universe beginning.

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 6 is coming too — glad to see these books going strong and getting toward a complete run; not many more to go there. And a Batman: The Long Halloween special? I admit I looked past it the first time in the solicitations, thought it was just like a dollar reprint or something, but I’m really excited for a new story.

Let’s take a look at the full list and you tell me what you’re looking forward to.

The Batman & Scooby-doo Mysteries Vol. 1

Issues #1-6 of the new Sholly Fisch series.

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 6

Collects Detective Comics #622-633 from 1990-1991. Continuity-wise there was nothing particularly noteworthy I could discern about these issues, but Caleb at Every Day Is Like Wednesday has a good run-down of the contents, with stories by John Ostrander and by Marv Wolfman and Peter Milligan with art by Jim Aparo. Issue #627 is a multi-story "anniversary" issue of Batman's 600th appearance in Detective.

In comparison, this volume lines up with about Batman #455-466, or the contents of Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 4; this past January's Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 5 collected Batman #466-473 and Detective #639-640, to give you a sense of where the two books are in relation to one another.

Coming up in January, Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 6 is said to collect Batman #475-483, ending right where "Prelude to Knightfall" beings with Batman #484. The solicitation doesn’t say that’s the last Caped Crusasder book, but it seems like it would be. The comparable "Preludes" issue is Detective #654, so given about 10 issues a book, Dark Knight Detective probably has about two more volumes to go.

Batman: The Long Halloween: Dark Victory: The Deluxe Edition

Sure this is a nice edition of Dark Victory and interesting here that the Batman: Long Halloween animated movie has now turned this into a brand (and a mouthful) — Batman: The Long Halloween: Dark Victory: The Deluxe Edition — but can we talk about there's a brand-new 48-page Long Halloween special?! At first I thought it was just a reprint of the first issue and I looked right past it. My memory's fuzzy but I feel sure there was still an unsolved mystery or two left in that story — I'm excited for this and for an excuse to re-read Long Halloween and Dark Victory in the process.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Omnibus

Said to collect Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and material from the deluxe edition.

Catwoman Vol. 5: Valley of the Shadow of Death

Post-Future State, collecting issues by Ram V and Fernando Blanco (previously said to be #29-33) in paperback.

The Dreaming: Waking Hours

In paperback, the 12-issue miniseries by G. Willow Wilson and Nick Robles. Surely we’ll see some new Sandman/Sandman Universe/Dreaming material in time for the TV show.

The Green Lantern Season Two Vol. 1

Paperback, following the hardcover, of issues #1-6. Just read Season Two Vol. 2, and it’s a trip.

House of El Book Two: The Enemy Delusion

YA graphic novel by Claudia Gray and Eric Zawadzski. Hey, did you see CW Seed has both seasons of Krypton for streaming?

Justice League: Endless Winter

Not that I really thought DC wasn't going to collect Endless Winter, but I'm glad to see it on the schedule. Good, bad, or indifferent, gotta love a real inter-title-based crossover, and especially by just one team. Should collect Aquaman #66, Flash #767, Justice League #58, Justice League Dark #29, Justice League: Endless Winter #1-2, Teen Titans: Endless Winter Special #1, Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1, and Superman: Endless Winter Special #1.

I just wish this was being released before the Future State collection, like the original publications, and not afterward (coming in November), though I imagine as close as DC can get this to the Black Adam movie, the better.

Suicide Squad Vol 1: Give Peace a Chance

Robbie Thompson has done well on Teen Titans in partnership with Adam Glass; hopefully Suicide Squad gets a bump here just the same as Titans did. Certainly a Talon among the team, and Superboy Conner Kent, piques my interest. Previous solicitations said this included both Suicide Squad #1-6 and also Future State: Suicide Squad #1-2, but that’s not mentioned here. Red X from Teen Titans Academy is said to appear.

Superman and the Authority

This seems pretty momentous given the writing power of Grant Morrison (on Superman, no less!) and the drawing power of Mikel Janin. And is that Kitty “Rampage” Faulkner as an OMAC? Sign me up. Collects the four-issue miniseries.

Superman: The One Who Fell

Collects Action Comics #1029 and Superman #29-32 in paperback in November, the start of the new run by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski. Jon Kent is front and center there, which wouldn't be my choice — I'd as soon keep him in the future with the Legion of Super-Heroes and let Lois and Clark keep doing what they were doing — but my sense is consensus goes the other way.

Superman/Batman Omnibus Vol. 2

Collects Superman/Batman issues #44-87 and Annuals #3-5. This is roughly the original collection volumes 7-12 (Search for Kryptonite, Finest Worlds, Night & Day, Big Noise, Worship, and Sorcerer Kings) and/or the new paperbacks from the middle of Vol. 4 through Vol. 7. With Mike Johnson and Michael Green, Joe Casey, Len Wein, Scott Kolins, Paul Levitz, Judd Winick, Joshua Williamson, Cullen Bunn, James Robinson, and Joshua Hale Fialkov, and tying in to Blackest Night and Final Crisis, among others.

The Swamp Thing Volume 1: Becoming

The first collection of Ram V’s new Swamp Thing 10-issue miniseries, said to collect issues #1-4 and Future State: Swamp Thing #1-2. Hopefully they won’t drag out the collections longer than one more volume.

Teen Titans Go!/DC Super Hero Girls: Exchange Students

I'm continually impressed with how versitile the Teen Titans Go! property is, and still going strong almost a decade after its premiere. It's not everyone's cup of tea but DC sure makes it work.

Truth & Justice

Paperback collecting the digital-first series with stories including Vixen and John Constantine, by Geoffrey Thorne and others.

Wonder Woman: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1

From the 1950s and '60s, Wonder Woman #98-123, including apparently the introduction of "Wonder Tot" and appearances by Hippolyta. The solicitation says this is the first time some of these have been reprinted in color.

Review: Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Katana Collins and Matteo Scalera do a fine enough approximation of Sean Murphy’s work in Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn. My impression is that DC has had far better luck lately with single-voiced imprint “universes” — White Knight and Injustice and DCeased — than they’ve had with loosely knit imprint lines. To see such a thing branch out in a successful way with another creator — Collins writing within Murphy’s universe — should give everyone hope; while Tom Taylor is busy with other things, maybe we can get a DCeased 80-Page Giant with other creators writing stories within the DCeased framework, or some other crackshot writer on a White Knight Presents: The GTO miniseries (really just Duke Thomas), or so on.

There’s some elements here that don’t quite jibe with what we know of the White Knight characters or where we left them, but I know Murphy was involved with this book and that whatever’s here is canon or to be explained. Collins' book wants mildly for a garage filled with cars and an epic widescreen ending, but makes up for it in character work. White Knight’s Harley Quinn is still an odd figure — a criminal profiling savant who’s light years more savvy than her mainstream counterpart even on her best day — but fans of the character should be pleased with her protagonist portrayal here.

Review: Sweet Tooth: Unnatural Habitats trade paperback (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

It seems no coincidence that Matt Kindt comes on to draw “The Taxidermist,” the first story of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth Vol. 5: Unnatural Habitats. This series feels firmly in Kindt’s Mind MGMT territory now, with vast, world-shaking conspiracies that reach back centuries or more. Lemire’s got eight more issues in the sixth and final volume (minus the recent new miniseries) to wrap up this story, in a series that’s barely moved more than inches in the first five books.

At this point, just for comparison, Kindt’s Mind MGMT was also almost done, but felt considerably more ready for that occasion than Sweet Tooth does. Y: The Last Man ran 60 issues, but even if Sweet Tooth ran 20 more issues instead of eight, I’m not sure if Lemire could get there without some serious buckling down. Really what Sweet Tooth needs is the Saga model, 54 issues followed by (what I’m guessing will be) a time jump and 54 issues more.

Review: DCeased: Hope at World's End hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 11, 2021

DCeased: Hope at World’s End is another pleasant interstitial entry into Tom Taylor’s rapidly growing DCeased line. “Pleasant” may not be the ideal way to describe a tale of mass destruction and zombie apocalypse, but particularly with Jon Sommariva’s more animated art on board, Taylor’s tone comes off not so much horror as youthful superhero hijinks with a touch of the heist movie at the end. This is not the most emotionally affecting DCeased entry, but one gets the sense of it being intended to check some very specific boxes for DC, and Taylor accomplishes that while still delivering plenty of heart and humor.

[Review contains spoilers]

I’m pretty sure Black Adam right on the cover of this book is no accident, any more than Black Adam getting his own “Endless Winter” special or joining the ranks of the newest Justice League is an accident. DC’s got a lot less “ready for collecting” Black Adam material in their line than they do for Wonder Woman or Aquaman, all the more reason to have him feature in a low-stakes, digital-first DCeased entry ahead of his movie debut.

Review: Batman: Earth One Vol. 3 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Geoff Johns' Batman: Earth One Vol. 3 begs a sequel; if Johns and artist Gary Frank were to one day deliver one, they’d have produced more Earth One volumes than any other creators. The quality of this story is good, even if it becomes a little incomprehensible in retrospect. I’d be pleased to read another, disappointed if it never comes, and hopeful it doesn’t take another six years to do so.

Johns and Frank’s early decision to show this Batman’s eyes throughout the books (instead of the familiar white-covered eyes) brought humanity to a young and often stumbling vigilante, learning first to jump rooftops and second to follow his new foes' clues. In this third book, Johns' Batman is more self-assured, not now all that different from common portrayals, though still building his nascent Bat-family. In this, and Frank’s sharply angular, molded cowl, one is put in mind of Jerry Ordway’s movie Batman: 1989 movie adaptation, and from there the Michael Keaton movies.

Review: Planet of the Apes Omnibus trade paperback (Boom! Studios)

Sunday, July 04, 2021

[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King. Don’t miss his recent April of the Apes review series of the Planet of the Apes movies at the site.]

After Boom! Studios acquired the Planet of the Apes license in 2011, the publisher has quietly built one of the finest — and largest — franchise spin-off lines in comics. (I haven’t done the math, but I have to imagine Star Wars is the largest.) Marvel, Malibu, and Dark Horse all did pretty good business with Planet of the Apes, but Boom! took it to another level.

The Apes franchise itself is torturously intricate — five original films, starting with Charlton Heston in 1968 (through 1973, with television offshoots); a Tim Burton non-starter in 2001; and a trilogy starring Andy Serkis in mo-cap (2011–2017). Just as the Serkis films were getting started, Boom! gave us three mainline series: one set after the Heston films, one set before, and one set in the midst of the Serkis trilogy. Their line also included a bevy of crossovers, gleefully mixing the 1968 franchise with Star Trek, Green Lantern, King Kong, and Tarzan — to say nothing of one-offs that explored the backstory of ape General Ursus or the hardcover Planet of the Apes Visionaries, a sort of forerunner to the Snyder Cut that illustrated Rod Serling’s original screenplay for the 1968 film. (A review, perhaps, for another time.)

Review: Sweet Tooth: Endangered Species trade paperback (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

As would seem only appropriate for a book about animal-human hybrids, the natural and man-made worlds clash in Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth Vol. 4: Endangered Species — not to mention the influence of realms mythological and spiritual. Familial bonds strengthen but also wither; the group gets on the road, only to pause in place.

In this way, the fourth volume is more like the second than the third — a stage play, a bottle episode. It works better than it did before, perhaps because here the close quarters serve to increase the paranoia and heighten the tension. At the same time, I’m very cognizant of a lot to wrap up with only two volumes to go, not enough room to emphasize so heavily character over plot. If I understand correctly, Lemire expected more issues than he got, which explains some of this, but I’m hopeful for a satisfying ending and this trend of taking one’s time, understandable as that may be, makes that ending increasingly uncertain.