Review: Green Lantern Vol. 1: Invictus trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

When I read the first main chapter of Geoffrey Thorne’s Green Lantern Vol. 1: Invictus, I found it a cogent, readable, but not particularly ground-breaking Green Lantern story of politics and alien sparring.

The second chapter blew my mind, defied all my expectations, and set the tone for a bold new Green Lantern era. The extent to which Thorne plucks mystery from the realm of the commonplace and opens a new avenue for the Green Lantern mythos echoes the work of another “Geoff” — Geoff Johns — which is certainly a fine place to start.

Ring-slinging fans have plenty to enjoy — more probably in the next volume than this — but those who, in the style of Thorne’s Future State: Green Lantern tale, want a more stripped-down, character-based story, particularly focused on John Stewart, should be very, very happy.

Don’t read the back of the book before you start this one, folks.

DC Trade Solicitations for September 2022 - Batman: Shadow War, Catwoman: Lonely City, Batgirls Vol. 1, Wonder Woman: Evolution, Tales of the Amazons, Refrigerator Full of Heads, Teen Titans Academy Vol. 2: Exit Wounds

Sunday, June 19, 2022

As opposed to last month’s DC Comics trade paperback and hardcover solicitations, the September 2022 solicitations offer about half as many books. I’d be more worried if DC hadn’t had a couple good solicitations months lately; I think concerns that something was going to drastically change with the new editorial management after Infinite Frontier have all but dissipated at this point. So yes, half as many books in September as in August, but I think it’s OK.

(Now, the fact that there’s only one collection solicited for this coming week, I don’t know what to tell you, except printing delays are still a thing that’s plaguing us.)

Among books I’m looking forward to is Batgirls Vol. 1. If you read Batman: No Man’s Land in 1999, the Cassandra Cain Batgirl series from 2000 to 2006, the Stephanie Brown Batgirl series from 2009–2011, and then saw it all wiped away for Barbara Gordon to retake the cowl in the New 52 Batgirl series and have Stephanie and Cassandra ever-so-slowly reintroduced over the last 10 years, then you know how long we’ve waited for a book that finally says “yes” to “Can’t we just have all three as Batgirl?” Twenty years in the making and I’m here for it.

I’ve recently been reading Teen Titans Academy and its ancillary titles, so I’m also eager for the final volume, Teen Titans Academy Vol. 2: Exit Wounds. Clearly there’s some big doings going on in Batman: Shadow War, and though it’s not clear to me how much of Tales of the Amazons will be reprinted elsewhere, some of it sure seems important in the wake of Trial of the Amazons.

And, of course, nothing has been impressing me more about DC’s new regime than their daring, sometimes madcap, sometimes filthy Black Label series. Catwoman: Lonely City, Refrigerator Full of Heads, just pour it right in my head. I’ll take Wonder Woman: Evolution, too, even though it’s not, I don’t think, DC Black Label.

Let’s take a look at the full list.

American Vampire 1976

Paperback collection of the 10-issue miniseries by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque, following the hardcover.

Aquaman/Green Arrow – Deep Target

Collects the seven-issue miniseries. I wasn’t much moved by this unlikely pairing on the occasion of both characters' anniversaries, but the fact that Brandon Thomas is involved — Aquamen writer, and whose Future State: Aquaman I really enjoyed — makes me slightly more curious.

Batgirls Vol. 1

In paperback, collecting Batgirls #1-6 and the short stories from Batman #115-117 by Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad. Wow, this series has been a long time coming.

Batman: Shadow War

In hardcover in November, collecting Batman #122–123, Robin #13–14, Deathstroke Inc. #8–9, Shadow War: Alpha #1, Shadow War: Omega #1, and Shadow War Zone #1 by Joshua Williamson and friends.

The Books of Magic Omnibus Vol. 3 (The Sandman Universe Classics)

Collects The Trenchcoat Brigrade #1–4, The Names of Magic #1–5, Hunter: The Age of Magic #1–25, and The Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #1–15, with Dylan Horrocks and Si Spurrier (mentioned in previous solicitations, but not now, was Vertigo Secret Files: Hellblazer #1). When Sandman Universe was still up and running, if DC had released cut-down versions of these omnibuses, I'd have bought them right away.

Catwoman: Lonely City

The four-issue DC Black Label miniseries written, drawn, colored, and lettered by Cliff Chiang, in hardcover. Apparently there is also an addition direct market edition with a variant cover.

DC Horror Presents: Soul Plumber

Connecting the six-issue miniseries in October in hardcover. Can't tell if this is really actually horror or more of a satire, and so I'm on the fence about picking it up.

DC Poster Portfolio: George Pérez

Celebrating the late writer and artist with covers from New Teen Titans, Wonder Woman, and Crisis on Infinite Earths, plus more, I’m sure (the given cover shows a cover from Infinite Crisis).

Grayson The Superspy Omnibus (2022 Edition)

Collects Grayson #1–20, Grayson: Futures End #1, Secret Origins #8, Grayson Annual #1–3, Robin War #1–2 and Nightwing: Rebirth #1 by Tom King, Tim Seeley, and Mikel Janin. I really feel it wouldn't be a difficult thing for DC to put together an anthology of new Grayson short stories.

The Joker Vol. 1

In paperback in October, following the hardcover, by James Tynion and Guillem March.

Refrigerator Full of Heads

The Hill House Comics follow-up to Basketful of Heads (which I reviewed), in hardcover in October by Rio Youers and Tom Fowler. I loved the original and while this isn't the same creative team, I'm very excited about the sequel.

Shazam! Thundercrack

YA graphic novel set between the previous and upcoming Shazam! movies, written and drawn by Yehudi Mercado.

Tales of the Amazons

Not unlike Batman vs. Robin: Road to War, this is a hardcover collection of various stories leading up to "Trial of the Amazons." Among the issues said to be collected here are Wonder Woman #781-784, Wonder Woman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1 (both also found in the Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Through a Glass Darkly collection), Nubia: Coronation Special #1 (also in Nubia: Queen of the Amazons), and then Artemis: Wanted #1 and Olympus: Rebirth #1.

Teen Titans Academy Vol. 2: Exit Wounds

In hardcover, this is said to be issues #7-15, but given the end of the previous trade, this should be starting with issue #6 (the plot of which is described in the solicitation). Issue #15 marks the end of the series.

Wonder Woman: Evolution

Collects the eight-issue miniseries by Stephanie Nicole Phillips in hardcover in October.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Afterworlds trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

I’ve commented before, there’s a thing writers sometimes do when they’ve just started writing a character and need to get acclimated, which is to take the character out of familiar elements and spin a story that may only have just tertiary ties to the character, for the purpose of getting “warmed up.” We’ve seen it with Superman before, to be sure, and we saw it most recently with Kelly Sue DeConnick’s inaugural “amnesia” story in Aquaman before that run settled in.

Indeed, Becky Cloonan and Michael W. Conrad’s Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Afterworlds has a lot in common with Aquaman: Unspoken Water — the hero, thought dead, but instead transported amnesic among a brand new supporting cast. All of whom, similar to the Aquaman story, seem to leave Wonder Woman Diana behind at the end of this book. So I’m left to wonder, what was the point of all of this? Are these all-important first 10 issues really what these writers see as their ultimate portrayal of a Wonder Woman adventure? Or is it that — for the purposes of Nubia, Wonder Girl, and Justice League — DC needed Diana out of the way for roughly 10 issues, and this is what the authors could come up with to do it?

Review: Future State: Gotham Vol. 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 12, 2022

Future State Gotham Vol. 1 seems the kind of risk DC Comics wouldn’t usually take; I’m not sure what’s driving it, but I’m glad it’s here. Can another future-set Bat-series survive when so many Batman Beyond titles have come and go? And in black-and-white, no less? I don’t know, but what a wild ride for now.

[Review contains spoilers]

I was impressed with DC’s commitment to black-and-white such to even reprint the original Red Hood Future State stories from Future State: Batman: Dark Detective in black-and-white. I’ve found DC’s insistence on reprinting the already-collected Future State stories tedious, but here there’s a value-add in making the stories feel of a piece, rather than if you had to go back and read those stories in color before these. The black-and-white, of course, goes hand-in-hand with Giannis Milonogiannis' manga-infused style; this is essentially — at least to my memory — DC’s first open-ended manga series.

Review: Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. trade paperback (DC Comics/Young Animal)

Wednesday, June 08, 2022

Given DC making a big investment these days in a second, future-set continuity, Jody Houser’s Mother Panic: Gotham A.D. could be read as a nascent first draft (and not without a bit of irony thereof). This marked the end (at that moment) for Mother Panic, but I’d have assuredly read more if it came. In a similar vein to Ram V’s recent Bat-villain-focused Catwoman volume, Gotham A.D. sees a future where most Bat-heroes have been vanquished and all that remains to help Panic Violet Paige fight the tyrannical Collective is a cadre of aged Bat-villains doing good by necessity. Middle-age Bat-rogues helping Violet navigate a dystopian future? Sounds like a hoot — sign me up.

[Review contains spoilers]

The mild failing of Gotham A.D. — no fault of Houser’s or artist Ibrahim Moustafa — is that it doesn’t contain the Mother Panic/Batman special from the “Milk Wars” crossover. Sure that’s a bookshelf away, but it factors enough into the plot of Gotham A.D. that it’s inclusion seems obvious. Namely, that as a result of “Milk Wars” Violet has been transported not just to the future but to an alternate future where events in the past happened differently; further that her psychic mother seemed to foretell these events and gifted Violet with Batman’s secret identity before she was whisked away. Clearly I gleaned the high points, but experiencing them would have been better.

Review: Justice League Vol. 1: Prisms hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 05, 2022

Oh, I wanted more from Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez' Justice League Vol. 1: Prisms. And I do rather feel like I should have seen this coming, another Wonder Comics/Young Justice scenario. Bendis is not at the center of events in the DCU, so whatever it is that’s happening in Justice League, if this first collection is any indication, Bendis' Justice League is only going to be related in a tertiary way at best. Maybe things will pick up when the ties to another of Bendis' series come along, but the plot of Prisms is so thin, and so much reminds me of Bendis' Young Justice, that I don’t hold out a lot of hope.

[Review contains spoilers]

In the five issues of Bendis' Prisms, the Justice League is attacked by an alien force, then travel themselves to the alien’s dimension, tussle for a bit, and go home. It is anticlimactic in the extreme, even despite Marquez' energetic two-page spreads; compared to other notable Justice League launches — Grant Morrison’s JLA: New World Order or Scott Snyder’s Justice League Vol. 1: The Totality, Prisms offers no great revelations about the DC Universe nor even much in the way of a notable villain.

Review: Mother Panic Vol. 2: Under Her Skin trade paperback (DC Comics/Young Animal)

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

For reasons that should soon become apparent, I’m venturing back to finish reading Jody Houser’s Young Animal series Mother Panic. I found Mother Panic Vol. 2: Under Her Skin just as enjoyable as the first volume, though not really altogether different, for better or worse. There’s the sense of Houser just on the cusp of something as the first year of this book ends — and then Mother Panic would go on to get six issues of a relaunched, re-set series before its final cancellation. So what promise Mother Panic had to rise above its original premise is never realized, though again, that premise was enough to happily drive me through the second book.

[Review contains spoilers]

As with Mother Panic Vol. 1: A Work in Progress, Skin consists of two three-issue Mother Panic adventures, written by Houser and drawn by John Paul Leon (replacing Tommy Lee Edwards from the first volume) and Shawn Crystal respectively. That again Mother Panic juxtaposes a gritty noir-realist artist (Leon, like Edwards) with Crystal’s exaggerated (but horror-tinged) style is a microcosm for this wonderfully weird series as a whole. Mother Panic Violet Paige is an ultra-violent loner vigilante who stalks the Gotham nights, but while wearing a giant, ostentatious, stark white robot suit; Violet is as antisocial as they come, but inadvertently creates for herself a motley crimefighting team that includes her mother, afflicted with dementia, a nursing intern that Violet previously kidnapped, and the Ratcatcher Otis Flannegan.

Review: Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 29, 2022

I enjoyed Brandon Easton’s Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom; his Future State backup story was among those that really stood out to me in story and style. Unfortunately, some of that is lesser in Source, and I wonder if the fact that there’s no additional Mister Miracle content on DC’s horizon suggests Source’s failings mark the end. Pity, that — where Easton’s Source delves into race and the pains of celebrity, I found the book quite interesting, even daring. It is the book’s attempt at Fourth World content, the times it devolves into run-of-the-mill superhero smash-up comics, that hurts it, if not sealing Source’s fate outright.

[Review contains spoilers]

Taking just the first chapter of Source of Freedom, Easton’s title seems unstoppable. No sooner does Miracle Shilo Norman pull off a death-defying fall from space, classic Mister Miracle content, than Easton goes there, just seven pages in — Shilo refuses his agent’s suggestion that he unmask because he’s concerned how he’ll be treated if his audience knows he’s black. It is, I think, a controversial and courageous sentiment from Easton; for the most part, Shilo has been portrayed as a showboat Miracle unconcerned with such things, and not coincidentally, near as I can tell, has been written entirely by non-black writers except for an issue of Firestorm by Dwayne McDuffie1.

Review: Robin Vol. 1: The Lazarus Tournament trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Joshua Williamson’s Robin Vol. 1: The Lazarus Tournament is silly, irreverent, and doesn’t quite seem to know what comic it wants to be, and I rather enjoyed it.

To me the benchmark of a Robin comic still remains Chuck Dixon’s Tim Drake series, Robin fighting crime while negotiating high school and staying on the right side of his “suburban Jim Gordon,” Steven “Shotgun” Smith. It was the equivalent of a modern CW show, never too dark and with plenty of levity, and that never forgot its protagonist was a teen and populated the world around him primarily with teens, too.

Williamson’s Robin Damian Wayne book feels like it wants to be that kind of teen title, especially toward the end as Damian gathers his own team of teen-something heroes. But we’re a ways from Gotham Heights, as Damian negotiates both a supernatural island and a fighting tournament where hearts are ripped out of bodies with alacrity. It’s a weird mix, maybe a more appropriate mix for Damian than a high school setting, but weird nonetheless — though that weirdness in no small part helped keep my interest. Lazarus is further buoyed by Williamson’s use of fighter cameos from a variety of eras and lineages, which had me scouring the crowd scenes.

DC Trade Solicitations for August 2022 - Trial of the Amazons, War for Earth-3, Justice League Incarnate, Batman: Detective Comics: Arkham Rising, Being Robin, Punchline, Dark Knights of Steel, DC vs. Vampires, Phantom Stranger Omnibus

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Over 25 collections listed in the DC Comics August 2022 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations — after a drought, got to say it feels like things are cooking in the Infinite Frontier era. From Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3 to Robin Vol. 2, Task Force Z Vol. 1 to King Shark to Robins: Being Robin, no small amount of regular series, mainstream books on the horizon (even if some of the ship dates have bumped from September to October or November). And that’s not to mention Justice League Incarnate and both the Trial of the Amazons and War for Earth-3 crossover collections.

I’m also glad to see the Punchline: Trial of Alexis Kaye collection, not because I particularly favor the hubbub over Punchline, but I do find interesting the in-universe hubbub over Punchline that mirrors reality, and I’m happy to see DC seems committed to collecting the various backup stories and specials of the Infinite Frontier era. At the same time, some wrong lessons perhaps being learned from all the success of DC’s recent 12-issue, continuity-adjacent miniseries — volume one collections of Human Target, Dark Knights Of Steel, and DC vs. Vampires, where once upon a time I think DC would’ve waited and released each of these books as full stories.

All that, and will the Phantom Stranger Omnibus make it this time? Let’s take a look …

American Vampire Omnibus Vol. 1 (2022 Edition)

New printing of the omnibus by Scott Snyder and company (with a short story by Stephen King), collecting American Vampire #1–27, American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #1–5, and American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #1–5.

American Vampire Omnibus Vol. 2

By Scott Snyder and company, collecting American Vampire #28–34, American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell #1, American Vampire: Anthology #1–2, American Vampire: Second Cycle #1–11, and American Vampire 1976 #1–10.

Batman Black & White

Collects the new series in paperback.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Arkham Rising

In hardcover in September, the third collection by Mariko Tamaki includes "selections from" Detective Comics #1044–1046 and the 2021 Annual #1, ahead of the "Shadows of the Bat" event.

Batman: Hush 20th Anniversary Edition

Twenty years. Wow. Collects Batman #608-619 and the story from Wizard #0, as well as "tons of behind-the-scenes material" and a new cover.

Batman: The Long Halloween: Haunted Knight Deluxe Edition

Once Batman: The Long Halloween made it big, DC released as "Haunted Knight" the three stories Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale did before it that weren't so well known. History repeats itself, as now following the deluxe editions of Long Halloween, Dark Victory, and Catwoman: When in Rome is a deluxe of Haunted Knight, collecting again Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Special #1, Batman: Madness - A Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Special #1, and Batman: Ghosts, A Legends of the Dark Knight Halloween Special #1.

Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1

Collects Batman #101–116 and Detective Comics #233–257. Said to include "restored versions of iconic tales such as 'The Batwoman,' 'The Bat-Ape,' and 'The Rainbow Batman'"

Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 3

In paperback, said to collect issues #11–16. Spotlights include Batman and Zatanna and Ace the Bat-Hound. A previously solicitation also mentioned the Wight Witch/Ghost-Maker story.

Blue & Gold

In paperback, collecting the eight-issue miniseries by Dan Jurgens and Ryan Sook in paperback in September. Could you ever have imagined a future where Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were around to navigate "internet influencers"?

Blue Beetle: Jaime Reyes Book One

Issues #1-12 of the original Jaime Reyes Blue Beetle series by Keith Giffen and Cully Hamner. It'll be interesting to see if DC will continue this through Jaime's various continuities — this, the post-Crisis series, then the New 52 series, then the Rebirth series. Timed, of course, for the new movie, which I'm eager to see.

DC Dark Knights Of Steel Vol. 1

Collects just issues #1-6 in hardcover. I'm a shoo-in to read this eventually, but depending on timing I might wait until all 12 issues are collected at once.

DC vs. Vampires Vol. 1

Issues #1-6 by James Tynion. I might also wait for a full collection of this one but I don't feel as strongly as DC collecting only half of Tom King's Human Target (travesty!). Hardcover in September.

The Flash by Mark Waid Omnibus Vol. 1

Collects Flash #62–91, Flash Annual #4–6, Green Lantern #30–31 and #40, Flash Special #1, and Justice League Quarterly #10, being about the first three Flash by Mark Waid paperbacks and collecting among others the “Return of Barry Allen” storyline and the Zero Hour tie-in that debuted Impulse.

Future State: Gotham Vol. 2: The Next Joker

Previously said to be issues #8–12 by Dennis Culver and Giannis Milonogiannis.

Hardware: Season One

In hardcover, by Brandon Thomas, Reginald Hudlin, Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and more, collecting the first six issues of the new series and Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0. Coming in October.

The Human Target Book One

Boo, I say boo, to the hardcover collection of Tom King and Greg Smallwood's The Human Target that only collects issues #1-6. I mean, all best to the creators that maybe the first collection drums up more interest for the end of the series, but I'm holding out for the deluxe collection with all the issues. If it was good enough for Rorschach, it should be good enough for Human Target.

Justice League Incarnate

In hardcover in October (previously announced for September), collecting Joshua Williamson’s multiversal follow-up miniseries to Infinite Frontier.

Nubia & the Amazons

In hardcover in September by Vita Ayala and Stephanie Williams. Said to collect the story from Infinite Frontier #0 and the six-issue miniseries, seemingly including the “Trial of the Amazons” tie-in issues.

The Phantom Stranger Omnibus

This was previously announced in DC Comics Fall 2020 solicitations in March 2020, so not entirely surprising it never made it to print. Here it is again, due out in November 2022. Contents said to be The Phantom Stranger #1-6 (1952), The Phantom Stranger #1-41 (1969), stories from Saga of the Swamp Thing #1-13, Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #18, Brave and the Bold #89, #98, and #145, Showcase #80, Justice League of America #103, House of Secrets #150, DC Super-Stars #18, Secret Origins #10, and DC Comics Presents #25 and #72.

Punchline: The Trial of Alexis Kaye

Various Punchline spotlight and backup stories, including from Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1, The Joker #1–15. Mentioned also in a previous solicitation were Punchline #1 and a story/stories from Batman: Urban Legends. In hardcover in September.

Robin Vol. 2: I Am Robin

In paperback in September, collects Robin #7-12 and Robin 2021 Annual #1 by Joshua Williamson. As with Batman Vol. 6: Abyss and Deathstroke, Inc. Vol. 1, this ends just before the "Shadow War" crossover.

Robins: Being Robin

In paperback in September, collecting the six-issue miniseries by Tim Seeley and Baldemar Rivas.

Suicide Squad: King Shark

I’m not sure I would have run to this one, despite a writer and an artist I both like, Tim Seeley and Scott Kolins, but Seeley also brings back one of his Nightwing characters, too, and I’m curious how that all works together. The six-issue miniseries, in paperback in September.

Task Force Z Vol. 1: Death's Door

I’m in to reading the Infinite Frontier era of books now and I’ve been very impressed to see the seemingly random seeds sprinkled early on that have come to fruition later — namely, that DC killing off one of its most well-known villains ultimately results in the Suicide-Squad-with-zombies series Task Force Z. What an insane concept. I’m excited; issues #1–6 by Matthew Rosenberg with Eddy Barrows arrive in hardcover in November; a previous solicitation, for September, also mentioned the backup stories from Detective Comics #1041–1043. One more volume to follow to finish up this miniseries.

Titans United

On one hand I’m wary of an obvious TV-aligned Titans miniseries that might try to shoehorn TV continuity into the comics Titans; on the other hand, if this brings some sort of classic Hawk and Dove back to continuity, I’m all for it. And the HBO Max show is a guilty pleasure after all. Collects the seven-issue miniseries by Cavan Scott and Jose Luis, in paperback in September.

Trial of the Amazons

In hardcover in October, collecting Trial of the Amazons #1-2, Nubia and the Amazons #6, Wonder Woman #785- 786, and Trial of the Amazons: Wonder Girl #1-2 by Becky Cloonan, Michael Conrad, Stephanie Williams, and Vita Ayala.

War for Earth-3

In paperback in September, collecting the crossover issues Flash #780, Suicide Squad #13, and Teen Titans Academy #13 with War for Earth-3 #1–2.

Wonder Woman by George Pérez Omnibus (2022 Edition)

A new printing of the omnibus collection of Wonder Woman #1-24 and Wonder Woman Annual #1 by the late, great George Pérez.

Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 5

Collects Action Comics #142, Wonder Woman #35-47, and Sensation Comics #90-104.