Collected Editions 2005 Trade Paperback Year-in-Review

Friday, December 30, 2005

The 2005 trade year stands out to me foremost for the new positive predictability in DC’s trade output. It used to be very difficult to determine what would be trades and what wouldn’t. Nowadays, we can more or less count on Teen Titans and JSA, at least. And we saw trades like Superman: Unconventional Warfare and The Wrath of Gog that collected six issues of a run, followed later in the year by the other six issues. All in all, I’d say that’s a step in the right direction.

The big winner this year, hands down, was JSA, with three trade collections. Granted, one trade was a crossover with Hawkman, but to have JSA’s name out there three times, plus a special Identity Crisis tag on JSA: Lost, is really saying something. The steady strength of this title means that DC can’t help but position it as the flagship team of the DC Universe, and I think some of the big gun talent we’re seeing on JLA right now is in direct answer to that. If JSA is beating JLA, no wonder JLA is being relaunched.

I started to call Outsiders this year’s big loser trade-wise, with only one end-of-the-year trade, but when you consider the massive size of the Outsiders trade, and the fact that it runs right up to a Teen Titans crossover, Outsiders didn’t do too poorly (not to mention the early 2006 trade). Even Hawkman got two trades, even if one was the aforementioned JSA crossover. Titles that received the trade-shaft this year, I think, are Gotham Central, Birds of Prey, and Green Arrow, all of which I’m pleased to see are receiving early 2006 trades. DC touts Birds of Prey as a steamroller, and yet it’s trade programming is falling behind; Green Arrow, too, received hardcovers in the beginning, but was largely absent for 2005 -- fortunately, the next Green Arrow trade is unusually large. And Gotham Central: Half a Life is the big “for shame” trade this year, padded with issues that are already collected elsewhere; it’s heartening to see a Gotham Central trade solicitation for 2006 already, even though the title’s been cancelled. Hopefully we’ll have a better showing from all of these titles next year.

We saw a couple new trends in trades this year. One positive was crossover trades, like JSA: Black Reign and Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood; it’s a fun two-for-one deal. On the negative side, however, we saw the rise of the aforementioned trade padding, where both Teen Titans and Gotham Central contained extra issues that seemed to “pad out” the trade. If you read my review, you know I’m not a fan. Not only does Justice League Elite Volume 1 contain an already-collected “padding” issue, it’s also the first of two volumes, something we see with Batman: Hush, Superman: For Tomorrow, and DC: New Frontier, as well. I can’t say I’m a fan of that, either; so far, the massive Seven Soldiers of Victory, with two volumes for 2006, seems the only title that really deserves it.

Another trend was Absolute Editions, including Batman: Hush, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Watchmen, and more. I actually believe that this year’s rise in Absolutes was something of a coincidence; my guess is that we may not see much more than Absolute Superman: For Tomorrow and Absolute Sandman next year. Of course, it will be interesting to see how DC collects the 75 issue Sandman series, in how many Absolute volumes, and whether they’ll be released all at once or staggered.

Some surprises: a second, large Wonder Woman trade, when it almost looked like there’d be only one for the year; a second Majestic trade, suggesting that the first one did well; a new Batgirl trade, with a significant jump from when the last trade left off; and just under the wire, the Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries trades, a wonderful end of the year present from DC, and a suggestion that faster trade turnaround is on the rise.

Finally, consider some trades to watch out for next year. My first “one to watch” is Hawkman. DC collected all the Geoff Johns issues, but will they collect the Palmiotti/Gray team, or skip straight to the One Year Later Hawkgirl? Similarly, will we see any of the Aquaman "Sub Diego" storyline collected before jumping to One Year Later? And if there was ever a time to collect Geoff Johns’ first Flash story, "Wonderland," it’s now as Johns leaves the Flash.

A few statistics:

Three trades: JSA

Two trades: Superman titles, JLA, Catwoman, Wonder Woman, Majestic, Flash, Plastic Man, Superman/Batman, Batman, Nightwing

One trade: Birds of Prey, Green Arrow, Hawkman, Gotham Central, Outsiders, Manhunter

One of my favorite trades this year was Catwoman: Relentless. I just can’t get over the second title page for “No Easy Way Down.” It was a nice touch, and a nicely designed trade overall. I thought Superman/Batman: Absolute Power was just fun; I enjoyed it more than I thought, finding out how it tied to the series overall. And of course, faithful readers know that I was a big fan of Justice League Elite Volume 1, and I’m very much hoping there will be a Volume 2.

So there you go. What were your favorites? Suprises? Let me know!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year to all, and I’ll see you next year. Cheers!

Infinite Crisis #3 review

Friday, December 23, 2005

On the whole, I liked this issue of Infinite Crisis. We had a couple of big reveals here – less surprising in learning who the villains are than seeing one surprising – and familiar – component of the supposed “mind-wiping” machine. And still, for what is said to be the biggest DC Universe event in years, I still find myself missing a sense of the DC Universe, the grand scale that would really make this feel like a Crisis.

In Infinite Crisis #3, we learn that the Secret Villains Society’s Lex Luthor is actually the presumed good guy Earth-3 Alexander Luthor (reducing our Luthor count from three to two), and that he and Superboy-Prime are actually building a machine to bring back the multiverse – a machine that appears to contain pieces of the Anti-Monitor. Meanwhile, the OMACs attack Paradise Island, forcing all the Amazons to depart our reality except Wonder Woman; a guilt-stricken Batman is visited by the Earth-2 Superman; and the Spectre crushes Atlantis, possibly killing Tempest among others.

We know now that Alexander Luthor and Superboy-Prime have duped the Earth-2 Superman; the big question is whether this is a recent development, or if the two of them have been “bad guys” since Crisis on Infinite Earths. We might also wonder how long Alexander Luthor has been “our” Lex Luthor – just through Villains United, or in post-Identity Crisis issues of Superman Teen Titans, and Countdown to Infinite Crisis, as well? Have we even seen our earth’s Lex Luthor since his defeat in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies? It’s an interesting development, though not nearly as shocking as the big honking Anti-Monitor at the end of the story! It wouldn’t be Crisis without him.

Given Luthor’s new role, we now see how Villains United ties in to Infinite Crisis. And now that we know that both Superboy-Prime and Alexander Luthor have crossed over to our universe before, I continue to think that’s the source of the disruption on the Rann-Thanagar front. The OMAC Project, if nothing else, serves as a plot catalyst for Batman and Wonder Woman; the only Countdown miniseries that still doesn’t fit to me is Day of Vengeance. While the Spectre’s destruction was shocking, I still don’t see its role, short of bringing in the new Blue Beetle. And of the Beetle, at first glance, so far I’m not impressed with what I see – another reluctant kid superhero with an attitude – but again, it’s only a first impression.

Which brings me to one aspect of Infinite Crisis that somewhat disappoints me, and that I’m somewhat sorry to see. Does anyone remember back in Zero Hour, those miniscule scenes that flashed in on the Primal Force or Theodore Knight in the hospital with his sons? Those scenes that were so short, so gratuitous, that you couldn’t help but recognize them as advertisements, breaking up the flow of the story? We see them here in Infinite Crisis, both with Blue beetle and with Corrigan in issue one. Identity Crisis, I felt, handled these rather well, perhaps because it was a murder mystery – I didn’t wonder about the scene with Lex Luthor’s suit outside Identity Crisis, even though it appeared later in Teen Titans. These are the trappings, I think, that make crossovers fail, bogging them down in marketing; for something as significant as Infinite Crisis, I hope they stop.

And yet, there’s one aspect of Zero Hour, and even Day of Judgment, Panic in the Sky, and other crossovers, that I’m still awaiting: the big crowd scene. We’ve seen Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and small flashes of Superboy, Nightwing, and the heroes gathered by Donna Troy. But whither the Outsiders? Wherefore the JSA? When will we see a splash page with the entire gathered DC Universe, all the heroes together in one place? So far, Infinite Crisis does seem rather insular; I’m waiting for it to explode.

Finally, however, what we saw handled very strongly and well by Geoff Johns in Infinite Crisis #3 was DC’s Big Three, as each came to a, well, crisis point. Batman seems ready to break under the strain of his own paranoia, perhaps signaling a change toward the brighter in his future. Wonder Woman abruptly realizes the effects of her own violence, and sends the entire island of Amazons to another dimension, rather than risk their lives; I wondered how DC could relaunch Wonder Woman without killing the main character, and this might be it, making her the last Amazon on the planet (but how long can that last, really?). And with Superman, more subtly, we receive a giant splash page as he halts a falling skyscraper; a nice artwork opportunity for Phil Jimenez, perhaps, but also possibly a signal of his return to greatness – Superman as big, bold, and heroic. When the Big Three come together now, there’s the suggestion that might now be unstoppable.

So I’ll say one thing for Infinite Crisis – it leaves you wanting more. After the third issue, we have more, but not a total picture, of what’s going on. After next issue, it’ll already be half-over (!); I’m looking forward to what surprises come next.

Happy Holidays to all, and to all a good night!

It's coming ...

Monday, December 19, 2005

The Collected Editions 2005 Trade Paperback Year in Review! Watch this space ... it's coming ...

Manhunter: Street Justice review

When you see just how ... wonderfully wrong Kate Spencer's relationship is with her son in the middle of Manhunter #2, you'll find you can't help but enjoy this series. And then when you reach the issue 2 cliffhanger ... you'll be hooked. After reading this quirky, challenging trade, I can say without a doubt: Viva le Manhunter! Here's wishing this series a long and successful life.

Kate Spencer, who cameos in Identity Crisis #5, is a federal prosecutor tired of the revolving door on the DCU's prison system. When a convicted Copperhead escapes custody, she decides to go after him, stealing weapons and armor from federal lock-up. Her actions bring her to the attention of the Shadow Thief and, after Shadow Thief kills Firestorm in Identity Crisis, the JLA. Meanwhile, Kate blackmails a reformed crook to help upkeep her weapons, and deals with a custody battle over her young son.

I don't think I spoil too much when I state one of the driving concepts of this story: Kate kills. And this has the danger, perhaps, to make for a short-lived, or at least one-note, series: Kate kills, and we all know killing is wrong, so at some point Kate will have to learn the error of her ways. From there, perhaps, she reforms, dons a cape, and becomes like every other super-hero out there. But if we agree that no writer creates a character with the intention of making them boring, and if we also agree that the strength of Mark Andreyko's writing is such that it's obvious he knows what he's doing, then we have another possibility: Kate never learns, and keeps on killing.

In this, we find the delightfully disturbing charm of Manhunter: we like Kate, despite all her flaws--or perhaps because she handles all her flaws with such sarcastic aplomb--and to an extent, we like her violence--even though we know it's wrong, and even though we know there's a better way. Kate is not Superman, nor is she even Batman--a point well-made through the trade's dream sequence--and yet we instinctively know that she has a place in the DC Universe, even though we already have a Superman, and even though we already have a Batman. That Kate should fit so well despite her flaws and despite her "wrongness" is concerning--it speaks to a vacuum in the DC Universe that this too-short trade (and at five issues, it leaves you very much hungry for more)--but also makes the series that much more compelling.

Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord while he held Superman in thrall, an act that seems much more justified--and yet has earned Wonder Woman more flak--than any of Manhunter's attempted murders. Guy Gardner killed Major Force back in 1995, as Force threatened to go after Gardner and Kyle Rayner's families. The differences in both these cases, perhaps, is that Wonder Woman and Guy Gardner killed their enemies in battle, under arguably direct threat; Manhunter goes after villains when they might otherwise leave her personally alone. Additionally, for Wonder Woman and Gardner the killings were one-time, special actions, whereas Manhunter makes killing her goal. While Kate could therefore argue that her actions aren't unprecedented, the length to which she takes them likely is. For this trade, at least, Manhunter remains mostly under the JLA's radar; should they notice her, however, we can guess from similar situations that they'll immediately be trying to stop her. This also creates an interesting, ambiguous situation, as the JLA sides with their enemies against the "hero" Manhunter. As hero/villain relationships change in Identity Crisis, JLA: Crisis of Conscience and elsewhere, I'd be eager to see this play out.

Humor does a large part to drive this trade. I especially liked the exchange between Kate and her "sidekick" Dylan (My favorite line: "... A federal prosecutor is gonna blackmail a protected witness into re-breaking the law?"). There's also a great amount of tripping-and-falling, literally, that Kate does in her first nights on the job, both endearing us to the character and cementing the more realistic tone. Jesus Saiz pencils clear, fast, moody action sequences, but seems to shift easily to Pete Woods-type dialogue sequences. I look forward to seeing more of his work when I read The OMAC Project trade.

So read Manhunter, and then start a campaign--from what I understand, they need you (yes, you!) if there's going to be a second trade produced. Me, I'm on to a big ol' Legion-Titans-Outsiders-present-future-Identity-Infinite smorgasbord--maybe we'll see reviews before the beginning of next year, maybe not. But what we will see--BIG ANNOUNCEMENT TIME--is the 2005 Collected Editions Trade Paperback Year in Review. It's new, it's big, it's coming soon, so whatever you do, watch this space!

Review: JSA: Lost trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

JSA: Lost reminded me very much of JSA: Justice Be Done and JSA: Darkness Falls, and not just because of the presence of Extant. In the five stories presented here -- two one-shots, one three-parter, and two two-parters, all tied by common subplots -- we once again see the JSA split off into small teams, following up on multiple facets of a case. And like those first JSA trades, these vignettes are all about the legacy, all about tying up JSA plotlines both recent and old.

After the one-two punch of JSA: Princes of Darkness and JSA: Black Reign, I found JSA: Lost incredibly satisfying. It was during "Wake the Sandman" that I felt JSA: Lost really shined, as half the JSA traveled to the Dreaming while the other journeyed to the center of the Earth. After bringing back Fury in the last trade, JSA continues to integrate Vertigo's Sandman mythos into the DCU with Brute and Glob, among others. There's action, romance, and the art of comics stalwart Jerry Ordway, to boot. JSA: Lost is heavy on good emotion, and I was impressed with how, even as the various stories stood on their own, themes of faith, especially, followed throughout.

This trade is unmistakably Hourman's story, despite the focus on both the Spectre and Sand. Rex Tyler's hesitation to see his wife now that he's been resurrected continues in the first chapter, and the choice that he makes -- prompted both by the hunt for the missing Sand, and Mr. Terrific's coming to terms with his own wife's death -- is only the precurser to the final two-parter, which deals with the time-lost Hourman once and for all. Though I enjoyed the time-travel aspects of "Out of Time" (and the Memento approach to the opening chapter of this book), I found myself less enchanted with both Hourmans junior and senior as the story went on. Rick Tyler, who seemed bold and heroic in his Stealing Thunder debut, appeared all too quick to commit suicide here to save his father, rather than seek out another solution. This, combined with his concerns about falling off the addiction wagon in Black Reign, have made the character more human, but also somewhat whiny. I'll be watching him closely again during Black Vengeance.

Another character I found suprisingly whiny, too, was Hal Jordan. The Spectre returns in the first storyline, which also brings back JSA-villain the Spirit King, and spotlights Mr. Terrific. Longtime Justice Society fans will see where that's going immediately, and I appreciated the nod to JSA lore. But knowing that Hal Jordan would be next to appear in Green Lantern: Rebirth, I was surprised to find him spending much of his time in this story on his knees, whimpering. I'm having a hard time really getting a handle on Jordan's character, and I hope Rebirth shores it up for me. Better in this story was the spotlight on Dr. Mid-Nite's and Mr. Terrific's friendship, Mr. Terrific coming to terms with issues of faith, and lush artwork, including some incredible church scenes.

And let me make special mention of what can only be called an "art cameo" in JSA: Lost -- "art cameos," perhaps, being something indigenous to sequential art that makes this medium so great. In this case, whomever snagged Tom Mandrake to draw selected pages -- whether it was Geoff Johns or the editor -- it was a moment of absolute genius. Again, I won't spoil it, but readers familiar with Mandrake's recent work can probably figure it out. By and large, I couldn't tell most of the artists in this trade apart, which is good; given the large amount of artists, it's nice when their styles mesh, instead of jar. And again, it's always great to see Jerry Ordway.

JSA: Lost is also notable for two text pages that set the scene for Identity Crisis. The Crisis tale in this trade relies heavily on the miniseries itself, with less explanation and less real weight than found in the Flash trade; it's strange for this reason that DC chose to mark the front of the JSA trade as an Identity Crisis tie-in and not the Flash trade. For this reason, the two text pages have to work very hard to balance the very sudden "I know who killed Sue Dibny" that comes at the end of the trade. "The Autopsy" is good, even if it only repeats the "heroes snuggle up to their familes" moral of Identity Crisis. A short two-page scene between Superman and Power Girl stands out now, however, in the wake of Infinite Crisis.

If you were turned off, perhaps, by some of the indomitable blockbuster action of previous JSA trades, I highly recommend giving JSA: Lost a try -- it's the kind of tone I'd like to see for further JSA stories. Me, I'm on to Manhunter, as everyone's been raving about it, and then maybe a little past and future with Legion and Teen Titans. Will you join us?

Timeline update 12/12/05

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Collected Editions trade paperback timeline has been updated with Superman: Sacrifice, JSA: Black Vengeance, JLA: Crisis of Conscience, and Birds of Prey: Between Dark and Dawn, among others. Happy reading!

DC Comics March 2006 Trade Solicitations

Ladies and gentlemen, presenting the good, the bad, and the ugly from the DC Comics March 2006 trade selection. Take a gander now, and I'll be back later this evening to sing praise and call names (any guesses on which trade has me riled?):

UPDATED: Now with comments in bold.

Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Damion Scott, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Scott McDaniel, Pop Mhan, Sandra
Hope and Andy Owens
Cover by Chris Brunner
It's a brand new start for Robin in this collection featuring ROBIN #134-139! Before our hero can fully recover from the recent deaths of his father and Spoiler, he must come face-to-face with the Penguin, the Dark Rider, the Veteran, and a mysterious archer who seems to want Robin dead!
Advance-solicited; on sale April 5 ? 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

I'm quite surprised to see another Robin trade; I didn't think this title was doing so well, and I expected that the trades would jump until after One Year Later. Nice to see this.

Written by Steve Englehart
Art by Marshall Rogers & Terry Austin
Cover by Rogers
Don?t miss this 144-page collection featuring the 6-issue miniseries reuniting one of the great Batman creative teams of the 1970s! In DARK DETECTIVE, The Joker enters a gubernatorial election using the campaign slogan "Vote for me or I'll kill you!" Will it persuade voters?
Advance-solicited; on sale April 12 ? 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

I was excited when this series was first announced, but from what I've heard, the story doesn't have much resonance on modern times. This might go on a wishlist for someone else to buy for me.

Written by Devin Grayson
Art by Phil Hester, Cliff Chiang and Ande Parks
Cover by Hester & Parks
Dick Grayson is a made man in this trade paperback collecting NIGHTWING #107-111! Ex-cop Grayson feels his life spiral out of control after being adopted into one of New York City?s crime families. Can he escape this new odyssey into the depths of the criminal underworld?
On sale March 29 ? 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

Boo! I can't tell you how disappointed I was to see this. Any Nightwing trade is good, but this is a jump from issue #60 to issue number #107. I very much hoped that DC would finish collecting Chuck Dixon's run, at least, but it seems not to be. As you can no doubt guess, this trade crosses over with Villains United.

Written by Greg Rucka & Ed Brubaker
Art by Michael Lark & Stefano Gaudiano Cover by Lark
An amazing collection featuring the acclaimed GOTHAM CENTRAL #12-15 and #19-22! The Joker terrorizes the city at Christmastime when he begins randomly executing people with a rifle, and no one from the Mayor on down is safe! A second story focuses on an old case and unfinished business for disgraced detective Harvey Bullock.
Advance-solicited; on sale April 26 ? 192 pg, FC, $14.99 US

This trade contains two mainly-Ed Brubaker Gotham Central tales. Nice to see it, even after the cancellation of the series; hope it keeps up.

Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Karl Kerschl, Darryl Banks and Adam DeKraker
Cover by Kerschl
Another trade paperback collecting Greg Rucka?s run on ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, including issues #640-641and 644-647! Ruin, the man who has been out to destroy Superman and his loved ones, is revealed to be someone near and dear to him!
Advance-solicited; on sale April 12 ? 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

I'm glad to see the Superman collections continue with these important issues, but hey -- whither Superman: Strange Attractors?

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Carlos Pacheco, Ethan Van Sciver, Darwyn Cooke and others
Cover by Alex Ross
A new hardcover collecting GREEN LANTERN #1-6 and GREEN LANTERN SECRET FILES
#1! Hal Jordan is back from the dead ? now watch as he re-establishes his life as a pilot. Standing in his way, though, is one of the deadly Manhunter androids followed by the Shark.
Advance-solicited; on sale April 19 ? 176 pg, FC, $24.99 US

I'm somewhat surprised to see this as a hardcover collection, but with the writer and artists attached, it makes sense. One would wonder whether the next will be a hardcover, too, a la Green Arrow.

Written by Judd Winick and Jen Van Meter
Art by Matthew Clark, Dietrich Smith and Art Thibert
Cover by Daniel Acu?a
A new volume collecting OUTSIDERS #29-33, plus select scenes from various DCU books, showing Donna Troy recruiting heroes for her mission! The Outsiders are left reeling following a betrayal by one of their members. They must face a rematch with the Fearsome Five and Sabbac, who now has the power of the Seven Deadly Sins!
Advance-solicited; on sale April 19 ? 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

Now this is cool. The Outsiders trades continue, and this one follows up on Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Death and Return of Donna Troy with some extra-DCU action, too. Let's see ... I bet we get a Firestorm scene ... what else?

Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook & Mick Gray and Frazer
Cover by Stewart
The brilliant mind of Grant Morrison (THE INVISIBLES, JLA, ALL STAR SUPERMAN) is showcased once again as the collections of his most groundbreaking and ambitious project yet! Comprised of seven different 4-issue miniseries and two bookend Specials, this colossal 30-part tale of death, betrayal, failure, joy, loss, romance, triumph and redemption is being collected in 4 volumes!
This second volume features the continuing exploits of four of the seven soldiers, and collects KLARION #2-3, SHINING KNIGHT #3-4, GUARDIAN #3-4, and ZATANNA #3. Independently, each of these characters is featured in a story arc that redefines their purpose in the DCU. But their stories also interweave with the other Soldiers' tales, and tells a grander story of a devastating global threat to mankind. Together, these reluctant champions must arise and work together to save the world...without ever meeting one another!
On sale March 22 ? 176 pg, FC, $14.99 US

Seven Soldiers purists will no doubt be up in arms about this trade, too -- my home, upon reading, is that this will work as a stand-alone volume as well as part of the greater tale. I'll be interested to see. The quick turnaround of these trades is nice, though.

Have a good day! And a pleasant tomorrow!

Special announcement ...

Friday, December 09, 2005

Keep your eyes on Collected Editions ... in just a few weeks, we'll be featuring our first ever Trade Paperback Year in Review! Stay tuned!

Infinite Crisis #2 review

The second issue of Infinite Crisis focuses less on the various Countdown miniseries that lead up to it – or at least, integrates them better – and instead explains the plight of the Earth-2 Superman. His origin will be a revelation to casual readers, though there’s not much new or surprising here for steady DCU aficionados. Then again, there’s just something about seeing George Perez draw Krona and the Oans in the Perez-penned flashback tale that always gets my nostalgia blood flowing. For the second issue, Infinite Crisis still creeps just a little too slowly for me, but I’m interested, even as I’m wary of the direction the story is headed.

The Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane, Superboy-Prime, and Alexander Luthor have all broken through to our Earth, in an effort to stem the rampant corruption that they see here. But rather than having a stern talking to with our Superman, as I surmised last time, it seems instead that the Earth-2 Superman wants to replace our world with his. Which seems to me kind of Parallax-evilish, but it’s tough to tell from the artwork how we’re supposed to react to this. My hope is that Power Girl’s first line in the next issue is “You’re crazy!” so that it’s not just I the reader who thinks so.

If I were a Golden Age fan, I’d be getting a mite bit concerned right now. Because it certainly looks like we’re headed for a knock-down, drag-out fight where the Earth-2 Superman is in the wrong. I appreciated this time that his reasons for dismay about our universe were more than just Countdown-related items, instead including the death of Superman, Knightfall, Wonder Woman: The Contest, and Emerald Twilight. But I can just as soon see the good points to our universe that Superman glossed over: Superman’s rebirth, Bruce Wayne forgiving Jean Paul Valley, Wonder Woman’s friendship with Artemis, and Hal Jordan’s redemption. And for our Superman to defeat the Earth-2 Superman – heck, even for the Earth-2 Superman to play the misguided bad guy for a while – it does seem to spit down the necks of Golden Age fans just a tad, maybe enough that it would have been better not to go there in the first place. Me, I’m rooting for our universe, but I imagine some people are just on the border of deciding whether or not they should be offended.

Frankly – and I could be very wrong – I can’t conceive of an outcome to Infinite Crisis where the Earth-2 Superman becomes integrated back into our universe. Would we have two titles, one with old Superman, one with new? Would they team up? Will new Superman go to old Superman for advice in defeating Brainiac? Will they share leadership duties during the next universe-wide crossover? To me, it seems repetitive and redundant, even if that’s the way it actually was for nearly forty years. I’m open to being convinced that it could work again, but I’m having difficulty picturing it myself.

At the same time, let’s pause for the conspiracy theory: at one point, Power Girl asks Superman if his other dimension started to decay because of us, and he doesn’t really answer the question. The center of the universe has shifted because of something crossing over, and meanwhile we have three Lex Luthors running around. I get the sense something more is going on – whether the Earth-2 Superman has something to do with it or not, I’m not sure.

And no doubt the Anti-Monitor is around here somewhere.

I do like the idea of a truly cohesive DC Universe, where the characters know that once upon a time there used to be a Multiverse, but now there’s not. It’s not such a difficult concept to introduce; the JLA in Crisis Secret Files from a while back presented that same sort of timeline (here’s a link with more info on that Secret Files). I heard on Comic Geek Speak about a scholar who’s writing his dissertation on why we needed Crisis on Infinite Earths in the first place, and it’s a fascinating question – consider, comic book fans are such that when DC decided they wanted to start some of their titles over, they had to come up with a fictional story to gloss over the reasons for a mostly financial decision – and it’s even more interesting to see that same knot work itself out in Infinite Crisis. No longer, really, would we have pre-Crisis and post-Crisis; instead, it’s "from the Multiverse" and "not from the Multiverse." No less confusing, perhaps, but at least then all the events of the DC Universe actually did occur to someone, somewhere, somewhen.

So I’m looking forward to the next issue of Infinite Crisis, in hopes that things do finally hit the fan instead of just leading that way. Controversial reading, sure, but good reading, too.

Trade odds and ends 11-30-05

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

I was sorry to learn today that Grasshopper Comics would be going out of business. Though prices may often have been an issue, this site was dedicated to the "trade paperback cause," and they did post images of both the front and back covers of trade, something that's rare to see. Someone did a lot of work over at that site, and they should be commended for it.


Hovy notes over at Gotham Lounge that Barnes and Noble has listed the second Seven Soldiers of Victory trade, apparently to be released in March. If the date is right, this is awful close on the heels of the first trade ... and that's great! Unfortunately, other headlines from Barnes & Noble are few and far between, as the site is incredibly hard to navigate. For one particular headache, trying searching for keyword "Batman" and get stuck in B&N trying to sell holiday presents, instead of an actual inventory list.

One other that I did find is Showcase Presents: Superman Family, which should make some of the archivists among us happy. And as an added bonus, here's the synopsis of Geoff Johns and Paul Kupperburg's upcoming JSA novel:

In a story that spans the generations, the Justice Society of America (JSA) and the Injustice Society battle in typical superheroic fashion, except that the catylst for the rise in criminal movement is the Spear of Destiny—the mythical weapon said to have pierced the side of Christ.

From the dark days of World War II through the modern age, the heroes of the JSA—Hawkman, Hourman, Hawkgirl, the Atom, Green Lantern, Thunderbolt, Mr. Terrific, Wildcat, Dr. Fate, and the others—have faced countless magical foes. But with the Spear in his hands, the Wizard is much more than just a costumed thug.

The fate of the world is at stake, and even the most powerful hero isn't enough to stop the destruction.

So there you go.

The Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen review

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Monday, November 28, 2005

Well, no one is going to accuse Geoff Johns of decompressed storytelling with The Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen. One minute Wally is fighting Abra Kadabra, the next minute he's running alongside Jay Garrick. Blink and he's up on the Watchtower, racing Superman, teaming up with Nightwing, talking to Green Arrow, visiting his Aunt Iris, talking to Green Arrow again ... and that's without the way the stories whip and weave through Identity Crisis. Frankly, so much happens in this trade, it's sometimes hard to get a handle on it all, but with appearances by nearly every character in the DCU, you're bound to find something to enjoy while you're reading it.

The Secret of Barry Allen picks up immediately after the end of The Flash: Ignition, and it is essentially--speed-stealing villains, tampered breaks, and mindwipes aside--about Wally coming to terms with the absence of his wife, Linda. His ultimate decision makes sense--and works, in the rubric of Geoff Johns' grand redefining of Wally West as "the blue collar hero"--though the decision's resonance suffers due to the crossover-heavy nature of the trade. Wally chooses to stay with Linda, to continue their relationship, because to leave her for safety's sake would be to let the villains win. Which makes sense, except that the "villain" in question was Jean Loring, and her whole intention was for the heroes to grow closer to their loved ones. It doesn't quite make sense. Additionally, we only "hear" about heroes distancing themselves from their families through Wally's dialogue; it isn't brought home to us, and it doesn't seem real. It's hard to admire Wally for being different when "different" isn't shown.

And such is the works/doesn't work relationship that this trade has with Identity Crisis. The trade fills in some gaps in the miniseries--the aftermath of the JLA/Deathstroke fight, played out on the Watchtower--and while these gaps didn't necessarily scream out for filling, Johns makes the most of them, offering a nice Kyle Rayner moment in the above instance. And a scene of Elongated Man, Zatanna and others in the Watchtower prior to Identity Crisis does a good job of "placing" these characters before the miniseries. At the same time, it sometimes felt like The Flash was rewriting Identity Crisis unnecessarily. It's hard to take seriously Green Arrow's claim in Identity Crisis that the JLA never mind-wiped a villain after Dr. Light, when The Flash shows they never did it again--except once! And Wally exits the trade with a conversation with Batman that, while interesting, seems better to have appeared in a Batman or Robin comic book--again, The Flash taking a vaunted but somewhat awkward role as Identity Crisis's spokesperson.

Finally, Geoff Johns again shows his strengths with the trade's supporting characters. His somewhat wishy-washy Linda Park has always been a sore spot for me, but I continue to love his use of the Reverse Linda, Ashley Zolomon, toward pure metaphoric bliss. Zolomon's "stand by your man" promise to Zoom plays well off Wally's marital troubles, and I loved the interaction between Wally and Ashley Zolomon--up through and including the unexpected mid-trade twist. The small glimpses of Mirror Master's drug problem also works to humanize the Rogues.

The Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen is a perfect bridge betweem the Identity and Infinite Crisis, with a Villains United cameo in the end. The trade also crystalizes Geoff Johns' vision for the Flash--he's the hero that saves your life, and changes your car's oil while he's at it. It's fresh, it's interesting, and it's a shame that Johns is leaving the series--I hope the next writer keeps this approach.

Now on to the JSA Identity Crisis crossover, JSA: Lost, and then maybe Green Lantern: Rebirth. Happy belated Thanksgiving, all!

Gotham Central TPB tidbit in Rucka interview

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Over at Newsarama, Greg Rucka talks the end of Gotham Central, including this tidbit:

Likewise, though there are only two trade paperback collections of the series available, Rucka said that the full run of the series will eventually be collected into trades.
No telling when, where, or how accurate, but it'd be awful nice if it was true.

Review: Superman vs. The Flash trade paperback (DC Comics)

I tend to go into reading Pre-Crisis DCU stories with the aim to read them as if they fit in the Post-Crisis DCU. And all things considered, it's not really that hard. Replace a Wonder Woman with a Black Canary here, ignore a smile on Batman's face there (or chalk it up to that's how Batman "was" back when Dick Grayson was Robin) there. And then other times, it gets a little harder, as with Superman's race with Barry (Flash) Allen, when he uses his Super-Ventriloquism. Yes, folks, his Super-Ventriloquism.

And lest you be confused, dear readers, a note from the editor explains that while regular people give the illusion of throwing their voices using ventriloquism, Superman can actually throw his voice using Super-Ventriloquism. Which means, near as I can tell, Superman's voice actually leaves his body, goes across the room, whispers in your ear, and goes back to him. It's amazing, folks!

I jest. It's actually these little bits that make Superman vs. the Flash so much fun. And since nearly all the stories take place about ten years apart, this trade also offers a wonderful cross-section of both Pre- and Post-DCU history. The stories are, no pun intended, quick, certainly quicker than some of the three-parters found in the Crisis on Multiple Earths trades, and though some of the stories are hokey, the hokiness nearly never gets in the way of reading the tale.

It was also interesting for me reading this tale because, more or less, Wally West is who I know as the Flash. Though it may have been Barry Allen behind the cowl on Super Friends, "Barry Allen" as a person has always been synonymous with "that guy who died during the Crisis that Wally West looks up to." So all my impressions of Barry are usually filtered through my knowledge of what came afterward, and therefore I have a hard time relating with people who liked Barry for Barry, or even, Wally West's outrage in places like Identity Crisis--I just can't feel it, because Barry Allen isn't a paragon for me, he's just a martyr (the same is somewhat true with Hal Jordan, though I'll touch on that more when I review Green Lantern: Rebirth). So I enjoyed in this trade also reading about Barry Allen and seeing him as a person, as well as small moments as in the first story where he's hiding his identity from Iris Allen, and in the second story after he's revealed who he is.

Also excellent here are the villains. I won't spoil all of them, but it was interesting to me that Barry Allen fights Abra Kadabra early in the trade, and then Wally fights him at the end of the trade--in comics published almost thirty years apart! I know these characters have been around a long time, but when you see that, at root, the stories we're reading now are not that different--almost identical, really--from stories people read decades ago ... well, the more things change, the more they stay the same. And look for another big-time Flash baddie as well, along with a notable Super-villain cameo.

I bought Superman vs. Flash mainly for the DC First: Superman vs. Flash tale, and it was worth it all around. That DC First story is very accessible even if you're not up on current Flash storylines, but it helps bridge a Flash/JLA continuity gap, as well, plus nice Geoff Johns characterization of Jay Garrick. I'm off to read a couple of other Flash trades now before Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen, and I'm glad I had this "time" with Barry Allen, as it were, before I did.

To all, a good night.

DC Comics Trade Solicitations for February 2006

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hey! DC Comics solicitations for February 2006, and they include some advance trade paperback solicitations for March! First up, a couple we already knew about:

Written by Andersen Gabrych, Bill Willingham, Devin Grayson, Bruce Jones and Will Pfeifer
Art by Pete Woods, Giuseppe Camuncoli, and others
Cover by James Jean
A pivotal collection featuring BATMAN #643-644, DETECTIVE COMICS #809-810, and material from BATMAN ALLIES SECRET FILES 2005 and BATMAN VILLAINS SECRET FILES 2005!
On sale Feb 15 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

Written by Judd Winick
Art by Phil Hester, Tom Fowler, Eric Battle, Tommy Castillo and others
Cover by James Jean
Collecting GREEN ARROW #40-50, guest-starring the Teen Titans and Outsiders! Star City’s underworld has been taken over by Brick, who, along with the Riddler, wants Green Arrow dead! And Mia Dearden, Green Arrow’s new ward, also faces new highs and lows!
On sale February 1 • 256 pg, FC, $17.99 US

Written and illustrated by various
Cover by Alex Ross
Collecting some of the stand-out tales from the long history of the World’s Greatest Super-Heroes, from the Silver Age through INFINITE CRISIS! Included here are JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #19, #77, #122, #166-168, JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, JLA SECRET FILES #1, JLA #61, and the 3-page origin from JLA #200, pencilled by George Pérez!
On sale Feb 22 • 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Written by Phil Jimenez and Judd Winick
Art by José Luis García-Lopez, Alé Garza, George Pérez, Phil Jimenez, Andy Lanning and others
Cover by Jimenez & Pérez
An amazing collection featuring TITANS/YOUNG JUSTICE: GRADUATION DAY #1-3 and DC SPECIAL: THE RETURN OF DONNA TROY #1-4! !
On sale Feb 1 • 176 pg, FC, $14.99 US

Written by Greg Rucka and Geoff Johns
Art by Rags Morales, Drew Johnson, Justiniano, Michael Bair, and others
Cover by J.G. Jones
Collecting WONDER WOMAN #214-217 and THE FLASH #219! Just as Wonder Woman is starting to deal with her blindness, the Cheetah returns and teams with the Reverse-Flash! Then Athena sends Wonder Woman on a journey of unimagined peril!
On sale Feb 8 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99US

But wait, there's more! (My comments in bold)

Written by Mark Verheiden and Gail Simone
Art and cover by Ed Benes, John Byrne and Nelson
The events that have turned the DCU upside down are reflected in this collection of stories from SUPERMAN #217, 221-225 with pages from ACTION COMICS #83 [?]. After his first contact with an OMAC, Superman must contend with the arrivals of Bizarro and Zoom before dealing once and for all with a souped-up Blackrock!
On sale Feb 22 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

Superman: The Journey! It is coming out! And it includes the missing Superman #217! Yahoo!

Written by Gail Simone
Art by Ed Benes, Ron Adrian, Jim Fern, Eric Battle, Eduardo Barreto and others
Cover by Matt Haley
A new volume collecting BIRDS OF PREY #69-75! Huntress goes undercover to infiltrate a religious cult with a dangerous secret, while Black Canary and Oracle uncover the true nature of Sovereign Brusaw’s organization.
Advance-solicited; on sale March 29 • 176 pg, FC, $16.99 US

Well, it's about time. Nice to see the Birds of Prey trades continuing.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Don Kramer, Keith Champagne and various
Cover by Alex Ross
Don’t miss a new collection featuring JSA #68-75 plus pages from 66-67! The Spectre, without a human host, is running rampant, meting out a brutal form of justice encouraged by the new Eclipso! Plus, Atom Smasher seeks forgiveness, Degaton’s plan to destroy the JSA is thwarted, and more!
Advance-solicited; on sale March 1 • 200 pg, FC,

Nice to see this, too, following up where JSA: Lost left off, and including not only the JSA Day of Vengeance tie-in, "Black Vengeance," but also the "JSA/JSA" storyline.

What a great time to be a trade fan!

Paul Levitz talks JSA trades

Friday, November 11, 2005

Over at Newsarama, DC Comics President and Publisher Paul Levitz talked about his upcoming six-issue stint on JSA, including this paragraph:

And of course, there’s one other benefit that the Paul Levitz of 25 years ago never envisioned: the readily available trade paperback collection of the completed story arc. “Knowing that this will come out in trade is a hoot—I’ve only had one trade paperback done of my writing from the old days, in fact. We’re scheduled to do a second, Justice Society book next year, thanks to all of the recent interest in Power Girl. But seeing this in trade paperback is something I’m looking forward to.”
There's a confusing comma in there between "second" and "Justice," such that I'm not sure if he's saying there will be two JSA trades next year, or if there will be a second JSA title next year, or if there will be a Power Girl title next year, but at least, he's saying that his own six issues will appear in trade. Not that JSA trades were ever considered an endangered species, but it's nice to see it anyway.

Review: Identity Crisis trade paperback collection (DC Comics)

Monday, November 07, 2005

The first time I read Identity Crisis, back when it came out, I walked away having enjoyed it, but thinking predominately that what it sorely lacked was a scene of Superman flying. Sure, I understood the wistful hopefulness of Ralph Dibney's ending conversation with Sue, but to really make the book about hope and not despair, Superman would need to fly again.

I came to find, reading the Identity Crisis hardcover nearly a year later, that low and behold, a scene of Superman flying was in the end all along, and I'd somehow just missed it the first time. And such is the stuff that has garnered this time not just my enjoyment of Identity Crisis, but my respect and admiration for it, too. Because, despite slight evidence to the contrary, I do think Identity Crisis is a hopeful book, and I think Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales have used, and deconstructed, the comics art form well to prove it.

Almost immediately, a comic book trope that Meltzer and Morales explore is the common white-space used to cover the characters' eyes through their masks. As early as Nightwing's first appearance, his eyes bore through his mask directly at the reader. In showing the characters eyes through their masks, the authors make it that much more difficult to view these characters one-dimensionally; if eyes are the windows to the soul, then seeing the eyes of these characters that have been created cannot help but make us feel that much more for them, even if fiction can't feel for itself. It is not coincidence that Nightwing is the first character used in this way; as Robin, he was the first character that positioned the DC heroes as families, instead of vigilantes. It is a theme that carries throughout Identity Crisis.

At the same time, the one character in Identity Crisis given whitened eyes is Batman. When he finally appears, half-way through the story, there is a sense -- both from his whitened eyes and the fact that his presence is made as much as character as Batman himself -- that the character is to be considered more than, or less than, human. It makes it hard to pity Batman; moreover, even as Wally West registers shock at the League's mind-wiping of Batman, that act is kept off-screen (as opposed to the brutal mind-wiping of Dr. Light), increasing the difficulty of sharing Wally's dismay. And yet, we finally do see Batman's eyes -- as he takes off his cowl at the grave of his parents -- overlayed with Green Arrow explaining the League's actions to the Flash, and as Green Arrow notes, Batman knows more than anyone "that you should never underestimate what someone will do for the people they love -- either the League's mind-wiping Batman, or Batman's quest to avenge his parents.

Meltzer suggests here that Batman understands, and perhaps even approves, of the League's actions; this is further proved, in my interpretation, on the last few pages, when Batman stares Wally down. There are two panels of Batman staring, almost identical, but the second panel looks to me lighter and softer -- the suggestion that Batman takes pity on Wally. This is an opinion somewhat challenged by The OMAC Project and JLA: Crisis of Conscience, where Batman rebels at the League for their mindwiping, but I maintain that, at least as far as Identity Crisis is concerned, there's the suggestion that Batman understands.

Another trope reimagined through the Identity Crisis lens is the struggle between good guys and bad guys. Ordinarily, we might say, a comic book features the heroes acting heroically against the villains working for evil. Instead, in Identity Crisis, not only are we faced with heroes acting outside the usual realm of moral certainty, but also villains working both for and with each other. Granted, both Deathstroke and the Calculator assist other villains for a fee, but we also see the deep parental love that Captain Boomerang has for his son--a note of commonality between both heroes and villains. Moreover, both heroes and villains die during Identity Crisis -- and the culprit turns out to be neither one nor the other.

In Identity Crisis, we find not the usual heroes verus villains, but instead heroes and villains existing side-by-side, somewhat similar. And I think we should also give special notice to a sequence early in the book, after Bolt is shot by a couple of small-time crooks, where Bolt begs one crook to call an ambulance, and the crook does. It's an unexpected act of villain-to-villain compassion, given to show not only that the line between hero and villain is not so ardent as we might think, but that just as heroes can sometimes be villains, villains sometimes have the potential to be heroes, too.

There's been some charge since Identity Crisis came out that Meltzer and company have played willy-nilly with the DC Universe, leaving careless destruction in their wake. Certainly, I can see where one can think that -- I can understand the use of Dr. Light raping Sue Dibny as a gauntlet thrown down to venture into the uncharted areas of comics, but I'm also not sure it was really a gauntlet that ever needed throwing; I understand Warren Ellis's point, even if I don't agree one-hundred percent, that if DC really meant business, they would have used Lois Lane instead of Sue Dibny (I think Ellis said this).

But Meltzer largely redeems the story, and shows an awareness of what he's done -- the rape, the mindwipes, et al -- in again a conversation between Wally West and Green Arrow. Wally cries, "But don't you understand? You ruined it." Ollie doesn't really answer, but earlier, he tells Wally that "people always believed it was simpler back then. But it wasn't." Here is the inherit argument for and against Identity Crisis: Wally, who believes the stories of the Silver Age ruined, and Ollie, who sees the stories of the Silver Age explained and redeemed. If it were not for these sequences, one could argue that Identity Crisis is a waste, destruction for destruction's sake. But unquestionably there's a motive here, a motive even willing to question itself, and in that it proves itself capable of wisdom.

What we have in Identity Crisis is a deconstruction of the superhero genre that uses this deconstruction at every turn to show how the characters of comics are richer, more human, and more humane. It is a story that, I believe, ends with pity, ends with forgiveness, and ends with understanding, and is even willing to allow for its own faults within the context of the book. When Superman flies in the end, it is the symbolic representation of the same thing we see when Ralph says good-night to the departed Sue -- that, even if wounds don't heal, life goes on. Identity Crisis shows, in my opinion, that Superman can still fly in the end of any story--even a story that challenges how we ready comics themselves--as Ma Kent whispers to Clark, "no matter what."


And now I start my Identity Crisis tie-in reading, beginning with The Flash. Join me, won't you?

Absolute Sandman announced

According to Newsarama (as revealed at Wizard World Texas), next up for the Absolute treatment is Absolute Sandman. As for the who, what, where (which issues, how many volumes), word is that we'll hear more this week. Stay tuned!

OMAC Project and Day of Vengeance TPBs released

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Apparently the Day of Vengeance TPB was released this week, though I'm pretty sure it was scheduled for next week. Hey, I'm not complaining. And check out the cool "Countdown to Infinite Crisis" trade dress on both titles.

Though, I will admit to being a little surprised to see, on the back of the OMAC Project TPB, the copy noting that the trade includes "the vital OMAC PROJECT 3.5 chapter." After the gigantic tempest-in-a-teacup flap that DC faced over Wonder Woman #219 serving as an OMAC Project tie-in, the last thing I expected to hear is their actually calling OMAC Project #3.5. But I guess it's less confusing to new readers, and if the shoe fits ...

Identity Crisis hardcover review coming soon (yes, I know it's like the umpteen-trillionth Identity Crisis review out there, but I'll try to have something new to say). Ciao!

Timeline update 10/30/05

Sunday, October 30, 2005

A new update to the DC Trade Paperback Timeline features the JLA: Crisis of Conscience trade paperback, among others.

Batman: War Games Act Three review

Certainly Batman: War Games Act Three brings to the forefront the chaos that's mainly suggested in the previous two volumes. There's a definite danger suggested in these pages, whether it's Batman fighting alone against a stadium of villains, Tarantula trying to keep her gang alive against a squadron of trigger-happy police, or Onyx held hostage with a gun to her head. I already knew most of what would happen in the end of this story, but the getting there (and especially, where it turned out that Hush told Black Mask to find the Bat-Cave) was quite a bit of fun.

In War Games Act Three, Batman has cornered all the city's crooks and villains in the stadium, surrounded by the police, believing that he can still bring the criminal's together under his operative Orpheus. He quickly learns, however, that Orpheus has been killed and replaced by the Black Mask, sparking riots that lead Commissioner Atkins to declare a shoot-to-kill law on any and all masks—including Batman's group. Assorted chaos follows, until Black Mask finally directs the bad guys to storm Oracle's Clocktower, and the Bat-Squad must risk their lives to save her. I enjoyed this new direction for the Batman titles—even if I'm wary of it's durability, when the scars of "No Man's Land" are all but disappeared—watching the good guys dodging bullets from the police even as they try to save them. The Nightwing sequence, though perhaps a bit too long, worked especially well, and Tarantula's face-off against the police in an abandoned building contained nice shades of Batman: Year One.

After having been at times disappointed and understanding about the decision to kill off Spoiler in War Games, I ultimately felt her death was handled well. On one hand, in this time of mass carnage across the DCU, it seemed unnecessary to throw one more character on the wood chipper. While I recognize that they'd probably done about all they could do with the character—at this point, she either needed to become a full-fledged member of the Bat-Squad, or otherwise take off, as her presence seemed to be drawing Robin stories around and around in circle—I have to think there are other ways of getting rid of a character than killing them off. And especially, I thought, than by torturing them to death at the hands of Black Mask. What we find in War Games Act Three, however, are some nicely quiet moments between Batman and the Spoiler before she dies—a death, if death were inevitable, that we can expect Batman might've liked for Jason Todd, if possible. It brings a touch of grace to the story, at least, that I thought worked rather nicely.

(You can tell that I'm trying to be nice in this review, given what I thought was my somewhat scathing review of Infinite Crisis #1. But if there's a doctor in the house, someone tell me: is it really possible for someone, like Spoiler, to be dying of internal injuries, but still be conscious and lucid and talking as Spoiler was with Batman? And would a doctor, as with Leslie Thompkins, really be able to know that someone was dying of internal injuries, know that the injuries were too severe to save the person and that they were going to die, and be able to state that there's absolutely nothing they can do for the person? Because it all seemed a little too clean and convenient to me, and I wondered if it actually happens.)

The main difficulty with War Games, both Act Three and the others, is that it's very apparent that every writer is aware of the beats that need to be hit—so aware, that everyone hits them. Obviously, one goal was to have Oracle get sick of being Batman's secretary—and so every scene Oracle appears in makes reference to it. Another, that Catwoman's supposed to be looking for Spoiler (even after Spoiler's been found); another, Nightwing's present instability (making me even more curious to read Devin Grayson's Nightwing run now, just to see if there's purpose behind Nightwing's whininess)—I realize that the story was being told weekly, and that they needed to catch-up casual readers, but as with movies, War Games needed a continuity editor to read the story from scene to scene, just to make sure the comics weren't repeating one another. War Games Act Three is a quick read—I nearly read it in one sitting—and as exciting as it was, I would have liked just a little more work to make it read more like a story, and less like a collection of comics crossing over with one another.

And now, nearly a month and a half after getting it, I'm finally on to the Identity Crisis hardcover. From there, the Flash and JSA Identity Crisis crossover trades (or maybe to Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood. I'm not sure yet.). Thanks all for sticking around; I always enjoy your comments.

Infinite Crisis #1 review

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Better late than never, here's Collected Editions' review of Infinite Crisis #1. Yes, this does indeed fly in the face of the whole "wait-for-trade" mission of Collected Editions, but hey, it's a Crisis--what can you do? And, just to mention, this review, as with all reviews at Collected Editions, contains spoilers.

It was a little tough to judge Infinite Crisis #1 in terms of Jeffrey's challenge a little while back--that is, since I haven't read any of the Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries before this, to try to see if I (and by implication, the general non-comics-reading-but-heard-about-Infinite-Crisis-in-the-New-York-Times public) understand what's going on. Though, as I demonstrated here, I'm hardly ignorant of what's been going on leading up to Crisis. Moreover, there was really little to nothing that I didn't understand, though I imagine a non-comics reader would be completely lost.

What struck me initially was the sheer breadth of how the Countdown miniseries affect Infinite Crisis. I mean, that's good--it'd be something of a waste of DC had produced those four miniseries, everyone had run out and bought them, and then they didn't affect Infinite Crisis at all. But at the same time, I think I kind of expected that--or at least, that only one of them would bear directly on Infinite Crisis. Instead, Infinite Crisis #1 cited all four of the miniseries, which was good--except I felt they were visited somewhat heavy handedly, I felt, much like Countdown to Infinite Crisis, where you just knew another miniseries cameo was right around the corner.

And were I a non-comics reader, I would be wildly, wildly confused. Even if I understood that the "robot-things" were hunting super-villains, I wouldn't know why they skipped the guy named Nightwing. Or what Batman was talking about when he said "mindwipe." Or who the big green guy was over Gotham City. Or, even, who this J'onn was that Superman mentions--something which probably could have been pretty easily explained. So for me, with a more-than-passing knowlegde of the DCU, I was fine. Someone else, probably not so much.

Let me not mislead--I did enjoy it. I felt it was quality super-hero fare, though perhaps standard super-hero fare. Much of it was Countdown references or action scenes--a lot was set-up, but not a lot happened. Much of the Countdown action was recap, and as for the Freedom Fighters--they go to an abandoned location, they get attacked, they get defeated. Set the pins up, knock them down. I think instead I might have liked much of this to be included at the end of JLA: Crisis of Conscience, and let Infinite Crisis start where issue one ended, instead of ending there.

Another blogger noted (and if this looks like your comment, give me a shout, because I've forgotten where I read it) that Geoff Johns engages in a little revisionist history here, when Batman tells Superman--my favorite line--that the last time he inspired anyone was when he was dead. In the DCU, probably not really the case. But it's arguably true in our world, and if Johns can address that, I'm all for it. But having the Golden Age Superman come back to tell our Superman what's what doesn't seem to me the way to do it. Again, it all feels a little set up--Wonder Woman needs a stern talking-to because she killed Maxwell Lord, but the staff behind Infinite Crisis had Wonder Woman kill Max so that they could have her get that talking to. It's not cause-and-effect. Knightfall, in contrast, was an actual treatise on the darkening of super-heroes; Infinite Crisis is darkening for treatise's sake.

I sound like I didn't like it, and I did. It was a good set-up first issue. Phil Jimenez' art was beautiful, the dialogue snappy, the violence shocking--and half a dozen pages of the Big Three just talking is well overdue. And I've yet to see anyone comment on Johns' choice of villain for the DC Trinity to fight. Mongul is a perfect ironic choice, a symbol of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman's perfect unity way back in Alan Moore's "Man Who Has Everything." Icing on the cake would've been Superman looking Mongul straight in the eye and saying "Burn." But we can't have everything.

My expectation is, Infinite Crisis isn't about what you think. Sure, the Pre-Crisis Superman and Superboy are on their way back, but we still have six issues left, and an event that will shock the DCU such that we'll pick up with them one year later. The multiverse may be back, but I don't think that's all.

Thanks for reading. A Batman: War Games Act Three review coming soon. Ta!

Review: JLA: Syndicate Rules trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

It's rare to find an eight-part story these days that's not part of a universe-shattering event -- heck, even the Identity and Infinite Crises only warranted seven issues each. And it's rarer even, on the trade paperback cusp of Infinite Crisis, to find an eight-part story that's completely unrelated to all the goings on in the DCU. Instead, JLA: Syndicate Rules is a classic eight-part super-hero story, a charming little tale worthy -- dare I say it -- of at least some of the JLA legacy passed on by Grant Morrison, notable if nothing else for it's disconnectedness in today's realm of continuity.

JLA: Syndicate Rules picks up shortly after JLA/Avengers left off -- in and of itself a remarkable feat, as DC/Marvel crossovers usually become non persona grata. And for fans of JLA/Avengers, Syndicate Rules nicely ties up some loose ends. The universe, as you'll recall, was taken apart and put back together, and everything fit just fine ... or did it? The Crime Syndicate of Amerika notices some changes, and deeming the JLA responsible, they dimension-hop to settle the score. But the Qwardians have noticed some changes, too, and they're right behind the CSA. Kudos to Kurt Busiek for taking what must have been a throwaway scene of the CSA in the beginning of JLA/Avengers and expanding it into this story; the universe-break altering one CSAer's appearance to fit the current JLA worked perfectly, as did the twist as to how the JLA's universe changed in return. Fun stuff all around.

For eight issues, JLA: Syndicate Rules did not feel padded. There's a bit of time the CSA takes making mayhem, including some uniform swapping with the JLA that echoes nicely in the end, and underlines the differences and similarities between the two teams. We also get a fairly short adventure with the Flash and Martian Manhunter; its importance is fairly obvious, but the good use of JLA history excuses it. There's quite a bit of detail given not only to the CSA and their "civilian" lives (Owlman and Superwoman especially), but also to the Qwardians and Qwardian society, reminiscent of old science-fiction novels. Ultimately, again, it's all meaningless -- in our Crisis age, none of the Qwardian characters are going to return -- but at the same time, sometimes it's just fun to let scientific nonsense just wash over you. It's this kind of detail, missing in many comics today, that sets Syndicate Rules apart.

It is only perhaps the art, and one bit of characterization, that detracts from JLA: Syndicate Rules's story. Ron Garney's art seemed to me to become more and more sketch-like as the story went on, losing cohesiveness in a way that was just distracting; Superman was big and bold in the beginning, and nearly unrecognizable in the end. And while most of the characters appeared in-character throughout the book (including an appearance by Faith and the Elite -- yay!), I've heard it said elsewhere that Busiek seemed to be writing the animated Justice League Unlimited's Flash, instead of our Wally West, and I agree wholeheartedly. One must take the Flash's role here with a grain of salt, and otherwise the medicine will go down fine (or something).

And now back to Gotham -- Batman: War Games Act Three, that is. From there, the hardcover of Identity Crisis, and then a long list of Identity Crisis crossovers. Come join me, won't you?

DC Comics solicitations for January 2006

Monday, October 17, 2005

I'm sure everyone's seen the DC solicitations for January 2006. And along with all the other trades already discussed here, DC's also announced the five part JLA: Crisis of Conscience, making the solicitations once again worth waiting for. And with Donna Troy (hopefully) still in February, DC further closes the trade gap between Identity and Infinite Crises. Good stuff all around.

Bugger, though, that Superman: Sacrifice is still missing Superman #217. We'll have to see about that one.

JLA: Syndicate Rules review coming in a day or so. Cheers all.

Infinite odds and ends

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Suprising dearth of reactions to Infinite Crisis itself across the blogosphere today (or am I just looking in the wrong place?). I won't get to read a copy for a few days-to-a-few weeks now, but in response to a challenge Jeffrey posed a little while back, I'm going to read the first issue of Infinite Crisis having read nearly none of the lead-in, and see how much of it I can understand. A little test of DC's Infinite Crisis accessibility, if you will.

To that end, I'm going to list at the bottom of this post all the things I do know about Infinite Crisis already, so as to weigh against what I don't know when I read the first issue. So, if you're a true wait-for-trader, and you know absolutely nothing about the DC Universe in the past couple of years, don't read the bottom of this post--SPOILERS ABOUND!


Meanwhile, I've updated the DC Comics trade paperback timeline to include the forthcoming January and Feburary 2006 DC trades. The whole OMAC Project/Superman: Sacrifice/Superman: Strange Attractors/Wonder Woman: The Land of the Dead interconnectedness was a puzzle all in its own.


Without further ado ... What Collected Editions Already Knows about Infinite Crisis:

  • Maxwell Lord restarted Checkmate, used OMACs, created by Batman, to spy on heroes (why, I'm not sure), and killed Blue Beetle when he found out about it.
  • Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord when he took over Superman's mind; Superman got mad at Wonder Woman for it.
  • Booster Gold went up against Maxwell Lord, and then went back to the future.
  • Sasha Bordeaux, who worked for Checkmate, might be dead.
  • There's a while lot of OMACs out there.
  • Rocket Red got killed somehow, maybe by an OMAC.
  • Jean Loring became the new Eclipso, and teamed up with the Spectre to rid the world of magic; a group of heroes called the Shadowpact--including Blue Devil, Ragman, and Detective Chimp--tried to stop them.
  • Rann and Thanagar had a war, and Omar Synn (or something like that--a Hawkman villain) was the cause.
  • I think the Rann/Thanagar War caused some cosmic event that a newly-returned Donna Troy and some other heroes (Supergirl, Green Lantern, Firestorm, Starfire) are going in to space to deal with.
  • Hawkman died, but apparently he's back.
  • Green Arrow had some trouble with Dr. Light.
  • A bunch of villains got together--they're either called the Cabal or the Secret Society. Maybe the Cabal and the Secret Society fought (this list is getting more and more punchy as I go on). There's someone pulling the strings called Mockingbird, who might be Lex Luthor, the Joker, or maybe the alternate-Earth Alexander Luthor.
  • Some figures from Crisis on Infinite Earths have returned, including the Psycho Pirate.
  • Power Girl learned her true origin; she might have been brought from Earth-2 by the Psycho Pirate.
  • Batman knows about the JLA mind-wiping him.
  • The JLA fought Despero, the Watchtower was destroyed, something happened to J'onn J'onzz, and the JLA has been disbanded.
  • The Kryptonite remnants from Supergirl's asteroid are now in the possession of Jason Todd, the Red Hood.
  • The Teen Titans and the Outsiders fought Superboy, controlled by Lex Luthor; Superboy came out of it OK, but I think Indigo is gone now.
  • The Birds of Prey left Gotham (maybe they've gone to an island?); I think Barbara Gordon regained a little bit of feeling in her legs.
  • The Flash got his kids back (and maybe Barry Allen came back for a while?).
  • Catwoman may have had her personality altered by Zatanna.

  • OK, I think that's it. Now PLEASE, don't tell me if I'm right or wrong. I'm going to go into reading Infinite Crisis with this knowledge (admitedly, substantially more than I'd like), and I'll let you know what I understand and what I don't in the first issue. There may be some reviews here on Collected Editions in the meantime, but I'll get to Infinite Crisis eventually, I promise.

    Hey, have an infinite day!

DC announces trade lineup for Jan./Feb. 2005

Monday, October 10, 2005

Aaaaand ... DC has announced their trades for January and February (waiting until the fifteenth of the month? We don't need no stinkin' waiting for the fifteen of the month!). Let's run through the highlights, shall we?

Writer: A.J. Lieberman
Artists: Al Barrionuevo, Lee Bermejo, Javier Pina, Francis Portela, Jimmy Palmiotti and Bit
Collects BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS #50-55 and 66
208 pages, $12.99 US

And "Pushback" it is, plus issue #66, which is ([A] kind of a hell of a jump, and [B]) a Villains United tie-in.
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Howard Porter and Livesay
Collects THE FLASH 1/2, #212, 218, and 220-225
208 pages, $17.99

I can't believe I forgot all about Flash 1/2. Anyway, that fills all the Flash gaps. Excellent!
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: J.H. Williams III, Simone Bianchi, Cameron Stewart, Ryan Sook, Frazer Irving and Mick Gray
224 pages, $14.99 US

No JLA: Classified? Aw!
Writers: Greg Rucka, Mark Verheiden and Gail Simone
Artists: Ed Benes, John Byrne, Karl Kerschl, Rags Morales, Tony Daniel, David Lopez, Ron Randall, Derec Donovan, Georges Jeanty, Tom Derenick, Tony Daniel, Alex Lei, Rob Lea, Mariah Benes, Nelson, Bit, Mark Propst, Dexter Vines, Rob Petrecca, Cam Smith, Sean Parsons and Marlo Alquiza
Collects SUPERMAN #218-220, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #642-643, ACTION COMICS #829 and WONDER WOMAN #219-220.
192 pages, $14.99 US

I think this is our Superman: The Journey trade paperback. What we have here are the first three issues of the Mark Verheiden run (including the "Sacrifice" issue), plus the Adventures of Superman and Action Comics parts of "Sacrifice," plus the Wonder Woman issue, and the Adventures of Superman and Wonder Woman epilogues. The Action Comics trade below fits somewhat awkwardly around this; one wonders if they'll include text pages to smooth the way.
Writers: Geoff Johns and Judd Winick
Artists: Matthew Clark, Carlos D'Anda and Tony Daniel
Collects TEEN TITANS #24-26 and OUTSIDERS #24, 25 and 28
144 pages, $9.99 US

More Outsiders than I expected here. Excellent price point.
Writers: Bill Willingham, Anderson Gabrych, Devin Grayson and Will Pfeifer
Artists: Pete Woods, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Eddy Barrows, Ron Randall, Tom Derenick, Bit, Sandra Hope, James Jean, Jay Leisten and Ray Snyder
128 pages, $12.99 US

What?! No Detective Comics #800? I demand a recount!
Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Phil Hester, Tom Fowler, Eric Battle, Tommy Castillo, Ande Parks, Rodney Ramos, Jack Purcell and James Jean
Collects GREEN ARROW #40-50
256 pages, $17.99 US

Nice size on this one. The next trade is most likely #52-#59.
Writers: Gardner Fox, Dennis O'Neil, Gerry Conway, Martin Pasko, Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Grant Morrison, Mark Millar and Joe Kelly
Artists: Mike Sekowsky, Bernard Sachs, Dick Dillin, Joe Giella, Kevin Maguire, Terry Austin, Alex Ross, Howard Porter, John Dell, Doug Mahnke, Tom Nguyen and George Pérez
Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #19, 77, 122 and 166-168, JUSTICE LEAGUE #1, JLA SECRET FILES #1 and JLA #61
192 pages, $19.99 US

Do my eyes deceive me, or are those the Identity Crisis revamp issues in there? Yay! Plus the Snapper Carr betrayal issue and Joe Kelly's "day in the life" bit.
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: John Byrne, Nelson, Dan Jurgens and Kevin Nowlan
Collects ACTION COMICS #827, 828, and 830-832
112 pages, $12.99 US

The aforementioned Action Comics trade. I'm in completist's heaven!
Writers: Phil Jimenez and Judd Winick
Artists: José Luis García-López, Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Alé Garza, Trevor Scott, Lary Stucker, Marlo Alquiza, Andy Lanning, and Richard Friend
176 pages, $14.99 US

Nice and quick, this one. And I'm glad to see the Secret Files story here as well as in the Who is Donna Troy? trade.
Writer: Greg Rucka and Geoff Johns
Artists: Rags Morales, Drew Johnson, Justiniano and J.G. Jones
Collects WONDER WOMAN #214-217 and THE FLASH #219
128 pages, $12.99 US

A short trade, this, and kind of awkwardly published after Superman: Sacrifice. And where is Wonder Woman #218? But don't get me wrong, any Wonder Woman trade is a good Wonder Woman trade.

And that's a wrap. But good stuff overall, and good portents for the year. Everyone go take this opportunity to tell your trade collection how much you love it.

Review: Justice League Elite Vol. One trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

It's late in the year, but we just might have another contender for my favorite trade of 2005. Justice League Elite is absolutely brilliant stuff from Joe Kelly, following on some of the themes from his run on JLA, but without the constraints of the flagship title. Time and again, super-teams have purported themselves as pro-active, from the somewhat ineffective Extreme Justice through to the DCU-condoned Outsiders, but here, I think, Kelly examines the true implications of the concept.

The JLE -- and I love that "JLE" is kept, even as this team couldn't be more dissimilar from the Justice League Europe -- is the shadow ops branch of the Justice League, so rogue and undercover that even the JLA doesn't always know what they're doing. Kelly's smooth, too-hip-for-itself dialogue fits perfectly here, and Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen's thin, shadowy figures match the book's necessary tone.

There's no existential whining among the main characters as to whether or not they're team players or from whom should they take orders -- the title's first four issues, collected in Volume One, contain all the action and intrigue of a finely planned undercover mission. This is the team that does the Justice League caliber jobs that the Justice League can't dirty themselves to do, and the mixing of politics and superheroing here offers a true thinking person's comic.

And though things inevitably go sour (too soon, I thought, but then again, it's only twelve issues), even that affords a chance to glimpse the personal lives of each of the characters, personal lives that set up even more interesting challenges in Volume Two. Manitou Raven's been ignoring his wife since they transported to the future, and now she's taken up with Green Arrow -- hopefully Ollie will have the sense to turn her down, but it's completely within character for Ollie to have taken it this far. And will we ultimately learn where Dawn came from, since she only appeared next to Manitou at the end of the Obsidian Age? Meanwhile, Coldcast's personal life seems ready to become Elite business, and Vera Black, if I read it correctly, just fooled Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth and lied about there being a killer on the team. Great stuff, and it left me wanting more.

The Elite, as first introduced in Action Comics #775, were intended simply as parodies of the Authority. As Joe Kelly suggests in his introduction to this volume, there grew a certain disconnect between the one-shot villains he created them to be, and the financial potential DC executives saw for the Elite -- missing, perhaps, the parody in their midsts. But by Kelly killing off Manchester Black in Superman: Ending Battle and redeeming the rest of the Elite in the Superman/Zod tale "Endgame," and reviving the Elite for JLE, a curious thing happened -- the Justice League Elite has not only taken the place that the Authority might have held in the DC Universe; they've also become just as fascinating.

I can't wait for the next volume of Justice League Elite, and while I think that overexposure would be the death knell for this title, I'd gladly welcome another twelve issues from DC. Justice League Elite is heady, complicated stuff -- and I couldn't be happier to have it on my shelves.

More JLA now -- JLA: Syndicate Rules -- and then the end of Batman: War Games, and on to Identity Crisis.

Review: Catwoman: Wild Ride trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ed Brubaker faithfully follows the "road trip" genre in Catwoman: Wild Ride; given the dark turn that Catwoman took in Relentless, Wild Ride is a straightforward story necessary to balance the series out. Wild Ride recognizes the beats of a road trip story and gleefully follows them like a map; whomever chose to hold the title of the story for a few pages into the book -- until Selina and Holly steal a car in a Thelma-and-Louise-tribute moment -- understood that the joy in Wild Ride is in the familiar. What follows, in comparison to Relentless, is a positively G-rated romp through the DCU, emphasizing the story characterization of Catwoman's characters both in Gotham and away.

After the events of Relentless, Selina and Holly decide to get out of Gotham for a while, hitting the road in a couple of stolen cars and making their way through a variety of Selina Kyle's safehouses -- a trip, really, through Selina's past. But like Brad Meltzer's Archer's Quest, this road trip has a secret agenda not apparent to both it's travellers, plus a new threat picked up along the way. I was surprised, personally, not to see all of the threads begun here wrapped up in the end, but I think it also served to connect Wild Ride to Catwoman proper -- these might have been out-of-town issues, but they're still important to the Catwoman story overall.

Appearances by Ted Grant bookend this story, and it's an interesting choice by Brubaker. Selina could just as easily have taken a road trip through Keystone, New York, and Metropolis, meeting the members of the JLA along the way; instead, she visits Opal City and St. Roch, meeting a couple of JSA members and even learning a bit about the JSA legacy. Brubaker takes this a step farther in the end by offering a bit of a Starman/Hawkman "Times Past" story. More than once, Catwoman is invited to join the JSA, a novel idea to be sure, but as much as Selina repeats that she's not necessarily on the side of angels, the reactions of those around her suggest the opposite.

Even stronger is Kendra Saunders' immediate friendship with Selina -- Kendra remarks that Selina is not nearly as villainous as Kendra had been led to suggest. It's a quiet dig at the DCU proper -- Superman and Batman might be the flagship titles, but there's a different truth to the DCU when seen from the eyes of Catwoman, JSA, and other DC titles. More than a road trip story, Wild Ride is also a tribute to the "new, hip" DC that started in the mid-nineties -- Starman, especially, a missive on how guys in tights, wildly-named villains, and character-driven stories can still be cool, that lead into JSA and Outsiders and Teen Titans and, like it or not, Identity Crisis -- whether for good or ill, the culmination of how super-heroics and strong characterization can co-exist. As a low concept, Wild Ride is an archtypical road trip story (if that can be considered "low concept"); high concept, it's a state-of-the-union report on DC Comics, mid-2004.

So as mentioned previously, here's hoping the next Catwoman trade takes us all the way to War Games. And by the way, in answer to my previous surprise at how Wild Ride was five issues for $14.99 (or $2.99 per issue, more than the Catwoman monthly), it actually turns out that Wild Ride has a Secret Files story in it, too, so the price works out a little better. Now, on to Justice League Elite, JLA: Syndicate Rules, Batman: War Games Act Three, and Identity Crisis!

2006 Collected Editions DC Comics Trade Paperbacks Predictions List

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Here's the conspiracy theory: Seems to me, DC's been trying in the past two years to get all their titles trade-ready--that is, able able to start doing continual volume trades of their series, like Teen Titans and JSA. Frankly, we hardly have a major new series that doesn't follow this pattern--look at Legion of Super-Heroes, for instance. And what would be better than giving every DC title a new jumping on point, from which to start collecting the issues into trade … like, say, "One Year Later"?

DC's did mostly two trades per high selling titles in 2005. My bet is, in 2006, we'll see two trades again, but this time, the trades will be working to bring the titles even with February 2006, the last month before "One Year Later." Then in 2007, we'll see new trades that carry our favorite titles from March 2006 onward. So now, without further ado, the 2006 Collected Editions DC Comics Trade Paperbacks Predictions List!

All-Star Batman - a trade of the first six issues or so is most likely in 2006. Variables could be whether this goes to hardcover before trade, or whether DC tries the Marvel approach of paperback first, and two-trade hardcover second. I'd also consider this a good bet for an Absolute Edition.

All-Star Superman - it's up in the air whether we'll see the first trade of this in 2006, or in early 2007. Whatever the trade format is for All-Star Batman and Robin, however, you can expect this will do the same.

Aquaman - Forgive the pun, but 2006 will most likely be a sink-or-swim year for Aquaman. DC is not likely to continue to let this title flounder (forgive me) without a trade program, which means we're either going to see a collection of the Arcudi run in 2006, collections beginning after the March "One Year Later" break, or a cancellation of this title.

Batgirl: Destruction's Daughter (#65-73) - There's nine issues between the newest Batgirl trade, Kicking Assasins, and "One Year Later;" I think this is another sink-or-swim. Either DC's going to keep collecting this series (making one or two trades out of the nine issues), starting trading it in earnest after "One Year Later," or cancel it. And here's hoping Batgirl isn't a casualty of Infinite Crisis.

Batman: Origin of Jason Todd, (#645-649) - In addition to the Batman: War Crimes trade paperback (which hopefully collects the War Games epilogues and Batman Allies Secret Files stories, as well as War Crimes), there are five issues until "One Year Later," excluding the guest-written issue #642. Look for War Crimes and the Origin of Jason Todd issues to be the Batman title trades for 2006.

Batman: Gotham Knights - DC has already annouced Batman: Hush Returns, most likely collecting the "Pushback" storyline from Gotham Knights #50-55. Setting aside War Games and a fill-in issue, that leaves fifteen issues before "One Year Later"--#60-65, the Poison Ivy plotline, and #66-74, dealing (presumably) with Alfred's memory loss. It's unlikely that DC with release three trades of Gotham Knights in 2006, but whether they release a second trade, or stick with Hush Returns, will be a good indicator of whether DC will continue to publish Gotham Knights after Infinite Crisis. I vaguely recall hearing that the various Superman and Batman titles would be consolidated after Infinite Crisis, but now I can't find what I read.

Birds of Prey: Between Dark and Dawn (#69-73) - for a title that DC seems to position at the forefront of the DCU, the Birds of Prey trade paperbacks are sorely lacking. We can count on at least one in 2006, collecting at least "Between Dark and Dawn." But there's also "Hero Hunters," "Battle Within," and the OMAC Project tie-ins--in all, eighteen issues of Birds of Prey between the last trade and "One Year Later," too much to hope that Birds of Prey will catch up in 2006. But is two trades in 2006 too much to hope for?

Catwoman - End of the Line (#25-33) - After Catwoman: Wild Ride, there's nine issues until Catwoman's War Games crossover. Possibly we'll see this trade in 2006, but from there, there's sixteen uncollected issues of Catwoman until "One Year Later." Like Birds of Prey, there's no way Catwoman will catch up to "One Year Later" in 2006, but it bears hoping.

DC: The New Frontier - two trade volumes of this always seemed a little suspicious to me. I'd bet on a one-volume hardcover in 2006, and I think this has the potential to appear as an Absolute Edition.

Detective Comics - City of Crime (#801-808, #811-814) - if we count on Detective Comics #800 appearing in the Batman: War Crimes trade, along with #809 and #810, that leaves the twelve issue "City of Crime" storyline (one volume, please), and one Infinite Crisis tie-in issue in February. Chances are we'll see that tie-in issue collected elsewhere, if at all, and "City of Crime" will be the big Detective collection for 2006.

Dr. Fate - I could be the only person still waiting on a trade of the Christopher Golden mini-series. If not in 2006, I have doubts we'll ever see it.

Firestorm: Rebirth (#14-22) - There will be twenty-two issues of Firestorm out by the time "One Year Later" rolls around, but only the last nine of them are written by Stuart Moore. Like some others, I believe DC will either start collecting some or all of Firestorm pre- or post-"One Year Later" in 2006, or otherwise its cancel-ville.

Flash: Rogue War (#212, 218, 220-225) - The Rogue War trade is already confirmed for early 2006. If, however, it contains all the issues listed above, that only leaves six issues to "One Year Later;" chances are, that will be our second Flash trade for 2006. Hey, DC! How about a Flash: Wonderland trade, including Flash: Our Worlds at War and Iron Heights?

Gotham Central: Unresolved Targets (#12-15, 19-22) - The chances of Gotham Central catching up from issue #10 to February 2006's issue #40 in 2006 are completely unlikely. But we should see Ed Brubaker's Unresolved Targets in 2006, follwed by Greg Rucka's "Life is Full of Disappointments" (issues #11, 16-18, 23-25). No way we get more than two Gotham Central trades in 2006; I'll be pleasantly surprised if we get more than one.

Green Arrow: New Blood (#40-45) - Given New Blood's tie to Teen Titans, I'm surprised we only saw one Green Arrow trade in 2005. If New Blood goes to #45, then the next trade might be #46-50, and from there, #52-59 would take us to "One Year Later." But three Green Arrow trades is a lot to hope for in 2006; two would be an improvement over 2005.

Green Lantern: No Fear (#1-5) - The new Green Lantern title will hit issue #10 in February 2006. One trade is guaranteed; two would most likely split the ten issues.

Green Lantern: Recharge - a trade of this mini-series is guaranteed in 2006 or 2007.

Hawkman: Earth and Sky (#28-32) - Ignoring fill-in issues #26 and #27, it looks like there's a Hawkman plot that stretches from #28-32; from there, another story goes thirteen issues, from #33-45; and then the Rann-Thanagar War tie in is #46-#49. That's a lot for two trades; it's most likely three or four trades. Chances are that the Hawkman trades, if we see any at all, won't line up with "One Year Later" in 2006.

JLA: Crisis of Conscience (#115-119) - Crisis of Conscience is a lock, and I imagine we'll see it in early 2006. From there, it's just five issues until "One Year Later"--expect to see a second JLA trade in 2006 collecting "World without the JLA," issues #120-124.

JLA: Classified: New Maps of Hell (#10-15) - if JLA: Classified #1 through #3 appears in the Seven Soliders of Victory trades, then we can guess that the first JLA: Classified trade will be the six-part "New Maps of Hell." It's probably a safe bet that five- and six-part storylines will get their own trades, while smaller stories will be collected together. But will this join the JLA volume numbering, or stand on its own?

Justice League Elite: Volume 2 (#5-12) - here's hoping that a volume two is planned, and that DC wouldn't just leave us hanging with volume one. Eight issues for a trade is a lot, but certainly not unheard of.

JSA: Black Vengeance (#68-75) - The "JSA/JSA" story goes from #68-72, but for JSA, that's something of a small trade. If we add "Black Vengeance," issues #73-75, that #76-82 to "One Year Later"--and seven issues makes sense. Two JSA trades are a virtual sure-thing in 2006, so chances are it'll catch up to "One Year Later."

JSA: Classified: Power and Honor (#1-8) - With the Infinite Crisis tie of JSA: Classified, I think we'll see the Power Girl and Injustice Society stories collected in 2006. Alternatively, DC could put the Power Girl story in with The Return of Donna Troy--there's a trade!

Legion of Super-Heroes (#7-12) - issues #7 through #12 finish out the first year's plotline. I think we can expect to see at least one trade of Legion of Super-Heroes in 2006, if not two.

Manhunter: On Trial (#7-12) - the first year's plots wrap up in issue #12 before the OMAC Project tie-ins. From there, Manhunter goes from #13 to #19 before "One Year Later." I think the fate of this title is still up in the air; if we see one trade, I'm not holding my breath for seeing two.

Nightwing: Lethal Force (#61-70) - Issues #61 through #70 would finish out the Chuck Dixon run on Nightwing. Even then, however, the Nightwing trades would still be twenty issues away from the War Games crossover, let alone "One Year Later." I'm hoping DC keeps steadily trading this series, and no one chooses to jump the gun as with Batgirl. Chances are we'll see one Nightwing trade in 2006, if any.

Outsiders: Tick Tock (#26-33) - After their appearance in Teen Titans: The Insiders, the Outsiders have the fortunate position of only having nine issues before "One Year Later." We may only see one Outsiders trade in 2006, but at least it'll be up to date.

Return of Donna Troy - expect a trade in early 2006, either by itself or in conjunction with Teen Titans.

Robin (#134-138) - After Fresh Blood, there's five issues until the new Scott McDaniel art team starts at issue #139. Then, there's nine issues between #139 and #147, the February 2006 issue. Two Robin trades in 2006 is a lot to hope for, but if there are, this might be the way they do it.

Rose and Thorn - it's absolutely criminal that this Gail Simone mini-series hasn't been collected yet, especially since Rose and the

Superman/Batman: With a Vengeance (#20-25) - No question we'll see a hardcover of "With a Vengeance" in 2006. From there, only six issues until "One Year Later," including Sam Loeb's issue with tribute artists -- chances are we'll see issues #26 through #31 as a collection, too.

Seven Soldiers of Victory - We'll see volume one of this undoubtedly multi-volume set in early 2006. Question is, will this trade contain JLA: Classified #1-3, too?

Supergirl: From Krypton (#0-7) - there's only seven issues of this title before "One Year Later;" I bet DC will be as faithful collecting this series as with Teen Titans. Look for this trade to include Superman/Batman #19, as well, the Supergirl #0 issue.

Superman/Adventures of Superman/Action Comics - After the issue of each of these titles that will appear in the Day of Vengeance trade, there's only ten issues of each Superman title before "One Year Later." Two trades of each, perhaps? Superman: The Journey, collecting Mark Verheiden, is already solicited, and if that contains five issues, chances are the rest of them will as well. But what about "Sacrifice"? Will each part of this story end up in it's title's trade, or will we see an Adventures of Superman: Sacrifice trade collecting all of those issues? Time will tell.

Superman/Shazam: First Thunder - a trade is likely in 2006 or 2007 -- will it be padded with anything else?

Teen Titans - At least two Teen Titans trades in 2006 is almost guaranteed, and we already know that the first will be Teen Titans: Insiders in January or February. What we don't know is what that trade will contain beyond Teen Titans and Outsiders issues #24-25. If, as Hovy predicted, it has #26 and #29, that only leaves #30-33 before "One Year Later"--which would be something of a small trade, unless it includes The Return of Donna Troy. And then there's also issues #27-28, the Gail Simone/Rob Liefield issues, which the completist in me hopes will be collected as well. That brings Teen Titans up to "One Year Later," and again, I think it's a pretty safe bet.

The Question - It remains up in the air if DC will collect this trade, or given the absent Super-storm that this was supposed to join, whether Question will remain permanently uncollected.

Vigilante - As with The Question, when Vigilante's Super-storm disappeared, so did many of it's chances. I think a trade here will largely depend on how fan's accept this series.

Wonder Woman: Checkmate (#215-218, 220-226) - After the Eye of the Gorgon trade, and issue #214 of Wonder Woman appearing in Prelude to Infinite Crisis, there's eleven issues of Wonder Woman before "One Year Later." I actually don't think we'll see these in one trade, but I'm not sure how they'll split them up, either--not to mention whether issue #219 will appear solely in the OMAC Project or also in a Superman: Sacrifice trade, and/or whether the "Sacrifice" epilogue issues will appear in Wonder Woman or Superman trades. So this one's a puzzle, but with increased attention on Wonder Woman in the DCU, I think it's safe to say we'll see two Wonder Woman trades in 2006.

What's right? What's wrong? Which trades are you most looking forward to? Leave a comment here with your two cents, and we'll recheck this list every month in 2006 to see how it stands up.

Link to the 2006 Collected Editions DC Comics Trade Paperbacks Predictions List: