Trade paperback news shorts

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dan DiDio discusses the Countdown to Infinite Crisis Infinite Crisis one-shots (or the CICICOS, as we should call them) over at Newsarama, including this little nugget:

And yes, DiDio knows that figuring out the battle plans for Infinite Crisis and all its various lead-ups and ties ins’ trade collections is looking like a nightmare. Thing is, DiDio said with a laugh, is that it’s not his nightmare.

“Yeah, the guys in Collected Editions want to kill me. Thing is, I’m approaching this story the same way we approached things before there were collected editions to worry about. It’s the same problem hey run into when they try to figure out how to collect comics that were done in the ‘60s and ‘70s in regards to a trade. Stories in those days weren’t clearly wrapped up – there were subplots and things sometimes didn’t fit into nice, neat packages.

“I’m worried about doing the best comics, and I figure it can be collected as things move forward. These are good problems to have though. I want to make sure that everyone is excited about what’s coming out at that moment, and we’ll make sure that everything of importance is collected somewhere down the line. Honestly, we did give this a lot of thought, but in the end, I didn’t want collected editions driving the way the story will be told.”

And no, I'm not going to rampage at DiDio for knocking the trades. As he said, they'll make sure everything of importance is collected, and there will be trades of these specials eventually, I'm sure. Besides, a few dozen angry fans have already replied to the Newsarama topic anyway, though, kids, I'd swear we already knew about this.


Over at the Pipeline, Augie De Blieck has a review of Superman/Batman: Absolute Power. Looked good, so I thought I'd mention.


Be here this weekend (barring delay) for the DC 2006 Trade Paperback Predictions list! All that, and a Catwoman: Wild Ride review on the way. Thanks for visiting!

Review: Absolute Batman: Hush collected hardcover (DC Comics)

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Monday, September 26, 2005

I know that at some point I read a poorly thought-out post on the DC message board that discussed all the so-called plot holes in Batman: Hush -- I’m pretty sure I saw another for Identity Crisis -- both of which more or less missed the point of (A) a whodunit mystery and (B) what constitutes a plot hole and what constitutes (1) a red herring and (2) a purposefully vague point for the purposes of creating either reader wonderment or room for a sequel. And if nothing else than because I was frustrated the other day at how most replies to Newsarama stories or DC message board posts quickly denigrate into “that sucks/no, it doesn’t,” I thought I’d take this opportunity to rebut one of those miss-the-point Hush reviews. Unfortunately, I can’t find a truly poor one, but I did find pieces here and there on the Internet, and so I’m going to try to muster a defense as best I can.

To wit: In Sean T. Collins' review of Hush, he takes issue with the fact that Loeb creates a new childhood friend for Bruce Wayne, and then, Collins believes, too obviously makes him the villain. To which I say no. The mystery of Hush is not “who is Hush?” or if it is, the answer is not Thomas Elliott. Elliott being Hush is obvious because it’s supposed to be obvious—it’s a red herring. The real answer to “who is Hush” is the Riddler, or perhaps, we don’t know. The mystery isn’t obvious; the mystery is hard, and the misdirection is obvious.

Really, I think one of the brilliances of Hush, and The Long Halloween before that, is that though we know enough answers to enjoy the story, we don’t know all the answers one hundred percent. There’s a bunch of possibilities for who Hush is: Tommy Elliott, Clayface—personally, I think Hush is the Two-Face aspect of Two-Face, while Harvey Dent is walking around separated from him, but don’t ask me how. Point being, just like in The Long Halloween, where we find out Gilda Dent was involved but we don’t know how to the letter—that’s OK. That’s what mysteries do. It leaves a little bit of doubt, a little bit of wiggle room for you to keep mulling it over in your mind or champion your favorite theory—that’s OK. Just like our not finding out whether Batman and Catwoman’s romance was real or influenced -- it’s not a plot hole when it’s intentional.

I’ve also heard criticism of both Hush and Identity Crisis that Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective, why can’t he figure this stuff out sooner. Because -- and this is why Jeph Loeb’s portrayal of Batman resonates more than Grant Morrison’s—the fanboy has to remember that Batman is the World’s Greatest Detective, and not the World’s Smartest Man. He’s not Know-It-All Boy, able to read minds and predict the future. Batman can put together all the clues and trace all the evidence if a crime happens in Gotham on an everyday Tuesday night.

But Batman’s greatest weakness is himself.* Batman is constantly, constantly tripping over his own psyche. With all the Bat-family he pulls together and then pushes away, there’s never been a less self-aware character on the market. Batman can recognize two hundred different scents of cologne, but he has no idea where his own emotional standing is from one moment to the next. And that’s fascinating; that’s why we love reading Batman. But to say, for instance, how could Batman not realize he was being fed subliminal messages through his computer—well, it’s because being in love with Catwoman completely fries Batman’s brain. Throw in an emotional situation, and all of the sudden he’s Normal Man. And Loeb plays that up. Every time Batman’s not acting like himself (or Huntress isn’t, or the Riddler), that’s a big hint that something’s going on. To ignore that, to say “in character-good/out of character-bad,” is to ignore some of the best layers of this mystery.

Having just read the Absolute edition of Hush, I’d say that Jim Lee’s art, surprisingly, gains less in the translation to oversized format than, say, Bryan Hitch, but it is nice to read this whole thing in one volume, and reading it reinforced my appreciation for this story overall. The true highlight is the Jeph Loeb/Jim Lee/Bob Greenberger conversation in the beginning -- overall, I might have liked to hear more from Jeph in the package, a la the pages that Brad Meltzer gets to discuss Identity Crisis issue-by-issue -- but some tidbits are the scrapped scene Jeph wrote where Batman and Catwoman have sex with their masks on; the on-again-off-again cowl in the big relevation scene, removed by DC management and then brought back when Hush became a hit; and the alternate ending for Hush that centered around a Batman/Superman, not Batman/Catwoman, conversation. So well worth fifty bucks just to have it complete and with bonuses, though if you pay fifty bucks for it, you’re not searching the Internet hard enough.

Now on to some JLA, then finishing out Batman: War Games, making my chronological way toward reading the Identity Crisis hardcover (have you seen it? It's gorgeous).

And tune in here late this week, as Collected Editions counts down our predictions for the DC Comics 2006 trade paperbacks!

(*I saw a Super Powers cartoon once, that made me think that taking away Batman and Robin's utility belts weakened them like putting Kryptonite near Superman. And I thought this for a long time, before I realized how little sense it made. But it's stayed with me all along. Does anyone remember the episode where the Legion of Doom seems to kill the Justice League, but they turn out to be robots? Because that's the one.)

Batman: War Crimes TP preview

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

I've got to start visiting James Jean's website more often. As found on Gotham Lounge, Jean has posted the cover to the forthcoming Batman: War Crimes trade paperback, which hopefully collects not only the four-part "War Crimes," but also the "War Games" epilogue issues and the Batman Allies Secret Files story. Here's hoping!

Batman: War Games Act Three TPB - anyone get it?

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Did anyone get the Batman: War Games Act Three TPB? I'm just wondering what issues are collected in it, whether or not there are more than the solicitations said.

UPDATED: If anyone's wondering, the issues are:

Detective #799
Legends of the Dark Knight #184
Nightwing #98
Gotham Knights #58
Batgirl #57
Catwoman #36
Robin #131
Batman #633

Thanks to aotb on the DC Message Boards!

Timeline update 9/21/05

New update to the DC Comics trade paperback timeline, including the new TPB releases for 2006--Superman: The Journey, Batman: Hush Returns, Teen Titans: The Insiders, and Flash: Rogue War.

DC Comics Solicitations for December 2005

Sunday, September 18, 2005

DC Comics solicitations for December 2005 can be found here--nothing we didn't alredy know, despite my ferverent hopes for a slipped-in Gotham Central: Unresolved Targets. Oh well, there's always February.

Y: The Last Man - Ring of Truth review

As with all Collected Editions reviews, this review contains SPOILERS.

The theme of Y: The Last Man - Ring of Truth might obstensibly seem to be "truth;" rather, this trade might seem more to be about forgiveness. In the first of three stories here, collected over eight issues, Yorick Brown deals with his guilt over killing a woman back in Arizona (in Safeword); in the second story, we watch the journey of Hero Brown, brainwashed by the Amazons and now struggling for redemption. These two stories come together in the final tale, "Ring of Truth," as Hero and Yorick clash at Dr. Mann's San Francisco laboratory, while at the same time dealing with the renegade Setauket Ring and the mysterious ninja Toyota.

My favorite part of this trade "Tongues of Flame," where Yorick sleeps with the woman he meets, Beth--and I liked it most, conversely, because I found myself wishing so much that Yorick hadn't done it. As with Judd Winick's Oliver Queen (though under somewhat different circumstances), it's the parts of characters like Yorick and Ollie where they mess up, where they do the obviously wrong or damaging thing, that makes them the most interesting. It wasn't a choice that Clark Kent would've made, but it was a choice for Yorick Brown. And, in the end, it wasn't wrong-wrong for Yorick to sleep with her--two consenting adults in a post-apocalyptic nightmare world--but the reader knows that Yorick will ultimately blame himself for his lack of fidelity to his girlfriend-Beth in Australia, and we both love and fear the challenges the character will make for himself.

One of the strengths of Y: The Last Man is just how much is always going on at one time, but here, it almost seems to be something of a distraction. "Ring of Truth" starts out seeming as though it's about the ring Yorick wears around his neck, or perhaps Agent 355's Amulet of Helene, and what those have to do with the plague that killed all the men. Quickly, however, the story becomes about Yorick's own monkey-granted immunity to the plague, and then it becomes about the mysterious ninja that keeps trying to take off with Ampersand. Each story is completely engaging in its own right, but me, I'm still back with the Setauket ring while the protagonists are thinking of heading off to Japan. Hopefully (and, I think, one can safely bet) we haven't seen the last of Anna Strong--the destruction of the amulet left too much in that plot either unexplained or unconfirmed.

Brian Vaughan did pull a great rabbit out of his hat with the suggestion of Toyota's true master. "Dr. M," of course, has suggested the less-than-truthful Allison Mann this whole time; while I'm sure she must have mentioned her parents at some point, I didn't catch it, and I was therefore delightfully floored when she noted that Toyota seemed to be off toward where her mother lives. The clues all fit the solution well, and my guess is that Vaughan will still have another surprise or two for us anyway before Toyota's origin is fully revealed.

I'm eager for my next Y: The Last Man fix, November's Girl on Girl, though I do begin to tire of the "heroes go somewhere, story ends in a battle where someone dies" nature of the stories. Still, after seeing America and Israel through the lens of the Y: The Last Man world, Japan should be very interesting, and I'm eager to see what Vaughan does with it.

(Another review of Y: The Last Man - Ring of Truth by Evan at Chipped Ham Productions can be found here.)

Back to the DCU now, with Absolute Batman: Hush, and after that, could be JLA, could be the Identity Crisis hardcover ... we'll see!

DC trades for January 2006

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

UPDATED AGAIN: Hovy over at Gotham Lounge notes that also lists Teen Titans: The Insider and Seven Soldiers of Victory Vol. 1 for January. Woo-hoo!

UPDATED: Even more than Superman: The Journey, I'm very excited to see Batman: Hush Returns, as I quite frankly didn't think we'd ever see a Batman: Gotham Knights trade paperback. To give a little preview of the upcoming 2006 trade expectancy post, I think one of the things to watch in 2006 will be how DC treats some of the ancillary titles like Gotham Knights and the three Superman books. With the trend toward every book generating trades, either DC needs to find a way for the ancillary books to start producing, or they're likely to get cut. Batman: Hush Returns will most likely include Batman: Gotham Knights #50 - 55, the "Pushback" storyline, leading, nicely, right up to Batman: War Games.

Superman: The Journey is also interesting, considering that Mark Verheiden only wrote two Superman issues before the "Sacrifice" crossover, and I'm pretty sure that we'll see a Superman: Sacrifice trade at some point this year. So whether this will be issues 217-218 and skip 219, or include 219 and go on from there remains to be seen. But you can expect quite a bit of Superman/Countdown to Infinite Crisis crossover goodness, that's for sure.

I'm surprised to see the Batman: Year One Ra's al Ghul trade, considering it was just a two-issue miniseries—is it too much to hope this might have some extras? (See, DC, here's a place where padding is good.) Anyway, this one follows up on the excellent Batman: Death and the Maidens trade, so that puts it squarely on my list.

Coming up: A Y-The Last Man: Ring of Truth review, and later this month, a look back at the trades of 2005, and a look forward to what we can expect from 2006. Join us, won't you?

P.S. Here's hoping the Flash: Rogue War trade fills in the missing issue from Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen.

OLD POST: Ah kids ... wait long enough, and the news comes. This just in: new DC trades for January 2006! I'll have commentary tomorrow, but for now, it's Batman: Hush Returns (collecting Batman: Gotham Knights), Batman: Year One Ra's Al Ghul (the recent Devin Grayson Batman-Begins-inspired miniseries), Flash: Rogue War (the last Geoff Johns trade), Superman Chronicles (reprinting all the Superman comics in order), and Superman: The Journey (collecting the first Mark Verheiden issues).

Review: Fables: The Mean Seasons trade paperback (Vertigo/DC Comics)

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Monday, September 12, 2005

I mentioned a few months ago how Fables and Y: The Last Man trades never seem to have any down-time; each trade contains an event, without feeling overloaded or underwhelmed as JSA sometimes does. Well ... Fables: The Mean Seasons is finally a down-time trade. The stories are good, yes, as is the art, all of it up with Bill Willingham's usual high Fables standard. But I'm glad that the next Fables trade is on the horizon, because this is a trade that will whet your appetite -- not leave you fulfilled.

The Mean Seasons consists of seven issues -- a one-shot Cinderella tale, a two-part Bigby short story, and the four-part "Mean Seasons" main story. The Cinderalla has only a tangental relation to the main story, while the Bigby two-parter has no connection whatsoever. And yet, even though the Bigby story was published after "Mean Seasons," it's presented first, as if the editors recognized that the short stories were only an appetizer before the main course (lots of food metaphors. I must be hungry.). It leaves the trade feeling padded, not unlike Teen Titans: Beast Boys and Girls and Gotham Central: Half a Life. At least in this case, though, the padding tales are still legitimate Fables issues.

And there's a lot here to like. Though the Cinderella story is somewhat predictable (necessary, I'm sure, but predictable), the Bigby story is good old-fashioned fun. I won't spoil anything by revealing the title, as in the table of contents: "Frankenstein versus the Wolf Man." Though I did wish that there was more of an explanation as to whether the monsters had met before, and how they influenced the history of their respective icons, I'm a sucker as it is for the old black and whites. Bring in Bela Lugosi and Godzilla, while you're at it, and I'd be in heaven.

As for "The Mean Seasons" itself, Willingham employs an interesting trick here, showing just a few days in the lives of the Fables at four seasonal points throughout one year. Which means that each of the four issues picks up a few months later than the one before, with the characters having ventured slightly from their previous locations. It feels breezy and nostalgic, not quite steady, in line with the tumultuous times in Fabletown.

And as is Willingham's talent, every character has a plot, or a secret, or something going on with them, making for engaging reading despite the trade's brevity. There's a murderer on the loose, and though the killer's identity becomes painfully obvious well before the end (and it's hard to believe, especially, that Mr. North doesn't figure it out even as he provides all the clues), the tragedy of the end is well played. The emotional ending loses a little if only because we haven't spent this year with the characters, only seen snippets, but still I believe we can understand where they're coming from.

My hope is that, at some point, Willingham will choose to revisit "The Mean Seasons." Especially in terms of Fabletown's new government, even if the only important question is whether the new regime remains in power or not, it might still be fun to hear stories of that government from time to time. For my money, I bet Snow and Bigby will be back in their old positions soon, even if that means the non-human Fables will be coming in Fabletown (I think they will) and that Bigby will have to make peace with the Farm (ditto). But we'll see, fortunately, soon.

On to Y: The Last Man - Ring of Truth, kids, and eagerly awaiting that Identity Crisis hardcover. Just a few more days ...

Timeline update 9/10/05

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Small updates to the trade paperback timeline, including aligning the trades with Zero Hour and Joker: Last Laugh events.

Announcing the DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline

Monday, September 05, 2005

Here's a little Labor Day treat for you all ... Collected Editions is pleased to unveil our DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline. This is something we've been working on for a while -- a handy tool for all the wait-for-traders out there (or even just the trade-curious). Wondering where your Batman: No Man's Land trades fit in with JLA? Where the Flash trades cross over with JSA? The Collected Editions' DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline is the place to find out. And keep watching this space, because we'll announce updates as we go. Enjoy!

Additional Hurricane Katrina relief

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Over at Millarworld, more links to how you can help the victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Review: Superman/Batman: Absolute Power collected hardcover (DC Comics)

Jeph Loeb returns Superman/Batman to its summer-blockbuster roots in Superman/Batman: Absolute Power, and the result is a recapturing of the magic found in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies. Superman/Batman: Supergirl was enjoyable, but followed a somewhat predictable route of superheroes fight, then team up; Absolute Power, on the other hand, is the least predictable, most pulse-pounding Superman/Batman story so far.

At first, I was concerned that Absolute Power would break from the linear Superman/Batman narrative; after all, Public Enemies brought the kryptonite asteroid to Earth, and Supergirl showed what was inside of it--where would Absolute Power fit in? Rest assured, Absolute Power takes its cue firmly from Public Enemies--though the twist is far too cool to spoil here.

What follows is a study of why Superman and Batman are important in the DC Universe--a kind of "This is Your Life" writ large. And what I found most interesting was that, all the while the reader learns how Superman and Batman are good and important in the DCU, what Superman and Batman themselves learn is their own capacity for evil if there go the grace. It leads to a bittersweet ending for the story with echoes of current Infinite Crisis storylines, making Absolute Power all the more poignant. And even if what Loeb demonstrates about the heroes' importance to the other DC heroes isn't exactly new territory, it's still territory that's nice to look at.

Not all the questions raised by this story are wrapped up at the end in a neat bow, but then, I think there's a great danger in overthinking a story like this. Absolute Power was not meant to be brain surgery, but instead, quality super-hero comics--super-hero comics that do the reader the favor of not pandering, but not overreaching, either. Every question has an answer, if not a good one, and the ones that are left ... well, sometimes the wondering is part of the fun, and maybe an answer will come one day, and maybe not. That's OK. There's enough other good stuff going on in the DC Universe right now to suffice.

But keep your eyes peeled, because Collected Editions is about to depart the DC Universe. Yes, that's right; as we await the arrival of the Identity Crisis hardcover, look for not one, but two Vertigo reviews at Collected Editions--Fables: The Mean Seasons, and Y-The Last Man: Ring of Truth. Be there or be square!