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: http://collectededitions.blogspot.com/2005/10/2006-collected-editions-dc-comics.html