DC Announces Early 2007 Trades

Monday, September 18, 2006

Well, thank the stars, the fast is over. In addition to what we already knew about, DC announced a whole lot of great stuff today. Let's take a look:

Superman: Back in Action - Action Comics #841-843, plus DC Comics Presents #4, #17, and #24
This continues from Superman: Up, Up, and Away. The three DC Comics Presents issues feature Superman and the Metal Men, Firestorm, and Deadman respectively--I'm not sure if there's special significance to these issues, or if they're just additional team-ups. A nice bonus, either way.

Superman: Camelot Falls - Superman #654-658
Interesting to see this in hardcover, when Up, Up, and Away and Back in Action aren't. A somewhat small hardcover, too, though I'm glad to see Superman getting the attention.

Superman: Emperor Joker
Well, this is a long time in coming. I wonder what brought this on--and moreover, if it'll match Superman: Endgame and the other Superman trades of its time. What's next, Flash: Wonderland?

Crisis Aftermath: The Battle for Bludhaven
Glad to see a trade of this miniseries so soon.

Fallen Angel Vol.2: Down to Earth
Hooray for DC, collecting issues #7-12 of Fallen Angel. Everyone pre-order this so DC will finish out the series.

Ion: The Torchbearer
And, on the other hand ... half a collection of the Ion mini-series. I'll buy it, because I'm a pushover, but I sure would've rather a full collection.

JSA Classified: Honor Among Thieves
Collecting issues #5-9 of JSA: Classified. I think one can be relatively sure that all the Classified issues will eventually be collected, ready-made trades as they are. This one follows the Power Girl trade.

JSA: Ghost Stories
Finishes up the current JSA run with issues #82-87. It remains to be seen if Justice Society and Justice League will both relaunch with hardcover collections, and how long DC will keep that up.

The Justice League of America Hereby Elects ...
I can't resist trades of old issues with current continuity ties, and this one has it in spades. Contains Justice League of America #4, #75, #105-106, #146, #161 and #173-174, where Green Arrow, Black Canary, Red Tornado, Zatanna, and Black Lightning respectively join the JLA.

Manhunter Vol. 2: Trial by Fire
More good news, with a whopping nine-issue Manhunter trade (issues #6-14). Everyone pre-order this one, too, and get your friends to do the same.

Outsiders: The Good Fight - Outsiders #34-41
Collecting the first One Year Later exploits of the Outsiders.

And last, but not least ... the DCU Infinite Christmas Special
What, no surprise ending to this one? Remains to be seen if a non-continuity 80-page special does as well as Countdown and Brave New World--then again, it's hard to miss with Batgirl and the Shadowpact.

Fallen Angel ... Manhunter ... the stars are shining bright today, kids. Thanks for stopping by.

Robin: To Kill a Bird review

Sunday, September 17, 2006

I felt fairly lukewarm about Robin: Unmasked--the somewhat awkward, choppy cut-scenes, combined with a garish art change halfway through, didn't help the fact that Tim Drake felt mostly out-of-character, nearly giving up his Robin persona after he believes he kills a criminal, which I think is not nearly the first time Robin's had to deal with that. But Bill Willingham's portrayal of Spoiler-as-Robin in Batman: War Drums showed promise, and Robin/Batgirl: Fresh Blood did, too. Which is why, as a long-time Robin fan, I was pleased to find much more to enjoy in Robin: To Kill a Bird. Perhaps without the constraints of crossovers, Willingham has finally hit his stride with this title; though his run only lasts one more trade, we can at least say it had some effect while it lasted. With some nice surprises and character moments, To Kill a Bird is a worthy addition to the Robin cannon.

To Kill a Bird finds Robin in Bludhaven, hunted by a bevy of masked assassins. He ultimately traces them to the Penguin, but finds he's receiving unexpected help in ending the Penguin's contract--a military group that wants to make Robin their newest recruit. At the same time, Bruce Wayne offers to adopt the orphaned Tim Drake, until Tim's mysterious long-lost Uncle Eddie arrives. And Robin's foe Johnny Warlock brings a new enemy back from the dead, while Alfred begins a relationship with Tim's widowed mother.

From the moment that Bruce Wayne offers to adopt Tim Drake in this trade, I was hooked. It wasn't something I'd considered, and Bruce's humble requesting, combined with Tim's excitement, really made me root for it to happen. Then, Willingham introduces the mystery of Uncle Eddie, and when that came toward its resolution, I found myself thinking, "No, Willingham wouldn't ... would he?" In this trade, Willingham shows his willingness to be controversial, and it does the story a lot of good. Alfred's unexpected flirtation with Dana Drake--and the subsequent conversation that he and Batman have about it--is shocking and controversial and just plain interesting, and that's exactly what this story needs.

Willingham's villains take a giant leap forward here, too. Though I didn't initially like the magic-based Johnny Warlock going up against the more urban-grounded Robin, I found that his appearances in sub-plots here did a lot to flesh out the character. And while Willingham introduces quite a few other villains here that might otherwise just be one-note foes, there's obvious effort made to characterize each, from the honor of the Rising Sun Archer to the unique challenge Robin faces with the Dark Rider, even to Robin's interrogation of the Penguin. In pitting Robin against these characters, Willingham shows why the Robin title is more than just Batman with a younger protagonist; Robin's solutions are wilder, his battles more off-the-cuff, and all in all the stories have a nice, fluid feel.

The art switches a couple times in this trade, though the effect is far less jarring than in Robin: Unmasked. Damion Scott continues the great work he did on Batgirl at the beginning of this trade, though his reappearance toward the end, where the art gets cluttered and is rife with two-page spreads, quickly heralds his replacement by Scott McDaniel. (It's surprising, frankly, that only Scott gets a mention on the trade cover, and not McDaniel.) McDaniel's work holds up well (though I still prefer him inked by Karl Story); the Batman/Alfred scenes in the Batcave are reminiscent of McDaniel's definitive work on Batman #600 and #605. In the middle of the trade, we have quick hits from Giuseppe Camuncoli and Pop Mhan, nearly indistinguishable from one another, but both do great jobs, and I'd be happy to see Robin drawn again by either.

[Contains full covers (slightly reduced size).]

I'm continuing my pre-Villains United trip through the Bat-verse now, with Batman: War Crimes, and Nightwing: Mobbed Up. Stay cool out there!

Infinite Crisis Hardcover Delayed

Sunday, September 10, 2006

DC has delayed the Infinite Crisis hardcover from the original September release date to Wednesday, October 11, the same day as the release of the Infinite Crisis Companion. While the extra waiting is a shame, I can entirely understand from a marketing standpoint wanting the two volumes to come out at the same time, instead of having the Companion seem like an also-ran.

Review: Space Ghost trade paperback (DC Comics)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

I've long had a theory that every comic series must be somebody's favorite. I may never have been a big Captain Atom fan, but gosh darn it there must be somebody out there who has every Captain Atom issue, and fainted dead away with joy when Captain Atom: Armageddon was announced. And I figure the same must be true for Space Ghost. The trade, while not terribly awful, was unfortunately not for me, but I do grant that there must be someone out there, somewhere, who's seen every Space Ghost episode and read every Space Ghost book, and for whom the Space Ghost trade has a vaunted place on their shelves. Well, I can appreciate that, even if I can't concur.

Space Ghost begins with Peacekeeper Thaddeus Bach joining his planet's special forces unit, the Wrath. When his boss, Temple, murders someone on their first mission, however, Bach defects, and his wife is killed in revenge. Temple beats Bach and leaves him for dead, but he's found by a hermit who nurses him back to life and, eventually, reveals a hidden weapons stash. Bach pursues Temple, seeking vengeance, but when the planet Meridian is attacked by a bug-species, including their leader Zorak, Bach chooses redemption instead. He adopts two orphaned children, Jan and Jayce, and takes on the secret identity Space Ghost.

I looked up Space Ghost on the Internet right after I finished the miniseries, hoping to discover how neatly the Space Ghost comic dovetailed into the cartoon. I was sadly disappointed. There are slight bits -- Thaddeus is Space Ghost's first name on the Coast to Coast cartoon, he visits a Ghost Planet of sorts in the comic, and he gains a wise mentor as mentioned, apparently, in only one old Space Ghost comic -- but the ties are tentative at best. And it's even hard to equate the scheming Zorak from the cartoons with the planet-ravaging race of Zorathians in the comic; at best, this is hardly Space Ghost's origins, but more a re-imagining of the concept as a whole.

The other difficulty with this story is it's overarching generality. The back of the trade very nearly tells the whole story: A policeman finds out his force is corrupt, he becomes a renegade and swears revenge and ... yup, he finds redemption in the end. Frankly, had this same character landed on a planet where the wise old alien gave him comet-weapons instead of ghost-weapons, this could have been an origin for a new Captain Comet. Or Plasma Man or Space Cowboy or what have you. It's an archtypical, general origin, pasted on to a character we don't know that much about, with very little tie to the small amount we do know about the character ... well, nothing plus nothing kind of ends up with nothing.

To be fair, I do see Joe Kelly's point, that this is essentially just "two-fisted ... pulp science-fiction," and if that's all you're after, there is something to love here (and we all know how I honestly enjoyed Kelly's other work). Kelly's got plenty of weird and exotic aliens in this book, and it's all beautifully illustrated by Ariel Olivetti. Maybe it's just the Infinite Crisis curse ... *sigh* I tried to take a break, but if it's not a tie-in trade, it's just not the same. It's a sickness, I know. On the other hand, one policeman in the trade does quip, "You have the right to ... shut up!" so maybe a little criticism's not completely misplaced.

[Includes introduction, full covers by Alex Ross]

And there are even rumors of a Space Ghost sequel which, this review aside, I actually think I'd read. More on that if or when the book comes out. For now, I best get back to DC-land; maybe some Bat-titles on the way, or perhaps the lead-up to Rann-Thanagar. We'll see.

One Year Later Insignia on OYL trades?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I just saw a cover shot of this week's Batman: Face the Face, and contrary to my expectations, it doesn't sport the "One Year Later" circle. However, I'm only looking at the front, not the back. Has anyone seen this, and is there any "One Year Later" notice to be found?