Collected Editions State of the Trade 2006

Friday, December 29, 2006

Unfortunately, December's unexpected technical difficulties still has Collected Editions derailed just a tad -- we're getting back up to speed, but we're not completely fixed yet (not the least of which is that NaNoWriMo icon on the lower left, which should soon change to "winner"). One result is that this will unfortunately pre-empt this year's Collected Editions 2007 Trade Predicitions List.

But, at the same time, do we really need it? The latest press releases from DC have touted 10 and 11 "One Year Later" trades respectively. As Collected Editions predicted back in 2005, nearly every "One Year Later" title has received a trade or (without exact figures in hand), will be receiving one soon. Which makes a predictions list almost unnecessary; if your favorite title participated in "One Year Later," eventually it'll get a trade.

The "completist" half of my brain thinks this is great. As compared to almost two years ago when Collected Editions started, it's now easier and safer for a comics fan to "wait-for-trade" than it's ever been before. But, the "good of the industry" half of my brain does have to wonder. Already, some of the "One Year Later" stories have been so panned by fans that the books' entire creative teams have been changed, but still we see Nightwing: Brothers in Blood and Flash: The Fastest Man Alive coming down the pike. Do we sacrifice quality for quantity here? Should some things not be preserved for posterity?

I also notice that while many of the new trades retain volume numbers on their spines, we still don't see this on the Superman or Batman trades -- and the back-and-forth between softcover and hardcover on the Superman trades will only serve to confuse casual readers. I know why DC does this -- you don't want to cut off existing Superman or Batman trades by starting a new numbering system -- but I think it makes it very difficult for a less dedicated fan to know where to start and where to go, and I think "One Year Later" was probably DC's best chance for a while to do anything about this.

Not, though, to see the glass completely half-empty, especially surrounded by all these riches. As I've mentioned before, the advent of second Fallen Angel and Manhunter trades, Huntress: Darknight Daughter and the classic "All-Star" Justice Society, and titles like New Teen Titans: Terra Incognito, all portend very well for the depth and breadth of DC's growing trade industry. No doubt in 2007, in addition to all the regulars, we'll see likely hardcovers of Justice League and Justice Society of America, the Donner/Johns Action Comics run, more Absolute editions, and, of course, a four-volume hardcover set of 52. So I'm eager to see what the field looks like at the end of 2007, but cautiously eager -- here's hoping a trade boom isn't followed by a trade bust.

Happy new year to all!

Green Lantern Corps: Recharge mini-review

As concerned as I've been about the recent 1980s rebirth among the DC Universe (Hawkman, Oliver Queen, and then Hal Jordan), nothing's filled me with more dread than the resurrection of the Green Lantern Corps title. While in theory, the return of the Corps has always been an important benchmark--namely, a signal that Kyle Rayner, having recreated the Corps, would have come into his own--the idea of a new Corps title never seemed the logical next step. To me, the Corps represented everything that was wrong with late '80s comics--an esoteric title steeped in long, drawn-out cosmic mythology, with a cast of thousands that was hard for a casual reader to pick up and get in to, or even care about. So I picked up Green Lantern Corps: Recharge, the lead-in to the new Green Lantern Corps series with some trepidation, even though it starred two of my personal favorites, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner. Well, time will tell if it's the writing of Geoff Johns or Dave Gibbons that makes Green Lantern Corps: Recharge shine, but shine indeed it does. This is a great, fast-paced story, with spot-on dialogue for all the characters, and plenty of interesting intrigue. It's hard to tell the new Lanterns apart in the beginning, but by the end, the Rannian, the Thanagarian, and the reluctant doctor Lantern all have memorable personalities (if not names), and I'm looking forward to learning more about them. Any title that's smart enough to make the distinction between Guy Gardner's rough persona and his actual heroics is good enough for me--Recharge is an excellent space epic that hits all the right notes that Rann-Thanagar War missed.

Rann-Thanagar War mini-review

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

With four Countdown to Infinite Crisis mini-series to choose from, one of them had to be a dud, and for me it was the Rann/Thanagar War. Now I know a lot of people liked this one, and I did admire the many fronts from which the story was told; ditto on the appearances of Hawkwoman, Komand'r, Vril Dox, Captain Comet, Tigorr, Starman, and others. But there was still far too much pseudo-science for my tastes--fancy words and theory that ultimately just translate to "hit the bad guy"--and far too much shoe-horning to make this story fit the end of Adam Strange: Planet Heist and the beginning of Infinite Crisis--the first issue is taken up almost entirely by trying to whittle out a reason that Thanagar would be at war with Rann; in the end, it's nearly impossible to tell who's attacking whom as the great Infinite Crisis rift opens up in space. But in all, I thought comics legend Dave Gibbons' writing held up well, and he did a good enough job with Adam Blake that I'm eager now to read Jim Starlin's upcoming Mystery in Space, as well as the Omega Men miniseries.

Hawkman: Rise of the Golden Eagle mini-review

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

[In order to catch up, Collected Editions will be running some mini-reviews for the next few titles. Same reviews ... just mini.]

In terms of the Hawkman series as a whole, from the end of Black Reign to the beginning of Rise of the Golden Eagle, the transition to the fourth Hawkman trade is fairly jarring. In terms of the Rise of the Golden Eagle story itself, I actually enjoyed it far more than I thought I would. I think I still have some preconcieved notions of the kind of comics that Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray right from back in Palmiotti's somewhat flip run on Superboy (which was actually pretty deceptively intelligent in its own right), and the blood-and-gore chew 'em up Punisher aspect of Hawkman is pretty much in the forefront here--but at the same time I couldn't help but appreciate that they used no less than seven pages at the end of the trade for a slow, satisfying epilogue. Though Golden Eagle's ultimate role in this story is very easy to guess, his motivations are not, and I loved how deeply rooted the whole story was in Hawkman lore (even if some parts of that lore still only make sense if you close both ears and one eye). Thankfully Joe Bennett's penchant to draw protruding nipples on all the women fades away early on, and though it's sometimes tough to tell exactly who's throwing what punch, the art remains consistantly and interesting throughout.

Review: Green Lantern: No Fear hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I had some trepidation starting to read Green Lantern: No Fear, as word on the street was that many had found the Green Lantern monthly series rudimentary after Green Lantern: Rebirth, and I still had my misgivings about Hal Jordan's ressurection anyway. Instead, as someone who was never that much of a Hal Jordan fan to begin with, I quickly came to understand the charm of the character. Geoff Johns delivers his trademark deeply layered work; not only do we get a heaping of rejuvinated villains, but also the beginning hints of a dark alien conspiracy, and a book that is at heart a story about Hal Jordan and the sacrifices he's made in his life for his own family.

Newly reborn, Hal Jordan both returns to Coast City, rejoining the Air Force. He discovers an experimental plane based on Manhunter technology, just as he's caught in the crossfire of a new Manhunter hunting an older version. His old enemy Hector Hammond tells Green Lantern of a race of aliens that experiment with human evolution, that have now returned to Earth; Hal is kidnapped by the aliens along with the Shark. Hal fights an alien-empowered Black Hand to save himself, the Shark, and Hammond from being used as Thanagarian weapons.

I read a little Green Lantern back around issue #25 of the third series, where Hal fought Guy Gardner to be Green Lantern of Earth; I thought I might keep reading it, but dropped it soon after. Hal was the leader of the Justice League Europe around that time, and while I remember some of the heroes were happy to see him, others thought Hal might be too stodgy and conservative. Even as Guy Gardner was played for laughs, I couldn't help but agree when Guy called Hal a "whiner." Certainly I liked the Green Lantern concept; when Kyle Rayner came along, I collected every issue. When Oliver Queen came back, and then Hal Jordan, I felt a certain amount of dismay; though I would grant that Connor Hawke's adventures had never really taken off like Ollie's, it seemed a step backward. I still feel that way, to an extent; even as I enjoy Judd Winick's writing on Green Arrow, it's necessarily the story of an old man, of someone past his prime remembering the good old days, and in ten years I'm not sure that'll make interesting reading. So I worried that a Hal Jordan title might be much the same, and that as soon as the newness faded we'd be looking at another "Emerald Twilight."

But by grounding Hal Jordan firmly on Earth--the Guardians want Hal to do nothing more than patrol his own sector with partner John Stewart--and stripping some of the mythology from the man--many of the new Green Lanterns don't even know who Hal Jordan is--Geoff Johns has created a Hal Jordan that feels new and accessible. I very much enjoy the dilemma Johns has created with Hal's new supporting cast, making Hal a solider in the Air Force where his morally-questionable general knows Hal's secret identity; and moreover, the social relevance of Hal's life in Coast City is spot-on. It's hard to say where the writing and planning of Green Lantern corresponded with Hurricane Katrina, but the parallels of Hal Jordan encouraging families to move back to a devestated city couldn't be more clear. Johns echoes themes between his protagonist and the hero's adopted city just as he did with the Flash and Keystone; the Green Lantern with no fear lives in a city learning to overcome its own. And Hal Jordan is whiny no more, with a certain James Bond kind of charm; I especially liked the scene where Hal, in a crashing jet, with no power in his ring and a Manhunter trying to kill him, turns to the reader and thinks, "Believe it or not, I still got a plan."

Of course, it wouldn't be a Geoff Johns series without formerly lame villains recreated into some of the scariest things you've ever seen. But where I really think Johns shows his mastery here is in his portrayal of Hector Hammond. Even more than Captain Cold in the Flash, we know from the get-go that Hammond is unquestionably evil, but when helping Green Lantern against their common enemy, Johns allows their enmity to blur; additionally, Hammond's new fan-like adoration of Hal is just so creepy it's funny. In this way, the villains become as interesting as the hero--the only exception being the Shark, whom I remember as having a pink-tinged head; this Shark looked almost exactly like Superboy's King Shark, and I wonder if someone else wasn't mixing up the two.

Suprisingly, I was less impressed with Green Lantern: Rebirth artist Ethan Van Sciver's rendition of Green Lantern here; the inks on his work (his own inking, I believe) seem too dark, with far more lines that necessary. Alternatively, Carlos Pacheco is an excellent fit for this book, drawing a fluid, youthful Green Lantern that matches the character's rejuvination. And the final chapter by artist Simone Bianchi feels jarringly out-of-place, though it does give the finale a good horror-movie feel.

I was impressed with the make-up of the Green Lantern: No Fear collected edition. As a hardcover, with very few chapter titles, the book reads even more as one story, instead of a collection of issues, than Green Lantern: Rebirth did. More than many others, the story feels like a graphic novel, buffeted by the way that Geoff Johns makes this a slowly unfolding story about Hal, his brothers, and his relationship with his mother, in addition to all the superheroics. In a way, there's a lot in No Fear that demonstrates the potential for collected editions to come; I give this one a pretty high recommendation.

[Contains full covers, a history of the Green Lantern Corp.]

Well, with this adventageous beginning to the outer space aspect of Infinite Crisis, I'm on now to Hawkman, before the Rann/Thanagar War. Moving right along!

Review: Villains United trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One more Countdown to Infinite Crisis miniseries down, and the quality has remained consistently high. Though there was little doubt that Gail Simone could write a enjoyable rip-roaring villain-filled adventure full of one-liners and snappy comebacks, Villains United is truly a lot of fun. It reads like Reservoir Dogs with capes -- most of the protagonists are just as ready to turn on each other at the slightest rumor of betrayal, as they are prepared to die as long as it's in a blaze of glory.

The story makes a good point -- that, if the villains are going to start "going good" or teaming up, the heroes need to be that much better -- though I'm still puzzling over some of the book's revelations, even after Infinite Crisis.

[Review contains spoilers for Villains United and Infinite Crisis]

Simone gives Geoff Johns a run for his money here in terms of resurrecting old and forgotten villains, and creating dynamic, powerful new ones. Simone makes Catman this year's breakout character, as he nearly shines on the page with brains and bravado -- it's no coincidence that, dressed in a shadowy black costume with pointed ears, Catman resembles a certain Dark Knight -- and the brilliance is that Catman's slovenly prior appearances remain firmly in continuity.

I felt tepid about a new character, Scandal, in the beginning, but the revelation that's she's Vandal Savage's daughter promises more interesting stories to come; not to mention, Simone gives Knockout, one of my old favorites, a great part to play. But more than that, Simone resurrects "Mike" the Parademon from the three-part Total Justice mini-series, written by Christopher Priest, that was really only meant to launch a Mattel toy line -- and here I thought I was the only person who read it. Simone obviously loves the characters about which she's writing, and it makes the story all that more fun.

At the end of the story, we learn that Mockingbird chose the various villains for the Secret Six based on their knowledge of the respective villains of Batman, the JSA, the Suicide Squad, the Teen Titans, the JSA and others (though not, oddly, the JLA). This has a lot of potential -- six unlikely villains hold the key between them to defeating all the heroes -- and I was disappointed once it was pointed out that it hadn't been used more. Though the Secret Six do their best to defeat their enemies (with more than a few suicide runs), I never saw any specialized knowledge of the villains shared between them -- perhaps that's something for the sequel.

There were a couple other times I felt a little lost while reading this story -- at one point, Catman's being torn apart by a villain, and then magically appears at the fallen Deadshot's side -- but in a way it just adds to the fascinating breakneck, mayhem pace of the story.

What I still can't puzzle out, however, is which Luthor is which? Most of us know by now that the Alexander Luthor of Earth-Three served as the Lex Luthor that lead the Secret Society, while our Earth's Lex Luthor, missing since Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, worked behind the scenes as Mockingbird. We tell them apart, as we see at the end of Villains United, because our Lex Luthor wears the green-and-purple battlesuit, while Alexander Luthor leads the Society.

The problem comes at the end of Teen Titans #20, where a Lex Luthor has paid various villains to retrieve his battlesuit, and then discusses the job with the Calculator; this Lex goes on to team with Brainiac in Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders. I think this is our Lex, in that he's been plaguing Superboy since the beginning of Teen Titans, and it's our Lex who created Superboy from his own genetic material -- making him Alexander Luthor just wouldn't have as much emotional depth.

At the same time, that conversation with the Calculator is very misleading, and then Luthor talks about a mysterious "partner"; I originally thought he meant Deathstroke or Superboy-Prime, but I see that it could just as easily be Brainiac. Insights?

[Contains full covers (including reprints), extensive prelude excerpts from other comics.]

Now I'm on to Green Lantern and Hawkman in preparation for Rann/Thanagar War. I took a quick look at that trade, and it's too bad it doesn't contain the same preview excerpts as the beginning of Villains United; this was an excellent addition to the Villains United trade, and DC's collection team gets a gold star for doing it. Stick around; more reviews to come!

Flash Retrospective (Flash: Rogue War review)

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

In 1992, a somewhat-unknown comic book editor named Mark Waid took on writing The Flash, and over the next eight years Waid would redefine the character as a DC flagship, crystalize the title as one to watch, and make his name as the writer who would go on to the acclaimed Kingdom Come and DC's 52. Following Waid's Flash run in 2000 came an--at that time--equally-unknown writer named Geoff Johns, whose Flash run would not only also propel him to the front lines of DC Comics, but also definte and re-define Wally West as the Flash. Whereas much of Waid's influence on the Flash mythos had to do with the Speed Force that gives all of DC's speedsters their powers, Johns focused instead on Wally West and Keystone City, giving both an inter-dependence that matched Batman and Gotham, or Superman and Metropolis. In fact, with Johns' work on Flash split between two artists, Scott Kolins and Howard Porter, it's even possible to look at John's time on Flash as two distinct runs: one where he set the groundwork for creating a new Flash, and one where we received a glimpse of what that new Flash could have been like.

From the beginning, one of Johns' main tenets of The Flash is that Wally West is the hero who is "just a man." At the beginning of The Secret of Barry Allen trade, Johns writes that while Superman "soars above," Batman "hides," and Wonder Woman "preaches" to everyone, Wally "runs alongside" everyone, at one point changing the alternator in a woman's stalled car as he passes. Keystone is portrayed as a blue-collar, automotive city, much like Detroit where Johns was born. Johns' first scene of Wally in the Blood Will Run trade has him enjoying a regular hockey game, and the major villain in that story is Cicada, a cult leader who sees the Flash as a god; Cicada's defeat influences Wally to return to living in Keystone City proper, "with the other regular people of Keystone." Indeed, Wally defeats the Thinker in Crossfire also by being "a regular guy" with human emotions. The super-intelligent Gorilla Grodd makes three major appearances in Johns' story, and Johns uses Grodd to examine the animal nature of humans; Wally claims in Blitz that he's not an animal, but his animal desire for vengeance against Grodd and, later, Zoom, remains a struggle. In this way, Johns not only portrays Wally as a man, but continues to examine the meaning of manhood and humanity.

One of the cornerstones of Johns' Flash--and an attribute that solidified Johns' reputation as an excellent character-writer on JSA and subsequent titles--was his revitilization of the Flash's Rogues. The first Rogue the reader meets in Blood Will Run is Captain Cold, not pulling off a heist, but enjoying the same hockey game as Wally. Their return to this hockey stadium in Ignition, and their friendship in that story when each has forgotten the other's super-identity, solidifies the idea that the Rogues are people, too, like Wally. In The Secret of Barry Allen, Wally notes that his origins are much like the Rogues, in that he and the Rogues (shown through a series of "Rogue Profiles" throughout the trades) each came from difficult childhoods, and each were gifted powers or abilities through accidental means--only Wally had Barry Allen to set him on a heroic path. In fact, it's toward the end of the last Flash trade, Rogue War, that Wally notes that he couldn't ever hate the Rogues nor Zoom, because he knows "what losing family can do." Additionally, many of the new Rogues that Johns creates have distinctly human (rather than wildly villainous origins)--Peek-A-Boo is a medical graduate student trying to save her father, while Fallout was a blue-collar mason caught in a nuclear accident--reinforcing Johns overall characterization of Keystone City.

In the first four of Johns' Flash trades, however (Blood Will Run, Rogues, Crossfire, and Blitz), the changes to give Wally a more "of the people" outlook are mostly "in theory"--that is, we're told by Johns that this is Wally's new personality, but the change is mostly incongruous with Wally's portrayal beforehand. After Ignition, this changes dramatically (as does the book's art style, from Kolins to Porter). By erasing the public's knowledge of the Flash's secret identity, Johns at the same time creates a new backstory for Wally; as Wally's wife, Linda Park, notes in The Secret of Barry Allen, her parents now believe Wally West is a college drop-out who became a mechanic for the Keystone police. And though this origin is technically a Spectre-created fake, it now creates a subtle change in the tone of Johns writing of Wally West. This is most notable in Wally's interactions with Wonder Woman; in the "Truth or Dare," storyline, he expresses frustration with Diana's holier-than-thou (or holier-than-regular-people) preaching, and makes the point that while, when the two fought a forest fire, Diana would rather allow property to burn rather than hurt the earth, Wally's concern is for people and their possessions first. One senses a political conservatism to the post-Ignition Flash that is actually very much in line with the Marv Wolfman New Teen Titans portrayal of the character, even as it makes this Wally distinct from the Wally at the beginning of Johns run.

With Wally's new post-Ignition outlook and origin, Johns goes on to demonstrate how the Flash is now the ultimate realization of his "people's hero" theme. In Blitz, shortly before Linda is attacked by Zoom, Wally worries whether he's responsible as a hero for creating the villains he fights; in The Secret of Barry Allen, however, after Wally's identity is no longer public, Nightwing recasts this, explaining that the Flash, like Batman, goes out of his way to make enemies in order to keep the villains focused on him, instead of the public. Wally decries the Flash Museum as a grotesque "temple," but once his identity is hidden, comes to understand that the Flash now represents not just Wally West, but symbolizes all the people of Keystone City. In Crossfire, the people of Keystone and Central Cities help Wally save the day, but with the Flash now anonymous, Johns suggests that anyone could now be the Flash--that any regular person might be the hero of Keystone.

There is a theme of class relations inherit in Johns' Flash stories; interestingly, Johns manages to have Wally switch class roles as he changes from the first Wally to the second. When the story begins, Wally is well-known as the Flash, and enjoys a celebrity status; after the knowledge of his identity is erased, however, Wally is referred to in The Secret of Barry Allen as "Mr. Park," the blue-collar husband of a TV news reporter. This further solidifies Wally as "of the people." In turn, he gets a new supporting cast, including his garage boss Wheeler and his daughter Reece. We also see this shift played out in the cultured police detective Morillo, who originally believes that Keystone is not for "regular" police before he's paired with the street cop Chyre. There's also the Mr. Element villain in Ignition, who goes on a killing spree in order to be the smartest man in a town that values vocation over education; additionally, in The Secret of Barry Allen Johns parallels the "high art" of the gaudy Flash museum, where Wally feels unconfortable, with the dank "low art" of Iron Heights, where the guards express their thankfulness for the Flash. In this way, Johns further defines the new Flash by clearly showing how he functions in society.

With all this, then, it is unfortunate that ultimately, the promise of the new Flash can never be fully realized. The Secret of Barry Allen and Rogue War, the two trades that feature the new Flash, are both taken up by sweeping, plotline-tying storylines, and also Identity Crisis and Infinite Crisis crossovers; by the time they end, and Johns would ostensibly return to "normal" stories with the new Flash, the series comes to a bittersweet end--though the Rogues seem set to leave Keystone, the new police trio of Chrye, Morillo, and Ashley Zolomon have a greater bond, making this both an end and a potential beginning. The new Wally West might have been the DC Universe's first truly blue-collar hero--not only in his mechanic job, but in his thoughts, opinions, and interactions with others, from his relationship with his supporting cast to his newfound friendship with the midwestern Superman and his tension with the god-like Wonder Woman. We enjoy the effort that Johns put in to creating the new Wally West, even as it seems strange never to fully see that Wally West in action; as the Flash legacy is synonymous with infinite dimensions, we're left with faint but promising glimpses of what might have been.

Nightwing: Mobbed Up review

Monday, December 18, 2006

Collected Editions has had some technical difficulties, but we should be back up and running now. Looking for lots of reviews coming soon!

For a superhero crime drama, a la Wanted, Nightwing: Mobbed Up is actually pretty good. The bad guys are both likable and crooked, the hero's moral dilemma is both clear and compelling, and writer Devin Grayson makes us care for the new, non-powered supporting cast with surprising quickness. Where the book has trouble is that it's not a terrible compelling Nightwing story; when one only has to look as far as the first volume of Batman: Under the Hood to see Batman and Nightwing getting along, it's difficult to take Nightwing's supposed resignation of his mantle seriously. Taken on it's own merits, however, Mobbed Up is interesting, if somewhat light, reading.

After a series of bad incidents, Dick Grayson has seemingly set aside his Nightwing identity and joined the Fertitta crime family in New York, in an attempt to learn who the new power will be in Bludhaven after Blockbuster's death. Dick ends up working for Black Mask, but his plans to infiltrate the new Secret Society are complicated when he finds that Deathstroke is involved--and Deathstroke knows Dick's identity. Meanwhile, the mob family that Dick's grown close to is raided by the police, and Dick is charged with finding their missing daughter.

Given that most of the characters in Mobbed Up are brand-new, and likely none will appear after One Year Later, Devin Grayson does a good job of making us care for them. Given the mobster undercurrent, the characters are often simultaneously normal and dangerously strange, like the father-figure who doesn't hesitate to pull a gun on one of his cohorts, or the young daughter with a stalker-esque crush on Dick Grayson. In this story, Devin Grayson uses the characters well to set the mood. At the same time, I sometimes found myself confused both as to who was who, and who worked for who--there aren't any biography pages here, and Devin Grayson takes little time to explain mob hierarchy, not to mention that most of the characters are balding, gray-haired men.

Late in the story, Nightwing encounters Robin, and it's a scene both well-written, and unfortunately whiny. It's a nice chance for Devin Grayson, through Dick, to reflect on the growth of the Tim Drake character over the more-than ten years since he came on the scene, and it also offers some continuity bits in the mentions of Bruce Wayne's potential adoption of Tim. From there, however, the narrative quickly devolves. As during War Games, Devin Grayson writes Dick with uncharacteristic self-pity and even more, a wallowing self-pity that I think most readers wouldn't connect with the Dick Grayson character; it's hard to feel for Dick in these moments, and again, it's even harder to take seriously Dick's claim that he's done with being Nightwing, when we know we'll find him in Infinite Crisis just around the corner.

Nightwing: Mobbed Up is greatly buffeted by the art of Phil Hester and Ande Parks (how Green Arrow misses thee!), which helps some of the slower parts of the story. There are a surprising amount of non-dialogued fight scenes in this trade, and they might seem a waste if not for Hester and Parks gorgeous choreographing. For a crime drama, again, Devin Grayson continues to prove herself an able storyteller--one gets the sense perhaps that she's too close to this particular character to really be objective with him. But if nothing else, Mobbed Up is a nice set-up for the super-villainy promised in part two, and not a terrible read if you can get it on the cheap.

[Contains full covers, biography pages, "What Came Before" section.]

I'm on to a Geoff Johns-Flash retrospective, toward Flash: Rogue War. From there, Villains United. More reviews soon!