Saturday morning cartoon thought ...

Sunday, September 30, 2007

What do the premieres of Legion of Super-Heroes and The Batman have in common?


This seems to me a good thing.

Friday Night Fights: One (Sucker) Punch!

Friday, September 28, 2007

For this new round of Friday Night Fights, what else could we start with than the ultimate sucker punch?

Guy Gardner was robbed!

And don't miss the puncher who's never a sucker ... the ever-lovin' Bahlactus!

Discount Alert: Superman: Doomsday (DVD) on Amazon for $0.99!

Quick note: Just saw on Amazon that the new Superman: Doomsday movie is $0.99 to download to your computer or Tivo this weekend. I was going to hold out for the DVD to show up at Blockbuster, but this seems too good to pass up.

Don't miss the Friday Night Fighting tonight!

Review: Gotham Central: The Quick and the Dead trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

We're continuing our Gotham Central marathon here at Collected Editions now with volume four, The Quick and the Dead. I enjoyed the single issue stories in this trade; the Gotham Central collections have mostly been of the major storylines, and it's nice to see a couple of the one-shots. The pacing in the first three stories is less frantic than some of the others, and allows for some great character moments, including Montoya's fist-fight with dirty cop Corrigan, and Commissioner Allen's confrontation with the Batman.

That said, allow me to nitpick a bit on some issues in The Quick and the Dead. Gotham Central is meant to be an ensemble book, and while Ed Brubaker's Gotham Central stories do a nice job of branching from Marcus Driver to the rest of the Gotham Central cast, Rucka's stories always come back to Montoya. Though I admire the work that Greg Rucka's done with Renee Montoya in Gotham Central, I can't help but feel that it works to the detriment of the series as a whole.

The difficulty of this is visible in a dramatic scene where Montoya and her partner Crispus Allen have to bargain with Dr. Alchemy to save another officer's life, allowing Alchemy to ask them personal questions. Alchemy's dialogue with Montoya, insulting her sexuality, are shown in the scene; Alchemy's questions to Allen, however, about how it feels to be a black copy on the predominantly white Gotham police force, are only excerpted when the officers watch a video of the interrogation later. Rucka's devotion to Montoya eclipses any chance of the same examination of Allen's character, dampening in my opinion the story's potential as a whole. This is not to denegrate Rucka's important work with Montoya, but rather to note what I think was a missed opportunity.

Additionally, while I enjoyed immensely the inclusion of Chyre, Morillo, and Ashley Zolomon from Geoff Johns' Flash run (characters that could probably have supported a Keystone Central title themselves), I didn't think they were used to their full extent. I appreciated the comparisons between the relatively low-key Keystone "kops" and their rapport with their Rogues versus the life-or-death horror that the Gotham police face and how it affects them, but the Keystone cast came off as surprisingly generic.

All the Keystone cast have personal reasons for why they fight crime--Zolomon, for one, is at this time dealing with the crimes her husband committed--but these reasons are never addressed. Morillo never even calls his wife, as is often played for laughs in Flash. For a writer with the power of Greg Rucka, playing with toys created by Geoff Johns, I expected far more from this story.

[Contains full covers, short cast biographies. Trade Paperback Slugfest: Gotham Central: Unresolved Targets still holds the record for my favorite Gotham Central trade. Volume three wins again!]

Make no mistake, Gotham Central raises the bar as to what comic books and graphic novels can do, and if anything this volume suffers only from not reaching the bar that the series itself set. Tune in coming up for a review of the final trade of Gotham Central and a look back at the series, where we celebrate all that it had to offer. Thanks for reading!

13 on 52: Week Fifteen

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 2.)

Thirteen words for Week Fifteen: Supernova's arrogance surprising. Fight destroys Superman statue; Metropolis is left without any heroes.

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Fifteen? Post them here!

Review: Gotham Central: Unresolved Targets trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Continuing now our series on the Gotham Central trade paperbacks with Gotham Central: Unresolved Targets. (Click for our review of Gotham Central: Half a Life from 2005.)

Three trades in, and so far Unresolved Targets is my favorite Gotham Central trade, and perhaps the truest representation of what Gotham Central is and can be. I enjoyed the first two trades, but as I mentioned in my review of Half a Life, the second seemed more a prolonged Batman story to me than one genuinely Gotham Central, and the first trade understandably takes so long with set-up that the drama never fully gets moving. In Unresolved Targets, however, Gotham Central really finds its stride.

The two stories in Unresolved Targets highlight the two best aspects of Gotham Central: in the first, "Soft Targets," as the Joker's rampage paralyzes the city, we see how the Gotham police are constantly caught in the battles between Batman and his crazed foes; the second, "Unresolved," is a classic police procedural with only the slightest of meta-human influence. Both stories are riveting for entirely different reasons, and at eight text-heavy issues, this trade is a bargain itself.

I read Batman: Face the Face before this trade, and having only read Batman: Officer Down without any of the resulting single issues, I knew that Harvey Bullock was implicated in a man's death, but didn't know the exact details. In Unresolved Targets, we find a Harvey Bullock who's sunk pretty low--a murderer, to be exact, even if only his former partner Renee Montoya knows it--and contrary to expectations, Harvey is not redeemed by the end. That Harvey reappears in Face the Face, absolved of his sins, makes this One Year Later change in the character all the more interesting; I'd very much want to read a miniseries that showed Bullock's redemption.

[Contains full covers. Trade Paperback Slugfest: Unresolved Targets' strong drama and characterization far outshines Supergirl: Candor. A new winner!]

More Gotham Central on the way!

What did Judd Winick do wrong?

Friday, September 21, 2007

I've been surprised by the anti-Judd Winick response to a recent Newsarama story about the upcoming Titans East series--many fans are adamant that Winick not be the writer (I think the writer's Kurt Busiek, but that's just me). We were starting to talk about this in the comments section of a Collected Editions post, and I thought, let me ask this aloud: what did Judd Winick do wrong?

Personally, I'm a fan of Winick's work. Pedro & Me (click for our review) is of course a classic, and his Batman and Green Arrow work has been just fine--not everyone agreed with the decision to bring back Jason Todd, but the writing of the stories themselves was imminently readable. Outsiders has been controversial for its adult language and themes, but really--Outsiders is supposed to be controversial, and though the title's had some slow points, it's also had some great points, too. And certainly if you compare Superman/Shazam: First Thunder (a great story; review coming soon) to Outsiders, it's apparent that Winick is a writer who can write a great range of stories, from mature to all-ages.

So I ask, and I hope you'll chime in, where does this backlash against Judd Winick come from? The response on Newsarama surprised me, and I'd like to understand it.

Review: Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty trade paperback (DC Comics)

[This review comes to us from Scott Cederlund of The Secret of Wednesday's Haul.]

I can't imagine it is easy being a cop in any city but imagine being a cop in a city where you have to deal with masked and costumed lunatics on a daily basis. Imagine a city where perps have names like Mr. Freeze and Firefly and where a nightmare like the Joker is a incredibly true and almost daily threat. Now imagine being a cop in that city and whenever you feel like you may have a true break on a case, another costumed lunatic like the Batman beats you and solves it before you can even get out of your car. Welcome to the Gotham City Police Department and, more specifically, the Major Crimes Unit (MCU). Welcome to Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka's Gotham Central.

With Gotham Central: In The Line of Duty's opening two part story, Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka immediately plunge the reader into a murder as two detectives, investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl, have the bad luck of finding Mr. Freeze instead. A simple case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time turns into a homicide as Freeze kills one of the cops and leaves the other with a frozen hand as a warning. The manhunt begins for the cop killer as both the day and night shifts of the MCU are called in and race to find Freeze on their own before the masked vigilante Batman does.

After living in Batman's shadow for years, the Gotham City police department gets the spotlight in this book. Brubaker and Rucka flesh out these supporting characters, dividing into the different shifts and different partnerships that exist within the MCU. Familiar detectives like Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen share the streets of Gotham with newcomers Nate Patton and Romy Chandler. Gotham Central is an odd mix of genres. It wants to be a true cop story but you can never get away from the influence of Batman. That influence is so strong that it even becomes a plot point as the cops do everything they can to eliminate the Batman-factor and close the case before he can get involved.

In the Line of Duty explores the fractured relationship between the police and Batman without mainly focusing on it. The first two pages lull you into thinking that this is going to be a standard cop book but Rucka and Brubaker turn that around when Freeze shows up and you realize that this is still Gotham and that there are still freaks. But by making it personal to the cops with the murder of one of their own, the stakes are raised for the MCU as they come to the realization that they've let Batman be the authority in Gotham for years rather than themselves. The citizens and cops of Gotham have come to depend and count on Batman to make everything right, good and safe but isn't that the cops job and duty? Aren't the cops supposed to be the ones defending the average person on the streets?

That tension between the cops and the masked vigilante runs through the second story, where Brubaker goes solo on the writing, as two detectives continue to investigate the missing girl that cost a detective his life. Batman's presence hangs over the entire story but he's barely seen. Was the girl killed by some boys for the batarang she found at her high school or did the homeless guy she befriended in the park finally snap and kill her? While detectives investigate her apparent murder, other cops chase Firefly over the rooftops of Gotham. Even as you read about something as grisly yet mundane as a murder, Brubaker doesn't let you forget that there are masked lunatics running around.

Michael Lark's artwork brings the stories to life through it's normality. These people aren't heroes. They don't have rippling muscles and gigantic breasts. With a few simple lines and brush strokes, Lark can make you believe in the rooftops that the police have to chase over (with A.C. units and fire escapes), or highway underpasses where murderers attempt to cover up their crimes, or even police morgues. Borrowing heavily from David Mazzuchelli, Lark grounds the series in a Gotham that we're familiar with from Batman: Year One without overtly making us remember the Miller/Mazzuchelli classic.

In the Line of Duty reprints the stories that began the forty issue run of Gotham Central and I don't know if the series ever got any better than this (and is barely ever got worse). By telling the stories of normal people who's lives exist and work under the shadow of the Batman, Brubaker and Rucka's story works on two levels, as a superhero story (because really, it's about Batman and how he influences everyone in Gotham) and it's a cop story (because really it's about the men and women of the Gotham City police department.) Yes, it's really both of those and more. Gotham Central is a look into the inner workings of a fictional universe; a look into what happens in the background of every crime scene that Batman's trampled on and every crime that's too minor to pull him out of the Batcave.

13 on 52: Week Fourteen

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 2.)

Thirteen words for Week Fourteen: Characters so in-depth, Adam casts shadow even absent. Magnus, Steel struggles touching.

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Fourteen? Post them here!

DC Comics December 2007 trade paperback and graphic novel solicitations

Monday, September 17, 2007

Get your DC Comics December 2007 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations a little early! Tune back in to Collected Editions later tonight for an update, including comments on all the listings! UPDATE: Comments in bold!

Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Scott McDaniel, Scott Kolins, Rick Burchett, Marcos Martin, Karl Story, Mark Pennington and others
Cover by McDaniel & Andy Owens

Don't miss this hard-hitting volume from award-winning writer Brian K. Vaughan (EX MACHINA, Y: THE LAST MAN, Lost), collecting Batman #588-590, Detective Comics #787, Wonder Woman #160-161 and Batman Gotham City Secret Files!
In the first of these tales of the DCU, Bruce Wayne adopts the guise of Matches Malone the seedy identity he uses to infiltrate the Gotham underworld. But when Matches is shot, it's up to Batman to determine what really happened and how Scarface is involved! Plus, in other stories, Batman takes on the Mad Hatter, and Wonder Woman and Donna Troy square off against Clayface!
Advance-solicited; on sale February 6 • 160 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Includes the three-part "Close Before Striking" with Matches Malone, a Man-Bat story, and a Wonder Woman story from between the Eric Luke and Phil Jimenez runs.

Written by Judd Winick and Greg Rucka
Art by Joe Bennett, Matthew Clark, Eddy Barrows and others
Cover by Clark & Art Thibert

Collecting the explosive crossover from Checkmate #13-15 and Outsiders #47-49! The DCU's top spies throw down with the DCU's most troublemaking hero team as Checkmate hunts the Outsiders!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 30 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

As mentioned in Collected Editions 2008 Trade Speculations, this follows the most recent Checkmate and Outsiders trades. Outsiders has just one more issue, #50, before the "Five of a Kind" storyline.

Written by Arnold Drake
Art and cover by Bruno Premiani

The World's Strangest Heroes return in this volume collecting THE DOOM PATROL #106-113 (Sep. 1966-Aug. 1967)!
Advance-solicited; on sale February 27 • 228 pg, FC, $49.99 US

Written by Brad Meltzer and Geoff Johns
Art by Ed Benes, Shane Davis, Dale Eaglasham, Jim Lee, Adam Kubert, George Pérez, and others
Cover by Michael Turner

Two of DC's most prominent super-teams join forces in this stunning hardcover volume collecting JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #0 and #8-12 and Justice Society of America #5-6! In the wake of "The Tornado's Path," the JLA has discovered the existence of several members of the Legion of Super-Heroes in the present. With the help of the JSA, Superman and his team must track down all seven Legionnaires to discover why these heroes of the future have traveled back in time!
Advance-solicited; on sale February 13 • 224 pg, FC, $24.99 US

Finishes Brad Meltzer's Justice League run, including a somewhat-awkwardly placed #0. Takes the Justice League header despite the JSA crossover.

Written by Peter Milligan
Art by Carlos D'Anda Cover by Howard Porter

Collecting the acclaimed story by Peter Milligan and Carlos D'Anda from JLA CLASSIFIED #37-41! Professor Ivo and Amazo have hatched an unusual experiment that just might mean the downfall of the Justice League — but could their experiment turn on them?
Meet the robot Amazo's only child: Kid Amazo!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 2 • 128 pg, FC, $12.99 US

Written by Gail Simone Cover by García-López
Art by José Luís García-López, Sean Phillips and Klaus Janson

Writer Gail Simone and legendary artist José Luís García-López send the JLA to an emerging nation torn by revolution in this volume collecting JLA CLASSIFIED #16-21! Who or what is the Hypothetical Woman that enables the dictatorial General Tuzik to create his own twisted League Against Justice?
Advance-solicited; on sale January 23 • 144 pg, FC, $12.99 US

Still uncollected are Steve Englehart's Detroit League story "A Game of Chance" (#22-25), Howard Chaykin's "Sacred Trust" (#26-31), Dan Slott and Dan Jurgen's "Fourth Parallel" with the Red King (#32-36), and Justin Gray's current "Ghosts of Mars" storyline.

Written by Tony Bedard, J. Torres, Judd Winick
and Dwayne McDuffie
Art by Paulo Siquiera, Tom Derenick, Mike McKone, Amanda Conner, and others
Cover by Ryan Sook

Celebrate the superhero wedding of the year with this amazing hardcover collection that includes BLACK CANARY #1-4, the JLA WEDDING SPECIAL, the BLACK CANARY WEDDING PLANNER and the GREEN ARROW/BLACK CANARY WEDDING SPECIAL! Before the nuptials can take place, The League of Assassins tracks Black Canary to Star City in an effort to liberate the child, Sin, they believe to be the DCU's next greatest assassin. Luckily, Black Canary has other plans for Sin's abilities and future! Then, the fun unfolds in the most unexpected way possible!
Advance-solicited; on sale February 20 • 208 pg, FC, $24.99 US

The Black Canary series was about $12, the Wedding Planner another $3, and the JLA and Wedding Specials $4 each. At $23 for the single issues, $25 for the hardcover isn't so bad!

Written by Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons
Art by Ethan Van Sciver, Ivan Reis,
Patrick Gleason and others
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver

The landmark story arc that shook the Green Lantern Corps to its foundations is collected in this hardcover volume featuring the best-selling Green Lantern 21-22, Green Lantern Corps 14-15, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1!
Sinestro's army of fear has gathered: Arkillo! Karu-Sil! The Cyborg-Superman! And hundreds more of the most terrifying villains the universe has ever seen!
Hal Jordan has overcome great fear throughout his life, but what fear still lingers inside him? Parallax knows, and Hal's about to be reminded as he leads Earth's Green Lanterns on a life-or-death rescue mission in the middle of this war. Meanwhile, the Guardians of the Universe find dissent within their ranks as a bizarre prophecy is fulfilled.
Advance-solicited; on sale February 20
160 pg, FC, $24.99 US

These are only the first five parts of an almost thirteen-part crossover, plus four specials--what are the chanes this is going to be three hardcovers before we're done?

Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Phil Jimenez, George Pérez, Jerry Ordway,
Ivan Reis, Andy Lanning and others
Cover by Jimenez

The 7-issue miniseries event that rocked the entire DC Universe in 2005-2006 a sequel to the epic CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS is now available in an amazing softcover collection!
OMAC robots are rampaging, magic is dying, villains are uniting, and a war is raging in space. And in the middle of it all, a critical moment has divided Earth's three greatest heroes: Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. It's the DCU's darkest day, and long-lost heroes from the past have returned to make things right in the universe at any cost. Heroes will live, heroes will die, and the DCU will never be the same again!
This exhaustive volume contains every cover and variant produced for the project, annotations, character designs, excerpts from scripts, unused scenes, and much more!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 16 • 264 pg, FC, $14.99 US

At $2.14 an issue, the people who waited for the paperback save themselves almost a buck per issue over the hardcover.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Lee Moder and Dan Davis

Collecting issues #0 and #9-14 of the series that launched superstar writer Geoff Johns's career! Don't miss these early adventures of Courtney Whitmore teaming as the Star Spangled Kid with her stepfather before she became Stargirl of the Justice Society!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 9 • 192 pg, FC, $17.99 US

Completes the Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. series.

Written by Geoff Johns
Art and cover by Lee Moder and Dan Davis

Reoffered to coincide with JSA PRESENTS: STARS AND S.T.R.I.P.E. VOL. 2, this volume collects issues #1-8 of the series that introduced Courtney Whitmore and launched the career of fan-favorite writer Geoff Johns!
On sale December 5 • 192 pg, FC, $17.99 US • Relist

Written by Marc Andreko
Art by Javier Pina, Fernando Blanco, Brad Walker and others
Cover by Arthur Adams

Collecting issues #24-30 of the acclaimed MANHUNTER series written by Marc Andreyko! Manhunter Kate Spencer takes on her biggest case yet with Wonder Woman as the client, but the stakes are higher than anyone knows! Is the Amazon princess guilty of murdering Max Lord?
Advance-solicited; on sale January 30 • 176 pg, FC, $17.99 US

Completes the current Manhunter series.

Written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza
Art by Walter Simonson, Carlos Pacheco and others
Cover by Al Barrionuevo

Collecting Superman #659 and #666 and Action Comics #848-849! The Man of Steel travels to hell and back in this collection of stories that touches on the supernatural side of Superman.
Advance-solicited; on sale January 2 • 112 pg, FC, $12.99 US

Written by Kurt Busiek
Art and cover by Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino

The epic storyline from fan-favorites Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco & Jesus Merino concludes in this volume collecting SUPERMAN #662-664 and #667-668! The Man of Steel defends Metropolis from harm, but now he faces a dilemma: Are his heroics only making things worse? It all leads to a brawl between Superman and Arion of Atlantis miles beneath the Atlantic! But can Superman's Kryptonian might stand up to the magic of a sorcerer? And what will the outcome of the battle mean for the fate of the world?
Advance-solicited; on sale February 27 • 128 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Between the above two Superman trades, most of the current Busiek run is collected except Superman #660, 661, and 665.

Written by Mark Evanier, John Byrne, Walter Simonson, Jeph Loeb and others
Art by Steve Rude, Byrne, Simonson, Frank Miller, Dave Gibbons, Arthur Adams, Erik Larsen and others
Cover by Walter Simonson

Don't miss this new volume featuring the greatest New Gods stories by a Who's Who of all-star creators! Recognized as one of Jack Kirby's greatest creations, the New Gods now play an integral role in the DC Universe. Rediscover the classic tales of young Scott Free, Darkseid, Orion and more in this softcover collecting stories from Mister Miracle Special, Jack Kirby's Fourth World #2-20, and Orion #3-4, #6-8, #10, #12, #15, #18-19! Plus, a never-before-published short story by writer Mark Millar with art by Steve Ditko & Mick Gray!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 23 • 168 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Written by Bill Willingham
Art by Steve Scott, Tom Derenick, Scott Hampton and others
Cover by Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher

Collecting issues #4 and #9-13 of writer Bill Willingham's SHADOWPACT! Thrill to a day in the life of Blue Devil, an encounter with Etrigan the Demon, the formation of a new team roster and more in this action-packed, magic-filled volume!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 2 • 144 pg, FC, $14.99 US

Written by Karl Kesel, John Ostrander, Chuck Dixon and Dan Jurgens
Art by Sean Chen, Klaus Janson, Matt Haley and others
Cover by Dan Jurgens & Kevin Conrad

Collecting more of DC's Tangent titles, presenting a group of
strange new heroes with very familiar names! This volume includes TANGENT COMICS: JOKER, NIGHTWING, BATMAN, SECRET SIX and DOOM PATROL.
Advance-solicited; on sale January 23 • 192 pg, FC, $19.99 US

Tangent Comics remaining to be collected include Wonder Woman, Trial of the Flash, Tales of the Green Lantern Corps, Superman, Power Girl, Nightwing: Nightforce, Joker's Wild, and JLA.

Written by Bob Haney and Dennis O'Neil
Art by Neal Adams, Nick Cardy, Jim Aparo and others
Cover by Jim Aparo

A second volume collecting the greatest Batman team-ups of the Silver Age, from THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #88-109!
Retro-solicited; on sale December 26 • 520 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

Written by Gardner Fox
Art by Mike Sekowsky, Carmine Infantino and others
Cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

A third gigantic black-and-white volume collecting 1960s adventures of the World's Greatest Super-Heroes, from
Retro-solicited; on sale December 12 • 528 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

Written by Jack Miller, Bob Haney and others
Art by Ramona Fradon, Nick Cardy, Howard Purcell
and others
Cover by Nick Cardy

More 1960s adventures of the master of the sea! This volume collects stories from Aquaman #7-23, World's Finest #130-133, #135, #137 and #139 and THE Brave and the Bold #51!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 23 • 528 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

Written by Gardner Fox, Bob Haney, Leo Dorfman and others
Art by Mike Sekowsky, Neal Adams, Gil Kane and others
Cover by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson

Don't miss this massive volume collecting stories from Batman #184, 192, 227, 229-231, 234-236, 239-242, 244-246, 248-250, 252, 254, Detective Comics #386, 390, 394-395, 398-403, 445, 447, 450-451, Jimmy Olsen #91 and 111, Justice League of America #50 and 91-92, Teen Titans #14, Brave and the Bold #83 and #100 and World's Finest #195 and #200!
Advance-solicited; on sale January 9 • 512 pg, B&W, $16.99 US

So what will you be buying?

Review: Batman: Turning Points trade paperback (DC Comics)

In studying the Batman mythos through Batman's relationship with Commissioner Gordon, Batman: Turning Points offers something of an unusual perspective on the Dark Knight. Through most of this book, Batman is actively seeking Jim Gordon's help, even offering to be his friend, a characterization far more in line with today's post-Infinite Crisis Batman than the Batman who was around when DC first published Turning Points. The series doesn't establish much in terms of new Batman continuity, but it's full of solid writing overall, backed up by art by Dick Giordano and Paul Pope, among others.

The writers here--Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and Chuck Dixon--have all written their share of hard-boiled Batman, and it's strange to have them writing Batman as such a nice guy. Indeed, the writers seem aware that they're putting to lie some of the most integral parts of the Batman legend; in the end, an little girl remarks that Batman is "not scary ... not scary at all" and Batman is amusedly forced to admit, "No, I guess not."

The implication is that by partnering with Jim Gordon, Batman can never truly be a "mysterious creature of the night," even when he tries to retreat after the death of Jason Todd. For those who don't mind seeing Batman crack a smile, this may be a welcome admission; my sense is that at the time this was presented as more a reason for removing Jim Gordon from the Batman titles than keeping him in.

Batman: Turning Points appears to make no bones about butting against established continuity; Jim Gordon's introduction to Dick Grayson, at the least, distinctly contradicts Robin: Year One and Batman: Dark Victory (the former potentially more canon than the later). The early appearance by Mr. Freeze is similarly hard to square with the character's most recent origins.

At the same time, for longtime Batman fans, the different eras presented here are a nice trip down Gotham Police memory lane; Batman: Year One's Branden makes an appearance, as does Petit, Montoya (partnered with both Harvey Bullock and Crispus Allen), and Michael Allen. I'm reading this trade before beginning to read the Gotham Central trades, and while Turning Point doesn't definitively set up those books, there is some carry-over.

For more weighty Batman, then, consider Grant Morrison's Batman and Son. For a nice, light, heart-warming Batman read, you could certainly do worse than Turning Points. (And when's Paul Pope going to do some in-continuity Batman work, I ask you!)

[Contains full covers. Trade Paperback Slugfest: Batman: Turning Points just doesn't have the heft to fend off Supergir: Candor. It's girl power one more time!]

This starts off a look at Gotham Central here at Collected Editions, as we go through the five trades, capped off with a Gotham Central retrospective. Come join us!

DC Comics' Countdown: Arena - trade paperback marketing ploy?

Friday, September 14, 2007

DC's recently opened their official Countdown: Arena website, where you (yes, you!) can vote which Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern from the Multiverse (well, three different Earths, at least), becomes the ultimate fighting champion part of Monarch's Countdown army (or so they tell me. Waiting for the trade and all that).

Cynical minds can't help but notice that if you click the Superman and Batman links, however, the DC website oh-so-helpfully offers you links to the relevant trade paperbacks where these characters appear. Not that there's anything wrong with that--more trade paperback sales are good for all of us--but I'm starting to wonder if this whole return-of-the-Multiverse thing isn't, in the end, a really good sales strategy.

Because now, all the characters that appeared in all those Elseworld stories hanging around the disperate DC collections now become NEW and RELEVANT (take Batman: Red Rain and the Tangent Universe, for instance), and that means the collectors have to have them. Sheer brilliance!

Yeah, I'm being a little facetious. But let's just see what other so-called "Tales of the Multiverse" reissues are coming around the corner ...

(Speaking of fighting, being Friday night and all, check out the super Tale of the Tape video rocking the casbah at Bahlactus right now!)

Review: 52, Volume 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The first collection of 52 works especially well as a trade paperback. In part because the weekly book offered only twenty pages instead of the standard twenty-two, the writers pack each chapter full of short scenes with plenty of information--sometimes, multiple plotlines are forwarded in separate panels on the same page. This makes an already sizable trade paperback feel even longer.

Though the authors knew they had fifty-two weeks with which to tell their story, there's no sense of decompression here, nor does any issue seem rushed. The pacing of the book only becomes uncomfortable, actually, in the rare points when it seems the authors tried to write against the book's type--an extended fight scene between Steel and his niece, for instance. Even here, however, the change in pacing functions to give the scene emotional resonance.

In using chracters with similar emotional conflicts, the writers give the disparate plotlines a cohesive feel. Renee Montoya has turned self destructive in the aftermath of her partner's death and her failure to take revenge, and the story opens with Ralph Dibney suicidal over the death of his wife, while Black Adam turns his anger over his family's death outward against the nations of the world. Steel struggles to be a true hero in a more dangerous world, while Booster practices heroics for his own personal gain. Booster's materialism, however, may hide true altruism, while Lex Luthor's professed altruism is certainly a cover for something darker. At the end of the book, Montoya leaves for Kahndaq, undoubtedly to meet Black Adam; I imagine the emotional similarities will generate interesting dynamics when all the characters, Seven Soldiers style, finally meet.

52 offers a very representative slice of what life is like on DC's post-Infinite Crisis "New Earth." The final issue offers a team-up of Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Metamorpho, and Zauriel, coming together to help out Elongated Man; earlier in the story, Steel joins Dr. Mid-Nite at a hospital set up specifically for meta-humans, and Alan Scott makes a military-like courtesy call to the wife of the missing Animal Man. I'm not sure we would have seen such camaraderie among the heroes just a few years ago.

These kinds of touches reinforce the tone of the DCU post-Identity and Infinite Crisis, where the heroes live in a rich community of other heroes, and face danger not unlike policemen and fire fighters. Though the tone, overall, may be unrealistically cooperative and optimistic, it's a welcome change from the "grim and gritty" years. In removing Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, 52 also shows the rich tapestry of the new DCU Universe, from the inclusion of lessed-used characters like Zauriel, Whisper a'Daire, and Intergang, to the apparent Xavier/Magneto friendship between the Metal Men's Dr. Will Magnus and the villain T. O. Morrow.

In lieu of the "History of the DC Universe" and other back-up features that originally ran with 52 the trade instead offers two page "Behind the Scenes" looks at each 52 chapter, usually commentary by one of the writers followed by a piece of script or an art breakdown. I enjoyed these very much and wouldn't mind seeing them in all trade paperbacks, though the stories here are richer because of 52's frenetic publishing pace.

What was especially interesting were the mistakes that the authors point out (Batwoman's unintended debut, the wrong Gotham Central officer drawn in), and that--in this day and age of trade paperback revisionism, as writers and artists use trade paperback to correct their mistakes--have been left in the trade (along with others that the writers don't mention, like Ralph Dibney's amazing disappearing, reappearing beard). Not only does this allow the trade reader to experience some of the pitfalls of a weekly series just as the weekly readers did, but it gives the whole thing the feel of watching a live episode of your favorite TV show.

52 Vol. 1 is an imminently readable trade paperback, and certainly worthy of all the hype that surrounded it. "Addictive," as the series has been called, is an apt description; I'll be looking forward to the release of volume 2.

13 on 52: Week Thirteen

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 1.)

Thirteen words for Week Thirteen: Fantastic team-up; love Zauriel's inclusion. (Grant much?) Crazy Ralph's not my favorite.

That completes 52 Volume 1! Coming up tomorrow, our full review of the 52 Volume 1 trade paperback, and then starting next week, 13 on 52, Volume 2!

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Thirteen? Post them here!

Collected Linkblogging and a scan request

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

In times of national memorial, remember the Red Cross always needs your donations.

A bit of collected linkblogging today:

* Superman/Batman writer Mark Verheiden has been kind enough to grace our blog with a link. Of our Enemies Among Us review, Verheiden writes "I could try to explain what I wanted to accomplish with the series, but [Collected Editions] gets the drift right off and says it better!" Thanks, Mark! Everyone go watch Battlestar Galactica.

* Tom Bondurant at Newsarama gave Collected Editions credit for our post on DC Comics' 30 Essential trade paperbacks. Tune in for plenty of fun being made at Dark Knight Strikes Back.

* Matt Blind at Comics Snob mentioned Collected Editions in his write-up of John Shableski's Graphic Novel panel at the Great American Bargain Book Show (we noted an article by Shableski back in July on graphic novels in libraries and bookstores). As Blind notes:
One of the first things John presented was the explosive growth in the market: from $43M in 2001 up to $330M in 2006. This comes not just from the increased sales of manga, but also the growth of graphic novel collections in libraries and renewed interest in graphic novels from the likes of DC and Marvel. Another trend is the increased sales of collected story arcs in the trade paperback format, as opposed to comic book fans buying individual issues. (The evidence here is anecdotal, so far, but has been noted in a couple of places, including wikipedia) There is also a growing movement in "comics literature" (that my term, not John's) particularly in the popular field of comic-autobiography (i.e. Maus, Persepolis, Fun Home, American Born Chinese, Mom's Cancer, American Splendor, Stuck Rubber Baby, et al.)
Blind's full article talks a bunch about the growth of the trade paperback industry; worth a read.

* Finally, Collected Editions could use a favor. We're working on a new template, and we'd love a scan from the Superman: Back in Action trade paperback: page 58, bottom panel, where the Acquisitioner is (naturally) talking about "collected editions." If you can provide a scan of that panel, please send an email to the address at right (don't send the image itself; we'll let you know if you should). Of course, credit will be given to the artist, Pete Woods, and we'll link to the scanner.

Thanks for reading!

Review: Supergirl: Candor trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 10, 2007

I heard a lot of complaints about the Supergirl series on the Internet, and certainly there's plenty of cheesecake to be criticized here. But in the able hands of Mark Verheiden, Greg Rucka, and Joe Kelly, I found that Supergirl: Candor really seemed to strive to be more than a "male fantasy" comic book--though there's plenty of that, too.

That Supergirl: Candor has too many cooks--three main writers (more, if you count the additional materials)--shows greatly. The whys and wherefores for how Supergirl and Power Girl got to Kandor are never fully explained, and their escape is just as fuzzy. It's as if Kelly, taking over from Rucka, decided to abandon the plotline two issues in. Neither does Verheiden's Superman/Batman tale really have much to do with the Kandor adventure; the crossover seems more to place Superman/Batman one year later or draw readers over to Supergirl than to actually advance the plot.

What redeems this is, if you turn off the most ardent filters of your brain, the story is just good. Verheiden's story makes no sense in modern continuity, but it touchingly fills in a Silver Age gap. Rucka and Kelly together offer two most welcome surprise villains; Kelly follows this with a mystery date for Supergirl that makes very little sense, but is fun to see all the same. The story ends with the burgeoning friendship of Supergirl and Wonder Girl over the shared loss of Superboy, and their sorrow is more moving than even that in Teen Titans; I actually started to tear up a little bit myself.

Supergirl: Candor is by no means perfect. The particularly gratuitous scene of a half-naked Supergirl getting a tattoo is shortly followed by entirely naked Supergirl confronting Power Girl from the shower, and later she actually kisses her cousin Kal-El. Joe Kelly, in the end, tries to equate Supergirl to a Lindsey Lohan-type Hollywood celebrity, growing up under the spotlight and bowing under others expectations. It's a parallel that's interesting but doesn't quite work, or at least likely won't appease most fans Silver Age expectations of the characters, though the first scene of Supergirl smoking in a bar is amusing if for nothing else than its audacity.

Taken for what it is, Supergirl: Candor is a trade with surprising heart, and hopefully sets a precedent for Supergirl's better future.

[Contains full covers, additional JLA, Superman, and Power Girl issues. Trade Paperback Slugfest: Supergirl: Candor made me tear up! Superman/Batman: Enemies Among Us was good, but Supergirl uproots it for number one.]

Friday Night Fights - Mongul Smash!

Friday, September 07, 2007

BWOOM, indeed!

After the fall comes ... the reign of the Bahlactus!

Review: Superman/Batman: Enemies Among Us collected hardcover (DC Comics)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Never before will you have seen something so completely out of continuity, and yet so thoroughly enjoyable, as Superman/Batman: The Enemies Among Us. I approached this fifth volume of Superman/Batman with much trepidation, as it's the first volume not to be penned by Jeph Loeb. Though writer Mark Verheiden's Superman seemed slow and overemotional (perhaps due to mandatory tie-ins to Infinite Crisis), his Superman/Batman story is a delightful (and intentional) throwback to the Silver Age, full of dozens of DC's most wacky and wild alien concepts. If you can throw your continuity censors out the door, Enemies Among Us is a worthwhile ride.

Superman and Batman are attacked by a shape-shifter that takes the shape of the Martian Manhunter, Titanto, and the Parasite, among others. When they're attacked by Green Lanterns, however, Superman begins to be controlled by an alien presence. Batman is recruited by Lex Luthor to work with Plastic Man, ultimately retrieving the Blackrock from the Fortress of Solitude. Superman regains control in time to free Batman from the Blackrock and save the world from an old alien enemy.

Enemies Among Us is deceptively a Superman/Batman story. The story is narrated by Alfred, giving it already a greater Batman bend, and indeed a great part of the beginning of the story deals with Batman considering how to save Superman; given Plastic Man and Hal Jordan's roles, this could almost be a JLA story. In the second half, however, Verheiden offers the twist of Superman having to save Batman from his own plan, and the end brings together the two heroes fighting together. If Superman/Batman: Supergirl skewed a little Superman-heavy, Enemies Among Us is a fair response.

Throughout Enemies Among Us, Verheiden plays fast and loose with DC Comics continuity. Characters recall meetings that never happened, or only happened pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, like Superman fighting a Kryptonite-infused Titano; the Golden Age Lois Lane even, inexplicably, makes an appearance. There are modern notes -- the Toyman who's been recently featured in Superman/Batman gets a mention, and Martian Manhunter appears in his new costume -- but even these don't always work, as Lex Luthor seems devoutly pre-Infinite Crisis, and the idea that Batman needs to revitalize his friendship with Superman comes one crossover too late. Verheiden offers a nice afterword that suggests many of these things were intentional; if you're ready to accept that the Wonder-Woman-in-the-League Silver Age now indeed happened in modern DCU continuity, Enemies Among Us uses that concept well.

Jeph Loeb defined the Superman/Batman title with summer blockbuster, widescreen action, full of DCU cameos and esoteric World's Finest concepts like the Composite Superman/Batman. Verheiden upholds this, and the final alien invasion scenes are a Who's Who treat. I'm glad to see Verheiden's got one more Superman/Batman storyline after this one, and I'll be looking forward to it.

[Contains full covers, introduction, and afterword by Mark Verheiden. Trade Paperback Slugfest: Enemies Among Us is a great story, and beats Superman: Camelot Falls quite handily. Highly recommended!]

By the way, see writer Mark Verheiden's blog here. Stay tuned for more!

13 on 52: Week Twelve

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

(Inspired by 52 on 52, 52 Pickup, and others, Collected Editions offers a weekly thirteen words on each of the thirteen issues collected in 52 Vol. 1.)

Thirteen words for Week Twelve: Billy looks like Joker. Seems a time discrepancy here--when was Renee fired?

Got your own thirteen words on 52: Week Twelve? Post them here!

Gotham Central review request!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

If you would be interested in writing a review of Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty, please send an email to the address at right. We're covered for the other volumes, but we're looking for someone to share their thoughts on the first volume. No need to write the review yet; just email to let us know you want to write it. Thanks!

Review: Martian Manhunter: The Others Among Us trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 03, 2007

A.J. Lieberman and Al Barrionuevo did great work on Batman: Gotham Knights, and the atmosphere of that title carries over to Martian Manhunter: The Others Among Us. J'onn J'onzz's isolation is portrayed using the same kind of anti-hero sensibilities they applied to Hush and Prometheus; there's a fun conspiratory spy-versus-spy feel to this story. Lieberman does a nice job using a number of elements from J'onn's individual series and JLA storylines, making this story a continuation of the Martian Manhunter saga. The danger is only that for some readers, elements here may be so familiar as to seem ultimately predictable.

I think writers oftentimes struggle with what exactly a "manhunter" is, and how to make J'onn J'onzz more than just a green Superman. Lieberman portrays J'onn here as the ultimate loner, still not completely embraced after years on earth because of his green skin; it's an obvious metaphor for issues of human difference, and it's a compelling interpretation of the character. Lieberman also introduces a healthy dose of government paranoia, in line with current DC Universe trends that we also see in The Battle for Bludhaven and Superman: Back in Action.

As for "manhunting," much of the trade deals with J'onn out psychicly searching for clues to his latest predicament, and the rogue spy role is a good one for J'onn. The Others Among Us is certainly built to launch Martian Manhunter into a new monthly series; I'm not convinced the character could support it, but I'm open to another miniseries by this team.

Lieberman's story, however, remains constrained by the basic tenets of the Martian Manhunter's origins; that is, the last survivor of the planet Mars surviving on the planet Earth. Any attempt to change those facts would pretty much ruin the character, so from the beginning the survivors of Mars that J'onn finds seem destined to either die or turn on him. The answer harks back to a fairly well-mined JLA well-spring; but though the surprise is not all that surprising, I did like Lieberman's final "peace between the races" resolution.

It was frustrating that The Others Among Us contains really no concrete explanation for the story's events in end; if anything, I'd be very happy to see The Others Among Us ultimately have ties to the origins of Miss Martian over in Teen Titans. I also wasn't convinced that Lieberman had the characterization quite right of the established DC characters that appear here (Alfred and Vixen, among others), though his J'onn J'onzz felt spot on.

[Contains full covers. Trade Paperback Slugfest: This is a hard one! I give it to Martian Manhunter just by a nose, in that Lieberman does a lot with one of DC's lesser spotlighted characters, and not in a crossover like Captain Atom: Armageddon. The Others Among Us is on rocky ground, though, and I wouldn't be surprised if another trade upsets it soon.]

More reviews on the way. Thanks for reading!