Review: JSA All-Stars: Constellations trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I have not read what is probably writer Matt Sturges seminal work, Jack of Fables, or his equally popular House of Mystery. I've encountered Sturges's writing just a few times, most notably on the heels of Bill Willingham on Shadowpact, but those few times I've enjoyed myself (Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! being a single exception). So it was, following up on some continuity notes, watching the last hurrah of some favorite characters, and also in a conscious attempt to read more of Sturges's work, I came to JSA All-Stars: Constellations.

The second opportunity afforded to me by Constellations was to study Freddie Williams's artwork further. I liked Williams's art on Robin, but was less satisfied with the more cartoony aspects in the aforementioned Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! (Sturges and Williams re-teaming on JSA All-Stars was one reason I was slow to pick up this book, until interest in a variety of characters brought me in). Since Run!, I have struggled to enjoy Williams's art again -- "Why should I like it?" I ask, and DC Comics replies, "He draws it all digital!" "Yes," I repeat, "but why should I like it?" "It's digital!" OK, I think; maybe there's something to that.

With an open mind but some trepidation, I ventured in to JSA All-Stars.

Review: Hulk Vol. 2: Red and Green hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Monday, December 26, 2011

[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King]

Continuing my romp through Jeph Loeb's Hulk collections, I found the second volume, Red and Green, to be somewhat less entertaining than Red Hulk but still with enough to enjoy in this fairly brief (three issues) installment of the ongoing saga of the Red Hulk.

In Red and Green, Hulk fans get two doses of gamma-ray action in two separate stories which originally ran as co-features but are presented here as united halves of this volume. The first, "What Happens in Vegas," is essentially the "Green" half of the book, in which Bruce Banner roadtrips to Las Vegas in search of the cannibal werewolf Wendigo creatures. Vegas unleashes Gray Hulk "Joe Fixit" as Batman Moon Knight, Ms. Marvel, and others join in.

Sunday Talkback for 12-25-11

Sunday, December 25, 2011

If you're spending a little time in front of the computer this holiday, or if holidaying isn't your thing, we've got a Collected Editions open thread for your chatting enjoyment.

Suggested topic? Tell us about all the loot you got today, or this past week, or heck, any time you got a gift -- or talk about anything at all. It's a Sunday Talkback post -- go at it!

Review: Hulk, Vol. 1: Red Hulk hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King]

In the midst of a universe-wide reboot over at the Distinguished Competition, I wanted to check in with Marvel and see if I ought to jump on board any of their titles, too (as if I'm not not already spending too much on comics every week). I won't deny that the advent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has led me to dive into Marvel comics, and the appearance of a few creators I recognize from my life with DC made Red Hulk seem as good a place as any to begin.

There are only two things you need to know about the first volume of Jeph Loeb's collaboration with Ed McGuinness on Hulk: there's a new Red Hulk in town, and he's about to fight with as many Marvel characters as he can in the six issues collected in Red Hulk. After Abomination is murdered, apparently by a gun-toting Incredible Hulk, General Thunderbolt Ross and Leonard "Doc" Samson discover that Bruce Banner hasn't escaped captivity since his rampage in World War Hulk.

Review: Justice Society of America: Supertown trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, December 19, 2011

In its last two volumes before the DC New 52 relaunch, Justice Society of America gets a new writer, Marc Guggenheim, and a new direction -- the signs of a series popular enough that fans have clamored for its inclusion in DC's new line, but not so steady as to have warranted a number of recent creative changes. Justice Society: Supertown is still a little rough around the edges, not exactly at the level where one might hope this book would be, but the finale is quite interesting and definitely left me eager for the next volume.

[Contains spoilers]

Just as Bill Willingham's Justice Society: Axis of Evil was largely a Mr. Terrific story guest-starring the Justice Society, Guggenheim's is really a Golden Age Flash story (Guggenheim also wrote, to much acclaim, the best issues of the otherwise abysmal Flash: The Fastest Man Alive), the story finds Flash Jay Garrick announcing his retirement (fitting, on the eve of the New DC Universe); by the end, however, he gains new purpose as the savior and incoming mayor of new DC locale Monument Point. Jay's journey from irrelevancy to ultimately setting an example of "responsible heroism," plus the upcoming political drama that the ending portends, are all quite engaging and speak good things for the book.

List of the Final Pre-Flashpoint DC Universe Trade Collections

Friday, December 16, 2011

Shortly after DC Comics announced their New 52 relaunch initiative, we published "Trade Waiting at the End of the Universe", a speculative list of what the last trade paperback collections would be of the DC Universe series before they restarted with new #1 issues.

Six months later, not only do we know how the New 52 will be collected, we also know how DC plans to collect (or not collect) all the final issues of their previous series, with more "complete" series than I expected. Bookmark this list and please share it with the following URL -- -- and I'll update this if DC's collection plans change. Here's the list:

Action Comics (Superman: Reign of Doomsday)

Reign of Doomsday collects all the final Action Comics issues. The Return of Doomsday trade collects all the issues leading up to Reign of Doomsday, including Steel #1.

Adventure Comics (Legion of Super-Heroes: When Evil Calls)

When Evil Calls collects the final issues of Adventure Comics and Legion of Super-Heroes before the relaunch.

Batgirl (Batgirl: The Lesson)

Batgirl: The Lesson collects all the final issues of that series, #15-24. All Batgirl issues are collected.

Batman (Batman: Eye of the Beholder)

Batman: Eye of the Beholder collects through issue #712 of Batman (skipping issues that will be collected in the Batman: Gotham Shall Be Judged crossover trade), and ends without collecting Batman #713, a closing tribute issue (not well-regarded) by Fabian Nicieza.

Batman and Robin (Batman and Robin: Dark Knight, White Knight)

Batman and Robin: Dark Knight, White Knight collects the stories by Peter Tomasi and Judd Winick that follow Grant Morrison's run, but not the book's final fill-in issue by David Hine, #26.

Batman Beyond (Batman Beyond: Industrial Revolution)

Batman Beyond: Industrial Revolution collects all eight issues of the Batman Beyond series, though not the Superman Beyond special (maybe there's hope it'll be collected with the new Batman Beyond/Justice League Beyond series. We give this one a tentative "complete."

Batman Inc. (Batman Inc. Vol. 1 Deluxe)

DC will collect all eight issues of the initial Batman Inc. series plus the Leviathan Strikes special (containing the originally-solicited issues #9 and #10) in 2012.

Batman: The Dark Knight (Batman: The Dark Knight: Golden Dawn Deluxe

DC is collecting the entire original Batman: The Dark Knight series along with other samples of David Finch's artwork.

Batman: Streets of Gotham (Batman: Streets of Gotham: House of Hush

Collects the final issues of Streets of Gotham short of one fill-in issue, #15. We'll call this one "complete."

Birds of Prey (Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle)

Birds of Prey: The Death of Oracle collects all the final issues of Birds of Prey, both Gail Simone's last issues and the fill-in issues by Marc Andreyko.

Booster Gold (Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Superman)

Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Superman collects Booster Gold #44-47, a Flashpoint tie-in by Dan Jurgens. These are the last issues of the series, though not collected between the Booster Gold: Past Imperfect collection and the finale are Booster Gold #39-43. That's enough to make this "incomplete."

Detective Comics (Batman: The Black Mirror)

The sleeper hit collection Batman: The Black Mirror collects all the final Detective Comics issues, picking up with the issues just after Batman: Imposters through to the end.

Doom Patrol (Doom Patrol: Fire Away)

DC cancelled Doom Patrol: Fire Away, leaving the end of Keith Giffen's Doom Patrol series uncollected.

Flash (Flash: The Road to Flashpoint)

As mentioned before, Flash: Road to Flashpoint collects Flash #8-12, ending just before the reboot.

Freedom Fighters

As mentioned before, this title was never collected. Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti now write the miniseries The Ray, a character of the same name but unrelated to the Freedom Fighters character; remains to be seen if that will be collected.

Gotham City Sirens (Gotham City Sirens: Division)

Gotham City Sirens: Division is currently scheduled to collect all the final issues of this title, through #26.

Green Arrow (Green Arrow: Salvation)

This collection, which ties directly into the end of Brightest Day, collects the final issues of Green Arrow, completing writer J. T. Krul's run. (Side note: no collections so far that include Brightest Day: Aftermath, I notice.)

Green Lantern (Green Lantern: War of the Green Lanterns)

War of the Green Lanterns collects the final issues of the Green Lantern series.

Green Lantern Corps, Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors (War of the Green Lanterns Aftermath)

The War Aftermath collection includes both the final issues of Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors.

JSA All-Stars (JSA All-Stars: The Puzzle Men)

DC cancelled JSA All-Stars: Puzzle Men, leaving the end of this series uncollected.

Jonah Hex (Jonah Hex: Bury Me in Hell)

Thanks to commenter Michael; the full Jonah Hex series has been completed. Becomes All-Star Western in the DC New 52.

Justice League of America (Justice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso)

Rise of Eclipso collects the final issues of James Robinson's Justice League run, plus a previously uncollected issue of Justice Society written by Robinson.

Justice Society of America (Justice Society of America: Monument Point)

Monument Point collects the final issues of this Justice Society series. With this (plus one issue collected in Justice League: Rise of Eclipso) all issues of this series have been collected.

Legion of Super-Heroes (Legion of Super-Heroes: When Evil Calls)

As mentioned above, When Evil Calls collects the final issues of Adventure Comics and Legion of Super-Heroes before the relaunch.

Outsiders (Outsiders: The Great Divide)

Outsiders: The Great Divide collects all the final issues of the series, through issue #40.

Power Girl (Power Girl: Old Friends)

Power Girl: Old Friends is solicited to collect all the final issues of the series.

REBELS (REBELS: Starstruck)

DC cancelled REBELS: Starstruck, leaving the end of this series uncollcted.

Red Robin (Red Robin:Seven Days of Death)

This collection includes the final issues of Red Robin; every issue of this series has been collected.

Secret Six (Secret Six: The Darkest House)

Darkest House collects the final issues of this series; all are collected.

Superboy (Superboy: Smallville Attacks)

DC modified the original contents of Superboy: Smallville Attacks to include all eleven issues of this series.

Supergirl (Supergirl: Good Looking Corpse)

DC cancelled the Supergirl: Good Looking Corpse trade that would have collected the Supergirl series's final issues. Supergirl: Bizarrogirl ends at issue #59; at least they got all of Sterling Gates's stories.

Superman (Superman: Grounded Vol. 2)

The second volume of Grounded collects the final issues of Superman, aside from one fill-in issue. We'll call this "complete."

Superman/Batman (Superman/Batman: Sorcerer Kings)

Sorcerer Kings collects Cullen Bunn's story of the same name, Joe Kelly's single Final Crisis-related issue, and Chris Roberson's DC One Million story "World's Finest" from issues #79-80. It stops short, however, of Joshua Hale's story "The Secret" that ended Superman/Batman, issues #85-87.

Teen Titans (Teen Titans: Prime of Life)

This trade collects Teen Titans up to issue #100, completing the series.

THUNDER Agents (THUNDER Agents Vol. 1)

DC has solicited a collection of Nick Spencer's THUNDER Agents that collects the entire ten issues of the pre-relaunch series.

Titans (Titans: Broken Promises)
Complete Incomplete

Broken Promises collects to the end of Eric Wallace's Titans run, plus the Titans annual. Broken Promises has been subsequently cancelled by DC, leaving the end of Eric Wallace's Titans run uncollected. The final trade of Titans is now Family Reunion.

Weird Worlds (Weird Worlds)

DC cancelled the collection of this series, despite that they're publishing a sequel miniseries.

Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman: Odyssey Vol. 2)

The second volume of Odyssey collects the final issues of this series.

Xombi (Xombi)

The Xombi collection is scheduled to include all six issues of the pre-relaunch series.

Zatanna (Zatanna: Shades of the Past)

Zatanna: Shades of the Past collects through issue #16, completing this series.

Review: Flashpoint hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The DC Universe has restarted before, with a bang. With Flashpoint, the DC Universe begins again not with a whimper, but with a whisper. Flashpoint places an astounding focus on interaction rather than action; it is perhaps the most accessible of all the great DC Comics events, one that may disappoint long-time fans even as it has the best chance of standing the test of time for new ones.

[Contains spoilers]

By the end of the first issue of writer Geoff Johns's Infinite Crisis, we'd already seen Bizarro beat the Human Bomb to death; the number of deaths and decapitations would only rise before the story ended. The body count rose equally quickly in Johns's Blackest Night. Each of these stories were two-to-three issues longer than Flashpoint, and yet I believe those books had really started by the second issue (the Indio Tribe whisking away Green Lantern in Blackest Night, for instance). In contrast, Flash Barry Allen is powerless until the third issue of Flashpoint and spends most of those three issues in the Batcave talking to Batman -- almost half the miniseries -- and ultimately only engages in one or two action sequences in the entire book.

That's not wrong, necessarily, but to be sure it singles out Flashpoint as something else -- a different kind of event miniseries than Geoff Johns has delivered before.

Review: Flash: The Road to Flashpoint hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If it's possible for a book to be exceptional and significantly disappointing at the same time, Flash: The Road to Flashpoint is that book. The story is action-packed and emotionally complex, and beautiful, to boot; however, it fails as the next volume in the Flash series, if not also as a lead in to the Flashpoint crossover. Knowledgeable readers won't find what they're looking for here, and the casual reader is likely to be confused.

[Contains spoilers]

A word, first, about the art of Francis Manapul. His airy pencils will always be synonymous for me with his depiction of rural Smallville in Superboy: Boy of Steel, such that his Central City also seems old-fashioned, more 1950 than 2011, despite the prevalence of cell phones in this book. Despite this, Manapul's lines are clean; his action sequences exceptionally clear; and the women that he draws in the book, specifically, are all pretty without sexual gratuity. (Scott Kolins does an equally good job mimicking Manapul in his fill-in sequences, with neither artist inking over their pencils).

Infinite Crisis Omnibus, New 52, Knightquest in DC Comics 2012 solicitations

Monday, December 12, 2011

Just a few weeks ago, we learned the full schedule for DC Comics's release of the first collections of their New 52 titles. Today, those collections are available for pre-order -- but that's not the biggest headline in DC's new solicitations.

It's hardcover. It's reportedly 1,152 pages. It retails, before discounts, for $150. It's the long-awaited Infinite Crisis Omnibus.

* Infinite Crisis Omnibus

When DC announced the equally-massive, equally-expensive DC Comics: The New 52 collection of all 52 of their new first issues, I for one wondered if it would have any takers. Obviously it did well, though, because here comes another, almost of the same size and at the same price -- the Infinite Crisis Omnibus.

I applaud DC for this. As opposed to the DC: New 52 hardcover, which I thought would be a funny reading experience, this overstuffed omnibus is an opportunity to collect Infinite Crisis right. If you consider the book has space for almost 52 issues to work with, that would mean they could include Countdown to Infinite Crisis, the four lead-in miniseries (Omac Project, Day of Vengeance, Rann-Thanagar War, and Villains United), each miniseries' respective special, Superman: Sacrifice, JLA: Crisis of Conscience, and the seven-issue Infinite Crisis. That would be an epic, epic reading experience, and a great collection for anyone reading Infinite Crisis for the first time.

This also explains why DC might have collected Final Crisis in an Absolute edition, given that the most relevant parts only consist of five to ten issues or less, whereas Infinite Crisis is a much more sprawling story.

(Now, the fact that DC is collecting this story in this manner even though it's absolutely, entirely out-of-continuity ... well, we'll talk about that below.)

* Superman - Action Comics Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel
* Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt
* Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection
* Batman and Robin Vol. 1: Born to Kill
* Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
* Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Faces of Death
* Batman: The Dark Knight Vol. 1: Knight Terrors
* Batwing Vol. 1: The Lost Kingdom
* Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology
* Catwoman Vol. 1: The Game
* Deathstroke Vol. 1: Legacy
* Demon Knights Vol. 1: Seven Against the Dark
* Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Vol. 1: War of the Monsters
* Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Midas Touch
* Green Lantern Vol. 1: Sinestro
* Grifter Vol. 1: Most Wanted
* Hawk and Dove Vol. 1: First Strikes
* Justice League International Vol.1: The Signal Masters
* Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1: Hostile World
* Men of War Vol. 1: Uneasy Company
* Mister Terrific Vol. 1: Mind Games
* O.M.A.C. Vol. 1: Omactivate!
* Red Lanterns Vol. 1: Blood and Rage
* Resurrection Man Vol. 1: Dead Again
* Stormwatch Vol. 1: The Dark Side
* Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Kicked in the Teeth
* Superboy Vol. 1: Incubation
* Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones
* Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood

As you know, DC announced their collection plans for the New 52 books a few weeks ago, but now they're coming available for order. What caught my eye here is that the books, every one of them, appear to have subtitles attached, which they did not in DC's original notice.

Granted I have not read Judd Winick's Catwoman yet, and want to try to give it as fair a shot as possible, but the cynical among us will appreciate these two blurbs that DC included on the promotional cover for the new Catwoman collection:

"Judd Winick is bringing Catwoman back to basics starting in September." -- MTV Geek

"One of the men leading the charge for this new era of DC is writer Judd Winick." -- Complex Magazine

From the "you say it best when you say nothing at all" department.

* Challengers of the Unknown Omnibus by Jack Kirby
* Showcase Presents Rip Hunter, Time Master Vol. 1
* Showcase Presents Showcase Vol. 1

With Challengers making headlines again, under Dan DiDio's pen no less, a Challengers hardcover in the Jack Kirby Omnibus style seems a safe bet. I'm glad to see Rip Hunter getting a nod with a Showcase Presents collection, despite that the character doesn't seem to exist in the New 52 (or does he?). And it's probably too much for me to hope that Showcase Presents Showcase is a collection of the Showcase '93 through Showcase '96 series; instead it's probably the 1950s book.

* Batman: Knightfall Vol. 2: Knightquest
* Batman: No Man's Land Vol. 3

That this first collection is called "Knightquest" specifically means that it collects the previously uncollected second "act" of the "Knightfall" storyline, right? If so, that's another one that fans have awaited for a while, and I'm glad to see it. I skimmed the first new No Man's Land collection in a comics shop the other day, and it's just astounding to see Azrael issues in there; here's the third volume right on track.

* Infinity Inc.: The Generations Saga Vol. 2
* Secret Society of Super-Villains Vol. 2
* Wonder Woman: The Twelve Labors

The first Secret Society of Super-Villains collection was supposed to contain the team's entire publication history, including the Secret Society series, Justice League, and Cancelled Comics Cavalcade appearances, but only actually contained the first ten issue of the series and a couple of other appearances. Probably this second volume collects the rest and ends it there.

Quite glad to see Infinity, Inc. getting a second volume; this was one of my personal most-wished-for trades and I'm pleased to own it, but the titular "Generations Saga" actually goes to issue #10 (the first trade collected to issue #4); I'm glad DC won't leave this "incomplete."

Glad to see Wonder Woman getting some collection attention here. "Twelve Labors" is the 1970s storyline that followed Wonder Woman's mod Diana Prince look, returning her to her earlier appearance -- an interesting analogue to today, where Wonder Woman has recently been Diana Price again but no longer seems to be in the New 52.

* Hitman Vol. 7: Closing Time
* JLA Vol. 2
* T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Vol. 2

I was under the impression DC has stopped collecting Hitman, but browsing my local comics shop shelves, I believe its the case the one volume was cancelled and resolicited, and these collections continue as planned. Closing Time ought be the last volume.

There was some controversy over the last paperback deluxe JLA reprint, in that it contained additional issues not collected in the similar JLA hardcover. Remains to be seen if the same will be true here.

I remarked the other day how much DC seems to be behind THUNDER Agents, despite that the book seems to be struggling to find an audience. A recent reprint collection of old THUNDER Agents issues was cancelled; here, however, DC is advance soliciting a collection of the current THUNDER Agents miniseries.

* Batman: Prey
* Green Lantern/Green Arrow
* Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore
* World's Finest

A couple of reprints I can't figure out here -- Batman: Prey by Doug Moench; Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore both by Dennis O'Neil; and World's Finest by Dave Gibbons and Steve Rude. The last, especially, is one of my all-time favorites, but were any of these so topical or in-demand as to warrant reprints.

* Brightest Day Vol. 2
* Batman: Bruce Wayne - The Road Home
* Batman: The Streets of Gotham - The House of Hush
* Birds of Prey Vol. 1: Endrun
* First Wave
* Green Lantern: Brightest Day
* Gotham City Sirens: Strange Fruit
* Legion Lost
* Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Odyssey

And then these really had me scratching my head -- paperback collections of a number of series severely out of continuity at this point. The Batman and Green Lantern books I understand, and even Legion Lost is a "new classic," but will anyone be picking up a paperback Wonder Woman: Odyssey, an essentially-Elseworlds story from a bygone continuity? Will there be many takers for Birds of Prey or Gotham City Sirens? For First Wave, for gosh sakes, a noir line otherwise already cancelled?!

I've got all the Infinite Crisis issues already, but I'm already thinking whether that Infinite Crisis Omnibus will be at the top of next year's recommended gift list. So what's caught your attention? What'll you be signing up to pre-order?

(We're getting started with our Flashpoint review week tomorrow -- don't miss it!)

Review: Teen Titans: The Hunt for Raven trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Writer Felicia Henderson's efforts on Teen Titans: The Hunt for Raven have already been pretty widely panned (Titans Tower has a good collection of quotes); perhaps not unrelated, the writer was later scheduled to write a Static Shock series but was later dropped from the title.

I picked up Hunt for Raven because I'm a completist, like many comics fans. With the DC Relaunch in full swing, to skip Hunt and then pick up JT Krul's Teen Titans books to follow would leave me with all the collected volumes of this Titans series except one. Even despite the tepid reviews, I'm not inclined to have such a hole in my collection.

To that end, my goal with this review is not to tear apart Henderson or Hunt for Raven (you can find plenty of that elsewhere), but rather to mention a couple of things I found interesting about the book, as well as to cover a couple of its difficulties. I don't recommend this book, but I imagine there's a population out there who might own it for the same reasons I do, and therefore I think it's worth considering for discussion.

Review: Doctor 13: Architecture and Mortality trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, December 05, 2011

[A new guest review from Zach King, who blogs about movies as The Cinema King]

After spending several months immersed in the magic mirror of Grant Morrison's The Invisibles, it's time to take a page from the book of Monty Python and declare, "And now for something completely different." In the wake of Doctor 13 and his daughter Traci's role in Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint (an event which I followed in single issues, because the way it was to be collected hadn't been made clear then), and with Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang reuniting on Wonder Woman in the New 52, I knew all I needed to know before adding Doctor 13: Architecture and Mortality to the list for my weekly visit to my LCS.

With the DCnU now upon us, the book is strikingly relevant when it explores characters left behind, but for a book that's all about meta-commentary on continuity it's surprisingly (and perhaps disappointingly) self-contained.

Review: Showcase Presents: Booster Gold paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The compulsions of the father are visited on the son, at least in Booster Gold's original iteration. In the twenty-five issues of the character's original series collected in Showcase Presents: Booster Gold, writer and creator Dan Jurgens never comes out and says so, but that Booster has inherited his father's gambling addiction is implicit in the beginning, and in the end. Over the course of the book, Booster would seem to gain some insight into the pitfalls of his relentless pursuit of fortune, but not enough for him to mend the error of his ways; he is wiser, but not necessarily changed.

[Contains spoilers]

When Michael Jon "Booster" Carter's origin finally comes out, seven chapters into the book, the reader learns that Booster is a fugitive from the future, a disgraced athlete who lost his scholarship for betting on games. Faced with failure, Booster begins what will become a pattern in the book, running away from his problems under the guise of reinventing himself. Booster's actions would seem redemptive on their face -- traveling to the past to become a hero -- but in fact what he's done is to abandon the consequences of his crime, starting anew without taking responsibility for what he did before.

Review: Justice League: Generation Lost Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 28, 2011

We now know that the first collection of Judd Winick's DC New 52 Catwoman series will arrive in May 2012, and I'm very curious to read the first arc in one book. We know from Winick's Green Arrow and especially from his Outsiders that Winick is not someone who writes without consciousness or thought, and I would like to see if I can find some semblance of that in Catwoman outside of mere pruriency (my outside guess right now is that Winick's Catwoman is a twisted exploration of cosplay culture -- just a guess).

I'm all the more interested in a comic where Winick seems from the outset to have failed because the second volume of Justice League: Generation Lost is in my estimation about as close to a perfect comic as we come. It's a thick DC Comics hardcover; the plot is exciting, moving, and unexpected; three different artists remain in relative lock-step; and there's depth here -- the heroes are neither so right nor the villain entirely so wrong. Hands down, Judd Winick and company have done a knock-out job here.

Review: The Torch hardcover/paperback (Marvel/Dynamite)

Thursday, November 24, 2011

[This guest-post comes from Timbotron, who (impressively) reviews a comic every day at Comic-Per-Day Reviews]

What a fascinating trade paperback! I am always a little leery of series produced by two publishers. Too often, they can lead to a muddied product that doesn’t stand out as belonging in either company’s catalog, but The Torch, this joint venture of Dynamite and Marvel, is really quite well done.

I’m not sure when Alex Ross became the go-to guy for all Golden Age characters, but since he has that role, it makes sense that he’s responsible for plotting and character design in this trade. Mike Carey's character-based scripting really brings this story to life.

Review: Superman/Batman: Worship trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 21, 2011

I have been wary of these Superman/Batman books of late. With no ties intentionally to continuity and a mission just to "tell stories," the individual issues have tended to be hit or miss -- there's some gems among Mike Johnson and Michael Green's Superman/Batman: Night and Day, but Joe Kelly's Big Noise overall disappointed. Continuity is not the be-all and end-all, of course, but at times this title seems aimless.

Superman/Batman: Worship gave me special pause not only because it seemed to be one of these disconnected stories (this turns out not to be the case), but also because former DC Comics president Paul Levitz's writing has also been hit or miss for me. His first outing on the new (pre-DC Relaunch) Legion of Super-Heroes series, The Choice, was great stuff, but his Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes was not, and I recall calling his JSA: Ghost Stories "stodgy."

Worship, however, is a delight. With art by Jerry Ordway, the "Worship" story feels like its cut from the 1990s Superman "Triangle Titles" heyday, while at the same time adhering to the unspoken rules of the Superman/Batman title. Add a few contemporary twists at the end, and Worship emerges as something entirely satisfying -- a little bit classic, a little bit new.

Trade Perspectives: Here Come the New 52 Collections, Same as the Old 52 Collections ...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Star Clipper Comics, St. Louis, MO
I'm doubly excited to start reading DC Comics's New 52 collections ever since they released the details last week. And now that DC's plans are more clear -- the Flashpoint books in March, and then the New 52 staggered about seven per month for the rest of the year -- 2012 is shaping up to be a very exciting year.

That said, when I sit back and look at it all, I find myself a bit ... underwhelmed.

Where are the deluxe editions with flashing lights and moving covers?

Where are the hardcovers?

Seriously -- where are the hardcovers? Just over a quarter of DC's New 52 books will be collected in hardcover -- less than half -- and of those, no Edge, Dark, or Young Justice books at all. In terms of collection schemes, the New 52 isn't much different than what came before; maybe just a little more timely.

DC Trade Solicits for February 2012: Flashpoint details, Absolute Final Crisis, Batman Incorporated, New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Still enjoying DC Comics's new habit of teasing out their solicitations all day on the Source blog -- you get single-issue appetizers throughout the day, and then a big helping of trade collections at 5 pm. It's a good day -- and an interesting set of collected comics this month. Here's what caught my eye:

* Absolute Final Crisis

Some will be disappointed that this book does not include the Batman tie-in issues; I am not one of those people. Different than Superman Beyond, the Batman story is a tertiary part of Final Crisis better left to another volume, just like you wouldn't include Black Lantern Terra attacking the Outsiders in the Blackest Night collection -- you don't need it to get the gist of the main story. This is controversial, I know.

(Related, didja see the solicitation for All-Star Western #6 in the same month? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Hex fighting Darkseid's Final Crisis/Batman-related Hyper Adapter in that issue? Did DC hand writers Gray and Palmiotti a copy of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne and say "Here, don't come back until you've squeezed every last story out of this?")

* Flashpoint
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Batman
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Superman
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Wonder Woman
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring Green Lantern
* Flashpoint: The World of Flashpoint Featuring The Flash

When all is said and done, I guess DC's Flashpoint collection plans kind of, sort of make some sense. The good news here is that every single Flashpoint miniseries and special finds its way into one of these collections, including the Booster Gold tie-in issues. I might still wish these were hardcovers, but my wallet's probably better off that they're not. It's a nice touch that the tie-in books arrive in stores at the same time as the main Flashpoint paperback, and it's all prior to when the New 52 collections start arriving ... so I guess I'm making my peace with this.

* New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2

In my opinion, perhaps the coolest thing on this list is the second New Teen Titans omnibus, for which we now have confirmation that this'll include the final DC Archives: New Titans edition, the Terra Incognito collection, Judas Contract, and a handful of never collection New Teen Titans issues plus material from Batman and the Outsiders. New question: how much do we think this omnibus series will collect -- through Tales of the New Teen Titans #59, or also the New Teen Titans volume two series?

* Batman: Birth of the Demon
* Batman Incorporated Vol. 1 Deluxe Edition

Birth of the Demon is just a darn cool collection of three classic, related stories all together. That's about all I have to say about that, except I wish it was hardcover.

As for the Batman Inc. collection, I knew it was about to be re-solicited, but for some reason I thought it was actually landing in December. No such luck. Oh, well.

* Justice League of America: The Rise of Eclipso

I know we pick on DC a bit when we're not happy with this or that collection, but fair is fair: someone at DC did a really nice thing here. Even as it may not relate to the Eclipso story (or maybe it does) and even as the storyline it was part of is two trades back, DC's including James Robinson's Justice Society of America #43 here, an epilogue issue excluded from the Dark Things trade. This makes the collection of Robinson's Justice League stories complete -- good on you, DC.

* Gotham City Sirens: Division
* Red Robin: Seven Days of Death

Collects the final issues of these series up to Flashpoint. Don't mean to sound cynical, but I wonder if Gotham City Sirens: Division will actually make it to publication or be cancelled due to low pre-orders.

So, who's throwing down $100 for Absolute Final Crisis? What's on your pull list?

Comic Book Gift Guide 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The weather is colder, the holidays are nigh upon us, and once again it's time for the Collected Editions blog's picks for the top trade paperback collections and graphic novel presents you can give as a gift for your favorite comic book fan. (See the 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists for more suggestions, too!)

And of course, I've built this list to help you get free shipping on all your gifts (nothing worse than cutting into your holiday budget with shipping!).

I think I've got a fun list this year with lots of variety for every readers' interest -- and of course, everyone appreciates additional suggestions in the comments.

* Avengers Prime
* Avengers Forever
* Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide
* Marvel Adventures Avengers: Captain America
* The Ultimates: Ultimate Collection

You might've heard there's a little thing called the Avengers movie coming next year, so Avengers gifts are bound to go over well this holiday season. As crowdsourced from the Collected Editions Facebook page, our suggestions for Avengers collections include Avengers Prime, a story focusing on Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor that's controversial because it contains more talking than action, but might be interesting for fans of the "Big Three"; Avengers Forever, by popular Avengers writers Roger Stern and Kurt Busiek, is a continuity-heavy story of Avengers joined together from different eras -- most likely meant for the educated fan, but might pique the curiosity of a newcomer, too (comes with free shipping on its own, so you could pair it with the Marvel Avengers: The Ultimate Character Guide).

Though set in Marvel's Ultimate universe, The Ultimates is a back-to-basics, no-nonsense recreation of the Avengers by Mark Millar with breathtaking art by Bryan Hitch. For a fan new to the Avengers, this is a book with no previous knowledge required. And for the younger fan, Marvel Adventures Avengers: Captain America is one in a series of young readers Marvel graphic novels. This might be a nice follow-up for a young fan of the movies; there's Iron Man, Spider-Man, and plenty other entries into this series as well.

* Batman: Noel
* Batman: Arkham City (graphic novel)
* Batman: The Black Mirror

Between the new Arkham City video game and the new Dark Knight Rises movie coming out next year, DC Comics has a slew of Batman books coming out for the holidays. Their biggest push is Batman: Noel, a graphic novel written and drawn by Lee Bermejo and based on Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Bermejo drew the Joker and Lex Luthor books that we listed for the holidays in past years, and it seems his holiday work is becoming something of a tradition.

Speaking of Arkham City, you can pair Noel with the Batman: Arkham City graphic novel by popular Batman writer Paul Dini, and get both for just over $25 with free shipping. Also getting good reviews is Scott Synder's Batman: The Black Mirror, a classic mystery starring former Robin Dick Grayson as Batman -- pair Black Mirror with either of the other Batman books for free shipping.

* Supergods: What Masked Vigilantes, Miraculous Mutants, and a Sun God from Smallville Can Teach Us About Being Human
* Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes
* Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed

I love to give books about comics out to my comics-reading friends as stocking stuffers, and there's just hundreds of them out there. Hot this year, of course, is writer Grant Morrison's tome on all things comics, Supergods. For free shipping, I'd like to suggest pairing it with either of two books by comics-website writers that I like, Teenagers from the Future: Essays on the Legion of Super-Heroes edited by GeniusboyFiremelon's Tim Callahan, and also Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed by Brian Cronin of the Comics Legends Revealed column on Comic Book Resources.

* The Spirit: A Pop-up Graphic Novel

Writer and artist Will Eisner is considered the father of the modern graphic novel, essentially, and what better gift for a graphic novel fan than a pop-up Will Eisner graphic novel (because you can never have too many pop-up comic books!). The Spirit: A Pop-up Graphic Novel collects Eisner's last two Spirit issues re-designed as a pop-up book -- and any other item on this list will qualify for free shipping with this collection (or if you hurry, I think there's still some bargain copies available!).

* Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm

ABC's mystery series Castle seems to be popular with comics fans (at least that's what I see on my Twitter feed), and an episode last September even featured a graphic novel starring fictional writer Richard Castle's character Derrick Storm. That graphic novel, Castle: Richard Castle's Deadly Storm, was actually published by Marvel and ought be a must-have for any fan of the show. Pair with Stuffed! and Tintin in the Land of the Soviets (see both below) and get three graphic novels somewhat off the beaten path for just over $25 with free shipping.

* Tintin in the Land of the Soviets
* Tintin in America

Admittedly I'm not all that familiar with The Adventures of Tintin, the European comic (and television series, and radio broadcast, and so on), but I imagine everyone's going to be when Tintin comes to theaters next month. Tintin in the Land of the Soviets is the very first black and white collection, available in hardcover and paperback -- pair the hardcover with Marvel Adventures: Captain America as a gift for your favorite young reader with free shipping, or get the paperback with Captain America and the The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet The Muppets (see also below), all for just over $25 with free shipping.

(See comments section -- some readers in the know have suggested Tintin in America might be a better place to start.)

* Infestation (IDW)

I'm a bit enamored with IDW's Infestation collection -- you might call Infestation "just another crossover," except that it was a crossover that included Transformers, GI Joe, Star Trek, and Ghostbusters segments! This hardcover lands in stores pretty close to Christmas, but I think the cool factor makes it worth it. This one just about qualifies for free shipping on its own -- you can pair with the Meet the Muppets collection to spend just over $25, or any other title on the list for free shipping.

* New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1
* New Teen Titans: Games

* Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse (deluxe)
* Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga (deluxe)

* Flashpoint
* The Flash: Road to Flashpoint

DC got a bunch of impressive-looking goodies coming out this season, sure to make you look good at gift-giving time. A nice two-fer is the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1, which was supposed to only contain sixteen issues of the classic 1980s series and instead included twenty-four plus issues; that gets free shipping on its own, and you can pair with the brand new New Teen Titans: Games graphic novel for a great gift package. The Omnibus gets free shipping on its own, as would anything else with it.

There's also Legion of Super-Heroes: The Curse, a deluxe oversized follow-up to one of last year's top-rated gifts, the deluxe Legion: The Great Darkness Saga. And chances are your favorite comics fan is already on top of this one, but there's the collection of the recent universe-changing event (which heralded DC's New 52 titles), Flash: Road to Flashpoint that lead in to the event, and DC Comics: The New 52, a whopping, expensive collection of all the DC New 52 #1 issues. Legion: Curse gets free shipping on its own, the Flashpoint books would get shipping together, and just about anything would get free shipping with the New 52 book.

* Dolltopia

* Stuffed!

Looking for things your favorite graphic novel fan may not already have, I recently had a chance to flip through Abby Denson's Dolltopia and really enjoyed it. Call it the un-Toy Story, this is the tale of dolls who run away to try to escape their pre-determined societal roles. Definitely "indie" in art and story, this might also be a good present for that friend you've been trying for a while to interest in comics (read preview). Pair with Supergods, Batman: The Black Mirror, an Avengers book or more for free shipping.

Also off the beaten path is Stuffed! by Colbert Report and Daria's Glenn Eichler with art by Nick Bertozzi. Two sons must decide what to do with their late father's stuffed African warrior known as "The Savage" in a comedy that looks both at family dynamics and race relations. This'll probably be another new addition to most collections; you can get Stuffed!, Dolltopia, and the Spirit pop-up for just over $25 with free shipping and look really clever on Christmas morning.

* The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet The Muppets

Of course you know there's a new Muppets movie around the corner, so the Muppets are back en vogue (when have they not been?!). Not only is this funny Muppet Show collection fairly well regarded, but it comes in at just about $4.00. If you were going for Batman: Noel and Batman: Arkham City, for instance, or Castle and Tintin, consider tossing in the Muppets comics either for your favorite young reader or just to give away to charity (Barnes and Noble, for instance, is collecting kids books this holiday season). If your free shipping can get a child reading, hey, why not?

We're in the middle of Collected Editions sixth year right now, and couldn't be having more fun. Thanks for reading -- and happy holidays and happy New Year to all!

(Lots of bloggers, by the way, have affiliate links like the ones above, and when you do your holiday shopping after clicking these links, the blogger gets a few cents. This year, if you're buying gifts online, consider clicking on someone's link before you buy -- when I buy online, I always try to click through a blog before I do. There are lots of hard-working bloggers out there [see blogroll], and this is a great, easy way to support them. Thanks!)