DC Relaunch: This Is Not Good-Bye

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

On the occasion of the end of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe, upon the publication of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1.

Wally West will be back.*

Believe it or not, he'll be back. In five years, maybe, or ten, or twenty, when Wally's finally back, come see me. We'll talk about it.

They all come back. Anything can happen.

Review: Brightest Day Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, August 29, 2011

The second volume of Brightest Day contains three origin stories -- exercises in retroactive continuity, for the most part. In its details, this is a book mired deep in the continuity of the DC Comics Universe -- too deep, perhaps, deep enough to even set an educated fan like myself's head spinning. In its broad strokes, however, I continue to enjoy Brightest Day very much; there are fan-favorite characters here experiencing the kind of rebirth that writer Geoff Johns (with Peter Tomasi) is known for. And this second volume ends on a number of cliffhangers leading into the third book, making the wait for the final chapters all the harder.

Add to all this that Brightest Day -- though I've not heard anyone say so directly -- seems to me an intentional lead-in to a number of the new DC Reboot series, and that makes Brightest Day one of the most compelling titles I'm reading right now.

Review: Wolverine: The Gehenna Stone Affair - Classics/Essentials trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

[Guest review by Doug Glassman]

I’m not a huge fan of Wolverine. The character himself is fairly interesting, but when he’s appearing in ten books simultaneously written by ten different writers of varying skill, he gets diluted [ditto Batman -- ed]. While Spider-Man often has the same problem, at least Spider-Man has a truly consistent characterization, a combination of humor, responsibility and the worst luck in the Marvel Universe. Wolverine . . . well, usually he’s just a gruff berserker. Occasionally, though, there are some writers who remember that Wolverine has an actual personality. While Wolverine isn’t a draw for me, the great Peter David is, which is why his 1989 "The Gehenna Affair" (as collected in Wolverine Classic Vol. 3 and Essential Wolverine Vol. 1, among other places) was so appealing to me.

Review: The Invisibles Vol. 6: Kissing Mister Quimper trade paperback (Vertigo/DC Comics)

Monday, August 22, 2011

[The sixth in our series of guest reviews on Grant Morrison's The Invisibles by Zach King, who blogs about movies as The Cinema King]

For me, the jury is still out on Kissing Mister Quimper -- such that I wasn't sure exactly where to begin a review on the sixth and penultimate volume of Grant Morrison's mega-epic The Invisibles. On the one hand, the series is winding down in brilliant action film format, with explosions and plotlines resonating off the page. On the other hand, though, the series is increasingly showing signs of prioritizing mythological components without giving its readers enough to make sense of what is going on a lot of the time.

"And so we return and begin again." Kissing Mister Quimper begins with our heroes taking another vacation (a sign, perhaps, of the stress Morrison notoriously suffered during the writing of the series), this time in New Orleans. But the downtime doesn't last long -- King Mob becomes obsessed with learning what's become of John-A-Dreams since his disappearance in 1992, and the "sliver" of Quimper residing in Ragged Robin leads the team to confront the demonic dwarf once and for all. But theses missions change the team in profound and irrevocable ways, leading them to mistrust each other to the point where several Invisibles will not be back for the seventh volume. And finally, welcome back to Sir Miles Delacourt, whose reintroduction here after a protracted absence is a welcome breath as the series cues itself for the final issues, in which the seeds of doubt sown throughout Sir Miles's arc will come to deadly fruition.

Review: Batman: Bruce Wayne -- The Road Home hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Despite all the run-up, DC Comics can't quite get the return of Bruce Wayne right. Their difficulties are similar though not quite as pronounced as with Superman: New Krypton, a DC mega-plotline that began about the same time; Batman: Bruce Wayne -- The Road Home is more thematically on track than War of the Supermen was, though both arrived at their conclusions ... rather unremarkably.

For Road Home, I suspect the difficulty is that, as with many parts of the "Batman Reborn" saga, the real action is going on in head writer Grant Morrison's Batman Inc. title, and Road Home is something of an also-ran. Road Home touts the new Batman status quo well enough -- almost to ridiculousness -- but disappoints in a number of key reunions that fans had anticipated Bruce Wayne's resurrection in order to see.

DC Comics solicits Batman: Earth One by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, with cover art

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

With all the attention focused on DC Comics's upcoming relaunch, fans have been wondering if the "Earth One" series of graphic novels would continue. Not to mention, with writer Geoff Johns's full DC Relaunch plate, would he even have time for he and artist Gary Frank's Earth One project?

Looks like the answer is a resounding "yes."

A cover image for Batman: Earth One hit the airwaves today, along with the following description:
Geoff Johns, the writer of BLACKEST NIGHT, GREEN LANTERN and INFINITE CRISIS re-teams with superstar artist Gary Frank, his collaborator on SUPERMAN: SECRET ORIGIN, SUPERMAN: BRAINIAC and SUPERMAN & THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES, to create this original graphic novel that gives new insight into Bruce Wayne's transformation into Batman and his first year as The Dark Knight. This follow-up to the # 1 New York Times bestseller, SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE, by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis is the latest in the series that features the industry's top writers and illustrators and their unique takes on DC's characters. It's the perfect book for new readers of graphic novels as well as longtime comic book fans.
Release date appears to be May 2012, which'll be a busy collections month alongside the rumored release of the first DC relaunch collections.

Review: Red Robin: Hit List trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, August 15, 2011

Red Robin: The Hit List makes an entire story out of its own aimlessness. With its inaugural twelve-issue Return of Bruce Wayne tie-in story done, Hit List bides its time between Return and Batman, Inc.; the book's existential struggle over what the point of a second "graduated Robin" book should be becomes the internal dilemma of Red Robin Tim Drake.

Often the combination of aimless book and aimless character becomes a death knell for a title. New series writer Fabian Nicieza, however, takes up the voice and tone of previous Red Robin writer Chris Yost flawlessly, and as before the strength of Red Robin is in its writing. Hit List's plot isn't very cohesive nor does it really arrive anywhere, but Tim Drake is such a likable character and the book turns so strongly on the character's history that it hardly matters. For Tim Drake fans, Red Robin is the best he's been in years, Hit List included.

Review: Power Girl: Bomb Squad trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Knowing that DC Comic's grand relaunch arrives in just a few scant weeks, it's hard not to see certain titles as just marking time for their rebirths or cancellations. Judd Winick's Power Girl: Bomb Squad is ostensibly a tie-in to Winick's Justice League: Generation Lost; the ties here are better than in that series' other companion, Booster Gold: Past Imperfect, but still I'm skeptical how much Power Girl adds. Bomb Squad's approach is more to my liking than Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray's previous take on Power Girl, but the plot's both thin and decompressed, hence the sense that this is mostly filler until the end.

[Contains spoilers]

Palmiotti, Gray, and artist Amanda Connor's much-acclaimed Power Girl stories can best be described as "fun loving"; there was superhero action, but also a bunch of Power Girl Kara Zor-L hanging out with friend Terra and helping a high school loner make some friends -- not silly, necessarily, but with a humorous bent. Winick's Power Girl is still sarcastic, and her banter makes up much of the humor of the book, but Winick approaches things much more straightforward -- her villains are certainly tougher, with no sense Kara will sweetly turn enemies into allies as she did at the end of Palmiotti and Gray's stories.

Review: Booster Gold: Past Imperfect trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, August 08, 2011

On one hand, if you like Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis's Justice League, then Booster Gold: Past Imperfect captures with remarkable accuracy the comedy and writing of that earlier time, even more so than the writers' previous League reunion series Formerly Known As and I Can't Believe It's Not the Justice League. On the other hand, though billed as a companion to Justice League: Generation Lost, to which Giffen contributes, Past Imperfect's connections are thin-to-nonexistant, and its relevance to the ongoing DC Universe is essentially nil beyond being a funny Booster Gold story.

Depending on your preference, you might want to skip this book entirely in favor of more Flashpoint-related or DC Comics Relaunch Booster Gold fare, or this might be exactly the book for you.

Review: Justice League: Generation Lost Vol. 1 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Each chapter of Justice League: Generation Lost opens with a stylized cover by Tony Harris or Cliff Chiang, creating a strange category of Justice League International deco art. Judd Winick's comeback story in these pages, therefore, emerges as a kind of fetishized version of Keith Giffen, J. M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire's Justice League; I'm not sure the good old days were ever quite as good as Generation Lost's fond remembrances make them out to be, but they sure seem good in retrospect.

Winick's Generation Lost itself is a fine book, really quite well done, though International purists might find a little to pick at. To be sure, Generation Lost is not Giffen and DeMatteis's Justice League, but rather Giffen and DeMatteis's Justice League filtered strongly by way of Winick, to good result.

Judas Contract in hardcover with New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2 solicitation

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

We've seen DC Comics 2012 trade solicitations for the Flashpoint hardcovers, for a pseudo-Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus, a bunch of massive Wildstorm collections, and the second volume of the Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus.

What comes next is the second volume of the New Teen Titans Omnibus, notable because it could be the first hardcover release of one of DC Comics's most famous storylines, "The Judas Contract."

The first New Teen Titans Omnibus collected issues #1-16 of the New Teen Titans series, plus their debut in DC Comics Presents #26 -- that is, most of the previously released DC Archives: New Teen Titans volumes one and two (see Death of the DC Archives?").

Review: Green Lantern Corps: Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Green Lantern Corps has been a perennial surprise hit for me -- from Sins of the Star Sapphire to Emerald Eclipse to the Corps volume of Blackest Night, I have enjoyed this title immensely, and every time more than I expected. Unfortunately, new series writer (as least until September's DC Relaunch) Tony Bedard's first outing, Revolt of the Alpha-Lanterns, is dull by comparison, lacking both the excitement and nuance of Tomasi's work. It's a good thing Tomasi returns to Green Lantern Corps after the relaunch, else it's possible I might have dropped Corps entirely.

[Contains spoilers]

The "Revolt" story takes Bedard five issues to tell, when I couldn't help but think Tomasi or Green Lantern writer Geoff Johns could have covered the same material in one or two issues. Every step of the story seems to require its own chapter -- an entire chapter for Lantern John Stewart to arrive on the robot planet Grenda, another entire chapter for Kyle Rayner, Soranik Natu, and Ganthet to arrive to rescue him, still another while the heroes hide out from the villain, and so on.