Review: Thunderbolts: Violent Rejection trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

[Guest review by Doug Glassman]

It’s Thunderbolts time again, and for the moment, we’re going to skip ahead past the “Shadowland” crossover and go right to Violent Rejection. Because Luke Cage’s partner Iron Fist was a key player in that crossover, Cage and his Thunderbolts got dragged into it.

The main result is that Crossbones is gone from the team. In his place at first is Hyperion, one of Marvel’s Superman analogues. He’s part of the Squadron Supreme, an alternate-dimension Justice League of America which has gone through quite a few incarnations. Unfortunately, this Hyperion is not one of the more sane ones, despite what he claims. An absolutely massive battle unfolds in the second part of this story, which includes a great reference to the song “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim” by Jim Croce. Naturally, Man-Thing is on hand to help out, and as Hyperion finds out, it’s a bad idea to be afraid around him. One of the funniest moments in this year’s comic books occurs in this issue. I’m not going to spoil it, but let’s just say it involves the Ghost, his cloud of flies and the ladies of the team.

Review: DC Comics Presents: Batman: Dark Knight, Dark City comic book (DC Comics)

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Monday, February 27, 2012

I finally read Peter Milligan's "Dark Knight, Dark City" from story Batman #452-454 in the form of the recent DC Comics Presents: Batman volume, and to add to the chorus of voices praising this story, I definitely recommend it.

It is not, as it turns out, required reading for Grant Morrison's recent Batman work; as a matter of fact, Morrison's stories rewrite the conclusion of "Dark City," at least, rather severely. To read "Dark City," however, is to appreciate better how rooted Morrison's stories are in already-established Batman mythos; also, it bears mentioning, "Dark City" is a really, really creepy story, of a kind that readers of Scott Snyder's Batman: The Black Mirror are also sure to enjoy.

[Contains spoilers]

For what I expect, in retrospect, from comics from the early 1990s, the three-part "Dark Knight, Dark City" is surprisingly violent. Equally surprising is that Milligan's villain in the piece is the Riddler; even Batman remarks at one point that he thought he and the Riddler's antagonism was built on respect and one-upsmanship, and not on the Riddler trying to kill Batman. Or, at least, the Riddler puts Batman in increasingly dangerous and grotesque situations, not the least of which is when Batman is forced to give a tracheotomy to a newborn baby. The concept is gross enough on its own, and Milligan keeps building the levels of macabre to the story's conclusion.

Review: Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

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

Check Metropolis off your list because we're moving on to Gotham City this go-around for a look at Batman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Vol. 1.

I feel a little more qualified on this review because I've been reading Batman stories since I was three -- reading every Batman story ever written is on my bucket list [who knew? Interesting! -- ed.] -- and I like to think I have a pretty good idea about what constitutes a great Batman story. Bearing in mind the apparent requirements for inclusion in a "Greatest Stories" volume (concision, iconic status, definitive statement on the character), and recalling that this isn't necessarily a "favorites" book (if I were publishing a "Favorite Batman Stories Ever Told," it'd be closer to a multi-volume omnibus set), I found this volume more satisfying than its Superman predecessor, partly because of the strength of the character and partly because the volume is governed by a strong unifying theme which prevents the stories from straying too far.

Cancelled Trade Cavalcade: WILDCats Deluxe, DC/Marvel Omnibus

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

As has happened before with books like Deathstroke, the Terminator: Assassins and Justice League International Vol. 7, we know that sometimes even if DC announces a collection to bookstores, that doesn't mean they're necessarily going to release it unless they also solicit it themselves -- and even then, you can't entirely count on a collection arriving in stores until you're actually holding it in your hands.

The newest such example of this is the deluxe WILDCats Vol. 1 by Brandon Choi and Jim Lee.

We first brought you news of the forthcoming WILDCats collection back in July, shortly after the announcement of the DC New 52 relaunch. Deluxe WILDCats would be coming out shortly after a new Stormwatch collection, which made sense because both books, artifacts of Wildstorm's heyday, have resonance in the DC New 52: Stormwatch because of the new series, and WILDCats because it stars Grifter and Voodoo, among others.

Review: Thunderbolts: Cage hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

[Guest review by Doug Glassman]

When we last saw the Thunderbolts, they were a hit squad under the command of the man who should never have been given such power in the first place: Norman Osborn. But now, the tide has finally shifted back to actual heroics, as demonstrated in the opening pages of Thunderbolts: Cage, where Osborn is marched through the Raft Prison in his inmate jumpsuit. As a reader who kept struggling with the obvious question of both “Dark Reign” and “Siege” (How stupid are the people of the Marvel Universe?), it’s nice to finally have him gone.

In his place is a man who's known both time in prison and time with the Avengers. It’s the man whose appearance in the solicitation for #144 got me to pick the title up again in the first place. In perhaps the best move in comics in 2010, Luke Cage, perhaps the greatest story of redemption in the Marvel Universe, was put in charge of the Thunderbolts.

Review: Hulk Vol. 4: Hulk vs. X-Force hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Monday, February 20, 2012

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

Now this is what I'm talking about. I can say with great confidence that Hulk vs. X-Force is my favorite of Jeph Loeb's run on Hulk thus far. This volume has a clear focus, a tight setting around an intriguing plot, and the "ambiguous mystery" angle Jeph Loeb fans know and love. All this set in a Marvel Universe which is not difficult for a newcomer to navigate.

"Code Red" begins when X-Force member Domino accidentally sees Red Hulk transform from his secret identity into the crimson giant. Domino quickly escapes, and Doc Samson and Thunderbolt Ross provide Red Hulk with a team to track her down before she can blow the lid off Red Hulk's identity. The Punisher, the Crimson Dynamo, Thundra (recruited at the end of Red and Green), Elektra, and merc-with-a-mouth Deadpool team up against Domino, Wolverine, and the rest of X-Force over the secret of Red Hulk.

Review: Secret Six: The Darkest House trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

That a book where a man's fingers are bitten off and another pours hot sauce in his own eyes can also be one of the most heartbreakingly touching collections I've read in a long time is testament to the prowess and creativity of writer Gail Simone.

Secret Six: The Darkest House offers a superb conclusion to this series; the Six try, for once, to save themselves, and it ends up leading to their annihilation. Simone knows the only way Secret Six can end: tragically, but also with an iota of hope.

[Contains spoilers]

Darkest House contains all the necessary elements for a grand Secret Six adventure -- one teammate double-crosses another, and the entire team is drawn in to a situation where their very souls are at stake. There is such a mixture of the beautiful and the sublime here that it's often hard to tell which is which -- the team goes to Hell, fighting demons, where their most ridiculous member has been made a prince; and yet Bane, who kills without thought, is brought up short by the accusation that he might not be an honorable man, and where the characters spend almost an entire issue standing stock still, debating whether love and free will exist.

Now an ebook -- the DC Trade Paperback Timeline!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

For the past six years, Collected Editions' DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline has been your online source for how to read and understand the story of the DC Universe, in order, in collected form.

Today, we're pleased to announce the first in a new series of Collected Editions ebooks - The DC Trade Paperback Timeline Vol. 1.

This newly-updated edition of the DC TPB Timeline organizes over 800 DC Comics collections, including all the final collections before DC's New 52 relaunch. The ebook also includes a new introduction that talks about changes in DC's collection program over the years and how the DC TPB Timeline began.

The ebook is available via Smashwords in all major ebook formats for all devices, tablets, and smartphones, plus easy-to-use downloadable desktop versions. All the formats, DRM-free, are packaged together for just $0.99. You can also buy direct from the Apple iBookstore and for the Barnes and Noble Nook.

The ebook works natively on iPad and Kindle. For Android users, the free Aldiko offers good results, or most any ebook reader will work. To read the ebook on your desktop, Adobe Digital Editions is also free.

What will happen to the online DC Trade Paperback Timeline?

The DC TPB Timeline on the blog will continue to be updated normally. The updates that are appearing in the ebook today will appear on the site Friday. As the timeline is updated online, especially with DC New 52 books, new ebook editions of the timeline will be available from Smashwords. Any technical usability updates to the DC TPB Timeline Vol. 1 ebook will be provided free of charge.

The website edition of the DC TPB Timeline works for reading on your computer; the ebook edition of the DC TPB Timeline is great for taking your e-reader on the road, offline reading, or printing or taking a digital copy when you browse your local comics shop.

What if I don't have an e-reader?

The DC TPB Timeline ebook is available from Smashwords in PDF, RTF (word processor), and a number of other formats (see above), suitable for computer as well as e-reader viewing.

However you choose to read the DC TPB Timeline, proceeds from ebook sales go toward keeping Collected Editions running week after week.

Did you say "first in a series" of Collected Editions ebooks?

Yes. Start your Collected Editions library now and keep on watching this space. This is only the beginning ...

If you are a writer, blogger, or reviewer who would like to receive a review copy of the DC TPB Timeline ebook, or would like to discuss giving away a copy of the DC TPB Timeline ebook as a promotion on your site, please contact me at the Yahoo address (collectededitions).

The DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline, now available in ebook format. Happy reading!

DC Trade Solicitations for May 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

If you look at DC Comics's solicitations for May 2012 overall, there sure are a lot of crossovers! The Legion's in Teen Titans, everybody's everywhere in the Bat-family, OMAC guest-stars in Justice League International, Blue Beetle crosses over with Green Lantern: New Guardians, John Constantine is in Animal Man and Animal Man's in Swamp Thing, plus a Suicide Squad/Resurrection Man crossover. Personally, I think it's fun to see so many characters in each others' titles, but I guess DC is banking on this much cross-promotion bringing new readers to books and not alienating new readers who want to read their own series and just their own series, thank you very much.

It also seems that DC has adopted a "bullet point" style for their solicitations, something I think Marvel's been doing for a while. Maybe shorter bursts will make the solicitations more accurate, though I think we lose a little something if no one has to write exciting solicitation paragraphs any more.

As for the collections:

* Batman: Earth One

The "Earth One" books, to some extent, haven't turned out quite how we trade-waiters hoped. Yes, these are stand-alone graphic novels, and I'm happy about that and eager to read the Batman volume. They're coming out so slowly, however, and seem to sufficiently lack any continuity between them so far, that by the time the "Earth One" books become an "Earth One" universe, I suspect it will have taken so long that it'll be hard to care. Maybe if Batman does as well as Superman did, DC will release these a little faster.

* Infinity Inc.: The Generations Saga Vol. 2 HC

It was a small miracle that we saw the first Infinity Inc. volume -- this has been on my "wish they'd collect" list forever. I'm glad to see a second book, and so quickly, too -- and it's big, collecting fourteen issues. This book seems to include more than just "Generations Saga," which is good, because it suggests additional Infinity, Inc. volumes to come. This book's final issue, #18, is a Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, and it would be cool for DC to collect the additional Infinity Crisis tie-in issues (at least six more) in the next book.

* Batman And Robin Vol. 1: Born To Kill HC
* Batgirl Vol. 1: The Darkest Reflection HC
* Red Lanterns Vol. 1: Blood And Rage TP
* Frankenstein, Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. Vol. 1: War Of The Monsters TP
* Static Shock Vol. 1: Supercharged TP
* Legion Of Superheroes Vol. 1: Hostile World TP
* Mister Terrific Vol. 1: Mind Games TP

Here's the third round of DC's New 52 trade solicitations. A nice mix of Dark books, Young Justice, Justice League, and Batman -- no Edge this time, I don't think, and no Superman, but others. Static Shock and Mister Terrific are both "hail and farewell" collections now, collecting the books' entire eight issues ("The entire NEW 52 series!" the solicitation shouts rather blithely). I like Static as a character so I'm inclined to buy that Static Shock collection, but the behind-the-scenes sniping between "writer" and "artist" sure has been messy, and the book didn't get good reviews overall.

I'm eager to read all the rest of those, though.

* First Wave TP

As I mentioned before, I just can't understand why DC would release a paperback edition of their crime-noir First Wave miniseries given that they pulled the plug on the whole thing -- except that now, a few weeks wiser, I wonder if it's because writer Brian Azzarello's name is going to be much in the news coming up ...

* Justice TP

Speaking of "Before Watchmen," if you want some clue how DC might collect that series, consider Justice -- a three-volume hardcover set, a three-volume paperback set, a full hardcover, a full paperback, and an Absolute edition. Someone must be buying 'em.

* Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore TP

Equally I'm not sure what warrants another edition of Kryptonite Nevermore, except that this volume abandons the short-lived DC Comics Classics Library heading. We saw DC re-release Batman: Death in the Family (with Lonely Place of Dying) also without the DC Comics Classics Library moniker.

* Wonder Woman Archives Vol. 7 HC

I give DC a lot of credit for continuing to release the Archives with the old trade dress and DC Bullet, keeping the look of these consistent (and, perhaps, knowing their audience for these volumes). I'll be curious to see if they keep on keeping on with the bullet after their other books get the DC Peel (which I adore, by the way) in March.

* Showcase Presents: Showcase Vol. 1 TP

The title of this one just makes me laugh. That is all.

* Night Force TP

Night Force fans should keep their fingers crossed until this one shows up in the stores, given that it's been cancelled and re-solicited a bunch of times. I know I'm not supposed to say things like this, but whether the new Night Force miniseries has some important tie to the new DC Universe or not will factor heavily as to whether I ever pick this book up -- though at the same time, I have heard good things about how it reads as a graphic novel.

Those're my picks -- what's on your to-buy list?

(If you didn't hear, our big DC TPB Timeline announcement had to be postponed due to circumstances outside our control. The plan right now is to have that announcement here tomorrow morning -- stay tuned!)

Review: Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and Companion hardcovers (Boom! Studios)

[Guest review by Doug Glassman]

April will mark my five-year anniversary as a contributor to Collected Editions [congratulations and thanks! -- ed], and as a result, it’s the long-promised review of The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck and its Companion. How long has this taken? Well, I first teased them all the way back in my Tales of the Bully Pulpit review back in 2007, which was three computers and two college degrees ago for me. I feel guilty, since Life and Times deserves its time to shine.

Disney comics are huge outside of North America, especially the Disney Ducks, but their impact in America has been limited. Don Rosa took on the incredible task of assembling sixty or so years of Disney Duck continuity and putting together the coherent biography of its central figure, Scrooge McDuck. The Eisner Award he won in 1995 for the original book confirms that it worked.

Review: Outsiders: The Great Divide trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Something I can say for Dan DiDio's Outsiders: The Great Divide, with artists including Keith Giffen, is that it makes me eager for DiDio and Giffen's new OMAC series. Giffen is in full-on Jack Kirby mode here, with craggy, squarish heads and Kirby dots aplenty; I'm eager to see what he does once he's actually penning Kirby's creations.

As for the rest of the book, DiDio's is a so-so Outsiders story that would show a lot of promise, outside of its wooden dialogue, if it would ever actually congeal into anything. It's hard for me to believe that DiDio -- of all the writers writing the pre-Flashpoint end of the DC Comics series -- couldn't know, expect, and plan for the sudden end of his comic, but that's how it seems. DiDio rushes to tie up a dozen plotlines, leaving many by the wayside and really not offering a satisfying conclusion at all.

Review: Supergirl: Bizarrogirl trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Sterling Gates's Supergirl: Bizarrogirl is an effective tribute to Superman stories gone past. Though Bizarrogirl was not originally intended as the last Supergirl collection before the DC New 52 reboot, it works to bring this Supergirl's story to a close and tie up a number of loose ends and plot threads -- both Gates's, and some almost two to three decades old. As a long-time Superman fan, I was more than happy to see Gates re-treading old ground one last time before everything changes.

[Contains spoilers]

Gates tells three stories here: that of Supergirl on Bizarro World, Supergirl teaming up with the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Supergirl and Daily Planet columnist Cat Grant investigating the Toyman. Each of these are quite firmly steeped in past stories; the first plays off what Geoff Johns established in Superman: Escape from Bizarro World; the second mashes up the continuity of this Supergirl and the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths iteration; and the third takes up both early 1990s Toyman stories in the Superman "Triangle Titles" and also Johns's recent changes to the Toyman.

All in all, I felt it had the positive effect of making this Supergirl -- a relative newcomer to DC continuity and something of a mis-fit during her first few creative teams -- actually feel like a character who's been part of the modern Superman mythos all along instead of a recent drop-in.

Review: Marvel Legacy: The 1960s-1990s Handbook trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

[A new guest review from Doug Glassman]

Ever since I began collecting the Star Wars Essential Guides, handbooks and guidebooks have been on the top of my reading list. There’s something compelling about getting all of your information in one place, especially if it gives you an expanded view of its fictional universe. It’s also a great way to save money if you don’t want to search for expensive or hard-to-find works which may or may not have anything to do with what you’re reading.

When it comes to comic book guides, Marvel is at the forefront. Compared to DC’s paltry Who’s Who in the DC Universe (which hasn’t been updated since the early 1990s) and Secret Files issues (which are few and far between), the Marvel Official Handbooks are constantly updated.

Watch this (DC TPB Timeline) space!

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Next Tuesday, Collected Editions will announce something new regarding the DC Universe Trade Paperback Timeline and Reading Order. This will be accompanied by a much-requested Timeline update.

I'm quite excited by this announcement and what it heralds for Collected Editions. I hope you'll come back here next Tuesday (Valentine's Day!) to check it out.

Writers and bloggers, if you'd like a special sneak peek of what's coming, please email me at the Yahoo account (collectededitions).

New reviews tomorrow ... and see you next week!

UPDATE: The announcement was made in this post.

Review: Batgirl: The Lesson trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 06, 2012

I've chastised DC Comics before their release of copious tie-in series to each and every event they publish, a kind of maniacal "throw it at the wall and see what sticks" mentality. Every once in a while, however, this practice proves valid for DC. While neither Gotham City Sirens, Streets of Gotham, nor Azrael ever made headlines as "Batman Reborn" spin-offs, on the other hand you have Bryan Q. Miller's Batgirl. If ever a DC series warranted the title of "instant classic," Batgirl is it; more's the shame that Miller doesn't have a series in DC's New 52, because after Batgirl I'd read Miller writing the DC phonebook.

Miller's final collection, Batgirl: The Lesson, reflects a little bit of the rush to wrap things up before the DC relaunch, but nonetheless Miller completes the book in quite satisfactory fashion. If we accept that there was a general ennui in the DC Universe that necessitated the relaunch, here we can say the opposite: Batgirl went out while the series still shined, a specific book to be proud of in the waning days of the old DCU.

How do you want DC to collect Before Watchmen?

Friday, February 03, 2012

DC only announced the individual issues two days ago, but let's not be silly. Of course I'm going there.

This summer, DC Comics will release seven Before Watchmen miniseries of 4 to 6 issues each, plus an epilogue and a single Crimson Corsair issue, equaling thirty-six issues by my count.

As the rumors swirled about this prior to the announcement, I was neither terribly disappointed (DC is a company that has to make money and if they think people'll buy them, it's incumbent upon them to make them) nor terribly enthused (I went this long without more Watchmen and I hadn't been yearning for more).

Now that DC has announced the creative teams however, I'm more enthusiastic -- there's worse ways to while away an afternoon than with a Brian Azzarello/Lee Bermejo book, or an Azzarello/J. G. Jones book, or a Darwyn Cooke book, or Cooke and Amanda Conner, or J. Michael Straczynski and Adam Hughes, or Straczynski and Andy and Joe Kubert. But in collected format, to be sure.

DC will release an Absolute edition of Beyond Watchmen. I'll say it again: DC will release an Absolute edition of Beyond Watchmen. Believe you me, DC will release an Absolute Beyond Watchmen, and it'll look dandy sitting on the shelf next to your original Absolute Watchmen.

I'd venture that DC would release Absolute Beyond Watchmen by Christmas of this year, except DC has been slow of late in release Absolute editions of their books (see Absolute Identity Crisis and Absolute Sinestro Corps War years after the originals).

Rather, given that Before Watchmen is thirty-six issues, I bet you'll see a two-volume deluxe-size hardcover set in time for Christmas, as DC's opening salvo. After that, regular size paperback versions of the same, maybe in summer 2013. Figure the Absolute Beyond Watchmen will be out maybe Christmas 2013.

And some time in 2014, look out for the single-volume hardcover Beyond Watchmen Omnibus ...

DC's not going to let any of their trade formats pass Beyond Watchmen by. Don't you doubt it.

Watchmen resources on Collected Editions:
* Watchmen: The Absolute Edition review

* Beginner's Guide to Watchmen and What to Read Next

How do you want to read Beyond Watchmen? (You don't, I know, I know, smartie. But if you did ...)

Review: Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told Vol. 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

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

While I'm taking you on a foray into the Marvel Universe with my Hulk reviews, I thought I'd also seek the comfort of the heroes I know and love so well. I turn now to an unofficial series of sorts -- "The Greatest Stories Ever Told," twelve trades profiling seven heroes, two teams, and one villain. These "Greatest Stories Trades," distinguished by gorgeous Alex Ross covers, seek to deliver the most iconic and quintessential tales of these characters -- or at least their pre-New 52 incarnations.

Up first, the one who started it all, Big Blue himself -- Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Vol. 1. (Supes and his chum Batman each get two volumes.) As a somewhat arbitrary starting point, this volume has some great stories overall, including John Byrne's 1986 relaunch and Joe Kelly's "What's So Funny . . .?" Where the volume falters, however, is by the inclusion of stories that don't revolve around Superman, instead focusing on other characters or imaginary tales. So while the stories in here are good, not all of them are the greatest Superman stories by virtue of not being Superman stories at all.