New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3 -- Lies, Damn Lies, and Omissions

Friday, May 31, 2013

New Teen Titans Omnibus Volume 3DC Comics's New Teen Titans Omnibus series has been controversial almost from the get-go. Aside from concerns over the binding, there was the strange omission of New Teen Titans issue #38 from Volume 2; DC originally solicited Volume 3 with a content listing that couldn't be right (too few and duplicate issues), and then they cancelled the third volume altogether and resolicited it a few months later.

Well, DC has finally released the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3, and with a hat-tip to Facebook friend and frequent commenter Xavico, it looks like the trouble's not over yet.

Review: Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE Vol. 2: Secrets of the Dead trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Frankenstein, Agent of Shade Vol. 2: Secrets of the DeadIn Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE Vol. 2: Secrets of the Dead, new series writer Matt Kindt continues the monster mayhem aesthetic found in exiting writer Jeff Lemire's first volume of the series. There are minor blips in the transition from writer to writer, but these are minor; Secrets, however, largely involves a crossover with the Animal Man/Swamp Thing event "Rotworld" that serves the other two series far better than it does Frankenstein. Kindt's writing of Frankenstein won't disappoint fans, but the push and pull of connecting this last volume of Frankenstein with other series' events might.

Review: Journey into Mystery Featuring Sif Vol. 1: Stronger Than Monsters trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Journey Into Mystery Featuring Sif Vol. 1: Stronger than Monsters[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at Hell Yeah '80s Marvel!]

The tale of Kid Loki, the first star of the modern Journey Into Mystery, came to an end with the “Everything Burns” crossover with The Mighty Thor. While Kieron Gillen continues to work with that character in Young Avengers, there was some concern as to what would happen to Journey Into Mystery. The choice of Sif as the new main character was a smart response to the book’s demographics. Kid Loki has a very strong female fanbase, so giving the book not only a female lead but also a female writer kept the readership levels steady. Journey Into Mystery Featuring Sif Vol. 1: Stronger Than Monsters collects the first five issues of Kathryn Immonen’s run on the Marvel NOW! title, which I hope will last as least as long as Gillen’s Kid Loki epic.

Review: Criminal Vol. 3: The Dead and the Dying trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Criminal Vol. 3: The Dead and the Dying[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King]

On first glance, Criminal Vol. 3: The Dead and the Dying is a set-up for disappointment. The volume is short -- collecting only three issues -- though the editors have tried to obfuscate this by using noticeably thicker pages. What's more, this the third Criminal collection marks a soft reboot of sorts, with the single issues renumbering back to #1 (no, no Pandora cameo to be found).

What might turn off some readers is the fact that this trade collects three chapters billed as stand-alones, straying from the longer format of the first two volumes, which might lead readers to treat it less seriously. But as usually happens with these Criminal trades, The Dead and the Dying is a marvelous surprise that's almost impossible to put down.

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Joker: The Greatest Stories Ever Told[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King]

Up to this point, the "Greatest Stories" series has profiled the best and brightest of the DC Universe. But when the series takes a turn toward the villainous, it's in many ways appropriate that DC's most iconic villain gets the "Greatest Stories" treatment in The Joker: The Greatest Stories Ever Told.

Perhaps even more so than with Batman, it's a bit difficult to assess what makes a Joker story "great" since I'm a staunch proponent of Grant Morrison's theory that The Joker is "super sane," reinventing his personality almost every day; as such, it's not hard to reconcile a Joker who builds sandcastles with a Joker who guns down Barbara Gordon.

Review: The Judas Coin graphic novel (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Judas Coin by Walter Simonson (DC Comics)[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at Hell Yeah '80s Marvel!]

A few years ago, DC published a book called Solo, allowing artists a chance to create stories in their style as they saw fit. Despite decent sales, great critical reception, and three Eisners for three individual issues [plus a forthcoming collection -- ed.], the title folded in 2006. Various artists had already begun working on ideas for issues; one of them was Walt Simonson. Last year, Simonson reworked some of his Solo ideas into a graphic novel, The Judas Coin, which was one of Collected Editions’ recommendations for holiday shopping. Even though The Judas Coin is broken up into six individual stories and a brief prologue, it doesn’t feel like a watered-down miniseries in the way JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice does.

Two new Collected Editions ebooks

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today Collected Editions announces the release of two new ebooks!

In 2011, DC Comics relaunched their entire line of titles, replacing over twenty-years of post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity (and some pre-Crisis continuity!) with the New 52. The Collected Editions website chronicled the newly unfolding DC Universe with reviews of each of the inaugural New 52 collections, and now those reviews are collected in a new ebook as an in-depth study of the New 52. The book includes two new, never-before-published Collected Editions reviews, as well as a new introduction by the author.

The second volume in the Unofficial DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline series is updated and expanded to include over 900 titles, including all the New 52 Volume 1 titles, making this the perfect guide for both new and established readers. The Timeline shows how to read DC's library of collected editions in order, offering a quick glance at the most significant DC events as well as collections that readers might have missed. Copious notes help explain how the collections fit together. Whether a fan of DC's old continuity or new, the Trade Paperback Timeline is your map to navigating the DC universe. This volume also contains a new introduction by the author.

How to order

The ebooks are just $0.99 each, available direct from Smashwords and compatible with all ebook apps and devices (Kindle see below). You can also order the books from Barnes and Noble for the Nook, the Apple iBookstore, Kobo, and the Sony ReaderStore (link to come).

Kindle users: Collected Editions ebooks are sold DRM-free from all vendors. For Kindle compatibility, download the free Calibre ebook management system and easily convert the Smashwords EPUB file to MOBI format.

For press/blogger inquiries and review copies, contact collectededitions at the Yahoo account or DM @collecteditions on Twitter.

Reviews appreciated. Enjoy your new ebooks!

Review: Worlds' Finest Vol. 1: The Lost Daughters of Earth 2 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Worlds' Finest Vol. 1: Lost Daughters of Earth 2An interesting premise and some wisely re-imagined characters carries Paul Levitz's Worlds' Finest: The Lost Daughters of Earth 2 a very far distance. Unfortunately, the number of issues collected here outpaces the utility of the plot, to the point where the book begins to feel decompressed; the juxtaposition of the past and present with artists Kevin Macguire and George Perez respectively is entertaining and certainly pretty to look at, but this too gets gimicky after a while as it fails to come to any cohesive point.

[Review contains spoilers]

The best part of Paul Levitz's Worlds' Finest is his new Earth 2-born Power Girl and Huntress. Though the two initially seem much like their pre-Flashpoint counterparts (as did Huntress in Levitz's Crossbow at the Crossroads miniseries), later in the book Levitz begins to differentiate and re-imagine their voices. Huntress is, in comparison to the former Helena Bertinelli, somewhat bookish and reserved, preferring to remain in the shadows; Power Girl is bold but also surprisingly flirty, more tawdry than one would expect considering that she was once Earth 2's Supergirl.

DC Trade Solicitations for August 2013 - Joker: Death of the Family, DC One Million Omnibus, Necessary Evil, Legion cancelled

Friday, May 17, 2013

Joker: Death of the FamilyEarlier this week DC Comics released their August 2013 solicitations, including trade paperbacks, collections, and graphic novels. As you know, DC also cancelled four titles -- Legion of Super-Heroes, Threshhold, Demon Knights, and Dial H. Even as we're talking about August, I think most of us have our eyes tipped toward September, such to see what new books might replace the fallen. (What Wave will this be now? I can never keep track.)

Losing Legion certainly stings, as for me this has been one of the most enjoyable and accessible Legion runs in a while -- up there with the early issues of the recent Mark Waid/Barry Kitson run, but maybe a little better because I adored this return to the "new classic" Legion. But while Paul Levitz's Legion was superlative just before Flashpoint, in the New 52 the wind seemed to go out of its sails a little bit, and I can't necessarily say the cancellation was a surprise.

Nor can I gather up the ire that Waid has about this -- surely there's been an instance before where Legion has been cancelled one month and restarted the next (for instance, when Waid himself relaunched Legion after Zero Hour). And even if Legion does go on hiatus, I find it hard to believe Waid would expect DC to keep publishing Legion if it wasn't making money -- just because a title's been around for forty years (in three or four different iterations, which I'm not sure counts as "continuous") doesn't make it too big to fail if it's, well, failing.

Some collections:

Joker: Death of The Family HC

We already knew about this, but now we have a semi-confirmed release date of October 16, the week after the Batman: Death of the Family collection comes out (so they're the opposite of Night of the Owls, where the tie-in book came out first; this time the tie-in book comes out second).

Contents are reported as Batman #17, Catwoman #13-14, Batgirl #14-16, Batman and Robin #15-17, Nightwing #15-16, Detective Comics #16-17, Red Hood and the Outlaws #15-16 and Teen Titans #15, plus pages from Batman #13, Batgirl #13, Nightwing #14, Red Hood and the Outlaws #13-14, Suicide Squad #14-15 and Teen Titans #14 and 16. This will mark the first time in the New 52 that a DC collection has included "pages from" instead of a full issue, and I'll be curious to see how seamlessly (or not) the pages fit in. I recently re-read Batman: Murderer/Fugitive, whose collections also tried to patch together just the relevant parts of the tie-ins, and it's a valiant effort but my thinking is overall these collections read better with the full issue.

Batgirl Vol. 3: Death of The Family HC

This collects Batgirl #14-19, Batman #17, Batgirl Annual #1, and the Batgirl story from Young Romance #1, which is a nicely large enough selection of issues that it doesn't feel like Joker: Death of the Family duplicates it too much. I'm especially glad to see these Young Romance stories collected with their respective titles, too; here and also in the Stormwatch book, to name two off the top of my head (or does Stormwatch? See below).

DC One Million Omnibus HC

If it's go big or go home, DC went big with this one. You've got to admire a book that not only collects the original crossover and tie-ins (in and of itself a feat, and it makes me still hopeful for that Crisis on Infinite Earths Omnibus with all the tie-in issues, one day), but also ancillary stories that came out years (and in one respect, even a decade) later like the 80-Page Giant, Superman/Batman, and Booster Gold. Plus this is about the only place you can find collected issues of Chronos and Creeper, among others.

Necessary Evil: The Villains of the DC Universe TP

Collects parts of Action Comics Annual #10, Batman #244 and 614, Batman Villains Secret Files #1, Black Adam #6, Green Lantern Corps #14, Solo #1, Superman: Lex 2000, Wonder Woman #214, Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1, and profile pages from Countdown #2, 6-11, 14-16, 19, 27, 29, 33-34 and 36-37. I don't think I spot anything in there that hasn't been collected already except maybe the Batman Villains story, whatever it turns out to be, and the Countdown profiles.

Ame-Comi Girls Vol. 1 TP
Arrow Vol. 1 TP
Batman: Legends of The Dark Knight Vol. 1 TP

Chris Arrant at Robot 6 asked the other day whether DC's digital comics were their best-kept secret. It certainly seems like they're rolling out collections of the same pretty regularly. That a collection is coming out doesn't necessarily speak to the quality of the product, but from what I hear Smallville and Injustice and the rest are all doing well; how long until an in-continuity title goes digital first, do you think? (And how long until DC goes ahead and adopts the Thrillbent/Marvel Infinite Comics method of digital comics "animation"?)

Animal Man Vol. 3: Rotworld—The Red Kingdom TP
Earth 2 Vol. 2: The Tower of Fate HC

At some point I was thinking the next Earth 2 collection wouldn't be out until 2014. Quite thankfully it's October, and it's got almost seven-to-eight issues of content in it.

Green Lantern Vol. 3: The End HC

Does ... does this mean I just have one more Geoff Johns Green Lantern collection to read, and that's it? Oh. Oh my.

Green Arrow Vol. 3: Harrow TP

I mentioned elsewhere I'm kind of disappointed not to see any of Jeff Lemire's new run on the series collected here, just because it means we have to wait that much longer before Lemire's first Green Arrow collection. At the same time, while I expect from reading authors Ann Nocenti and Rob Liefeld's other works that I may find this collection a little rough, between the Savage Hawkman and Justice League issue this collection is obviously meant to milk the Justice League of America connection for all its worth, and that's an enjoyable prospect.

Stormwatch Vol. 3: Betrayal TP

Some of the online retailers list a Young Romance story as being included here, but DC themselves don't, so your guess is as good as mine.

What are you buying for August? And more importantly, is it time for September solicits yet?

Review: Criminal Vol. 2: Lawless trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Criminal Vol. 2: Lawless (Marvel Comics)[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King]

I came out of Coward, the first Criminal volume from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, with a compulsion to seek out more crime comics, especially the ones by this creative team. The second volume, Lawless, continues developing the shared universe in which these stories occur with considerable inventiveness, but it is for a number of reasons an overall less entertaining read than its strong predecessor.

After a military scandal which led to his untimely departure from the service, Tracy Lawless returns to Center City to avenge the murder of his brother Ricky. All he knows is that his brother Rick was betrayed by a member of his own crew, so Tracy infiltrates the gang to learn the truth about his brother's death. But as Tracy takes Rick's place in the gang, he learns that his brother's past was more complicated -- and more twisted -- than he expected, even as his investigation leads him to the most corrupt of the city's real power brokers.

Review: Stormwatch (1997) Vol. 5: Final Orbit trade paperback (Wildstorm/DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Stormwatch: Final Orbit[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at Hell Yeah '80s Marvel!]

One of the biggest appeals of the Aliens vs. Predator franchise is that to use the Xenomorphs, you don’t have to explain what they’ve been up to since their last appearance. There are millions (if not billions) of them spread out throughout the universe, and their motive is simple: they want to breed. They just happen to require the bodies of living creatures to do so. As a result, you can take the Xenomorphs and cross them over with other characters without requiring a lot of backstory. They’ve met Batman, Superman, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Judge Dredd, Witchblade, and even the Terminator (although, surprisingly, not Robocop, despite that franchise crossing over with The Terminator).

Because of the inter-company crossover nature of those stories, they aren’t canon. Few stories of that stripe can be, apart from JLA/Avengers. The Stormwatch: Final Orbit trade contains another exception: the infamous WildC.A.T.S./Aliens, which will unfortunately not be reprinted in the upcoming Stormwatch: Vol. 2. But publishing rights aren’t the only reason why it won’t be in that volume. As it turns out, the Stormwatch team doesn’t really appear in WildC.A.T.S./Aliens at all. Only a few living members factor into it; the majority of the Stormwatch cast are slaughtered before the WildC.A.T.S. even arrive on Stormwatch’s orbital headquarters.

Review: DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2013 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 13, 2013

DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2013The DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2013 should be in your local local comics shop now (and hopefully on comiXology soon).

Let me say first of all that I'm really excited that DC has published this; Marvel has had books of this type -- scores of them -- for a while now, and an organized DC trade backlist, especially one that's going to be updated every year, is a good thing for trade fans and for retailers. I don't want us to lose sight of that.

Given a good thousand collections that DC has produced, it's pretty easy for a dedicated fan to come along and say, sure, you've got Batman: Year One on here, but where's Batman: Evolution by Greg Rucka with art by Shawn Martinbrough? We fans want deference for the books that mean the most to us, and that's understandable, but DC's goal as a company must be first and foremost to sell books -- I love Superman: Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite, but that book is long out of print and I can't blame DC for using the space in this catalog for something else if a reader couldn't go buy Krimson Kryptonite anyway.

This is not to excuse the lack of a Wonder Woman section in this book, which ought be rectified for the next edition, but rather to say that with this "review" of sorts, I don't necessarily want to engage in the kind of "what, Flash: Rebirth gets a spot but not Legion: The Great Darkness Saga?" conversation (though indeed Flash: Rebirth gets a spot and Legion: The Great Darkness Saga does not), which seems too easy to me (even as I'm going to do a lot of that anyway).

Rather what I want to do is simply look through this book with you and make some observations. Many of those observations are going to be nitpicks, but again, this book is good for the trade-waiting cause and I'm glad it's out there.

(I'll jump ahead for a moment so as not to keep you in suspense: the Chronology aspect of this, while a good effort, is wrong or incomplete in numerous places. These are for the most part fine "suggested reading lists" if a customer asks to see a list of new-ish, notable-ish titles, no, but the DC Trade Paperback Timeline it is not.)

Review: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Vol. 2 graphic novel (Vertigo/DC Comics)

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Stieg Larsson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Vol. 2 graphic novelThe second volume of Denise Mina's adaptation of Stieg Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is better than the first, both in plot and characterization. The second volume benefits from the principle characters actually meeting and working together, plus considerably more of the mystery unfolds. As well, Mina, with artists Leonardo Manco and Andrea Mutti, captures more of the characters' subtleties this time, especially in their dialogue, making for a volume that needed less careful parsing and offered more enjoyment.

[Review contains spoilers]

Though the first volume of this two-book series offered an interesting character study -- more so of Lisbeth Salander than Mikael Blomkvist -- it didn't ultimately feel like a satisfying read. Salander has an arc, in that she's raped by and then later takes revenge on her state guardian Nils Bjurman, but Blomkvist makes little headway in solving the disappearance of Harriet Vanger, and Salander and Blomkvist don't meet before the end of the book. The book felt less like Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and more like Before Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Review: Iron Man/War Machine: Hands of the Mandarin trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Iron Man/War Machine: Hands of the Mandarin[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at Hell Yeah '80s Marvel!]

The early 1990s era of Iron Man is something I enjoy despite its flaws, mostly because it was such a big part of my comic book collecting origins. The Modular Armor was brought to television as the base design of Iron Man: The Animated Series, which was one of the most influential shows in my childhood. When I was twelve, the very first back issue I ever bought was a copy of Iron Man #300 -- the Modular Armor’s debut. The issues from Iron Man, War Machine, and Force Works that form the newly collected Iron Man/War Machine: Hands of the Mandarin crossover show the Iron Man franchise right before its utter collapse.

Review: Batwing Vol. 2: In the Shadow of Ancients trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 06, 2013

Batwing Vol. 2: In the Shadow of AncientsFans of Azrael Jean Paul Valley or Batgirl Cassandra Cain who haven't taken a look at Judd Winick's Batwing, should. In the second collection, Batwing: In the Shadow of Ancients, Winick continues to present a Batwing David Zavimbe who fights for justice not as Batman does, out of a sense of personal injury, but rather out of a sense of atonement. Zavimbe has blood on his hands, as Azrael and Batgirl did before him, and his struggle against evil is also a struggle for his own redemption.

Winick's stories here range from an issue that was so good it made me want to stand up and cheer, to some that are less notable, but the book is carried throughout by Winick's strong depiction of Zavimbe himself. More's the pity Winick only wrote two Batwing issues after this one; I'd have been curious to see what Winick would do fifty issues into Batwing and beyond.

Review: Earth 2 Vol. 1: The Gathering hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Earth 2 Vol. 1: The GatheringJust as there's few writers I'd trust more to return Barbara Gordon to the role of Batgirl than Gail Simone, there's few writers I'd trust to re-imagine the Justice Society of America than James Robinson.

I can't help but see the Earth 2 series (the first issues of which are collected in Earth 2: The Gathering) as fitting right in Robinson's writerly sweet spot. It's specifically DC's older heroes, which gives Robinson license to delve into all the DC historical minutia he uses so well, and it's largely an Elseworlds series (though with "real universe" ties), such to let Robinson do his own thing unfettered by larger continuity, in the spirit of his Golden Age.

I have enjoyed and found interesting Robinson's somewhat controversial works since he returned to DC, namely Cry for Justice and Justice League, but now I can finally say this: Earth 2 is James Robinson's best work since Starman, one that I think will fully put him on the map again.

Review: Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World hardcover (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World (Marvel NOW)[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at Hell Yeah '80s Marvel!]

Free Comic Book Day 2013 is coming up this Saturday, and Marvel’s offering this year is a doozy. Jonathan Hickman’s Infinity #1 is the start of a major event, with ties to current Marvel comics and, quite likely, the upcoming film appearance of Thanos in the next Avengers film. Hickman has taken command of the core Avengers titles, after over a decade of Brian Michael Bendis’s decompressed and rather talky tenure, with New Avengers and Avengers, the first six issues of which are collected in Avengers Vol. 1: Avengers World.

Taking his cues from the film, along with Bendis’s own Avengers Assemble book, the team begins in its six-person cinematic line-up. It’s a credit to both the film and Marvel’s own editorial choices that such a team makes sense in the modern Marvel universe. The only out-of-place element is the Hulk’s presence, especially since his founder status was revoked back in Kurt Busiek’s run. Thankfully, Mark Waid’s Indestructible Hulk and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Avengers Assemble have helped improve the Hulk’s status quo. The series begins with Steve Rogers and Tony Stark stripping the team down to rebuild it later on, though they dismiss Luke Cage and Dr. Strange a little too casually for my tastes.