Review: Ravagers Vol. 1: Kids from NOWHERE trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The idea of teaming Superboy, the Titans's Beast Boy, Terra, Thunder, and Lightning, and Gen13's Caitlyn Fairchild, and pitting them against Ravager Rose Wilson, WildCATs's Warblade, and some well-known Titans villains, sounds pretty interesting (similar to Keith Giffen's DC/Wildstorm: Dreamwar). As a long-time fan of a lot of these characters, the appeal of Howard Mackie's Ravagers Vol. 1: The Kids from NOWHERE is largely in just seeing them together. Ian Churchill's 1990s inspired art isn't right for every title, but it's certainly right for this one.

But whereas I have no great complaints about the story Mackie tells here, neither do I think it coalesces necessarily (and Ravagers is cancelled after its next volume). To some extent, for better or worse, Mackie just isn't writing for a collection; also I think Mackie relies too much on the characters' familiar histories despite that these iterations are "brand new."

Review: Transformers: Dark Prelude trade paperback (IDW Publishing)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

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

This trade requires a little bit of toy-collecting knowledge.

Bundling comics with toys is not a new concept; Masters of the Universe toys came with full-length comics years before the cartoon began, while both Toy Biz and Hasbro have sold Marvel toys with reprints. However, Transformers toys have traditionally been connected more to the animated series than the comics.

The few mini-comics which have come with the Transformers toys were mediocre at best and cringingly bad at worst, such as the infamous Armada “JaAm” comic. Hasbro is stepping up the toy/comic connection with the current run of Transformers: Spotlight. The first six issues of this new initiative are collected in the Transformers: Dark Prelude trade.

Review: Star Wars Vol. 1: In the Shadow of Yavin trade paperback (Dark Horse Comics)

Monday, August 26, 2013

I've reviewed Star Wars books from a couple of different eras lately, but to be sure the one I've really been looking forward to is Brian Wood's Star Wars Vol. 1: In the Shadow of Yavin. This triumphant new series from Dark Horse sets itself right after the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, arguably the only time a "classic" Star Wars story can be set and still give the writer access to most of the main characters (after Empire Strikes Back, you can't use Han Solo; after Return of the Jedi, Vader is vanquished, etc.).

And indeed Wood fills this book with old favorites -- Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Wedge Antilles, and others. This is Star Wars, with no offense intended to Dawn of the Jedi or Lost Tribe of the Sith, that I can really get behind.

JSA Omnibus, Doom Patrol Omnibus, Batman by Moench and Jones, Absolute All-Star Batman and Robin, Tales of the Batman: JH Williams, more in DC Early 2014 solicitations

Friday, August 23, 2013

I have an early look at your DC Comics collections for 2014 today, scheduled to be released between March and September. There are a lot of these, so I'm just going to go through them alphabetically, starting with "general collections" first and New 52 books second. To whet your appetite, however, here's some highlights:

JSA Omnibus. Brightest Day Omnibus. Doom Patrol by Grant Morrison Omnibus. Batman by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones. A new collection of Spectre by John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake. JLA Vol. 5, collecting Mark Waid's whole run. Absolute Superman/Batman Vol. 2. Absolute All-Star Batman and Robin. The third Catwoman volume by Ed Brubaker. A new "classic" Animal Man collection. Expanded collections of Batman: Murderer and Fugitive. A deluxe collection of Kevin Smith's Green Arrow stories. Tales of the Batman: Carmen Infantino. Tales of the Batman: JH Williams.

Excited yet? Let's dig in.

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• Black Canary and Zatanna: Bloodspell

Previously announced graphic novel by Paul Dini and Joe Quinones, now scheduled for May 2014.

Absolute All-Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder

As I understand it, there's only ten issues of All-Star Batman and Robin out there, of which only nine have been collected in a hardcover and paperback. I don't know for sure, but presumably this Absolute edition collects all ten.

Absolute Superman/Batman Vol. 2

We now understand these books are out there in the run-up to the new movie. Collects Superman/Batman #14-26, which are the "Absolute Power" and "Vengeance" storylines.

Animal Man Vol. 6: Flesh and Blood

Collects the "classic" Animal Man (post-Morrison) issues #51-63 by James Delano and Steve Pugh. Previously, I totally overlooked that Animal Man Vol. 5, by Tom Veitch, contains a "War of the Gods" crossover issue.

Batman ’66 Vol. 1

Collects the digital series based on the TV show.

Batman Anthology
Joker Anthology

In the spirit of the Superman and Lois Lane collections from this year, DC's releasing a Batman Anthology and a Joker Anthology to celebrate Batman's 75th birthday (Superman and Lois Lane is to Batman and ... Joker. Draw your own conclusions). I don't know the exact contents of either, but the Batman Anthology includes stories by Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Dennis O’Neil, and Frank Miller.

Batman by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones Vol. 1

This is one fans have been requesting for a while. Doug Moench's stories were wonderfully supernatural, and Kelley Jones's art had creepiness dripping off every page.

Collects Batman #515-525, 527-532 and 535-536, including part of the previously uncollected "Troika" storyline, an "Underworld Unleashed" issue, and piece of the "Contagion" crossover, plus appearances by Black Mask, Killer Croc, Swamp Thing, Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Deadman.

Issue #526, omitted from this book, is by Moench but with art by JH Williams; it's collected in the Tales of the Batman: JH Williams collection, elsewhere in this list. The collection also omits two "Legacy" issues, #533 and #534, but you can find those in the Legacy collection.

This collection ends with the first of a three-part Man-Bat story (also a "Final Night" crossover); it's strange to end a collection like this on a cliffhanger, but maybe that helps promise a Volume 2 to follow.

Later stories would include the Spectre, Joker, Penguin, Clayface, and Ragman, and a "Genesis" crossover.

Batman: Arkham Asylum Living Hell Deluxe Edition

This Dan Slott/Ryan Sook miniseries ended up in continuity after "One Year Later"; I'm sure a deluxe edition will be an attractive book.

Batman: Bruce Wayne - Murderer? (New Edition)
Batman: Bruce Wayne - Fugitive (New Edition)

Following DC's recent expanded collections of Knightfall and No Man's Land, Batman: Murderer and Batman: Fugitive each get new single-volume trades. I don't believe the contents list that I have is accurate, but I'm told each of these will include previously uncollected material; the original collections did have some holes, so this is nice to hear.

Brightest Day Omnibus

Collects Brightest Day #0-24. On one hand, you've got a story by Geoff Johns, Peter Tomasi, and artists including Ivan Reis and Patrick Gleason, and staring Aquaman, especially, and about half of this book did lead right in to some New 52 series, Aquaman and Hawk and Dove especially. On the other hand, this is a book significantly out of continuity and that received mixed reviews; my armchair sense is that sales potential on this one is iffy.

Catwoman Vol. 3: Under Pressure

Yes! This collection contains Catwoman #25-37, which finishes out Ed Brubaker's run and sees Catwoman through the "War Games" crossover. Most of Brubaker's Catwoman run had been collected before these new, larger trades, but these issues have never been collected before.

Damian: Son of Batman Deluxe Edition

Collects Andy Kubert's Damian, Son of Batman miniseries, plus Batman #666.

DC Universe Vs. Masters of the Universe

In addition to Keith Giffen's DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe (Masters of the DC Universe?) miniseries, this collection also includes 1982's DC Comics Presents #47, where He-Man met Superman for the first time.

Deadman Book Five

This one's for Don Klees. Collects Deadman #1-4, Secret Origins #15, and Challengers of the Unknown #85-87.

Doom Patrol Omnibus

Another one fans have been requesting for a while. This collects Grant Morrison's entire Doom Patrol run, #19-63, in one volume, plus the Doom Force Special.

Final Crisis (New Edition)

No word on whether this newest Final Crisis collection contains the Batman issues or the 3-D, but it's supposed to include "all new additional story pages," which sounds like the recent extra material from the Absolute edition.

Green Arrow by Kevin Smith Deluxe Edition

Collects in one volume Kevin Smith's "Quiver" and "Sounds of Violence" stories, previously in separate trades.

Harley Quinn: Welcome to Metropolis

Continuing DC's collections of the Karl Kesel/Terry Dodson series; includes issues #14-25.

JLA Vol. 5

So far, the first four of these JLA collections have re-collected the Grant Morrison books, first in hardcover and then in paperback. This one is straight to paperback, and collects all of Mark Waid's JLA run, issues #47-60, including the "Tower of Babel," "Queen of Fables," and "Terror Incognita" storylines, plus JLA: Heaven's Ladder. Art on much of this is by Bryan Hitch.

John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol. 8: Rake at the Gates of Hell

This Hellblazer collection by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillion was previously released; this is a "re-cut" collection, though I'm not entirely sure what that means.

Jonah Hex: Shadows West

Collects the Jonah Hex miniseries Two Gun Mojo, Shadows West, and Riders of the Worm and Such, some of which have been collected before, but not together. By Joe Landsale and Tim Truman.

JSA Omnibus by Geoff Johns Vol. 1

Let's start with the fact that finally, finally, we have a JSA Omnibus. John's Teen Titans and Hawkman, which also received omnibuses, were both good series, and no knock against Johns's Flash run, but for me, JSA is one of his best early works. I'm very happy about this, and I hope you are, too.

Take a moment with it.

OK, now the bad news is that, in addition to a variety of specials and one-shots, the regular JSA issues collected here start with #6 and go to #28.

Yes, this means the omnibus contains the Darkness Falls and Return of Hawkman collections, and part of Fair Play (stopping a little before the superlative "Stealing Thunder" storyline, which'll undoubtedly be in the next volume), but does not contain David Goyer and James Robinson's JSA #1-5, Justice Be Done. Yes, if you're someone looking to get into JSA for the first time, it does mean you're missing the first five issues.

Obviously I wish this wasn't the case. Obviously I wish this was a JSA Omnibus and not specifically a JSA by Geoff Johns Omnibus. But we have been waiting a long time for this book, and I'd rather have something instead of nothing. Go back to your happy moment, as I did when I first heard about this, and stick with your initial excitement. At least the omission isn't from the middle of the book.

Also included are the JSA Annual #1, JSA Secret Files #2, JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice, JSA: Our Worlds at War #1, JLA/JSA Secret Files #1, Secret Origins of Super-Villains 80-Page Giant #1, and JSA All Stars #1-8. So, not an insubstantial trade altogether.

UPDATE: Early word is that the JSA Omnibus contents have been updated more favorably ...

Justice League of America Vol. 1 Omnibus

There was a Justice League of America Chronicles that DC solicited a while ago, that was subsequently canceled. I'm pretty sure they've switched those Chronicles all over to Omnibuses now. This one collects Brave and the Bold #28-30, Justice League of America #1-16, and Mystery in Space #75.

Masters of the Universe Vol. 3

Includes Masters #1-6 plus the digital issue #8.

Showcase Presents: Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew
Showcase Presents: Jonah Hex Vol. 2
Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights

There was a controversy a little while back where certain solicited Showcase volumes were canceled due to royalty issues, including Captain Carrot, Atomic Knights, and Jonah Hex. All three are back on the schedule now.

Showcase Presents: Super Friends Vol. 1

Collects Super Friends #1-34. I don't know, will this be the same if you can't see the Wonder Twins' purple outfits?

Smallville Season 11 Vol. 4: Argo

Collects digital issues #13-15 plus the Smallville Season Eleven Special #2, by Bryan Miller.

Spectre Vol. 1: Crimes and Judgements

Another I'm very excited about -- the masterful John Ostrander/Tom Mandrake series gets a new collection (following the new collection of Ostrander and Mandrake's Martian Manhunter). This collects issues #1-12; issues #1-6 were previously collected in a Crime and Punishment trade (with glow-in-the-dark cover!). Ostrander and Mandrake paired for almost 62 issues of this series; I'd love to see them all collected.

Superman/Batman Vol. 1 - Public Enemies

This new edition of Public Enemies in paperback -- again, setting things up for the movie -- includes both the "Public Enemies" and "Supergirl" storylines, issues #1-13.

Swamp Thing by Brian K. Vaughan Vol. 2

Collecting issues #11-20 of Vaughan's Swamp Thing series.

Tales of the Batman: Carmine Infantino

Batman, Detective, and Brave and the Bold issues.

Tales of the Batman: J.H. Williams III

I haven't been much for these Tales of the Batman collections personally, but this one, containing a bevy of modern material, catches my interest. Batman #526 and #550, Legends of the Dark Knight #86-88, and the "Pulp Heroes" Annual #21 are all written by Doug Moench; #667-669 are from the Black Glove collection with Grant Morrison; "Snow" from Legends of the Dark Knight #192-196 is written by Dan Curtis Johnson and Williams with art by Seth Fisher; and Detective Comics #821 is written by Paul Dini. Also includes Chase #7-8, which guest-starred Batman.

And some honorable mentions:

Arrow Vol. 2
Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond
Batman Unwrapped: The Court of Owls
Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire
Injustice: Gods Among Us Vol. 2

The New 52

Batgirl Vol. 4: Wanted

Includes the Villains Month Ventriloquist issue.

Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year-Secret City

Collects Batman #21-24, #0, and Batman Annual #2.

Birds of Prey Vol. 4

Collects Birds of Prey #18-25 and Talon #9.

Catwoman Vol. 4

Includes the Catwoman Annual and the Villains Month Joker's Daughter issue.

Flash Vol. 4: Reverse

This latest Flash volume is said to include issues #20-24, plus the Villains Month Gorilla Grodd and Reverse Flash issues.

Green Lantern: Lights Out
Green Lantern Vol. 4
Green Lantern Corps Vol. 4
Green Lantern: New Guardians Vol. 4
Red Lanterns Vol. 4

Signaling perhaps a change in how DC might be collecting crossovers, all of the new Green Lantern books contain issues #24 of all the other series, the "Lights Out" crossover. For instance, Green Lantern collects issues #21-24 of its own series, the Green Lantern Annual #2, and the Villains Month Relic issue, plus issue #24 of the others; Green Lantern Corps includes issues #21-25 of its own series plus #24 of all the others, etc. This might seem like overkill, but indeed it means you can get a complete story in whatever book you might pick up (useful, perhaps, as readers acclimate to the new Green Lantern creative teams). There's also an individual collection of the "Lights Out" crossover, though everything it includes can also be found elsewhere.

Justice League Vol. 4

Collects Justice League #18-23, so that bridges the gap between Throne of Atlantis and Trinity War.

Justice League: Trinity War

Collects Justice League #21-23, Justice League of America #6-7, Justice League Dark #22-23, Constantine #5-6, Trinity of Sin: Pandora #1-3, and Trinity of Sin: Phantom Stranger #11.

Justice League Dark Vol. 4: Horror City

Collects issues #19-23 plus the Villains Month Eclipso issue.

Larfleeze Vol. 1

Collects issues #1-5 of the new series.

Nightwing Vol. 4

Collects issues #19-24 plus the Villains Month Prankster issue. (Zach King points out there's not actually a Villains Month Prankster issue. Not sure what's being referred to here.)

Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Discipline and Punish

Collects Suicide Squad #20-23 plus the Villains Month Deadshot and Harley Quinn issues.

Superman - Action Comics Vol. 4: Hybrid

Supposed to contain a selection from Young Romance #1.

Talon Vol. 2

Collects Talon #8-14 plus Birds of Prey #21.

Wonder Woman Vol. 4: War

Contains Wonder Woman #19-23 plus the Villains Month First Born issue.

And a "few" additional New 52 collections:

All Star Western Vol. 4: Gold Standard
Animal Man Vol. 4: Splinter Species
Aquaman Vol. 4: Death of a King
Batman - Detective Comics Vol. 4
Batman - The Dark Knight Vol. 4
Batman and Robin Vol. 4
Batman/Superman Vol. 1
Batwing Vol. 4
Batwoman Vol. 4: This Blood is Thick
Constantine Vol. 2
Earth 2 Vol. 3: War
Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Kill Machine
Justice League of America Vol. 2
Justice League of America’s Vibe Vol. 2
Katana Vol. 2
Movement Vol. 1
Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 4
Stormwatch Vol. 4: Reset
Superboy Vol. 4: Blood and Steel
Supergirl Vol. 4
Superman Unchained Vol. 1
Superman Vol. 4
Swamp Thing Vol. 4: Seeder
Teen Titans Vol. 4: Light and Dark
Trinity of Sin: Pandora Vol. 1
Trinity of Sin: The Phantom Stranger Vol. 2
World’s Finest Vol. 3

Whew! Who thought we'd ever see that JSA Omnibus? Or Brubaker's Catwoman Vol. 3? In this whole wide list, what's got you most excited?

Review: Superboy Vol. 2: Extraction trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Though Scott Lobdell's Superboy Vol. 2: Extraction doesn't break any new ground necessarily, fans of Superboy Kon-El's various solo series should find something to like here. Lobdell generally does right by the cloned Kryptonian; new Superboy writer Tom DeFalco's issues suffer a bit, if perhaps from the effect of fill-in artists, though there's plenty hints that better things are on their way.

[Review contains spoilers]

Extraction, with Teen Titans Vol. 2 and Legion Lost Vol. 2, collect amongst themselves all the parts of the "Culling" crossover between the titles. I had previously complimented "Culling" for how it seemed like one big story with all the characters, rather than each title focusing on its own characters as Green Lantern crossovers often do. Taking the two "Culling" issues collected at the beginning of this trade away from the rest of the crossover, however, does reveal them to be more Superboy-focused than I'd originally realized.

Review: Transformers: Robots in Disguise Vol. 3 trade paperback (IDW Publishing)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

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

The third volume of Transformers: Robots in Disguise has an odd beginning, since it starts with the second part of the “Syndromica” story. There was really no other place to put it due to how the series’ continuity works unless they waited to release a separate “Syndromica” trade, which would not sit well with fans. As a result, you might want to re-read the first part of “Syndromica” to get back into the groove of the journey of Orion Pax (formerly Optimus Prime) and his ragtag crew. Then get ready to lose the groove completely as writer John Barber jumps through time in a uniquely-told tale.

Review: Teen Titans Vol. 2: The Culling trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, August 19, 2013

After the collected Culling crossover, Teen Titans Vol. 2: The Culling is another book it would be easy to find fault with. The book is far from startlingly good, but I maintain the quality isn't worse (and maybe a little better) than the later issues of the pre-Flashpoint Teen Titans series -- and trust me, I read them all. And though the storylines may be sometimes trite and the artwork uneven, I continue to like these Teen Titans -- young again, after the previous series aged them nearly to adulthood -- and feel that writer Scott Lobdell has set up some enjoyable characters and an interesting team dynamic.

[Review contains spoilers]

Titans Vol. 2 starts out with two parts of the "Culling" crossover with Superboy and Legion Lost: Part Three of the "Culling" prelude, and then Part Four, skipping both the material from the other series and the Teen Titans annual. This is certainly far from ideal, but it's not quite as disastrous as it sounds. The "Culling" preludes really did treat each team on its own, and this mostly sees the Titans fighting their way out of a virtual reality. Indeed then the book skips all the way to the end of "Culling," but frankly "Culling" was mainly a long fight scene and if you grant the Titans and the Legion met, fought, and teamed-up somewhere between the pages, most of the rest of what's significant about "Culling" happens here in this fourth part.

DC Trade Solicitations for November 2013 -- Batman/Superman, Trinity War, new Final Crisis, Superman vs. Mongul, New 52

Friday, August 16, 2013

Time for a look at DC Comics's November 2013 trade paperback and collections solicitations. After a couple of Superman-heavy months tied into the movie, this is a quieter set of solicits with mostly New 52 volumes.

Before we dive into those, however, a couple of collections of note have popped up online lately that I thought you'd want to see:

Justice League: Trinity War

Yes, Forever Evil hasn't even arrived yet and already we're looking ahead to the Trinity War collection. Due in March 2014; now the big question is whether the individual Justice League, Justice League of America, and Justice League Dark volumes will also carry their respective issues separately.

Batman/Superman Vol. 1 HC

The first collection of the new Greg Pak/Jae Lee series arrives in May 2014.

Final Crisis TPB (New Printing)

Grant Morrison's Final Crisis has already been released in paperback once; what we're looking for here is whether this new paperback perhaps includes some of the material recently in the Absolute Final Crisis collection -- the Batman issues and the brand new pages.

And now for November:

Batman—The Dark Knight Vol. 3: Mad HC

I'm overdue to read Dark Knight Vol. 2: Cycle of Violence by Gregg Hurwitz and David Finch, and I've got to say if that doesn't "wow" me, I'm probably off Dark Knight for the time being. To each their own but I'm not an ardent fan of artist Ethan Van Sciver's work, replacing Finch, nor does the Mad Hatter much move me as a villain. I suspect this is a Batman book I can cull from my list.

Birds of Prey Vol. 3: A Clash of Daggers TP

This is Duane Swierczynski's final collection on this title. I really liked his first volume, but the second volume left me a little cold; I'm skeptical I'll like this one more, though I am eager to see the connection between the Birds and the Teen Titans explored. What's perhaps most notable is that this collection includes the Batgirl Annual by Gail Simone, about as close as you might come these days to Simone writing the Birds of Prey (though Batgirl readers may wonder why they have to seek out their annual in another title).

Green Lantern: New Guardians Vol. 3: Love and Death HC

Somewhere along the way this book was called "Rise of the Third Army," going along with the other individual Green Lantern-title collections called "Rise of the Third Army" and then the "Rise of the Third Army" combination collection; probably good they made a change. This actually collects both New Guardians's "Third Army" and "Wrath of the First Lantern" components, and also marks the end of Tony Bedard's run on this series.

Savage Hawkman Vol. 2: Wanted TP

This Hawkman collection was already solicited once, and then cancelled and resolicited most likely so that, with the cancellation of the series, the whole thing could be collected in one place. I appreciate DC doing this; I much prefer having to wait a little longer for the trade than not having the final issues collected, a la Keith Giffen's Doom Patrol.

The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man Vol. 3: Takeover TP

The first Firestorm collection didn't excite me much, and I picked up the second kind of by rote and also because it has the Justice League International in it, though I know now from Justice League International Vol. 2 that the crossover isn't very significant. I might very well skip Vol. 3, except this is where Dan Jurgens takes over. I'm a considerable fan of Jurgens's writing and art, but he does have a tendency to draw young people too old. Firestorm faces off against Teen Titans in this book, and Jurgens's renditions I've seen of Red Robin and Solstice, to start, are so far afield from both Brett Booth, Ale Garza, and others are drawing them in the Teen Titans book -- in terms of how young they look in that title, and how old they look under Jurgens's pen -- that I'm somewhat inclined to pick up this trade solely for the novelty of it.

Superman Vol. 3: Fury at the World’s End HC

Though called "Fury at the World's End," this book collects the Superman part of the "He'l on Earth" crossover; if you don't want to get the combination crossover collection, then you'd want this, Superboy Vol. 3, and Supergirl Vol. 3.

Nightwing Vol. 3: Death of the Family TP
Teen Titans Vol. 3: Death of the Family TP

Your "Death of the Family" collections for the month -- note how DC kept "Death of the Family" as the title here though not "Rise of the Third Army" with the Green Lantern books. The Nightwing collection contains Batman #17, as do the Batman, Batman and Robin, and Batgirl collections.

The Batman/Judge Dredd Collection TP

I've never had a touchstone for or interest in Judge Dredd, but I thought it was nice that DC included the Lobo/Judge Dredd special in this book, too; essentially this is a DC Universe/Judge Dredd collection.

The Planetary Omnibus HC

I know I should read this. Especially with the JLA, Authority, and Batman specials in it. Probably not right away, but one day.

Creature Commandos TP
Deadman Book Four TP
Doctor Mid-Nite TP

Again, to each their own, but I can't quite figure what these books are doing here. With Frankenstein long ago cancelled, is there otherwise pent up demand for a classic Creature Commandos collection? For a fourth classic Deadman volume? And while I like both the JSA Dr. Mid-Nite and the Matt Wagner series that introduced him, does everyone who wants to read this book already have it? A second or third printing I understand; I'm surprised by a "new printing."

Superman Vs. Mongul TP

Can't quite figure this one, either. Mongul is one of my personal favorite Superman villains -- because of some of the work the post-Crisis Superman team did on him; see Superman: Exile -- but I've always thought Mongul was just below the level where the general public had ever heard of him, "For the Man Who Has Everything" notwithstanding. Still, glad to see Mongul get a nod, and you've got to dig that Ryan Sook cover. (Not to be confused with Superman vs. Mongul, the "I Can Read" edition.)

That's what stood out to me -- what's on your buying list for November?

Review: Culling: Rise of the Ravagers trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

This is not the most ringing of endorsements, but ultimately the Teen Titans/Legion Lost/Superboy crossover collected in The Culling: Rise of the Ravagers is of no lesser quality than the general state of the Teen Titans title prior to DC Comics's New 52 relaunch.

While the art in this crossover is inconsistent, the dialogue often wooden, and mistakes abound (mis-colored characters, mis-attributed dialogue), there remains something entirely endearing about these new Titans, and equally enjoyable about watching them interact with the Legion of Super-Heroes. This is not a book for anyone but ardent fans of superhero mash-ups, but if that's your kind of thing, Culling has its moments in its fits and starts.

Review: Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye Vol. 3 trade paperback (IDW Publishing)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

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

It’s time for my semi-quarterly look at IDW’s Transformers ongoings, with the third volume of More Than Meets the Eye coming first in the reading order. The only downside of this volume from the previous is that the Scavengers don’t appear. The volume makes up for this, however, in that the two stories told are some of the most solid in the series up to this point, setting up future plot points and character development while delivering amazing action and humor.

In 2012, MTMTE and Robots in Disguise both had annuals, a sign that the titles had the support of both the fans and the publisher. The annuals tell one loosely-connected story involving the mythology behind the Transformers’ origins, while incorporating their own subplots along the way. Primus, the god of the Transformers, first appeared in 1989, and the stories about him have been constantly modified ever since. With this story, “Primus: You, Me and Other Revelations," James Roberts adds his own spin.

Review: Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Alpha War hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Though I continue to have concerns about the direction of the Green Lantern Corps title, I'm inclined to shut up about them, at least for a paragraph or two. Peter Tomasi's Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Alpha War is just plain great, in the spirit of some of Tomasi's successful Corps stories past.

Tomasi has always written a good Guy Gardner, but in the two adventures collected here Tomasi's Gardner crackles on the page, not to mention Tomasi's pretty fantastic new origin for Gardner and how Tomasi ties that origin to the present action. This is stellar stuff.

[Review contains spoilers]

Following events in a variety of Green Lantern titles (including some pre-New 52), Alpha War's two stories each turn significantly on the Guardian's manipulation of the Corps toward trying to get the Corps to crumble from within. In "Alpha War," the Guardians' target is their in-Corps police force the Alpha Lanterns (with Gardner and Lantern John Stewart as their pawns); in the first two chapters of "Rise of the Third Army," the target is Gardner himself.

Dan DiDio: Not all DC Villains Month titles to be collected

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Thanks to reader Adam Martin for pointing out this exchange on Dan DiDio's Twitter feed:
At a troubled time for DC's Villains Month event, here's my reactions to this:

Wait and See

No offense to Mr. DiDio, but he has previously referred these kinds of questions to DC's collections department; see, for instance, the controversy about the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3, in which he had to go back to them for answers. There's other times I can recall, anecdotally, where DiDio has indicated he's not all that involved with collections decisions. Now, maybe that's wrong, and for all I know DiDio consulted the collections department before he replied, if he needed to -- but in all I wouldn't be too concerned until we actually see which issues will or won't be collected based on the solicitations. Which brings me to my next reaction ...

I'm Not All That Concerned

Retailer Brian Hibbs points out in one of a fine couple of articles about Villains Month (which I recommend you read) that a number of the Villains Month issues are actually "vignettes"-- flashbacks or otherwise less-than-immediate stories of the villains (Hibbs's example: "The Joker has FOREVER been the face of EVIL in the DC Universe... but what led him on this devious path of treachery? Andy Kubert pens this early adventure showcasing the maniacal exploits of the Crown Prince of Gotham -- The JOKER!").

As Dan DiDio said, only the Villains Month issues that tie into an ongoing series will be collected (aside from the DC Comics Villains Month Omnibus), which means there are Villains Month issues that don't tie in to ongoing series. Those may not be collected, but at the same time, did I really want to read them anyway? I feel no compunction to be a "completist" in terms of collecting all of the Villains Month issues, and if there's really one that isn't collected that I feel strongly about reading, a digital copy is certainly in easy reach (same for Aquaman #0, the only issue of the Aquaman Vol. 3 collection that's not also found in the Justice League Vol. 3 collection).

So ...

Whenever periodical comics aren't collected, I consider that a bad thing -- I like reading collected comics and I don't like feeling like I'm missing out on what periodical readers are getting. In this case, however, it feels like DC is doing the hard work for me (if letting go of some profit) by identifying for me which Villains Month issues are "worth" reading or not. Thanks, I guess.

Anyone picking up every Villains Month title? How did you decide what to read this September?

Review: Saga Vol. 1 trade paperback (Image Comics)

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Thursday, August 08, 2013

This is just another in the chorus of voices, late to the party, that have already told you that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples's Saga is wonderful and you should be reading it. Comparisons have been made between Saga's sci-fi/fantasy epicness and Star Wars, though I think a better comparison is The Wizard of Oz. Despite considerable (one might even say "charming") amounts of cursing and nudity, Saga never loses Oz's sense of wide-eyed wonder, with each new ally, obstacle, or enemy adding to the book's majesty.

In the sum total, not all that much actually happens in Saga's first volume, but it's such an enjoyable ride you'll hardly notice.

Review: Dragon Ball Z Vol. 1 hardcover/paperback (VIZ Media)

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

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

Every episode of the hilarious anime redub Dragon Ball Z Abridged opens with a disclaimer imploring the viewer to support the official release. Since the actual anime dub voices sound wrong for me after Abridged, I’ve decided to take on Dragon Ball Z as my first manga review for Collected Editions. There are different schools of thought on how to get into manga from Western comics and different choices for first books; Dragon Ball Z has the advantages of being well-known and of feeling superheroic enough to bridge the transition from Western to Eastern.

Review: Birds of Prey Vol. 2: Your Kiss Might Kill trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, August 05, 2013

I very much enjoyed Duane Swierczynski's first New 52 Birds of Prey collection. After so many years of Gail Simone writing the series (and then some less-than-stellar fill-ins), I wasn't sure about yet another writer taking over the group; Swierczynski's story, however, deftly mixed humor and espionage, and his new character Starling seemed like someone Simone might have created herself.

But Swierczynski's second volume, Birds of Prey Vol. 2: Your Kiss Might Kill, didn't thrill me quite as much. Swierczynski writes a respectable Birds of Prey, with no embarrassing out-of-character moments; still, the book feels rushed, is perhaps too vague on one of the story's most important elements, and treads too long on a lesser storyline that isn't as interesting.

Review: Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Vol. 2: Prisoner of Bogan trade paperback (Dark Horse Comics)

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi Vol. 2: Prisoner of Bogan has a lot to recommend for it. The writer is John Ostrander, long-time Star Wars comics scribe and also writer of such much-beloved series as Suicide Squad, Spectre, and Martian Manhunter. Art is by Jan Duursema, an equally established presence in Star Wars comics. And at least in the review copy I read, Bogan did not have covers breaking the issues into "chapters," nor was there the common splash page every twenty-or-so pages, such that indeed Bogan reads like a graphic novel. All of this stands in Bogan's favor.

But even as the Dawn of the Jedi "series" is a collection of miniseries rather than a true ongoing series, Prisoner of Bogan is considerably steeped in the events in Force Storm, the story that came before it; this is no fault of the creators, who have a right to link their miniseries, but rather a caution that anyone moved to check out Dawn of the Jedi ought start with Force Storm and not with Bogan. I understood the story well enough by the end, and there's significant, comprehensive recapping of Force Storm provided, but Bogan was not a standalone book as I had thought, and it takes significant concentration and re-reading to understand who's who if you start with Bogan.