Review: Forever Evil: Arkham War trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

I'm a big fan of Peter Tomasi's work; some of my favorite stories from the past decade, and ones I still hold as a benchmark against other books I read, were written by Tomasi. So, when I say that Tomasi and Scot Eaton's Forever Evil: Arkham War is not very good, I say it with a little disappointment but not much consternation. Tomasi can and is doing better, I'm sure, in the final pages of Batman and Robin and in Superman/Wonder Woman. Arkham War strikes me as the kind of hastily-prepared event tie-in miniseries of the kind we saw around Countdown to Final Crisis and elsewhere; I'm willing to chalk up the book's shortcomings to the vagaries of hastily-prepared event tie-in miniseries without necessarily taking it as a referendum on the creative team itself.

Review: Avengers: Revelations trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

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

Instead of just shoving annuals into a title's next trade, recently Marvel has been using annuals to have mini-crossovers like The Arms of the Octopus which brought together the disparate All-New X-Men, Indestructible Hulk, and Superior Spider-Man. However, the Avengers: Revelations trade takes a different approach. It uses the assumption that the four titles it collects have large enough fan crossover to support an anthology of annuals. It helps that three of these are the cornerstones of the Avengers franchise and the fourth is a Thanos story by Jim Starlin and Ron Lim.

DC Comics Villains Month trade reading order

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The following is a guide to how you can read the issues involved in DC Comics's 2013 Villains Month in trade paperback or collected format. Indeed all of these issues are included in the New 52 Villains Omnibus, but unlike the 2012 Zero Month issues and the 2014 Futures End issues, a majority of these are not also collected in their respective titles' individual trades.

Further confusing things is the fact that some of these issues tie in to the Forever Evil event miniseries that began the same month as Villains Month, and some of these issues are "standalone," but this doesn't factor into whether or not the issues are collected. Indeed, two fairly significant issues, Justice League of America #7.4: Black Adam and Detective Comics #23.3: Scarecrow, are each uncollected even though they tie in to Forever Evil and Forever Evil: Arkham War respectively. I wish quite a few more of these had been collected than they were.

This first list includes the Villains Month issues that were collected and where they can be found. The issues that take place during or around Forever Evil are listed in bold.

Action Comics #23.1: Cyborg SupermanSupergirl Vol. 4: Out of the Past
Batman #23.4: BaneForever Evil: Arkham War
Batman: The Dark Knight #23.1: VentriloquistBatgirl Vol. 4: Wanted
Batman: The Dark Knight #23.4: Joker's DaughterCatwoman Vol. 4: Gotham Underground
Detective Comics #23.2: Harley QuinnSuicide Squad Vol. 4: Discipline and Punish
Earth 2 #15.1: DesaadEarth 2 Vol. 3: Battle Cry
Flash #23.2: Reverse-FlashFlash Vol. 4: Reverse
Flash #23.3: The RoguesForever Evil: Rogues Rebellion
Green Arrow #23.1: Count VertigoGreen Arrow Vol. 4: The Kill Machine
Green Lantern #23.1: RelicGreen Lantern Vol. 4: Dark Days
Green Lantern: Lights Out
Green Lantern #23.4: SinestroSinestro Vol. 1: The Demon Within
Justice League #23.1: DarkseidBatman/Superman Vol. 1: Cross World
Justice League #23.3: Dial EDial H Vol. 2: Exchange
Justice League of America #7.1: DeadshotSuicide Squad Vol. 4: Discipline and Punish
Superman #23.3: H'ElSuperman: Krypton Returns
Swamp Thing #23.1: ArcaneSwamp Thing Vol. 4: Seeder
Wonder Woman #23.2: First BornWonder Woman Vol. 5: Flesh

These issues take place during or around the events of Forever Evil, but are not collected (except in the omnibus):
  • Action Comics #23.3: Lex Luthor
  • Action Comics #23.4: Metallo
  • Aquaman #23.1: Black Manta
  • Aquaman #23.2: Ocean Master
  • Batman #23.2: Riddler
  • Batman #23.3: Penguin
  • Batman and Robin #23.1: Two-Face
  • Batman and Robin #23.2: Court of Owls
  • Batman and Robin #23.3: Ra's al Ghul and the League of Assassins
  • Batman: The Dark Knight #23.2: Mr. Freeze
  • Batman: The Dark Knight #23.3: Clayface
  • Detective Comics #23.1: Poison Ivy
  • Detective Comics #23.3: Scarecrow
  • Detective Comics #23.4: Man-Bat
  • Flash #23.1: Grodd
  • Green Lantern #23.3: Black Hand
  • Justice League #23.4: Secret Society
  • Justice League of America #7.2: Killer Frost
  • Justice League of America #7.3: Shadow Thief
  • Justice League of America #7.4: Black Adam
  • Superman #23.1: Bizarro
  • Teen Titans #23.1: Trigon
  • Wonder Woman #23.1: Cheetah
These issues are unrelated to Forever Evil, and are not collected (except in the omnibus):
  • Action Comics #23.2: Zod
  • Batman #23.1: Joker
  • Batman and Robin #23.4: Killer Croc
  • Batman/Superman #3.1: Doomsday
  • Earth 2 #15.2: Solomon Grundy
  • Green Lantern #23.2: Mongul
  • Justice League #23.2: Lobo
  • Justice League Dark #23.1: The Creeper
  • Justice League Dark #23.2: Eclipso
  • Superman #23.2: Brainiac
  • Superman #23.4: Parasite
  • Teen Titans #23.2: Deathstroke
For more DC Comics trade paperback reading orders, visit the Collected Editions DC Trade Paperback Timeline.

Review: Animal Man Vol. 5: Evolve or Die! trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 23, 2015

Jeff Lemire wraps up a superlative run with Animal Man Vol. 5: Evolve or Die. Though comics may be surprising or shocking or interesting, it's a rare book that can take 20 pages of panels and images and really make them emotional, and Lemire has consistently achieved that throughout, including in this book's conclusion. I would say that Evolve or Die was in totality perhaps my least favorite volume of Lemire's Animal Man (though the final issue was a knockout), but I can certainly acknowledge the manner in which Lemire completes Buddy Baker's arc and brings the title to a resting place ahead of Justice League United.

DC Trade Solicitations for June/July 2015 - Pre-Convergence trades, Gotham Academy, Grayson, Green Lantern by Johns Omnibus Vol. 2, Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle

Thursday, February 19, 2015

By the time the books solicited in DC Comics's May 2015 (June/July hardcover and trade paperback collections solicitations) come out, Convergence will already be done with and the "Divergence" era of DC will have begun. Given everything else going on in this month's solicitation round (even if the collections come out somewhat later), it wouldn't have been surprising to find the solicitations light on trades, but in fact, just the opposite is true. Some high-profile collections come out this month, including Grayson and Gotham Academy, plus the latest from Geoff Johns's Justice League. Also a number of titles reach or are approaching their cancellations or pre-Convergence break-points, depending.

We also see in this solicitations round a book we talked about last month, the Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle collection, which I'm excited about as a reader even aside from the hope that the release of the book will help the artist in his recovery from a stroke. The collection is a little sparse isn't as complete as we might have imagined, but maybe there's a second volume on the way.

Let's take a look:

Aquaman Vol. 6: Maelstrom HC

This takes Aquaman right up to Convergence, and marks the last Jeff Parker trade before Cullen Bunn takes over post-Convergence.

Aquaman and the Others Vol. 2: Alignment Earth TP

This volume also collects Aquaman and the Others right up to Convergence, which is the end of the series. Includes both the Aquaman and Others "Futures End" issues. (The title of this trade sounds like a classic Star Trek episode.)

Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of War TP

Another collection that goes right up to Convergence, though Tony Daniel's Deathstroke continues afterward. I am quite hesitant about this series; there's plenty more ways to write a Deathstroke series wrong than right, and Tony Daniel has been impressive at times, inconsistent at others. I'm glad DC is giving Slade Wilson another chance at a series, but I'm concerned this could be the final nail in the coffin.

infinity Man and the Forever People Vol. 1: Planet of the Humans TP

I give Dan DiDio credit for putting his name on long-shot series and cancelling them when they don't sell. I'm eager for this in the spirit of DiDio and Keith Giffen's madcap OMAC; this includes a Green Lantern "Godhead" tie-in and the "Futures End" issue.

Gotham Academy Vol. 1 TP

Again, collects the book up to Convergence. I'm somewhat surprised not to see this in hardcover, given how it represents the "new DC Comics." A number of the Batman books are getting "Endgame" specials, tying into Scott Snyder's latest storyline and coinciding with the last issue collected in this trade, issue #6. Gotham Academy: Endgame isn't included here, however; I hope that doesn't mean the only place to find it will be in a dedicated "Endgame" crossover trade.

Grayson Vol. 1: Agents of Spyral HC

In contrast, the first Grayson trade only includes issues #1-4, the "Futures End" issue, and a Secret Origins story. Grayson pauses before Convergence at issue #8, which either means the next volume will also just collect four-ish issue, or the next Grayson trade will span the Convergence break. No reason that can't happen, we just haven't see it happen much so far.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 6: Lost and Found TP

Red Hood and the Outlaws becomes Red Hood/Arsenal after Convergence, with the original title's last issue being #40. This collection only includes issues #32-34 (rather skimpy, if you ask me), plus an annual and some Secret Origins stories, so there's likely one more volume of this to go before the change.

Justice League Vol. 6: Injustice League HC

Justice League Vol. 6 collects issues #30-39. A ten-issue trade is certainly nice, and the final pre-Convergence issue is no doubt being held for the next trade since it's a prologue to the "Darkseid War" storyline.

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

This takes Geoff Johns's Green Lantern stories through Blackest Night. After this there's about 15 issues left in the pre-Flashpoint series, plus 20-or-so afterward. Some of these will require tie-in issues from other series, but I imagine DC can probably close this out in one more volume.

Swamp Thing Vol. 6: The Sureen TP

Like Red Hood, the latest Charles Soule Swamp Thing trade collects up to issue #34, so there's six issues for the next trade before the book's end and Convergence. Something I don't think we've seen much in New 52 collections -- this book includes just "pages" from the Aquaman #31 crossover issue, not apparently the entire issue.

Worlds’ Finest Vol. 5: Homeward Bound TP

Collects issues #22-26 and the "Futures End" issue, so this too suggests just one more trade before the series end.

Batman: Gothic Deluxe Edition HC

Collects the story from Legends of the Dark Knight #6-10. With Grant Morrison and Klaus Janson, no question why this is getting a deluxe edition; plus it probably doesn't hurt that "Gothic" sounds a lot like "Gotham" ...

Batman: Cataclysm TP [New Edition]

I couldn't be happier to see the 1990s-2000s Bat-family crossovers getting some love, with the expanded editions of Knightfall, No Man's Land, Murderer/Fugitive, and now Cataclysm. Among issues not previously collected, this has Azrael #40, Batman: Arkham Asylum: Tales of Madness, Catwoman #57, and Robin #52.

Green Arrow Vol. 3: The Trial of Oliver Queen TP

Keep on pre-ordering! We're up to issue #20 now of the Mike Grell Green Arrow series, with Trial of Oliver Queen. There's at least 60 issues to go before Grell's run ends.

Nightwing Vol. 2: Rough Justice TP

I had rather high hopes that these new collections of Chuck Dixon's Nightwing series might maybe move through the series a little more quickly, omnibus-light style. That doesn't seem to be the case, at least with this second volume, which collects about the same as the original Rough Justice, but with the addition of the previously-uncollected Nightwing Annual #1 (with later Nightwing contributors Devin Grayson and Greg Land). That's something, though not everything.

The Question: Falling in Place TP

There's no overt place for the Question Vic Sage post-Convergence, but the release of this trade gives me hope that DC has plans (for Vic or for Renee Montoya). It's otherwise exceptionally strange to see the Rick Veitch miniseries collected, what was supposed to be part of the "Super-storm" event in the Superman comics that ultimately ran aground shortly before Infinite Crisis.

Secret Six Vol. 2 TP

When I talked about hoping the new Nightwing trades would run through the series a little faster, case in point the second new collection of Gail Simone's Secret Six, which collects both the first and second (numbered) original trades.

Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle HC

Last but certainly not least, as we discussed before, is DC's Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle edition. At least as far as DC's solicitations for the book go, this collects about half of Breyfogle's Detective Comics work (including "Mudpack"), but not all of it, and none of his Batman work; I'm choosing to believe that means a second volume will follow.

Those are my picks for June/July 2015. What's on your pull list? How many trade-waiters will be picking up Convergence in single issues?

Review: Daredevil Vol. 1: Devil at Bay trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

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

I apologize for skipping from the middle of Mark Waid's Daredevil run to the start of the rebooted title. It's a function of owning the third hardcover which collects the back half of the series and which deserves a more thorough exploration. As a result, there are some minor spoilers ahead concerning the end of the previous volume. Because Daredevil: Devil at Bay starts with a new #1, it works as a newcomer's introduction to Waid and artist Chris Samnee's ongoing story (although the first volume is absolutely worth reading in its entirety).

Review: Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 16, 2015

If you can't wait for Convergence, an unlikely appetizer to tide you over might be the digital-to-print collection Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure. Tonally the book is appropriate for kids, but at over 200 pages, this text-heavy book is no light read for grown-ups, either. Writer Josh Elder pens an epic and most of all far-reaching story that makes considerably use of the DC Comics landscape; even beyond the story value, simply poring over the bevy of characters drawn in Scribblenaut style on every page is a treat.

Review: Secret Origins Vol. 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Two things are promised in the title of Secret Origins Vol. 1: that within will be origins, and that they'll in some way be secret -- either untold, revealing new information, or sowing the seeds for a storyline to come. On the first promise, "origins," this book delivers, but on the second, "secret," it does not.

At some point the New 52 very much needed a title like Secret Origins to fill in the gaps between what we'd known about the characters pre-Flashpoint and their new status quos, or to re-tell tangled pieces of history like what relationship Nightwing had with Starfire or how Batman "died" if Final Crisis never occurred (something Peter Tomasi's Robin Damian Wayne story approaches but never addresses). The Zero Month event seemed in part a concession to audience requests for more background information; though it largely did not fill in many continuity blanks, it did offer some "secret" origins and teased upcoming events in the respective titles. If Secret Origins could have been the next step forward, a kind of proto-History of the DC Universe, that would have been notable indeed.

Review: The Delinquents trade paperback (Valiant Entertainment)

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

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

While Valiant's main publishing drive in 2014 was the “Valiant First” marketing initiative, the secondary title could very well have been “Year of the Crossovers.” The major one was the epic length Armor Hunters, but 2014 also saw the return of Valiant's future timeline as envisioned in Rai and Eternal Warrior. There was also a brilliant crossover between the very disparate Archer and Armstrong and Bloodshot and H.A.R.D. Corps, which if nothing else proved that Josh Dysart and Christos Gage can match and even exceed Fred Van Lente's wicked sense of humor. But for me, the crown jewel of “Valiant First” was the announcement of The Delinquents, the long-awaited team-up of Quantum and Woody with Archer and Armstrong.

Review: Star Trek: Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever collected hardcover (IDW Publishing)

Monday, February 09, 2015

IDW Publishing's Star Trek: Harlan Ellison's City on the Edge of Forever collects the five-issue miniseries, based on Ellison's original script for the episode. I'm an ardent Star Trek fan, though less fluent in "The Original Series," and though I'm familiar with the televised "City on the Edge of Forever," I didn't re-watch it until after I'd read the comic. I can therefore state that as a Star Trek fan, but with neither a strong background in "The Original Series" nor "City," I still enjoyed this collection very, very much.

Writers David and Scott Tipton, working from Ellison's script, capture exactly the character's voices; I very much felt like I could hear Kirk and Spock, and moreover William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. Artist J. K. Woodward does an exceptional job not just making the characters look like their television counterparts, but in replicating the nuances of the actor's faces -- Nimoy's raised eyebrow, Shatner's bemused half-smile, and so on. Ellison's script specifically deals with more mature material than the average Star Trek episode, one of the reasons it didn't air as is, and this helped hold my attention when the sometimes-campy "Original Series" doesn't always do so.

Review: Superman: Earth One Vol. 3 graphic novel (DC Comics)

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Superman: Earth One Vol. 3 is writer J. Michael Straczynski's Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi all in one, the third volume of the series where the stakes get higher, the bad guys get badder, and threads from the previous two volumes are all wrapped up. Straczynski's villain combination here is eminently familiar, but Straczynski takes it in an unexpected direction that I rather liked. In all it's an enjoyable read, as good as the ones that came before, and a worthy ending to the opening "trilogy."

Some of what was off-color in the last book (where "off-color" isn't an inherently bad thing, but "off-color" and "Superman" are sometimes a funny combination) has been toned down here, though Straczynski's story still transgresses, to an extent, beyond what I think most would be comfortable with in a Superman story. I don't mind this edginess -- it's one of the unexpected delights of Straczynski's Superman: Earth One -- though at times I think the book treats such topics as prostitution with an airiness that's probably not appropriate.

Review: Avengers Vol. 5: Adapt or Die/Avengers Vol. 6: Infinite Avengers hardcovers (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

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

I try to time my reviews to coincide with upcoming crossovers or movies, but Marvel completely upended this review not hours after I started writing it. The gist of my theories were correct: the upcoming Secret Wars is going to be a major reality shift. What I didn't expect were the destruction of the Ultimate Universe and the merging of the remaining Marvel universes into one giant Battleworld.

There are a lot of plot threads to untangle before “Time Runs Out," but I want to start with the core of it all: Jonathan Hickman's Avengers title. I've had a sense for a while that Hickman has been on a very different page from the rest of Marvel, all the way down to a theory that his books have been taking place on a different Earth than Rick Remender's books, just happening to share the major plot developments.

Review: DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology 2015 trade paperback (DC Comics

Monday, February 02, 2015

This will be my third review of the DC Entertainment Essential Graphic Novels and Chronology booklet (2015), following my reviews of the 2013 and 2014 editions.

As I’ve said both times before, I think DC releasing these catalogs is great. Very often trades and graphic novels seem like an afterthought — Dan DiDio, perhaps rightly, focusing on getting readers into the comics shop every week, not every week or so for a trade — even though I suspect there’s more marketing push behind trades than it’s popular to say. These Essentials books are some confirmation of that; it’s a day in the sun for DC’s collections program, so to speak.

If you haven’t picked up the book in your local comics shop, it’s pretty much everywhere online: Amazon, Comixology, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and etc.