Review: Edward Scissorhands Vol. 1: Parts Unknown trade paperback (IDW Publishing)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Among the wonderful spate of comics giving cancelled television shows new seasons, it seems perfectly apt that the cinematic adventures of Edward Scissorhands should continue, starting with IDW's Edward Scissorhands Vol. 1: Parts Unknown, from writer Kate Leth and artist Drew Rausch. Though I'm a fan of the Star Trek novels, it's clear Edward Scissorhands prose would lack the visual majesty of Tim Burton's original, and so comics offers a natural venue for bringing Edward back to life (I'd make a similar argument about Back to the Future, which too IDW is resurrecting in four-color glory).

Review: Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye Vol. 7 trade paperback (IDW Publishing)

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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

After the sixth trade shook up the title's status quo, Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Vol. 7 begins with what feels like a typical story when four Autobots find a dying Cybertronian on a war-torn planet. It takes a few pages to remember that you should never trust James Roberts to write a "typical" story. While the majority of the trade covers the "Elegant Chaos" arc, it begins with a fake breather episode that doubles as a flashback to Megatron's earliest days. Parts of this era had been covered in the Megatron: Origin mini-series, but Eye takes a deeper look at the master work of the tyrant-to-be. Megatron's equivalent of Mein Kampf is called Toward Peace; an entire page of text is devoted to an excerpt wherein Megatron questions the Autobots' mode-based hierarchy.

Review: Arkham Manor trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, July 27, 2015

In this Collected Editions co-review, contributor Doug Glassman ('80s Marvel Rocks!) and I discuss Arkham Manor, with spoilers.

Collected Editions: I've never read any stories of Marvel's Deadpool, and that's due in part to my sense that Deadpool is kind of a Lobo-type figure, ultra-violent and irreverent, and so were I to venture to "the other side," that's not where I'd start. To that end, what gave me the most pause in picking up Arkham Manor was Deadpool writer Gerry Duggan. Would this odd Arkham Manor quasi-miniseries be an immediately-forgettable Batman Eternal tie-in, or worse some sort of gross-out lampooning of the Batman character?

Review: Batman Eternal Vol. 2 trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

I re-read the first volume of Batman Eternal with the benefit of now having read more of the Bat-titles that lead into it, and also digesting that massive 400-plus volume a little slower. With that, I liked it better than I did before, and that carried over to my enjoyment of Batman Eternal Vol. 2. Also, two volumes in, I have a better perspective now on the series's distinct three-act structure, and that helped temper my expectations more toward the story that Batman Eternal is telling.

It remains that there's a certain amount of treading water that Batman Eternal is still doing, even so far as the thirty-fourth issue of this series. That's problematic, but at the same time the story offers a great amount of fan-service, with a Gotham-inspired story in the last volume and equally bringing a favored villain into the post-Flashpoint era with this volume. Aspects of this second volume are moving, suspenseful, and clever; even if Batman Eternal treads water, overall this book kept me entertained.

Review: Justice League Vol. 6: Injustice League hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, July 20, 2015

Geoff Johns's Justice League Vol. 6: Injustice League is a contender for the strongest volume of the post-Flashpoint Justice League yet (maybe a hair behind Throne of Atlantis) and has surely whet my appetite for the Darkseid War on the horizon. Johns's talents are on display in this ten-issue meditation on Lex Luthor, an anti-villain that Johns writes as well as he did Sinestro before him; Johns's characterizations and depictions of the personal relationships overall are strong; and in the last half Johns breathes terrifying new life into an old Justice League villain. Between main artists Ivan Reis, Doug Mahnke, and new series artist Jason Fabok, there's nary a false note in the book; Justice League, purportedly DC Comics's flagship title, has not always felt like such, but it surely feels like such here.

DC Trade Solicitations for November/December 2015 - Batman Eternal, Green Arrow by Jeff Lemire Deluxe, Phantom Stranger

Friday, July 17, 2015

After the big launch of the Convergence trades in last month's DC Comics hardcover and trade paperback collection releases, November/December 2015 (posted July 2015) is a bit quieter -- some solid books, but no giant headlines, I don't think. Briefly, I was glad to see a lot of DC original graphic novel news coming out of San Diego Comic-Con: two different Earth One volumes, Grant Morrison's Multiversity graphic novels, and most significantly new Milestone graphic novels. All of that says to me the original graphic novel market is stable and DC has committed to it for the foreseeable future, and that's good news. (Now if we could only see that Samaritan X graphic novel one of these days.)

Anyway, here's my picks for this month. Not the full list, mind you, which you can find at the DC Comics site, but my picks:

Batman Eternal Vol. 3 TP

I'm re-reading Batman Eternal Vol. 1 right now, maybe a little more slowly, and I'm liking it better than before. I'm still into the crime part and not quite into the supernatural part, which is where I remember it got shaky, so we'll see what happens.

Anyway, this collects the final issues of Batman Eternal, plus the flash-forward issue Batman #28, which was also collected in Batman Vol. 6: The Graveyard Shift. I feel like including it here misses what I thought was the point of the issue, that it was a non-Eternal preview of the Eternal world, but I guess it'll be interesting to see where it's supposed to fit, and how Eternal makes sense with and without it.

Batman/Superman Vol. 4: Siege HC

I'm not much for the question of "Who is Superman's Joker?" addressed here (Superman's Joker is Lex Luthor. If the question is "Who's Superman's strange, sadistic, Joker-like foe," that's a confusion of Superman and Batman as interchangeable characters with interchangeable villain types. Batman has a Joker, Superman has a Lex Luthor). Notably, however, this collection includes issues #16-20, an annual, and the Futures End tie-in issue.

Green Arrow Vol. 7: Kingdom TP

Arguably DC Comics's hottest television property has had a rough time in the New 52, starting to see the light only with Jeff Lemire's suprisingly short stint on the title. We've another new team post-Convergence, leaving us with one single Arrow-inspired volume by Andrew Kreisberg and Ben Sokolowski. I'm hoping for good things but I can imagine if some people would just as soon skip to the new (and hopefully more permanent) run.

Green Arrow by Jeff Lemire Deluxe Edition HC

Speaking of which, if one didn't read Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino's Green Arrow run, this deluxe edition is surely a nice way to enjoy it. DC is offering some fine deluxe editions of the best New 52 runs lately -- of which Flash by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato is another -- though unfortunately without enough consistency for one to decide to skip the original trades for the deluxes.

Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Kiss Kiss Bang Stab HC

In a Harley book for all seasons, the collection includes just three regular issues, #14-16, an annual, and then the Valentine's and Holiday specials.

Justice League United Vol. 2: The Infinitus Saga HC

I've been trying (poorly) to keep track of where the Futures End tie-ins show up. I don't know for sure, but I sense that when a volume has two Futures End issues in it, that's a sign maybe these are a bit more connected to Futures End proper than the other tertiary tie-in issues. Anyway, Justice League United Vol. 2 has a lot going for it, namely Jeff Lemire, the Legion of Super-Heroes, issues #6-10 plus an annual, and both the Justice League and United Futures End tie-in issues.

The Phantom Stranger TP

Collects the 1980s Phantom Stranger miniseries by former DC editor Paul Kupperberg, plus the Phantom Stranger stories from Action Comics Weekly (making this another, after Superman: The Power Within and Nightwing: Old Friends, New Enemies, to collect the Action Comics stories). Artists include Mike Mignola and Kyle Baker.

Superman – Action Comics Vol. 7: Under the Skin HC

The final Action Comics collection before Convergence. Solicitations say this collection includes Futures End #1, which I'm guessing means the Action Comics: Futures End issue by Sholly Fisch, since I can't figure why Futures End #1 proper would be included here.

Book you're looking forward to? Something I should have mentioned? Sound off in the comments and let me know.

Review: New Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Pure Insanity trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What surprised me the most about New Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Pure Insanity is that it's not really so "new." Much like DC's recent Deathstroke relaunch, I thought the point of relaunching Suicide Squad with new numbering was to take a breath, get some space, and then do something entirely different (read as, more attuned to discerning readership, more marketable, more attractive to curious movie-audiences, etc.). Sean Ryan's Pure Insanity, however, is tonally similar to the New 52 Suicide Squad that preceded it, with absurd comic book violence and madcap humor. Ryan does well by some of the characters and I wouldn't dismiss the whole thing yet, but I'm afraid New Suicide Squad isn't off to the start I was hoping for.

Review: The Shadow Hero trade paperback (First Second)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

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

In the process of writing this review, the author of The Shadow Hero, Gene Luen Yang, won the Best Writer award at the 2015 Eisner Awards. There’s no doubt in my mind that he deserved that honor. Yang brings a unique perspective as the son of Chinese immigrants with a vested interest in both his original culture and in how it’s viewed and used by other cultures. He was a perfect fit for the Avatar: The Last Airbender comics, and he’s already making waves as a writer on Superman. What makes The Shadow Hero a standout work is the concept behind it: a reimagining of the first Asian superhero ... maybe.

What Comics Fans Already Understand about Go Set a Watchman

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fifty-plus years after the publication of Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird and after months of anticipation, today sees the release of Lee's new book, Go Set a Watchman.

As the release has approached, however, controversy has swirled that, as a New York Times headline puts it, Watchman "gives Atticus Finch a dark side." The article continues, "Shockingly, in Ms. Lee’s long-awaited novel ... Atticus is a racist."

Though the article offers some nuance farther in, the headline perpetuates a talking point common across numerous articles on the book. Just today, an Associated Press article includes the subhead "Still a Hero?" and interviews a reader who says, "I'm reserving opinion, but I'm ready to be mad. [Atticus is] the epitome of the moral compass." The Guardian announces Atticus "may in fact be a villain" and both that paper and the Chicago Tribune worry after people and businesses named "Atticus."

Review: Batman and Robin Vol. 6: The Hunt for Robin hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, July 13, 2015

After the last volume's long-form Two-Face story, Batman and Robin Vol. 6: The Hunt for Robin gets back to the title's recent roots in stories that pair Batman with Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and ultimately the entire post-Forever Evil Justice League. The book is both appropriately cosmic and also surprisingly ground-level, unexpectedly moving forward the saga of the entire Bat-family in a way I would have thought reserved for Scott Snyder's flagship Batman title. Batman may have Endgame, but Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason offer a Batman and Robin that's as important to the Batman line as it's ever been.

Review: Flash Vol. 6: Out of Time hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Thursday, July 09, 2015

Of course change is hard, and after writer Brian Buccellato and especially writer/artist Francis Manapul's multi-volume run on Flash, the next creative team is most assuredly going to fight an uphill battle in Flash Vol. 6: Out of Time. I appreciate incoming artist Brett Booth's work, but it's significantly different than Manapul's; I don't think DC Comics has quite found the right book for Booth yet, and I think replacing Manapul with Booth on Flash reflects a misunderstanding of what audiences want from a Flash book. I give new series writers Robert Venditti and Van Jensen points for creative use of the Futures End tie-in issue, but this is a fairly short story spread over eight issues, and dedicated more to set-up than anything else. I feel I'll need another volume to know if this is just a slow start before something better or if this is how this new team's Flash run will go.

Review: GI Joe: Cobra trade paperback (IDW Publishing)

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

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

When I last wrote about a GI Joe trade for Collected Editions, the future of the franchise looked incredibly grim. That feeling has abated a bit with another line of figures set to hit Toys ‘R’ Us later this year and rumors spreading of a 6-inch line of figures similar to Marvel Legends. IDW’s comics have pulled out of the nosedive since then, but they’re still not at the levels of popularity as the Transformers books. The fan-site had a trivia contest earlier this year to raise awareness of the previous IDW Joe comics; I won a round and received copies of the issues found in the first GI Joe: Cobra trade.

Wonder Woman: War of the Gods, Superman and Justice League America by Dan Jurgens, Supergirl and Star Trek: New Frontier by Peter David in new solicitations

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

It's about time for the mid-year solicitations list to pop, but it hasn't happened yet, and strangely this year DC Comics new titles are showing up a few at a time with the online vendors first prior to the catalog. To that end, I'm posting these piecemeal announcements as titles are revealed that look interesting to me, and I'm sure we'll be looking at the big list not too long from now.

Two that have me super-excited this morning are Wonder Woman: War of the Gods by George Perez and Superman and the Justice League America by Dan Jurgens.

Review: Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of War trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, July 06, 2015

There's a strangely chaotic moment halfway through Tony Daniel's Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of War. Deathstroke and his mysterious benefactor are interrogating an enemy in a remote, hidden safehouse when all of the sudden other characters just start walking in the door, some of whom the audience has met before and some of whom Deathstroke just seems to know even as the audience doesn't. Not long after, Deathstroke has taken a job from them, without much discussion as to who these people are or why they're all working together.

Gods of War's occasional tendency to go where the wind takes it like this, I have to say, reminded me somewhat of the Rob Liefeld run that preceded it. Indeed this Deathstroke book followed more than I expected the model of Kyle Higgins and Liefeld's New 52 Deathstroke before it, when I had thought DC Comics might have opted for a different approach. That's not all bad; both Higgins and Liefeld wrote popcorn-flick high-action stories, and if that's what you're in the mood for then Gods of War delivers the same.

Review: Terms of Service: Understanding our Role in the World of Big Data (Al Jazeera America)

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Thursday, July 02, 2015

Late last year, Al Jazeera America released Terms of Service: Understanding our Role in the World of Big Data, an feature published as an almost fifty-page "graphic" or "comic novella," as the network calls it. This caught my attention not in the least both because of the format and because of an interest in the topic, but also because of the interesting way that Al Jazeera released it: simultaneously as a "web comic" (comic readable via a website), as a free title on iBooks and Google Play, and as a downloadable ebook and PDF (not in a comic archive format, however). This is of course a model easier to follow for a network giving away an article than for the mainstream comics publishers that want to both sell but also retain rights management for their digital comics, but I still thought the model was interesting. And it's pretty hard to argue with free.