Review: Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 2: War and Peace hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The same disclaimers I offered for Action Comics Vol. 6: Superdoom apply for Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 2: War and Peace, that the entirety of both of those books are included in the Superman: Doomed collection. If your bookshelf can stand a volume of each series missing from the sequential numbering, Doomed offers a more complete story at the same or lesser price. Basically all a reader loses in foregoing War and Peace for Doomed is two Futures End tie-in issues (with the term "tie-in" used loosely) and I'd deem that a fair trade-off.

I've enjoyed recently a number of DC books by Charles Soule, notably his Red Lanterns and also the Superman/Wonder Woman book that preceded this one. I'm therefore inclined to give Soule a pass, though I'd note that of the bloated fifteen-plus-part "Doomed," it would seem Superman/Wonder Woman: War and Peace got stuck with a lot of the issues that simply recap events taking place in other chapters. That's another reason to read Doomed and not War and Peace, because a lot of what happens in Doomed happens in chapters other than these.

Review: Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 3 hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

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

Comixology had a recent "buy one, get one free" sale on all Marvel issues and trades. With Secret Wars delayed and expanded by an issue, it was worthwhile to pick up the rest of Hickman's runs on both Fantastic Four and Secret Warriors to tide me over. The third Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman trade, like its direct predecessor, has only four issues, but this time there are three separate stories. It starts off with what I've decided to call a "Hickman Summary Issue" because he tends to include these types of stories about every six to ten issues (even Secret Wars has one). This can feel redundant in the trades, but considering the number of subplots, it was definitely appreciated by readers of the monthly versions. The summary issues are also a quick way to figure out if you've missed a previous story.

DC Trade Solicitations for February/March 2016 - DC You, Prez, Constantine, Birds of Prey, Azrael, Green Lantern by Johns Omnibus Vol. 3

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

There's a lot of enthusiasm in the February/March 2016 DC Comics hardcover and trade paperback collection releases (posted October 2015), which breathlessly announce in the solicitations for a variety of "DC You" titles, "The first collection of the new DC series is here!" This is in the same round of solicitations that include what we might call the "second wave" of "DC You" titles with miniseries or new series Poison Ivy, Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad Most Wanted, and Swamp Thing, following a minor implosion last month that saw the cancellation of a couple of the "first wave" "DC You" titles (some cancellations of which stuck, some of which didn't).

Anyway, it's a nice-sized month, indeed with a bunch of those "DC You" collections, and I'm glad to see that all of these seem to include the preview stories published ahead of them in the Convergence titles. There's also new "classic" collections of Azrael and Birds of Prey, a Green Lantern Omnibus whose solicited contents bear some examining, and more. Let's dive in and take a look.

• DC Essentials: DC: The New Frontier #1
• DC Essentials: Superman/Batman #1

I haven't much kept up with these DC Essentials so I don't know if the inclusion of pages from the DC Essentials Catalogue is new or not, but it's assuredly a good strategy, selling not just this individual story but also some related ones. For Superman/Batman, there's plenty of material; for New Frontier, not so much related, I don't think, though maybe DC will use that as a springboard to try to sell A) other Justice League material or B) other Darwyn Cooke material, most notably a couple of Catwoman books. It bears mentioning that if DC would publish a monthly New Frontier book (or alternatively, a monthly Wednesday Comics-type "take a character and go nuts"-type book), it'd probably sell gangbusters.

• DC Comics Essentials and Chronology Catalogue 2016

The 2015 edition of this came out around last February, so the beginning of the year is right on time. These are always interesting and offer a unique insight into where DC's positioning itself or what it's emphasizing for the year.

Azrael Vol. 1: Fallen Angel TP

What a thrill to see Dennis O'Neil's quirky Azrael series, masterfully drawn by Barry Kitson, getting a new series of collections (pre-order, kids!). This volume is supposed to collect the Batman: Sword of Azrael four-issue miniseries by O'Neil and Joe Quesada, and Azrael #1-6, which I think might be a typo because the first storyline of Azrael was seven issues long and I don't think they'd omit the last part.

Batman: Arkham -- Scarecrow TP

Notable issues for me among this collection are Batman #523-524, Doug Moench/Kelley Jones issues, though also included in the team's recently-released dedicated volume; Detective Comics #23.3, the "Villains Month"/Forever Evil story that lead in to Forever Evil: Arkham War; and Batman Annual #19, from the "Year One" annual event some years back.

Birds of Prey Vol. 2 TP

Near as I can tell, DC's got this one pretty much perfect. Birds of Prey Vol. 2 follows the new Vol. 1 collection of all of Chuck Dixon's Birds of Prey miniseries with this collection of Birds #1-8 and the Ravens one-shot. Ravens is perfectly placed since those characters appear in these issues, and also this will be the first time issues #7-8 have been collected. Issue #8 was a significant issue at the time that made explicit Nightwing and Oracle's feelings for one another; it's going for anywhere from $30 to $100 on eBay right now, if that gives you a sense of it. DC's on the right track so far and I'm excited for Vol. 3.

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus Vol. 3

There remains what appears to be typos in the solicitation of this third Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus, as it says it collects issues #53-60 of the pre-Flashpoint series, which is some but not all of  the Green Lantern: Brightest Day collection, and then also what are the Corps and Emerald Warriors parts of War of the Green Lanterns (though not the Green Lantern parts), and then the twenty Johns-penned New 52 issues. That's missing the pre-Flashpoint issues #61-67 at least, and then also the Green Lantern Zero Month issue and the other Lantern-title parts of Rise of the Third Army and Wrath of the First Lantern (though I recall the latter New 52 crossover issues weren't wholly necessary). I can't believe the Green Lantern Omnibus wouldn't include, at least, all the Green Lantern issues, so again, I'm betting on incomplete information.

It does include the Larfleeze Christmas Special, which I don't think has been reprinted before.

As well, the solicitation for this book talks about the Brightest Day struggles of Osiris, Jade, and etc., which is way off -- that's all stuff that happened in Brightest Day proper, which is separate from Green Lantern: Brightest Day supposedly collected here (one of Johns's strongest volumes, by the way). I'll be curious to see how this all shakes out when the book is printed.

Identity Crisis (New Edition) TP

Amazes me every time. There's still an audience for another new edition of Identity Crisis, even beyond the recent 10th anniversary edition?

Bat-Mite TP

Collects the full six-issue miniseries plus the Convergence: Supergirl: Matrix preview story.

Batgirl Vol. 2: Family Business TP

Collects Batgirl #41-45, so running parallel to Batman Vol. 8 and with appearances by Batwing Luke Fox, plus the Annual #3 with characters from Grayson, and the Convergence: Infinity Inc. preview story.

Batman Vol. 8: Superheavy HC

In an admirable attempt to preserve the mystery of the new Batman's identity for those readers living under a rock the past six months, the solicitation for Batman Vol. 8: Superheavy asks who the new Batman is and wonders "why is he ... or she here?" Collects Batman #41-45 and the preview story from Divergence.

Bizarro TP

Collects the six-issue miniseries and the preview story from Convergence: Superman: Man of Steel. Out of curiosity, do you all deem Bizarro and Bat-Mite to have been successful? My interpretation was these stories were supposed to build on the popularity of Harley Quinn humor-type comics (the Bizarro solicit names Harley specifically), but I don't see more of these coming down the pike, and I'm not sure Bizarro, for instance, captures the specific off-color humor that had made Harley successful.

Catwoman Vol. 7: inheritance TP

Also concurrent to Batman Vol. 8, this collection of Catwoman #41-46 (and the Convergence: Swamp Thing preview) is the last of Genevieve Valentine's stories. Valentine's run was much shorter than I'd hoped; admittedly I haven't read any of it yet but I liked the look of it. I can't say the solicitation fills me with a lot of hope, however. That Selina had ruled Gotham's underworld but gives it all up to track down her (Bat)man seems a move in the wrong direction, in my opinion.

Constantine, the Hellblazer Vol. 1: Going Down TP

Hellblazer Vol. 1 would win for best collection double entendre subtitle of the month had Midnighter not beat it with the straightforward "Out." This collects #1-6 of the new Constantine series plus the Convergence: Shazam preview.

Deathstroke Vol. 2: Godkiller TP

Collects issues #7-10, the first annual, and the preview from Convergence: Batman: Shadow of the Bat. I'm surprised this title is still going on and frankly I wonder if it has to do with Harley Quinn as a seeming persistent guest star, including in this volume; a semi-serious Deathstroke/Harley Quinn series might sell, too.

Doomed TP

With Doomed recently cancelled, this collection of issues #1-6 and the Convergence: Superman preview is the first and last collection. Much as I did not care for the "Doomed" crossover, I find myself curious about a teen-led series written by Scott Lobdell without the constraints of a dozen other titles; also I believe Lobdell reintroduces some Triangle Title characters, which should be interesting.

Justice League Vol. 7: Darkseid War Part 1 HC

That it's Justice League Vol. 7: Darkseid War Part 1 puts me in mind of the upcoming two-part Avengers movie (because two-part movies are a thing now, apparently). Thinking back, I guess DC published, for instance, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War Vols. 1 and 2, but those weren't numbered volumes and also parts of stories; Batman: Zero Year was two volumes, but individually named and not "parts." No matter, just interesting. I wonder if "parts" suggests a combined omnibus volume still to come, maybe with the "Darkseid War" specials included (which I believe will be collected in their own book and not in a numbered Justice League collection). Collects issues #40-44 and the Divergence story.

Martian Manhunter Vol. 1: The Epiphany TP

Collects issues #1-6 and the Convergence: Adventures of Superman preview.

Midnighter Vol. 1: Out TP

There's many things I like about DC's Grayson/Midnighter-verse and the intelligent wink-and-nod aesthetic of this DC corner, and one of these things is that DC has been forthright enough to name their first Midnighter collection "Out"; no two ways about that one. This collects Midnighter #1-7 and the Convergence: Nightwing/Oracle preview.

New Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Monsters TP

Again, I wonder if DC might have more success re-naming this book Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad; the solicitations seem part super-villain team book, part second Conner/Palmiotti Harley Quinn book, i.e. "How far will [the Squad] push the limits and who will fall? Plus, how will Harley Quinn deal with her greatest enemy: boredom?" Collects issues #9-12 and the first annual, and the preview story from Convergence: Justice Society of America (an odd pairing of series and Convergence title, I must say).

Prez Vol. 1: Corndog in Chief TP

In the expansion and then contraction that was DC's release of their "DC You" series, including the much-discussed Omega Men and etc., there was some question whether Prez would remain twelve issues; it seems it will, just split in two series. Here's Vol. 1, collecting the first six issues, plus the preview story from Convergence: Batgirl.

Robin: Son of Batman Vol. 1 -- Year of Blood HC

From the solicitation, I'm confused whether this takes place "now" or in a period before Damian met Batman, but don't tell me -- I'll read it eventually. Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have been among my favorites for a while, and I'm very curious to see what Gleason does on his own. Collects issues #1-6 and the preview from Convergence: World's Finest.

Secret Six Vol. 1: What is the Secret of the Six? TP

Never expected we'd see another Gail Simone Secret Six series, seems like the collection has taken a while, but I'm thrilled it's soon to be in my grubby hands. Collects issues #1-6 and the preview from Convergence: Wonder Woman.

Sinestro Vol. 3: Rising TP

Collects Sinestro #12-15, the preview story from Convergence: Action Comics, and Lobo #10-11. With both Lobo and Sinestro written by Cullen Bunn, I'm looking forward to this crossover. I didn't much favor the first new Lobo collection, but among what I thought it needed was more presence from the rest of the DCU, which a crossover with Sinestro delivers.

Superman Vol. 1: Before Truth HC

Interesting to see this first Superman collection from Gene Luen Yang and John Romita, newly renumbered as Vol. 1, called "Before Truth," and I wonder if that reflects what I understand to be some intentional disconnect in the timeframes that Superman and Action Comics take place. Collects issues #40-46 and the preview story from Divergence.

What'll be on your pull list from these solicitations?

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 6: Superdoom hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, October 26, 2015

I've read a couple of crossovers lately, including Forever Evil: Blight and then the Green Lantern/Red Lanterns/Supergirl "Red Daughter of Krypton crossover followed quickly by the Green Lantern/Corps "Uprising" crossover. And I enjoyed these for the most part, more so the smaller, tighter-plotted Green Lantern events than the eighteen-part Blight.

At fifteen parts at least, plus prologues and epilogues, the "Superman: Doomed" crossover has more in common with Blight, including its flaws, that the size of "Doomed" leads to padding and a couple of issues that don't feel entirely necessary. Few of those, however, are specifically Action Comics issues, and so Superman: Action Comics Vol. 6: Superdoom reads without a lot of waste, even if the "Doomed" concept itself is somewhat subpar.

Review: Green Lantern Vol. 5: Test of Wills hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Robert Venditti's Green Lantern Vol. 5: Test of Wills is a rare twelve-issue hardcover, collecting issues both from Lantern and also Green Lantern Corps and Red Lanterns. Joining a spate of high-quality fifth Lantern-title volumes, Wills is epic nearly from start to finish; arguably never before have all four Lantern titles been so good all at the same time. This is the second of Venditti's three-act story before the Lantern titles are overhauled after Convergence, and Wills and the "Uprising" crossover are so strong that I'm eager to move forward to "Godhead."

Review: Superior Foes of Spider-Man Vol. 3: Game Over trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

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

With Superior Foes of Spider-Man Vol. 3: Game Over, the book wraps up its many plotlines while leaving lots of room open for future adventures. Nick Spencer immediately addresses the fill-in issues that ended the second volume, Crime of the Century, with Boomerang feeling like they've been stuck in the same place for a while. That place would be escaping on a school bus converted into a getaway truck by Overdrive with the children still on board. Exactly how that unfolded -- and why the bus is studded with shuriken and other ninja weapons -- is explained a few issues later, but the mystery grabs the reader right at the start. In fact, Game Over is a trade full of mysteries, all leading up to the non-reveal of whom Boomerang has been telling this story to.

Review: Green Lantern Corps Vol. 5: Uprising trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, October 19, 2015

Green Lantern Corps is a title in which I didn't have much interest in the 1980s, but that came to be very important to me in the 2000s under Dave Gibbons and then Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason (introducing me, among other things, to the work of Tomasi and Gleason). In that vein I take volumes of Corps seriously, and while there was nothing overtly objectionable about Corps's recent fourth volume (the first in a while without Tomasi), neither did Van Jensen's first outing on the title truly excite me.

The next volume, Green Lantern Corps Vol. 5: Uprising is an improvement, where I think Jensen, artist Bernard Chang, and colorist Marcelo Maiolo begin to gel more than previously. But further, Jensen got me with three big surprises in this book, two of which are direct call-outs to the early Gibbons/Tomasi Corps era. Maybe that's pandering, but with just one more volume before Corps's end, I'll take it. Tying up some of Green Lantern Corps's longest-standing pre-Flashpoint dangling plot-threads equals an enthusiastic review in my book, indeed.

Review: Green Lantern: New Guardians Vol. 5: Godkillers trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

While the fifth volumes of the various other Green Lantern titles wind in and out of one another in a variety of smaller crossovers, writer Justin Jordan gets a single volume to do his own thing in Green Lantern: New Guardians Vol. 5: Godkillers (for the most part, while still dovetailing into the upcoming "Godhead" mega-crossover). In this, we get Jordan using New Guardians well as a Star Trek-ish planet-of-the-week sci-fi anthology, as he did in some part last volume, in which White Lantern Kyle Rayner's tour of the universe with the "new Guardians" brings them abreast of weird and wild cosmic phenomenon.

Entry Plug: One-Punch Man Vol. 1 review (VIZ Media)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

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

With Marvel and DC trying to reach out to new readers, one of the unintentional effects is a growing connection between American comics and manga. Many of these new, younger readers are anime and manga fans, and comic book and anime conventions have become so intertwined that it's common to find Goku hanging out with Superman at a cosplay panel. The announcement at NYCC of an Attack on Titan anthology written and drawn by western creators came as no surprise. But getting into manga is as difficult as starting with Marvel or DC without the advantage of multiple entry points to the same story. Starting with the wrong title might put a reader off of the genre entirely.

That's why I've decided to start a new feature: "Entry Plug," wherein I give my suggestions on manga for comic book fans who are new to manga and anime. This month marks the Japanese premiere and simultaneous American streaming of a perfect starter anime and manga for newcomers.

One-Punch Man is a series with a genesis closer to Dr. McNinja than to Naruto. It began as a web comic written and crudely drawn by manga-ka ONE; you can see the original untranslated online. These strips effectively became storyboards for Yusuke Murata to redraw the entire comic and make it look like a real manga. Murata is also the artist of Eyeshield 21, a manga about a Japanese high school's American football team, and this blending of cultures made him perfect to work on One-Punch Man.

Review: Red Lanterns Vol. 5: Atrocities trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Under Geoff Johns, the Red Lantern Atrocitus was a righteous, complex character with strong beliefs about right and wrong and  justice and vengeance, one of the best parts of Johns's Green Lantern run. I awaited the Red Lanterns series with much anticipation, but unfortunately other writers turned the Red Lanterns into caricatures, fire-belching monsters who navel-gazed about rage and undercut one another to wield most power in their insular group.

Writer Charles Soule admirably turned things around with Red Lanterns's fourth volume, and the next, Red Lanterns Vol. 5: Atrocities, only builds on that success; without qualifications, I can say Atrocities is great and everyone should read it. Readers have been lucky for almost ten years now to have a great series of thoughtful, nuanced Guy Gardner stories under Peter Tomasi in Green Lantern Corps and the like, and Soule continues this trend with Guy's new role in Red Lanterns, an evolution that feels perfectly logical and natural.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 5: Red Daughter of Krypton trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Rather like Superboy and other similar New 52-launched titles, the Supergirl series showed signs of going downhill even before we knew it would be cancelled with the next volume before Convergence. The book started with two relatively strong volumes, then had a volume almost entirely devoted to the "H'El" crossover that didn't acquit Supergirl Kara Zor-El well. Then the creative team changed for a troubled fourth volume, and now the creative team (and title direction) has changed again for Supergirl Vol. 5: Red Daughter of Krypton, and then the team and direction is going to change one more time in the final volume. That many new teams, and that many new shifts, and you can sense trouble in the air.

Review: Loki: Agent of Asgard Vol. 3: Last Days trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

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

The cascade of titles ending and beginning during Secret Wars is about to reach its height today. Not only is the event just two-thirds complete, but the All-New All-Different era starts with Invincible Iron Man before the old universe ends in the pages of the “Last Days” titles such as Ms. Marvel. Because the mystery of the new female Thor’s secret identity took precedence in the Thor title, it fell to Loki: Agent of Asgard to tell the “last” story of the Asgardians in Loki: Agent of Asgard Vol. 3: Last Days. Al Ewing and Lee Garbett complete Loki’s arc of redemption and truly move him/her into a new phase ... I’ll get back to that pronoun trouble shortly.

Review: Joker: Endgame hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, October 05, 2015

Among the many ways DC Comics got the "comics event" format right this time with Batman: Endgame was to tell a complete story in the pages of Batman, and then to publish specials that involved the Bat-family's ancillary titles, wholly separate from the main "Endgame" story and without interrupting the other titles' ongoing stories. The result is that The Joker: Endgame is entirely optional reading, but also enjoyable reading that makes a fitting companion to Endgame proper. There's some sense of the individual titles' identities here, but moreover they all work together to make a book about stories -- and indeed, a book about stories about the Joker -- making Joker: Endgame a volume that celebrates the Clown Prince of Crime and reasonably stands on its own apart from the "Endgame" event, too.

Review: Constantine Vol. 3: The Voice in the Fire trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 01, 2015

It only took three volumes, but in Constantine Vol. 3: The Voice in the Fire, writer Ray Fawkes finally gets five issues of Constantine to tell a story uninterrupted by crossovers or the needs of other titles, and the book is better for it. Ultimately the book is neither so mature nor involved as ardent John Constantine fans might like, but there's some cogent riffs on ghost stories here and interesting crosses and double-crosses. I know Constantine is headed back to crossover-land in the next volume, but these five issues (and the Futures End tie-in issue) continue to hint at what a Constantine book might have looked like left solely to Fawkes's own devices.