Review: Earth 2 Vol. 5: The Kryptonian hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Tom Taylor's Earth 2 Vol. 5: The Kryptonian improves on the previous volume, which itself held up better after the second reading. This is due in large part to Taylor's renewed use of the original Earth 2 characters from James Robinson's run previous, who were mostly absent in Taylor's first book (the fourth of the series). But giving credit where it's due, Taylor's new Earth 2 heroes coalesce better here, and many of them are quite strong and make for good additions to this title. The influence of Taylor's Injustice is clear, which is not exactly what I read Earth 2 for, but this is an enjoyable-enough penultimate volume of the series.

DC Trade Solicitations for June/July/August 2016 - Starman Omnibus Vol. 3, Shadow of the Bat, Batman by Alan Brennert, Deathstroke, Prez

Friday, February 26, 2016

No doubt there's more than a little buzz about DC Comics right now with the first details of "Rebirth," but I'd venture trade-waiters have their eye on something else with the release of the DC Comics hardcover and trade paperback collection solicitations for June/July/August 2016 (posted February 2016) -- the Starman Omnibus Vol. 3! Many a fan has resigned themselves to their shelves never being complete, but now, three years since its cancellation, here the book finally is. Just a couple months left until it's in your hands, and then starts the wait for volume four ...

A couple other fun things on this month's list include a dedicated Killer Croc collection, strange as that sounds; also some nice 1990s throwbacks with Shadow of the Bat and Deathstroke collections, plus Superman: Panic in the Sky and Legends re-releases.

I'm open to your comments on "Rebirth" below, but I'll be talking more about my thoughts on what we know so far in a separate post. Meanwhile ...

Starman Omnibus Vol. 3 TP

The holy grail for many a trade-waiter, it looks like the once-canceled paperback Starman Omnibus Vol. 3 will finally, finally hit shelves. Maybe we should do a thing where people post pictures of themselves with this volume (of course, now comes the waiting for the rest of the series). The omnibus series collects the issues more straightforwardly than the original trades, but this is essentially the Infernal Devices collection with extras. (The solicitation does not list the Shade miniseries, included in the hardcover Vol. 3, but I imagine that's just a misprint.

Batman: Arkham – Killer Croc TP

The solicitations for this book are unfortunately vague on issue specifics, though Gerry Conway's name is mentioned, suggesting Batman #357 (also the first pre-Crisis appearance of Jason Todd) and the like. I realize now this book is likely also meant to tie-in to the new Suicide Squad movie; I'd guess an issue from Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's Broken City will be in here, too.

Batman: Shadow of the Bat Vol. 1 TP

Collects issues #1-12 of Alan Grant's smart, eccentric Batman series. These self-contained stories include art by Norm Breyfogle, Dan Jurgens, and Tim Sale.

Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert HC

I'm not entirely familiar with these stories, but notes I've been getting from you all tell me that what was maybe thought to be another Jim Aparo Batman collection has turned into this Alan Brennert collection, with Brave and the Bold team-ups with Starman Ted Knight, Deadman, Creeper, Hawk and Dove, Black Canary, and more. Art is by Aparo, Joe Staton, and Norm Breyfogle. Also included is the Detective Comics #500 story "To Kill a Legend," and Brennert's alt-history one-shot, the first labeled Elseworlds, Batman: Holy Terror.

Deathstroke the Terminator Vol. 3: Nuclear Winter TP

A Titans: Total Chaos collection seems less of a sure thing these days, but I'm glad to see, finally, another solicitation for a collection of Marv Wolfman's Deathstroke, the Terminator. And this is the series at some of its best, as Slade Wilson and Roy Harper try to stop Cheshire and her nuclear bomb in an espionage tale with long-standing (for the time) effects on the DC Universe. A lock, obviously, for Arrow fans of these characters.

Justice League United Vol. 3: Reunited TP

Admittedly I've lost track of Justice League United a bit, but these issues (which, no spoilers please, but I think they follow from Convergence in some form) are written by Jeff Parker (following Jeff Lemire), with art by Travel Foreman and Paul Pelletier, closing out the series.

Legends 30th Anniversary Edition TP

It's been a while since I've read Legends, but I don't remember the Suicide Squad presence being all that strong (saved, instead, for the tie-ins). But, if you haven't read Legends and don't have a copy, a new collection of DC Comics's first post-Crisis crossover -- by John Ostrander, Len Wein, John Byrne, and Karl Kesel -- is a nice lead-in to the new Ostrander/Suicide Squad collections.

Prez: The First Teenage President TP

Though there was some concern expressed in the comments of my Prez review whether this miniseries was continuing or not, this collection of seemingly every other appearance of the Prez character ever would suggest DC still has faith in the property. Included is the 1973 Joe Simon/Jerry Grandenetti miniseries, the Cancelled Comic Cavalcade issue, Supergirl #10, Sandman #54, Vertigo Visions: Prez, and pages from Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again and Multiversity Guidebook.

Superman: Panic in the Sky TP [New Edition]

As I've been saying, hands down one of my favorite Superman stories. "I get by with a little help from my friends ..." Gets me every time! Before the excesses of months-long, multi-title crossovers, here's a brilliant space-faring Superman story done in just two months (eight issues of the four Superman titles) and starring nearly every DC Universe hero of the time. If you're picking up the new Dan Jurgens Superman and the Justice League collections, you owe it to yourself to read this one that lead into that. (Some major-for-the-time Supergirl stuff in here too, matter of fact.)

52 Book One TP

Collects the first two original 52 trades in one larger paperback (issues #1-26), which is a bigger chunk than before but not quite the hardcover omnibus.

All-Star Section 8 TP

The six issue miniseries plus the story from Convergence: Harley Quinn. I have liked what little I've read of Hitman but I can't say this held much interest for me. Was I wrong?

Batman and Robin Eternal Vol. 2 TP

Collects issues #13-26, the final issues of Batman and Robin Eternal. Interesting, but perhaps more welcome, that this was half the size of Batman Eternal. Quality of DC's weekly series have varied, but I'll be curious to see if twice-monthly instead of weekly turns out better.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 8: Blood of Heroes HC

Collects Detective Comics #41-47 and the preview story from Convergence: Justice League of America. This finishes out Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul's (writing) run before Peter Tomasi comes on, including apparently the "Robin War" crossover issue by Ray Fawkes.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 8: Truth HC

Collects issues #41-47 and the Convergence: Superboy preview, by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder. Don't even get me started on that this is Vol. 8 whereas the matching Superman book is Vol. 1, and what are they going to do when the numbering all starts over ...

Chime in below on what you're looking forward to here, or heck, get the "Rebirth" conversation started ...

Entry Plug: Parasyte 1 graphic novel (Kodansha Comics)

Thursday, February 25, 2016

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

The anime version of Hitoshi Iwaaki's Parasyte was a hit a few years back, bolstered by a pair of live-action movie adaptations. That the two different versions came out at the same time isn't unusual; what is unusual is that they came out twenty-five years after the manga finished its original run. It's not even that obscure of a manga, either, especially in the USA, where it ran in the pages of Tokyopop magazine and received three different releases. This probably works in the series's favor. Had an anime of Parasyte been made during its original run, it likely would have blended into the glut of ultra-violent OVAs that still tarnishes American perceptions of Japanese animation.

Review: Prez Vol. 1: Corndog-in-Chief trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 22, 2016

Announced as part of DC Comics's (seemingly short-lived) "DC You" initiative some months ago, Bizarro and Prez have in common two limited series that each buck the traditional reins of the DC Universe for stories that are parodic and, in Prez's case, set outside the DCU entirely. Bizarro, at least, uses DC Universe characters; Prez, despite it's DC origins, might have more properly been a Vertigo title, except perhaps for the recent push to keep established properties under DC and creator-owned series under Vertigo.

Whatever the case, in the sense of "DC You," Prez Vol. 1: Corndog-in-Chief is the more effective of the two titles. While Bizarro is an interesting diversion, fun but not necessarily grounds for an ongoing, Prez is the kind of forward-thinking, risk-taking title DC ought be publishing (though something like Prez but actually set in the DC Universe would best begin to rival the output of some of DC's competition). Simplest but most telling is that writer Mark Russell can actually use names like Twitter and Tinder in the book instead of awkward approximations, which gives Prez an immediate maturity -- especially in telling a story that deals with the social media realm -- over more milquetoast attempts at "superhero stardom" as in Teen Titans.

Review: Deadpool vs. X-Force trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks! Contains spoilers for the Deadpool movie.]

Ever since the start of the Marvel NOW! era of Deadpool, Marvel has made an effort to expand the character's presence beyond his '90s origin. The inventory flashback issues drawn by Scott Koblish established his existence in the 1970s so that they could eventually introduce his daughter Ellie. His "appearances" in the 1950s and 1960s are probably jokes, but they do involve Cable and provide a loose explanation of why his timeline is so complicated. The Deadpool vs. X-Force mini-series decided to take the questions about Wade's origins even further by reimagining the events just prior to his New Mutants debut.

Review: Bizarro trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 15, 2016

DC Comics bills their "DC You" Bizarro miniseries, newly collected, as the next book for Harley Quinn fans, which it is not quite right. Harley's currency, to be sure, is the character's ribald antics, whereas the Bizarro title -- the second part of DC's description being true -- is decidedly all-ages.

But if Heath Corson's Bizarro starts out a little too juvenile for the Harley crowd, it catches its rhythm toward the middle with some clever ideas and strong use of the characters. Bizarro's breakout star, however, is Brazilian artist Gustavo Duarte, who draws a charmingly caricatured Jimmy Olsen, and whom I'd love to see on an another irreverent "DC You" title of the likes of Batgirl, Black Canary, or some sitcom-y take on the Teen Titans.

Review: Ms. Marvel Vol. 4: Last Days trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

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

Few characters better represent Marvel's evolving approach to their fandom than Kamala Khan. The post-Infinity introduction of the new Ms. Marvel title made national news headlines for starring a teenage Muslim girl, and fans took to her rapidly, seeing a lot of themselves in this fangirl-turned-superhero. Ms. Marvel served as an in-road for fans to encounter Marvel's Inhuman push as the most visible and memorable "Nuhuman." Kamala had the typical crossovers into other titles, such as the Amazing Spider-Man two-parter included here; she also got to meet Wolverine shortly before his death. The Last Days trade comes at the heels of Kamala meeting Loki and crushing on an up-and-coming Nuhuman supervillain.

Review: Star Wars: Shattered Empire trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Monday, February 08, 2016

Greg Rucka is one of my favorite comics writers, so the idea of a Star Wars: The Force Awakens prequel written by Rucka had a lot of draw for me. But while Star Wars: Shattered Empire (technically Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire) has its moments -- especially when Rucka, who excels in strong female characters, gets his hands on Princess Leia -- it falls short in what it seemed to promise. There is a big tie to Force Awakens, to be sure, but it's a tie really in name only -- it reveals nothing and really matters not to Force Awakens itself. I'd also argue that the four-issue miniseries is structurally unsound, reaching its crescendo in the third part and then petering out in the fourth, such that I was left at the end wondering if that was truly all there was to it.

Review: Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy trade paperback (Boom! Studios)

Thursday, February 04, 2016

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

This review has been in the pipeline for a long time. When I was picking books for Indie-Pendence Month last July, I made sure to concentrate on independent books that had or deserved a wider acceptance. I added Lumberjanes Vol. 1: Beware the Kitten Holy to the list after news broke of an upcoming television adaptation. After not liking GI Joe: Cobra, a cult favorite, it’s with both that regret and not a small amount of fear that I make this admission: I really didn’t like Lumberjanes either.

Review: Sinestro Vol. 2: Sacrifice trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, February 01, 2016

On one hand, I like much of the character work that Cullen Bunn does in Sinestro Vol. 2: Sacrifice. On the other hand, I found aspects of the plot mundane, not wholly different than my reaction to Bunn's Lobo, and that would make me slow to pick up the next volume. This book uses the aftermath of the Green Lantern "Godhead" crossover better, surprisingly, than most of the other titles in the franchise, but the story is so slow and padded that to some extent I feel disrespected as a reader.

[Review contains spoilers]

Sinestro Vol. 2: Sacrifice does not stand on its own very well in its "Godhead" aspects, with significant jumps between its three issues. It does, however, link pretty well with Green Lantern Corps Vol. 6: Reckoning, and together those two books could be read somewhat on their own (if not perfectly). What Sacrifice does have going for it is that each "Godhead" issue deals with the New God Bekka and Sinestro's interest in her. The second issue is very strong, both with their cat-and-mouse sparring, almost flirting, and art by Green Lantern stalwart Ethan Van Sciver.