Review: Midnighter Vol. 2: Hard trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 28, 2016

That Steve Orlando's Midnighter Vol. 2: Hard includes both issues #8-12 of the series plus two issues from the Wildstorm series and a story from Young Romance: The New 52 Valentine's Day Special was initially concerning. Five issues on their own isn't unheard of for a trade, and the addition of the supplementary material suggests, as it has in other books, something lacking in the main content. Happily however that's not the case here, as Orlando's "Hard" stands on its own as a fine coda to the first volume, Out, and the additional material serves as a "just because" bonus. Even as this volume marks the cancellation of (this iteration of) the Midnighter series, there's a sense of celebration here, including the extra material not out of necessity but just because Orlando's take on the Midnighter character deserves it.

DC Trade Solicitations for February 2017 - Wonder Woman by Perez Vol. 2, Wonder Woman and JLA, Rebirth Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Titans

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Wonder Woman wins the day in DC Comics's February 2017 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations, with much anticipated collections of both her early post-Crisis on Infinite Earths and circa-Zero Hour Justice League days. There's also new reprints of Supergirl and Deathstroke, the Terminator (again!), and a slew of first volume Rebirth collections.

Whether you're reading this with turkey on the mind or not, let's take a look at what's coming soon.

Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Rumored for a while, the best news this month is that for the first time, DC will continue collecting George Perez's run on the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Wonder Woman with issues #25-45 and Annual #2. This isn't it, mind you, as there would still need to be one more volume to complete Perez's issues, including parts of the recently-collected War of the Gods.

Wonder Woman and the Justice League of America Vol. 1 TP

I find equally very exciting this collection of Dan Vado's Justice League America, titled Wonder Woman and the Justice League of America, which not only has Wonder Woman leading the Justice League and a Bloodlines crossover annual, but also a lot of material with Captain Atom, the Ray, Maxima, Blue Beetle, and Booster Gold, leading into the instant classic Extreme Justice. This collection of issues #78-85 stops just short of the "Judgment Day" crossover, but goes so far as to include a Guy Gardner issue(!) for the "Trouble with Guys" crossover, so I'm hopefully the next volume would collect "Judgment Day" in full. If DC really wants to keep going with this, there's plenty of good Gerard Jones material to collect after Zero Hour.

Supergirl by Peter David Book Two TP

Whereas previous collections of Peter David's Supergirl series have focused mainly on the issues drawn by Gary Frank, this second new collection finally gets into the never-collected issues by Leonard Kirk, who would go on to draw most of the series' 80 issues. Included here are issues #10-20, including "Genesis" and "Millenium Giants" cross-over issues, as well as the "Pulp Heroes" Annual #2.

Deathstroke, the Terminator Vol. 3: Nuclear Winter TP

Off and on and on and off the schedule, here again is the Deathstroke: Nuclear Winter collection, reprinting both the great "Nuclear Winter" arc that saw Deathstroke and Arsenal Roy Harper pitted against Cheshire, but also the Deathstroke chapters of the (loose) "Total Chaos" crossover with New Titans.

Batgirl Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside TP
Cyborg Vol. 1: The Imitation of Life TP
Deathstroke Vol. 1: The Professional TP
Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Die Laughing TP
Hellblazer Vol. 1: The Poison Truth TP
Suicide Squad Vol. 1: The Black Vault Part One TP
Titans Vol. 1: The Return of Wally West TP

Of these Rebirth collections, Batgirl collects issues #1-6, Cyborg collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-5, Deathstroke collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-5, Harley Quinn collects issues #1-7, Hellblazer collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-6, and Titans collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-6.

The Suicide Squad collection includes the Rebirth special and just issues #1-4, which I assume includes the back-up stories, and touts a new Jim Lee cover.

Justice League of America: Power and Glory HC

Collects issues #1-4 and #6-10 of the Bryan Hitch series, skipping the issue #5 Martian Manhunter one-shot by that series's team. You'd have to tell me whether issue #10 ends on a cliffhanger and how this'll read necessarily if issues #11-12 aren't published.

Batman by Brian K. Vaughan TP

This collection of Batman #588-590, Detective Comics #787, Wonder Woman #160-161, and a story from the Batman: Gotham City Secret Files is the same contents as Batman: False Faces, just re-branded. For those playing at home, the Batman stories come in the midst of Ed Brubaker's run (filling a hole in the Batman by Ed Brubaker Vol. 1 collection), just after "Officer Down"; the Detective issue also falls in a Brubaker run, a little bit before Paul Dini's run parallel to Grant Morrison's Batman; and Wonder Woman #160-161 is between Eric Luke's and Phil Jimenez's runs. The Gotham City Secret Files introduces a villain called the Skeleton, but Vaughan never had a chance to follow up on that story.

Batman: Ego and Other Tails Deluxe Edition HC

A deluxe-size reprint of the Darwyn Cooke collection, which includes Cooke's graphic novel Batman: Ego, Catwoman: Selina's Big Score, backup stories from Gotham Knights #23 and #33, plus a Batman/Catwoman story from Solo #1 written by Cooke and drawn by Tim Sale, and Cooke's Solo #5.

Flintstones Vol. 1 TP
Wacky Raceland TP

Hey, I liked Mark Russell's Prez. You say Flintstones is brilliant social commentary, I believe you, though you had to admit it's about the craziest thing anyone's said this year (well, maybe not this year, but you know what I mean).

JSA: The Golden Age Deluxe Edition HC

There's been some talk of whether this one was cancelled or not, so I wanted to point out the deluxe edition of the four-issue miniseries is back on the schedule.

Zatanna by Paul Dini TP

Some time ago this was touted as "all" of Paul Dini's Zatanna stories. Here, it is indeed Zatanna #1-16, the Zatanna series just prior to the New 52, the Everyday Magic graphic novel, a story from the DC Infinite Halloween Special, and a story from the DC Universe Rebirth Holiday Special, which makes this awfully timely (though I thought Dini's story from that book is supposed to be a Harley Quinn story). Missing however is Black Canary/Zatanna: Bloodspell, and you can decide how you feel about that.

I am thankful for you being a loyal reader of Collected Editions. What's your comics-related gratitude for the year? What looks good to you on this list?

Review: Midnighter Vol. 1: Out trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 21, 2016

With Midnighter Vol. 1: Out, Steve Orlando cements himself as worthy of standing with Tom King and Tim Seeley as the newest crop of top tier writers at DC Comics. Orlando takes on the unenviable task of crafting an entire series around a vigilante who's by definition almost unbeatable, and does so by offering that as much as Midnighter shines on the battlefield, he's equally befuddled by matters of the heart. Orlando's story is deep and emotionally complex, and brings with it some genuine surprises to boot. Constantine's Aco's trademark vignette paneling brings to life Midnighter's "visualize all possibilities" powers, and his pages are as good-looking as this book is smart.

[Review contains spoilers]

Orlando demonstrates to the reader early on that despite (or because of) Midnighter's crime-fighting prowess, his personal interactions aren't so easy. In short order he manages to scare off new flame Jason after marking him with a "super GPS"; in flashback we see his inability to be honest with Stormwatch's Apollo lead to their breakup; and Midnighter can only initiate a team-up with Dick Grayson by kidnapping him. Out's ending twist comes off even more tragic on second-read, as Matt, the one guy who actually seems to appreciate Midnighter for who he is, turns out to be the book's mystery villain.

Review: Constantine: The Hellblazer Vol. 2: The Art of the Deal trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Surprising as it is, in the final tally it seems John Constantine's immediate post-Flashpoint adventures may turn out to have been the best of those since his return to the DC Universe proper. Constantine: The Hellblazer Vol. 2: The Art of the Deal cements the "DC You" iteration of the title as failing to live up to our Vertigo-esque expectations; Ray Fawkes's Constantine series previous might have been perhaps too superhero-esque, but at least it was at moments genuinely scary.

Ming Doyle and James Tynion's Hellblazer has been largely a series of heist stories, often semi-comedic; Simon Oliver's Rebirth special that ends the book looks to continue this tone. Given that, I probably won't be running to read the "Rebirth" The Hellblazer; I'm not getting what I want from these John Constantine books and so it's probably time to be done for a while.

Comic Book Gift Guide 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

It's time for the 2016 edition of the Collected Editions top trade paperback and graphic novel gifts recommendations! This year I've crowd-sourced our listings ahead of time to include books that have been on my radar, what the helpful folks on the Collected Editions Facebook page have recommended, and also what you've all emailed to me.

As always, I've organized some gift packages for you of books that go together to maybe make some buying for yourself or the comics fan in your life a little easier.

For additional ideas don't miss my 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists for more gifting suggestions.

Batman by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo Box Set
Batman Vol. 10: Epilogue

The final volume of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's epic run on Batman, Vol. 10: Epilogue, comes out just before the end of the year. If by some bizarre chance you know a Batman fan who hasn't been reading it for the past five years, surely the whole ten volume set wrapped together would impress. If you're looking for a smaller investment, there's the three-book slipcase box set of Snyder and Capullo's first three volumes, including the "Court of the Owls" saga and a fight with the Joker.

DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition

I'd be remiss if this list didn't give some deference to DC Comics's juggernaut "Rebirth" initiative this year. This single issue DC Universe: Rebirth Deluxe Edition hardcover is the perfect way for your favorite fan to commemorate "Rebirth"'s kickoff. Includes the issue itself plus behind-the-scenes material.

Omega Men: The End is Here

Considered perhaps the best book DC Comics has released in recent memory, Tom King's Omega Men is not only an action-packed sci-fi space romp, but also a complex treatise on war, violence, terrorism, and religion, full of complex paneling by artist Barnaby Bagenda. For fans of Watchmen or Saga or just good comics that might have overlooked this one, Omega Men is a complicated book that's sure to please.

Superman: American Alien

For more "traditional" superheroics with a twist, consider Max Landis's Superman: American Alien. Another Superman origin is a hard sell to me, but Landis has fashioned a smart, twenty-first century Superman story that reimagines a variety of the mythos concepts in astute ways, and each chapter also features art from a different, prominent artist, including Francis Manapul, Jae Lee, and Jock. Superman fans might've passed this up, but it's worth a read.

Doctor Strange Omnibus Vol. 1
Doctor Strange Epic Collection: A Separate Reality
Doctor Strange & Doctor Doom: Triumph & Torment
Doctor Strange: The Flight of Bones
Doctor Strange: The Oath
Doctor Strange Vol. 1: The Way of the Weird

Timely is always a good way to go for a gift, and if you know a comics fan who enjoyed Marvel's latest blockbuster, you might consider one or more Doctor Strange collections. As recommended on Facebook, here's a variety of options.

For starting at the beginning, consider the newly-released Doctor Strange Omnibus or Epic Collection, which include some of the first Doctor Strange stories from the 1960s and 1970s.

Triumph and Torment collects the graphic novel of that name from the late 1980s plus related issues, with a spotlight on the creepy art of Mike Mignola. Equally the 1990s Flight of Bones "Marvel Knights" miniseries has Starman's Tony Harris's art and sees Strange in the role of detective.

Among more recent collections are The Oath by Saga's Brian K. Vaughan; the miniseries both revitalized the Dr. Strange character and focuses as much on the supernatural as on Strange's role as an actual medical doctor. Way of the Weird is the first collection of the most current Doctor Strange series by Jason Aaron (Star Wars).

Star Wars: Kanan Omnibus

Marvel's certainly made a splash with their Star Wars comics, now about to enter a "phase two" of sorts; there's a couple of good collections of both the Star Wars and Darth Vader titles out now that collect a couple volumes each of the previous trades. But a Star Wars title I really enjoyed this year was Kanan, aka "The Last Padawan," a loose Rebels tie-in that details the plight of Kanan, aka Jedi Padawan Caleb Dune, after Order 66 and the decimation of the Jedi. In a story legitimately hair-raising at times, former Rebels producer Greg Weisman details the sometimes-questionable actions young Caleb had to take to survive. This omnibus collects the entire twelve issue series.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe

An extra-sized graphic novel by the monthly Unbeatable Squirrel Girl team of Ryan North and Erica Henderson. In the current popular semi-comedic, semi-animated style, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe is a romp with heart, a loving lampooning of the Marvel Universe. For fans of the recent "Burnside" Batgirl series, Black Canary, Luberjanes, Gotham Academy, and so on, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe is a self-contained primer on the monthly book.

Vision Vol. 1: A Little Worse Than a Man

Another Tom King book on this list (such that you could pair it with Omega Men for a gift set), Vision has been referred to as "the Breaking Bad of the Marvel Universe"; the robotic Vision builds himself a family and settles in suburbia, and as these things do when a robot builds themselves a family, terrible events ensue. Knowing Tom King's Omega Men, I can only imagine the emotion King brings to what's apparently an exceptionally claustrophobic, harrowing read.

Klaus by Grant Morrison

Not too long ago I recommended Grant Morrison's Christmas story/crime-drama-with-a-cartoon-blue-horse Happy! for the holidays, and I'm glad for this suggestion of another from Morrison, BOOM! Studios's Klaus. Described by Morrison as an All-Star Superman/Batman: Year One-esque take on Santa Claus, the book has a decidedly swords-and-sorcery tone (side note, also great, Gail Simone's three Red Sonja books). Though not necessarily all-all-ages, apparently this one isn't so adult that you might consider it for your favorite superhero action fan.

Paper Girls Vol. 1

Another work by Brian K. Vaughan for the list, with art by Wonder Woman's Cliff Chiang, Paper Girls sees four newspaper delivery girls solving an "otherworldly" mystery in their suburban town just after Halloween 1988. Shades here no doubt of both Stranger Things and X-Files, this makes a fine gift for fans of both; both the first and second volumes retail for under $10.

The Fade Out

Hard to go wrong with Gotham Central's Ed Brubaker and Criminal collaborator Sean Phillips. Fade Out is a crime noir miniseries set in Hollywood 1948, perfect for any mystery fan. Pair this with something like a couple volumes of Scott Snyder's Batman, or heck the Gotham Central collections are always the right size, or the Batman by Ed Brubaker book, and you've got a ready-made gift set.

Walt Disney's Donald Duck (Carl Barks) Christmas Box Set

This wouldn't have been on my radar but a reader recommended this new box set that includes Fantagraphics's fifth and sixth volumes in their Carl Barks Library series, which just in time for the holidays includes "Christmas on Bear Mountain" and "The Old Castle's Secret." Fun for kids and nostalgic for adults, these stories reprint Scrooge McDuck's first and second appearances (just in time for that DuckTales revival!).

DC Super Hero Girls: Hits and Myths
Superman Family Adventures Vol. 1

Currently taking the merchandising world by storm, DC Super Hero Girls is novels, comics, cartoons, action figures, and just about everything else DC can put them on. Most recently released is Hits and Myths, which sees a focus on Wonder Woman with Supergirl, Batgirl, and others at DC Super Hero high school, a follow-up to the earlier Finals Crisis. At under $10, this is a fine book for the young superhero fan in your life, or to pad out an order for free shipping and donate to your local school or Goodwill.

Special mention also of Art Baltazar and Franco's Superman Family Adventures collections, also for the youngest readers, which aside from being adorable and entertaining went pretty well nuts with continuity, and is continuing into DC's upcoming Super Powers series.

So what did I miss? What are your favorite collections of 2016? What else is on your wish list for the holidays? (Thanks again to the wise voices of the Collected Editions Facebook page for their suggestions.)

Thank you all for your comments and contributions to Collected Editions! This site is such a joy for me and it wouldn't be the same without each and every one of you.

(Lots of bloggers have affiliate links like the ones above, and when you do your holiday shopping after clicking these links, the blogger gets a few cents. This year, if you’re buying gifts online, consider clicking on someone’s link before you buy -- when I buy online, I always try to click through a blog before I do. There are lots of hard-working bloggers out there [see blogroll], and this is a great, easy way to support them. Thanks!)

Review: Constantine: The Hellblazer Vol. 1: Going Down trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The "DC You" Constantine series is likely closer to what ardent Hellblazer fans are looking for, but my sense is the series still has a ways to go to achieve that Vertigo tone. Ming Doyle and James Tynion's Constantine: The Hellblazer Vol. 1: Going Down is mature and clever, but also meandering and perhaps a tad too hip. It comes off for me like John Constantine by way of Batgirl of Burnside, which admittedly might have been exactly the tone this book was going for, but the complexity isn't sufficient to stand up to those halcyon days of DC's in-universe "Mature Readers" titles.

[Review contains spoilers]

Going Down is ostensibly about a demon shadowing John Constantine and his travels from New York to London to try to get rid of it, over five of the book's six issues. But of those five issues, about a sum total of one issue is spent on flashbacks to Constantine's early life (perhaps not entirely unexpected), one is spent on Constantine tricked into the middle of a supernatural business dispute, and one spends an extended sequence on a tour of haunted New York. That's all before the last issue, a series of one-panel sight gags while Constantine plays exorcist-for-hire. I made the Batgirl comparison, but a comparison to DC's Harley Quinn series is also apt; given the choice of moving forward by plot or fiat of character, Constantine: The Hellblazer seems to choose the latter every time.

Review: Catwoman: Election Night #1 (DC Comics)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

I guess in notable election cycles there's a certain amount of "printing money" in DC Comics releasing an election-themed comic, with the potential for sales just in the spirit of the season. There must be something to it, because eight years ago, DC Universe: Decisions was ultimately much maligned (I waited for a trade that never manifested) and now DC's given it another shot with Catwoman: Election Night, albeit just a one-shot instead of a four-issue miniseries.

[Review contains spoilers]

Meredith Finch's Election Night doesn't fare much better, with a thin plot and the book's "mystery" villain revealing themselves with a slip-up reminiscent of an episode of Scooby-Doo. About the best part of the book's main story is a single page in which Finch succeeds in writing Gotham mayoral candidate Penguin's dialogue with Donald Trump-style diction. That's the beginning and end of the main story's satire, however, and otherwise the story really has little do with voting (including the fact that neither of the book's candidates are elected); to that end it's hard to pinpoint whether Finch means to lambast or inspire here or something else entirely.

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 9: Outbreak trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 07, 2016

Green Arrow Vol. 9: Outbreak demonstrates the strong effect the artist can have on a book. Writer Benjamin Percy pens the whole volume, but he's joined in various parts by artists Szymon Kudranski, Patrick Zircher, and Otto Schmidt, and there is great variance in how well these parts work. I did not enjoy Outbreak as much as I did the previous volume; however, included here is Percy's Green Arrow: Rebirth special, and if that's any indication, Percy's next book should be a lot of fun.

[Review contains spoilers]

In some respects Percy gets away from the core of Green Arrow here in this tale of Oliver Queen turned essentially into a werewolf. The narration itself acknowledges the oddity of usually-non-powered Oliver temporarily gaining super-powers. Though Percy crafts the story as a metaphor for discrimination and social conflict of a kind inherent to Green Arrow, it's strange that Percy waited until his second volume to do this kind of "establish what the character isn't to determine what he is" story, more often found in a new series writer's initial outing. Green Arrow Vol. 8: The Night Birds was much more faithful to the historic core of the character hearkening back to the 1970s and 1980s, and it's perhaps only Outbreak's proximity to Rebirth that contextualizes exploring what Green Arrow isn't before the relaunch gets back to what he is in the extreme.

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 8: The Night Birds trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, November 03, 2016

The Green Arrow title in the New 52 has consisted mostly of upbeat superheroics, so Benjamin Percy's Green Arrow Vol. 8: The Night Birds offered a startling change. I frankly started to wonder just how viable Percy's run might be, especially since he continues into the Rebirth era, until in about the middle of the first full chapter I got it.

Percy's run, or at least this first volume, is about as close as Green Arrow has come in recent memory to the Mike Grell era. Percy's poetic, looping, wordy narration will not be for everyone, and indeed even for those who like their Green Arrow "serious," Night Birds lacks the warmth that might have drawn someone in to Jeff Lemire's books. This is Green Arrow at its iciest, underscored by artist Patrick Zircher's stark realism. As with Grell, Percy's Green Arrow requires dedication, and patience, and for the latter reason I think this is one best read in trade format. I'm eager to see where Percy goes with it.