DC Trade Solicitations for August 2017 - Batman/Flash: The Button Deluxe, Superman Reborn, Batman and Robin by Tomasi, Catwoman by Balent, DC Meets Hanna-Barbera, Legion by Abnett, Night Force by Wolfman

Monday, May 29, 2017

DC Comics's trade paperback and collected hardcover solicitations for August 2017 contain two big Rebirth books, a seemingly-rush-solicited Batman/Flash: The Button deluxe hardcover, and also a hardcover of the Superman Reborn crossover. Those books alone are an indication of Rebirth ramping up, and that’s even before some of Geoff Johns’s recent big announcements.

Also this month we see another chance for Marv Wolfman’s Deathstroke, the Terminator Vol. 3: Nuclear Winter, the start of a collection series of Jim Balent’s Catwoman, a newly-expanded Batman and Robin Omnibus by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, a couple collections celebrating Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, and the Superman and Harley Quinn deluxe Rebirth hardcovers.

Keep reading to see what else is coming this summer …

All Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth HC

This feels like a slightly shorter All-Star trade, collecting just issue #6-9, but of course that includes backups and also teams Scott Snyder with Jock again, so who's complaining? The paperback of the first volume will be out at the same time.

Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason Omnibus HC

When this was first solicited, it appeared to be just a first volume that collected only issues #1-20 of Tomasi and Gleason's New 52 series. Now it’s nicely more comprehensive, with Batman and Robin #20-22 from the pre-Flashpoint series, the New 52 Batman and Robin #0-40, three annuals, Robin Rises: Omega and Alpha, and the Damian Wayne Secret Origins story (by Tomasi but drawn by Ian Bertram). A fantastic read; Tony Laplume, this one's still for you.

Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition HC

As makes sense, DC is quickly soliciting a collection of the Batman/Flash: The Button crossover, and in deluxe format no less, and with a lenticular cover in the US. This is coming out in October, which pleases the continuity wonk in me because the Superman Reborn hardcover will still be out ahead of it. Also out ahead of it will be Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane and Flash Vol. 3: Rogues Reloaded, so those playing at home will be caught up before this book.

Catwoman by Jim Balent Book One TP

I'm a fan of underdogs (or cats), these so-representative-of-their-time-it-hurts books; it thrills me to no end to see the Jim Balent-penned Catwoman getting collections (Extreme Justice next, please). Issues #1-14 and the "Zero Month" #0 issue span the entirety of the Knightfall saga plus Zero Hour, which is great if you're reading the new Knightfall books but want more context from Catwoman's perspective. Another collection of fourteen issues would see the already-collected "Catfile" storyline by Chuck Dixon plus an Underworld Unleashed tie-in, ahead of Contagion and Legacy.

DC Meets Hanna-Barbera TP

Collects Suicide Squad/Banana Splits, Green Lantern/Space Ghost, Adam Strange/Future Quest, and Booster Gold/The Flintstones, plus the Top Cat, Jetsons, Ruff and Reddy, and Snagglepuss backups.

Deathstroke the Terminator Vol. 3: Nuclear Winter TP

Again, we've seen this Deathstroke, the Terminator collection solicited and cancelled before, but I'm glad DC keeps trying; among the stories collected here is a well-regarded covert mission with Deathstroke and a pre-Arsenal Roy Harper (with significant implications for the DC Universe). This book, collecting issues #14-23 of the Marv Wolfman series, also includes Ravager Rose Wilson's earliest appearance.

Green Lanterns Vol. 3: Polarity TP

Collects issues #15-21, which is a nice long trade. I'm not totally up to date on what's happening in this title, but it's nice to see Dr. Polaris here, suggesting some of the classic Earth-bound Green Lantern rogues are back in play.

Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Red Meat TP

Collects issues #14-16 and the lead stories from #17-21, which is another nice long trade even with some half-sized issues. It's interesting that DC is holding back the Paul Dini backups, either to collect them all at once or in an entirely separate volume from the Rebirth series.

Harley Quinn: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Hardcover collection of the first two Rebirth paperbacks; some of these, we know, have since been cancelled, but not the Harley volume.

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus HC

There's a mis-fit here and there in the solicitation, but I'm pretty sure this single volume -- listed at 1,536 pages and on sale for only $100 -- collects all four of the previous Jack Kirby's Fourth World omnibuses. Those themselves sold for $50 each (minus discounts, of course), making this a startling good deal if you don't mind how heavy it's going to be.

Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle TP

Going along with DC's celebration of Jack Kirby's 100th birthday, I believe this is the first time outside of the Fourth World Omnibuses that Kirby's Mister Miracle issues have been collected all together and all in color (correct me if I'm wrong).

Night Force by Marv Wolfman: The Complete Series HC

DC has definitely solicited and cancelled this before, roundabouts when there was actually a new Night Force series on the stands. What makes this the right time I'm not sure, but good for Marv Wolfman if this'll finally hit the stands.

Nightwing Vol. 3: Nightwing Must Die TP

Collects issues #16-21, with appearances by Damian Wayne.

Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Burning Down the House TP

Issues #11-15, but happily also the War Crimes one-shot by John Ostrander published shortly after the movie (which I recently saw, and liked).

Superman Reborn HC

I've been catching up on my Superman reading lately; I know this is the biggie and I'm excited to get my hands on it.

Superman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Hardcover collection of the first two Superman Rebirth paperbacks, issues #1-13.

The Legion by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Vol. 1 TP

Also as we previously discussed, DC has published but also cancelled collections of Abnett and Lanning's superlative Legion Lost (multiple times, I think), and now we have a collection of their just pre-Legion Lost "Legion of the Damned" story with a couple extras. The next volume of this would have to re-collect Legion Lost, unless DC leapfrogs that for the yet-mostly-uncollected material that followed.

Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan TP

Issues #7-10, the first Rebirth annual, and "stories" from the DC Rebirth Holiday Special, which is definitely James Asmus's Titans story and maybe the Flash story?

So which are you more excited about, Superman Reborn or Batman/Flash: The Button?

Review: Superman: Lois and Clark trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I'm an avowed fan of Dan Jurgens's Superman from way back. I'll also acknowledge that some of Jurgens's newer material, in the New 52 specifically, didn't pack the same punch for me, so I approached Superman: Lois and Clark warily. If Dan Jurgens was going to write the pre-Flashpoint Clark Kent and Lois Lane, he was really going to have to write them, and lines as in the beginning where Clark calls Lois "Lo" -- which I don't think this Clark ever did -- threaten that. For this trick to work, DC bringing back these pre-Flashpoint characters, it has to be flawless; otherwise these aren't the pre-Flashpoint characters, just more new versions of these characters now using old names and costumes.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 8: Truth hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 8: Truth is an astounding example of just how quickly the fares of a work of serial storytelling can change. On one hand, we have perhaps the epitome of what the DC You tried to be, a story that combines superheroics and social relevance as movingly as in recent memory, but on the other hand, from those high lofts the book ultimately ends up in very basic superhero fisticuffs. Two full chapter in, I was ready to laud Truth as among some must-read Superman work, but seven chapters in, not so much.

I already knew writer Greg Pak wrote a strong Superman, and I don't think he and Aaron Kuder's work has received the recognition it's deserved among runs by Geoff Johns and Gene Luen Yang, Doomed and Rebirth and so on. The best work in this book just reinforces my esteem despite the missteps, and I'd still say this book's early issues are worth looking at even if Truth doesn't hold out throughout.

Review: Flash Vol. 2: Speed of Darkness (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

DC Comics's Flash Vol. 2: Speed of Darkness remains distinctly connected to the ongoing Rebirth storyline, with plenty of touchstone moments that call back to DC's most popular characters and continuities. But the second volume in, when titles in the Batman and Superman franchises have begun to soar, the Flash title continues to struggle. Writer Joshua Williamson focuses mostly on Kid Flash Wally West here, and unfortunately he conflates the juvenile character with the tone of the story. There's a wistfulness to the book, as well as a marked deification of Flash Barry Allen, that comes off too light for me; I'm eager for the promised villains in coming volumes mainly for a story one might finally sink their teeth in to.

Review: Superman Vol. 1: Before Truth hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 15, 2017

Gene Luen Yang was dealt no easy hand with the story collected in Superman Vol. 1: Before Truth. The writer's first arc connects immediately to the mega-event "Truth," the story involves both Superman and Lois Lane necessarily acting out of character, and we're left with more questions than answers about the villain of the piece. As such, it's hard to fully know what to make of Yang's issues, because it's tough to find what Yang himself is trying to say among the needs of the larger story.

Artist John Romita Jr. does nice work here but really starts to shine at the very end with the grittier Superman who emerges, and we intuit that Yang is more comfortable, too; this is where the DC You aesthetic begins to emerge as well. In some respects Before Truth seems a prelude to where this team really wants to go, though at this point they only have six issues left to do so (and only three before the next crossover). Now that Rebirth has taken off and Peter Tomasi and Dan Jurgens have cemented their partnership as the new Superman team, this Superman run becomes, like many DC You series, just something of a footnote as Rebirth steals the spotlight.

Review: Batman: Night of the Monster Men (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

There's comparisons to be made between Batman: Night of the Monster Men and Batman: Night of the Owls, given that each "night" marked both the first crossover and first Bat-event of their respective eras, Rebirth and the New 52.

A fairer comparison might be with Night of the Monster Men and Trinity War or Robin War, given that Monster Men is an inter-title crossover like those others and Owls was a main story in the Batman series plus a string of other-title tie-ins. But whereas it might seem a benefit that Owls allowed the reader to pick up as many or as few tie-ins as they liked, versus Monster Men requiring the reading of all six parts, the Owls tie-ins felt in some respects shoehorned into the crossover and the total result was lesser, not greater. Owls essentially had the Bat-family tackling one threat simultaneously, but separately; Monster Men sees the already-disparate casts of Batman, Detective Comics, and Nightwing truly joining forces against a common threat.

Review: Grayson Vol. 5: Spiral's End trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 08, 2017

It's unfortunate that Tom King and Tim Seeley couldn't write the final issues of Grayson collected in Grayson Vol. 5: Spiral's End. At the same time, I'm skeptical that either writer was really that far away, even if perhaps busy with Rebirth considerations. Without benefit of Seeley and King's actual finale, it's impossible to say that Hacktivist and Joyride's Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly's closing issues really would have been that much different. If Grayson's end came too swiftly, that's more a fault of Rebirth proper than anything two backup writers in an unenviable position did.

For me, the final Grayson volume hit most of the important points I wanted it to. I thought it adroitly positioned Dick Grayson and his supporting cast for their Rebirth roles in such a way as to acknowledge rather than forget this preceding series, preserving Grayson as part of the once-and-future Nightwing's continuum.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Year One makes me a little mad. It is a lovely Wonder Woman origin that in many ways reflects these characters best selves, with all the more pure and tragic motivations now for Diana, her mother Hippolyta, and the other gathered Amazons especially. At the same time, both happily and not, the broad strokes of Rucka's origin hew fairly close to George Perez's post-Crisis on Infinite Earths original, and I did have to wonder at the necessity of a new Wonder Woman origin when the last most recent still seems to work fairly well.

Still yet, however, this origin does fit fairly well into the post-Flashpoint New 52 continuity. I've no idea and probably won't for at least a few more months what timeline these Rebirth books are supposed to be adhering to, but as it seems pretty certain DC is doubling down on Justice League: Origin as being the definitive first meeting of the Justice League, and Wonder Woman: Year One dovetails with that. We have lacked a clear Wonder Woman origin for almost a decade now, not just for the New 52 but since Infinite Crisis, so the fact that we actually have one at all is something of a miracle.

Review: Batgirl Vol. 3: Mindfields trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 01, 2017

Batgirl Vol. 3: Mindfields marks a long good-bye for the "Batgirl of Burnside" title. The book collects seven issues and a special, and in some respects ends twice; there's a five-part story that essentially brings the title to its most proper and loftiest conclusion (with art for the book's last time by Babs Tarr), and then a two-part story that breaks things down to an extent as a lead-in to the Rebirth series. Whereas titles like Batman and Flash offered no overt connection between the end of the New 52 series and the beginning of Rebirth, writers Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher do a surprising amount of heavy lifting here to position this title for Hope Larson's upcoming run.

Mindfields improves on the previous volume, a positive trend especially since this is the end. In the main story, the basic facts of who the villain is and what's happening to Batgirl Barbara Gordon are apparent from the start, allowing for more emphasis on the characters themselves and their interactions, as befits the Batgirl title. There's a good amount of psychological horror at play that's surprisingly effective, like a Twilight Zone episode, and then that's balanced in the end by Batgirl's campy villains and quip-laden superheroics. Mindfields held my attention and I'm curious to see what Larson does with the book's new status quo going forward.