Review: Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven in many respects represents the real first volume of the DC Comics Rebirth series, and it's an admirable accomplishment by writer Tim Seeley. Seeley has the unenviable job of taking Nightwing Dick Grayson back to his pre-Flashpoint home of Bludhaven in such a way as to not seem just a soft re-hashing of a story already told, and he does so with alacrity. The Rebirth-based conceit with which Seeley accomplishes this works better than I expected, and also Seeley manages to pay homage to and utilize a variety of villains from the Nightwing series past -- using them, even, perhaps better than Chuck Dixon did originally. Not unlike James Tynion's Detective Comics, Seeley's second Nightwing volume ends with Dick Grayson to some extent back where we left him pre-Flashpoint, but fresher and with perhaps clearer purpose than he's ever had before. I finished Nightwing Vol. 2 much more excited to read the next volume than I was before.

Review: Superman: Savage Dawn hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The recent Batman: Night of the Monster Men is a crossover done right, compact and focused, and based on that limited sample suggests good things for crossovers in the Rebirth era. That's auspicious because crossovers struggled in the New 52 era, especially among the Superman titles toward the end, with a tendency to bloat and meander. This was true of the Doomed crossover, and while the "Truth" event started auspiciously with connected-but-separate titles, with Superman: Savage Dawn we're back to a crossover so large it loses sight of itself.

Savage Dawn has moments here and there -- moments of impressive art, moments of inspiring story, moments of fine inter-character drama. But they're punctuated by a ten-chapter story that includes almost two-issues-worth of alternate-realty sequences, almost two-issues-worth of action sequences (with plenty of one- and two-page splash pages), and a bevy of mistakes. Moreover, though it begins to seem like Savage Dawn has interesting things to say in the beginning, whatever themes are set up in the beginning are lost or unremarked upon by the end, and the conclusion skips blithely over some of Savage Dawn and "Truth"'s biggest issues.

DC Trade Solicitations for September 2017 - Flash by Mark Waid Vol. 3, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, Wonder Woman and the Justice League: Judgment Day, Justice League Detroit, Super Sons, Batman: Hush 15th Anniversary

Thursday, June 22, 2017

DC Comics continues their recent spate of great 1990s reprints in their September 2017 trade paperback and collected hardcover solicitations; we see the third Flash by Mark Said volume, the start of Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner collections, and the next Wonder Woman and the Justice League volume, collecting the “Judgment Day” crossover! Also not to be missed is the Justice League of America: The Detroit Era Omnibus, a Batman: Hush 15th anniversary deluxe edition, and a handful of Rebirth deluxe hardcovers as well as the regular paperbacks.

Let’s see what else is on the list as we look forward already to the start of fall …

Flash by Mark Waid Book Three TP

It's great to see the third Flash by Mark Waid book already on the schedule and arriving in October, making that two volumes of this series we'll have seen this year (and with the first having come out as recently as last December). I'm glad to see DC striking while the iron is hot (and also with the Green Arrow Grell books, the Suicide Squad Ostrander books, etc.). This is an exciting one, collecting issues #80-94, because it includes the issues between "Return of Barry Allen" and "Reckless Youth/Terminal Velocity" that were good -- Waid ramping up for what was to come -- but haven't been collected before. Of course, this book does also include "Reckless Youth," the first appearance of Impulse Bart Allen, as well as an appeared by the "Bloodlines" New Blood Argus and the well-regarded Flash #91 where Wally West uses Johnny Quick's speed formula.

The next book I imagine will go up to but stop just before the "Dead Heat" crossover with Impulse, so something like issues #95 to #107.

Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 1 TP

As previously solicited, a seemingly chronological collection of Kyle Rayner's appearances, which'll end up covering some good material by Ron Marz (and hopefully Judd Winick) from the 1990s and 2000s. There's potentially a hundred issues to collect between the two writers, so this could be a collection series that goes on for a while (ten books, at this rate). On the assumption there's no clipping involved, DC starts this collection of issues #48-57 off right with the entirety of "Emerald Twilight," even though Kyle only cameos, and we've got the REBELS '94 #1 and New Teen Titans #116 issues where Kyle appears. A little more of New Teen Titans would probably fit here or in the next volume, and also probably this book should have Green Lantern#0 in it, too.

Justice League of America: The Detroit Era Omnibus HC

I'm pleased to see this "Detroit Era" Justice League collection coming to fruition, collecting issues #233-261, the Annual #2, Infinity Inc. #19 (a Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-in), JLA Classified #22-25 and JSA Classified #14-16 (the solicitation attributes both to JLA Classified, but JSA Classified was a continuation of the JLA Classified story), and the DC Retroactive: Justice League of America: The '80s special.

I'm especially glad to see the Classified and Retrospective issues included. The Classified story is admittedly somewhat troubled, but these issues do represent a kind of "new nostalgia" for Detroit. While not considered much at the time, the Detroit era's underdog fame spawned these "retrospective"-type stories that look at the Detroit era with rose-colored glasses of sorts. It'll be interesting to read both the source material and then also see how the "future," so to speak, looked back on the past.

Supergirl Vol. 3: Peter David TP

I'm pretty sure this won't actually be called Supergirl Vol. 3: Peter David, though it's funny to think so. This collects David's Supergirl #21-31 and the DC One Million issue, and includes appearances by Steel, Matrix, and the Female Furies, and a crossover with Resurrection Man. The next volume ought include a crossover with David's Young Justice.

Wonder Woman and the Justice League of America Book Two TP

This (fantastic) collection of Justice League America #86-91, Justice League International #65-66, and Justice League Task Force #13-14 collects the entire "Judgment Day" crossover plus a Justice League America lead-in story. This finishes Dan Vado's run on Justice League America just before Zero Hour. Wonder Woman would continue as team leader for about another twenty issues until Justice League America ended before JLA, but as those issues are all written by Gerard Jones, it remains to be seen if DC will continue this collections series or just stop here.

Nightwing: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-15, so the entirety of the first and second paperback volumes including the Night of the Monster Men crossover issues.

Suicide Squad: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Collects the contents of the first two Rebirth paperback volumes: the Rebirth special, issues #1-8, and the Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad April Fool's Special.

Wonder Woman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Collects the first two paperback Wonder Woman Rebirth volumes. I'm curious here to see whether DC collects the issues interspersed -- which I think they should, different from the staggered-issue paperbacks -- or if they paste together the present- and past-set stories respectively.

Batgirl Vol. 2: Son of Penguin TP

Collects issues #7-11 and part, I expect, of the Annual #1, with the other part of that annual appearing in the Supergirl collection solicited below.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows TP

The next volume of the Rebirth series I can't wait to read, collecting issues #950-956.

Deathstroke Vol. 3: Twilight TP

Collects Christopher Priest's Deathstroke #12-18.

New Super-Man Vol. 2: Coming to America TP

The second volume of Gene Luen Yang's New Super-Man series, collecting issues #7-12, also includes a "Superman Reborn Aftermath" tie-in issue.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 2: Who Is Artemis? TP

Collects issues #7-11.

Super Sons Vol. 1: When I Grow Up TP

The first volume of the hit series collects issues #1-5. I'm rather shocked DC didn't go for hardcover with this one given how popular the series is.

Supergirl Vol. 2: Escape from the Phantom Zone TP

Collects Supergirl #7-11 as well as the relevant story from the Batgirl Annual #1.

The Hellblazer Vol. 2: The Smokeless Fire TP

Collects issues #7-12 of the John Constantine series.

The Wild Storm Vol. 1 TP

Anyone reading Warren Ellis's Wild Storm? It is good? I feel I haven't heard as much fanfare for it as the "Young Animal" titles, for instance. This first volume collects issues #1-6.

Absolute Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang Vol. 2 HC

This second Absolute volume finishes the Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang run, collecting issues #19-35 and #23.2, the Vol. 4: War, Vol. 5: Flesh, and Vol. 6: Bones collections.

Batman: Hush 15th Anniversary Deluxe Edition HC

Honestly it seems longer than 15 years since Hush, not shorter, but thinking back, that seems about right. I'm surprised this hasn't been collected in DC's deluxe-format size before and it should make a nice collection, a little bigger than normal without being overwhelming.

Demon by Jack Kirby TP

A paperback reprinting of the sixteen-issue hardcover collection. In looking at this, I was interested to see that Jack Kirby not only created Etrigan, but also Klarion the Witch Boy, Teekl, and Harry Matthews, which I hadn't realized.

House of Secrets: The Bronze Age Omnibus HC

Collects House of Secrets #81-111, including the first appearance of Swamp Thing. Notable is that this book has either been combined with or replaced the previously-solicited DC Horror: House of Secrets collection.

Justice League of America: A Midsummer’s Nightmare Deluxe Edition HC

A deluxe collection of the Mark Waid miniseries that bridged the end of Justice League America and the beginning of Grant Morrison's JLA.

What looks good to you this month?

Review: Mother Panic Vol. 1: A Work in Progress trade paperback (DC Comics/Young Animal)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

That Jody Houser's Young Animal book Mother Panic seemed to be a mature readers title set in the Batman universe held much appeal for me, being more connected and less esoteric than what I understand of the Cave Carson title, for instance. But while Mother Panic Vol. 1: A Work in Progress starts well enough, especially with art by Tommy Lee Edwards, for me the story failed to distinguish itself as anything new and different, and with a mid-book change in artist, what had started strong became mundane, if not silly. That DC Comics has enough courage to let one of its characters say, "F--- the Bat," is admirable, a sign of not being so buttoned-up as in the past, but even choice words don't ultimately make this more than just another Bat-analogue title.

Review: Cyborg Vol. 2: Enemy of the State trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Unfortunately Cyborg Vol. 2: Enemy of the State loses a step in the run up to Rebirth. Halfway through, DC You-series writer David Walker, who wrote an exceptional first volume, bows out, and Marv Wolfman finishes the book. Wolfman is of course no stranger to the Cyborg Vic Stone character, but his swift completion to Walker's story doesn't quite satisfy, nor do his two one-off stories that follow before this iteration of the series ended. The book concludes with a Rebirth special by new writer John Semper that's a tad formulaic (though presents a fair primer on Cyborg so far). All in all, Cyborg loses a bit of its "wow factor" here, and we can only hope Semper can bring it back in Rebirth.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Gordon at War hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

As I've said before, some of my favorite DC Comics of the Dan DiDio/Geoff Johns era have been written by Peter Tomasi. Aside from being a great writer, pairing thrills with emotion, and also routinely using gore with care and adeptness, Tomasi has demonstrated himself exceptionally versatile. It's no small thing that a writer who first made his splash for me on the cosmic Green Lantern Corps then went on to write street-level Batman and essentially define the Damian Wayne character after Grant Morrison, nor that Tomasi could then go on to equally succeed writing the superheroic Superman.

Tomasi demonstrates that versatility again in Batman: Detective Comics Vol 9: Gordon at War, two more stories starring Jim Gordon as an unlikely Batman, following Tomasi's Batman Jim Gordon/Justice League team-up in Detective Comics Vol. 8: Blood of Heroes. As I wrote in that review, these Detective stories that offshoot from Scott Snyder's Batman: Superheavy are totally unnecessary, completely ignored by the main story, and for that reason that Tomasi can make them stories as good and worthwhile as they are is all the more impressive.

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 4: Dark Truth hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I wrote the other day that I like my comics political, and I was much happier at the beginning of Greg Pak's Superman: Action Comics Vol. 8: Truth when Superman took part in a sit-in than I was at the end when he was fighting formless shadow monsters. Pak's Batman/Superman Vol. 5: Truth Hurts -- part of the same storyline -- failed to thrill because its fixation with subterranean monsters, a hard sell for a Batman story anyway, lacked at least the partial real-world grounding that Truth contained.

Of this mega-event, then, Peter Tomasi's Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 4: Dark Truth emerges as the best of the bunch so far. It doesn't get more political than an entire issue spent on Clark Kent explaining his newly-revealed secret identity at the White House. Things get even "darker" from there as Superman and Wonder Woman engage in some particularly rough and nefarious dealings to reach the villain of the piece. Tomasi's ability to mix action and emotion is long-since proven, and he shines of course paired with frequent collaborator Doug Mahnke; there are scenes in this volume that I think rank amongst Tomasi's best work.

Review: Batman/Superman Vol. 5: Truth Hurts hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

I praised Peter Tomasi's Detective Comics story, in which new Batman Jim Gordon meets the Justice League, for its surprising lack of angst; the League knows Gordon, trusts him, and as long as he's wearing the Bat-costume du jour, they accept him as one of their own. This is in significant contrast to Greg Pak's Batman/Superman Vol. 5: Truth Hurts, which takes place sequentially beforehand, in which Gordon and the newly-depowered Superman spend almost the entire 200 pages sniping at and mistrusting one another.

This is wearying. I get it, and maybe Pak takes the right road by creating tension between the new Batman and altered Superman instead of their being fast friends right away. But it's a book where everyone's pretty unhappy, the art tends dark and somewhat one-note, and Aquaman guest-stars, for instance, as an out-of-control bruiser. As the start of Pak's final issues for this series, he has some nice moments when he calls back to the beginning of his run, but even the presence of some key Bat-family members can't brighten this book.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: The Victim Syndicate (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Once again James Tynion proves his Detective Comics to be among the best of the DC Comics Rebirth relaunch; once again as well Tynion all but assassinates the status quo of a favored character before he finishes. That Tynion is able to wrench the characters so severely and still make it clear how much affection he has for them is a testament to the roll Tynion is on with this title. The new Detective is the perfect meshing of characters and creator (not to mention appealing art) and I hope Tynion's intending to stick with it for a while.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: The Victim Syndicate is the epitome of a non-team team book, a concept others have tried in the Bat-verse previously but never with the success of Tynion. The loosely-defined team changes here from the first volume and looks to change again with the next; though at some point Tynion has to stop benching teammates, it makes for organic transitions. Tynion also deftly introduces a new villain to the Batman mythos, perhaps the first great new lasting villain of Rebirth. In all, even despite a bevy of maddening character work, Victim Syndicate is a strong follow-up to the first volume.

Review: Doom Patrol Vol. 1: Brick by Brick trade paperback (DC Comics/Young Animal)

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Gerard Way's Doom Patrol Vol. 1: Brick by Brick represents a "rebirth," to be sure -- the rebirth of a mainstream, superheroic mature readers line at DC Comics. And what's immediately gratifying about Doom Patrol is that it's "mature" without mistaking maturity for grittiness; rather there's a vein of optimism that pervades these pages, perhaps even more surprising as it surrounds the oft-put-upon Doom Patrol. But even as the whole band doesn't get back together in this volume on its own, enough of them happily reconnect with one another as to create something of a party atmosphere. Things never get so dire in Brick by Brick, but even when they do, there's a levity to the proceedings, buffeted in no small part by Nick Derington's art. With Tamra Bonvillain and company's bright peppy colors throughout, Brick by Brick is a breath of fresh air romp of the kind it seems DC Comics's Rebirth is meant to evoke, even if it isn't a Rebirth title itself.