Review: Black Canary Vol. 2: New Killer Star trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

That the "DC You" initiative only lasted one year turned what were ostensibly ongoing series into twelve-issue mini-, or perhaps "maxi-", series. This had a curious effect on their trade collecting, for instance the "Robin War" crossover that perfectly bisects a number of Batman-spinoff collections. In the case of Midnighter, this gave us a longer first volume that was in many ways beginning and climax to the story, and a shorter second volume almost entirely devoted to epilogue, with the unusual collecting structure itself lending to the experimental themes of "DC You."

Black Canary Vol. 2: New Killer Star is somewhat in the Midnighter model, where the first volume was really the star of the show -- Black Canary on the run as lead singer in a band -- and the second volume is ... something else. Perhaps in the parlance of Geoff Johns's JSA series, we might call New Killer Star a "down trade," the calm before the next big storyline, which in this case of course never came.

Review: New Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Kill Anything trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tim Seeley and Juan Ferreyra are a powerhouse combination, one half of the writing team that brought emotional lyricism to Grayson's spy shenanigans and one half of the art team drawing a retro-cool Rebirth Green Arrow like nothing else on the stands. Their New Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Kill Anything is as good as you would expect, a smart take on the Squad both in plot and layouts, a fine end to the New Suicide Squad title with a Quentin Tarantino aesthetic. I'll say at the top, do not read the back of this book, which spoils the story's good twist of the kind Seeley and Tom King were known for on Grayson.

[Review contains spoilers]

My only complaint about Kill Anything is that it is not a Suicide Squad story proper, but rather in large part the book is about the Squad gone rogue and Amanda Waller deciding to come save them. Were Seeley continuing a long run on Suicide Squad (and no offense to Rebirth Squad writer Rob Williams, but I wouldn't mind seeing Seeley take on the Squad again), then a deviation from the norm wouldn't be a problem. Given just one story, however, it's unfortunate we only barely get to see the Squad be the Squad and, in some respects, the "fight club" aspects of this story could have been told with any set of characters, not just the Squad. In broad terms we also have the issue of having just seen a "rogue" Squad of sorts (or at least one briefly un-leashed to kill Waller) in Sean Ryan's New Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Freedom, though that's just unfortunate coincidence.

Top 10 Marvel 2017 Collections Sale Recommendations

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

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

The holidays are over, but Amazon/Comixology has kindly kept their immense sale on Marvel trade paperbacks going until January 2nd. This includes a lot of obscurities, older stories, and event tie-ins that might have gotten skipped over. Here’s ten recommendations of books I haven’t reviewed yet that are worth getting at such a reduced price. I’ve compiled this issue with the help of the War Rocket Ajax podcast’s "Every Story Ever" list, where they rank comics in relation to one another to some surprising results.
  1. Luke Cage, Hero for Hire Masterworks Volume 1 ($4.99): I rarely endorse getting a trade solely for one story, but you can now get the classic tale of Luke Cage flying to Latveria to get the $200 that Doctor Doom owes him plus fourteen more issues of classic blaxploitation. While the Netflix series isn’t quite the same as Luke’s original comics, they’re a ton of fun. (Amazon | Comixology)
  2. Daredevil: Born Again ($3.99): Likely the source of the upcoming third season of Netflix’s series, this is Daredevil’s '80s Marvel Epic, bringing him low only for him to rise again. It’s some of the best writing Frank Miller has ever done, and I particularly enjoy the slow but persistent escalation of stakes that really makes it a page-turner. (Amazon | Comixology)
  3. Wolverine by Claremont and Miller ($1.99): Speaking of great work by Frank Miller … It’s the book that made Wolverine the character and merchandising juggernaut he is today. Logan’s back after a few years of death (and a fantastic blockbuster movie) and two dollars is a steal for a major classic story. (Amazon | Comixology)
  4. Super-Villain Team-Up: M.O.D.O.K’S 11 ($5.99): Before there was Superior Foes of Spider-Man, there was Super-Villain Team-Up, featuring another team of minor villains alternately working together and backstabbing each other. It’s one of Fred Van Lente’s many Marvel projects which should’ve gone on longer. (Amazon | Comixology)
  5. Immortal Iron Fist Vol 1: The Last Iron Fist Story ($2.99): Don’t hold the underwhelming Netflix version against Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction’s kung-fu epic. The David Aja artwork presages his work on Hawkeye with Fraction, while the story quickly gets so engrossing that you’ll be lucky that the other volumes are part of this sale. (Amazon | Comixology)
  6. New X-Men: E is for Extinction ($5.99): Hot on the heels of Logan’s return is Jean Grey, and Grant Morrison’s tenure on New X-Men is one place where Jean shines. Your mileage might definitely vary on the art, particularly in how Frank Quitely draws faces, but it’s a comic that still has resonance over a decade later. (Amazon | Comixology)
  7. Captain America: Man and Wolf ($7.99): This one is particularly motivated by the "Every Story Ever" list. Mark Gruenwald’s throwback to '60s comics is just about as silly as you can get while still presenting a serious comic book title, and Nick Spencer paid homage to it in one of my favorite Sam Wilson, Captain America arcs. (Amazon | Comixology)
  8. Deadpool Classic Vol. 1-5 ($4.99; $5.99 for Vol 4): For $26, you can collect the issues of Joe Kelly’s original Deadpool run. That’s a steal considering the omnibus is another $100. I loved these stories long before Deadpool became mainstream with the film and they belong in the collections of every Marvel fan. (Amazon | Comixology)
  9. She-Hulk: Single Green Female ($6.99): Before Dan Slott became the go-to Spider-Man writer, he wrote an all-time great single issue of She-Hulk in which Peter Parker sues J. Jonah Jameson for defamation. That story, plus the tale of Awesome Andy and the rules of comic book law, are all found here. (Amazon | Comixology)
  10. Runaways: Pride and Joy ($2.99): Rounding out the list is one last media tie-in. I haven’t had a chance to watch the Hulu live-action series, but it seems to be a faithful adaptation. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona led the way for a renaissance of teenage heroes that’s still playing out with Ms. Marvel and The Champions. (Amazon | Comixology)

Monday Talkback for 12-25-17

Monday, December 25, 2017

Season's greetings! If you've had enough of family and friends and have turned to the internet for a little peace and quiet, we've got a Collected Editions open thread for your enjoyment.

Let's hear it: Favorite gifts of the season? Things you're looking forward to next year? How's life treating you?

Best wishes and and thanks for reading Collected Editions.

(And if your gifting isn't done or you've got a gift certificate to spend, please click through to these comic book listings and help support our site!)

Review: We Stand on Guard deluxe edition hardcover (Image Comics)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

[Review by Haydn Spurrell]

What stands out, if we’re thinking in broad strokes, when I consider what helps Brian K. Vaughan’s body of work separate itself from the crowd in an industry that seems to unveil new talent every week, is that for starters, his concepts are simple, and almost laughably so.

Saga is about the child of two lovers from opposite sides of an ongoing war, and how their little family tries to find somewhere safe and peaceful. Y: The Last Man is even simpler; what if a disease wiped out every mammal with a Y chromosome, except for one young man and his monkey? These concepts work beautifully as long-running narratives. The characters are either fleeing from something or searching for something, which keeps them and the story moving. Thus, it opens up new and exciting opportunities as Vaughan expands the worlds he invests in. We Stand on Guard is an anomaly amidst Vaughan’s recent wave of books, including the two aforementioned titles as well as Paper Girls and, before all that, Ex Machina.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

James Tynion's Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina never quite comes together. Tynion spins parallel stories that cooperatively examine the intersection of magic, technology, and faith, but the pacing is somewhat off. Batman and Zatanna essentially stand around and chat, dipping in and out of flashback, while Azrael and the rest of Detective's Bat-team fight a pitched battle, and there's a sense of distraction -- the Zatanna storyline never quite hits its mark and the end of the Azrael story has a seemingly large flaw.

It hardly matters. Is it possible to rave about Tynion's Detective Comics more? Even when it doesn't totally work, there's such a joy in Tynion's celebration of these twenty-something-year-old characters that the finer details can be forgiven -- and surely Tynion's still running circles around plenty of others. There's a certain moment in this book that takes what was once a symbol of conflict between two characters and makes it instead something aspirational; twenty years hence it's simply a wonder these characters are still around for us to read about, and Tynion's ode to the best parts of them epitomizes what Rebirth is and should be.

DC Trade Solicitations for March 2018 - Dark Nights: Metal, Resistance, Nightmare Batmen; Batman: Dark Night Detective Post-Crisis; Kamandi Challenge; Absolute Killing Joke

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

We were just talking about them a few weeks ago and now here they are: DC Comics's collections of Dark Nights: Metal. But some of the contents are still up in the air, as the DC Comics March 2018 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations still have a couple of issues outside the main Metal collection that we've been told would be in there.

Among others, this month also sees the next collections of both Tom King's Batman and James Tynion's Detective Comics. But I'm excited for Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 1, a collection of the just-post-Crisis Detective Comics that seems to be running parallel to the Batman: The Caped Crusader collections of Batman issues (really this one is parallel to Batman: Second Chances). I'm a sucker for complete runs, even without a lot of consequence, and these actually do have consequence, weaving in and out of Legends, Millennium, Invasion!, Death in the Family, and more; I'm glad to see both Batman and Detective be being collected so comprehensively.

One last time this year, let's go ahead and take a look.

Absolute Authority Vol. 2 HC [New Edition]

Following the recent new edition of Absolute Authority Vol. 1, this is issues #13-29 from the original Absolute Authority Vol. 2, plus the Authority Annual #1 (2000) and a story from the Wildstorm Summer Special.

Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke HC

As I think I've mentioned before, for me some of the magic is gone from Killing Joke; what might've been the definitive tale of the Joker has been so subsumed at this point by what were meant to be (rightly or not) tertiary aspects of the story that it's hard to see Killing Joke in it any more. The recent animated movie was the last straw, crystalizing what was worse about this story instead of what was better. The solicitation for this volume nearly doesn't know what to do with it itself, positing the book mainly as a battle between the Joker and Commissioner Gordon.

Interestingly, the solicitation says the book has Brian Bolland's "reimagined colors and the original edition's colors"; I wonder if that means two differently colored versions in one book (there have been differently colored versions over the years) or if it will be just one version and then a comparative section later on.

Batman Vol. 5: The Rules of Engagement TP

Batman Vol. 4: War of Jokes and Riddles left me a little cold (good story but I didn't totally understand the point), but I'm eager for this one, which gets back to the present action and includes the reaction of the Bat-family to recent events, including a team-up with Superman and Lois Lane. Collects issues #33-37 and the Annual #2.

Batman: Arkham -- Hugo Strange TP

I love how random these Batman: Arkham books have become, and how no Bat-villain is off-limits no matter how obscure. Hugo Strange is not obscure-obscure, but I never thought he'd get his own trade. Really glad to see Devin Grayson's Gotham Knights "Transference" story in here; with the popularity of James Tynion's Detective Comics, we're overdue for dedicated trades of Grayson's Gotham Knights, that book's spiritual predecessor.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 5: A Lonely Place of Living TP

Being the other big Rebirth Bat-book of the month (Dark Nights: Metal notwithstanding), this is the moment we've all been waiting for -- the return of Tim Drake to Detective Comics. This is what James Tynion's Detective Comics has been building to all along and I can't wait to get my hands on it. Collects issues #963-968.

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 1 TP

We've been seeing bandied about for a while a Batman: The Caped Crusader series and a Batman: The Dark Knight Detective series, at times even seeming to replace one another. Now both are scheduled for the coming months, with Caped Crusader collecting the just-post-Crisis Batman title, mostly by Jim Starlin and Jim Aparo (including "Ten Nights of the Beast" and "Death in the Family"), and Dark Night Detective collecting the Detective Comics stories of the same time by Mike Barr with Alan Davis and Norm Breyfogle, among others. Issues #568-574 and #579-582 start with a Legends tie-in through to a Millennium tie-in, skipping over the already-well-collected Batman: Year Two. (Hopefully Year Three is in the next Caped Crusader volume.)

Bug!: The Adventures of Forager TP

Collects issues #1-6 of the Young Animal series by Lee Allred and Mike Allred. I'm not grooving on this one necessarily; I'm leaning more toward the Shade and Mother Panic urban horror than some of Young Animal's wackier material.

Dark Nights: Metal HC

Collects issues #1-6 of the event miniseries; said to arrive in stores June 6 with a foil-embossed cover.

Dark Nights: Metal: The Nightmare Batmen HC

Scheduled for June 20 in hardcover and also with a foil-embossed cover. The solicitations have this as Batman: The Red Death #1, Batman: The Devastator #1, Batman: The Merciless #1, Batman: The Murder Machine #1, Batman: The Drowned #1, Batman: The Dawnbreaker #1, The Batman Who Laughs #1 and Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1, though Scott Snyder tweeted when this came around the first time that Wild Hunt is going to be in the Metal trade proper, so we'll see.

Dark Nights: Metal: The Resistance TP

Earlier when we saw the Dark Nights: Metal trade solicitations, the Bats Out of Hell and Gotham Resistance trades were separate, but almost immediately they combined into this Resistance collection. Due out June 13 in paperback, this is Teen Titans #12, Nightwing #29, Suicide Squad #26, Green Arrow #32, Flash #33, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32, Justice League #32-33, and Hawkman: Found #1. The solicitation still lists Batman: Lost #1 even thought Scott Snyder also said this would be in the Metal collection proper.

DC Universe by Brian K. Vaughan TP

No question why it behooves DC to have as many collections out there with Brian K. Vaughan's name on it as possible, but this is a pretty eclectic collection. There's Titans #14, a Tempest story; Sins of Youth: Wonder Girl from the middle of that fifth week event; Young Justice #22, a "day in the life" story; the JLA Annual #4 from the 2000 "Planet DC" event; and parts, but not all, of the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern: Circle of Fire story.

Deathstroke Vol. 4: Defiance TP

Collects issues #21-25 of the Christopher Priest series in the aftermath of the Lazarus Contract crossover, plus a story from DC Universe Holiday Special.

Flash by Mark Waid Book Four TP

Previous solicitations for this book listed the contents of the third book; finally (but not unexpectedly), this is listed as issue #0, #95-105, and the Annual #8. That's the "Terminal Velocity" story and then some (co-written by Michael Jan Friedman), ending shortly before an Underworld Unleashed tie-in (notable because Waid wrote Underworld Unleashed). The annual is a "Year One" story.

Flash: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Two HC

Collects issues #14-27, the third and fourth paperback collections,Rogues Reloaded and Running Scared, and including the Flash half of the "Button" crossover with Batman.

Infinite Crisis Omnibus HC [New Edition]

A new collection of, let's face it, about the best event DC Comics has ever done, this comprehensive hardcover includes Action Comics #826 and #829, Adventures of Superman #639 and #642, Countdown To Infinite Crisis #1, Day of Vengeance #1-6, Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special #1, JLA #115-119, Infinite Crisis #1-6, Infinite Crisis Secret Files 2006 #1, The OMAC Project #1-6, The OMAC Project Infinite Crisis Special #1, Rann-Thanagar War #1-6, Rann-Thanagar Infinite Crisis Special #1, Superman #216 and #219, Villains United #1-6, Villains United Infinite Crisis Special #1, and Wonder Woman #219.

Injustice 2 Vol. 1 TP
Injustice 2 Vol. 2 HC

The paperback of issues #1-6 and the hardcover of #7-12 and #14. Not sure why issue #13 isn't in there (if the solicitation is right) except that it seems to be a standalone Supergirl issues.

JSA: The Golden Age TP [New Edition]

James Robinson's definitive JSA Elseworlds just had a deluxe edition, so a new paperback is pretty common.

Justice League: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Two HC

The second deluxe hardcover collection of Bryan Hitch's Justice League includes issues #12-25, the third and fourth paperbacks, Timeless and Endless.

Kamandi Challenge HC

Collecting the serial story. I thought this was twelve issues but the solicitation says "14 ... teams of writers and artists."

Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge TP

Collects issues #30-34 of the Rebirth series, tying back to the first volume.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 3: Bizarro Reborn TP

Previously this was solicited as issues #12-17, but now it appears to be #12-18 and the Annual #1.

Suicide Squad Vol. 5: Kill Your Darlings TP

Collects issues #21-25, ending just before the Dark Nights: Metal tie-in issue.

Supergirl Vol. 3: Girl of No Tomorrow TP

A markedly short trade, collecting just issues #12-14 and the Annual #1.

Superman Vol. 5: Hopes and Fears TP

Collects Superman #27-32 (not, as we thought before, any longer, and not collecting the "Imperious Lex" storyline yet), with two issues respectively by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, Keith Champagne, and James Bonny. This feels a bit like the book biding its time during greater Rebirth-centric events in Action Comics.

Wonder Woman by George Perez Vol. 3 TP

Collects Wonder Woman #25-35. Not to be confused with the recently announced Omnibus Vol. 3. Among these are a couple of Invasion! tie-in issues.

One last time for 2017 ... what are your latest acquisitions? What books are you still hoping to be gifted this year? Closing thoughts?

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Earthlings on Fire (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Ordinarily Suicide Squad intersecting with the Superman titles would be pretty significant, and indeed Rob Williams's Rebirth Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Earthlings on Fire's premise holds a lot of promise. But the story does not come close to the suspense and intrigue of the previous volume, as Williams seems to return to his formulaic "bottle episode" approach to Squad, emphasizing action over plot. Earthings appears in some respects to be an interstitial "down" trade between two peaks; let's hope that's the case and that next time around, Williams can demonstrate again the promise he's shown this title can hold.

[Review contains spoilers]

It's an impressive feat of coordination that for almost twenty issues now this title has held on to Zod seemingly just for the purpose of transferring him over to Action Comics. Zod's presence has given Suicide Squad some much-needed cache, though in some respects it feels surface-level; having gained possession of Zod, the Squad barely got to use him and did not accomplish Amanda Waller's goal of confronting the mysterious "People" with him. It's good that Williams seems to be finally getting down to the People with the next volume; to an extent Zod is a symbol of this book mainly biding its time to this point without a great amount in terms of plot or character development to show for it.

Review: Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Toward the end of Batman Vol. 4: The War of Jokes and Riddles, a frustrated Riddler lectures Batman that "not every story is your story!" War really is the Joker and the Riddler's story (and Kite Man's) more than Batman's. The material about them is fascinating, but the shift is slightly off-putting given that Batman isn't usually the title where Batman is overshadowed by his foes, and there hasn't been much build-up so far to suggest a shift like this was coming.

For the emphasis this flashback story places on Joker and Riddler, one might mistakenly have thought they'd featured in King's Batman stories so far. Really the greatest throughway between past and present in this story is King building on the history of his breakout take on Catwoman (not Ed Brubaker, but few can be) and of course spinning the origin of Kite Man. The book is clever taken in isolation, but reads strangely in the context of King's Batman run so far and the DC Universe overall.

Review: Justice League of America Vol. 2: Curse of the Kingbutcher (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Steve Orlando's second Rebirth Justice League of America volume reminds in some respects of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis's Justice League, with purposefully B-list villains taking a backseat to the character interactions (though fortunately without the cornball comedy). I hadn't realized ahead of time that Justice League of America Vol. 2: Curse of the Kingbutcher was a collection of shorter arcs, and so it was interesting to see Orlando flit through these one- and two-offs, largely using homemade antagonists. The book felt episodic, like X-Files or one of the CW shows that Orlando's League has so much connection to.

I go back and forth on Orlando's League; it has not been as good as I'd hoped and the second volume (third, including the Road to Rebirth volume) did not improve my opinion. On one hand, this book includes an astounding deep dive into much-maligned 1990s territory -- some of my favorite material -- and by the end of this volume, there's a curious mystery forming and some intriguing storylines to come outside of the book's promised Rebirth-centric, Atom-centric story. On the other hand, that reference to 1990s material makes almost no sense, part of a continued pattern of Orlando deciding this book's continuity as he goes, which along with other errors makes the book feel carelessly put together. While I like these characters, the team's internal conflict du jour is both silly and also one that we've seen many times before. I appreciate what Orlando seems to want to do with this book but a lot of this is not very original.

Review: Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists (Rebirth) trade paperback

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Among the best parts of Steve Orlando's Rebirth Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists are the characters. I'd have never thought I'd see a comic where the 1990s Lobo was mentoring Atom Ryan Choi, but it's here and it works. In the tradition of Batwoman in the Rebirth Detective Comics, it's also refreshing to have another team book where Batman's colleagues, namely Vixen and Black Canary, question his motives and tell him off. And though Orlando's populist Justice League doesn't feel new so much as another in a long string of attempts of this type, there is an extent to which this particular kind of Justice League feels particularly relevant and welcome in this day and age.

Entry Plug: Inuyashiki 1-2 graphic novels (Kodansha Comics)

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

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

While American audiences know many of Akira Kurasawa's films, one that often flies under the radar in the West is Ikiru, the story of a worn-out salaryman dealing with his own mortality and his realization that his family simply no longer cares about him. It's a powerful and often heartbreaking work . . . and it's not the first thing you'd imagine someone could turn into a science fiction series. You might also find it surprising that the creator of said series is also the man behind the controversial, ultra-violent manga and anime Gantz. Yet this is the kernel at the core of Hiroya Oku's Inuyashiki, and despite Oku's previous work, this recently-completed manga has become one of the standout anime of 2017. This review covers the first two volumes of the manga, which in turn were adapted into the first two anime episodes.

Review: Superman Vol. 4: Black Dawn (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Superman Vol. 4: Black Dawn is an ambitious outing by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Free to use Superman continuity old and new after Superman Reborn, the two take on perhaps among the toughest Superman character to write. The result is exciting story-wise, as the culmination of Tomasi and Gleason's entire run so far, and drawn well by top talents Gleason and Doug Mahnke. In the technical details unfortunately the story collapses under its own weight, a confusing morass of elaborate and contradictory storylines, which in its freedom to use previous continuities doesn't pause to explain what's going on. In one respect Black Dawn is an exuberant example of the Superman title stretching its wings; in other respects it's a prime example of how DC Comics's long continuity (or lack thereof) can harm a story in significant ways.