Review: Teen Titans Vol. 3: The Sum of Its Parts trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I had high hopes for a turnaround for the third volume of DC Comics's second New 52/DC You Teen Titans book, especially with Scott Lobdell joining writer Will Pfeifer and then Greg Pak taking over the title. Unfortunately, Teen Titans Vol. 3: The Sum of Its Parts doesn't mark an improvement for the title, or if it does, it comes too little, too late in this title for the turnaround to have an effect.

It's almost laughable at this point, but Sum of Its Parts includes yet another "Who is Wonder Girl" story -- laughable because that title's gone beyond mere tradition to full-on necessity, the way continuity wipes away each successive Teen Titans' Wonder Girl (and Rebirth is no exception). That's Pak's story, for which again I had high hopes -- he's knocked it out of the park on Action Comics -- and it's not terrible but not great; I don't think Pak is helped there by artist Ian Churchill. But here at the almost-end of the New 52, when indeed Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark is about to take a continuity wallop, Sum does serve to fully-realize a story thread from Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman series, for what that's worth. Better, at least, that it's tied up than that it's not.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 4: Underworld (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

It was just before writer Dan Abnett joined the Aquaman franchise that DC Comics last ran an "Aquaman in exile" story, murky and ill-received, so it's a curious moment when Abnett returns to that well with Aquaman Vol. 4: Underworld. The Aquaman of the current era didn't lose much cache in that earlier volume misstep, but in some respects we're at a point where Abnett has built up enough goodwill over his own pre- and post-Rebirth volumes that he can upend the status quo without the same pushback. Certainly the painterly, fantasy-inspired pencils, inks, and colors of artist Stjepan Sejic don't hurt.

But also, inasmuch as this seems like a new direction, it becomes increasingly clear that Aquaman Arthur Curry, Atlantean freedom fighter, is a natural outcropping of the story Abnett has been telling all along. This does suggest, for one, a feint in the story Abnett seemed to be telling to start with; for two, there now seems a different point Abnett's trying to get to in terms of "status quo," and I'm all the more eager now to see what that endpoint is and what kinds of stories Abnett tells from there.

Review: Deathstroke Vol. 2: God Killer trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The DC You Deathstroke Vol. 2: God Killer sees Tony Daniel's Deathstroke (now co-written with James Bonny) set against the backdrop of Brian Azzarello's New 52 Wonder Woman. At this point in Wonder Woman, Azzarello's run was now on its way to being dismantled; Daniel also overlays elements of he and Charles Soule's Superman/Wonder Woman, also at a time when a new creative team was on that book. So God Killer marks the curious intersection of a variety of things, but unfortunately that doesn't make for a workable Deathstroke tale. The story within is predictable and generic, taking every shortcut to pad this out into a trade-sized arc. With two more volumes to go, I'm hopeful Daniel lets go of this tendency to stick Deathstroke into superheroic situations and gets down to the the kind of espionage setting where this character works best.

DC Trade Solicitations for April 2018 - Action Comics #1000, Batman by Morrison Omnibus Vol. 1, Titans: Total Chaos, Deathstroke Vol. 4 (Wolfman), Legionnaires Book Two, Zero Hour HC

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

I'll tell you, I had a heck of a time choosing a cover image to represend DC Comics's April 2018 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations. This is a month that sees Titans: Total Chaos solicited, collecting the second-best Titans story of the 1990s, plus Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 2, including Titans crossover "Siege of Zi Charam," plus classic volumes of Legionnaires and Deathstroke, the Terminator, plus a fixed New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3, plus Batman and the Signal and a hardcover of Zero Hour. In a normal month, any one of those would be a shoe-in for the spotlight volume, but ... this is the month that Action Comics #1000 will be coming out.

I'll talk a little more about that monumental issue below, but at the outset you must read this harrowing story of how a young Marv Wolfman saved a reported Jerry Siegel/Joe Shuster Superman story from destruction; the very idea in this day and age that that kind of material might be regularly incinerated is unthinkable.

Dipping in ...

• Action Comics #1000

I think I'm in a bit of shock that Action Comics #1000 is actually here, given I'm not feeling as strongly as I expected about it finally being solicited. This might be in part because, while I had switched to reading Action in single issues starting with "Oz Effect" in the lead-up to #1000, I've ultimately found Action's current direction so sleepy that I haven't even read the last most-recent issue yet.

Also I think I had envisioned Action #1000 as the culminating issue of a nail-biting storyline worthy of this milestone, and now it seems like Action #1000 is just going to be a "what does Superman mean to you" kind of short story anthology. Which is maybe what it should be, but again at this point I thought I'd have the same feeling of "can't miss what's going to happen next" as I did just before "Oz Effect" started, and the fact that it's just going to an anniversary special like any other instead seems less than.

Plus there's all this hullabaloo about the red "trunks," about which I just could not care less. They've got every other character out of their trunks, Superman's has what I think have been a variety of workable trunk-less costumes over the years, the trunks to me don't make aesthetic sense any more, and mostly what I see online about the trunks are too-partisan debates that really seem to be all or nothing for or against the New 52 altogether. But for me, whether Superman has his trunks or not changes my enjoyment of Superman not at all (nor whether the inside of Batman's cape is gray or purple), and for that to be the big news about Action #1000 out of the gate suggests to me we're starting from a lesser position. If Superman's trunks coming back are the most important reason readers should pick up Action Comics #1000, we've got trouble.

Batman and the Signal TP

The three-issue Duke Thomas miniseries by Scott Snyder and Tony Patrick will apparently be padded out in trade with the "Cursed Wheel" backup stories from Snyder's All-Star Batman #1-4 and 6-9. I'm not sure what they might have put in here instead (aside from nothing, or perhaps the Duke Thomas holiday story or maybe a recap of the character's history), but the All-Star backups are disappointing one because they're in the All-Star collections already, and two because, while they start well, they peter out with no real conclusion and ultimately no explanation of what the Cursed Wheel is. It'd be one thing of "Cursed Wheel" was complete, but it's unfortunate to recollect this storyline when it didn't actually work out.

Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

Contents are now said to be Batman #655-658, "Batman and Son," and #663-683, which is "Black Glove" and "Batman RIP." There's also the related stories from 52 #30 and #47 and DC Universe #0. Within these is also the prelude and part 4 of "Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul," and the solicitation says "This title also includes two new story pages written and drawn by Chris Burnham that recap events from 'The Resurrection of Ra’s al Ghul.'” That crossover was messy and I'm eager to see new Burnham work that makes sense of it.

• Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Box Set Vol. 3

I'm not much for box sets but Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman Vols. 7-10 -- Endgame, Superheavy, Bloom, and Epilogue -- is some of their best work. This is some fine reading.

Batman: Detective Comics: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 HC

Collects issues #950-962, the Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows and Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina paperbacks.

Batman: Ghosts TP

A Sam Kieth spotlight book, this collects both Kieth's Batman Confidential #40-43 and also Batman/Lobo: Deadly Serious #1-2.

Batwoman Vol. 2: Wonderland TP

Collects issues #7-12 of the Marguerite Bennett series. I liked the first volume and I'm looking forward to this one. Previous solicitations had this as "Fear and Loathing," now as "Wonderland."

Cyborg Vol. 3: Singularity TP

Earlier solicitations had this at issues #12-18, but these solicitations list #14-20. Issue #20 was actually supposed to be the end of the Cyborg series, with John Sempter writing the "Singularity" story (#14-18 with guest star Beast Boy) and Kevin Grevioux finishing it off with "Wretched of the Earth" in issues #19-20. But, recent reports are that Marv Wolfman will be coming on to the title, picking up with issue #21.

Deathstroke, the Terminator Vol. 4: Crash or Burn TP

The last classic collection of Deathstroke, the Terminator included seven issues plus six Showcase '93 shorts. A bit concerningly, this is only five issues and an annual, specifically #21-25 and the Annual #2. Now, I'm glad to see this collected irrespective, I don't scoff at a Bloodlines annual getting collected, and the next collection will have to be eight or nine issues with "World Tour," but I wish this was a little larger.

Doom Patrol Vol. 2: Nada TP

Said to collect issues #7-11 and not #7-12, which would have collected the final issue of the first "season" of this title; I guess that'll be along in the next book.

Green Arrow Vol. 5: Hard-Traveling Hero TP

Collects issues #26-31, the "Hard-Traveling Hero" story that sees Green Arrow teamed not just with Green Lantern, but also most of the Justice League.

Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 2 TP

Said to collect Green Lantern #58-65 (previously #61-69 and Annual #4), New Titans #124-125, Darkstars #34, and Damage #16. That's an encounter with Parallax, a team up with Warrior Guy Gardner, and astoundingly, the entire "Siege of Zi Charam" crossover from New Titans with Marv Wolfman, Michael Jan Friedman, and Tom Joyner, which I recall being a well-written space opera that I never thought I'd see collected. Excited for this one.

Harley Quinn Vol. 5: Vote Harley TP

Collects issues #28-34, which is the "Vote Harley" storyline plus Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's final issues.

Legionnaires Book Two TP

Said to collect Legionnaires #69-76, Legionnaires #25-30, Legion Annual #6, Legionnaires Annual #2, and a story from Showcase '95 #6. The regular issues stop just before the "Future Tense" crossover with Karl Kesel's Superboy. Both the annuals are "Year One" stories; Showcase is the Science Police and/or the Legionnaires.

New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3 New Edition

We finally know now that the new editions of the New Teen Titans omnibuses will indeed continue collecting New Teen Titans in order (as opposed to the last time around). This is Tales of the Teen Titans #42-58 (this solicitation says #42-68, but the title only went up to #58 before it began reprinting old stories), both "Judas Contract" and some Crisis on Infinite Earths lead-in stories, the Annual #3, and New Teen Titans #1-9. Tales #51-58 and Titans #7-9 have never been collected before besides what's in the recent new paperback.

Nightwing: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 HC

Collects issues #16-28, the Nightwing Vol. 3: Nightwing Must Die and Nightwing Vol. 4: Blockbuster collections, ending just before the "Gotham Resistance" Metal tie-in issue.

Nightwing: The New Order TP

The six-issue miniseries by Kyle Higgins. Trevor McCarthy's art wasn't always my favorite on Batwoman but it grew on me, and I think he and Higgins are just right for this.

Suicide Squad: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 HC

Collects issues #9-20 and the War Crimes special, the Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Burning Down the House and Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Earthlings on Fire paperbacks (Vol. 3 is among the best books I read last year).

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 2 HC

Collects Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #241-258 and DC Comics Presents #13-14. This is, among other things, the well-known 1970s "Earthwar" story; correct me if I'm wrong but I don't think this has ever been collected before.

Supergirl: Being Super TP

Paperback collection of the four-issue miniseries by Mariko Tamaki and Joelle Jones.

Superman by Mark Millar TP

This collection has changed dramatically from when it was said to collect parts of the "Superman: King of the World" storyline. Instead these are largely the animated Superman Adventures stories, plus Team Superman #1, Tangent Comics: Superman #1, and stories from Superman 80-Page Giant #2 and DC One Million 80-Page Giant #1,000,000.

Superman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 HC

Collects issues #14-26 and Annual #1, the Superman Vol. 3: Multiplicity and Superman Vol. 4: Black Dawn paperbacks third and fourth paperbacks (with parts of Superman Reborn).

Superwoman Vol. 3: The Midnight Hour TP

Issues #13-18, the final Superwoman collection.

The Wild Storm Vol. 2 TP

Issues #7-12 of the new Warren Ellis series.

Titans: Total Chaos TP

We're getting all that much closer to there actually being a Total Chaos collection. That's New Titans #90-92, Deathstroke, the Terminator #14-16, and Team Titans #1-3. By Marv Wolfman and Tom Grummett among others, this is from about twenty issues when the adult Titans were at their absolute best -- everybody buy like crazy so DC reprints "Titans Hunt," the actual best story from this era. All the Team Titans back-up stories or bust (I kid! I'll take it anyway!).

Wonder Woman Vol. 5: Heart of the Amazon TP

The fifth Rebirth volume by Shea Fontana and Mirka Andolfo, issues #26-30. Also including Fontana's parts of the Annual #1 and the Steve Trevor special.

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time HC

This has turned out to be "just" a Zero Hour hardcover collection, which is actually pretty cool on its own and I'm only bummed because at some point we thought this would have Armageddon 2001 in it. But this does have an introduction by Dan Jurgens, apparently an "updated timeline to the DC Universe" (whatever that means; I expect it's the timeline printed in the last issue of Zero Hour originally) and bonus material.

How many copies of Action Comics #1000 will you be purchasing? Big plans for the big day?

Review: Aquaman Vol. 3: Crown of Atlantis (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

In the transition between this book's previous direction and its next, Aquaman Vol. 3: Crown of Atlantis is an odd collection. Of the three main stories collected here, at least two might be dismissed as tertiary to this book overall, except for the occasional flashes of brilliance that make them difficult to write off entirely. It's as if the ongoing narrative of this series and the stories within this book are slightly misaligned, or if writer Dan Abnett were to have taken his Aquaman inventory stories and shoehorned them into this particular moment in time. Another possibility is that these issues are mostly set-up for stories to come, though that's tough to determine in the here and now. Crown of Atlantis is an impressively-large collection of nine Aquaman issues that sometimes zigs when it should zag and sometimes zags when it should zig.

Review: Sinestro Vol. 4: The Fall of Sinestro trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Much like Charles Soule's Red Lanterns, Cullen Bunn's Sinestro series climaxes with a battle royale worthy of its own DC Comics crossover; Sinestro Vol. 4: The Fall of Sinestro is a fitting end to a series that might've started slowly, but ended superbly. Like Red Lanterns, however, Sinestro peaks a few issues before its actual end, and the result is a great finale followed by a couple issues where the book peters out on the way to a hurried ending. But at ten issues, Fall of Sinestro is still a nice, and nice-sized, trade, including even when it didn't have to the final two issues of Bunn's mostly-unrelated Lobo series. The most important thing is, Cullen Bunn handles Sinestro well here, as well as Geoff Johns did before him, and he sets a high bar for handing Sinestro back over to Robert Venditti and the Rebirth Green Lantern team.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 2: Black Manta Rising (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Dan Abnett's Rebirth Aquaman Vol. 2: Black Manta Rising ends up with the same kind of crackling geopolitical drama that made his first volume, Aquaman Vol. 1: The Drowning so good. Given nine issues, it's not such a problem that the first three are given over to a somewhat-repetitive action-focused story arc. Essentially, if -- like me -- the beginning of this book concerns you that perhaps the loftiness of the first book was a fluke, never fear, because Black Manta Rising gets back there in time.

There's aspects of Rising that follow common storytelling tropes, and there's material that's all too familiar among Aquaman stories of late; if there's a concern to be had, it might be that Abnett demonstrates there's only so many stories one can tell with Aquaman and Atlantis. But Rising is enjoyable, and its politics are its defining factor; Rising follows up on Drowning well.

Review: Sinestro Vol. 3: Rising trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I have been critical of Cullen Bunn's Aquaman and Lobo, even the pace of his Sinestro, but there's no question that Bunn writes Sinestro himself well. A lot of things come together in Sinestro Vol. 3: Rising, a book that in some ways doesn't move this series' plot that much farther forward, but whose depiction of Sinestro and those around him is so good, it increasingly ceases to matter. Further, Bunn's Lobo series also gets a significant pick-me-up being now essentially just a second Sinestro title. In the DC You absence of a proper Green Lantern title, Bunn can now apparently do what he wants with the franchise and its catalog of characters; the result is madcap and bloody, probably a bit wrong-headed but a bunch of fun in its audaciousness.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 1: Reign of the Cyborg Superman (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 07, 2018

DC Comics caught flak for not having a mainstream Supergirl series on the stands when the then-CBS show premiered, following only belatedly with a digital-first TV tie-in series. Perhaps waiting was opportune, however, because Steve Orlando's Rebirth Supergirl Vol. 1: Reign of the Cyborg Superman is one of the best TV-to-comics adaptations I've seen, perfectly recognizable to now-CW fans while still fitting cogently into the DC Comics universe. Orlando and artist Brian Ching trend a tad too all-ages for me, and the TV-similar accoutrements are better than the plot itself, but this is a far stronger start than Supergirl had in the last relaunch. Clearly DC is positioning this book as one to watch.

[Review contains spoilers]

I give Orlando points for a story -- Supergirl's ongoing conflict with the Cyborg Superman -- that follows almost seamlessly from her New 52 series. Maybe that's not what Rebirth writers are supposed to be doing, but I appreciated that there were no great unexplained continuity jumps here, but rather that this Supergirl and the goings on around her seem mostly in line with the New 52 (including a cameo by her New 52 costume). All the same, there's little nuance to the events -- the Cyborg Superman arrives with a plan that sounds evil, Supergirl's pretty sure it's evil, indeed it turns out to be evil, etc. The book's conclusion is nicely epic (an improvement, perhaps, on TV Supergirl's recent Daxam invasion finale), but the story is simplistic, and in that respect I didn't feel engaged or challenged as a reader.

Review: Superwoman Vol. 1: Who Killed Superwoman? (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Late in Phil Jimenez's Rebirth Superwoman Vol. 1: Who Killed Superwoman?, the titular hero recounts the motley crew gathered to help her save Metropolis: "A narcissist, a clone, an atomic villain, and a ghost." It is indicative of the charming also-ran aesthetic of Jimenez's Superwoman; back in the Triangle Titles era, Superman's supporting cast was almost well-realized enough to support their own title, and that's about what we have here -- a title that teams some of Superman's best-loved allies, friends, and villains, almost everyone except the Man of Steel himself. It is of course no impediment in the Rebirth era that some of these characters haven't been seen for a while, as Jimenez (and fellow Super-team members Peter Tomasi and Dan Jurgens) grafts them almost just as they were on to the modern era. The result is interesting and endearing, and with deference to the long history of the "Superwoman" name.