Review: Batman Vol. 5: The Rules of Engagement (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Even the most seasoned comic book reader may not be satisfied after the first story in Tom King's Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement, but everyone should be by this book's end. With the preliminaries aside, we've arrived at the point where Tom King's Rebirth run has started to be about what it's actually about, and the result is delightful. Through the majority of this book there's nary a supervillain in sight, and instead we're suddenly enmeshed in a story about Batman and his own identity, his friends and family, and what happens when he dares to do something contrary to anything he's ever done before. King's story here is brilliant and madcap, and I can only hope we're in for more of the same in subsequent volumes. This book will surely offend some Batman purists, but it seems to me the kick in the tights the modern Batman needed.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 5: Kill Your Darlings (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Rob Williams' Rebirth Suicide Squad has been of mixed quality, sometimes dynamic and gripping, sometimes stalled in issues-long fight scenes. Suicide Squad Vol. 5: Kill Your Darlings is one of the "up" trades, populated by twists, betrayals, surprising brutality, and a couple of guest stars that carry it over the finish line at least by virtue of the difference. Williams still stubbornly refuses to tell anything resembling a "traditional" Suicide Squad story; the conflict and "mission" are devoutly insular, and at this point Williams has been telling aspects of the same story for about twenty-five issues now. But there's a bunch of good payoffs and character work here; every time Suicide Squad goes right like this, I hope it's the start of a trend.

DC Trade Solicitations for July 2018 - Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion, Batman: Caped Crusader Vol. 1, Aquaman by David Book Two, New Teen Titans Vol. 9, Flash: Rogues: Captain Cold

Monday, April 23, 2018

It's been a busy comics month with both Action Comics #1000 and Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman, but of course the comics train waits for no one and DC Comics' July 2018 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations are here, looking ahead to August and beyond.

On one hand this seems not the most ground-breaking month (I mean, once you've got Superman Blue Vol. 1, everything else is just kind of blah, no?), but on the other hand maybe I'm just getting spoiled by all the great collections we've seen lately. I mean, we've got more uncollected issues of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's New Teen Titans in New Teen Titans Vol. 9, Benjamin Percy's final Green Arrow volume, Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 1, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion (now no longer Vol. 1 again, supposedly), not to mention another Aquaman by Peter David book. So not, like, Titans: The Wildebeest Saga, but no slouch either this month.

Read on for more details ...

Aquaman by Peter David Book Two TP

The second collection of Peter David's Aquaman is nicely following quick on the heels of the first -- February and then August. Issues #9-20 include an Underworld Unleashed tie-in and guest appearances by Dolphin, Tempest, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, and that era's Wonder Woman-led Justice League. Also included is the "Year One" Aquaman Annual #1. A handy DC collection would be all the Justice League-related titles of these "Year One" annuals, which if I recall correctly had the throughway of Superman meeting the other heroes for the first time.

Batman and the Signal TP

To balance out the three-issue miniseries by Scott Snyder and Tony Patrick, this has the All-Star Batman backups and a story from New Talent Showcase 2017. I do like DC getting all the Signal material together in one package; I've already got those backups via the All-Star trades but I'm not sure there's much else DC could have padded this book with. A three-issue mini is always going to be tough to collect but I appreciate that the creative team didn't bite off more issues than they needed.

Batman Beyond Vol. 3: The Long Payback TP

Issues #13-19 of the Dan Jurgens/Bernard Chang series.

Batman by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones Vol. 2 TP

Picks up from the first volume and continues to collect their run with Batman issues #536-552 and #555. Among other things that's Final Night and Genesis tie-in issues, plus the Spectre and Ragman.

Batman: Arkham: Penguin TP

It's rather astounding this one didn't come out earlier; I think I hadn't been looking for it because I thought it had (blame Super Friends but I always think of Penguin as Batman's second arch-nemesis right after the Joker). Collects Detective Comics #58 (first appearance), #610-611 ("Snow and Ice" by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle) and #824 ("Night of the Penguin" by Paul Dini and Don Kramer); Batman #155, #374, and 548-549 ("Penguin Returns" by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones); Batman: Penguin Triumphant #1; and Joker’s Asylum: Penguin #1.

Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 1 TP

Well, we got Batman: The Dark Knight Detective the other day and it included an image of Caped Crusader; here comes Caped Crusader for August, and DC's mentioning Dark Knight Detective in the solicitations. It's not often we see "partner" trades like that, and this is interesting and I'm eager to see these continue for a while -- through "Knightfall," I guess.

This latest solicitation has the book at Batman #417-425, #430-431, and Annual #12. That's "Ten Nights of the Beast," but specifically skips over "Death in the Family." That's controversial to say the least, if it's correct; I would admire the gumption of the person in the DC office who said, "Y'know, we've collected 'Death in the Family' a bunch of times, let's not include it here," but as long as they're collecting these stories in sequential order, might as well go for all of them, no?

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II HC

By James Tynion and Freddie Williams, the latter of whom will also be drawing the Injustice/Masters of the Universe crossover series.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Deluxe Edition HC

Last month when we saw DC Comics's Fall 2018 catalog solicitations, this was back on the schedule -- having been solicited and cancelled before -- but as the first of multiple volumes. This solicitation doesn't mention "Vol. 1" and suggests this is "all the tales that tied in to Crisis on Infinite Earths." Well, I can tell you that what's listed for the volume, at least, isn't everything, but rather only collects tie-ins going up to about Crisis #9, and specifically omits issues that followed that were branded as Crisis tie-ins. Either there's many more contents than what's listed or this is indeed volume one of two.

Here's what the solicitation says is in it so far: Justice League of America #244, Justice League of America Annual #3, Green Lantern #194, Wonder Woman #327-328, Losers Special #1, Infinity Inc. #18-20, DC Comics Presents #87-88, Omega Men #31, Blue Devil #17-18, New Teen Titans #13-14, All-Star Squadron #50-51, Fury of Firestorm #41-42.

DC Comics Bombshells: The Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Deluxe-size collection of issues #1-12

Deadman TP

Issues #1-6 of the new Neal Adams miniseries.

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles TP

Matt Santori has written a great couple of articles about Mark Russell's Snagglepuss series, making me more and more interested to check it out every time. Arrives in stores in late August, the six-issue mini plus the backup from Suicide Squad/Banana Splits.

Flash: Rogues: Captain Cold TP

This is a neat idea a la the Batman: Arkham books, and could lead to a fine Gorilla Grodd or Reverse Flash book. Contents are Showcase #8 (first appearance by John Broome); Flash #150 (Gardner Fox) and #297 (Cary Bates); Flash #28 (William Messner-Loebs) and #182 (Geoff Johns); Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1 (Scott Kolins); Flash #6 (Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul) and Flash #17 (Joshua Williamson).

Flash: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Three HC

Collects the Rebirth Flash Vol. 5 Negative and Vol. 6 Cold Day in Hell, making up issues #28-38.

Green Arrow Vol. 6: Trial of Two Cities TP

Collects issues #33-38, the last issues by inaugural Rebirth writer Benjamin Percy. A warning, do not read the solicitation for this trade, which spoils a pretty big twist in the series.

Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica HC

Due out in late August, just a couple months after the start of the Batman '66/Archie comic.

Harley Quinn Vol. 6: Angry Bird TP

The first Harley collection by Frank Tieri, issues #35-42.

• Infinite Crisis Unwrapped HC

I'm not much for these un-inked collections, but original pencils by Phil Jimenez and George Perez is tempting indeed.

Injustice 2 Vol. 2 TP
Injustice 2 Vol. 3 HC

With Tom Taylor continuing as writer. Collects issues #7-12 and #14, and #13, #15-17, and Annual #1, respectively.

Also, Tim Seeley of Grayson and Nightwing mastery is going to be writing the ultra-twenty-first century Injustice meeting the ultra-1980s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Say what? Harley Quinn and Orko in one adventure together? Stand back, Action Comics #1000. The future really is a wonderful place.

JSA by Geoff Johns Book Two TP

JSA #16-25 (the JSA Vol. 3: Return of Hawkman trade) and Secret Origin of Super-Villains, JSA: Our Worlds at War, JLA/JSA: Secret Files, and JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice.

New Gods by Jack Kirby TP

Another of DC's new Jack Kirby collections; includes New Gods #1-11, "Even Gods Must Die," and Hunger Dogs.

New Teen Titans Vol. 9 TP

This is New Teen Titans (second series) #1-9, of which issues only issues #1-6 have been collected before. DC's making great progress here finally getting Marv Wolfman and company's Titans collected.

Superman Vol. 6: Imperius Lex TP

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's second-to-last Superman trade, collecting issues #33-36 and #39-41 (missing ones are Super Sons of Tomorrow. With James Robinson.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 5: Booster Shot TP

The last collection of Dan Jurgens' Rebirth run on Action Comics, this is issues #993-999 plus Jurgens' forthcoming Action Comics special.

Wonder Woman, Diana Prince: The 50th Anniversary Omnibus HC

The 1970s adventures of the white-suited "new look" Wonder Woman, previously collected in four paperbacks. This is Wonder Woman #178-204 (some just covers because the books were reprints), Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #93, Brave and the Bold #87 and #105, and World's Finest Comics #204.

So what is in the Crisis Companion anyway, and will it be volume one of two? Should Tom Seeley and Freddie Williams write Injustice/Masters of the Universe/Thundercats next? Lemme hear from you in the comments.

Review: Superman Vol. 5: Hopes and Fears (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 22, 2018

I had a dim view of the Rebirth Superman Vol. 5: Hopes and Fears ahead of reading this volume, as I knew it only contained one story by series creative team Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. The rest would be fill-ins, seemingly to let the Superman title step out of the spotlight roundabouts the time that Action Comics would be entering into "The Oz Effect." Indeed Hopes and Fears is no great shakes, but what redeems it for me are two Superman team-up stories with some continuity notes, which I always get a little joy out of even if the stories themselves aren't stellar. Also, Tomasi and Gleason's "road trip" story is an impressive feat itself, a charming two-part civics lesson that hopefully DC is intending to collect on its own for schools and the like.

Review: Action Comics #1000 (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Action Comics #1000 has arrived. It's a comic that at some points seemed very far off, at other points I wasn't sure we'd ever see. When the New 52 restarted Action's numbering, it seemed the idea that high numbers put off new readers might be extending even so far as DC's longest running titles -- but around the time DC recognized Detective Comics #900 amidst the New 52, we got an inkling the renumbering was not so cynical as we thought. And now, of course, here we are, and with the Superman title about to be renumbered to #1 too, we get an Action and Superman in sync with at least their right-most digit, which leaves neither title looking so old after all. If we didn't know better we'd think they planned it this way.

Review: Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman: The Deluxe Edition hardcover (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 15, 2018

In celebration of Action Comics #1000, DC Comics has released Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman, a deluxe commemorative hardcover collecting key issues of Action along with essays. It is an interesting and affecting book, worth reading before Action #1000 to contextualize and put one in the right mindset for that volume. A number of the essays, including by former DC executive Paul Levitz and writer Larry Tye, try to convey the enormity of a Superman comic having been published continuously every month for the past eighty years; the logistics are almost too much to fully comprehend, but reading multiple perspectives on the feat brings it home ahead of the issue itself.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 5: A Lonely Place of Living (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

What a weird, wacky story is the Rebirth Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 5: A Lonely Place of Living. A Red Robin Tim Drake spotlight book that serves to re-establish much of Tim's pre-Flashpoint origins, I had thought based on solicitations that this would also involve Robin-mythos stalwarts Spoiler and Anarky (who actually appear in the second story included). Instead, this Rebirth tie-in (pit stop?), with a secondary revelation of Mr. Oz's identity, is considerably more of a superhero sci-fi story than we normally see in a Batman book, and with tendrils that reach forward to Batwoman, Superman, and Super Sons, among other DC titles.

As a sequel to the story Lonely Place of Dying, writer James Tynion's ties are largely more thematic than plot-based, which perhaps is the right way to go. Controversially, Tynion holds over one of this book's most pressing questions for the next volume, though in the non-answer perhaps we get our answer. Between the last book and this one we learned Tynion is leaving this title, and to that point this volume foreshadows its own end; there is triumph here in the apparent return of Tim Drake, though it's bittersweet in our sense that there isn't much time left to enjoy it.

Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3: Quest for Hope (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Rebirth Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3: Quest for Hope is a fine return to form for the Robert Venditti-lead Green Lantern franchise. This particular series started strong with an epic first volume, but then faltered with a second book that didn't add much to the story. With this third book, Venditti's ideas seem to be bubbling over; the four-part "Quest for Hope" itself swings far and wide from what the premise of the story seems to be, giving the tale a wonderful crazed, unpredictable quality. Venditti follows that with another four-parter that reminds of some of the wild multi-front wars of Venditti's New 52 run. In short Quest for Hope demonstrates Venditti back on the right track, with only a couple minor hiccups along the way.

Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Bottled Light (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

What was good in Robert Venditti's first volume of the relaunched Rebirth Green Lantern series becomes a detriment in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 2: Bottled Light. I praised the first Corps for its unencumbered, straightforward story, appropriate for this new beginning in an epic TV movie/TV pilot kind of way. But Bottled Light is in the same vein in relatively light fashion, with a low threat by Green Lantern standards and character work that unfolds along predictable lines. I didn't mind that the first seven issues just essentially re-established the status quo for this book, but when we've only moved by inches after the next six, this starts to feel sluggish -- especially given how much Venditti packed into his New 52 stories.

Review: Flash Vol. 5: Negative (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 01, 2018

There's an interesting mystery at the beginning of Joshua Williamson's Rebirth Flash Vol. 5: Negative, but that momentum is squandered in a generic fight with a forgettable villain and inconsistent character work. Once again, Williamson's Flash defies explanation; the writer of the superlative Justice League vs. Suicide Squad populates this book with unlikable characters and overlays a general sense of malaise. My fervent hope was that Negative would mark the end of this book's "negative" bent, but it hasn't happened yet; if all of this is meant to be part of some "Flash is possessed" story thread, hopefully it resolves itself soon.