Review: Titans: Total Chaos trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Consider that when the issues collected in Titans: Total Chaos first came out, DC Comics' New Titans title was riding high on the wave of the blockbuster fourteen-issue "Titans Hunt" storyline that had just concluded with "The Jericho Gambit." These were heady times for DC and the buzz was loud in general; when "Total Chaos" launched, the Superman, Batman, and Flash titles were within a couple months of "Death of Superman, "Knightfall," and "Return of Barry Allen" respectively, not to mention that the "Armageddon 2001" and "War of the Gods" crossovers had just concluded (even if these seem bloated by today's standards, in the day they had tongues wagging).

Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 2: The Phantom Lantern (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Sam Humphries' Rebirth Green Lanterns Vol. 2: The Phantom Lantern is a slight improvement on the volume that preceded it. The characters' actions are often nonsensical and Humphries' simplistic approach to Green Lantern Jessica Cruz's anxiety difficulties does neither the character nor awareness of the condition any favors. The main "Phantom Lantern" story is decompressed, one that's good at six issues that could have been great at three or four. That said, there is significant appeal to this earthbound Green Lantern heroes vs. villain story and the Phantom Lantern is indeed a viable new antagonist for the Green Lantern mythos. Hopefully what potential this volume shows will continue to be cultivated.

DC Trade Solicitations for August 2018 - Justice League: No Justice, Batman: Knightfall 25th Anniversary and Wedding Album, Action Comics #1000 Deluxe, Impulse Omnibus, Winick's Titans

Thursday, May 24, 2018

I've got to give it to DC Comics' collections department, looking at the August 2018 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations. We've got Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1, Batman: Knightfall Vol. 2, the Prelude to Knightfall, and Knightquest: The Crusade Vol. 1 one a week through the month of September (plus Bane: Conquest), and we've also got the final volumes of Justice League of America, Justice League, and the No Justice collections all in September. That's a whole lot of not having to wait to read related collections all at once, when in the great trade dark ages this kind of thing might have been spread out over an entire year.

Highlights for this month also include the deluxe Action Comics #1000; two "New Age of Heroes" collections, Damage and Silencer; the Impulse omnibus; the first volume of James Robinson's Wonder Woman; and an unexpected collection of Judd Winick's Titans.

Here we go ...

Action Comics #1000: The Deluxe Edition HC

Solicited one month later, but arriving in September, is the deluxe edition of Action Comics #1000. In addition to the issue itself, this has Paul Levitz and Neal Adams' "The Game" story from Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman

All-Star Batman Vol. 3: The First Ally TP

Paperback of the (excellent) hardcover, collecting the final issues, #10-14.

Bane: Conquest TP

Collects the twelve-issue miniseries by Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan. Will Bane be able to trade his new mouth-hole mask for his better, cooler non-mouth-hole original mask? A nice touch of serendipity that this arrives at the same time as the new Knightfall books, though I haven't heard much buzz about this book's quality.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 7: Batmen Eternal TP

Collects issues #975-981. This is James Tynion's last collection of this book ... sniff ... I think I've got something in my eye ...

Batman: Knightfall Vol. 1: The 25th Anniversary Edition TP

Happily, the beginning of a reprint of the recent Batman: Knightfall omnibuses in paperback form, this is one half of "Knightfall" proper, Batman #492-497 and Detective Comics #659-663.

Also included (via the omnibus) is Batman Villains Secret Files and Origins #1, which was published about five years after "Knightfall" but included the story "How Bane Infiltrated Wayne Manor" by Chuck Dixon and "Ed Barreto" (I think this is the late Eduardo Barreto of Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography). In the Secret Files, these are presented as "lost" unpublished pages, framed on storyboards, though I think that's just a gimmick. I'm curious, if someone has the omnibus, whether they're presented like that in these volumes or just as normal pages.

Batman: Knightfall Vol. 2: The 25th Anniversary Edition TP

Collects Detective Comics #664-666, Showcase ’93 #7-8, Batman #498-500 and Batman: Shadow of the Bat #16-18, the second half of "Knightfall."

Batman: Knightquest: The Crusade Vol. 1 TP

Continuing the Knightfall Omnibus paperbacks, this collects half of the Azrael half of "Knightquest," Detective Comics #667-670, Robin #1-2, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #19-20, Batman #501-504, and Catwoman #6-7.

Batman: Prelude to Knightfall TP

This collects Vengeance of Bane #1, Batman #484-491, and Detective Comics #654-658. What we're really waiting to see, maybe in next month's solicitations, is whether the final "Prodigal" book will also have the "Troika" storyline, collected for the first time in the Knightfall omnibuses, or whether those issues will be omitted.

Batman: Preludes to the Wedding TP

Collects the one-shot specials spinning out of Tom King's Batman Vol. 7: Robin vs. Ra’s Al Ghul, Nightwing vs. Hush #1, Batgirl vs. The Riddler, Red Hood vs. Anarky and Harley Quinn vs. The Joker

Batman: The Court of Owls Saga: The Essential Edition TP

Collects issues #1-11, so both the New 52 Batman Vol. 1: Court of Owls and Batman Vol. 2: City of Owls collections together. I'll be curious to see the trade dress on these new DC "Essential Editions."

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns (DC Modern Classics Edition) HC

Two new collections series starting this month, "DC Modern Classics" and "DC Essential Editions." The Modern Classics are hardcover with slipcase, like this one; the Essential Editions are paperbacks usually spanning multiple individual trade collections.

Batman: The Gates of Gotham Deluxe Edition HC

Once upon a time it seemed like Scott Snyder and company had a certain grand plan for the history of Gotham that I think never quite totally emerged, though we saw parts in Night of the Owls and etc. To that end I've thought Gates of Gotham never quite got its due (consider the last issue arrived on the eve of the New 52 relaunch) and so this deluxe collection is a nice surprise, a chance to consider the story on its own merits.

Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 5 TP

Detective Comics #113-131, Batman #36-44, and World's Finest Comics #23-32.

Batman/Catwoman: The Wedding Album: The Deluxe Edition HC

It's funny because I remember the Green Arrow/Black Canary: The Wedding Album collection. DC should retroactively do one of these for Superman and Lois. Collects the otherwise-collected Batman #24, #44, and #50, plus the retailer variant covers from issue #50, wedding dress designs by Joëlle Jones, and the script to issue #44.

Before Watchmen Omnibus HC

This seems somewhat obvious, in retrospect -- an omnibus edition of the Before Watchmen books. Includes Before Watchmen: Comedian #1-6, Before Watchmen: Rorschach #1-4, Before Watchmen: Minutemen #1-6, Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #1-4, Before Watchmen: Nite Owl #1-4, Before Watchmen: Dr. Manhattan #1-4, Before Watchmen: Moloch #1-2, Before Watchmen: Ozymandias #1-6, Before Watchmen: Crimson Corsair #1, and Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill #1

Damage Vol. 1: Out of Control TP

Collects issues #1-6 of the "New Age of Heroes" series spinning out of Dark Nights: Metal.

Dark Knight III: The Master Race TP

The nine-issue miniseries and mini-comic tie-ins in paperback.

Flash Vol. 7: Perfect Storm TP

Collects issues #39-45 by Joshua Williamson. The next trade will be the "Flash War" storyline.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 6: Zod's Will TP

Collects issues #37-41, which see the Corps face off with General Zod. I have enjoyed DC's use of Zod in non-Superman settings, e.g. in Suicide Squad, and I expect Robert Venditti will write him well too. I expect there's just one more collection of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps to come, though it'll be a nine-issue trade.

House of Mystery: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

Issues #174-200. If I'm not mistaken, much of this has only been reprinted in black-and-white Showcase Presents volumes.

Impulse by Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos Omnibus HC

If there was ever a really good use for an omnibus, it's 768 pages collecting Mark Waid's whole run on Impulse (issues #1-27), Flash #108-111, and the Secret Origins 80-Page Giant. For those playing along at home, we get an Underworld Unleashed tie-in issue plus the Impulse parts of the Flash "Dead Heat" crossover. Hopefully this sells well enough that DC decides to continue into the other writers' material.

Given seven-plus seasons, can the Flash TV show ever help but one day introduce Bart Allen? No, they can't.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Collects issues #1-12 with a new introduction by Tom Taylor.

Justice League of America Vol. 5: Deadly Fable TP

Collects issues #22-29, the final collection of this series. I thought this book would last a lot longer but it does seem some of the public, magnanimous principles of Steve Orlando's League are carrying over to the new "Hall of Justice" League.

Justice League Vol. 7: Justice Lost TP

Collects issues #39-43, also the end of this iteration of the Justice League title.

Justice League: No Justice TP

Pretty darn impressive that DC is soliciting the hardcover paperback before the series is even done, and that it's coming out four months from now. Includes the relevant story from DC Nation #0.

Nightwing Vol. 6: The Untouchable TP

Collects issues #35-41 by Sam Humphries, between Tim Seeley's and Benjamin Percy's runs.

Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 4 TP

Issues #19-25

Silencer Vol. 1: Code of Honor TP

Issues #1-6 by Dan Abnett with John Romita.

Super Sons Vol. 3: Parent Trap TP

Collects issues #13-16 and Annual #1, the final issues of Peter Tomasi's series.

Titans Book One: Together Forever TP

I definitely think Judd Winick's DC Comics work deserves more recognition than it gets, and the idea of DC collecting some of the old adult Titans Titans comics is great, but I really wish they'd have started with Devin Grayson's quite enjoyable The Titans series (starting really with JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative) before going to this. Both of these series had their problems -- Grayson's book, later by Jay Faerber, gets embroiled in the annoying DEO Orphans, while Winick's book, later by Eric Wallace, becomes a dark villains' title -- but the start of Grayson's book had the better spirit of the adult Titans.

We did just get Titans: Total Chaos and now this because of the Titans TV series, so let's keep hoping for a classic "Titans Hunt" collection.

Titans Vol. 4: Titans Apart TP

Collects the last issues of Titans before the new post-"No Justice" team arrives, issues #19-22 and Annual #2. I applaud DC for keeping the same numbering on this title, Teen Titans, and the soon-to-return Supergirl.

United States of Murder Inc. Vol. 1: Truth TP

Issues #1-5 by Brian Michael Bendis.

Watchmen (DC Modern Classics Edition) HC

Another DC Modern Classics hardcover edition with slipcase.

Wonder Woman Vol. 6: Children of the Gods TP

The first collection of James Robinson's run, collecting issues #31-37.

Brian Michael Bendis's creator-owned books -- are these something I should get in to?

Review: Dark Days: The Road to Metal hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Even despite Scott Snyder's continued testaments that the seeds of Dark Nights: Metal were always in his Batman run, it hits like a bolt of lightning re-reading Snyder's 2015 Batman #38 (collected among others in Dark Days: The Road to Metal) when "Crazy Quilt" Paul Dekker, paramount among the retrospective arbiters of Metal lore (and, perhaps, Snyder stand-in) looks straight at the reader and opines, "Heh, doesn't feel like a Batman story anymore, does it?" Say what you will, but that's a moment that had kick before and has even more kick now, specifically in the context of a patchwork book such as Road to Metal. It seemed at the time an acknowledgment of the misfit of the outsized lore central to "Endgame"; we can re-read it now as message-in-a-bottle proof from the past of Snyder's recognition that a series like Metal was going to be necessary to do this story justice.

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 5: Hard-Traveling Hero (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

In his penultimate Rebirth volume, Green Arrow Vol. 5: Hard-Traveling Hero, Benjamin Percy takes Oliver Queen on something of an apology tour across the DC Universe. The book serves to re-establish some old relationships -- and moreover, to re-contextualize some of these relationships in the Rebirth era, not in the least the friendship between Oliver and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. That's pleasant, though there's a queasy push and pull in that the resurrection of some of these friendships underscores how different this Green Arrow is from Green Arrow depictions past.

But even so, for the story that this is, there's nary a false note, and Percy's good character insights are buffeted further by the artwork of Otto Schmidt, Juan Ferreyra, and others. This remains a fine-looking book, finely told, and though it's a shame that Benjamin Percy is leaving, I'm eager for his next volume in December.

Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 1: Rage Planet (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I was unfortunately disappointed by the Rebirth Green Lanterns Vol. 1: Rage Planet, a careless and overdone first outing for Earth's newest Lantern pair. Art and story inconsistencies abound, over mostly predictable dialogue and a story far too padded out over six issues and a special. There are a couple key moments each for Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, suggesting the premise is far from irredeemable, but writer Sam Humphries will have to get beyond the surface of these characters to deliver something really palatable.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 5: Heart of the Amazon (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Being the writer of a five-issue arc between two other writers' major runs is about the worst place for a comics writer to be, with little room to change or accomplish anything or really to justify the arc beyond that a monthly comic's got to hit its marks. Credit to writer Shea Fontana that at least Wonder Woman Vol. 5: Heart of the Amazon makes use of the Wonder Woman supporting cast coming out of Greg Rucka's latest stint; if all four of Rucka's volumes might be considered the Rebirth Wonder Woman "season"'s pilot, then Fontana's is a serviceable "monster of the week" episode that teams Diana, Steve Trevor, and Etta Candy, with no great import otherwise. There's some distance between my own favorite conceptions of Wonder Woman and how Fontana depicts her, and the story is predictable and not altogether seamless, but there's nothing objectionable here; unfortunately for casual readers there's not much to recommend this volume over skipping to the next.

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Rise of Star City (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Benjamin Percy and the Green Arrow creative team -- particularly artist Juan Ferreyra -- continue to produce a book that's a model for what every DC Comics series should be. Despite stories that may begin to seem familiar to fans of recent Green Arrow runs, Percy and team's work remains engaging and most of all visually mature, with clear craftsmanship that other teams just can't achieve. Percy only has two Rebirth Green Arrow volumes left, and at the twenty-five-issue mark, Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Rise of Star City feels distinctly like the end of the beginning, leading to the beginning of the end.

Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 4: Fracture (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 07, 2018

The Rebirth Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 4: Fracture is another step upward for Robert Venditti's series. Though far from perfect, this one has enough twists, turns, and weird surprises to keep me guessing throughout. For my tastes, Green Lantern Corps stories are at their best at their most political and Venditti delivers in the beginning, followed by a rock 'em, sock 'em sci-fi tale that delights for the end. This structure of successive four-part stories has been working well for Venditti and were probably fun to read in biweekly two-month bites in the single issues.

Review: Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Rebirth Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge marks the final Nightwing volume by writer Tim Seeley. This is assuredly the end of an era, as Seeley was one of the writers of Grayson, which not so much reimagined Nightwing Dick Grayson as honed him into something leaner and more mature (though not less fun). Seeley and Tom King's Nightwing nee Grayson has been to an extent the kind of twentysomething, dashing Dick Grayson that writers have tried to get to for a while without it necessarily carrying over (Judd Winick's Outsiders is one example, and I'd argue Devin Grayson's Titans is another). Seeley and King seem to have made it stick, however, at least in part from Seeley shepherding the character back to his superhero roots and evidenced by the presence of artist Javier Fernandez and others, whose stylings represent more than just standard superheroics in the book's aesthetic.