Review: Teen Titans Vol. 1: Full Throttle trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Adam Glass' Teen Titans Vol. 1: Full Throttle is surprisingly enjoyable, which is good because I had extensive concerns about it going in. DC Comics' Teen Titans franchise has been a series of train wrecks for years, which is astounding given how recognition of the team has grown in popular culture. Glass and artist Bernard Chang's take, which at first glance seemed to include an aged-up Robin Damian Wayne and a slate of new characters each more impertinent than the last, seemed headed in the wrong direction, with shades of Glass' too-attitudinal New 52 Suicide Squad launch.

But Glass pulls it off, proposing a Teen Titans paradigm where the team is not (for the most part) bratty, but is violent and unapologetic — a rather adult, "extreme" Teen Titans. Done in a pearl-clutching, "what will our mentors think" kind of manner, this might feel like attitude for attitude's sake, but presented as a natural evolution of many of these characters' experiences, it works. Between Damian, Red Arrow Emiko Queen, and Lobo's daughter Crush, this is kind of a team of teen psychopaths let loose, and that's pretty entertaining. Chang's oft-gritty art is miles from Brett Booth previously on Titans, focused more on story and action than titillation, and that adds intentionality to the book as well.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Deface the Face trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

James Robinson returns for a Detective Comics Batman story that, cards on the table, is entertaining and well-done and even coincides with goings on in Tom King's Batman, but seems mainly just an inventory story to bridge the gap till new ongoing writer Peter Tomasi's run starts. The title of Robinson's Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Deface the Face would seem to suggest it's a sequel to Robinson's 2006 Batman: Face the Face, both of which involved Two-Face, but it's not, at least not explicitly. I do believe there's some connections to be made between the two, but Deface can be read so independently that connections to Face can't necessarily be called a reason to pick up this book.

For a fill-in story, we could do a whole heck of a lot worse. I liked this volume, but a discerning reader would have to decide whether they want to stop over here or just proceed to when Tomasi comes on.

DC Trade Solicitations for July 2019 - Bronze Age All-Star Comics and Justice League of America, DeConnick Aquaman, Batman: Black and White Omnibus, Wonder Woman by Rucka Vol. 3, Hitman's Greatest Hits

Sunday, April 21, 2019

The big surprise for me in DC Comics' July 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations is All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever; this is not previously uncollected material, but it does feel like an unexpected nod to the Justice Society at a time when those characters have been off the stands for a while. Justice League of America: The Last Survivors of Earth! is another one that is not new material, but still the validation that collections of this kind of stuff is not dead and gone — especially since these are both squarely Bronze Age books — is nice to see. The big hope is that the All-Star book sells well and we get into collections of All-Star Squadron and Infinity, Inc. (again).

What else? The Rebirth Suicide Squad and Curse of Brimstone and Sideways all take a bow. We've got the first volume of Kelly Sue DeConnick's new run on Aquaman, and then various reprints — Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 3, which I know many of you are glad to see; the second paperback Orion cutdown from the omnibus; and a Hitman piecemeal collection that I can't really understand (versus an omnibus or etc.). So not a whole lot happening in these listings, DC taking a summer break of sorts ...

Let's take a look at the full list.

Absolute Death New Edition HC

Collects Death: The High Cost of Living and Death: The Time of Your Life, plus Sandman #8 ("The Sound of Her Wings") and #20 ("Facade"), "Death and Venice" from Sandman: Endless Nights, and the never-collected stories "Winter's Tale" and "The Wheel." Introduction by Amanda Palmer.

All-Star Comics: Only Legends Live Forever TP

Though most of this has already been collected, this is a nice nod to the Justice Society at a time when they're relatively absent from the DC Universe. This is All-Star Comics #58-74, the 1970s revival of All-Star, picking up the numbering from the 1950s when the Justice Society was sidelined and the book became All-Star Western. Issue #74 marks the book's end with the DC Implosion, but Adventure Comics #461-466 is a set of follow-up stories, plus an origin story from DC Special #29. Previously collected in two full-color Justice Society volumes in the early 2000s and a Showcase Presents black-and-white volume, it's now all in one book. Features the debut of Power Girl and Huntress and the death of the Earth-2 Batman.

Aquaman Vol. 1: Unspoken Water TP

The first collection of the new Kelly Sue DeConnick run, issues #43-47 in paperback.

Batman: Black and White Omnibus HC

Stories from Batman: Black and White #1-4, Batman: Black and White Vol. 2, Gotham Knights #17-49, and Batman: Black and White (2013) #1-6.

Batman: Death of the Family Saga TP

Previously billed as an Essential Edition, I think, this is the Batman issues plus tie-ins: Batman #13-17, Batgirl #14-16, Nightwing #15-16, Batman and Robin #15-16, and pages from Batgirl #13, Nightwing #14, Red Hood and Outlaws #14-15, and Teen Titans #16.

Batman: Kings of Fear HC

The new six-issue miniseries drawn by Kelley Jones and written by Scott Peterson.

Batman: Nightwalker: The Graphic Novel TP

Graphic novel by Marie Lu and Christian Wildgoose, based on Lu's YA novel. I really, really enjoyed Wildgoose's art on Hope Larson's Batgirl and I'm sure he'll be excellent here.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II TP

Issues #1-7 from DC and IDW. Given all the different iterations of these characters, seems James Tynion and Freddie Williams could do this forever; surely Batman Beyond and the Justice League are overdue to get in on the action.

The Curse of Brimstone Vol. 2: Ashes TP

Issues #7-12 and the Annual #1, the end of the Justin Jordan series.

The Flash by Geoff Johns Book Six TP

This goes farther than the original Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus hardcovers, being now Johns' Barry instead of his Wally. This should contain Flash: Rebirth #1-6, Blackest Night: The Flash #1-3, and Flash #1-6. Johns still has Flash #8-12 and Flashpoint, likely for a seventh and final volume.

Harley &Amp; Ivy Meet Betty &Amp; Veronica TP

Six-issue miniseries by Paul Dini, Marc Andreyko, Laura Braga, and Adriana Melo, with covers by Amanda Conner.

Hitman's Greatest Hits TP

Given that Hitman is already fully collected, I'd think what fans would want is an omnibus or Absolute edition, not necessarily a "greatest hits," but this is Demon Annual #2; Hitman #4-7, #13-14, and #34, and JLA/Hitman #1-2, by Garth Ennis and John McCrea.

Justice League of America: The Last Survivors of Earth! TP

These stories have already been collected as part of the Justice League of America: The Bronze Age omnibuses, and were set to be re-released in paperback as Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Vol. 1. I've been taking a wait-and-see approach with rumors that DC is drastically changing their collections policies, as for instance that Bronze Age volume is cancelled, but is now being released as a "titled" volume, Justice League of America: The Last Survivors of Earth!. Possibly this is a backstop against low sales; if a "collections series" can't continue, at least this no longer has "Volume 1," "Volume 2," etc. on it.

This was the start of the "Satellite Era," and includes appearances by Snapper Carr and Red Tornado.

Justice: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe-size hardcover of the 12-issue miniseries by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Doug Braithwaite. With bonus material; now seems as good a time as any to release a Legion of Doom tale.

The Kitchen New Edition TP

New collection of the eight-issue 2014 Vertigo miniseries series by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle, ahead of the new movie.

Orion by Walter Simonson Book Two TP

Issues #12-25 of the Walt Simonson series; should be with the back-up stories and other extras. Includes a Joker: Last Laugh tie-in and a Captain Marvel/Shazam! appearance.

Powers Vol. 6 New Edition TP

Issues #1-11 of the third iteration of Powers, by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

The Sandman Vol. 11: Endless Nights 30th Anniversary Edition TP

Newly branded as volume 11, this was one of Neil Gaiman's graphic novel follow-ups to the series.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up: Doomed! TP

Supergirl, Swamp Thing, and Metamorpho. Sholly Fisch is a national treasure.

The Secret Spiral of Swamp Kid TP

Kirk Scoggs' DC Zoom graphic novel about a kid Swamp Thing. It'd be great if this kid was not actually Swamp Thing, but rather could meet Swamp Thing in the course of his adventures.

Sideways Vol. 2: Rifts and Revelations TP

Issues #7-13 and the annual, the final issues of the series. With guest-writing by Grant Morrison and appearances by the Seven Soldiers and other significant multiversal characters.

Suicide Squad Vol. 8: Constriction TP

The final collection of Rob Williams' Rebirth Suicide Squad, collecting issues #41-44, #47-50, and the Annual #1. That's skipping the "Sink Atlantis" crossover with Aquaman, collected on its own.

Swamp Thing by Nancy A. Collins Omnibus HC

First ever collection of novelist Nancy Collins run on Swamp Thing, issues #110-139, Annuals #6-7, Black Orchid #5, and a story from Vertigo Jam #1. Following this would be Grant Morrison's and Mark Millar's runs, before the iteration of the title that included the Alan Moore run would be brought to a close.

Tales of the Batman: Gerry Conway Vol. 3 HC

Batman #349-359 and Detective Comics #515-526. This means the book includes the fourth part of the story that first introduced Killer Croc, Detective #526, which was missing from the Batman: Arkham: Killer Croc trade, plus the first pre-Crisis appearance of Jason Todd.

Watchmen: International Edition New Edition HC

"Features a new lenticular cover," it says. Do you think there's someone out there who's such a fan that they own every single different printing of Watchmen?

The Wild Storm Vol. 4 TP

Issues #19-24, the final trade of the series.

Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 3 TP

Again, your patience has paid off (and then some), because here's Wonder Woman #218-226, completing this re-collection series, plus Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1-3.

Wonder Woman Year One Deluxe Edition HC

A deluxe edition of just the past-set issues of Greg Rucka's Rebirth Wonder Woman run, with art by Nicola Scott in deluxe hardcover format. They should follow this with a collection of the sequentially ordered parts of the other half of the story in the same format. Issues #2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and 14, plus a story from the Wonder Woman Annual #1.

Wonder Woman: The Golden Age Vol. 3 TP

The contents of this have shifted since the catalog solicitation and you all will have to tell me what makes more sense. It used to be Sensation Comics #49-71 and Wonder Woman #16-23; now it's Sensation Comics #25-36 and Wonder Woman #8-11, and Comic Cavalcade #6-8.

What's a must-buy for you here? Anything I overlooked? Chime in and sound off in the comments.

Review: Batman Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

After a couple of more esoteric-leaning volumes, Tom King's Batman Vol. 9: The Tyrant Wing is a more accessible stopover as it goes, a pleasant respite if you will. That doesn't make it any less complex, however, and indeed Tyrant Wing starts back into the central mysteries of King's run, raising more questions than it answers. Batman Vol. 10 promises to be a big one, and this short volume (just three regular issues plus assorted specials) has surely whet my appetite for the next in October.

[Review contains spoilers]

"Batman finds out about Bane's plot" is the headline of this particular volume, though whether that's by accident or by design is just one of this book's many complications. This is a Penguin story, of sorts, in that Bane kills Penguin's paramour Penny (a penguin, apparently) such to express his disappointment with Penguin's work, and Penguin tells Batman about Bane in revenge. But all of that — Batman subsequently brutalizing Bane, tearing his way through the Gotham underworld, and alienating Jim Gordon — seems to be the outcome Bane wanted in order to further separate Batman from his allies.

Review: Catwoman Vol. 1: Copycats trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Location, location, location. Joelle Jones' Catwoman Vol. 1: Copycats doesn't offer a lot in terms of story that we haven't seen before, but it makes up for it in atmosphere. Jones relocates Selina Kyle to the fictional town of Villa Hermosa, California, Spanish-tinged and palm tree-d, a far cry from Gotham City. Selina's not actually looking for trouble, but with her mere presence trouble finds here, and the mix of casinos and pawn shops, high politics and drug deals, and clean and dirty cops is very much a winning one. Jones' series is distinctive, to be sure.

The reason that Selina has come to Villa Hermosa marks a big turn in this book. With that, as with many Rebirth series, Jones draws a direct line from Catwoman's pre-Flashpoint adventures to the present, leapfrogging the New 52 entirely. It's good, because it speaks to some of the strongest Catwoman material of the modern era, and bad, because linking to the past brings us a dose of the same old thing (not to mention also some significantly upsetting material) instead of orienting the book toward the future. Clearly Jones does a good job here and clearly she's writes and draws a respectful take on Catwoman; for the next volume, I'm hoping for bigger, more, and more surprises.

Review: The Unexpected: Call of the Unknown trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The back cover of Unexpected: Call of the Unknown bills it as a "high-stakes supernatural adventure." That’s true enough, though in the midst of it what Unexpected is or is trying to be gets muddled. I give writer Steve Orlando credit for a book that tries to shuck genres, ranging from Gotham vigilantes to the wilds of Final Crisis, but the result is murky. In dealing with a lot of mystic esoterica, Orlando loses some of the human emotion to make us care about these characters; often we’re told and not shown what the characters are supposed to mean to us. Appealing cameos abound, but rarely again does the story stand still often enough to build real emotion from them. It’s unfortunate, because Unexpected offers a lot of connective tissue such that one could see it being the base from which to launch a "New Age of Heroes" crossover — but as it turns out, neither the done-in-one Unexpected nor many of its compatriots were strong enough for this to matter.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Invisible Mafia hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Invisible Mafia is more my speed, a superhero-tinged but largely down-to-earth workplace drama, akin in ways to Gotham Central or even TV’s ye olde Lois & Clark. It has a mitigating effect on Bendis’ Superman Vol. 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth, which I found too action-focused to the detriment of forward plot. Taking both first volumes as a whole, however, they are excellent complements, offering together just about everything one could want from a Superman story.

There is material here that’s surely controversial, and Bendis’ take on Superman and his supporting cast won’t be for everyone. For me, I think Bendis is doing as well as he can with what I’m guessing he’s struggling with, and surely I’ll take a comic that challenges the reader over one that doesn’t any day. Add to that quite fine art by a trio of DC’s talents, and at the end of "round 1" I think the Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman era is off to a good start.

Review: Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman Deluxe Edition hardcover (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, April 03, 2019

I was not as taken with Detective Comics: 80 Years of Batman as I was with last year's Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman. Title characters aside, they are very different books, seemingly due in large part to the twenty-six issues of Detective that preceded Batman's debut. There is an astounding amount of time here spent on not-Batman, and even if that perhaps better represents Detective than an all-Bat book would, the volume feels markedly disjointed at times. Equally, given what must have been the line around the block to write text pieces for this book, I found the essays here lacking as compared to Action, with much less contextualizing and less that felt very germane to Batman's history.

It's nice to spend time with some old friends here — Neal Adams, Dick Giordano, Steve Englehart, and Marshall Rogers, among others — but I was surprised not to feel as inspired finishing this one as I did its earlier companion.