Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 8: Ghosts of the Past trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Green Lanterns Vol. 8: Ghosts of the Past marks the unceremonious end of Tim Seeley's short run on this title. It's a shame, because Seeley approaches a central, untold mystery of Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, but turns back just before the resolution and, of course, has no opportunity for follow-up. DC new talent Aaron Gillespie contributes an equally good two-parter that also falls just short of its mark. In both of these, we see that Green Lanterns and characters Jessica and Simon Baz have a lot of potential that's never been fully utilized; I doubt that's bound to happen in the last volume of this title remaining, but maybe there's hope for the future.

[Review contains spoilers]

Both the "Ghosts of the Past" and "Rebel Run" stories make good use of this title's recent history, making these two arcs feel, at least, like natural outgrowths of what came before. "Ghosts" brings back Singularity Jain, villain from Seeley's first volume, Green Lanterns Vol. 6: A World of Our Own, with a devil's bargain for Jessica; in "Rebel," too, Gillespie unexpectedly brings back some allies from "World" that I didn't expect we'd see again, making that story — despite being written by a guest-writer — a fully-realized part of the Green Lanterns world.

Review: Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1: Dark Trinity (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

There is nothing particularly problematic about Scott Lobdell's Rebirth Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1: Dark Trinity and that's perhaps an accomplishment in and of itself given the controversies that followed this title's New 52 debut. It feels a little soft, with the story — like a TV pilot — putting the title characters where they need to be to meet one another, and that's about it. At the same time, Lobdell shows a brilliant understanding of these characters, or particularly Red Hood Jason Todd; just as Lobdell found unexpected commonality between Jason and Joker's Daughter in the last Red Hood/Arsenal volume, here he makes a Red Hood/Bizarro team-up make sense. More can assuredly be done with this book and the first volume doesn't give me any hesitation about continuing.

DC Trade Solicitations for September 2019 - Doomsday Clock Part One, Naomi Season One, Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Vol. 3, Doom Patrol by Byrne, Wonder Woman by Wilson, Batwoman: Haunted Tides

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Last month, we saw the collection for one of DC's major series right now, Heroes in Crisis; this month, for the DC Comics September 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations, we've got the collection of DC's other major series, Doomsday Clock. Sort of. What was once solicited as the full hardcover collection of Doomsday Clock is now just Doomsday Clock Part One, collecting issues #1-6.

I'm dissatisfied about that, as I'll detail more below, though since I'm already reading the series in single issues and intended to wait for the trade anyway, it doesn't make much difference to me to wait a little longer until the inevitable compendium edition — because we know that's coming one day. I just think this kind of thing is unfortunate because I'm enjoying Doomsday Clock while knowing it has a lot of factors stacked against it, and this kind of uncertain collection schema is just another knock against it unrelated to the story itself.

Another surprise on this list is the Doom Patrol by John Byrne Omnibus, collecting the 2004 series and some extras. Ten years ago I'd have been all over this; now, the moment's passed, but I love when the DC collections team digs deep in this kind of way. Of course, this still begs the question why we didn't see a Power of Shazam by Jerry Ordway omnibus while that iron was hot, but this Doom Patrol collection is nice nonetheless and I hope it makes it to print.

Hard to believe we'll be in a world where three Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion volumes will be out. Batwoman: Haunted Tides is well worth a read if you haven't already. Other books I'll be picking up this month include the first collection of the new Wonder Woman team, Teen Titans, Silencer, and Naomi.

Let's look at the full list.

Absolute Daytripper HC

This seems to have been solicited and cancelled a couple of times, now back on the schedule for April 2020. The 10-issue Vertigo miniseries by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba from 2010, following an aspiring writer through one moment in his life per chapter.

American Carnage TP

Collects the nine-issue Vertigo (mini-)series by Bryan Hill and Leandro Fernandez, following an African American FBI agent undercover in a white supremacist group.

Aquaman: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

Collects Aquaman adventures beginning with Adventure Comics #260 as DC crossed over into the Silver Age, and continuing through early issues of Aquaman's solo series. These are not Aquaman's first appearances, what we might perhaps call "Aquaman: The Golden Age," and curiously I don't see those collected outside the Aquaman: A Celebration of 75 Years anniversary volume (More Fun Comics #73), for instance. If anyone knows why those issues seem to get the short shrift, I'm curious.

Contents are said to be Showcase #30-33, Aquaman #1-18, Brave and the Bold #51, stories from Adventure Comics #260-280, #282, and #284, Detective Comics #293-300, World’s Finest Comics #125-133, #135, #137, and #139, Superman #138 and #148, Action Comics #272, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #55, and Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #12 and #29-31.

Batman and the Justice League Manga Vol. 3 TP

Third volume of the manga story by Mangaka Shiori Teshirogi. This one seems to be Aquaman-heavy, maybe with some kaiju monsters.

Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 8 HC

Stories from the 1950s with Joker, Catwoman, and Penguin. Collects Detective Comics #174-195, Batman #66-77, and World's Finest Comics #54-63.

Batwoman: Haunted Tides TP

Collects issues #0-11 of the inaugural New 52 series by J. H. Williams and Haden Blackman, the Batwoman Vol. 1: Hydrology and Batwoman Vol. 2: To Drown the World, likely timed for the Batwoman CW series.

Williams and Blackman played with narrative space and time throughout the series (which has kind of become a Batwoman series' thing) in really interesting ways. The first section, issues #1-5, most closely resembled what came before, with Williams continuing on art from the Greg Rucka Batwoman stories. The second section, issues #6-11, has art by Trevor McCarthy, and while I initially found the change in art styles jarring, ultimately the second part is even more twisty, turn-y, and well-crafted than the first.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Deluxe Edition Vol. 3 HC

The third and final Crisis companion volume. Collects Amethyst #13, Blue Devil #17-18, Wonder Woman #327-329, Swamp Thing #46, Legion of Super-Heroes #16 and #18, Superman #413 and #415, DC Comics Presents #87, #84, #88 and #95, Justice League of America Annual #3, and The Omega Men #31 and #33. I'd have liked to have seen History of the DC Universe here, since it's in the box set.

Doom Patrol by John Byrne Omnibus HC

This is rather surprising, since John Byrne's continuity-light 2004 Doom Patrol series didn't make much of a splash (it reintroduced the Doom Patrol in medias res of a DC Universe that had already met it), though surely the TV show has something to do with it. That said, I admire big chunks of story, and collecting both the introductory JLA: The Tenth Circle story along with all eighteen issues of Byrne's series is, at least, very complete. Here, too, is an (original-er) Doom Patrol appearance from way back in Byrne's Superman #20, plus a story from Secret Origins Annual #1.

Now let's see about finally collecting all of Keith Giffen's post-52 Doom Patrol series ...

Doomsday Clock Part One HC

Well now, this is controversial. Hard to know if DC always planned to release Doomsday Clock initially as two hardcovers, or if this is a product of the late shipping of the book and needing to get something out there. That this hardcover was originally solicited as containing all the issues suggests the latter. We all of course know Doomsday Clock will be released, all twelve issues together, as a Deluxe edition and as an Absolute edition and with all twelve issues together in one paperback, so I take a dim view of reading the book this way.

Breaking at issue #6 is ... fine, I guess. That issue is Marionette's origin, kind of a softer issue; issue #5 before that is bigger, with the revelation of a certain DC artifact, but neither quite has the gusto of issue #7, where a major player arrives on the scene, or the explosion in issue #8. And I can't help seeing this as a sign of our times — can you imagine collecting Watchmen itself halfsies? Treating Doomsday Clock like any other comic unfortunately makes it feel like it's just any other comic.

Part Two should be out May 2020.

Goddess Mode TP

Issues #1-6 of the Vertigo series by Zoe Quinn and Robbi Rodriguez.

Harley Quinn Vol. 3: The Trials of Harley Quinn TP

Issues #55 and #57-63 by Sam Humphries (formerly #55-60; issue #56 was by Mark Russell). Harley works for the Lords of Chaos and Order and teams up with Batman.

Hex Wives TP

Issues #1-6 of the Vertigo title by Ben Blacker and Mirka Andolfo.

House of Mystery: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Issues #201-226 by Bernie Wrightson, Sergio Aragones, and Jim Starlin, among others.

IZombie Book One TP

New larger paperbacks of the iZombie series, this one collecting the first two trades, issues #1-12 and stories from the House of Mystery Halloween Annual #1-2. There's only two more trades, through issue #28, so I'd guess this one will be "done in two."

Jonah Hex: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

1970s stories, including All-Star Western #10-11, Weird Western Tales #12-14 and #16-38, Jonah Hex #1-17, and Justice League of America #159-160 ("Crisis from Yesterday," with the Justice Society, Enemy Ace, and more).

Justice League Dark Vol. 2: Lords of Order TP

The second collection of the James Tynion series, issues #8-12 and the annual.

Naomi Season One HC

Issues #1-6 of the Wonder Comics series by David F. Walker, Brian Michael Bendis, and Jamal Campbell. I've no quibble with calling this "Season One" — I think there was some backlash against calling comics iterations "seasons" some time ago, but I thought it was cool, then at least. Moreover it's that Season One only contains six issues, which strikes me as way too short for a "season"; at that rate a book could have four seasons but only gone on for two years.

Powers Book Seven New Edition TP

Collects Powers: Bureau #1-12 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming.

The Sandman: Overture 30th Anniversary Edition TP

This had at one point been solicited somewhat awkwardly as "Vol. 0," and I'm glad to see that gone. Collects the six-issue miniseries as part of the overall 30th anniversary celebration of Sandman.

The Silencer Vol. 3: Up in Smoke TP

Issues #13-18 by Dan Abnett. the final collection of the series.

Superman Vol. 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth TP

Paperback of Brian Michael Bendis' Superman #1-6. Often the paperback comes out the same month as the next hardcover, but we don't yet have the official solicitation for Superman Vol. 2: The Unity Saga: The House of El.

Superman: Red Son New Edition TP

A new printing of the Mark Millar/Dave Johnson miniseries.

Teen Titans Vol. 2: Turn It Up TP

The second collection of Adam Glass and Bernard Chang's "New Justice" series, issues #25-27 and the Annual #1. I liked the first book better than I thought I would; kind of disappointed to see the second one being so short.

Vamps: The Complete Collection TP

Collects Vamps #1-6 and the never-collected Vamps: Hollywood and Vein #1-6 and Vamps: Pumpkin Time #1-3 by Elaine Lee and Will Simpson.

A Very DC Halloween TP

Stories from 2017's DC House of Horror #1 and 2018's Cursed Comics Cavalcade #1, with Tim Seeley, Bryan Hill, and James Tynion, among others.

The Wild Storm Vol. 4 TP

Issues #19-24, the final collection of (this iteration of) the series. Warren Ellis moves over now to the new Wildcats series.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Just War HC

The first collection of G. Willow Wilson's Wonder Woman run, issues #58-65 (down from #58-68 in previous solicitations),with art by Cary Nord and others, in hardcover.

Young Justice: The Animated Series Book One: The Early Missions TP

There was once some major solicitation confusion in regards to whether "Young Justice" collections were the Peter David series or collections of the animated tie-in, so I'm glad to see "The Animated Series" appended here. Collects issues #0-13.

So, Doomsday Clock Part One or Doomsday Clock complete? Chime in on the comments and let me know, and also what else looks good to you this month.

Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 7: Superhuman Trafficking trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Green Lanterns Vol. 7: Superhuman Trafficking is not perhaps the sophisticated spy story I might normally expect from writer Tim Seeley, but it is an enjoyable vignette starring Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz. On one hand I'm not completely enamored with the direction Seeley is taking these two characters; on the other hand, Seeley writes their interactions so well that I found myself ultimately convinced. Superhero Trafficking contains just that one four-part story, plus an annual by Andy Diggle, but far from feeling short, this seems just right; it's a focused dose that hits the right notes without too much excess.

[Review contains spoilers]

Though not "serious" per se, Trafficking is hardly devoid of substance. Similar to how Seeley's Green Lanterns Vol. 6: A World of Our Own used the immigration debate as a metaphor against a cosmic canvas, Seeley imagines dating app culture through a superheroic lens, and from there touches on both human trafficking and religious fealty. The larger Green Lantern Corps has a heavy presence throughout, as well as one of the Omega Men, making this feel more tied in and connected than Green Lanterns has before, the burgeoning site of main Green Lantern action in the DC Universe (for a few months, at least).

Review: Red Hood/Arsenal Vol. 2: Dancing with the Devil's Daughter trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

In the immediate aftermath of the "Joker cut off his own face" craze, the new Joker's Daughter seemed a viable antagonist, but a few bad stories — including tying her to a swords and sorcery world underneath Gotham — quickly dampened that possibility. Since that time, Joker's Daughter has popped up hither and yon, usually to fill whatever needs the story has at the moment, a one-note deranged presence or a poor man's Harley Quinn. Scott Lobdell's apparent fascination with the character — using her in Red Hood/Arsenal and then that she's forthcoming in Lobdell's already-controversial Nightwing run — didn't necessarily seem to be doing him favors.

But once again, reading is believing, and once again another of Lobdell's "Red Hood" books does that trick where it pulls success from seeming banality. There's a few places where Lobdell's DC You-era Red Hood/Arsenal Vol. 2: Dancing with the Devil's Daughter threatens to go off the rails, but some good planning and some really, really sharp thinking about these characters puts it all back on track again. If Lobdell doesn't quite totally redeem Joker's Daughter as a character to watch, he at least demonstrates he can do something interesting with her, and I'm eager now to see how he uses her subsequently in Nightwing.

Review: Silencer Vol. 2: Hell-iday Road trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

For the doomed "New Age of Heroes" title Silencer, the awkwardly titled Silencer Vol. 2: Hell-iday Road marks the shark-jumping beginning of the end. And yet, for what seems an ill-conceived introduction of the supernatural into this action sci-fi series, writer Dan Abnett pulls it off remarkably well. That underscores the strength of the characters Abnett has created here; while I doubt this book could have held up its "mom is secretly an assassin" premise through a hundred issues, Silencer Honor Guest is likable and interesting — and versatile for a variety of stories, we see here — and I hope she continues to be a player in the Leviathan-focused stories to come in the DC Universe even if not starring in her own book.

Review: Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1: The Ghost Sector trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 09, 2019

Justice League Odyssey seemed an unlikely title, but Joshua Williamson pulls off something pretty great. This book is, to some extent, more "Titans" than Titans right now, and having even greater claim to the name. In broad strokes, Justice League Odyssey Vol. 1: The Ghost Sector starts to be about how people react to a certain kind of fame, and Williamson positions these characters such that conflicts, when they come, are both unexpected and feel wholly in-character. There's a lot of directions Williamson could go with this book, including graduating to a kind of Game of Thrones-type scope, and I'm more eager than I expected for the next volume.

[Review contains spoilers]

In scant glances at upcoming solicitations, I had seen that Odyssey involved in some way a planet or two that worshipped one or more of these heroes. It was still a surprise, however, to find that when Cyborg, Starfire, and Azrael find themselves trapped in the cosmic Ghost Sector, they're already considered gods — that there is some element of reality-bending or time travel here, such that the people of the Ghost Sector know a lot more about the heroes than the heroes do about them. That's very engaging, and Williamson gets a lot of credit for a conceit that builds a big world with a lot of stakes while requiring very low overhead from the characters or audience to get to that point.

Review: New Super-Man and the Justice League of China trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

The series that became New Super-Man and the Justice League of China (formerly just New Super-Man) had a slow start but came into its own once the titular Chinese Justice League became main players. This book marks the final issues after the book was already reportedly cancelled once and provides a nice send off that underscores where the book was having its most success. I'm glad Gene Luen Yang won't stray too far from DC and especially that he's working on a DC Zoom title, which matches in some respects the general tone of New Super-Man. Hopefully this isn't the last we see of Kong Kenan and friends; I'd be happy for them to appear in some other title's international adventure (though without losing the characters' pseudo-comedic tone) or to remain in their antecedent characters' supporting casts (as the Chinese Flash Avery has done in Joshua Williamson's Flash).

Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 6: A World of Our Own trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 02, 2019

I mostly know Tim Seeley's work from "earthbound" titles like Grayson, Nightwing, New Suicide Squad, and Batman books. I haven't seen him do as much cosmic work, and even his Hellblazer run shined the most when it blended the supernatural with mortal, criminal threats. I expected perhaps a little more realism to Seeley's Green Lanterns Vol. 6: A World of Our Own than I received, though the fault perhaps is in my expectations.

World is a step in the right direction for Green Lanterns, as Seeley makes Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz less one-note than they have been; there are also good political dilemmas set against a cosmic canvas, and good acknowledgment of Simon and Jessica as Green Lanterns who are people of color. I was not blown away; the book is not particularly fraught nor suspenseful nor emotionally involving, as compared for instance to Seeley's New Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Kill Anything. Fortunately, Seeley's got another couple of volumes on this title as it heads toward its conclusion, and I'm still optimistic for great things to come.