Review: Heroes in Crisis hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Tom King's Heroes in Crisis is a deeply flawed story, which is unfortunate because it's probably also one of the most important stories of the current era. This is a book about depression and trauma that I think reads very true, and the basic motivation of the book's antagonist is brilliantly tied in to a very relatable pathology of mental illness. Of course, tying mental illness to murderous impulse (inasmuch as Heroes in Crisis does or does not do that) is problematic, and that's only one of a number of places I wish Crisis would've zigged where it zagged. But I'd far from dismiss this book entirely.

Heroes in Crisis arrived just as DC Comics began to transfer out of its successful Rebirth era and into its also successful New Justice era of Scott Snyder's Dark Nights: Metal and Justice League. While DC seems to be going strong overall, the late releases of Doomsday Clock, and the Justice League and Superman titles getting ahead of Doomsday's big returns, suggests Rebirth petering to a close. I wouldn't speculate which creators like or side with whom behind the scenes, but only say that within its pages, Heroes in Crisis contains a sharp reprimand of some of Rebirth's central tenets, one that I think is highly correct and long overdue. Coming as it does in Rebirth's final days, this too makes Heroes in Crisis highly interesting.

Review: Justice League Vol. 3: Hawkworld trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Scott Snyder and company's Justice League Vol. 3: Hawkworld is an interesting book. It is most of all a much-needed come-down from the heightened antics of Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth (and before that, Totality and No Justice), wonderfully more character focused than this book has been.

Which is not to say it's uneventful — there's more revelations here that rock the direction of this book than there were in all of Drowned Earth. Snyder and James Tynion commit a variety of slights of hand that tie together the lore of these characters in previously unrevealed (or previously uninvented) ways, and it creates a very rich tapestry from which to continue to tell this story. Understanding now some of the hows and whys of these characters' motivations gives Snyder's Justice League a depth that wasn't originally apparent.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 1: Unspoken Water hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Kelly Sue DeConnick's Aquaman Vol. 1: Unspoken Water is an unusual take on the character. The book is new-reader friendly to be sure, with the title character only knowing small bits about his own identity and scant references to past continuity; it's a book anyone could pick up and know what's going on. Unfortunately, while I realize that DeConnick is a "get" for DC Comics, this Aquaman was too disconnected from the elements that make him Aquaman for my enjoyment. I will be curious to see how or if DeConnick can integrate what she's set up here into a more traditional Aquaman book.

[Review contains spoilers]

Unspoken Water finds Aquaman Arthur Curry, late of Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth, deposited amnesic on the shores of "the Village of Unspoken Water," what's ultimately revealed to be a Lost-esque island to which various water deities have been exiled. Though DeConnick does well using a variety of indigenous gods rather than those of Greek and Roman mythology that usually populate superhero comics, the plot is fairly direct and uncomplicated — Arthur is asked to broker peace between these gods and another, Arthur goes to do so, a superhero fight ensues. The good guys are good here, the bad guys are bad, and many of the cliffhangers involve Arthur rediscovering his water powers — a surprise to Arthur, perhaps, but not particularly to the reader.

DC Trade Solicitations for December 2019 - Birds of Prey Movie Tie-Ins, Batman: Arkham: Black Mask and Zsasz, Gotham Knights, Green Arrow by Grell Omnibus, Bat and Cat: 80 Years, Harleen by Sejic, Injustice Vs. Masters of the Universe

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Solicitations toward the end of the year do tend to slow down a little, so it's not a big surprise not to see a whole lot of note in the DC Comics December 2019 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations. It's not that there's nothing here, but consider we've got something like five-six books of entirely re-collected material to tie into the new Birds of Prey movie, and then books like Omega Men by Tom King Deluxe, Nightwing by Peter Tomasi, and Aquaman: Death of a Prince Deluxe — all good books, all worthy of being collected, but all stuff I got when it was collected the first time around.

Two books, related, that I am happy about are Batman: Gotham Knights: Transference and Batman: Arkham: Zsasz. Gotham Knights collects 12 issues of the Devin Grayson-lead, post-"No Man's Land" title, that era's "Batman Family" title long before James Tynion's Detective Comics was a glimmer in anyone's eye, and representative of a very specific Batman era — Nightwing, Oracle, Robin Tim Drake, and Batgirl Cassandra Cain. Then the Zsasz book, along with collecting stories of one of my favorite Bat-villains, has a story by Grayson originally scheduled for Gotham Knights but cut for being too gory; I'm excited to see this finally make print.

Weirdly, we also get another new reprinting of the first issues of the 1980s Justice League International. This is worrisome because it's probably based off the recent omnibus, and the omnibus didn't collect the whole series, so I'm concerned another paperback run of this series might end prematurely again. It's surprising even to see this being collected again; I can't imagine we'll get another shot if this doesn't make it.

Then of course there's new Flash and Green Arrow and other stuff on my regular buying list. Let's take a look at the whole slate:

Adventures of Superman: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez Vol. 2 HC

Includes DC Comics Presents #41 (Superman and the Joker, with Martin Pasko), Realworlds: Superman #1 and Superman, Inc. #1 (both with Steve Vance), Superman: Kal #1 (with Dave Gibbons), and Superman #347, World’s Finest Comics #244, #255 and #258, and Action Comics #1000, along with cover art and more.

Aquaman: Death of a Prince Deluxe Edition HC

Reprinting the 2011 paperback, now in hardcover, of the 1970s stories by David Michelinie, Jim Aparo, Mike Grell, and Don Newton, in which Aquaman's infant son is murdered by Black Manta. Collects Adventure Comics #435-437, #441-445 and Aquaman #57-63 (the end of his solo series at the time).

The Bat and the Cat: 80 Years of Romance HC

Hardcover collection of Batman/Catwoman team-ups; still no contents to speak of.

Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 1: Lesser Gods TP

Collects the new Batman and the Outsiders #1-7, by Bryan Hill and Dexter Soy. Some of these issues bore the "Year of the Villain: The Offer" branding.

Batman Beyond Vol. 6: Divide, Conquer and Kill TP

Issues #30-36 by Dan Jurgens, including apparently a guest appearance by the future Flash.

Batman by Neal Adams Book Three TP

This cutdown of the omnibus includes the stories from two book and record sets with art by Adams, plus Batman #232, #234, #237, #243-245, #251, and #255, including "Daughter of the Demon" and "Night of the Reaper."

Batman: Arkham: Black Mask TP

In connection with the upcoming Birds of Prey/Harley Quinn movie, this collects Batman #386-387 and Detective Comics #553 (crossover, Black Mask's first appearances, by Doug Moench and Tom Mandrake on Batman and Moench and Klaus Janson on Detective), #484-485 (by Moench and Tom Grindberg, not so far off from "Knightfall"), #648 (an issue from Judd WInick's Red Hood-focused run, with Doug Mahnke), and Catwoman #16 (Selina's definitive confrontation with Black Mask, by Ed Brubaker and Cameron Stewart) and #83 (later Blackest Night tie-in by Tony Bedard) — as well as, new to this solicitation, the equally just-in-time-for-the-movie Black Mask: Year of the Villain special, credited to Tom Taylor, Cully Hamner, and Mitch Gerads.

Batman: Arkham: Victor Zsasz TP

Pretty notably, this now contains a previously-unpublished story by Devin Grayson and Roger Robinson, which was originally pulled from Gotham Knights for being too gory.

We also get Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1-4, the debut story by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle; Batman: Streets of Gotham #10-11 by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen; a story from Batman Chronicles #3, again by Grant with Jennifer Graves; Batman: Batgirl #1, a "Girlfrenzy" issue by Kelley Puckett and Jim Balent; Detective Comics #815-816, by Shane McCarthy and Cliff Chiang, as Zsasz goes after Alfred; a story from the New 52 Detective Comics #18 by John Layman and Jason Fabok; and a pin-up by Matt Wagner from Rogues Gallery #1.

One of my favorite Zsasz stories is Batman #493, from "Knightfall," a spooky, slasher flick-inspired tale, and I rather wish it was in there.

Batman: Gotham Knights: Transference TP

The first twelve issues of Devin Grayson's Bat-family book Gotham Knights, ending (for context) just before "Officer Down." With appearances by Nightwing, Oracle, Batgirl Cassandra Cain, Robin Tim Drake, Huntress, and Hugo Strange. Grayson's run goes to #32 and I hope very much this gets another volume. Issue #12 was by Jen Van Meter; the story that was originally supposed to appear there, but was pulled, will be in the Batman: Arkham: Zsasz collection.

Batman: The Golden Age Vol. 6 TP

Batman #21-25, Detective Comics #82-92, and World's Finest #12-14, where among other things Batman and Robin stop cattle rustlers. In paperback for the first time.

Batwoman by JH Williams III Omnibus HC

I'm glad to see this omnibus, well-deserved for the character, and it makes me excited for what the new CW show could bring for Kate Kane. Granted, I'm not sure the other CW shows have done anything for their respective characters' comics profiles, but to have Batwoman in the public consciousness now like Oliver Queen, Barry Allen, and Kara Zor-El are would be a great thing indeed.

Interesting that this is called "by JH Williams" when there's at least a couple issues in there not by Williams, but certainly it's better that this is a complete omnibus of Batwoman's first couple years than not. I don't disagree with stopping this at #24, but I wouldn't have minded Marguerite Bennett's Rebirth series being in there too.

Birds of Prey: Black Canary TP

Tying in to the new Birds of Prey movie, a collection of Brendan Fletcher and Annie Wu's entire DC You Black Canary series (previously collected in two trades), in which Dinah goes on the road as a rock star.

Birds of Prey: Harley Quinn TP

Appears to reprint the first issues of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's New 52 series, issues #1-7, the Harley Quinn: Futures' End tie-in, and the Harley story from Secret Origins #4. In comparison, Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City was issues #0-8 and the two ancillary issues were collected in Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Power Outage.

Birds of Prey: Murder &Amp; Mystery TP

Collects issues #56-67 of the original Gail Simone run, being the Of Like Minds and Sensei & Student collections, minus the one-off issue #68.

Birds of Prey: The Huntress TP

Greg Rucka's six-issue Batman/Huntress: Cry for Blood miniseries with Rick Burchett, in the wake of "No Man's Land."

Books of Magic Vol. 2: Second Quarto TP

Collects issues issues #7-13 (previously listed as #7-12) of the Sandman Universe series by Kat Howard and Tom Fowler; this is the end of "year one" and the next volume should start "year two," with John Constantine joining Sandman Universe.

Damage Vol. 3: Monstrous TP

Issues #13-16 and Annual #1, the final issues of Robert Venditti's "New Age of Heroes" series, guest-starring the Justice League.

The Dreaming Vol. 2: Empty Shells TP

Issues #7-12 of the Sandman Universe series by Simon Spurrier and Bilquis Evely.

The Flash Vol. 11: The Greatest Trick of All HC

The collection immediately following the Heroes in Crisis-related "Price" crossover with Batman and preceding Joshua Williamson's new Flash: Year One, collecting issues #66-69 and Annual #2.

This has switched to hardcover now, and it's volume 11. DC has historically been shy about having trades numbered up this high, fearing customers will be intimidated to start, so it'll be interesting to see if changes are afoot anytime soon.

Green Arrow by Mike Grell Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

What'll probably be a two-volume omnibus set, this collects Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters #1-3, Green Arrow #1-50, and a story from Secret Origins #38, with introduction by Mike Grell and afterword by Mike Gold. Grell's run went to #80, so 30 more issues for the next book plus Grell's Green Arrow: The Wonder Years miniseries.

Green Arrow Vol. 8: The End of the Road TP

Issues #39-42 and #48-50 by Mairghread Scott, Jackson Lanzing, and Collin Kelly, tying in to Justice League: No Justice and Heroes in Crisis and bringing the series to a close. Issues #43-47 by Julie and Shawna Benson were in Green Arrow Vol. 7; issues #45 and #48-50 will be in the Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Tales collection.

Harleen HC

Collects the three-issue DC Black Label miniseries by Stjepan Sejic.

Hellblazer Vol. 22: Regeneration TP

Collects Hellblazer #250-260 and Hellblazer Special: ChasThe Knowledge #1-5, by Peter Milligan and Simon Oliver, respectively, and others.

High Level TP

Collects the six-issue miniseries by Rob Sheridan and Barnaby Bagenda. Previously published under the relaunched Vertigo, the trade will be branded with DC Black Label.

The Huntress: Origins TP

A direct reprinting of the Huntress: Darknight Daughter trade from a few years back, collecting Paul Levitz's original 1970s stories about the Earth-2 Helena Wayne. With DC Super Stars #17, Batman Family #18-20, and Wonder Woman #271-287, #289, #290, #294, and #295.

Infinite Crisis Omnibus New Edition HC

A fine and well-deserved omnibus, though it doesn't appear that this "new edition" contains anything different than the previous printings. Being Action Comics #826 and #829, Adventures of Superman #639 and #642, Countdown To Infinite Crisis #1, Day of Vengeance #1-6, Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special #1, JLA #115-119, Infinite Crisis #1-6, Infinite Crisis Secret Files 2006 #1, The OMAC Project #1-6, The OMAC Project Infinite Crisis Special #1, Rann-Thanagar War #1-6, Rann-Thanagar Infinite Crisis Special #1, Superman #216 and #219, Villains United #1-6, Villains United Infinite Crisis Special #1, and Wonder Woman #219.

Injustice vs. Masters of the Universe TP

Tim Seeley and Freddie Williams' six-issue miniseries.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Five: The Complete Collection TP

Issues #1-20 and the Annual #1 by Brian Buccellato.

Justice League International Book One: Born Again TP

A cutdown, it would seem, of the recent Justice League International Omnibus. Notably, there's yet to be a second omnibus volume, so that's not complete; hopefully DC will actually one day collect the entirety of the involved series.

Collects Justice League #1-6, Justice League International #7-17, Justice League Annual #1, Justice League International Annual #2 and Suicide Squad #13. The last set of paperbacks went up to Justice League International/America #35 and Justice League Europe #11 before cutting off; the omnibus only collected through League #30 and Europe #6. This new trade collects through about the middle of the third smaller trade.

Justice League: Origin Deluxe Edition HC

Issues #1-12 of the New 52 series, being the Origin and Villain's Journey collections, following the 2017 Absolute edition.

Legends of the Dark Knight: Steve Englehart HC

Detective Comics #439 and #469-476, Batman: Dark Detective #1-6, Legends of the Dark Knight #109-111, Legends of the DC Universe #26-27 (Joker and Aquaman, playing on Englehart's "Joker Fish" story), and a story from Batman Chronicles #19.

The Legion of Super-Heroes: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 3 HC

Adventure Comics #361-380, Action Comics #378-392, Superboy #147, and Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #106.

Lucifer Vol. 2: The Divine Tragedy TP

Issues #7-13 (not #7-12 as previously solicited) of the Sandman Universe series.

Nightwing by Peter J. Tomasi TP

Nightwing #140-153, shortly before Nightwing took the mantle of the Bat in the Grant Morrison era, by new Detective Comics writer Peter Tomasi. Being the Freefall and Great Leap trades, I enjoyed these very much at the time.

Omega Men by Tom King Deluxe Edition HC

Well deserved to be finally in hardcover; if you didn't buy this before, go and buy it now. An instant classic by Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda.

Scooby Apocalypse Vol. 6 TP

Issues #31-36 by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis, the final issues of the series. Solicitation suggests it also includes the Atom Ant backups.

Scooby-Doo Team-Up: It's Scooby Time! TP

Collects the final issues of Sholly Fisch's Scooby-Doo Team-Up series, issues #44-50, with Mister Miracle and Big Barda, Black Lightning, and the Flash.

Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth HC

Hardcover of the painted prose story by Paul Dini and Alex Ross.

World's Finest: Guardians of the Earth HC

Collects World's Finest Comics #195-214, 1970s team-ups between Superman and Green Lantern, Aquaman, Batman, Hawkman, Green Arrow, the Atom, and the Diana Prince-era Wonder Woman.

Review: The Batman Who Laughs hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

0 comments | Tags:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Despite the supposed end to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman collaboration with Batman: Last Knight on Earth, on stands now, in many respects it feels like Snyder's second act with Batman is just getting started. Sure, Snyder's writing the whole Justice League now, but with books first like Dark Nights: Metal and then leading in to The Batman Who Laughs, it's clear Snyder's League has a lot of basis in his Batman work and in his Batman mythos.

Indeed, too, it's not just the presence of artist Jock that hearkens back to Snyder's earliest Batman work, Batman: The Black Mirror, it's the story as well; Snyder has written a sequel. It's subtle — one need not have read Black Mirror (now shockingly almost a decade old) to enjoy this book, but the connections are there (plus shades, too, of The Killing Joke). Also there are connections to the themes of Snyder's New 52 Batman run, placing Batman Who Laughs firmly in the Snyder canon — more so, even, than Dark Nights: Metal, since Laughs is set firmly in the Gotham that looms so large in Snyder's books.

Review: Review: Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

DC Comics collections gets in this kind of quandary once in a while, where a title like Scott Snyder and company's Justice League Vol. 2: Graveyard of Gods and Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth share five issues in common and only differ by two in one book, three in the other.

Independent to Graveyard are Justice League #8-9 and independent to Drowned are Aquaman #41-42 and Titans #28; both books share Justice League #10-12 and the Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth #1 and Aquaman/Justice League: Drowned Earth #1 specials. Optimally DC might've stuck the two books together, adding just two more issues to the Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth collection; collecting it all together, essentially, so no one has to double-dip. Justice League issues #8-9 are far from unrelated, with sub-plots that specifically set up Drowned Earth.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Mythology hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

0 comments | Tags:

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke's Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Mythology debut is problematic. I finished the book surprised and disappointed — in part because I mistakenly believed the story tied in to Tomasi's post-Detective Comics #1000 Arkham Knight story — and it was only my realization five minutes later that Mythology is a run-up-to-Detective-#1000 story (the event, not any particular plot point) that redeemed it for me.

It is not badly written, and indeed Tomasi brings the drama and Mahnke the pizazz that will surely serve them well in their Detective run. It's simply that, wow, to tell a story like Mythology in this day and age and without working some aspect of "1000" into it to tip off readers (trade readers, at least) as to how to interpret this story is gutsy in the extreme. As well, though it's somewhat hard to discern, what one might take here as hints to the direction of Tomasi's Detective run also gives me pause. Time will tell for Tomasi's tenure, but I'm curious to what extent others found Mythology controversial, too.

Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

With the Justice League/Aquaman: Drowned Earth crossover, we find ourselves firmly in the post-Dark Nights: Metal era; "outrageous as the norm" has become not the exception but the rule. That's not bad necessarily; the best of Metal's cosmic loftiness on top of cosmic loftiness is here too, undercut with admirable "we're all in it together" humanism. But if Metal was too much for you, with Justice League: No Justice right after it, consider jumping ship now, as Drowned Earth suggests such tone wasn't an accident and there's probably more to come.

Drowned Earth is a pretty grand Aquaman story, certainly beautifully illustrated. Inasmuch as one is occasionally reminded of Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, it's nice to see an Aquaman event where the conflict isn't Atlantis versus the land or vice versa — that Arthur Curry can star in stories other than where his loyalties are called into question. It is not perhaps the best end to Dan Abnett's Aquaman series run, in that Abnett doesn't get much room to do his own thing, but there are ways we can read between the lines that speak to some of Abnett's themes.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 8: Constriction trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Rob Williams' Rebirth-era Suicide Squad ends with Suicide Squad Vol. 8: Constriction; with a second movie in the works, it's almost assured that this iteration is being cancelled to make way for a relaunch.

Williams' take has been quite good — probably among the best Suicide Squad interpretations in a while, at least given the length of time that Williams' wrote the series and not counting other writers' good single volumes here or there. It's unfortunate that Constriction lacks almost all of the series' signature punch, perhaps due — I can only guess — to the book's cancellation. Suicide Squad Vol. 7: Drain the Swamp was among the high points, and it's a shame the title couldn't have been allowed to quit while it was ahead. Constriction delivers a middling end.