Review: Catwoman Vol. 3: Friend or Foe? trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

It feels like there's a good Catwoman story somewhere within Joelle Jones' Catwoman Vol. 3: Friend or Foe? and the volumes that lead up to it, but this book is pulling in so many different directions that it's tough to find it. What's a cogent crime noir plot, even tying well into the Year of the Villain event, is often derailed by nonsequitors or irrelevant action sequences; a lot of what shows promise in the beginning comes to naught by the end.

Friend or Foe? feels like a conclusion because it is — these issues mark Jones' last on the series — but without Jones getting to tie up all her loose threads. The book continues, with issues promised at least to tie in to the upcoming "Joker War" storyline, but I wonder if this title will continue much after that.

Review: Batgirl Vol. 7: Oracle Rising trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 05, 2020

In thinking over Batgirl Vol. 7: Oracle Rising, I was surprised how much less I enjoyed this book than the previous volume, thinking they'd been done by the same team. Instead, I realized Batgirl Vol. 6: Old Enemies was Mairghread Scott's, and that Oracle Rising is the very first by Cecil Castellucci. Though I have a lot of reservations about Oracle Rising, I would note that my confusion stems from Castellucci heavily using the new supporting cast that Scott introduced, so much so that in my faulty memory I thought they'd been created by Castellucci.

That's rare, I feel, given that Scott only introduced Congresswoman Luciana Alejandro and reintroduced Jason Bard one collection ago, not to mention bringing in the Terrible Trio of Fox, Shark, and Vulture. There's been more than enough reinventing Batgirl Barbara Gordon with every new team that Castellucci wouldn't have been without precedent for doing so. I'm particularly impressed that she did not, but rather built on Scott's stories via both the heroes and the villains.

Review: Martian Manhunter: Identity trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 01, 2020

About every solicitation for Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo's Martian Manhunter: Identity touts some version of this, that "back on Mars, J'onn J'onzz was about as corrupt as a law officer can be." It has been the most concerning thing in the run-up to Identity, and fortunately, it turns out not to be true. What is the truth is more complicated and complex in this masterwork of a book that is surely destined for greater formats than a mild, under-the-radar paperback.

For more than a few reasons, Identity reminds of Tom King's Omega Men, not in the least because, arriving outside the mainstream day-to-day of the DC Universe, there does not seem to be the fanfare it deserves — Omega Men got a deluxe edition eventually and surely Identity must, too, if not an Absolute. Dangerously, this book raises one's expectations for Orlando immensely, and not again will that writer be able to get away with the somewhat workaday adventures of his Justice League of America after the powerful, edgy sci-fi we see here. Already since Batman: Night of the Monster Men we've known anti-house-style art like Rossmo's should be DC's rule and not their exception, but this just seals it.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Greetings From Gotham hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, June 28, 2020

With Peter Tomasi's Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Greetings From Gotham, it suddenly seems not just force of habit, but intentional, that the book's trade dress echoes that of Detective Comics collections from Paul Dini's run. After two volumes with traditional six-issue, six-part story arcs, Greetings collects a two-parter, a one-off, and a three-parter, all relatively untethered and un-dependent on continuity.

I still prefer something like James Tynion's Detective run where the title, for the first time in a long time, held its own in relevance against the Batman title. However, if one is going to admit defeat, this is the way to do it, as Dini did before, making Detective the Batman anthology title, the place for the experiment, the one-off, the quick spotlight on an oft-neglected corner.

Review: Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

It's hard to ignore the static surrounding Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy, whether there's anything to read in the initial creative team replaced by another or the rumors regarding editorial edicts. But it's the blandness of the story that most prominently suggests trouble behind the scenes; anyone with a real affection for these characters or any sense of their shared history would know their miniseries should be much more dynamic than this. Ultimately I'm surprised and impressed by a miniseries as well set within the day-to-day goings on of the DC Universe as this one, something that doesn't happen all that often; the miniseries itself, however, in no way lives up to the promise it might have held.

Review: Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 21, 2020

I admit I was wary of Dan Jurgens taking over the Nightwing title, piggybacking on the "Ric Grayson" storyline started by Scott Lobdell, but I've been impressed so far. Jurgens takes this ill-advised, weirdo plot and makes something palatable, even going so far in Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy to try and make plausible the idea that this was planned all along. It most assuredly was not, and that particular plot thread turns on Batman being a terrible detective, but at least we have a how and why now beyond just giving Dick Grayson amnesia for shock value. I'd very much like some glimmer that all of this is not for naught — that, as soon as another writer takes over, this all won't disappear faster than Wonder Woman's brother — but it's entertaining enough until DC decides what exactly they want to be doing with the Nightwing character.

Review: Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Who Are the Secret Six? hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Joshua Williamson's Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Who Are the Secret Six? poses a question in its title, but unfortunately the answer isn't much of a mystery. Despite what was suggested in the lead-in epilogue from Williamson's Heroes in Crisis: The Price, this is not a paranoid thriller about allies who can and can't be trusted; instead the so-called Secret Six (aka the "Infected") show up wherever Superman and Batman are and attack them en masse over the course of this story. So whereas this book feels like a must-read on the continuity wonk level — tying together the Dark Nights: Metal/Death Metal books with "Year of the Villain," the Superman titles, and Supergirl — in terms of story it's a bit light. Neither are the Infected — culled from DC's second-tier precisely because they're B-listers in need of spotlight or because they're in limbo enough not to be missed — terribly compelling as villains, which also puts a damper on things.

DC Trade Solicitations for September 2020 - Detective #1027 Deluxe, Batman Vol. 1 by Tynion, Batman: Knight Out by Dixon, Jimmy Olsen by Fraction, Doomsday Clock Complete, Hard Time by Gerber, New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 5

Sunday, June 14, 2020

It sure is a big Batman month in the DC Comics September 2020 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations, as the seemingly out-of-the-blue Detective Comics #1027 arrives (and a deluxe edition is solicited) alongside the beginning of James Tynion's new Batman run, the hardcover of Sean Murphy's Batman: Curse of the White Knight, and a long overdue hardcover of some of Chuck Dixon's work, Batman: Knight Out. I haven't heard much about the Hill House Imprint series of comics, but a bunch of those see hardcovers this month, too.

Outside of that, I note Doomsday Clock gets its first full collection here, in paperback — undoubtedly there's a deluxe or Absolute coming, but I wonder if it says anything that neither of those came first. There's the first collection of the John Constantine: Hellblazer from the Sandman Universe imprint, but given that imprint seems all but discontinued, my interest has somewhat waned, and frankly that even makes me debate the Sandman Deluxe Edition book that's coming out also. I'm a lock for the Jimmy Olsen miniseries, of course, and probably sometime eventually I'll read Tom King's Mister Miracle, too, out in deluxe edition.

Let's dig in and see what else is coming.

Absolute Planetary HC

If I'm not mistaken, DC has released an Absolute Planetary before, but it only contained the preview from Gen 13 #33 and Planetary #1-12, whereas this has the preview, Planetary #1-27, Planetary/Batman: Night On Earth #1, Planetary/The Authority: Ruling the World #1, Planetary/JLA: Terra Occulta #1, and a pinup from WildStorm: A Celebration of 25 Years. That tracks closer to the Planetary Omnibus from 2014, though I don't believe that had the Wildstorm anniversary story.

Basketful of Heads HC

Issues #1-7 of the Hill House Comics imprint title.

Batman Adventures: Nightwing Rising TP

Collects The Batman Adventures: The Lost Years #1-5 and Batman: Gotham Adventures #1.

Batman by Tom King and Lee Weeks Deluxe Edition HC

What had originally seemed like just a joint collection of Batman Vol. 9: Cold Days and Batman Vol. 10: Knightmares in deluxe format, following from the previous Rebirth Batman deluxe format collections turns out indeed to be a specific King/Weeks spotlight volume. On one hand, I’m not sure that’s what the market wants; on the other hand, this collects the Batman/Elmer Fudd by King and Weeks special alongside the sequel issue, Batman #67, and that seems well worthwhile.

The solicitation seems at cross-purposes, advertising Cold Days and Knightmares, but the contents are said to be Batman #51-53 ("Cold Days") and #67 (just the Weeks chapter of "Knightmares" that includes "William Ernest Coyote"), Batman Annual #2 (the acclaimed future Batman/Catwoman story), and the aforementioned Batman/Elmer Fudd — plus chapters of "Prodigal" (!) from 1994 with art by Weeks. Y'know, I often theorize, there's a buyer for everything.

Batman Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs HC

The first collection of the Batman run by James Tynion with Tony Daniel, in hardcover (and newly renumbered). Introducing Punchline, if you like that kind of thing.

The Batman Who Laughs TP

Paperback of the miniseries by Scott Snyder, Jock, and Eduardo Risso, following the hardcover.

Batman: 80 Years of the Bat-Family TP

Collects Detective Comics #1000 (and not also Detective Comics #1000: The Deluxe Edition, as a previous solicitation suggested), Detective Comics: 80th Anniversary Giant #1 (formerly Walmart exclusive), Robin 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1, Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1, and the The Joker 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1. I wonder if this is indeed the entirety of all of these issues or just the new material. Anyway, I wondered if there’d be a way to read these without buying each one individually, and I’m glad there is.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight HC

Hardcover collection of the eight-issue miniseries by Sean Murphy, plus the Batman: White Knight Presents Von Freeze special.

Batman: Detective Comics #1027 Deluxe Edition HC

Solicited alongside the regular issue, this deluxe edition doesn’t seem to have any additional contents, so much as being hardcover and the bigger size. Due out in November, vs. September for the single issue. I don’t mind these special single issues coming out as “trades”; looks good on the shelf and all that.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: Greetings From Gotham TP

Issues #1006-1011 by Peter Tomasi, including appearances by the Spectre Jim Corrigan, Joker, and Deadshot, in paperback following the hardcover.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight Deluxe Edition HC

Collects all the various "Gotham by Gaslight" character appearances, including Gotham by Gaslight, Batman: Master of the Future, Convergence: Shazam! #1-2, and Countdown Presents: The Search for Ray Palmer: Gotham by Gaslight.

Batman: Knight Out HC

We're long overdue for some dedicated Chuck Dixon collections, given his outsized contributions to the Batman titles in the 1990s and on. The solicitation says this collects Detective Comics #703-718 (previous solicitations had this skipping #716 for no reason I can see), bridging from "Legacy" to "Cataclysm" (and from there to "No Man's Land") and including a Final Night tie-in. Art too by Graham Nolan.

Batman: The Man Who Laughs: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe edition of the graphic novel by Ed Brubaker and Doug Mahnke (whose recent depicition of the Joker in Detective Comics reminded me just how good Mahnke’s Joker is). Also includes Detective Comics #784-786 by Brubaker and Patrick Zircher, teaming Batman with Green Lantern Alan Scott.

DC Poster Portfolio: Greg Capullo TP

Timely, this’ll include covers from both Dark Nights: Metal and Dark Nights: Death Metal.

The Dollhouse Family HC

Collection of the Hill House series by M. R. Carey and Peter Gross.

Doom Patrol: Weight of the Worlds TP

All seven issues of the Gerard Way series.

Doomsday Clock: The Complete Collection TP

In paperback, collecting all 12 issues — so if I’ve got this right, there’s two six-issue hardcovers, but we’re getting a full paperback before a full hardcover. Only a matter of time, of course, and probably deluxe or Absolute when it comes.

Fables Compendium One TP

Collects issues #1-41, Fables: The Last Castle, Fables: 1,001 Nights of Snowfall, and the prose story "A Wolf in the Fold" from the Fables: Legends in Exile collection. This equals about the first six trade paperbacks or the first four/five-ish deluxe editions.

Hard Time: The Complete Series TP

Hard Time was one of the titles under the short-lived DC Focus imprint from the early 2000s (with Kinetic by Kelley Puckett, Fraction, and Touch by John Francis Moore). Written by the late Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes, I read some early issues and liked it, and I’ve always understood it to be well-regarded. The first series ran 12 issues, and Hard Time: Season Two ran seven and was never collected, so this seems a smart release.

House of Whispers Vol. 3: Watching the Watchers TP

Collects issues #13-22, the final issues of the “Sandman Universe” series, from which titles seem to be dropping quickly.

John Constantine: Hellblazer Vol. 1: Marks of Woe TP

The first five issues of the new Sandman Universe series by Si Spurrier, plus the Sandman Universe Presents: Hellblazer special and Books of Magic #14.

JSA by Geoff Johns Book Four TP

Collects JSA #32-45, the Stealing Thunder and Savage Times trades.

Justice League International Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Collects Justice League America #31-50, Justice League Europe #7-25, Justice League America Annual #4, Justice League Europe Annual #1, Justice League Quarterly #1, and Justice League International Special #1, which have largely not, to my knowledge, been previously collected. With a recent new paperback released (collecting almost three volumes worth of earlier collections), hopefully there's more to come. One more omnibus would probably finish this, but the paperbacks are, of course, something else.

The Low, Low Woods HC

Issues #1-6 by Carmen Maria Machado from the Hill House imprint.

Mister Miracle: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe-size edition of the Tom King/Mitch Gerads 12-issue "maxiseries," with sketches, scripts, and the full pencil art for the first issue.

New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 5 HC

The New Teen Titans #32-49, The New Teen Titans Annual #3 (first appearance of Danny Chase) and #4, Tales of the Teen Titans #91 (as this was a reprint of New Teen Titans #31, this is probably just the cover or a short recap section), Secret Origins #13, Secret Origins Annual #3, and Infinity, Inc. #45. The title became New Titans with issue #50.

The Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book One HC

I just finished collecting the 30th anniversary Sandman paperbacks, and now here comes a hardcover collecting both "Preludes & Nocturnes" and "Doll's House" (issues #1-16) plus the Sandman Midnight Theatre special. That special is welcome and relevant, though an anachronism, and I wonder if there’s any more stories like that (issues of the old Dreaming series, maybe?) that’ll appear in subsequent volumes. Still thinking about whether I’ll double-dip or not.

Shazam!: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe-size edition of the New 52 Justice League backups that introduced Geoff Johns' new Shazam. Said to have “never before seen extras” and a new introduction by Johns.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Who Killed Jimmy Olsen? TP

The 12-issue miniseries by Matt Fraction and Steve Lieber.

Young Justice Book Five TP

The final collection of Peter David's Young Justice, issues #33-55. This includes tie-ins to "Our Worlds at War" and "Joker's Last Laugh," as well as the "World Without Young Justice" crossover with Impulse #85, Superboy #99, and Robin #101. Just “pages from” the Superboy and Impulse issues are listed in the solicitation (previously it was none of them); we’ll see if Robin gets there once it’s printed.

Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 4: The Final Trial trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Sam Humphries' then-nascent Harley Quinn run hit a snag a couple volumes back, but it improved with the third volume and with Harley Quinn Vol. 4: The Final Trial, clearly this series has found its new groove. Typically, that comes with only one volume left for Humphries, but should the next creative team have the same mandate for tying Harley closer to the DC Universe, this fourth volume is the model for how to do it.

With no small amount of fourth-wall-breaking and comics within comics, The Final Trial manages to be funny and satirical, both irreverent and relevant when it comes to the ongoing "Year of the Villain" event, and also moving and emotional in the way that shows just how far Harley has come from her one-note origins. Were this even Humphries' finale, I'd happily say he stuck the landing, and one can only hope that the actual ending will live up to what came before.

Review: Superman Vol. 3: The Truth Revealed hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 07, 2020

[Review contains spoilers]

Cynical as we are, there's no use debating whether Brian Michael Bendis should or not have had Superman reveal his secret identity in Superman Vol. 3: The Truth Revealed. Given Bendis inevitably one day moving on or some higher-up worrying that Superman's moved too far from the corporate IP baseline or the back-to-basics approach of another reboot, it won't be long till Clark Kent's just a mild-mannered reporter again.

If anything, the fact that Clark's secret is out and that other thing happened in Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part 1 suggests we're pretty far from baseline IP already. It's these kinds of landscapes where one starts to expect a reboot as is, if (1) that wouldn't be completely ludicrous right now and (2) seemingly one was already in the offing with 5G before it was torpedoed. Basically, it's not 1992 anymore and none of us sooner believe Superman will have lost his secret identity forever than we did — checks watch — less than a half-dozen years and a continuity ago when Superman's identity was also revealed. The impermanence of that speaks volumes for this.

Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 3: The Trials of Harley Quinn trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 03, 2020

Sam Humphries' Harley Quinn Vol. 3: The Trials of Harley Quinn is a big improvement on the previous volume, back to the levels where I'd say Harley's in good hands after all. Humphries' locale, supporting cast, and general thrust of the Harley Quinn series is different than what came before, but all of these are perfectly workable. Away from some of the character difficulties of Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Harley Destroys the Universe, and with the eight issues collected here all loosely connected under the "Trials of Harley Quinn" moniker — flitting self-referentially in, out, and around DC continuity — this volume flows smoothly; this is plenty fine Harley entertainment.

[Review contains spoilers]

The Christmas issue that begins this book, something of a prologue to the "Trials of Harley" stories, solidifies the break with what came before. Gathered around the table toward the end of the issue are Harley; her mother, father, and brothers; Catwoman (as an awkward stand-in for Poison Ivy); Coach; the Apokoliptian Tina; continuity cop Jonni DC; and prescient young comics artist Meredith Clatterbuck. These final three have been newly introduced to this title by Humphries over the last dozen or so issues; notably, nowhere pictured are Harley's stalwart companions from the Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti run like Big Tony, Eggy, or Red Tool.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 31, 2020

In its musings on love and immortality, Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield seems to hint at the upcoming revelations of Wonder Woman #750, on the way to the new DC timeline and the 5G event. That's all in flux now, of course, another element frustrating G. Willow Wilson's run, which we already know has ended with Steve Orlando taking over.

There's nothing particularly off-putting about this volume, which is an improvement over Wilson's previous in that Wilson does more that's new and different here, introducing her own threats and own situations. There's also an issue or so where Diana hardly throws a punch, which I appreciate in terms of emphasizing Wonder Woman as a thinking person and not a bruiser.

Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Harley Destroys the Universe trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Unfortunately, what had seemed a good start to Sam Humphries' Harley Quinn run fizzles out here. I'm not sweating it too much, as news just broke that Humphries run will end with issue #75, which probably means only one more trade to be released before the series apparently relaunches with a new creative team. That's fine; Humphries' Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Harley Destroys the Universe feels off but is by no means terrible, with plenty of fun moments, and of course what we're headed toward here is Harley's intersection with the "Year of the Villain" event. I'm satisfied to bide my time with Humphries for a bit with the promise of something else on the way; is it too much to hope Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti are coming back?

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3: Leviathan Hunt hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 24, 2020

If you like what Brian Michael Bendis is doing with Superman (and/or Event Leviathan) then you probably won't mind Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3: Leviathan Hunt's quirks too much; ditto perhaps if you were a fan of the Triangle Title's "large cast" approach. The flip side is that for a five-issue trade, Superman only appears on about nine of the first 50 pages (or two issues), which may not be to everyone's liking.

[Review contains spoilers]

Largely this volume (and seemingly the next) are about tying together the criminal element Bendis has been introducing in Action with his Event Leviathan crew, and that together with the ongoing "Year of the Villain" event. If one believes the stories of writers' competing fiefdoms across the DC Universe, this is undoubtedly a positive sign, Bendis weaving Scott Snyder's Justice League et al. into the very fabric of his Action Comics work.

Review: Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Harley vs. Apokolips trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Sam Humphries' Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Harley vs. Apokolips is a fine follow-up to the long run that came before. It's mundane to say everything's not the same with the creative change, though Humphries gets a lot closer to the target than I expected and covers the transition well. There is not a lot of Harley's classic supporting cast in this volume, and so perhaps one can better judge the next volume more than this, after Humphries has gotten acclimated a bit, but again, Humphries does his own thing well enough — especially under the auspices of "tighter ties to the DC Universe" — that I don't think long-time fans will be much disappointed.

[Review contains spoilers]

Overlapping a bit the last iteration of this title's dual finales by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti and Frank Tieri respectively, Humphries' start sees Harley taking a vacation to get away from recent tragedies. That's interrupted, appropriately apropos of nothing, by Harley being kidnapped by and transformed into a Female Fury. At play here is Humphries taking Harley immediately out of the familiar and keeping her away for four issues, enough time for Humphries to hit a stride without the added presence of Harley's Brooklyn friends.

DC Trade Solicitations for August 2020 - Post-Crisis Flash by Baron and Messner-Loebs, Robin: 80 Years, Power of Shazam! by Ordway, Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2, Batman: Road to No Man's Land Omnibus, Aquaman by Skeates/Aparo

Sunday, May 17, 2020

I couldn't say exactly if this is just what happens in the summer or if current events have caused DC Comics' August 2020 hardcover and paperback solicitations to be a little lighter. But out of 25 books solicited this month, only two are "regular series" collections (and one of those, the second half of a miniseries), and all the rest are older series, graphic novels, and etc.

Among those regular series are Justice League Odyssey Vol. 3: Final Frontier (is it bad I still haven't decided if I like this book?) and Wonder Twins Vol. 2, really kind of some slim pickings for this month (maybe I'll get around to finally finishing Mind MGMT!).

Which is not to say there's not some cool ones among the "reprints" — the long awaited post-Crisis Flash: Savage Velocity, the first Power of Shazam! collection (finally!), and Aquaman: Deadly Waters, completing a trilogy of Silver/Bronze Age Aquaman books. Books Of Magic gets a nice omnibus collection, as does Batman: The Road to No Man’s Land ... y'know, it's not nothing, but it's not a whole lot, either.

Let's take a closer look.

Absolute Transmetropolitan Vol. 1 HC New Edition

Released under the DC Black Label imprint; no contents listed, but the original printing collected Transmetropolitan #1-18, Transmetropolitan: I Hate It Here, and Vertigo: Winter's Edge #2.

Aquaman: Deadly Waters Deluxe Edition HC

Continuing and finishing the Steve Skeates/Jim Aparo run with issues #49-56, following the previous Search for Mera volume; #56 would end that series. Three years after these issues, Aquaman would appear in back-up stories in Adventure Comics and then regain his own series numbered starting with #57, which would be the storyline collected in Death of a Prince. This is a nice trilogy of Silver Age Aquaman that I'd be interested to read all together.

Batman: The Demon Trilogy HC

Have Batman: Birth of the Demon, Batman: Bride of the Demon, and Batman: Son of the Demon been collected together before? Seems only logical.

Batman: The Road to No Man’s Land Omnibus HC

Omnibus of the previous two-volume paperback Road to No Man's Land series. Contents are about the same give or take an issue if the solicitations are to be believed. Said to contain Azrael: Agent of the Bat #40, Azrael: Agent of the Bat #47-52 (previous solicit only went to #50), Batman #554-562, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #73-82, Detective Comics #719-722, Detective Comics #724-729, Catwoman #56-57, Robin #52-54, The Batman Chronicles #12, The Batman Chronicles #14-15, Nightwing #19-20, Batman: Arkham Asylum - Tales of Madness #1, Batman: Blackgate - Isle of Men #1, and Batman: Huntress/Spoiler - Blunt Trauma #1.

Blackest Night Brightest Day Box Set

Twelve hardcovers at $300 total, collecting two enjoyable but pretty gosh darn out of continuity event miniseries; if there's an audience for this, God bless. Not only does it include all of the below, but also nine plastic Corps rings — where those fit in the box, I'm not sure.

  1. Blackest Night: Prelude collects Green Lantern #26-28 and 36-43 and Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1
  2. Blackest Night collects Blackest Night #0-8 and pages from Untold Tales of the Blackest Night #1
  3. Blackest Night: Green Lantern collects Green Lantern #44-52
  4. Blackest Night: Green Lantern Corps collects Green Lantern Corps #39-47
  5. Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Book 1 collects Blackest Night: Batman #1-3, Blackest Night: Superman #1-3, and Blackest Night: Wonder Woman #1-3
  6. Blackest Night: Black Lantern Corps Book 2 collects Blackest Night: The Flash #1-3, Blackest Night: JSA #1-3 and Blackest Night: Titans #1-3
  7. Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns collects The Atom & Hawkman #48, Phantom Stranger #42, Green Arrow #30, Adventure Comics #7, Starman #81, The Question #37, Catwoman #83, Weird Western Tales #71, and The Power of Shazam! #38
  8. Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps collects Blackest Night: Tales of the Black Lanterns #1-3, Adventure Comics #4-5, Untold Tales of the Blackest Night #1, stories from Green Lantern #18-20, 40, and 49, Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps: Secret Files, Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman-Prime, and pages from Blackest Night #0
  9. Brightest Day: Green Lantern collects Green Lantern #53-62
  10. Brightest Day Book 1 collects Brightest Day #0-11
  11. Brightest Day Book 2 collects Brightest Day #0-11 [obviously TBD]
  12. The Book of the Black collects sketch material (both previously released and new), series proposals, variant covers, posters, all or at least most of the Blackest Night outline scripts, and a few other things

Booster Gold: Future Lost HC

Collects the second half of Dan Jurgen's 1980s Booster Gold series, issues #13-25. Also included is Action Comics #594 and Secret Origins #35, which appeared in the Showcase Presents: Booster Gold black-and-white collection, "pages from" Millennium #3-7 (previously this was listed as the whole issues, but probably this makes more sense), and "more." The previous solicitation suggested the Booster entry from Who’s Who Update 1987 #1 might be there too.

DC Poster Portfolio: Clay Mann TP

Includes covers from Action Comics #959, #961, #964-969, and #983; Batman #36, #50, #78, and #79; Batman Eternal #28, DC Nation #0, Doom Patrol/Justice League Special #1, Harley Quinn #1, Heroes in Crisis #1, Justice League #46, Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death #2, and Trinity #3-4 and #12, printed on card stock at 12 x 16.

The Flash: Savage Velocity TP

Solicited before and cancelled, but I'm glad to see it finally on the schedule. Collects Mike Baron's and William Messner-Loebs' Flash immediately post-Crisis on Infinite Earths, issues #1-18 and the first annual, with ties to Millennium. This'll fit real well with the Superman by Byrne books, the new post-Crisis Batman books, Wonder Woman by Perez, and so on. Includes Wally vs. Kilg%re, Velocity 9 (which later appeared in the CW Flash TV series), and Vandal Savage.

gen:LOCK TP

Based on the web show, the comic is written by Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly and drawn by Carlo Barbieri, among others. Collects issues #1-7.

Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 2 HC

Been a while since we've seen an Earth One volume; here's a sequel to Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko's Green Lantern: Earth One. John Stewart and Yellow Lanterns join the fray.

Hellblazer Vol. 23: No Future TP

Collects Hellblazer #261-266, Hellblazer Special: Papa Midnite #1-5, and the Hellblazer: Pandemonium graphic novel.

JLA by Grant Morrison Omnibus HC

Well, this is the big 'un, all 41 issues of Grant Morrison's JLA plus at least the JLA One Million miniseries and the JLA: Earth 2 graphic nove. (We should maybe quibble that Morrison's first JLA: Classified arc should be in there, maybe a Secret Files but oh, well.) Those JLA issues are #1-17, #22-26, #28-31, #34, #36-#41.

Justice League Odyssey Vol. 3: Final Frontier TP

Third collection of the Dan Abnett series; collects #13-18, including "Year of the Villain" issues.

Justice League Unlimited: Galactic Justice TP

One of a couple animated Justice League Unlimited collections solicited lately; this is issues #4, #6, #18, #24, #34, and #46, with Green Lantern John Stewart, Martian Manhunter, Adam Strange, Sinestro, and Space Cabbie.

Lucifer Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Issues #36-75 by Mike Carey, with the DC Black Label branding (previously this was supposed to say "Sandman Universe" on it, but I'm not sure if that's the case any more).

The Power of Shazam! Book 1: In the Beginning HC

Glad all that waiting paid off — finally, finally, we get the first-ever collection of Jerry Ordway's superlative Captain Marvel series, the longest-running and most substantial Captain Marvel series of the post-Crisis era. Running almost 50 issues, Ordway's Power of Shazam series was tonally similar to his Superman Triangle Titles work, attacking head-on everything from Mr. Mind to Tawky Tawny in ways that preserved the absurdity but updated the concepts for the modern era (without being grim and gritty). All that and one of the few series to directly cross over with James Robinson's Starman. This will have the Power of Shazam graphic novel that started it all off, plus issues #1-12 and a Captain Marvel story from Superman & Batman Magazine #4. Twelve issues per book would finish this off in four books. In hardcover in August.

Robin: 80 Years of the Boy Wonder HC

Said to collect Batman #368, Batman #410, Batman #411, Batman #466, Detective Comics #38, Detective Comics #165, Detective Comics #394-395, Detective Comics #535, Detective Comics #796, Robin #25-26, Batman Chronicles: The Gauntlet #1, World’s Finest Comics #141, Star Spangled Comics #65 and #124, Teen Titans #14, Batman and Robin #0. Mentioned in previous solicitations was Batman Incorporated #1, and Super Sons #5.

RWBY TP

By Marguerite Bennett and Mirka Andolfo, based on the anime series; collects issues #1-7.

The Sandman: The Books of Magic Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

A variety of the appearances of kid mage Tim Hunter collected in one place, though the contents don't mention the original Neil Gaiman miniseries. Collects The Books of Magic #1-32 (of 75 issues total, of which only #1-50 are previously collected), The Children’s Crusade #1-2, Vertigo Preview #1, Vertigo Visions - Doctor Occult #1, Arcana Annual #1, Mister E #1-4, and The Books of Faerie: Auberon’s Tale #1-3. (Earlier solicitations also had Vertigo Gallery: Dreams and Nightmares #1 and Who’s Who #15. This was also previously branded "Sandman Universe: The Books of Magic Omnibus," not just "Sandman: Books of Magic ...")

Super Sons Omnibus HC Expanded Edition

The adventures of Jon Kent and Damian Wayne, all collected together and now including the final twelve issue miniseries. This is Superman #10-11, Superman #37-38, Teen Titans #15, Super Sons #1-16, DC Rebirth Holiday Special #1, Super Sons Annual #1, the Super Sons/Dynomutt Special, and the Adventures of the Super Sons miniseries #1-12.

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade TP New Edition

New printing of the Landry Q. Walker miniseries collection, now targeted to DC's kids imprint.

Superman vs. Wonder Woman (Tabloid Edition) HC

A team-up, first printed as I understand it in Limited Collectors' Edition #C-54 from 1978, by Gerry Conway and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. Set during World War II with, I believe, the Superman and Wonder Woman of Earth-2.

Teen Titans: Raven and Beast Boy HC Box Set

Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo's two young adult graphic novels, in hardcover for the first time.

Wonder Twins Vol. 2: The Fall and Rise of the Wonder Twins TP

Issues #7-12 by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne as part of Brian Michael Bendis' Wonder Comics imprint; the end of the series unless they renew it.

Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Love Is a Battlefield TP

Paperback by G. Willow Wilson, Cary Nord, and others, following the hardcover. Issues #66-73; the book flips over to #750+ numbering after issue #80.

Review: Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part 1 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Overall I've been enjoying Tom King's zany, experimental take on Batman, but with Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part 1, even I can see where this minimalist storytelling hits some difficulty. The trouble, I think, is in the name — I have a sense that the forthcoming Batman: City of Bane: The Complete Collection will be a much better read in that we'll get the introduction and denouement to this story, and not just the introduction.

City of Bane spends a while setting up the new status quo when the status quo is pretty clear, and from there it turns to Batman's recovery from injury, et al., which is not insignificant but in broad strokes we've seen this kind of thing before. There's two major events within the pages of this book, so it's not as though Part 1 doesn't move the story forward, but each has mitigating factors such to lessen one's full enjoyment of them. I tend to think all this could have happened faster and Part 2 come quicker, or again, maybe it'd be better to just read City of Bane all together.

Review: Y: The Last Man Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores trade paperback (Vertigo/DC Comics)

Sunday, May 10, 2020

I have questioned whether, leading into its 10th volume, Y: The Last Man has lost some of its mojo. If that's the case, then it regains it when it counts, in the final volume, Y: The Last Man Vol. 10: Whys and Wherefores. The final story is epic and controversial, delivering exactly what it should, and smoothing over some recent bumps in the series along the way. And after that, the epilogue is wonderful and bizarre, an unexpected left turn for the series, with an ending rather completely unexpected. If Y did not land every jump it made, it sticks the landing, and that's what it should be remembered for.

[Review contains spoilers]

Among excellent moments throughout the final volume is when Yorick, newly reunited with lost love Beth, discusses the revelations of Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland. Struggling to describe the happenstance elements that kept him alive when all other men died, Yorick calls it "monkeys and clones and ... some kind of morphing thing" (the psychic morphic resonance). He continues, "As far as answers go, it was ... vaguely unsatisfying." Beth replies that after all they've been through, "Is there any explanation that would have been satisfactory?"

Review: Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland trade paperback (Vertigo/DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 06, 2020

The penultimate volume of Y: The Last Man brings some answers, but those answers are so far-fetched and improbable as to not really be answers at all. In this way, Y: The Last Man Vol. 9: Motherland does and does not read like the second-to-last volume of the series.

Y is one of those series — mind you, I've been reading it on and off for over 15 years now — that I've had built up in my mind as one of the Vertigo greats, spoken in the same breath as Sandman, Swamp Thing, Hellblazer, and Fables, but now that I'm getting to the end, my esteem is fading. Well-written, sure, topical, sure, and well-drawn, definitely, and Y is certainly better than the dregs sometimes found on the comic book stands. But the "kidnapped and have to break out" pattern of the stories has long since gotten repetitive, and the slow exploration of this world and the little hints as to the origins of the "gendercide" plague, enticing at the beginning, don't offer the same high nine volumes in. Also none of the romantic relationships feel earned to me.

Review: Superwoman Vol. 2: Rediscovery (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 03, 2020

K. Perkins and Phil Jimenez' Superwoman Vol. 2: Rediscovery is fine, as it goes. The story is wildly buffeted by the continuity changes in Superman Reborn, which it really only partially tries to address. Much of the book is then spent getting title character Lana Lang back in the position she was in at the end of the last book, which is a lot of going in circles for just the second volume. For fans of Lana, or Steel John Henry Irons, or some classic one-off villains from the Triangle Titles age, this is satisfactory reading, but it never rises to the level of anything truly shocking or surprising. Nothing about this book is offensively wrong; it just lacks gusto.

[Review contains spoilers]

Jimenez writes a single issue here that, at least to its credit, meta-acknowledges the vagaries of other titles that are affecting this book. Branching off Superman Reborn, the New 52 Superman and Lois Lane come in a dream sequence to a semi-conscious Lana, needing her to give up the red energy source of her powers so they can merge with their Rebirth counterparts (or whatever happens in Reborn). In story, Lana not only acknowledges the strangeness of two sets of Kent-Lanes and the understated continuity changes happening as they speak; she also questions why it is that her own reality (and Steel, and his niece Natasha, etc.) should have to change just to benefit Superman and Lois. The answer is, of course, because he's Superman, and of course Jimenez knows this, but there's something wonderful (almost Grant Morrison-ian) about his writing this relatively minor-ish character asserting her right to her own being just before Jimenez takes his leave.

Review: Y - The Last Man Vol. 8: Kimono Dragons trade paperback (Vertigo/DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

To support independent booksellers, including local comic book shops, please visit the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. And remember that the Red Cross has an urgent need for blood donations.

When I last reviewed Y: The Last Man (some 13 years ago!), I noted that the seventh volume, Paper Dolls, lacked sufficient revelations for a book so far down the line, instead offering a (still enjoyable but) basic Y misadventure of the kind we might've seen way back at the beginning. Y: The Last Man Vol. 8: Kimono Dragons is better on that count, continuing to outline the behind-the-scenes connective tissue between the characters, though it still feels like we're a trade or so away from really understanding what's going on (and two trades, of course, from the end).

If nothing else, the titular "Kimono Dragons" story is more epic in its finale than "Paper Dolls," so Kimono Dragons at least gets one's blood pumping. I'm impatient for answers, which means impatient for the conclusion, and I grant maybe that's missing the point; it does however feel like this tale could be a little shorter than it is.

(No offense intended for reviewing a comic about a pandemic in the midst of a pandemic. This site has always been about reviewing what I'm reading, and this is what I'm reading right now. These days, my interests have been skewing toward post-apocalyptic sci-fi, perhaps looking for context in my only previous experience with times such as these; with slowing trade releases even before the major lockdowns, I've also been trying to go back and complete some series I started but never finished, hence the recent Harley Quinn read-through. Hopefully some escapism only helps, not hurts.)

Review: Harley's Little Black Book hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 26, 2020

At 48 pages per issue (when it had ads), the chapters of Harley's Little Black Book feel rightly stuffed. Each one is a kind of mini graphic novel on its own, reminiscent even of the ye olde Prestige Format "graphic novels," and I found I could read about one a night and then I felt "done." That's backhanded praise, but the point is you won't breeze through this one and that's often a good thing.

Finding a plot in this book, to paraphrase, is a tricky endeavor. There's a thread that binds the first three chapters and one that binds the last three, but neither binding is particularly strong nor do they necessarily come of anything — it's best, I found, to think of each of these as happenstance Harley Quinn team-up stories rather than an actual miniseries. Said split between the first and last half also marks where the book changes from traditional team-ups to stories more esoteric; though there's gems throughout, for my tastes the book was stronger at the beginning than the end (put another way, the book weakens as one goes on, though it bounces back toward the finish).

Review: Harley Quinn: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 3 hardcover (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

With Harley Quinn: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 3, the Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti run with this character goes out with a bang. When they finish, one faces the dilemma one always faces at the end of an instant-classic run such as this: would it be better to end the series, expecting that nothing that comes after could be as good as this, or to keep it going so that we still have Harley Quinn, even if what comes after, if lesser, tarnishes the overall reputation of the run?

Fortunately, things are not so bad as all that. To be very sure, Harley loses a step when Conner and Palmiotti leave and Frank Tieri takes over, but a couple factors work in favor of Tieri's stint: he continues what has already been a storyline of his own so far; despite a tonal shift, there are some interesting ideas within Tieri's story; and as it turns out, though it seemed momentarily that Tieri would be Harley's new ongoing writer, he actually isn't. If anything, maybe in the original offing Tieri's story should have been set before the end of Conner and Palmiotti's run, not after, so that Conner and Palmiotti could still have the last word and closing image, but it is what it is. Conner and Palmiotti get seven issues here, Tieri gets eight, and ultimately the good in this book outweighs what's rougher.

Review: Batman: Last Knight on Earth hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, April 19, 2020

It feels like a long time since we've seen Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo together again. Since their famous Batman collaboration, sure Snyder's gone back to his Dark Knight roots with The Batman Who Laughs, for instance, but not with Capullo. The two teamed for Dark Nights: Metal, but for all the craziness, Metal never captured the magic of Snyder's Batman for me, nor did Capullo's art on the (albeit enjoyable) crossover seem quite up to snuff.

Snyder and Capullo's DC Black Label series Batman: Last Knight on Earth is a cool burst of air, a lush, spacious, clever reminder of Snyder and Capullo's best work. It is more in the vein of their Batman: Zero Year than Metal, perhaps more unusually bright for a Batman story than what one usually expects, but with a summer blockbuster ending akin to the team's Court of Owls. Surely Last Knight is an instant classic, surely there's an Absolute edition in its future, and surely this is a pure example of what DC Black Label can and should do. Last Knight begs for a sequel; hopefully this isn't the last Last Knight after all.

Review: Event Leviathan hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

In concept, Brian Michael Bendis' Event Leviathan seems flawless, collecting the DC Universe's greatest detectives (continuity be damned), taking them seriously, and setting them against a grand conspiracy and twisty whodunit (or "who is it," at least). Even the barest high concept — a Lois Lane/Batman team-up — bespeaks a "what took them so long" success.

In execution, however, Event Leviathan struggles more than expected. The characters are great — the ones included, the way they're written, their interactions. This collection is satisfactorily complete, too, including the Superman: Leviathan Rises special and the Year of the Villain Special short story. But plot-wise, Event Leviathan is a closed circle mystery uncomfortably shoved into the format of a six-issue comics miniseries, and the result is that it never succeeds at being either. Comics is a grand stream of "to be continueds," but Event Leviathan fails to feel complete on its own, nor does it conclusively earn its central revelation.

Review: Harley Quinn: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 hardcover (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 12, 2020

The overarching plot of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's Rebirth Harley Quinn series comes much more into focus with Harley Quinn: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2 (collecting the Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Red Meat and Harley Quinn Vol. 4: Surprise, Surprise trade paperbacks). The first volume saw Harley doing one crime-stopping favor for Chief of Police Spoonsdale; that continues here to a second job, and then the significant amount of fallout that comes with it.

In the 13 issues (and a special) collected here, I count no less than a half-dozen major plotlines going on, often simultaneously. Though a "comedy book" at its most basic, Conner and Palmiotti don't cut corners in their plotting, with what seems like the lost art of A, B, and C plots exchanging places throughout. Whereas the first 13 issues were more random and disconnected, these 13 issues (are still random but) by and large lead in to one another, through to the final cliffhanger, which sets up the climactic showdown between Harley, Spoonsdale, and the corrupt New York City Mayor DePerto in the next volume.

Review: Harley Quinn: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1 hardcover (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Harley Quinn enters the DC Rebirth with Harley Quinn: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1, collecting the Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Die Laughing and Harley Quinn Vol. 2: Joker Loves Harley paperbacks. The stories are not a significant departure from the New 52 era, featuring essentially the same cast of characters and the same vein of humor, though writers Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have gotten sharper as this series has gone on. In general, despite the book's trademark meandering, if anything this book seems a bit more focused in Rebirth in terms of the supporting cast and reoccurring characters. This is, to an extent, Conner and Palmiotti's second chance at a first start with this series, and one definitely sees here a stronger launch than ye olde Harley Quinn Vol. 1: Hot in the City.

I spot two throughways that might be considered a semblance of a plot in the first 13 issues collected here — one, the build up and momentary resolution of Harley and Poison Ivy's (clearly) romantic relationship, and two, that Harley adopts a life coach in the Nate-Man's hot dog guy. These tent poles draw us through the story and I'm interested to see how they continue to unfold through the rest of the writers' run.

Review: Titans Vol. 6: Into the Bleed trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Titans Vol. 6: Into the Bleed is fine for what it is, the self-referential and inconsequential finale of a series that, though positioned to be a cornerstone of DC Comic's Rebirth, never found its footing. To writer Dan Abnett's credit, the story is still enjoyable, with some unexpected twists. Perhaps the larger question this title, and its cancellation, raises is what is a Titans team when it doesn't contain the Titans, and what place does Titans have in a DC Universe that's got the Teen Titans, three Justice League teams, and the Outsiders already.

[Review contains spoilers]

Into the Bleed collects two main stories — a two-parter that sees the Titans marooned on a far-off planet, and a six-parter in which they chase villain Mother Blood into and out of a dimension based on a Tolkien-esque series of books, "Unearth," which the Titans previously encountered in Titans Vol. 5: The Spark. Which is to say — though both of these stories are rather better than they might have been — the plot is very inward-looking.

Review: Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

In the past, Frank Tieri's stories have been hit-or-miss for me, so I'm pleased to find that his Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys, in collaboration with main Harley writer Jimmy Palmiotti, is so good — especially since Tieri will eventually take over for a time from Amanda Conner and Palmiotti. I dare say, Gang of Harleys is really a lot better than it has any right to be, a Harley Quinn spin-off that no one necessarily asked for, full of action and humor and clever team dynamics. I've no idea if the Gang of Harleys return in Harley Quinn's Rebirth iteration, but I'd be happy to read about them again.

In a number of ways, too, Gang of Harleys serves as a coda to the New 52 Harley Quinn series which, let's not forget, is what launched Harley into the mainstream. The Gang of Harleys is here, but also a bunch of the Brooklyn crew, as well as a couple of surprises. All of that makes this feel like a true sequel to Harley Quinn Vol. 4: A Call to Arms, as well as a celebration of the series so far; again, I don't know to what extent things change or stay the same in Rebirth, but it's nice to get the gang together one last time before the shift.

Review: Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 1: Lesser Gods trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 29, 2020

I thought Bryan Hill's Detective Comics lead-in was strong, which makes the failure of his Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 1: Lesser Gods all the more biting. There is just not much here, a lot more telling than showing, big panels that use a lot of space for nothing, and little new or interesting revealed about these characters (put another way, there's a lot of old ground tread). All in all a disappointing debut.

[Review contains spoilers]

A lot of what's in Lesser Gods feels very surface-level. There are at least three different scenes of Black Lightning Jefferson Pierce standing around talking with Bruce Wayne, worrying over the Outsiders team; that this repeats so many times is indicative of the story not really moving forward. Though we saw this somewhat in Detective Comics Vol. 8: On the Outside, there's nothing here to clue us in on Jefferson's personal life, whether he's still also a teacher, and so on. Similarly, whenever scenes cut to Signal and Orphan conversing, they always just so happen to be riding a motorcycle together or playing basketball together; there's no real sense these characters have wants or needs aside from emoting the next element of the plot.