Review: Deathstroke: RIP trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Deathstroke RIP

With its 50th issue, Christopher Priest’s Deathstroke comes to a close, a book often the best of DC’s Rebirth line. In Deathstroke: RIP, the seventh volume of the series, Priest reiterates what he’s been saying all along: if you think Deathstroke’s a villain, you should see the other guy. There have been “other guys” throughout the series, but in this last book, Deathstroke fights himself, and he’s left to consider seeking redemption when faced with a glimpse of how bad things can get.

Priest is a writer who’d been out of the comics scene for a while, and his stellar work on Deathstroke immediately showed we’d been lesser for his absence. I don’t see Priest’s name on anything else coming up from DC with Deathstroke’s conclusion, not even a “Future State” special, which is all the more a shame. As complicated and as mature as Priest’s Deathstroke was, I can only hope for a DC Black Label reprise — surely someone should be writing a Black Label Deathstroke mini, if not Priest (it can’t all be Joker specials).

DC Trade Solicitations for January 2021 - Joker War Saga, Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey, Green Arrow: 80 Years, Batman: Gotham Knights Vol. 2, Wonder Comics Amethyst, Swamp Thing: New 52 Omnibus

Sunday, October 18, 2020

It's the DC Comics January 2021 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations, though no doubt all eyes are on the two-month "Future State" event, following the one-month "Endless Winter" event. This is a not insignificant breather DC is taking here and I'm curious what things will look like on the other side.

Much as I thought there were a lot of positives to Dan DiDio's time at DC and I regret his ouster, it's astounding to me to think that he was about to revamp DC's line. I would say "especially since DC has hardly had a cogent timeline in years," which I would have liked to have seen before they cleared the decks again, but apparently the so-called "5G" would have delivered a timeline at the same time as its revamping (equally a novel and long overdue idea). Still I don't think a new timeline is the solution to what ails DC; rather I'd prefer to see them iron out the one they have, the unwritten playbook that most everyone seems to be going off of except the readers.

Publishing what they've got as "Future State" is a good solution, better than letting it all go to waste and leaving us to wonder for years what it was all about. But it's a two-fold shame, one that Doomsday Clock had to be bent to dovetail into 5G ('cause we sure know it wasn't headed there originally) only for 5G never to happen, and two that Dark Nights: Death Metal now leads in to Future State since simultaneously we're also given to understand Future State is a temporary measure and surely that wasn't the plan for Death Metal either. So not to be cynical but it all seems like more of the same old thing — every book's an advertisement for the next one and everything's important, even the one-off, two-month filler events.

That said, we're for some thick Future State collections, and I'm looking forward to them.

This month in collections, not a blockbuster, but some stable releases. Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey: The Hunt for Harley is probably the one I'm most looking forward to, seeing Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti writing Harley again. I'm sorry to see Adam Glass' Teen Titans ending, but that's a book I've enjoyed and I'm sure I'll enjoy the finale; rising star Ram V arrives on Catwoman, too.

That book is a "Joker War" tie-in, and probably the biggest "news" of this solicitations release is that it looks like the two-volume Batman: Joker War Companion volumes have been cancelled, replaced with one single Joker War Saga book — which also contains all the Batman issues collected in its own title. I actually think this is shaping up to be a good thing — it looks like every related Bat-title will have their own collection, and then Joker War Saga will be the book for people who want the expanded main story — more than just the Batman issues, less than buying every other collection. I know what I'm doing, but shout out to this for others.

Also the second and final trade of Devin Grayson's Gotham Knights, helping fill in the rapidly completing collecting of everything Batman since the mid-1980s. Yay!

I've gone on enough. Let's take a look at the books.


The six-issue Wonder Comics miniseries by Amy Reeder, in trade paperback. Eager as I once was for this, now it’s mostly a reminder of Wonder Comics’ impending end. There’s no way they're going to re-relaunch Young Justice so quickly, right? Maybe Young Justice League?

Batman: Gotham Knights: Contested

The second collection of Devin Grayson's Gotham Knights, in paperback. Collects issues #14-24 and #29, which almost finishes out Grayson’s run short of some “Batman: Murderer/Fugitive” tie-in issues and includes a "Joker's Last Laugh" issue. I had previously mentioned that I thought issue #32 needed to be in there too, but I see it’s in the new Batman: Fugitive collection. Therefore, nice of DC to get all these issues collected so quickly.

Books of Magic Vol. 3: Dwelling in Possibility

This had been solicited as issues #14-18 and the Sandman Universe Presents Hellblazer special, but with the series newly cancelled, the contents are now just issues #14-23 (that Hellblazer special is in its own series' book).

Catwoman Vol. 4: Come Home, Alley Cat

Previously solicited as issues #20-24, this is now issues #14-15 and #22-28. That's the two issues by Ram V between Catwoman Vol. 2 and Catwoman Vol. 3 that weren't previously collected, and then picking up from Vol. 3, a one-off by Paula Sevenbergen (#22), two issues by Sean Murphy and Blake Northcott (#23-24), and then tie-ins to "Joker War" also by new series writer Ram V. So, as mentioned elsewhere, if you're already buying this and the other Bat-titles, no need to also get Joker War Saga.

DC Poster Portfolio: Joëlle Jones

Covers from Catwoman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Supergirl: Being Super, and more.

Ex Machina Compendium Two

Issues #26-50 and the Ex Machina Special #3-4 in paperback from Brian K. Vaughan and Tony Harris.

Green Arrow: 80 Years of the Emerald Archer: The Deluxe Edition

Collects More Fun Comics #73, Adventure Comics #246 and #259, Green Lantern #85 and #86, Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters #1, Green Arrow #100-101 (1994), JLA #8-9 (1996), Green Arrow #1, #17, and #75 (2001), Green Arrow and Black Canary #4 (2007), Secret Origins #4 (2014), Arrow: Season 2.5 #1, and Green Arrow: Rebirth #1. I think it’s a really nice thing that they got a TV Arrow tie-in story in there, as well as both Oliver Queen and Connor Hawke stories.

Harley Quinn and the Birds of Prey: The Hunt for Harley

Collects the four-issue miniseries in hardcover. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti picking up where they left off can’t come fast enough for me.

I’m most eager to see after this who the next Harley Quinn creative team is. One wonders if the Future State: Harley Quinn's solicitation statement that "the next era of Harley Quinn begins here" suggests that Stephanie Phillips and Simone Di Meo might be the new creative team.

Hellblazer Vol. 24: Sanctioned

Hellblazer #267-275 and the five-issue City of Demons miniseries, by Peter Milligan, with guest-star Shade, the Changing Man.

Joker War Saga

This had previously been listed as Nightwing #70-73, Batgirl #47-48, and Detective Comics #1022-1024; now it's Batman #95-100, Batgirl #47 (not #48), Detective Comics #1025 (not #1022-1024), Red Hood: Outlaw #48, Nightwing #74 (not #70-73), Joker War Zone #1, and stories from Harley Quinn #75 and Catwoman #25. This comes out February 23; the Batman Vol. 2: Joker War is out earlier that month.

This seems to be a change from two Joker War Companion volumes to one, collecting fewer ancillary issues overall but adding in all the Batman issues also collected elsewhere. The Detective Comics Vol. 5: Joker War hardcover itself has all the Detective Comics issues listed above, so my guess is this volume isn't meant to replace or overlap the individual volumes, but for those who don't intend to buy the individual volumes.

Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Vol. 3

Ahead of Alan Moore's run, this is The Saga of the Swamp Thing #1-19 and Saga of the Swamp Thing Annual #1, which was the adaptation of the 1980s movie.

Swamp Thing: The New 52 Omnibus

An omnibus collecting both Scott Snyder's and Charles Soule's New 52 runs on Swamp Thing, both of which were quite good (I think it’s super-cool that DC didn’t just collect Snyder’s run, but also Soule here). Collects Swamp Thing #0-40, the Swamp Thing Annual #1-3, Swamp Thing: Futures End #1, Swamp Thing Featuring Arcane #23.1, Animal Man #12 and #17, and Aquaman #31.

Tales From the DC Dark Multiverse

Paperback, following the hardcover, and collecting Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Batman: Knightfall , Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Death of Superman, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Blackest Night, Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Infinite Crisis , Tales from the Dark Multiverse: Teen Titans The Judas Contract, Superman #75, Batman #497, Infinite Crisis #1, Blackest Night #1, and Tales of the Teen Titans Annual #3. I’m eager to see the collection of the new round of specials sooner than later.

Teen Titans Vol. 4: Robin No More

What was previously Teen Titans Vol. 4: Djinn Wars, collecting issues #39-44 and the Annual #2 by Adam Glass, Robbie Thompson, and Eduardo Pansica, is now #39-47 and Annual #2, finishing out the series. More's the pity; quite unexpectedly, this series was the best Teen Titans has been in a long while.

Review: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1: Millennium trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 1 Millennium

I like Brian Michael Bendis' writing, and I like the Legion of Super-Heroes, and having such a high-profile writer on an oft-ignored DC property seems to me a very good thing. But the first two-thirds of Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 1: Millennium is a lot, a real sugar-rush of a start to this book that feels like it gets away from Bendis a little. It evens out eventually — aligned to when perspective character Superboy Jon Kent also stops to take a breath, so maybe some of this freneticism is intentional. To be sure, however, one is very ready for the 30-plus Legionnares to just stop talking for a second about the time that they do.

For all of that, there is not much happening in this first volume — there’s a villain, whom the Legion fights, and what would seem to be a major development regarding the planet Earth, though we’re not told much about what it all really means in specific (or emotional) terms. There’s some fine political wheeling and dealing as well, and the implication of trouble on the rise, but nothing in the way of a real cliffhanger, nothing to make you wonder on the edge of your seat what will happen next.

Review: DCeased: Unkillables hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Tom Taylor’s DCeased was enjoyable, but his DCeased: Unkillables is freakin' incredible.

With a notably smaller canvas (three issues, remarkably conservative for mainstream comics), Unkillables offers a focused, ground-view DCeased tale that is all the more frightening for its emphasis on the (mostly) non-powered set. Its billing as “what the villains were doing during DCeased” doesn’t really do it justice, however; rather, what one should know is that this presents a team of Red Hood Jason Todd, alt-continuity Batgirl Cassandra Cain, Jim Gordon, Deathstroke, and Ravager Rose Wilson fighting zombies — if that doesn’t get your blood pumping, I don’t know what will. Taylor is on fire here, up to and including his careful architecture of the book’s twist ending.

Review: Justice League Odyssey Vol. 3: Final Frontier trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Justice League Odyssey Volume 3 Final Frontier

Surprisingly, for what has long been the third wheel of the “New Justice” Justice League set, Dan Abnett’s Justice League Odyssey Vol. 3: Final Frontier is a fast-paced, frenetic space opera. Abnett accomplishes this by essentially jettisoning almost everything that came before, but he makes something particularly strong out of what remains. Though Abnett’s recent work has been the more terrestrial Aquaman, Odyssey hearkens back to his Legion of Super-Heroes days; moreover, artist Will Conrad’s presence evokes his work on the New 52 Stormwatch, which — despite its rough conclusion — itself started out as a cogent tale of aliens and spacecraft.

Like so many other DC titles, Odyssey is due to be cancelled after the next volume. More’s the pity (but isn’t it always the way) that this title finally found a voice for itself just before the end.

Review: Terrifics Vol. 3: The God Game trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 04, 2020

Terrifics Vol. 3: The God Game is Gene Luen Yang's first outing on the title, and unfortunately it reads just like a writer's first volume on a new book. It's not as though Yang struggles at all finding the voices of these characters — in that, transitioning from Jeff Lemire, it's pretty seamless — but in perhaps getting used to them, the story is very plain, very straightforward. We seem to have lost all sense of the Terrifics as explorers of the Dark Multiverse; sure, we've got an adequate sci-fi plot here, but nothing that necessarily defines the purpose of the Terrifics title nor offers more than a typical adventure of their fantastic Marvel counterparts. Nor is there much in the way of intrigue or character development besides for Mr. Terrific himself, to the exclusion of the other core members of the team.

Review: Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 2: A League of Their Own trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

I went back and read the first volume of Bryan Hill’s Batman and the Outsiders in preparation for reading Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 2: A League of Their Own, and I found I liked it better than before; the second volume, too, is an improvement. Though the book still feels clumsy around the very edges (and, we now know, the next trade will be the last), Hill does better here with the relationships between the characters — more realistic — and also the interrelationships, how certain new team members interact with established characters in differing ways. In the end — and of course, this would have to come as the book is now ending — I felt I could finally see how this team could be worthy of at least some of the “Outsiders” monikers worn by teams in the past.

Review: Year of the Villain: The Infected trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Year of the Villain: The Infected

No line-wide mainstream comics event comes without some cruft, and in that regard “Year of the Villain” (being, even, a sub-event “countdown” to another event) has had better or more innocuous tie-ins than most. That said, it was already apparent from the lead-in Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Who Are the Secret Six? that the “Infected” tangent of “Villain” might be the weak link, and the Year of the Villain: The Infected collection seals that.

Though not objectionable, there is nothing here that’s consequential and nothing that feels like it couldn’t be easily skipped. Should the plight of the heroes infected by the Batman Who Laughs play out more strongly in Year of the Villain: Hell Arisen or the like, maybe that assessment will change, but I’m not optimistic on that point. Further, DC Comics made the odd decision to choose particularly out-of-the-way characters for these stories, such that the stakes start low and barely end up getting any higher.

Review: Hawkman Vol. 3: Darkness Within trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

We've had occasion to speak here lately about a number of titles ending under the recent "DC Implosion." Hawkman, in its current post-Dark Nights: Metal incarnation, is not one I feel particularly emotional about, though I am rankled for what it means for the Hawkman character.

Hawkman has a particularly tortured post-Crisis on Infinite Earths continuity, solved for a while in Geoff Johns' JSA era and then, all the sadder, dashed again with the New 52. I had high hopes that Robert Venditti, a writer whose work I liked very much on Green Lantern, might be able to sort Hawkman out again (especially after his inscrutable role in Metal), and for a while it seemed Venditti was succeeding. But in terms of who this Hawkman is and where he and his cast fit in to the larger DC Universe, Hawkman Vol. 3: Darkness Within doesn't clarify things much.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 3: Manta vs. Machine trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Aquaman Vol 3 Manta vs Machine

That there is really not much to Kelly Sue DeConnick's Aquaman Vol. 3: Manta vs. Machine, but that I still enjoyed it quite a bit anyway, no doubt speaks to DeConnick's prowess as a writer. After all the politically and morally nuanced Aquaman stories we've seen over the years, this is mostly just fisticuffs, which isn't always my thing, but the best of Aquaman is here — Arthur, Mera, Aqualad Jackson Hyde, and the villainous Black Manta — and DeConnick gives them enough personality to make almost half a book's worth of fight scenes feel worthwhile.

In the strange twisty-turns way of comics, we've come to know just before this volume's release that it's the penultimate collection of DeConnick's Aquaman, with her run ending in the early issue #60s. But I don't nearly have the consternation about this sudden "beginning of the end" that I had with Young Justice, for instance. This Aquaman run has been adequate reading, but here almost at the end I can't speak to a strong point, purpose, or direction for this story — aside from being wonderfully, often shockingly domestic — and it's obvious more could be being done. Clearly DC Comics is at a crossroads, clearly most titles are taking a deep breath in before they breathe out, and hopefully when the dust clears there'll be a team ready to put Aquaman back in the forefront of the DCU again.

Review: Young Justice Vol. 2: Lost in the Multiverse hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

This would be a different Young Justice review if we didn’t know the series is due to end with issue #20, most likely the next trade. That’s a cruel, cruel turn of events; some 16 years after Peter David’s beloved series ended, Brian Michael Bendis revived the closest thing we’ve seen to the original since, only for it to be cancelled after 20 issues. Something is better than nothing, but for fans who’ve been waiting for this, to have the Wonder Comics iteration not turn out to be a true Young Justice “return” is sad indeed.

The difficulty is, Bendis has been muddling around a lot in this series, and Young Justice Vol. 2: Lost in the Multiverse is no exception. Were Young Justice’s fate more open-ended, that it’s 12 issues now with no clear direction for the team, letting alone no clear hows or whys of the team’s mere existence, wouldn’t be such a problem — by and large the point is just to see these characters having fun with one another, and Bendis offers that in spades. But knowing time is short — and not knowing whether the issue #20 conclusion was planned or came as a surprise to Bendis — makes me much less tolerant of seeming tangents when there’s so many questions still to be answered.

DC Trade Solicitations for December 2020 - Batman: Joker War, Young Justice finale, JSA: Demise of Justice, Legion: Before the Darkness, Wonder Woman by Loebs Book Two, Crisis on Multiple Earths

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Forty-three collections for the DC Comics December 2020 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations is a lot better than the short months we've been having lately, and commensurate with this time last year (40 collections, then). So maybe things are normalizing in terms of DC's collections schema, even as overall, of course, things at DC are pretty far from normal.

There's plenty books I'm excited about on this month's list, but I'll digress a moment and say next month's "regular series" releases should be really interesting. There's quite a number of collections for this month that stop right before this new "Endless Winter" event, which seems quite obviously like a Convergence-style stop-gap story — don't get me wrong, a multi-part story crossing over into regular series like War of the Gods or something, I love it, but with all parts written by Andy Lanning (whom we haven't seen in forever!) and Ron Marz, this says index story out the wazoo. And with Death Metal ending the same month — yeah, the Justice League versus the terrible, earth-shattering threat of, uh, "the Frost King" will likely be a fun diversion, but I'm more interested in what all this is stalling for.

That said, a bunch of new, a bunch of old, some endings, and so. many. books. coming out in the January/February period. Like, the end of Young Justice, the end of Hawkman; the end of Kelly Sue DeConnick's run on Aquaman and the end of G. Willow Wilson's run on Wonder Woman. Batman aplenty, with the big release being James Tynion's Batman: The Joker War, but then also the next volume of Peter Tomasi's Detective Comics, and volumes of both of these great post-Crisis collections series Batman: The Caped Crusader and Batman: The Dark Knight Detective.

Also, some big reprints, starting with a new series of Crisis on Multiple Earths collections — let's see how far we can get this time. Also Legion of Super-Heroes: Before the Darkness and the 1990s Justice Society of America miniseries, more 1980s Justice League International (again), more William Messner-Loebs era Wonder Woman, and another of the deluxe Sandman volumes that can't come out fast enough for me. Some months are thin, some months are full, but rarely do we see a month with this much something for everyone.

So let's dig in and look at these in more detail:

Aquaman Vol. 4: Echoes of a Life Lived Well TP

Being the end of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Aquaman run, issues #59-65 plus some guest spots, in paperback. The Endless Winter tie-in follows right after.

Batgirl Returns Omnibus HC

Though it's almost hard to remember at this point, Gail Simone's New 52 Batgirl run really is significant, putting Barbara Gordon back in the cowl for the first time in forever, whereas nowadays Barbara as Batgirl (again) feels pretty natural. Equally longtime Birds of Prey writer Simone also accomplished the transition from Oracle back to Batgirl. All of this makes for a run worth collecting in omnibus; it also bears mentioning that Simone channels the horror genre pretty heavily in this one — arguably too tonally dark for a Batgirl book, but effective nonetheless. Collects Batgirl #0-34, Batgirl Annual #1 and 2, Batgirl: Futures End #1, and more.

Batman Adventures: Robin, the Boy Wonder TP

Pitting Robin against Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, among others, this is Batman: Gotham Adventures #7, #19, #29, #42, #54, and Batman Adventures #9.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: Cold Vengeance TP

Issues #1012-1019, by Peter Tomasi and featuring Mr. Freeze in a tie-in to "Year of the Villain." This was previously listed as hardcover, but now seems to be paperback. “Joker War” is issues #1022-1026

Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 5 TP

Collects Batman #466-473 and Detective Comics #639-640, some rather classic early Batman and Robin Tim Drake stories (including vs. perennial foe Lynx, and maybe King Snake!). The latest Dark Knight Detective companion book (see below) collects through issue #611 of Detective, so it has some catching up to do. Both books arrive in January.

Batman: The Chalice TP

Collects two stories by Chuck Dixon with art by John Van Fleet — Batman: The Chalice and Batman: The Ankh #1-2. Surprised this isn't hardcover deluxe, but reflects an apparent new interest at DC in collecting Chuck Dixon's material

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 4 TP

Issues #601-611 and the Detective Comics Annual #2, with stories by Alan Grant, Mark Waid, and Brian Augustyn, and featuring Clayface, Etrigan the Demon, and the debut of Anarky. Nice to see both a Caped Crusader and Dark Knight Detective volume out in January. "Knightfall" hits Detective at issue #659, for those who think that'll be where these trades end.

Batman: The Joker War HC

In hardcover, James Tynion’s issues #95-100, arriving in February.

Birds of Prey: Blood and Circuits TP

Issues #96-103 of Gail Simone's Birds of Prey run, seemingly exactly the same as the 2007 release of this trade.

Crisis on Multiple Earths Book One: Crossing Over TP

What appears to be a new start to the old often-incomplete, often-hard-to-find Crisis on Multiple Earths series of collections; I think this’ll make some people happy if indeed it gets down to the later volumes, which never ultimately collected all of the JLA/JSA “pre-Crisis” team-ups. This new volume actually collects the contents of the first two original books, so maybe that will shorten release time, too. Collects Justice League of America #21-22, #29-30, #37-38, #46-47, #55-56, #64-65, #73-74, #76, and #82-83.

DC Comics: The Art of Lee Bermejo HC

Likely to include work on Batman, Luthor, Before Watchmen: Rorshach, and The Joker.

DC’s Greatest Detective Stories Ever Told TP

Interesting collection of not-just-Batman detective stories, including Lois Lane, the Question, Slam Bradley, the Sandman, and Detective Chimp — one maybe senses a bit of Event Leviathan's influence here. Collects Adventure Comics #51, Batman #441, Detective Comics #2, #329, and #572, Lois Lane #1-2, Secret Origins #40, and The Question #8.

Earth One Box Set

Collects Batman: Earth One Vol. 1, Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 1, and Superman: Earth One Vol. 1. Cue “Earth One” in Monty Python and the Holy Grail — "I'm not dead yet!"

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Book Four TP

Final Crisis: Rage of the Red Lanterns #1 and Green Lantern #26-38, including the Green Lantern: Secret Origin story. Blackest Night, for reference, begins with Green Lantern #43.

Green Lantern: Circle of Fire TP

Being now both Judd Winick’s first arc on Green Lantern, issues #129-136 starring Kyle Rayner, previously collected as New Journey, Old Path, and also the contemporaneous (but not necessarily related) “Circle of Fire” miniseries lead by Brian K. Vaughan, comprised of Green Lantern/Firestorm #1, Green Lantern/Adam Strange #1, Green Lantern/Atom #1, Green Lantern/Green Lantern #1, Green Lantern/Power Girl #1, and Green Lantern: Circle of Fire #1-2. There was to be a set of Kyle Rayner collections that I don’t think progressed; remains to be seen if this is a one-off or if DC is jumping ahead to the Winick run.

Hawkman Vol. 4: Hawks Eternal TP

Issues #20-29 by Robert Venditti and Fernando Pasarin, an awfully big trade that marks the end of the series. Coming in February.

Heroes in Crisis: The Price and Other Stories TP

Paperback release, following the hardcover, and collecting Batman #64-65, The Flash #64-65 and Annual #2, and Green Arrow #45 and #48-50.

Just Imagine Stan Lee Creating the DC Universe Book Two TP

Just Imagine Stan Lee with John Byrne Creating Robin #1, Just Imagine Stan Lee with Gary Frank Creating Shazam! #1, Just Imagine Stan Lee with Scott McDaniel Creating Aquaman #1, Just Imagine Stan Lee with Chris Bachalo Creating Catwoman #1, Just Imagine Stan Lee with Walter Simonson Creating the Sandman #1, and Just Imagine Stan Lee with John Cassaday Creating Crisis #1, in paperback.

Justice League Dark Vol. 4: A Costly Trick of Magic TP

Collects issues #20-28 (previously #21-25 and the Annual #2), the first full volume by Ram V after James Tynion's departure. Issue #29 is the “Endless Winter” tie-in.

Justice League International Book Two: Around the World TP

Continuing, thank god, the new paperback collections of the Keith Giffen/J.M. DeMatteis Justice League era, being Justice League International #18-25, Justice League America #26-30, Justice League Europe #1-6, and Justice League International Annual #1. The contents are roundabouts volume 4 of the previous set of collections. There's some Invasion! tie-ins in there.

Justice League Unlimited: Hocus Pocus TP

Continuing the new recent collections of the animated Justice League Unlimited comic, this time with a magic theme. It’s Justice League Unlimited #11, Justice League Unlimited #14, Justice League Unlimited #25, Justice League Unlimited #33, Justice League Unlimited #37, and Justice League Unlimited #40, with appearances apparently by Stargirl, Deadman, Blue Devil, Doctor Fate, Zatanna, Shadow Thief, and the Spectre.

Justice Society of America: The Demise of Justice HC

A step in the right direction toward finally collecting the short-lived 1990s Justice Society series by Len Strazewski and Mike Parobeck, this is a 1990s Justice Society miniseries by Strazewski, Rick Burchett, and Parobeck that set the stage for the later series. Also All-Star Comics #57, the last canonical Golden Age appearance of the JSA, and a story from Adventure Comics #466, the first telling of the JSA refusing to unmask before Congress.

Legends of the DC Universe: Doug Mahnke HC

Probably some cool stuff in here, and nice to see a "newer" talent like Mahnke get one of these books; I'm glad to see work from his Superman: The Man of Steel. Collects stories or art from Action Comics #775 and #1000; Batman #645; Batman: The Man Who Laughs #1; Batman and Robin Annual #2; Black Adam: The Dark Age #1; Detective Comics #1000; Final Crisis: Requiem #1; Green Lantern (2011) #0 and #50; Green Lantern (2016) #50; Hitman/Lobo: That Stupid Bastich #1; JLA #61 and #65; Justice League #25; Justice League of America #25; Justice League: Elite #1; The Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1; Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #1; Superman #8-9; and Superman: The Man of Steel #87.

Legion of Super-Heroes: Before the Darkness Vol. 1 TP

In hardcover, 1980s Legion of Super-Heroes stories from just before “Great Darkness Saga,” being issues #260-271 and Secrets of the Legion of Super-Heroes #1-3. This is an era of Legion I find pretty accessible and iconic, so I’m excited about this one, though I’m told the story quality may vary.

Manhunter by Archie Goodwin and Walter Simonson Deluxe Edition HC

The award-winning 1970s Detective Comics back-up tales by Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson, well worthy of a deluxe edition, and as relevant as ever to the DCU. Issues #437-443 and the silent epilogue from an earlier reprint.

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 — is this the end of the omnibuses or will they continue?!

New Teen Titans Vol. 12 TP

The New Teen Titans #24-31, Tales of the Teen Titans #84-88 (reprints of some of the former, so probably just covers), and The New Teen Titans Annual #2. So, this one ends where they newest omnibus picks up.

Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter: The Coming of the Dragon! HC

One must obviously be sorry Dennis O’Neil didn’t live to see this come out. Collects O’Neil’s Richard Dragon, Kung-Fu Fighter #1-18, The Brave and the Bold #132, and DC Comics Presents #39.

Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book Two HC

I'm increasingly interested in these new deluxe-size Sandman collections with tertiary material placed in context. This is issues #17-31, so the Dream Country (vol. 3) and Seasons of Mists (vol. 4) collections, plus issues later collected in Fables and Reflections (vol. 6). Additionally, there's “Fear of Falling” from Vertigo Preview #1 and Sandman Special #1 (both collected in Fables and Reflections), and stories from Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #1-3: “Flowers of Romance,” “A Winter’s Tale,” and “How They Met Themselves," which I think only so far appeared in the Absolute Sandman and Absolute Death volumes.

Superman & Batman: Generations Omnibus HC

Collects the two four-issue miniseries and the third 12-issue miniseries by John Byrne. I know there’s a lot of excitement about this one.

Superman by Grant Morrison Omnibus HC

Being the start of the New 52 Action Comics, issues #0-18 and the Annual #1 by Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, and Andy Kubert.

Superman in the Fifties HC

Superman #65, #79, #80, #96, #97, and #127, Action Comics #151, #242, #252, #254, and #255, World’s Finest Comics #68 and #75, Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #8, Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #13, Adventure Comics #210, and Showcase #9.

Superman: Kryptonite Nevermore HC

Previously collected at least once, this is the 1970s “Sandman Saga” by Dennis O’Neil and Curt Swan, with a cover by Neal Adams. This “new direction” saw Superman de-powered and his mythos modernized, though the changes were not particularly long lasting (at the time). Collects Superman #233-238 and #240-242, apparently newly restored and recolored.

Superman: The Last Son Deluxe Edition HC

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Adam Kubert, and Gary Frank’s stories from Johns’ run on Action Comics, previously the Superman: Last Son and Superman: Brainiac collections. This is Action Comics #844-846, #851, #866-870, and the Action Comics Annual #11. We’re due, I think, for a “New Krypton Omnibus” to go along with this.

Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 2 HC

Continuing the omnibus-esque collecting of John Byrne's Superman run, this is Action Comics #588-593, Adventures of Superman #429-435, Legion of Super-Heroes #37-38, Superman #5-11 , and Who’s Who Update 1987 #2, #4, and #5. With appearances by the Green Lanterns, the Metal Men, and the Joker; the first post-Crisis appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk; and an infamous storyline with Big Barda, Mister Miracle, and the villain Sleez.

Swamp Thing: The Bronze Age Vol. 3 TP

Ahead of Alan Moore's run, this is The Saga of the Swamp Thing #6-19 and Saga of the Swamp Thing Annual #1 by Martin Pasko and Tom Yeates.

Titans: Burning Rage TP

Stories by Dan Jurgens and Scot Eaton from the Walmart exclusive Titans Giants.

Wonder Woman Book Two: Ares Rising TP

Thrilled to see the new collections of William Messner-Loebs’ Wonder Woman run continuing. This is issues #77-89, with some Lee Moder art in there; issues #88-89 are actually by Christopher Priest. The 2016 Wonder Woman by Mike Deodato book collects issues #90-100, after which John Byrne replaces Messner-Loebs on the title — so it remains to be seen if this is the last collection in this series or if DC will see fit to reprint the “Contest” storyline again.

Wonder Woman by George Pérez Vol. 5 TP

Collects Wonder Woman #46-57 (previously also Who’s Who #3-4, #7-8, #13, and #16, though they’re not mentioned in this solicitation). This ends just before the War of the Gods crossover; if these paperbacks map to the Perez omnibuses, the next and final one would be War of the Gods #1-4, and Wonder Woman #58-62, #168-169, and #600.

Wonder Woman in the Fifties TP

Collects stories from Wonder Woman #45, #50, #60, #66, #72, #76, #80, #90, #94-95, #98-101, #103, #105, #107, and #108; All Star Comics #56-57; and Sensation Comics #97-100.

Wonder Woman Vol. 3: Loveless TP

Collection of issues #74-81 by G. Willow Wilson, tying in to "Year of the Villain." I believe this is Wilson’s last volume before Steve Orlando takes over (and then Mariko Tamaki); I also think this was previously solicited in hardcover, now converted to paperback.

Young Justice Vol. 2: Lost in the Multiverse TP

Paperback of issues #7-12 by Brian Michael Bendis, following the hardcover.

Young Justice Vol. 3: Warriors and Warlords TP

Hardcover collecting issues #13-20 by Brian Michael Bendis, now being the last volume of the series. Bendis’ Young Justice is done, his Superman is about to be done, Checkmate has gone missing ... what's happening with the Bendis era of DC Comics?

Review: Wonder Twins Vol. 2: The Fall and Rise of the Wonder Twins trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Wonder Twins Vol 2 The Fall and Rise of the Wonder Twins

With the shock of the new wearing off, Wonder Twins Vol. 2: The Fall and Rise of the Wonder Twins does not quite have the same punch as the first volume, though I’d still have happily kept reading. This second six-issue arc does lead up to a cumulative conclusion, but to me it felt more episodic than the earlier book. That’s perhaps because a lot of this is “aftermath” (or “AfterMath,” as one issue title puns), cleaning up from the first volume instead of building something new. In considering this review, I also found myself wishing the Wonder Twins had faced a more serious opponent in this final book; I never quite felt the Twins were endangered, and even with keeping the elements of humor, I think it would have been interesting to see some semi-serious pathos here, such to connect with the characters more emotionally (something the Harley Quinn title has pulled off nicely).

Still, writer Mark Russell does well in his satirical musings of “strangers in a strange land” aliens Jayna and Zan, who continually find the established rules of right and wrong, and who’s an enemy and who’s a friend, are flimsier than they expected. The story is bookended by some protests against the Justice League, too, with which Russell continues to poke some of the problematic aspects of humanity with a stick.

Review: Mind MGMT Omnibus Part 3 trade paperback (Dark Horse Comics)

Sunday, September 06, 2020

Mind MGMT Omnibus Part 3

Like the bizarre inverted pyramid that backdrops the book’s conclusion, Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT has been a story that bucks conventional narrative structure. Whereas ordinarily an audience might be brought to care about characters at the beginning of a tale through their wants, desires, and emotions, the first couple volumes of Mind MGMT were frosty as they come, much more about the pervasive, slowly revealed conspiracy than who the disheveled Meru was and why we should care about her.

Almost 36 issues later, in the waning chapters of the Mind MGMT Omnibus Part 3 (collecting the original “Eraser” and “Immortals” volumes 5 and 6), when Kindt and Meru take a couple of pages for Meru to check in with and hug her estranged parents, the otherwise mundane sequence is startling for how heartwarming it is. The same with Meru forgiving mentor Henry Lyme, the same with her finally crying over the death of boyfriend Billy Falls. In a series where, at its darkest, even trying to change the world for the better is an act of violence, the unexpected grace here and in the book’s conclusion is astounding, as much evidence of Kindt’s mastery as the rest. Love finally comes to Mind MGMT, if only in the end.

Review: Wonder Twins Vol. 1: Activate! trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Wonder Twins Vol 1 Activate

If a writer like Mark Russell meanders, that’s not particularly a fault, as the meandering is partially why we’ve bought our ticket. Some of Russell’s most biting commentary in Wonder Twins Vol. 1: Activate! does not involve the Wonder Twins at all, which is a problem; at the same time, Russell is such a master of jabbing with his pen so precisely that the sheer brilliance of it is enough to forgive all other things. In terms of the Wonder Comics imprint, the first volume of Wonder Twins does not arrive with quite the same gusto as Sam Humphries' Dial H for HERO did, but in terms of viable concept and potential for impact on the DC Universe, Jayna and Zan steal every scene they’re in and I hope they continue to do so.

Review: Old Lady Harley trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Old Lady Harley

Frank Tieri has already demonstrated himself to be a capable pinch-hitter for writing Harley Quinn’s adventures, penning among other things the exceptional Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys miniseries with Jimmy Palmiotti. His Old Lady Harley, too, is another winner in the genre of ancillary Harley Quinn miniseries. My chief concern was that with no foreknowledge of Marvel’s Old Man Logan nor the Mad Max movies, most of the jokes might be lost on me, but happily that wasn’t the case. Rather, Old Lady Harley is fairly centered in the pseudo-future of Palmiotti and Amanda Conner’s Rebirth Harley Quinn run and that’s about as much reference as you need.

Once again, Tieri achieves both the zaniness and sudden, unexpected emotion of a good Harley Quinn story. I put off reading this one because I thought it would be pretty far outside the Harley Quinn “mainstream,” but with a host of familiar characters, indeed Old Lady Harley felt like coming home.

Review: Mind MGMT Vol. 4: The Magician hardcover (Dark Horse Comics)

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Things start to blow up in Mind MGMT Vol. 4: The Magician. What starts out looking like a standard "recruitment adventure" for Meru and her team, akin to the (also explosive) events of the previous volume, "The Home Maker," goes sideways quickly, becoming the first pitched battle between the forces trying to prevent Mind MGMT from restarting and the Eraser and her agents trying to build it back again. The "good guys" find themselves significantly outmatched and — reading this as I was in the Mind MGMT Comprehensive Report Book 2 (the second of three omnibus editions) — the result is an Empire Strikes Back-type ending to the penultimate chapter of the "trilogy"; there's nowhere for Meru and company to go but up.

Review: Superman: Up in the Sky hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Superman: Up in the Sky

Well, my goodness. Talk about opposite ends of the spectrum. Superman writer Brian Michael Bendis' recent Batman: Universe was about the cheeriest Batman story we’ve seen in a while this side of the cartoon Batman: Brave and the Bold, an imaginative Bat-romp through the DC Universe. In contrast, Batman writer Tom King’s Superman: Up in the Sky is one of the darkest, saddest Superman stories maybe ever, taking every majestic thing about Superman — his strength, his ability to inspire — and revealing the tragic implications just underneath.

Which is not to say that King besmirches the Man of Steel’s good name. In the end this is just as much a story about Superman’s heroism — and his responsibility — as any you’ll read. But my goodness is it a tough ride to get there. The idea that Superman’s mere presence causes death just as much as life. Superman beat near to a bloody pulp in his quest. The many gory, graphic deaths that Lois Lane might have faced. Superman forced to weigh the value of one life next to another. This is perhaps not a book for Superman purists, much in the way King’s Batman run may also not be a book for Batman purists, but as always I admire King’s audaciousness and the experimental nature of his stories.

Review: Batman: Universe hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Brian Michael Bendis will certainly write on one of the Batman titles at some point (maybe, like the Superman titles, both!). In his tenure at DC so far, however, I’ve been impressed with what seems like Bendis thwarting expectations, or at least taking his time — where everyone thought he’d go straight to Batman, he instead went to Superman; where everyone thought he was destined for a mature, gritty title, he started with Young Justice and Wonder Comics. And while I’m sure Bendis' Batman will one day be gritty as can be among his first forays into Batman is Batman: Universe with Nick Derington, a charming, lighthearted take on Batman that’s as fun as they come.

DC Trade Solicitations for November 2020 - Batman: City of Bane Complete, The Green Lantern Season Two by Morrison, Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands by Johns, DC Through the '80s and Twilight of the Gods

Sunday, August 16, 2020

So it's the DC Comics November 2020 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations. Usually at the top of these posts I give a little introduction, a brief glance at comics news and some highlights of the solicitations before we dig in. This month, with everything going on at DC, I started writing and the intro turned out to be the size of a post all on its own. Not wanting to put too much space between you, dear reader, and the solicitations, the list is immediately below, and below that is a couple more paragraphs thinking about a variety of things that've happened lately. As upside-down as the world already is, please enjoy a solicitations post that's effectively upside down as well.

Here's that list:

100 Bullets Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

Collects 100 Bullets #1-58 and Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #3 of the 100-issue series.

Amazing World of Superman (Tabloid Edition) HC

This was published in 1973 in conjunction with Metropolis, Illinois, being designated the “hometown” of Superman. There’s a variety of reprints included, being stories from the ‘50s and ‘60s, plus a new telling of Superman’s origin by Nelson Bridwell, Carmine Infantino, and Curt Swan. In its “original, tabloid-size format.”

Authority Book One TP

Collects issues #1-12, Planetary/Authority: Ruling the World, and the new story from Wildstorm: A Celebration of 25 Years — so, the contents of a recent Absolute edition, now in paperback.

Batman: City of Bane: Complete Collection TP

In paperback, collecting Batman #75-85, being Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part 1 and Batman Vol. 12: City of Bane Part 2, together in one volume. I do recognize there's some upset that those volumes won't be reprinted separately in paperback, but putting them together is a good idea. The first part of "City of Bane" is the weaker of the two (in an altogether good story), and they'll definitely read better as one volume.

DC Through the ’80s: The End of Eras HC

Astoundingly, still a third set of contents for what's now renamed (again) as DC Through the '80s: The End of Eras and no longer seems to contain selections from DC's gritty late 1980s like The Dark Knight Returns and Watchmen, but instead early pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths material. Doesn't really make a difference to me; I'm just stymied who this is for and what the audience might be for it. The headline here, what makes this rather worth picking up all on its own (and, one might wonder, maybe the whole collection is meant as a venue just to pad out this very thing), is the complete text of Alan Moore's "Twilight of the Gods" proposal — who knew such a thing existed and that DC's been sitting on it this long? And if they own it, how long until they decide to put art to it?

Collects Action Comics #583, Detective Comics #500, Flash #296-298, Jonah Hex #54-55, Superman #423, House of Mystery #286, #290, #294-295, #300, #308, and #321, Warlord #42, Wonder Woman #311-312, Brave and the Bold #200, Weird War Tales #93, Time Warp #2 and #3, G.I. Combat #288, Blackhawk #258, DC Comics Presents Annual #1, Super Friends #36, and Sgt. Rock #345, #347, #368, and #387.

Flash by Geoff Johns Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Collects Flash #192-225, the end of Geoff Johns' Flash run, plus Wonder Woman #214, and what's called "The Flash: The Secret of Barry Allen #1," which isn't a thing (rather that was the title of a storyline), so maybe it's cover art or maybe it's nothing at all.

Green Lantern Season Two Vol. 1 HC

Best news of a difficult month is that this collection will include Green Lantern: Blackstars #1-3 as well as The Green Lantern Season Two #1-6, and not omitting that mini as it previously seemed. It was hard to believe some Grant Morrison material would just be left on the table.

Justice League: Vengeance Is Thine TP

The entirety of Robert Venditti's stint on Justice League, previously listed as #40-45 and now #40-47. I'd like to see things more stable on the Justice League title, and a single volume by an author who leaves immediately thereafter (albeit a good writer) doesn't particularly get my blood pumping. That said, can't argue with the Eradicator and the Spectre in the same comic.

Shazam and the Seven Magic Lands TP

The solicitations list this as Shazam #1-11 and #13-14, formerly #1-12. The series ends with #15, and issues #12 and #15 are by Jeff Loveness. While I understand, theoretically, how DC might want this to be a Geoff Johns-specific trade, seems rather a waste to me to pull out two index issues rather than, even, just shunting them to the back of the book.

Super Friends: Saturday Morning Comics Vol. 2 HC

Super Friends #27-47 from the 1970s, the final issues of the series, plus "material from" Super Friends Special #1 and the Super Friends: Truth, Justice, and Peace collection. By E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon, among others, with appearances by Gorilla Grodd, Sinestro, Plastic Man, and the Wonder Twins.

Teen Titans Vol. 4: Djinn Wars TP

This newest collection by Adam Glass and Robbie Thompson is still listed as issues #39-44 and the Annual #2, but given that the title now ends with issue #47, hopefully the final three issues will be there as well. A darn shame — I liked Glass’s run on this title a whole lot.

Terrifics Vol. 4: The Tomorrow War TP

The final collection of Terrifics by Gene Luen Yang. This collects issues #19-30, of which #28-30 were previously only released digitally. This series has been troubled but it looks like some cool guest stars — namely, most of the DCU — in the last one.

Tiny Titans: Beast Boy & Raven TP

Collects select Beast Boy and Raven stories from Art Baltazar and Franco's Tiny Titans series, being issues #1-4, #6, #8, #12-14, #17, #20, #26-27, and #44.

Transmetropolitan Book Four TP

Issues #37-48 and the one-shot Transmetropolitan: Filth of the City by Warren Ellis. The series went to issue #60.

Well, quite the concerning week for fans of DC Comics. That plenty of nice, long-time, professional employees were let go is the important tip of the iceberg, which continues all the way down ultimately to the very question of whether DC will still be publishing comics in the near future. Signs so far point to yes, if the official word can be believed, but things like the laying off of senior staff from the DC Collected Editions department is obviously of concern to the readership here.

In general I don't tend to look disfavorably at series cancellations or even widespread series cancellations; almost never have I thought DC was publishing too few comics at one time, and ostensibly cutting the chaff from the line makes more room for the good stuff. Also comics are cyclical like that, and inevitably the New 52 Justice League, Justice League Dark, and Justice League of America were going to get cancelled for the Rebirth Justice League and Justice League of America, which were then cancelled for the "New Justice" Justice League, Justice League Dark, and Justice League Odyssey, the latter of which has now been announced as cancelled as well and I'd be surprised if there wasn't more shakeup in the wake of Dark Nights: Death Metal. So in that regard, these things happen.

That said, Batman and the Outsiders isn't much of a surprise, nor Justice League Odyssey, nor even Hawkman — I liked the first volume, but I found the question of who this Hawkman is or what his role is in the DC Universe utterly befuddling (letting alone, even more so, the history of Hawkgirl Kendra Saunders over in Justice League). Batgirl will assuredly be back, and that's a title that's been having some troubles; Teen Titans is one that's maybe not much of a surprise, though I was really liking that book for the first time in a while so that stings. Ditto Tom Taylor's Suicide Squad, which I haven't read yet but has been getting great reviews (Titans and Suicide Squad, too, will assuredly be back).

John Constantine, Hellblazer is a shame, both because (without yet having read it) I think it was a legitimate attempt to recreate some of the old Hellblazer mojo, and because that's about the end of the Sandman Universe imprint short of G. Willow Wilson's Dreaming miniseries. I had felt excited to jump back into the original Sandman volumes (and may still yet) given that the "Sandman universe" seemed to be back and at least somewhat re-aligned with the DC Universe; now that Sandman Universe seems to have been a failed experiment, I'm less enthused to pick up those books and less enthused for my overall project, which I feel badly about.

Young Justice's cancellation is an absolute shocker — if a Young Justice reboot (!) written by Brian Michael Bendis (!!) can't survive on the stands, what possible chance does anything else have? That does it too, of course, for Bendis' Wonder Comics imprint — between Wonder Comics, Sandman Universe, and Young Animal, management wouldn't be faulted for thinking these pop-up imprints just don't work, which is unfortunate, because good, compelling material has come out fo them. I hold out hope this was planned or at least leads to Bendis doing something bigger and better with the characters, because the worse alternative is that this sours Bendis' relationship with DC Comics and the Bendis era of DC ends before it barely got off the ground.

Into all of this, we have the DC Comics November 2020 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations. That these are noticeably thin is supposedly no reflection on DC's recent events, as these solicitations were put together well before the upset at DC. At the same time, there's been a general understanding that DC was cutting back on their collections releases even ahead of all of this, something we thought we've been seeing for a while and now seems nigh undeniable. Last year at this time DC solicited 31 collections; this month it's 14.

There are some notable books this month, to be sure. Any other time, the fact that DC plans to publish Alan Moore's outline for "Twilight of the Gods" (!) in DC Through the ’80s would be all anyone could talk about, and the fact that it's not shows just how upside-down everything is. Happily, the first volume of Grant Morrison's The Green Lantern Season Two includes the Blackstars miniseries, when previously it seemed like it would not — for completists, that's a big deal. And among others, I'll be picking up, finally, Geoff Johns' Rebirth Shazam collection (though the fact that this is both the first and last volume of said series is another indication of trouble), as well as presumably the final volume of Teen Titans and the final volume of Terrifics.

If not already, head on up to the top and let's take a look at the full list.

Review: Crisis on Infinite Earths: Paragons Rising: The Deluxe Edition hardcover (DC Comics)

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

I’ve never missed an episode of DC’s CW television shows, so I say with as much affection as possible that the spin-off Crisis on Infinite Earths: Paragons Rising comic is as brilliant and as misbegotten as an episode of one of the series often is. 

In essence, these two stories from the Crisis on Infinite Earths Giants (exclusive to Walmart, though darned if I ever saw them) allowed Arrowverse producer Marc Guggenheim to sneak in a couple more Easter eggs that TV production couldn’t or wouldn’t allow for, which is great, and also let original Crisis comic writer Mark Wolfman and inker Jerry Ordway take an additional role, which is also great. It is wrapped, however, in plots that betray how quickly they were put together, and also the kind of melodrama that struggles as is on the screen, let alone on the page. Still, in addition to the other high points, the bonus material does well to remind the reader how much history backs all of this and how wonderfully unlikely any of this actually is.

Review: Batman Vol. 13: City of Bane Part 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, August 09, 2020

Batman Vol. 13: City of Bane Part 2 is a strong conclusion to Tom King’s experimental Batman magnum opus. It has been a story about, as much as anything else, the never-changing landscape of superhero comics, the amount of effort it takes to make a dent in that four-colored wall (on purpose or accidentally), and even — one can extrapolate — the human struggle to take control and make a difference in one’s own life.

We see in this finale many Batmans — Batman the planner, who epitomized Grant Morrison’s Batman run, and Batman the capable but imperfect, whom in Scott Snyder’s run we often saw didn’t know as much as he thought, and also Batman the child becoming Batman the adult. This last part is important — whether wittingly or not, King identifies an incongruity in the Batman mythos and excises it, though whether that resection will last remains to be seen. History is against King — the legacy of unchanging Batman is much longer than these 80-plus issues — but perhaps the four-colored wall has been damaged at least slightly.