Review: Red Hood: Outlaw Vol. 2: Prince of Gotham trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Red Hood: Outlaw Vol. 2: Prince of Gotham is a bit all over the place. This is not in a bad way necessarily, though the point and ultimate direction of writer Scott Lobdell's "Outlaw" direction is getting harder to figure. On one hand, Prince's multifaceted-ness demonstrates the variety of stories Lobdell can tell with this title and these characters; on the other hand, that certain aspects are stronger than others here perhaps suggests where this title's focus should be.

[Review contains spoilers]

Prince of Gotham is telling two stories — one, of Jason "Red Hood" Todd's rise as new owner of the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge and his attempt to take the control of the Gotham underworld that comes with it, and two, Jason's battle with the supernatural All-Caste that trained him and now wants him to return and rejoin their ranks (or die). Of the two, the All-Caste story feels tacked on; their beef with Jason (in general and specifically in the form of former romantic interest Essence) is not well fleshed out nor does it feel largely different than what we've seen before in this title.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 2: Amnesty hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Aquaman Vol. 2: Amnesty is a lot more set-up than superhero action, but if this is an indication of what Kelly Sue DeConnick's Aquaman run will truly be like, I'm all for it. Last time around featured an amnesic Arthur Curry among some esoteric water gods — a blank slate story that didn't feel much related to Aquaman necessarily. This second volume, however, is thoroughly set in the mythos Arthur has occupied since the New 52 and into Rebirth, and DeConnick excels in simply putting the characters in rooms and letting them talk to one another. There's a heavy dose of court politics here, plus a sprinkling of sea-supernatural and even a couple of supervillains. But again, the core seems to be the characters — many of them familiar — and that's far, far better than the book starting over from scratch.

DC Trade Solicitations for April 2020 - Doomsday Clock Part Two, Crisis on Infinite Earths: Arrowverse, Batman: Caped Crusader Vol. 4, Wonder Woman #750 Deluxe and William Messner-Loeb book, Superman Vol. 3: Truth Revealed HC

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Well, I admit I'm rather taken by the hype surrounding this week's release of Wonder Woman #750. If — and I have no idea if this is accurate or not — DC was going to publish a series of anniversary issues, each of which would contain a story detailing an aspect of DC Comics history, and then later let's say they might collect those stories into a decently consistent "history of the DC Universe," well that's something I'd be very on board for. Which is to say, for me, the Wonder Woman #750: The Deluxe Edition hardcover listed in this month's DC Comics April 2020 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations can't come soon enough (even though it's scheduled for May).

This is a good list this month, one I feel is more back to form for DC collections releases. There's the "regular series" stuff, of course — Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3 and Superman Vol. 3 (I love that they keep releasing these in the same month), and Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy. Then also there's "reprint" books I'm genuinely looking forward to — Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 4 and Wonder Woman: The Last True Hero Book One, the latter of which collects a Wonder Woman era I have some fondness for. And that's not to mention another New Teen Titans paperback, Brian Michael Bendis' next Young Justice volume, and the Arrowverse Crisis collection (update: early reports that this is cancelled; update 2: seems to have been canceled and resolicited), among others. So all in all, what looks to me like a good month.

Check it out with me.

The Adventures of Superman by George Perez HC

This is another one where the contents have changed quite a bit over the various solicitations. We're seeing now DC Comics Presents #61 (Superman and OMAC), Action Comics Annual #2 and #643-652 ("The Brainiac Trilogy" and Maxima), and then the New 52 Superman #1-6.

Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 4 TP

Collects Batman #455-465 and the Annual #15 (Armageddon 2001), including the first time Tim Drake wears the new Robin suit, Jim Gordon's heart attack, the debut of the post-Crisis Ace the Bat-Hound, and appearances by Joe Potato and Harold Allnut. Lots of material by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle.

Crisis on Infinite Earths: Arrowverse Deluxe Edition HC

By all accounts the Arrowverse "Crisis" was a rousing success, though the second issue of the Crisis on Infinite Earths Giant seems to have slipped shipping a little. Hopefully it, and this deluxe hardcover, are still coming; this newest solicitation doesn't mention reprints of the original Crisis issues nor DC Universe: Legacies #6, listed previously. (Update: reports are that this collection, and the second Crisis Giant, have been cancelled. Update 2: now seems to have been canceled and resolicited.)

DC Goes to War HC

Collection of DC war comics, including Sgt. Rock Special #2, Enemy Ace: War in Heaven #1, Enemy Ace: War in Heaven #2, Showcase #57, Our Army at War #67, Our Army at War #83, Our Army at War #233, Our Army at War #235, Boy Commandos #1, Star Spangled War Stories #87, Star Spangled War Stories #183, All-American Comics #48, Weird War Tales #3, G.I. Combat #87, Our Fighting Forces #49, Our Fighting Forces #102, The Losers Special #1, and Military Comics #1.

DC Poster Portfolio: James Jean TP

Props to a book that, at least temporarily, has Batgirl Cassandra Cain and Robin Stephanie Brown on the cover. (No longer being used as the solicitation cover, alas.)

Doomsday Clock Part 2 HC

The slipcase is a nice way to make the Volume 1/Volume 2 split seem more intentional, but really, I'd be surprised if we don't see a deluxe combination edition (if not an omnibus) before the end of 2020.

The Flash by Mark Waid Book Seven TP

Issues #142-150, the lead-in to and six-part "Chain Lightning" story, plus a Flash Secret Files, the Speed Force special, the Flash 80-Page Giant, and the Life Story of the Flash graphic novel. Waid's run continued through issue #159, then issue #162, and then much later, a relaunched issue #231-236, so maybe one more volume, depending.

Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy HC

Hardcover of the six-issue miniseries by Jody Houser in the aftermath of Heroes in Crisis.

Joker: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe Black Label hardcover of the graphic novel by Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo.

Justice League Dark Vol. 3: The Witching War TP

Next collection of James Tynion's Justice League Dark, with the Injustice League Dark, issues #14-19.

Martian Manhunter: Identity TP

The 12-issue miniseries by Steve Orlando and Riley Rossmo. I have faith in Orlando but I'm still hoping the dark origin of J'onn J'onzz alluded to here doesn't turn out to be actually true.

The New Teen Titans Vol. 11 TP

Said to collect New Teen Titans #16-23 and Omega Men #34. Features the Omega Men, obviously; Cheshire; and Donna Troy starts an offshoot team including Jason Todd. This is still within the contents of the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 4 that came out this past November; this paperback collection comes out in May 2020.

Nightwing: The Gray Son Legacy TP

There's been lots of different issues solicited for this book, but it seems set now, properly, at Nightwing #63-69 and Annual #2, the first volume of the new run solely written by Dan Jurgens. I was pleasantly surprised by Burnback and I'm interested to see the arrival of the Court of Owls here.

The Sandman Box Set Expanded Edition

So the original ten trade paperbacks, plus Overture, two versions of Dream Hunters, and Endless Nights. The solicitation doesn't say, but from the image of the spines, I wonder if these are specifically the new 30th anniversary trades.

Six Days: The Incredible Story of D-Day's Lost Chapter TP

Paperback of the World War II graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Kevin Maurer.

Stargirl by Geoff Johns TP

In anticipation of the DC Universe/CW television series, of course, this collects Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0-14, JSA All-Stars #4, and stories from DCU Heroes Secret Files and DCU Villains Secret Files.

Superman Vol. 3: The Truth Revealed HC

Brian Michael Bendis' latest headline-making Superman story, coming in May and collecting Superman #16-19, Superman: Heroes #1, and Superman: Villains #1.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 2: Leviathan Rising TP

Paperback edition collecting Action Comics #1007-1011 and material from the Superman: Leviathan Rising special. Due out in May, the same day as Action Comics Vol. 3.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3: Leviathan Hunt HC

Issues #1015-1020 in hardcover, due out the same day as the paperback of the previous volume. Guest-starring Naomi and tying in to Event Leviathan and "Year of the Villain."

The Terrifics Vol. 3: The God Game TP

Issues #15-18 and the Annual #1, with stories by Gene Luen Yang and Mark Russell.

Wonder Woman #750: The Deluxe Edition HC

Deluxe reprinting of the anniversary issue, including a "Year of the Villain" tie-in and stories by Colleen Doran, Mariko Tamaki, Teen Titans: Raven's Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo, plus Gail Simone and Greg Rucka. The opening chapter of DC's next big event, if rumors are to be believed.

Wonder Woman and the Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour TP

Paperback collection of Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: The Witching Hour #1, Wonder Woman #56-57, Justice League Dark #4 and Justice League Dark and Wonder Woman: The Witching Hour #1. I read this recently and liked it.

Wonder Woman Through the Years HC

Another anthology in time for the movie.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Just War TP

Paperback of the first volume by G. Willow Wilson, collecting issues #58-65.

Wonder Woman: Come Back to Me TP

The Walmart-exclusive stories by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti.

Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor TP

I'm highly in favor of these "supporting cast" collections (see also Batman Allies: Alfred); one for Etta Candy would be as interesting as this, tracking how both characters changed from their original appearances with Wonder Woman to post-Crisis to today.

Wonder Woman: The Last True Hero Book One TP

Immediately following War of the Gods and the end of George Perez's run, DC launched William Messner-Loeb's tenure with Wonder Woman Special #1 and a team-up with Deathstroke, suggesting (in implication if not in fact) a tougher, more down-to-earth Wonder Woman. Messner-Loebs would write almost 40 issues, including the introduction of Artemis going in to Wonder Woman #100. This is the aforementioned special and Wonder Woman #63, #64, #67-75, and the Annual #3 ("Eclipso: The Darkness Within" tie-in).

Wonder Woman: The Many Lives of Maxwell Lord TP

If a not-quite-comics-true version of Max Lord in Wonder Woman 1984 gets us new Justice League International collections, I'll take it. This is a weird tail wagging the dog, in that Max was never a Wonder Woman-specific character, until the countdown to Infinite Crisis deemed that he was, and now he's appearing in a Wonder Woman movie and so then we get a Max trade with Wonder Woman branding.

The collects Justice League #1 (1987) (first appearance), Justice League International #12 (secret origin), Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1, The Omac Project #2, Wonder Woman #219, Justice League: Generation Lost #20, and Justice League #12 (2017) (Rebirth Justice League vs. Suicide Squad tie-in).

Young Justice Vol. 2: Lost in the Multiverse HC

Second hardcover collection by Brian Michael Bendis, collecting issues #7-12. Appearances by Naomi and the Wonder Twins.

Review: Silencer Vol. 3: Up in Smoke trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Silencer continues to feel like a better book than it ever should have been, and all credit to writer Dan Abnett, who's kept it going all this time despite never getting top billing. The 1990s aesthetic is on full-bore in Silencer Vol. 3: Up in Smoke, from artist V. Ken Marion's style in general to the book's collection of wacky, overdrawn villains. What sells it, as always, is Silencer Honor Guest's very relatable love for her perfectly normal family and, moreover, that this time around (the book's final outing) Abnett brings Honor face-to-face with her family in her Silencer guise. The results are clever and unexpected.

I've said for a while that I didn't think Silencer could really continue indefinitely as a series. That said, I'm eager to see Honor remain part of the ongoing DC Universe. There seems to be a solution on the table for that; though not flawless, it gives me hope that there's a plan out there for Honor to keep showing up.

Review: Batgirl Vol. 6: Old Enemies trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Mairghread Scott and Paul Pelletier depart Batgirl, unfortunately, just as it was getting good. Scott spins a story often buffeted by unexpected characters and continuity ties, and in the end she ties up the final threads of the Burnside era well in a way that clears the decks for the next creative team. The final issues are unexpectedly moving. And where the story in Batgirl Vol. 6: Old Enemies struggles, Pelletier's art looks as good as ever (with inks by Norm Rapmund). Again, this feels like Scott and Pelletier finding their stride, and one can only hope that some of the situations and supporting cast established here carry over into the forthcoming Cecil Castellucci/Carmine Di Giandomenico run.

[Review contains spoilers]

Old Enemies is a seven-issue trade consisting of the three-part "Old Enemies" and the three-part "Terrible," bridged by the one-off "Blow Out." In this way, the book is exceptionally well structured; "Old Enemies" is strong and eventually quite shocking on its own, establishing Barbara Gordon's new status quo and cast well, and then "Terrible" raises the stakes further. Both stories are simultaneously so short on their own, but also so well realized and connected, that the book never seems to drag but at the same time I came away feeling like I'd been with these characters for a while. And not only does "Blow Out" connect the two, it also grounds Batgirl firmly in larger events in the DC Universe.

Review: Batman Vol. 11: The Fall and the Fallen trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, January 12, 2020

With just over 10 issues to go before the end of Tom King's regular Batman run, Batman Vol. 11: The Fall and the Fallen is a big one, giving us our clearest look yet at Bane's overarching plan to break the Batman. The answers, when they come, describe a plan so outlandish as to challenge even the limits of comic book believability, but no one can say King's run so far has not been about pushing the limits. And wonderfully — in the weirdo, mad, loopy storytelling style that has come to define this run — we begin to see various thematic elements coming back home to roost, demonstrating above all else that nothing has been accidental in this run and nothing has been wasted. I am so, so very tempted to end King's run by going back and reading the whole thing over again.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Marc Andryeko's Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle is the other half of a crossover with Superman, collected as Superman was without its missing pieces, and it shows. Whereas Andreyko's run on Supergirl started well, with a bunch of cosmic cameos that it was fun to see Kara Zor-El interact with, at this point we're down to a bunch of fight scenes in what seems like time-biding in an effort to let Superman catch up. The Superman half of "House of El" lacked some answers and Sins of the Circle provides them, but I'm not sure the answers are all that meaningful (perhaps more so had the whole story been collected together, but maybe not even then). The best news is the new direction posited for Supergirl at the end of this book, though with Andreyko about to depart, unfortunately this leaves his run with a shaky legacy.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Arkham Knight hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, January 05, 2020

I found Peter Tomasi's debut on Detective Comics somewhat disappointing, so I'm pleased to find his Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Arkham Knight workable and interesting. There's great art too from Brad Walker, whose work I enjoyed early in Dan Abnett's Aquaman. Though it feels that Detective here still suffers from its "that other Batman title" status, Tomasi does fine in creating a new Bat-rogue, though I think the final tally depends on what happens next; it's hard to see what Tomasi's run is "about" just yet. I would note that I found Tomasi's depiction of the Bruce Wayne/Robin Damian Wayne relationship more tolerable here than in the latter days of Batman and Robin; that's good, because I enjoyed it, but at the same time I'm dismayed that Tomasi's Detective is tending toward a kind of Batman and Robin-light.

Review: DCeased hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Tom Taylor's DCeased is wonderful and terrible (in the zombie apocalypse visted on the DC Universe and the wrenching sacrifices the heroes must make) and also terrible (in a variety of odd continuity choices and mischaracterizations that otherwise distract from the tale). Despite or perhaps because of its hangups, DCeased is prime summer blockbuster fare (though with the collection, of course, arriving in the wintertime). I'm game for Taylor's villain-focused follow-up to this book, but that's not exactly a sequel; I'd be interested to see Taylor return to chronicle what happens after this book's final pages.