Review: Sweet Tooth Vol. 6: Wild Game trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Jeff Lemire succeeds in the end with Sweet Tooth Vol. 6: Wild Hunt. Success, as we’ve examined before, was not assured, given what seemed a rather large lift that would be needed, and maybe more than just eight issues, to tie up all of Sweet Tooth’s loose ends. In the end, not every question is answered, which is fine (neither for Y: The Last Man, nor certainly for Lost for that matter); in his finale, Lemire elides some of the most salient material, but the conclusion is perhaps all the more enticing for it.

Wild Hunt is sensitive and graceful, especially in that ending, a compassionate bow on an at-times-horrific story. Between Lemire’s sequel miniseries, soon to be collected, and the Netflix TV show — which connects to this volume in a very specific way — this hardly even feels like the end; in fact, as this book says, if we’re gifted a couple more seasons of the show, this story is “really only just beginning.”

Review: DCeased: Dead Planet hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Tom Taylor's DCeased has loosed its zombie apocalypse origins the longer it's gone on (the recent DCeased: Hope at World's End was downright cheerful), and with DCeased: Dead Planet, we see Taylor go fairly full-superhero. Not that there aren't Anti-Living around every corner, but a lot of what Dead Planet turns on are Taylor and artist Trevor Hairsine's wild DC Universe cameos. Freed of the restrictions of continuity — not just able to pick his own continuity, but rather to mix and match across continuities — Dead Planet is a buoyant who's who where a lot of the fun is just seeing who's going to walk in the door next.

There's a strong start and capable climax here, if not necessarily a perfect ending. But while DCeased: Unkillables remains Taylor's triumph, Dead Planet is a fine entry into this series — better than the original — and I don't image fans of this universe will be disappointed.

Review: Planet of the Apes Omnibus: Before the Fall trade paperback (Boom! Studios)

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King. Don’t miss his recent April of the Apes review series of the Planet of the Apes movies at the site.]

While the first Planet of the Apes Omnibus is perhaps the stronger read, Planet of the Apes Omnibus: Before the Fall is, I suspect, the easier sell for the casual fan. The gorgeous cover by Phil Noto certainly caught my eye, boasting familiar simian faces like Cornelius, Zira, Ursus, and Dr. Zaius. Indeed, where the first omnibus only included winks and nods to the film franchise (save for the two-page cameo of the Lawgiver), Before the Fall is a proper prequel to the 1968 film, ultimately taking us through the opening sequence of the third film, 1971’s Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Though hampered by artwork that makes many of the apes indistinguishable, Before the Fall is nevertheless a compelling and intriguing work, even if a few dangling threads trip up the book’s hasty yet ambitious conclusion.

DC Trade Solicitations for October 2021 — Justice League: Endless Winter, Post-Future State Suicide Squad, Superman and the Authority, Batman: Dark Knight Detective Vol. 6, Swamp Thing by Ram V, new Batman: Long Halloween

Monday, July 19, 2021

Much like last month, it’s quality over quantity for me with the DC Comics October 2021 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations. Not a whole lot of books that I’m eyeing, but a few I’m really eager for (and even wish would arrive sooner — talking to you, Justice League: Endless Winter).

Others on the list include Catwoman Vol. 5: Valley of the Shadow of Death, Suicide Squad Vol 1: Give Peace a Chance, Superman and the Authority, Superman: The One Who Fell, and Swamp Thing Volume 1: Becoming — all specifically post-Future State volumes, another new-new DC Universe beginning.

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 6 is coming too — glad to see these books going strong and getting toward a complete run; not many more to go there. And a Batman: The Long Halloween special? I admit I looked past it the first time in the solicitations, thought it was just like a dollar reprint or something, but I’m really excited for a new story.

Let’s take a look at the full list and you tell me what you’re looking forward to.

The Batman & Scooby-doo Mysteries Vol. 1

Issues #1-6 of the new Sholly Fisch series.

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 6

Collects Detective Comics #622-633 from 1990-1991. Continuity-wise there was nothing particularly noteworthy I could discern about these issues, but Caleb at Every Day Is Like Wednesday has a good run-down of the contents, with stories by John Ostrander and by Marv Wolfman and Peter Milligan with art by Jim Aparo. Issue #627 is a multi-story "anniversary" issue of Batman's 600th appearance in Detective.

In comparison, this volume lines up with about Batman #455-466, or the contents of Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 4; this past January's Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 5 collected Batman #466-473 and Detective #639-640, to give you a sense of where the two books are in relation to one another.

Coming up in January, Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 6 is said to collect Batman #475-483, ending right where "Prelude to Knightfall" beings with Batman #484. The solicitation doesn’t say that’s the last Caped Crusasder book, but it seems like it would be. The comparable "Preludes" issue is Detective #654, so given about 10 issues a book, Dark Knight Detective probably has about two more volumes to go.

Batman: The Long Halloween: Dark Victory: The Deluxe Edition

Sure this is a nice edition of Dark Victory and interesting here that the Batman: Long Halloween animated movie has now turned this into a brand (and a mouthful) — Batman: The Long Halloween: Dark Victory: The Deluxe Edition — but can we talk about there's a brand-new 48-page Long Halloween special?! At first I thought it was just a reprint of the first issue and I looked right past it. My memory's fuzzy but I feel sure there was still an unsolved mystery or two left in that story — I'm excited for this and for an excuse to re-read Long Halloween and Dark Victory in the process.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Omnibus

Said to collect Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, and material from the deluxe edition.

Catwoman Vol. 5: Valley of the Shadow of Death

Post-Future State, collecting issues by Ram V and Fernando Blanco (previously said to be #29-33) in paperback.

The Dreaming: Waking Hours

In paperback, the 12-issue miniseries by G. Willow Wilson and Nick Robles. Surely we’ll see some new Sandman/Sandman Universe/Dreaming material in time for the TV show.

The Green Lantern Season Two Vol. 1

Paperback, following the hardcover, of issues #1-6. Just read Season Two Vol. 2, and it’s a trip.

House of El Book Two: The Enemy Delusion

YA graphic novel by Claudia Gray and Eric Zawadzski. Hey, did you see CW Seed has both seasons of Krypton for streaming?

Justice League: Endless Winter

Not that I really thought DC wasn't going to collect Endless Winter, but I'm glad to see it on the schedule. Good, bad, or indifferent, gotta love a real inter-title-based crossover, and especially by just one team. Should collect Aquaman #66, Flash #767, Justice League #58, Justice League Dark #29, Justice League: Endless Winter #1-2, Teen Titans: Endless Winter Special #1, Black Adam: Endless Winter Special #1, and Superman: Endless Winter Special #1.

I just wish this was being released before the Future State collection, like the original publications, and not afterward (coming in November), though I imagine as close as DC can get this to the Black Adam movie, the better.

Suicide Squad Vol 1: Give Peace a Chance

Robbie Thompson has done well on Teen Titans in partnership with Adam Glass; hopefully Suicide Squad gets a bump here just the same as Titans did. Certainly a Talon among the team, and Superboy Conner Kent, piques my interest. Previous solicitations said this included both Suicide Squad #1-6 and also Future State: Suicide Squad #1-2, but that’s not mentioned here. Red X from Teen Titans Academy is said to appear.

Superman and the Authority

This seems pretty momentous given the writing power of Grant Morrison (on Superman, no less!) and the drawing power of Mikel Janin. And is that Kitty “Rampage” Faulkner as an OMAC? Sign me up. Collects the four-issue miniseries.

Superman: The One Who Fell

Collects Action Comics #1029 and Superman #29-32 in paperback in November, the start of the new run by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Scott Godlewski. Jon Kent is front and center there, which wouldn't be my choice — I'd as soon keep him in the future with the Legion of Super-Heroes and let Lois and Clark keep doing what they were doing — but my sense is consensus goes the other way.

Superman/Batman Omnibus Vol. 2

Collects Superman/Batman issues #44-87 and Annuals #3-5. This is roughly the original collection volumes 7-12 (Search for Kryptonite, Finest Worlds, Night & Day, Big Noise, Worship, and Sorcerer Kings) and/or the new paperbacks from the middle of Vol. 4 through Vol. 7. With Mike Johnson and Michael Green, Joe Casey, Len Wein, Scott Kolins, Paul Levitz, Judd Winick, Joshua Williamson, Cullen Bunn, James Robinson, and Joshua Hale Fialkov, and tying in to Blackest Night and Final Crisis, among others.

The Swamp Thing Volume 1: Becoming

The first collection of Ram V’s new Swamp Thing 10-issue miniseries, said to collect issues #1-4 and Future State: Swamp Thing #1-2. Hopefully they won’t drag out the collections longer than one more volume.

Teen Titans Go!/DC Super Hero Girls: Exchange Students

I'm continually impressed with how versitile the Teen Titans Go! property is, and still going strong almost a decade after its premiere. It's not everyone's cup of tea but DC sure makes it work.

Truth & Justice

Paperback collecting the digital-first series with stories including Vixen and John Constantine, by Geoffrey Thorne and others.

Wonder Woman: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1

From the 1950s and '60s, Wonder Woman #98-123, including apparently the introduction of "Wonder Tot" and appearances by Hippolyta. The solicitation says this is the first time some of these have been reprinted in color.

Review: Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Katana Collins and Matteo Scalera do a fine enough approximation of Sean Murphy’s work in Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn. My impression is that DC has had far better luck lately with single-voiced imprint “universes” — White Knight and Injustice and DCeased — than they’ve had with loosely knit imprint lines. To see such a thing branch out in a successful way with another creator — Collins writing within Murphy’s universe — should give everyone hope; while Tom Taylor is busy with other things, maybe we can get a DCeased 80-Page Giant with other creators writing stories within the DCeased framework, or some other crackshot writer on a White Knight Presents: The GTO miniseries (really just Duke Thomas), or so on.

There’s some elements here that don’t quite jibe with what we know of the White Knight characters or where we left them, but I know Murphy was involved with this book and that whatever’s here is canon or to be explained. Collins' book wants mildly for a garage filled with cars and an epic widescreen ending, but makes up for it in character work. White Knight’s Harley Quinn is still an odd figure — a criminal profiling savant who’s light years more savvy than her mainstream counterpart even on her best day — but fans of the character should be pleased with her protagonist portrayal here.

Review: Sweet Tooth: Unnatural Habitats trade paperback (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

It seems no coincidence that Matt Kindt comes on to draw “The Taxidermist,” the first story of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth Vol. 5: Unnatural Habitats. This series feels firmly in Kindt’s Mind MGMT territory now, with vast, world-shaking conspiracies that reach back centuries or more. Lemire’s got eight more issues in the sixth and final volume (minus the recent new miniseries) to wrap up this story, in a series that’s barely moved more than inches in the first five books.

At this point, just for comparison, Kindt’s Mind MGMT was also almost done, but felt considerably more ready for that occasion than Sweet Tooth does. Y: The Last Man ran 60 issues, but even if Sweet Tooth ran 20 more issues instead of eight, I’m not sure if Lemire could get there without some serious buckling down. Really what Sweet Tooth needs is the Saga model, 54 issues followed by (what I’m guessing will be) a time jump and 54 issues more.

Review: DCeased: Hope at World's End hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 11, 2021

DCeased: Hope at World’s End is another pleasant interstitial entry into Tom Taylor’s rapidly growing DCeased line. “Pleasant” may not be the ideal way to describe a tale of mass destruction and zombie apocalypse, but particularly with Jon Sommariva’s more animated art on board, Taylor’s tone comes off not so much horror as youthful superhero hijinks with a touch of the heist movie at the end. This is not the most emotionally affecting DCeased entry, but one gets the sense of it being intended to check some very specific boxes for DC, and Taylor accomplishes that while still delivering plenty of heart and humor.

[Review contains spoilers]

I’m pretty sure Black Adam right on the cover of this book is no accident, any more than Black Adam getting his own “Endless Winter” special or joining the ranks of the newest Justice League is an accident. DC’s got a lot less “ready for collecting” Black Adam material in their line than they do for Wonder Woman or Aquaman, all the more reason to have him feature in a low-stakes, digital-first DCeased entry ahead of his movie debut.

Review: Batman: Earth One Vol. 3 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 07, 2021

Geoff Johns' Batman: Earth One Vol. 3 begs a sequel; if Johns and artist Gary Frank were to one day deliver one, they’d have produced more Earth One volumes than any other creators. The quality of this story is good, even if it becomes a little incomprehensible in retrospect. I’d be pleased to read another, disappointed if it never comes, and hopeful it doesn’t take another six years to do so.

Johns and Frank’s early decision to show this Batman’s eyes throughout the books (instead of the familiar white-covered eyes) brought humanity to a young and often stumbling vigilante, learning first to jump rooftops and second to follow his new foes' clues. In this third book, Johns' Batman is more self-assured, not now all that different from common portrayals, though still building his nascent Bat-family. In this, and Frank’s sharply angular, molded cowl, one is put in mind of Jerry Ordway’s movie Batman: 1989 movie adaptation, and from there the Michael Keaton movies.

Review: Planet of the Apes Omnibus trade paperback (Boom! Studios)

Sunday, July 04, 2021

[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King. Don’t miss his recent April of the Apes review series of the Planet of the Apes movies at the site.]

After Boom! Studios acquired the Planet of the Apes license in 2011, the publisher has quietly built one of the finest — and largest — franchise spin-off lines in comics. (I haven’t done the math, but I have to imagine Star Wars is the largest.) Marvel, Malibu, and Dark Horse all did pretty good business with Planet of the Apes, but Boom! took it to another level.

The Apes franchise itself is torturously intricate — five original films, starting with Charlton Heston in 1968 (through 1973, with television offshoots); a Tim Burton non-starter in 2001; and a trilogy starring Andy Serkis in mo-cap (2011–2017). Just as the Serkis films were getting started, Boom! gave us three mainline series: one set after the Heston films, one set before, and one set in the midst of the Serkis trilogy. Their line also included a bevy of crossovers, gleefully mixing the 1968 franchise with Star Trek, Green Lantern, King Kong, and Tarzan — to say nothing of one-offs that explored the backstory of ape General Ursus or the hardcover Planet of the Apes Visionaries, a sort of forerunner to the Snyder Cut that illustrated Rod Serling’s original screenplay for the 1968 film. (A review, perhaps, for another time.)

Review: Sweet Tooth: Endangered Species trade paperback (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

As would seem only appropriate for a book about animal-human hybrids, the natural and man-made worlds clash in Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth Vol. 4: Endangered Species — not to mention the influence of realms mythological and spiritual. Familial bonds strengthen but also wither; the group gets on the road, only to pause in place.

In this way, the fourth volume is more like the second than the third — a stage play, a bottle episode. It works better than it did before, perhaps because here the close quarters serve to increase the paranoia and heighten the tension. At the same time, I’m very cognizant of a lot to wrap up with only two volumes to go, not enough room to emphasize so heavily character over plot. If I understand correctly, Lemire expected more issues than he got, which explains some of this, but I’m hopeful for a satisfying ending and this trend of taking one’s time, understandable as that may be, makes that ending increasingly uncertain.

Review: Batman Vol. 3: Ghost Stories hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, June 27, 2021

Dubious as this may sound, I think there’s a need every once in a while for a mundane Batman story. We’ve been through a couple of decades of writers — and the past five or so years in particular — where the sole point seemed to be to take Batman apart, stare at his insides, and put him back together differently.

Not that James Tynion isn’t also trying to do that — Batman Vol. 3: Ghost Stories is quite specifically the first volume of another all-new, all-changed Batman era. At the same time, Ghost Stories follows a fairly familiar Bat-trope — one of Bruce’s childhood rivals returns to haunt him — which is as classic a premise for a Bat-story as “Bruce falls in love but the woman/her father/her maiden aunt is a vigilante/super-villain.” It doesn’t feel as though Tynion tries to reinvent the wheel, plot-wise, and that’s an unexpected relief, all the better for some of the character drama to shine through.

Review: Sweet Tooth: Animal Armies trade paperback (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

I read the first volume of Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth and liked it well enough. I thought the second book was fine, though maybe lacking a little bit following the first. And then I read Sweet Tooth Vol. 3: Animal Armies. Reader, I tell you when I finished this book, I was not all right.

With Animal Armies, Lemire’s post-apocalyptic story finally gets cooking. The remarkable thing for me for the most part was not the plot, but the craftsmanship; Lemire builds perhaps the most intricate chase sequence I’ve ever seen, in which whom the characters think they’re fleeing is actually whom they’re approaching. It’s wholly gripping, and on top of that, some of Lemire’s page compositions are really impressive. Then, on top of that, Lemire delivers a gut-punch moment late in the tale that’s grotesque, horrifying, and brilliant, such that I found myself still shaken by it moments after I’d put the book down.

DC Trade Solicitations for September 2021 — Far Sector, Milestone Compendium One, Other History of the DC Universe, Joker Vol. 1, Flash Vol. 15: Finish Line, Sandman Deluxe Book Four, American Vampire 1976, Batgirl of Burnside Omnibus

Sunday, June 20, 2021

I don’t have a particularly big pull list from the DC Comics September 2021 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations, but there’s a bunch of books here I feel like I’ve been waiting a while for.

Predominant is N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell’s Far Sector, the Young Animal series that’s gotten rave reviews, and with the added bonus that Green Lantern Jo Mullein is continuing to the main series. In that same “waiting a while” category is, finally, the collection of John Ridley’s The Other History of the DC Universe, and also Joshua Williamson’s Flash takes its bow. You all have been telling me that one’s good, so I’m holding you to it.

Next, everyone needs to put in their preorder for the Milestone Compendium One. First of all, not since the Jack Kirby Fourth World omnibuses have we seen a collection of semi-connected series like this all in one book — one wonders if these will be presented in publication order or series by series. Second of all, this is such a thing that the Milestone line has deserved for so long, and most of what’s collected here are the better known books — for titles like Static’s team Heroes, we need this collections series to run to its finish, hence the pre-orders. (If you need a third, the next volume ought collect the never-collected DC/Milestone crossover “Worlds Collide.”)

Other notable titles on the list, we get James Tynion’s first Joker collection, Keith Giffen and Jeff Lemire’s Inferior Five, and the Sandman Deluxe Editions keep rolling out.

Those are my picks — let’s take a look at the full list:

American Vampire 1976

Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque’s newest American Vampire miniseries, collecting issues #1-10.

Batgirl of Burnside Omnibus

Collects the latter part of Batgirl's New 52 adventures, the "Burnside era" — Batgirl #35-52, Batgirl Annual #3, Secret Origins #10 and DC Sneak Peek: Batgirl #1.

Batman by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo Omnibus Vol. 2

In hardcover, collecting Batman #34-52 (being the Joker "Endgame" event through "Superheavy" and the end of Snyder and Capullo's regular run), a story from Detective Comics #27, Batman Annual #3-4, Batman: Futures End #1, DC Sneak Peek: Batman #1, a story from Detective Comics #1000, and Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1-3. That inclusion of Last Knight is pretty key for bringing a lot of the other "flash forwards" in the series to fruition. I'd venture all that's missing for the full reading experience is Dark Knights: Metal given how that book tied together some of the other otherwise-random pieces of this series.

Batman Vol. 1: Their Dark Designs

Paperback of James Tynion's first arc on Batman, issues #85-94 and Secret Files #3. I tell you what, I liked this one a lot, and Batman Vol. 2: The Joker War was a surprising disappointment afterward. I'm hoping the third volume is a return to form.

Batman: Last Knight on Earth

Speaking of which, here’s the paperback, following the hardcover, of the three-issue DC Black Label series by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. This is also collected in the solicitations in the Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo Omnibus Vol. 2.

Batman/Superman Vol. 2: World's Deadliest

Issues #7-15 and the first annual by Joshua Williamson, in paperback following the hardcover. My recent review.

Far Sector

The collection of Far Sector feels like it's been a long time coming and I'm eager to read it, especially since it's been getting such good reviews and that Green Lantern Jo Mullein will be appearing in the main title after Future State. By N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell, arriving finally in October.

The Flash Vol. 15: Finish Line

Being the final collection of Flash by writer Joshua Williamson, this should be about issues #756-762, ahead of a short run by Kevin Shinick, “Endless Winter,” and Future State. You all are telling me this one is pretty good, so let’s see ...

Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters Saga Omnibus Vol. 2

The latter half of Mike Grell's Green Arrow run, including Green Arrow #51-80, Green Arrow Annual #4-6, Who's Who #14, Brave and the Bold #1-6, Shado: Song of the Dragon #1-4, and Green Arrow: The Wonder Year #1-4. Yes, the recent Grell paperbacks did not include the Shado or Brave and the Bold miniseries and yes, I am still annoyed and would like one more paperback.

Inferior Five

There is a whole lot about an Inferior Five miniseries set in the midst of DC’s 1980s Invasion! crossover and with contributions by Keith Giffen and Jeff Lemire that I’m very interested in. But consider me part of the problem, because low sales (for the niche pitch and also people like me waiting for the trade) caused this to be cut down from 12 to six issues. Obviously, perhaps bizarrely, DC thinks there’s a market for the trade (maybe because of the Peacemaker material); if it comes out, I’ll get it, though I’m myself wary of a plotted miniseries that got cut in half.

The Joker Vol. 1

In hardcover, collecting issues #1-6 by James Tynion and Guillem March, following Infinite Frontier #0. I'm most excited here to see James Gordon get the spotlight and also for the return of Bluebird Harper Row.

Man-Bat

Can't get too excited about a five-issue Man-Bat miniseries that either ignores the character's portrayal in Justice League Dark or is out-and-out out of continuity. Wonder what incarnation of apparently Suicide Squad appears here.

Milestone Compendium One

I have thought from time to time about trying to pick up all the existing Milestone trades — here DC just made it easy for me. This is said to be Blood Syndicate #1-12, Hardware #1-12, Icon #1-10, Static #1-8, and Xombi #0-11, and Shadow Cabinet #0 (being, among other things, the "Shadow War" inter-title crossover). Hopefully this keeps going through the rest of the Milestone books and minis, through to Milestone’s appearances in the regular DCU and the character appearances from the late 2000s Brave and the Bold series. For reference, the Worlds Collide crossover would coincide with the next book.

The Other History of the DC Universe

Also a long time coming, John Ridley's five-issue miniseries, coming in hardcover in November.

The Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book Four

I would like these all to come out before the Netflix series debuts. Thank you and good night.

Arriving in November, this is issues #51-69 and Vertigo Jam #1, being the "World's End" and "Kindly Ones" collections. (Next and last, I would certainly hope, should be "The Wake," issues #70-75, plus Sandman: Overture, Endless Nights, and the two versions of Dream Hunters.)

Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 4

Said to collect Superman #16-22, Adventures of Superman #439-444, Action Comics #598-600, the Superman Annual #2, and Doom Patrol #10. The solicitation calls this the “final volume,” so unfortunately it doesn’t look good for a continuing series of the post-Crisis Superman series.

Wonder Woman by George Perez Vol. 6

The final of the smaller paperback cut-down collections of the Wonder Woman by George Perez omnibuses, collecting Wonder Woman #58–62 and War of the Gods #1–4. This maps exactly to the Wonder Woman: War of the Gods omnibus, but in comparison to the Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Vol. 3 it leaves out the Wonder Woman issues #168–169 and #600 short story by Perez.

Did you know you can basically read the post-Crisis Wonder Woman (Vol. 2) straight through from #1 to the end of John Byrne’s run with #136? Then it picks up again with the Phil Jimenez run through to Greg Rucka and the end. Shame Eric Luke’s run isn’t collected, for completeness sake.

Review: Sweet Tooth: In Captivity trade paperback (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

I grant it’s a little early to be calling Sweet Tooth Vol. 2: In Captivity an unusual volume of Sweet Tooth, given that it’s only the second volume — for all I know, this is a perfectly normal volume of Sweet Tooth as far as that goes. But the “captivity” of the volume’s title very quickly reveals itself as not referring to protagonist Gus only, and moreover by the end Captivity is very nearly not Gus' story at all. Not that this can’t be an ensemble piece, but it seems early for this kind of narrative play, just as it seems early too that Captivity ends how it does. I consider none of this a detriment; rather, inasmuch as Sweet Tooth runs along certain too-familiar lines, it’s pleasing to see the narrative twist and turn in unfamiliar ways.

[Review contains spoilers]

At the end of my review of the first volume, Sweet Tooth: Out of the Deep Woods, I wasn’t sure whether writer Jeff Lemire would bring back the character of Jepperd or if I wanted him to. What had seemed a common “gruff warrior cares for little kid” scenario was turned on its head by Jepperd’s very intentional betrayal of young Gus, and I hoped against type that Jepperd wouldn’t have an immediate change of heart and be back to rescue Gus right away. Well, half right; Jepperd’s change of heart wasn’t immediate and he didn’t rescue Gus right away, but that’s where we’re headed. Certainly the most heartwarming outcome, and not that there’s anything wrong with that, but perhaps I was in the mood for a turn a little less saccharine (or that differed, anachronistic as this is, from the first two seasons of Mandalorian).

Review: Superman Vol. 4: Mythological trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Writer Brian Michael Bendis does a nice job salvaging the ending of the Superman half of his Super-title run in Superman Vol. 4: Mythological. It is almost enough to convince one that this was Bendis' intended conclusion all along, though really I sense the story was only just getting started — that Superman’s very specific revelation last time around was the beginning of the story and not the beginning of the end.

Moreover, in Mythological Bendis begins to explore the psychological implications of a lot of things — of Superman’s revelation, yes, but more of that as a symptom instead of a cause, reaching farther back to Bendis' Man of Steel, Jon Kent’s disappearance and return, the fate of “Mr. Oz,” so on and so forth. It’s probably been a good 20 years since we’ve see Superman seek therapy — circa “Our World at War” — and it’s probably nigh time for a reminder that even superheroes need help too (and in a forum less polarizing than Heroes in Crisis).

Review: Flash #750: The Deluxe Edition hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, June 09, 2021

I can't quantify this necessarily but it feels rare for the Flash to get a hardcover, all-star special like the Flash #750: The Deluxe Edition volume. I guess these kinds of books are all the rage these days, but given Detective Comics #1000 plus Detective Comics #1027, and the Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special followed by the Wonder Woman #750 book, it feels like these kinds of things are the realm of DC's Big Three, and for the Flash to get an anthology is rare and special.

But it does seem rather clear the shine is not here. This is a nice Flash party, to be sure, but it contains only six stories plus Barry Allen's debut from Showcase #4, whereas the Wonder Woman #750: The Deluxe Edition contained nine stories plus Diana's debut issue. Of these, three are stories related to other DC events or series and two of those are also collected elsewhere. The net effect is that this seems like the sparsest of celebrations; no expense wasn't spared, essentially, whereas the Wonder Woman book (and Detective #1027 before that) better utilized the hero and their supporting cast and was more far-reaching.

Review: Sweet Tooth: Out of the Deep Woods trade paperback (DC Comics/Vertigo)

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Obviously I’m taking the opportunity of a lull in my comics pull list to check out Jeff Lemire’s Sweet Tooth because of the TV show premiering on Netflix. Also because, with Mandalorian, Bosch, Titans, and Doom Patrol all on hiatus and not scheduled to reappear for at least a month at earliest, I’m looking for a streaming show to watch. The pastel-tinged fantastical of the Sweet Tooth trailer wasn’t quite up my alley, but the comics series seems to have been popular and I’m always happy to support Jeff Lemire’s work.

Now, I haven’t actually started watching Netflix’s Sweet Tooth yet, but I did finish reading Sweet Tooth Vol. 1: Out of the Deep Woods and — you in the know probably saw this coming — it seems to me there’s quite the divide between Sweet Tooth the comic and the tone of the trailer, at least, for the Sweet Tooth TV show. That is, I was expecting more Fables than The Walking Dead, and for me the first volume of Lemire’s Sweet Tooth leaned more toward The Walking Dead. This is just a review from the comic side, but I’ll be curious to see online any controversy from audiences going from the TV side to the comics; if you were expecting wide-eyed wonder and instead got bloodied heads, you might feel misled.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 4: Metropolis Burning trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 4: Metropolis Burning is kind of nuts, but I found it kind of nuts in the most refreshing way.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis is back with his unique dialogue patois, bringing it not just to Superman, the Justice League, and Young Justice, but also Lex Luthor, the Legion of Doom, and Bendis' prized creation Leviathan. Long-time comics artist John Romita delivers his signature style, all shading lines and blocky, immobile figures. Both writing and art are maniacally unpolished, and that’s even before a story that’s the equivalent of throwing a box of action figures at each other while simultaneously trying to shoehorn into the smallest continuity gap possible.

Of late I’ve been dissatisfied with a couple of DC books I’ve read, stories that often seem just marking time alongside sometimes a half-dozen or more mid-level artists on a single book, all offering dubious takes on DC’s staid, traditional house style. In Action Comics, Bendis is clearly Bendis and Romita is clearly Romita, and their work is both authentic and unapologetic. The creators' idiosyncrasies might fairly be called flaws, but I found this break from the everyday a treat. I would much prefer two creators bringing their own inimitable styles to the fore than others trying the same old tried-and-true with various degrees of success.

DC Trade Solicitations for August 2021 — Justice League: Death Metal, Next Batman: Second Son, Batman: The World, Batman Vol. 4: Cowardly Lot, Detective Comics Vol. 6: Road to Ruin, Suicide Squad: Greatest Shots

Saturday, May 29, 2021

There are 13 Batman collections in the DC Comics August 2021 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations, plus at least three other “Batman-adjacent collections,” roughly a full third of DC’s output for that month.

That’s it, that’s all I wanted to say about that.

Y’know, this is better than the July 2021 solicitations in that at least we’ve got some regular-series material here, most notably Justice League: Death Metal, though arriving disturbingly later than the rest of the Death Metal trades. And then, as mentioned, Batman, both Batman Vol. 4: The Cowardly Lot (no longer, interestingly, listed as “Part 1” of that storyline) and Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 6: Road to Ruin (Peter Tomasi’s finale). And then of course also The Next Batman: Second Son, as we see Future State loom ever larger.

That is about it — I didn’t say it was an overwhelming month, just that it was more “whelming” than July. I’m curious about Batman: The World — having enjoyed a couple of Bat-special-anthologies lately, I’m curious to see what some international interpretations of Batman are like. And maybe I’m just eager to see Sandman on TV, but I’ve been thinking about picking up the Hill House books (solicited in paperback this month) for a dose of comics horror — anyone enjoy these? Any of them that were particularly any good?

So, a little more to discuss (are these really Batman’s “greatest mysteries”?), but I’ll go ahead and get to it now, and we can pick up in the comments. Enjoy!

Basketful of Heads

Paperback collection of the seven-issue miniseries by Joe Hill and Leomacs, following the hardcover.

Batman Arkham: Catwoman

Said to collect Batman #1 and #355 (original series, first appearance and a well-regarded issue from the 1980s), Catwoman #1–4 (four-issue late-1980s mini by Mindy Newell, following Batman: Year One and often collected as Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper), Catwoman (1993) #54 (by Devin Grayson and Jim Balent, published in 1998, which has been reprinted before), Catwoman #25 (New 52 “Zero Year” issue), Catwoman Secret Files #1 (from the Ed Brubaker run; if I had to guess, it’s either “The Many Lives of Selina Kyle” or “Why Holly Isn’t Dead”), Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane #70–71 (hypnotized Lois becomes Catwoman’s partner and Superman is transformed into a cat[?!], from the 1960s). No longer listed in the solicitation, but mentioned before, was the Catwoman entry from Who’s Who Update '87#2.

Batman Black & White

Hardcover collection of the new series, collecting issues #1-6. With James Tynion, Andy Kubert, John Ridley, Mariko Tamaki, Jorge Jimenez, Joshua Williamson, and more.

Batman in the Fifties

Collects Batman #59, #62, #63, #81, #92, #105, #113, #114, #121, #122, and #128; Detective Comics #156, #168, #185, #187, #215, #216, #233, #235, #236, #241, #244, #252, #267, and #269; and World’s Finest Comics #81 and #89. No small amount of Black Casebook material here, including the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh, plus Deadshot, Batwoman Kathy Kane, Mr. Zero (the future Mr. Freeze), and Bat-Mite.

Batman Vol. 4: The Cowardly Lot

Hardcover by James Tynion and Jorge Jimenez. This solicitation doesn’t have issue numbers, but earlier it was Batman #106-111, plus apparently some/all of Infinite Frontier #1 (and not Infinite Frontier #0, unless that was a misprint).

Batman: Arkham Asylum: The Deluxe Edition

Another deluxe-size collection of the story by Grant Morrison and Dave McKean; notably we also saw a recent 25th anniversary deluxe edition.

Batman: Curse of the White Knight

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

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 6: Road to Ruin

Peter Tomasi's final Detective Comics collection (and the final collection before Future State and Mariko Tamaki's run); this is issues #1028-1033, seeing Damian Wayne return to the title. In hardcover (previously listed as paperback) in October.

Batman: His Greatest Mysteries

I’m not super-impressed with the contents of this trade, if this is what they turn out to be:

Batman #404 ("Year One," part 1) and #610 ("Hush," part 3), Detective Comics #822 and #824 (two from Paul Dini's run), Batman Annual #2 ("Zero Year"? "Date Night"?, Batman Universe #1, and the story "Alone" from Batman: Secret Files #2 (Riddler story by Mairghread Scott). Maybe fine for the uninitiated, but I don’t need disparate parts of multi-issue storylines.

Batman: Li'l Gotham: Calendar Daze

Collects the recent Li'l Gotham #1-6 by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs. (Update: There's some question whether this is the 2013 series or a more recent series ... or was there a more recent series?)

Batman: No Man's Land Omnibus Vol. 1

Collects the equivalent of the first two (of four) No Man's Land "complete" editions, being Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #116-121, Azrael: Agent of the Bat #51-57, Batman #563-568, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #83-88, Detective Comics #730-735, Catwoman #72-74, Robin #67, Batman Chronicles #16-17, Nightwing #35-37, Batman: No Man's Land #1, and Young Justice in No Man's Land #1. (Previously listed as included, but not in this solicitation, is the Batman: No Man's Land Gallery #1.)

Batman: Noel

New hardcover printing of the graphic novel by Lee Bermejo.

Batman: The Long Halloween Deluxe Edition

Deluxe edition of the 13-issue miniseries by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, along with behind-the-scenes material.

Batman: The World

Hardcover, so I guess we call this a trade, coming in September. 160-page book featuring stories from creators across the world; the U.S.-associated team is Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo.

Batwoman Omnibus

Collects Detective Comics #854-863 (not through #864 as previously solicited), Batwoman #0 (New 52), Batwoman #0-24, and Batwoman Annual #1, being Greg Rucka, JH Williams, and W. Haden Blackman's work on the character, stopping before Marc Andreyko's less-well-regarded run (short of the annual where Andreyko finished up Williams' unfinished run).

One does wonder what effect (the very endearing) Ryan Wilder on TV will eventually have on the DC Universe’s own Kate Kane.

Birds of Prey: Fighters by Trade

Collects Gail Simone's Birds of Prey #81-91, so spanning the Battle Within and Perfect Pitch trades. That issue #91 is by Jim Alexander, Brad Walker, and Jimmy Palmiotti and I don't believe it’s been collected before.

The Books of Magic Omnibus Vol. 2 (The Sandman Universe Classics)

Second omnibus by Peter Gross, including Books of Magic #33-75, Books of Magic Annuals #1-3, Books of Faerie #1-3, Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #1-3, Hellblazer/Books of Magic #1-2, and Books of Faerie: Molly’s Story #1-4. Mentioned in a previous solicitation, but not here, was Vertigo Secret Files: Hellblazer #1. Should have a new foreword by John Ney Rieber and a new introduction by Gross, too. I wouldn't mind seeing these as a set of more affordably priced paperbacks.

Daphne Byrne

Paperback of the six-issue Hill House miniseries by Larua Marks and Kelley Jones, following the hardcover.

DC Comics: Girls Unite! Box Set

Includes four recent animated-series comics trades: Batman Adventures: Cat Got Your Tongue?, Supergirl Adventures: Girl of Steel, Batman Adventures: Batgirl: A League of Her Own, and Justice League Unlimited: Girl Power.

The Dollhouse Family

Issues #1-6 by Mike Carey and Peter Gross in paperback, following the hardcover.

Hill House Box Set

Box set including Basketful of Heads, Low, Low Woods, Dollhouse Family, Daphne Byrne, Plunge, and Sea Dogs, in paperback. Now if DC could find a way to release all of these in one volume sans box, I might pick it up.

Justice League: Death Metal

Justice League #53–57 by Joshua Williamson and Xermanico and others, tying of course into Death Metal and being the final storyline before “Endless Winter,” Future State, and the Brian Michael Bendis run of the title. Coming in September in paperback, well after the rest of the other Death Metal material.

The Low, Low Woods

Paperback collecting issues #1-6 of the Hill House miniseries by Carmen Maria Machado, following the hardcover.

The Next Batman: Second Son

In hardcover, collecting the digital series by John Ridley and Tony Akins, spinning out of (into?) Future State.

Plunge

Six-issue miniseries by Joe Hill and Stuart Immonen, in paperback following the hardcover.

Saga of the Swamp Thing Box Set

Box set of six Alan Moore Swamp Thing collections. Not sure if these are hardcover or paperback but I’m pretty sure they won’t use the infamous sticky glossy covers.

Sensational Wonder Woman

Collects issues #1-6 of the digital first series with contributions from Stephanie Phillips, Alyssa Wong, Meghan Hetrick, Bruno Rodondo, and Eleonora Carlini.

Suicide Squad Case Files 1

Stories featuring first or major appearances by Bloodsport, Mongal, Polka-Dot Man, King Shark, Weasel, and the Thinker — can these all possibly be in the James Gunn movie? It’s Superman #4 and #170, Detective Comics #300, Superboy #9, Fury of Firestorm #38, Suicide Squad Vol. 4 #25, Vigilante #36, and Suicide Squad: Amanda Waller #1.

Suicide Squad Case Files 2

Stories focusing on Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, Rick Flag, Ratcatcher, Savant, Javelin, and Blackguard. Collects Suicide Squad #44, Secret Origins #14, Detective Comics #585, Birds of Prey #58, Batman: Harley Quinn #1, Green Lantern #174, and Booster Gold #1.

Suicide Squad: Their Greatest Shots

All of these Suicide Squad books are, of course, timed for the new James Gunn movie. Good that DC already has all of John Ostrander’s Suicide Squad series collected, though indeed that seems to leave us with just anthologies left when DC needs new Suicide Squad books. This collects Suicide Squad #10 (1987) (emphasis on Waller vs. Batman), Suicide Squad #15 (2012) (”Death of the Family” tie-in), Suicide Squad #22 (2013) (including Deadshot, Harley Quinn, and King Shark), Suicide Squad: Rebirth #1 (2016), Suicide Squad #16 (2017) (vs. Lex Luthor), Suicide Squad #20 (2017) (Harley leads the Squad), Suicide Squad #47 (2018) (Captain Boomerang spotlight), and Suicide Squad Special: War Crimes #1 (2016) (John Ostrander special timed to the first Suicide Squad movie).

Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 4

DC’s solicitation describes the Superman: The Wedding Album deluxe edition that’s already been solicited. There was earlier a listing for a fourth Superman: The Man of Steel volume, so I’m assuming this is that. That book was said to collect Superman #16-22, Adventures of Superman #439-444, Action Comics #598-600, and the Superman Annual #2. I imagine it should also have the crossover issue Doom Patrol #10, which was included in the original Man of Steel paperbacks.

Notably Superman #22 is where John Byrne's run ended, as well as the original Man of Steel paperbacks — whether these books continue on from here or not would really be telling.

Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace Vol. 1: Global Guardian

Collects 11 chapters of the digital series by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, pitting Wonder Woman, Etta Candy, and Steve Trevor against Cheetah, Deadshot, Penguin, and more (plus a Harley Quinn team-up!).

Wonder Woman: Blood and Guts: The Deluxe Edition

The first 12 issues of the New 52 series by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. We have also already seen this reprinted as an Absolute.

Wonder Woman: Who Is Wonder Woman? The Deluxe Edition

This was a kind-of notable post-Infinite Crisis Wonder Woman story which, as its main claim to fame, brought some of the super spy Diana Prince trappings back to Wonder Woman, but all of that was short-lived. To be sure, DC's draw for reprinting this now is that writer Allan Heinberg also wrote the screenplay for the first recent Wonder Woman movie. Collects Wonder Woman #1-4 and the Wonder Woman Annual #1 of that era.

Review: Justice League Vol. 7: Galaxy of Terrors trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

We’re in this place now where we occasionally get to, at the end of one DC storyline era and just before the beginning of another, where sometimes titles go on even as they naturally should have stopped. We saw this, for instance, with Christopher Priest’s short stint on Justice League after Bryan Hitch’s run, as the book waited out Dark Nights: Metal and Justice League: No Justice. And we see it again now, both with the previous volume and Justice League Vol. 7: Galaxy of Terrors, a collection of interstitial tales published so that the Justice League title doesn’t miss a month even if it has nothing to do.

It’s unfortunate that the fact that Justice League is just marking time isn’t better hidden. “The Rule” writer Simon Spurrier offers a legitimately complex metaphor for imperialism and nation-building and what happens when one is a better warrior than governor. But he does so at cost of the League coming off buffoonish at best, far out of character (or, charitably, Spurrier is writing the cartoon Justice League Unlimited under the guise of Justice League). Jeff Loveness' Black Mercy story is better than expected given the glut of Black Mercy and similar stories over the years, though it still can’t totally escape that we’ve seen this all before.

Review: Batman: The Movies trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 23, 2021

[Guest reviewer Zach King blogs about movies as The Cinema King. Don’t miss his month-long Bat-May review of the Batman movies at the site.]

When I reviewed Universal Monsters: Cavalcade of Horror back in March, I opened with a fairly lengthy preamble about the nature of comic book adaptations and their impact on my hobby (some say addiction) of collecting comics. Perhaps I should have saved some of that preface for this review, because the adaptations collected in Batman: The Movies were downright seminal in my childhood.

These were the days, I remind you, before home video. While I have very vivid memories of seeing Batman Forever in theaters in 1995, I can equally recall poring over the prestige format comic book adaptation, reliving the action again and again, committing the dialogue to memory like so much gothic scripture. I bought the Joel Schumacher adaptations from the stands of my local comic shop, scooping up the two Tim Burton comics much later, but all the same I was elated (as most readers may be) to discover that these four one-shots were collected in a trade paperback. It makes for easier reading than fishing through my longboxes, to be sure, but the collection of these comic book curios help to preserve what was for many Bat-fans a major venue connecting their fandom to the big screen.

Review: Flash Vol. 14: The Flash Age trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 19, 2021

I admire very much that before all is said and done, Joshua Williamson will surely have written at least 100 Flash issues, and clearly there is effort going in to new villains and additions to the Flash mythos. The amount of material Williamson has come up with that’s almost immediately made its way over to the CW television show (from Bloodwork to Godspeed to the new forces) itself tells the tale.

Yet, even the auspicious promise of a villain called Paradox who can wage multiversal war on the Flash ends up unfortunately humdrum in Flash Vol. 14: The Flash Age. What any reasonable person would take the premise to mean is that since Paradox knows all about Barry Allen’s forgotten history, then some of that, 14 volumes down and one until the end, would finally come into play this time around. But it largely does not, nor does defeating Paradox prompt any startling revelations for the Flash, nor is Paradox even all that distinguished or original as an antagonist.