Review: Batman: The Imposter hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, February 27, 2022

The best I can describe Mattson Tomlin and Andrea Sorrentino’s Batman: The Imposter is like the DC Black Label equivalent of Batman: Earth One. Tomlin’s gritty young alt-Batman battles a new threat (a welcome rarity in these Batman recreations), but a bevy of familiar names go by in the background, a la Earth One, any one of which could be fodder for what one hopes will be the inevitable sequel.

But Tomlin improves on Geoff Johns' and similar stories in that Imposter does not go back with an “aw, shucks” grin to coincide with established Batman mythos by the end. Rather, Tomlin prominently jettisons two major Bat-characters at this story’s beginning (at least, for the duration of this volume), sending the book careening down a different path than many of its predecessors (and surprising, too, given that this differentiates Imposter considerably from The Batman movie that Tomlin’s connected to).

Review: Batman: The Detective hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2022

I’m of two minds whether the meme that “everything DC publishes is Batman” is wearing itself out or not. On one hand, it is, they do; on the other hand, with a Batman movie coming out in less than a month that they yet again desperately hope will be the start of a successful cinematic movie-verse, I’m not sure what else we might expect (not that DC’s The Batman movie and their “all hands on Batman” craze are necessarily interdependent).

Irrespective, especially in a period where DC’s week-by-week volume of collections output has been significantly reduced, I’ve found new appreciation for the random disconnected Batman miniseries-of-the-week (particularly given Black Label, where about all the stories are random and disconnected and the characters can occasionally utter a curse word). Believe you me, I like continuity, but I also see the value in “you don’t have to read anything before that” when you’re just looking for something to read, especially if there’s a particular creator’s vision of (mostly) Batman or Harley Quinn to the plumbed at the same time. It puts me in mind of the mid-1990s when in any given year you might have half a dozen random Elseworlds specials on top of an off-the-cuff Batman miniseries and a a-continuity prestige format inter-company crossover. We never knew how good we had it.

DC Trade Solicitations for May 2022 — Black Adam: Rise and Fall, Nightwing and Detective Comics: Fear State, Batman '89, Justice League: Last Ride, Justice League Dark backups, Checkmate, Static: Season One, Justice League Infinity

Sunday, February 20, 2022

We’re slipping back a little in terms of DC’s output for the May 2022 hardcover and trade paperback collections solicitations — in four weeks, just six regular series collections. Don’t get me wrong, I’m looking forward to all of them, but this is what we’ve got: Nightwing: Fear State, Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Fear State, Checkmate, Green Lantern Vol. 2: Horatius, Justice League Dark: The Great Wickedness, and Flash Vol. 16: Wally West Returns. Now that Fables is back, maybe that should be my next big reread?

Otherwise, the name of the game this month is all Black Adam, all the time — Black Adam: Rise and Fall of an Empire, Black Adam: The Dark Age, and Black Adam/JSA: Black Reign. If the movie is successful, might DC do a Black Adam ongoing series? Would it work?

And then two one-offs I might check out, Justice League Infinity and Justice League: Last Ride. Anyone been reading Last Ride? Is it any good?

But hey, I guess any month DC is still publishing is a good month. (Oh, and Dark Crisis! And another new Tom King miniseries, Danger Street! And a Ram V Black Label Aquaman miniseries!) Let’s take a look at the full list.

52 Omnibus (2022 Edition)

New collection of the omnibus by Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka, and Mark Waid. The previous edition collected 52 issues #1-52 though not the DC: World War III tie-in miniseries; still no word whether this will be the same or different.

Absolute Swamp Thing by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson

Swamp Thing's first appearance in House of Secrets #92 and Swamp Thing #1-13, in Absolute format.

Batman '89

In hardcover in July, collecting the miniseries by Sam Hamm and Joe Quinones.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Fear State

In hardcover in July, collecting Detective Comics #1041-1056 (previously solicited as #1040-1046) and Batman Secret Files: Huntress #1 by Mariko Tamaki and company. A little bird tells me those recent Secret Files should all be getting their own collection soon.

Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Two

Issues #1-7 of the second “season” (plus a story from Tis the Season to Be Freezin') by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini, Ty Templeton, and others, this time bringing the Court of Owls to Batman: The Animated Series.

Batman: The Court of Owls Mask and Book Set

Why is this back out? I mean, great story, but is there something new about the Owls out there other than this month's Batman: The Adventures Continue book? A paperback of Scott Snyder's Batman #1-7 with a Court of Owls mask.

Batman: The Deluxe Edition Book 6

Collects the end of Tom King's Batman run, issues #70-85, the Batman Annual #4, and Batman Secret Files #2.

Birds of Prey: Whitewater

I think many will be happy to see the collections of the first Birds of Prey series continuing. This is issues #104–112, marking the end of Gail Simone’s run (for this iteration of the series) and the start of Tony Bedard’s. Simone’s Secret Six appear a couple of times.

Black Adam: Rise and Fall of an Empire

This would be kind of a double-dip purchase for me, but at the same time I’m very curious how it’ll read. Essentially this is just the Black Adam material from the 52 weekly series, said to collect stories from 52 #1–3, 6–10, 12–16, 18–26, 29–34, 36–40, 43–50, and 52. It has been a while since I read 52 but I feel like the stories were very interwoven, especially toward the end, and I wonder to what extent a cogent story can be told with just the Black Adam parts and not the Elongated Man or Question parts. At the same time, I’m now very interested in a Pulp Fiction-esque set of interweaving 52 collections, this one with all the Black Adam material, that one with all the Question Renee Montoya material, and so on.

Black Adam: The Dark Age (New Edition)

New printing of the six-issue miniseries by Peter Tomasi and Doug Mahnke, in paperback next July. I reviewed Black Adam: The Dark Age some 10 years ago.

Black Adam/JSA: Black Reign (New Edition)

New edition of JSA Vol. 8: Black Reign, which collected JSA #56–58 and Hawkman #23–25. Apparently getting a movie gives Black Adam top billing in the JSA's own book. I reviewed JSA: Black Reign some 15 years ago.


In paperback in June, collecting the six-issue miniseries by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev, plus the Leviathan Dawn special. The solicitation calling this "the sequel to the ... mystery that upended the DC Universe" is maybe a bit of wishful thinking, but I'm excited for this anyway.

The Flash Vol. 16: Wally West Returns

Collects Flash #763-771 and the 2021 annual, which is the four interstitial issues (#763-766) by Kevin Shinick in between the end of Joshua Williamson's run and the end of Dark Nights: Death Metal and the start of the Infinite Frontier era; the second part of "Endless Winter" (#767) by Andy Lanning and Ron Marz (which is Flash-centric enough that it could be included, or not), and five Wally West-centric issues by new ongoing writer Jeremy Adams (#768-771 and the annual).

Green Lantern Vol. 2: Horatius

In paperback in June, this is Green Lantern #5-12 and the 2021 annual (almost 300 pages!) by Geoffrey Thorne with Tom Raney and others.

Justice League Dark: The Great Wickedness

Collects the Justice League Dark backup stories from Justice League #59-71 and the Justice League Dark 2021 annual, by Ram V and company.

Justice League Infinity

In paperback in June, collecting the seven-part series based on Justice League Unlimited.

Justice League: Last Ride

In paperback in June, collecting the seven-issue miniseries by Chip Zdarsky and Miguel Mendonca. Is this good? Should I be interested in it?

Nightwing: Fear State

By Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, this collects Nightwing #84-86 (previously solicited as #84-88), the Nightwing 2021 annual, and the Nightwing/Batgirls story from Batman: Urban Legends #10, in hardcover and tying in to the "Fear State" event.

Static: Season One HC

In hardcover, collecting issues #1-6 of the new Static series by Vita Ayala and Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0.

Superman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 7

Includes Action Comics #126-147 (previously solicited as #125-143), Superman #55-65, and World’s Finest Comics #37-47.

Tales From the DC Dark Multiverse II

In paperback, following the hardcover (which I just recently reviewed), this is the Dark Multiverse takes on Batman: Hush, Flashpoint, Wonder Woman: War of the Gods, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and Dark Nights: Metal.

Zatanna: The Jewel of Gravesend

YA graphic novel by Alys Arden and Jacquelin de Leon.

Review: Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Katana trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Mike W. Barr’s Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Katana pales slightly in comparison to its Deadshot co-feature. Artist Diogenes Neves’s work is more chaotic than Viktor Bogdanovic’s, and Barr writes a more straightforward action tale than Brian Buccellato’s psychological thriller. At the same time, Barr has a steeper hill to climb in having less of a basis from which to launch the miniseries; a miniseries about Deadshot in and around the Suicide Squad has a lot of the premise and character relationships built in, whereas Barr has to create much of his story whole cloth. The result is not ground-breaking but neither is it poor, especially in comparison to Ann Nocenti’s recent, frenetic, short-lived Katana series. This book gains a step especially when Barr, Katana’s co-creator, gives a nod to other notable aspects of his own work.

Review: Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book Four hardcover (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book Four once again runs the gamut for what Neil Gaiman’s Sandman has to offer, from the farthest disconnection from the Lord of Dreams (aliens spinning tales of DC heroes in limbo) to the most intricate of court politics.

Being the “Worlds' End” and “Kindly Ones” collections, this fourth volume is perhaps among the most straightforward of the deluxe editions, on par with Book One, including just one external short story from Vertigo Jam. But among the tale-tellers of “Worlds' End” and the thirteen-part length of “Kindly Ones,” one ought not mistake straightforward for focused. Not that that’s a bad thing — given the inescapable conclusion here, one lauds Gaiman for taking his time getting there. “Kindly Ones,” especially, weaves in and out of digressions, a veritable mad, mad, mad Dreaming, and offers a master class on wrenching superhero-esque drama using only the weapon of words.

Review: Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

The purpose of the Suicide Squad Most Wanted miniseries is obviously to have books out there bearing the recognizable names of the movie characters. That’s not a bad goal, rather smart actually, but the question in these situations is whether the actual content of these ad hoc miniseries will be any good (the quality of others for these purposes have varied). My own results with writer Brian Buccellato, absent frequent partner Francis Manapul, are often mixed, and so I was wary of what Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot would entail.

As it turns out, Buccellato’s Deadshot is very good. The story is of the formulaic sort one writes for these sorts of stories, but Buccellato has Deadshot Floyd Lawton’s hard luck voice down, and it makes for enjoyable reading even if we often know where the story is going. The work Buccellato does on Deadshot’s origin is ultimately clever even if there’s a little silliness to get there; best of all is that Buccellato includes the Suicide Squad of the day such that the story feels tied in rather than just a one-off tale. Artist Viktor Bogdanovic does a fine Greg Capullo impression and I found the book pleasant to look at throughout.

Review: Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book Three hardcover (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 06, 2022

If, unlikely as this may be, one were not interested in Sandman short stories and only wanted multi-part Sandman epics about the Endless and the humans they influence, Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book Three would (so far) be the volume for you. As opposed to Book Two, which was half devoted to one-off stories (ultimately related or not), Book Three is primarily the “Game of You” and “Brief Lives” stories with a smattering of issues (the last of “Fables and Reflections”) in between.

Further, should a random passerby need a primer on Sandman, the major stories here offer a good cross-section. “Game of You” is one of those Sandman stories that — in the style of the earlier “Doll’s House” perhaps — is less about Dream almost to the point of exclusion and more about mortals, maybe a little supernaturally touched, and how they interact with Dream’s realm. “Brief Lives,” however, closer to “Season of Mists,” puts Dream and the Endless front and center (though this time with a big helping of the mortal world).

Review: Superwoman Vol. 3: The Midnight Hour (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

K. Perkins' Superwoman Vol. 3: The Midnight Hour brings a swift and not particularly satisfying end to this hard luck Lana Lang series. Whatever were the original plans for this book, between continuity shifts and creative team changes, they never did manifest, and the level of drama in the book was just not high enough by the end to compete with other titles on the stands. At the end of Superwoman Vol. 2: Rediscovery, it seemed Perkins had an interesting direction in mind but that’s abandoned here, though equally the stories in volume 3 also feel unfinished. In all the cancellation of this title seems justified.

[Review contains spoilers]

Midnight Hour starts in the middle of things, with Superwoman Lana Lang possessed by Red Kryptonite alongside the Red Kryptonite-powered “Red Sun,” who happens to be one of her childhood friends. Perkins has some enjoyable scenes of Lana, Clark Kent, and Lex Luthor as teenagers in Smallville, in the style of Birthright or Superman: Secret Origin, but the broad strokes are nigh incomprehensible. Because apparently Lana wore a Red Kryptonite necklace when she was younger — something Perkins has invented and grafted on just for the purposes of this story — Lana speculates it might be the source of her Superwoman powers, even though that’s been previously established as exposure to one of Superman’s solar flares.