Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Ambushed! trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Robbie Thompson was part of a creative team that took an unlikely group of Teen Titans and made that title as compelling as its been in decades. Thompson’s Suicide Squad, which ends with Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Ambushed!, is not quite at the level of his Teen Titans, but evidence of the same kind of strong character work is also present.

For all the villains that Thompson spotlights in Squad, there’s a handful more with promising cameos who then disappear in the background. Whether that’s just unfortunate, or whether it’s a function of how quickly Squad’s cancellation might have come about is hard to say. Muddying it is that Suicide Squad factors heavily in the War for Earth-3 crossover — it’s basically extra issues of Suicide Squad on either side of the series' issue #13 — and it seems unusual for a cancelled title to have that kind of resources going for it.

DC Trade Solicitations for June 2023 - Lazarus Planet with Monkey Prince and Wonder Woman tie-ins, Batman Vol. 2 by Zdarsky, Detective Comics Vol. 1 by Ram V, new WildCATs Vol. 1, Detective Comics Omnibus by Tomasi, Blue Beetle: Graduation Day

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Strangely, though maybe not for us, the biggest headline in the DC Comics June 2023 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations might be the paperback collection, following the hardcover, of “regular series” Batman issues. But in this case, the collection is Batman Vol. 3: Ghost Stories, the hardcover came out almost two years ago, and many paperback aficionados will be breathing a sigh of relief at this news.

After the hardcover and paperback collections of James Tynion’s Batman Vol. 1: His Dark Designs and Batman Vol. 2: The Joker War, the following three books arrived in hardcover only, leaving those who waited for the paperback with the option of an unfinished story or uneven-looking shelves. That Tynion’s departure from Batman was slightly abrupt, and that DC seemed to be proceeding right along with Batman collections by Joshua Williamson and Chip Zdarsky, made it a real possibility Tynion’s stories would never be published in paperback (those of us who’ve been here long enough remember when collections format switches like that were disappointingly common). But — better late than never; now we have Ghost Stories, and I can see Cowardly Lot and Fear State arriving by the end of the year.

Otherwise, I’m most excited for the Lazarus Planet collection; I don’t know enough about this DC crossover to really justify my excitement, except that it seems a story with mildly connected pieces in a variety of places — the Superman titles, the Batman titles, the Wonder Woman titles, etc. — and I think that scope might be fun. Monkey Prince Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman Vol. 4 tie in to that, and then we’ve also got Zdarsky’s second Batman collection and Ram V’s first, the expansively named Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Gotham Nocturne: Overture.

Notable too, Matt Rosenberg’s WildC.A.T.s Vol. 1, just because hey, WildC.A.T.s is still a thing; also the Batman: Detective Comics by Peter Tomasi Omnibus, which is not what I thought it was but still a giant swath of comics.

Let’s look at the full list …

Batman Vol. 2: The Bat-Man of Gotham

In hardcover in August, the second volume of Chip Zdarsky’s Batman. Some (but not all) sources say this will be issues #131-#135 (the latter being an oversized issue).

Batman Vol. 3: Ghost Stories

There had been some well-placed concern that DC might not be collecting James Tynion’s hardcover Batman books as paperback, perhaps due to rapidly shifting teams on the title. Well, it’s been two years, but whether it was all just delays or reader demand, the first of the missing ones, Batman Vol. 3: Ghost Stories, is now listed for August. That’s the Rebirth era Batman #101–105 plus material from Detective Comics #1027 and the Annual #5. I reviewed Batman Vol. 3: Ghost Stories in 2021.

Batman: Detective Comics by Peter J. Tomasi Omnibus

Silly me, but when I saw the title, I really thought this would be a collection of Peter Tomasi's DC You "Superheavy" tie-in stories featuring Jim Gordon as Batman, Blood of Heroes and Gordon at War, though as it turns out I was mis-remembering just how long Tomasi's run that time wasn't, as the case may be. No, this is Detective Comics #994-999, #1001-1016, and #1018-1033, Detective Comics Annual #2-3, Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P., and Tomasi's work from Detective Comics #1000 and Detective Comics (New 52) #27.

What we have here, as these things do, ranges from the sublime to the mundane — or the mundane, the sublime, and the mundane again. The first arc, Mythology, disappointed me at least personally in not being what I thought it would, but the second, "Medieval" (retitled for trade as Arkham Knight) was a stark improvement. But it all starts to fall apart in Greetings From Gotham, a collection of self-contained stories that didn't necessarily impress, the somewhat tepid Cold Vengeance, and then Joker War and Road to Ruin, two volumes that see Tomasi going back to the Batman & Robin well (for better, for some readers, but for worse in my humble opinion).

So, this sure is a lot of Batman — almost 40 issues' worth — certainly notable for its place in time (spanning from Tom King's run to James Tynion's), and I have certainly been a fan of Tomasi's over the years. This is not peak Batman, but one could also do worse.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 1: Gotham Nocturne: Overture

The first volume of Ram V’s Detective Comics run, in hardcover in August, collecting issues #1062-1065.

Blue Beetle: Graduation Day

Timed for a movie that is so far still coming out, this is Josh Trujillo and Adrian Gutierrez' six-issue miniseries, in paperback in August, and to be released in both English and Spanish editions.

The DC Icons Series: Graphic Novel Boxed Set

Collects the Batman: Nightwalker, Wonder Woman: Warbringer, and Catwoman: Soulstealer graphic novel adaptations of the YA novels.

Icon & Rocket: Season One

In paperback, following the hardcover, and collecting the Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0 and issues #1–6 by Reginald Hudlin, Leon Chills, and Doug Braithwaite.

The Joker Vol. 2

In paperback in July, following the hardcover, this is issues #6–9 and the 2021 annual.

Lazarus Planet

La, la, la *fingers in ears* … trying to be totally surprised what this is about. I know it’s by Mark Waid, I know one or two other details I wish I didn’t know, but otherwise trying to go in blind. In hardcover in August, collecting Lazarus Planet: Alpha, Lazarus Planet: Assault on Krypton, Lazarus Planet: We Once Were Gods, Lazarus Planet: Legends Reborn, Lazarus Planet: Next Evolution, Lazarus Planet: Dark Fate, and Lazarus Planet: Omega. It would seem the Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods four-issue miniseries will be collected on its own.

Monkey Prince Vol. 2: The Monkey King and I

Being the final collection of the limited series by Gene Lien Yang and Bernard Chang, this is said to be issues #0 and #7–12, with material from Lazarus Planet: Alpha and Lazarus Planet: Omega.

The Sandman Book Six

Cleverly, for the final of these paperback collections tied to the start of the TV series, this contains Sandman: The Dream Hunters (the P. Craig Russell edition), Sandman: Overture, and then Sandman Universe #1, the first time a Sandman collection has bridged from Neil Gaiman’s original work to the new(est) expanded universe. Puts a shine not only on all the completed original Sandman Universe miniseries, but also James Tynion and company’s current work.

WildC.A.T.s Vol. 1: Better Living Through Violence

Description: Matthew Rosenberg continues the saga he began way back at the beginning of Batman: Urban Legends with this, another WildC.A.T.s revival. This was previously said to include the uncollected Zealot story from Batman: Urban Legends #6, though that's not mentioned here. Confirmed is issues #1–6 and material from the Wildstorm 30th Anniversary Special.

Wonder Girl: Homecoming

The six-issue miniseries by Joelle Jones, now in paperback in August. Among the various Trial of the Amazons titles, I had many concerns about Wonder Girl: Homecoming.

Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang Omnibus (2023 Edition)

New edition of the bold, controversial New 52 run, being issues #0–35, 23.1 and material from Secret Origins (2014) #6.

Wonder Woman Vol. 4: Revenge of the Gods

In paperback, issues #795–800, the end of Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad’s run. This ties in to, and the title matches, the Lazarus Planet: Revenge of the Gods miniseries, though that hasn’t been solicited just yet.

Review: The Batman Adventures Vol. 3 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

[A series on Batman: The Animated Series comics collections by guest reviewer Zach King. Zach writes about movies at The Cinema King and about comics on Instagram at Dr. King’s Comics.]

After two trades and twenty issues, we’re just past the halfway point of the 36-issue run on The Batman Adventures, and like any title that sells well, we’re about to see a proliferation of special issues, annuals, and even a new #1. (Stay tuned for The Batman & Robin Adventures.) The Batman Adventures Vol. 3 also gives us an expanding cast of guest stars, both on panel and off, building the sense that the creative team really got to spread its wings and ride the Bat-wave.

From the very first page, you feel an official stamp of approval with Paul Dini and Bruce Timm contributing a story for The Batman Adventures Annual #1; Dini brings along with him no less than Matt Wagner, Dan DeCarlo, Klaus Janson, and John Byrne. It feels like the coolest kids in school have come to your party and brought their popular friends with them, the sort of subconscious validation that comics fans are always craving.

Review: Nubia: Queen of the Amazons hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala’s chronicles of new Amazonian queen Nubia have been among the most interesting that the Wonder Woman franchise has been in a number of years. Even if Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s “break everything” approach in the New 52 Wonder Woman shines a little brighter for me, Williams and Ayala are still invoking some seismic changes to the Wonder Woman mythos, if absent the same amount of controversy.

Having read the prelude Nubia: Coronation Special, I had a little hesitation as to the direction Williams was going (Ayala bows out for the miniseries proper), but I needn’t have worried. Nubia: Queen of the Amazons is great, offering both wrinkles in Amazonian adventures that we really haven’t seen before, and also beginning to set up a supporting cast and rogues gallery for Nubia quite outside the Amazons proper. As well, post-Trial of the Amazons, as the expansive Wonder Woman universe of titles seems to be contracting into just Wonder Woman proper, Nubia functions as one last hurrah for the new Amazonian cast.

Review: War for Earth-3 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

It may very well tell you all you need to know about the War for Earth-3 crossover that two of the three series involved would be cancelled within two issues. Without having finished those books yet, I can’t say for certain that War for Earth-3 is totally irrelevant, however you might define that among serial comics, but my guess is this event will affect Flash not at all, nor the soon-to-be-cancelled Teen Titans Academy. The also soon-to-be-cancelled Suicide Squad is the series most attached to War, but I’m skeptical there’s great importance in the last two issues of Squad following War before that book ends.

As mentioned, War for Earth-3 is really a Suicide Squad book, following direct from Robbie Thompson’s Infinite Frontier-era Suicide Squad #12 and culminating a variety of story threads Thompson’s been building. Jeremy Adams' Flash and Tim Sheridan’s Teen Titans Academy are just along for the ride, coinciding with the story in the flimsiest of ways and exiting just as blithely.

Review: Female Furies trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, March 05, 2023

It’s a co-review! Zach King of The Cinema King and Dr. King’s Comics and I review Cecil Castellucci’s Female Furies. Enjoy!

Zach King: There came a time when the New Gods died — and were reborn, and died again. Here we are, two reboots hence from Walt Simonson’s Orion, and so we return and begin again. We were in the DC Rebirth era and on our way to Dark Nights: Death Metal’s “everything happened” when Cecil Castellucci’s Female Furies debuted in early 2019 — past the halfway point on Heroes in Crisis, the so-called “New Age of DC Heroes” was winding down, and Darkseid was palling around with Justice League Odyssey. Meanwhile, Tom King’s Mister Miracle had only just wrapped, and Castellucci had come off Young Animal’s Shade the Changing Woman the previous year.

I’ve gone on and on about my devotion to the New Gods, among the weirdest and most robust in Kirby’s catalog, but CE, what’s your take on these deities?

Collected Editions: I have great affection for the “technicalities” of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World. That is, I did a full reading of Kirby’s original Fourth World stories — I wanted to say it was not all that long ago, but it was actually over a decade ago, which is probably why what still sticks out to me are the “technical” aspects, how “The Pact” revelation in New Gods #7 shoots a lightning bolt through the Mister Miracle series, even as the two don’t yet meet. I’m a sucker for a continuity bump, and that one’s brilliantly subtle-but-shocking, setting the bar for writers to come.

Review: Tales of the Amazons hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

I will admit to being such a cog in the comics solicitations machine — every month, a big list of comics appears on the internet, and that’s how I know what’s coming — that I hardly know how DC markets their comics to “regular people” any more, if at all. How the casual buyer who happens to find Trial of the Amazons on the Barnes & Noble shelves (because I still suspect this is how the majority of trades get bought) would ever know there’s a companion Tales of the Amazons volume out there, I have no idea. An advantage of trades is the lack of advertisements every other page, but I think the Trial of the Amazons collection would have benefitted from a house ad directing readers to all the related books — Wonder Woman, Wonder Girl, Nubia, and Tales.

Because Tales of the Amazons is not only quite good, but also hugely influential on one’s reading of Trial of the Amazons. I rather hope there was some hesitation about shunting these “tales” to their own volume. Otherwise to take the set-up for the Trial mystery and also the explanation of that mystery and separate them from Trial itself without it being absolutely necessary to do so seems in bad faith.

Review: The Batman Adventures Vol. 2 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 26, 2023

[A series on Batman: The Animated Series comics collections by guest reviewer Zach King. Zach writes about movies at The Cinema King and about comics on Instagram at Dr. King’s Comics.]

Even though the first trade collection of The Batman Adventures was nominally tied to the television show, you could hand it to the uninitiated as a sort of primer on Batman, Gotham, and the rogues gallery. With The Batman Adventures Vol. 2, we start to get a little more into the canon of the show, at times riffing on famous episodes while occasionally stepping on the toes of continuity. Sure, the first trade featured a single-faced Harvey Dent, but this volume seems to revel in the fact that everyone was watching Batman: The Animated Series.

Review: Flash Vol. 17: Eclipsed trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, February 22, 2023

I’m so, so pleased with Jeremy Adams' Flash Vol. 17: Eclipsed. Not only is it a big improvement on his previous Flash volume, hearkening back to the humor and depth of DC knowledge shown in Adams' “Future State” work, but it potentially also course corrects from more than a decade before. That’s a lot of pressure on Adams' shoulders, but so far (for now), so good.

[Review contains spoilers]

Give or take, Eclipsed is the first time Wally West has appeared as the titular Flash in Flash book since the late 2000s (give or take Adams' Flash Vol. 16: Wally West Returns, which had a significant helping of Barry Allen), essentially since Flash: The Wild Wests.

That book, of course, came in something of an uncertain period for the Flash franchise — Geoff Johns departing the Wally West Flash title saw DC try and fail to do something different, setting Impulse Bart Allen as the Flash. Then, what seemed a surefire hit — reuniting Wally with his other best known writer, Mark Waid — also failed to catch on, and that was it for Wally West. The burgeoning of superheroes in film and TV led to an interest in simplifying DC’s properties, coinciding with the New 52, and Barry Allen would be DC’s Flash for the next 10 years or more, with Wally in limbo for a good portion of that.

DC Trade Solicitations for May 2023 - Flash Vol. 18 Dark Crisis Tie-In, Batman vs. Robin, Crisis on Multiple Earths Book Three, Sandman Helm Masterpiece Edition, Superman: Camelot Falls Deluxe, Swamp Thing: Green Hell, Green Lantern Corps Omnibus

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Sure are a lot of books in the DC Comics May 2023 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations. Of course, most of those are the hardcovers of the Batman — One Bad Day one-shots, but still, a lot of books nonetheless! (I kid, but the more I see the creative teams on these One Bad Day books, the more interested I am in them.)

Two unexpected volumes in these listings, when “unexpected” doesn’t come around all that much any more. One is Crisis on Multiple Earths Book 3: Countdown to Crisis, continuing and finishing DC’s reprinting of the “Crisis on Multiple Earths” JLA/JSA/etc. crossover stories. Books like these — indeed, collections series in general, and collections series of older stories in specific — have a tendency to fall off before they’re done, so I’m glad to see this one make it.

The other one, which I never would have guessed, is Superman: Camelot Falls: The Deluxe Edition. Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco, and Jesus Merino are a team with a following, and I would guess the reprint now has mainly to do with Pacheco’s recent death. Not a bad story, not a great story, though certainly well drawn, and I’m mildly curious how it might hold up in a reread.

For regular continuity I’ve got my eye on Mark Waid’s Batman vs. Robin and the Flash Dark Crisis tie-in trade. Also Dan Watter’s Sword of Azrael. On the Black Label side we’ve got Jeff Lemire and Doug Mahnke’s Swamp Thing: Green Hell; on the “got a spare $500 to spend” side is this bonkers shelf for leather-bound Sandman volumes shaped like Morpheus' helmet.

So, a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Let’s take a look at the full list.

Absolute Batman: The Court of Owls (2023 Edition)

New printing of the Absolute-size collection of the New 52 Batman #1–11 by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, with extras.

Absolute Preacher Vol. 2 (2023 Edition)

New printing of the Absolute, collecting issues #27–40 and the specials Saint of Killers, Cassidy: Blood and Whiskey, One Man’s War, The Good Old Boys, and The Story of You-Know-Who, with an introduction by TV Preacher’s Graham McTavish.

Absolute Transmetropolitan Vol. 2 (2023 Edition)

New printing of the Absolute collects issues #19–39 and the Filth of the City special.

Batman — One Bad Day Box Set

All eight Batman — One Bad Day hardcovers, plus a “special edition” of Batman: The Killing Joke. I am amazed, really amazed, there’s no push to rename Killing Joke to “Batman — One Bad Day: Joker” for the purposes of this series. Interestingly, I don’t see online the box set solicited back for March that contained just Batman — One Bad Day: Riddler and the Killing Joke volume, which did indeed seem a little silly — but then again this box set isn’t necessarily showing online either, so who knows?

Batman — One Bad Day: Bane

Another of the One Bad Day one-shots in hardcover, in July 2023, by Joshua Williamson and Howard Porter (responsible together for some of Williamson's best issues on Flash).

Batman — One Bad Day: Catwoman

In hardcover in June 2023 by G. Willow Wilson and Jamie McKelvie.

Batman — One Bad Day: Clayface

In hardcover in early August by Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing, and Xermanico.

Batman — One Bad Day: Mr. Freeze

Arriving in hardcover in May 2023 by Gerry Duggan and Matteo Scalero.

Batman — One Bad Day: Ra's al Ghul

In hardcover August 15 by Tom Taylor, Ivan Reis, and Danny Miki. Like, these flimsy one-shots-to-hardcovers, banking on the dubious reputation of Killing Joke, seemed like a mercenary cash grab at the outset, but some of the creative teams on these are really impressive. I’m exceptionally curious to see Tom Taylor’s idea of the quintessential Ra’s al Ghul story, among others.

Batman Arkham: Catwoman

Said to include Batman #1 and #355; Catwoman (1989) #1–4 (the Mindy Newell miniseries, also known as Catwoman: Her Sister’s Keeper); Catwoman (1993) #54 (by Devin Grayson and Jim Balent, I believe); Catwoman (2002) #25 (maybe by Ed Brubaker and Paul Gulacy); Catwoman Secret Files and Origins #1; and Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #70–71.

Batman vs. Robin

In hardcover in July by Mark Waid, spinning out of Batman/Superman: World’s Finest and the latest Robin series.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: Fear State

Paperback, following the hardcover, of Mariko Tamaki and Dan Mora’s Detective Comics #1040–1046 and Batman: Secret Files: Huntress.

Batman: Gotham Knights – Gilded City

In hardcover in July by Evan Narcisse and Abel, leading in to the Gotham Knights video game and apparently introducing Runaway, the Batman of the 1800s.

Batman: The Knight

In hardcover in July, collecting the 10-issue miniseries by current Batman writer Chip Zdarsky with Carmine Di Giandomenico.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Omnibus

Said to collect Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, and Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, plus “hundreds of pages” of extras and an introduction by Kevin Eastman.

Crisis on Multiple Earths Book 3: Countdown to Crisis

Collects All-Star Squadron #14–15 and Justice League of America #171–172, #183–185, #196–197, #207–209, which finishes out the fifth and sixth volumes of the original Crisis on Multiple Earths collections. The solicitation calls this the final volume of this collections series, so I don’t think DC will be re-collecting the Crisis on Multiple Earths: The Team-Ups issues, but still it’s nice to see the original Crisis on Multiple Earths books get some life again.

DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War Part 1

In hardcover in July, collecting DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #1–3 and the DC vs. Vampires: Hunters one-shot. Presumably Part 2 will have the last three issues of All-Out War plus the Killers special.

DC: Mech

In hardcover in July, collecting the six-issue miniseries by Kenny Porter and Baldemar Rivas.

DCeased Box Set

Whole bunch of zombie goodness in this one, bringing together paperbacks of Tom Taylor’s DCeased, DCeased: Unkillables, DCeased: Dead Planet, DCeased: Hope at World’s End, and DCeased: War of the Undead God.

Deathstroke Inc. Vol. 1: King of the Super-Villains

Paperback, following the hardcover, and collecting issues #1–7 and a Black Canary story from Batman: Urban Legends #6.

The Flash Vol. 18: The Search for Barry Allen

In paperback in late June. Collects issues #780–789, so both the War for Earth-3 crossover and the Dark Crisis tie-ins, ending just before “One-Minute War.”

Green Lantern Corps by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason Omnibus Vol. 1

I don’t even think this is such a controversial thing to say any more — Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Green Lantern Corps was often as good, if not better, than the Geoff Johns' contemporaneous Green Lantern. Often nail-biting, often bloody, this is a run that assuredly deserves an omnibus. Collects Green Lantern Corps: Recharge #1–5, Green Lantern Corps #1–3 and #7–38, Green Lantern #21–25, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1, and stories from Showcase ’95 #7–8 (Tomasi on Mongul; how about that for a blast from the past!), Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #1–3, and Untold Tales of Blackest Night #1. Includes one of my favorite stories perhaps ever, Tomasi and Gleason's Green Lantern Corps: Emerald Eclipse.

The Human Target Volume Two

Collects issues #7–12 of the Tom King/Greg Smallwood miniseries. I thought I remembered hearing about an additional special or ancillary miniseries, but now I can’t find anything about it. Holding out for the complete deluxe collection.

I Am Batman Vol. 1

Issues #1–5 in paperback, following the hardcover. I reviewed John Ridley’s I Am Batman earlier this year.

The Joker Presents: A Puzzlebox

Paperback, following the hardcover, of the mystery series by Matthew Rosenberg and Jesus Merino. I really wanted to like Puzzlebox when I reviewed it last October, but I was very disappointed.

Punchline: The Gotham Game

Collects the six-issue miniseries by Tini Howard, Blake Howard, Gleb Melnikov, and Max Raynor.

The Sandman: Morpheus Helm Masterpiece Edition

Like, what? Sometimes you just have to let the solicitation speak for itself. At $500, this is “six exclusive leather-bound, foil-embossed hardcovers and a custom sculpted book stand resembling Morpheus’s helm.” The volumes, including Sandman #1–75, both editions of Sandman: The Dream Hunters, Sandman: Endless Nights, and Sandman: Overture apparently “fit perfectly in the intricately carved book stand that features a highly detailed bone snout and riveted exterior.” Here, go look at pictures. Also, check out an “original piece of epistolary fiction* from the world of The Sandman — written by Neil Gaiman”! (*That’s a fictional letter, kids.)

Suicide Squad: Get Joker!

Paperback, following the hardcover, of the Black Label miniseries by Brian Azzarello and Alex Maleev. Weird, controversial, and interesting, I reviewed Suicide Squad: Get Joker! in September of last year.

Superman: Camelot Falls: The Deluxe Edition

I tell you what, “Camelot Falls” was nowhere on my DC trades Bingo card. I reviewed Superman: Camelot Falls Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 over 15 years ago; I recall that in the wake of Infinite Crisis, Camelot Falls was Kurt Busiek’s new-classic take on Superman, an everyman Clark Kent with such Silver Age-y powers as “super-reading.” Plenty readable, better in the beginning more than the end, though it paled in comparison to Geoff Johns' Superman: Last Son and his other Action Comics work of the time. This seems assuredly in tribute to the book's artist, Carlos Pacheco, who died in 2022, and I wonder if Busiek’s new introduction will address the same.

Swamp Thing: Green Hell

Finally, the collection of Jeff Lemire and Doug Mahnke’s three-issue, Black Label Swamp Thing: Green Hell, coming in August. Really looking forward to this one.

Sword of Azrael

Wow, who’d have thought we’d ever have a new Sword of Azrael miniseries? And not even Batman branded. Collects the Batman: Urban Legends stories as well as the miniseries proper by Dan Watters and Nikola Cizmesija, in paperback in July.

Teen Titans Go! Box Set 2: The Hungry Games

Includes Teen Titans Go! Vol. 4: Smells Like Teen Titans Spirit, Teen Titans Go! Vol. 5: Falling Stars, and Teen Titans Go!: Weirder Things.

Teen Titans Series Connecting Cover Editions

These books by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo still making waves. This is Teen Titans: Raven, Teen Titans: Beast Boy, Teen Titans: Beast Boy Loves Raven, and Teen Titans: Robin, reprinted in August with connecting covers.

The Unwritten Compendium One

What I’d say is an often-overlooked Vertigo series by Mike Carey and Peter Gross, this collects issues #1–30 plus the graphic novel The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice.

Young Alfred: Pain in the Butler

DC YA graphic novel about young Alfred solving a mystery at Gotham Servants School, by Michael Northrop and Sam Lotfi.

Young Justice: Targets

In paperback in July, collecting the final(?) six-issue animated-series tie-in comic by Greg Weisman and Christopher Jones.

More on Trial of the Amazons

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Continuing from the first part of my review of Trial of the Amazons ...

Trial of the Amazons works well enough as a Wonder Woman event, technicalities aside. This thin, nascent attempt at creating a universe of Wonder Woman characters is fun, even if its largely illusionary (the “crossover” made up of miniseries created largely for this very purpose). There’s strong support here, however, for an approach like Justice League: Endless Winter rather than Trial.

That is, whereas Endless was a filler story, it was written by just one team across a variety of series and specials instead of each title’s individual team, and it was better and more cohesive for it. Trial is clearly written by a committee that, while seemingly enthusiastic and dedicated to the Wonder Woman franchise, doesn’t always appear to be rowing the same direction with the characters. Again, in broad strokes I liked Trial of the Amazons, but it’s messy in the details.

Review: Trial of the Amazons hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 12, 2023

DC Comics bills Trial of the Amazons as the “first Wonder Woman crossover of its kind.” I guess, looked at in the realm of “crossovers among books in the Wonder Woman family,” a la your standard Bat-crossover, then yes, this is a first.

But considering the “crossover,” as it were, involves just one regular series title, Wonder Woman, and then two specific “Trial of the Amazons” issues branching off the Wonder Girl miniseries and then the single final issue of the Nubia and the Amazons miniseries, this is not even so much a crossover at all as Wonder Woman plus a bunch of miniseries issues created specifically to form a “Trial of the Amazons” event series. Which is to say, I’m not sure Trial of the Amazons can really straight-faced take the “first of its kind” mantle away from Wonder Woman: War of the Gods, for instance, as delightfully bloated as it was in its 1990s way.

Review: The Batman Adventures Vol. 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 08, 2023

[A series on Batman: The Animated Series comics collections by guest reviewer Zach King. Zach writes about movies at The Cinema King and about comics on Instagram at Dr. King’s Comics.]

Preface: I’m writing these reviews in December 2022. One month ago, we learned that Kevin Conroy had passed away on November 10, 2022 — just under three years after I met him at the Minneapolis GalaxyCon. He was supremely generous with his fans, indulging one with a few bars of “Am I Blue?” I thanked him for being the voice of my childhood, and we talked about how he played Batman like Hamlet. The night the news broke, I queued up “Perchance to Dream” (Kevin’s favorite episode) and dug into The Batman Adventures. These reviews are dedicated to the memory of Kevin Conroy, who was and always will be vengeance and the night … and Batman.

Before I was in kindergarten, I understood the concept of “must see TV.” Fox Kids had trained me to rush to the television set at 3:30 p.m. every day for a new installment of Batman: The Animated Series. I am sure I don’t need to preach much to this choir, but BTAS was definitive. I was too young for the Tim Burton movies, and the Adam West show wasn’t in wide syndication on any of the channels we had at home. But I still had Batman, and what a Batman he was: powerful but not omnipotent, grim but not dour, inhabiting a Gotham City that was somehow both deep noir and intensely vibrant, populated with some of the best iterations of Batman’s supporting cast and rogues gallery.

Review: Nubia and the Amazons hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 05, 2023

I enjoyed Stephanie Williams and Vita Ayala’s Nubia and the Amazons, certainly more so than its contemporaneous Wonder Girl: Homecoming, all of which is leading in to Trial of the Amazons. I still can’t escape the impression DC Comics isn’t putting the resources behind this book — if not the entire new Wonder Woman-verse — that they ought be; there are no brand-new creators here, and yet errors ranging from historical and in-story continuity errors to basic messy draftsmanship marr the book.

But at the core of Nubia is a renewed bit of Amazon lore that’s brilliant and fascinating, and offers storytelling possibilities for years to come. I fear the audience for an ongoing series set among the columns and togas of Themyscira is small, but I appreciate the manner in which Williams and Ayala hint at a path to modernity amidst the staid Greek backdrop.

Review: Wonder Girl: Homecoming hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 01, 2023

Everyone, it seems, has a vision for Wonder Girl Yara Flor. Consider, indeed, the sheer variety of depictions of Yara among Wonder Girl: Homecoming’s issues' variant covers, from the noble seriousness of Bisques Evely’s and Jenny Frison’s depictions to the brave confidence of Jamal Campbell’s cover, the youth of Will Murai’s Yara contrasted with the cheesecake pinup of J. Scott Campbell’s.

It’s an indication that the age-old question rears its head again — who is Wonder Girl? Given so many opinions, the answer seems to be that no one really knows. Joelle Jones' Homecoming book provides no satisfying answers, though whether this is a failure of Jones or of the book’s collection schema remains to be seen.

After Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad’s entertaining Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Through a Glass Darkly (following their disappointing Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Afterworlds), I thought perhaps the Wonder Woman titles were on an upswing going in to Trial of the Amazons. But Yara Flor remains a trouble spot, seeming under Jones' pen to be all style, no substance, and no more fleshed out than she was after her first Future State appearances. In the run up to what was going to be, and then wasn’t, Yara’s CW television debut, there’s a certain “don’t ask, just buy it” aesthetic here, but it’s not nearly enough for this discerning reader.

Review: Orion Omnibus by Walter Simonson hardcover

Sunday, January 29, 2023

[A series on post-Jack Kirby New Gods titles by guest reviewer Zach King. Zach writes about movies at The Cinema King and about comics on Instagram at Dr. King’s Comics.]

“I didn’t think I’d be able to do what John [Byrne] was doing, working with a focus more or less on the entirety of the Fourth World material. I thought I’d be better off focusing on a single character as the mainstay of my series. Then I could bring in other Fourth World characters as the stories or my own inclinations dictated. I always had Orion in mind …” — Walter Simonson

Two years after John Byrne left the Fourth World, Walt Simonson stepped up to the plate. Simonson had been something of a reserve pitcher, doing covers and the occasional backup feature throughout Byrne’s run. Yet for a writer and artist who became most famous for a four-year stint on Thor, it’s perhaps inevitable that Simonson took the reins with another of Jack Kirby’s helmeted warriors.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Through a Glass Darkly trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

In its own way, Wonder Woman Vol. 2: Through a Glass Darkly bides its time until Trial of the Amazons just as much as the previous volume did (DC will die on the hill of “the show must go on,” but if Diana was meant to be “dead” for the last dozen issues, maybe the solution would indeed have been to suspend publication). But this is much, much more the kind of Wonder Woman story (or, even, comics in general) that I favor, basic “down to earth” superheroes vs. supervillains instead of the high fantasy of Asgardian mythology of Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad’s Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Afterworlds.

Mirror felt like the cozy mystery equivalent of a superhero comic to me; branching out, as it does, from Diana’s return to the living after a year away, the book is often more concerned with renewing relationships and chit-chat than it is with real plot. In other circumstances that might be a problem, but first of all, such a detailed exploration of a superhero’s return to life is interesting and novel; second of all, the writers populate this book with such good characterization and a strong supporting cast that the slow pace is hardly bothersome. Strong art from Marcio Takara helps immensely.

DC Trade Solicitations for April 2023 - Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths collections, Black Adam, DC Pride: New Generation, Power of Shazam Book 2 and New Champion, Wonder Woman Historia, Poison Ivy, Steel 30th Anniversary, Gotham Academy

Sunday, January 22, 2023

It’s the DC Comics April 2023 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations, and June brings the Dark Crisis on Infinite Earth collections. Unless I’m overlooking something, everything is there. A quick breakdown:

If I’m not mistaken (give or take a regular series issue or two collected in their own trades), that’s everything in four hardcovers, which is not nothing, but Dark Nights: Death Metal was five collections and Blackest Night was seven.

A few others to note — we see the first collection of Christopher Priest’s Black Adam series. Also a DC Pride collection with much emphasis on Robin Tim Drake; the New Champion of Shazam! collection has a “Lazarus Planet” story in it already(!), because clearly the years start coming and they don’t stop coming. (And, not to overlook, the next collection of Jerry Ordway’s Power of Shazam!) A Gotham Academy collection, a Steel anniversary book, and Wonder Woman Historia; it’s a good list all around.

Let’s dive in.

Absolute Preacher Vol. 1 (2023 Edition)

Collects issues #1–26 by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, with an introduction by Preacher TV producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the script for issue #11, promotional art, and sections from the “Gone to Texas” letters column. Apparently the first of three planned volumes.

Absolute Sandman Overture (2023 Edition)

Reprint of the Absolute edition, including a foreword by Neil Gaiman, behind-the-scenes and sketchbook material, “artist’s edition” of JH Williams’s work, and a script for issue #1.

Absolute V for Vendetta (2023 Edition)

Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s 10-issue story, plus recolored “bridging” pages and extras. Guess I should read this one of these days, eh?

Batman – One Bad Day: Penguin

In hardcover in July 2023, by Other History of the DC Universe's John Ridley and Giuseppe Camuncoli.

Batman – One Bad Day: Two-Face

In hardcover in July 2023, by Mariko Tamaki and Javier Fernandez.

Batman: Beyond the White Knight

In hardcover in June 2023, collecting Batman: Beyond the White Knight #1–8 and Batman: White Knight Presents: Red Hood #1–2.

Batman: Fortress

In hardcover, collecting the eight-issue miniseries by Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson. The solicitation calls this an "Elseworlds-type" story, which is an interesting hedge.

Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 5

What had seemed to be mostly movie-themed Bat-team-ups now mentions, according to the solicitations, the Outsiders, an Alfred Pennyworth story, and the new Arkham Academy. I liked Brandon Thomas' previous Outsiders story from Batman: Urban Legends Vol. 2 and I'm eager for the next.

Black Adam Vol. 1: Theogony

In paperback, surprisingly, by Christopher Priest and Rafa Sandoval, coming in May and collecting issues #1-6.

Clark & Lex

Brendan Reichs and Jerry Gaylord’s young adult story of Smallville.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths

In hardcover in June 2023, collecting Justice League #75 and Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #0–7.

Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League

In hardcover in June, Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1, Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Green Lantern #1, Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Wonder Woman #1, Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Green Arrow #1, and Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Batman #1. This hopefully includes all the backup stories therein.

Dark Crisis: Young Justice

In hardcover, still scheduled for June 13, 2023, the week before the actual Dark Crisis hardcover, collecting the six-issue tie-in by Meghan Fitzmartin and Laura Braga.

DC Pride: The New Generation

It would seem this is at least the contents of DC Pride 2022, but then also the DC Pride: Tim Drake special, which itself collected the Tim Drake stories from Batman: Urban Legends #4–6 and #10 with a brand-new story. So that's a good amount already, plus the story by the late Kevin Conroy, and an introduction by Nicole Maines. In hardcover in May.

Gotham Academy

Apparently issues #1–18 of the original Gotham Academy and the annual, but not the 12-issue Gotham Academy: Second Semester or any extras. If they’d reprint everything, I’d probably do a reread. I first reviewed Gotham Academy back in 2015.

History of the DC Universe

The original and still the best attempt to present DC’s history as a cohesive whole, by Marv Wolfman and the late George Pérez. In hardcover in June.

The New Champion of Shazam!

In hardcover in May, collecting the four-issue miniseries by Josie Campbell and Doc Shaner, plus a story from Lazarus Planet: We Once Were Gods #1.

Nightwing Vol. 1: Leaping Into the Light

By Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, in paperback following the hardcover, collecting issues #78–83.

Nightwing Vol. 3: The Battle for Blüdhaven's Heart

The third series collection by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo, in hardcover in June, collecting issues #92-96 (so probably next one has issue #100).

Poison Ivy Vol. 1: The Virtuous Cycle

In hardcover (how far Poison Ivy has come!) by G. Willow Wilson and Marcio Takara, collecting the first six-issues of the expanded-to-12 miniseries.

The Power of Shazam! Book 2: The Worm Turns

In paperback in May, continuing the collection of the Jerry Ordway series, including The Power of Shazam! #13–23, Superman: The Man of Tomorrow #4, Showcase ’96 #7, The Power of Shazam! Annual #1, Superboy Plus #1, and Supergirl Plus #1. This went for 47 issues and change, so another volume or two to go.

Shazam! and the Seven Magic Lands

In time for the new movie, paperback of the story by Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham.

Static: Season One

Paperback, following the hardcover, collecting all six issues by Vita Ayala and the Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0.

Steel: A Celebration of 30 Years

This seems a highly worthy collection for a great character with a lot of staying power. Now, what’d really be great would be if we could get some new collections of the Steel run by Christopher Priest or even a new Christopher Priest series, but hey, it’s a start. Collects Action Comics #4 (Grant Morrison’s New 52 Steel), Adventures of Superman #500 (if not the whole book then John Henry Irons' pre-“Reign of the Supermen” debut), Convergence: Superman: Man of Steel #1–2, JLA #17, Justice League Unlimited #35, Steel #1 and #34, Suicide Squad #24, and Superman: The Man of Steel #22, #100, and #122, as well as (presumably the Steel story from) the Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special and "Steel (Vol. 2) #1," which I'll hazard a guess is the Reign of Doomsday special from 2011 (and not actually volume 2 of Steel, but volume 3; volume 1 is the Hank Haywood [Sr.] miniseries from 1978).

Superman '78/Batman '89 Box Set

Box set of the two movie sequel miniseries, in hardcover.

Superman: Son of Kal-El Vol. 3: Battle for Gamorra

Hardcover by Tom Taylor, coming in May, and collecting issues #11-15. The series ends with issue #18 (ahead of the miniseries) so who knows if the contents will expand.

Tales From Dark Crisis

In hardcover on June 20 (same day as the Dark Crisis collection itself), collecting Justice League: Road to Dark Crisis #1, Dark Crisis: The Deadly Green #1, Dark Crisis: The Dark Army #1, Dark Crisis: War Zone #1, and Dark Crisis: Big Bang #1.

Teen Titans Academy Vol. 2: Exit Wounds

Paperback, following the hardcover, due in June and collecting the final issues of the series, #6–15.

Teen Titans Go! Box Set 1: TV or Not TV

Apparently the first of two box sets planned. This one includes the graphic novels Teen Titans Go! Vol. 1: Party, Party!, Teen Titans Go! Vol. 2: Welcome to the Pizza Dome, and Teen Titans Go! Vol. 3: Mumbo Jumble.

Tom Strong Compendium

Tom Strong issues #1–36 by Alan Moore, Chris Sprouse, and others. Put Terrifics issues in one of these, cowards.

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons (Direct Market Edition)

The masterwork by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha, and Nicola Scott, in “regular”(?) and direct market editions, in hardcover in June.