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.