Ask Collected Editions #7: Batman: Long Halloween and the DC Timeline

Thursday, November 26, 2015

For your holiday reading, I thought I'd answer another letter from the Collected Editions mailbag. As always, if you have a question for "Ask Collected Editions," send an email to the Yahoo account or post it on the Collected Editions Facebook wall, and your question could be used in a future segment.

Reader cinemazing asks:
When I look at other timelines, specifically a Batman chronological timeline, Batman: Haunted Knight, Long Halloween and Dark Victory are fairly early in continuity as opposed to here. Why is that?
I get asked this a lot, so I'm happy to have a chance to explain. I should start by saying that the "timeline" aspect of the Collected Editions DC Trade Paperback Timeline is actually a misnomer. Most of the time, "timeline" indicates something presented in chronological order, whereas a "reading order" presents books in the best order to read them, regardless of chronology. I would actually argue that the DC TPB Timeline is both a timeline and a reading order, but to say it's more of a reading order might begin to answer your question.

Let's establish first of all what qualifies a book, for me, to go on the DC TPB Timeline. Regular series are a given; when DC Comics publishes an in-continuity Teen Titans series, all the collections of that series will go on the timeline, even if some issues don't specifically cross-over or tie-in with any other books. Ditto if books like Superman/Batman or Legends of the Dark Knight are sometimes in continuity, then all the volumes of that title will go on the timeline even again if some volumes stand on their own.

DC Comics also publishes miniseries, which are sometimes collected. Those miniseries can be, but aren't always, in continuity. If a collected miniseries can be demonstrated to be specifically in continuity, then I would put it on the DC TPB Timeline. If a miniseries tells a story, even one that seems in continuity for the most part, but isn't specifically canonized by a reference from a regular series, then I don't tend to put it on the timeline.

A popular example is Matt Wagner's Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity, published post-Crisis on Infinite Earths but before Infinite Crisis, that showed the first meeting between the three heroes. In that post-Crisis continuity, however, Superman and Batman originally met in Man of Steel and then they met Wonder Woman in Legends. The Superman titles at the time upheld that Legends first meeting, as did the post-Zero Hour timeline, and none of the regular series ever referenced the events of Trinity. Therefore, since no regular-series story ever brought Trinity firmly into continuity (and some stories even contradicted it), Trinity is effectively considered an "Elseworlds" and doesn't have a place in the DC TPB Timeline reading order.

Another example is Mark Waid's Kingdom Come, a tale of a troubled DC Universe future, which was indeed first presented as an Elseworlds. That book wouldn't go on the DC TPB Timeline at all, except that a later Justice Society story specifically referenced Kingdom Come, bringing it into continuity even as an Elseworlds. So this is not to say that some Elseworlds don't have a place on the DC TPB Timeline, but rather that any miniseries not specifically connected to a regular series doesn't have a de jure place on the DC TPB Timeline unless it's later referenced by a regular series.

In this way, Batman: Long Halloween and Dark Victory were not immediately assured a place on the DC TPB Timeline (and they were even contradicted by other miniseries and regular-series stories). Once the events of those books were acknowledged by the regular series collections Batman: Face the Face and Batman: Life After Death, then Long Halloween and its related books gained a place on the timeline.

As for how I determined where to place them, let's begin by looking at a non-Batman example. Take these four collections, in the order in which their issues were originally published:

Publication Order:
Superman: Man of Steel Vol. 1
Superman: Man of Steel Vol. 2
Superman: Secret Origin
Superman: New Krypton

Technically, Secret Origin is an origin of Superman, so a chronological "timeline" might put Secret Origin next to Man of Steel Vol. 1, Superman's original post-Crisis on Infinite Earths origin.

But this is confusing for a number of reasons. This would have the reader reading two contradictory origins one right after the other, and then going on from Secret Origin to Man of Steel Vol. 2, which equally doesn't match. Secret Origin doesn't enter continuity until after Infinite Crisis, which means a reader would be holding on to aspects of Secret Origin for over twenty years-worth of Superman collections before the events of Secret Origin would come into continuity. And the reader would read a not-yet-in-continuity origin of Metallo in Secret Origin before they read an in-continuity-at-that-point origin of Metallo in Man of Steel Vol. 2, and so on.

Therefore, I think a better "reading order" is keeping Man of Steel Vols. 1 and 2 on the DC TPB Timeline around when they were published after Crisis on Infinite Earths, and putting Secret Origin on the timeline around the time when it enters into continuity, when it's referenced by New Krypton. This gives the reader a non-contradictory reading order, even if it means a little jumping around in Superman's own timeline (you might consider Secret Origin a retroactive continuity "flashback").

For these same reasons, Batman: Long Halloween and its related titles don't appear on the DC TPB Timeline until just before Face the Face because before that point, Long Halloween wasn't specifically in continuity. As a matter of fact, 2000's Robin: Year One contradicts 1999's Dark Victory, and since Robin tied into 2001's Nightwing: On the Razor's Edge before Long Halloween/Dark Victory tied into 2006's Batman: Face the Face, Long Halloween appears on the timeline later than Robin: Year One even though it was published first. To read these books in publication order, the reader would weave in and out of two different continuities instead of reading the books from each continuity with their own related titles.

(Haunted Knight and Catwoman: When in Rome are both pretty well out of continuity, but since they relate to Long Halloween and Dark Victory, I include them on the DC TPB Timeline as one "series" together.)

Thanks again for the question! Best wishes to all and be here next week for new reviews.
Collected Editions 2015 Comic Book Gift Guide

DC Trade Solicitations for February/March/April 2016 - Coloring DC, Batman: Contagion, Wonder Woman: War of the Gods, Robin War, Gotham Central Omnibus

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Scratch two items off my ultimate collections wishlist with DC Comics's February/March/April 2016 DC Comics hardcover and trade paperback collection releases (posted November 2015). This month we see Wonder Woman: War of the Gods by George Perez, the crossover collection I really never thought I'd see, and then also Superman and the Justice League of America by Dan Jurgens, a strong "Triangle Titles"-era run that I wouldn't have thought was even considered for collection. Not unusual, I question whether the contents of that latter book have been solicited 100% right, but I'm still glad to see it getting collections recognition (and more collections of Robin by Chuck Dixon, Batman: Contagion, the Gotham Central Omnibus).

But before we dive in, I want to acknowledge what seems some really good news coming from DC this month, that Grayson's Tim Seeley is joining Suicide Squad and Action Comics's Greg Pak is joining Teen Titans. Seeley and Pak are two of DC's leading writers right now, and Suicide Squad and Teen Titans are two titles that ought be among DC's highest-profile series but aren't. Both are titles that I'd all but written off after failed relaunches, and I'm very excited by the prospect of the books becoming readable again.

Now, then, did someone say "War of the Gods" ... ?

UPDATE: Two notable collections just hit the online retailers. They are:

Batman: New Gotham (Greg Rucka)
Best of Vixen

Continuing what seems like a resurgence of Greg Rucka collections from DC, "New Gotham" was the umbrella name for the Batman line after No Man's Land, but specifically the Detective Comics work that Rucka did with Shawn Martinbrough and specific color palettes for each issue. Issues #743 to #750 were collected in Batman: New Gotham Vol. 1: Evolution, but sadly most of the rest of Rucka's run (to issue #775, and including the introduction of Checkmate's Sasha Bordeaux) has not been collected. Hopefully this is is, which'll dovetail well with the listed Checkmate by Greg Rucka collection.

"Best of ..." isn't a common DC collections title, so I imagine this will change, but nice to see Vixen getting some recognition (maybe will collect some Action Comics, some Suicide Squad, some Justice League). I can't see the CW Seed series made much of a splash, but with Flash and Arrow introducing new heroes left and right, I'd be surprised if Vixen didn't make the jump to a show. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming ...

Batman: Contagion TP

As I suspected, the solicitations for what was once Batman: Legacy/Contagion continue to get themselves worked out. Here's a solicitation for Batman: Contagion that actually includes the "Contagion" issues. A fun story from when "outbreak" tales were big, the success of "Contagion" is arguably responsible for every Bat-crossover you've ever read since. The subsequent collection of Batman: Legacy isn't solicited yet; I don't want to say sales of one might influence the other, but that's not far off.

Coloring DC: Batman – Hush Vol. 1 TP
Coloring DC: Batman Adventures – Mad Love TP

If there's anyone out there who had never touched a coloring book before in their adult life who got into it via the current adult coloring book fad, I'm curious to hear what got you into it. Personally it seems to me so many different places are jumping on the coloring book bandwagon boom that I can't imagine it won't bust pretty soon. These two Batman books have considerably different artists, between the narrow spaces of Jim Lee's pencils and the wider animated ones of Bruce Timm's; equally curious what might pull a reader to choosing one versus choosing the other.

Gotham Central Omnibus HC

Reposted mainly for a signal boost at this point; a deserving book worthy of this format and no doubt you're convinced as you'll ever be by now to pick it up. I am glad this seems to indicate a resurgence of Greg Rucka collections at DC, assuming the early solicitations hold. Also this makes me miss NYPD Blue, for which there is not a good network cop show replacement.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Year Four Vol. 1 HC
Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One – The Complete Collection TP

I ended up liking the Injustice books that I've read more than I thought I would -- as viewed through a veil of amoral superhero fun -- and I'd venture Tom Taylor's complete Injustice: Year One wouldn't be a bad read all together. I hadn't realized Brian Buccellato is now on what's Injustice: Year Four, and that also lends some credebility to the series.

Justice League: Darkseid War – Power of The Gods HC

We see now "Darkseid War" in at least three volumes, Justice League Vols. 7 and 8 and now this collection of the specials. I'm still expecting a Darkseid War Omnibus before it's all said and done. Good for DC, though, for keeping this story all in the Justice League title and specials and not into any of the regular series.

Robin Vol. 2 TP

The early Chuck Dixon stories of Robin Tim Drake were once collected out of order, with a collection that included Tim donning the costume and the first Robin miniseries coming before a collection that included a Tim story prior to when he wore the costume and then the second miniseries. That's all sorted now, with the Batman and Detective stories and the first miniseries in Vol. 1, and this collection set to include the second and third miniseries, Cry of the Huntress, the latter of which has never before been collected. The first six issues of the regular series have been collected once before, so it'll either be late in Vol. 3 or into Vol. 4 before we have more previously-uncollected material.

Superman and the Justice League of America Vol. 1 TP

I'm sorry to see that it looks like the recently-solicited Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Vol. 2 and also my beloved Titans: Total Chaos both seem to have been pulled before solicitation; however, we still have this Superman and the Justice League of America collection by Dan Jurgens, collecting material around "Death of Superman." This book apparently stops short of the actual "Death of Superman" tie-in issues, however (Justice League Spectacular and issues #61-67, whereas "Death" is issues #69-70ish). This is listed as Vol. 1 and I'd be happy for DC to collect the rest of Jurgens's run, #68-77, though it's hard to call it "Superman and ..." when Superman is dead for the majority of the issues. If DC expanded this book to include through #70 and then stopped, I'd be satisfied.

Superman/Batman Vol. 3 TP

I'm glad to see these Superman/Batman collections continuing beyond the (very good) Jeph Loeb material. This one collects issues #27-36 and the first annual, which is Mark Verheiden's entire run on Superman/Batman, both Enemies Among Us and then a three-part Metal Men story never before collected. The annual is by Joe Kelly with artists including Ed McGuinness.

Wonder Woman: War of The Gods TP

The beginning of the end of George Perez's run on Wonder Woman and also one of DC Comics's last big line-wide in-title crossovers for a couple years. The story was good if not necessarily great, and the crossover was marred by mis-branded issues, issues shoehorned into the crossover, etc., but it's also fantastically reminiscent of the era and wonderfully nostalgic, including appearances by a couple of Crisis on Infinite Earths characters. I have wanted a War of the Gods collection forever and I'm so glad it's almost here.

World’s Funnest TP

An interesting collection of issues, not just Evan Dorkin's Superman and Batman: World's Funnest, but also an issue from Karl Kesel's World's Finest miniseries, Mitefall, and Bat-Mite's first appearance, Detective Comics #267, weighting the book rather heavily toward Bat-Mite.

Blackest Night Unwrapped HC

Not my bag necessarily but I'm sure a black-and-white Blackest Night will be nicely creepy.

Aquaman Vol. 7: Exiled HC

As we saw last month, these new post-New 52 "DC You" collections include the Convergence preview stories, specifically here Aquaman issues #41-48 and the preview from Convergence: Suicide Squad. This collects Cullen Bunn's entire Aquaman run.

Batman & Robin Eternal Vol. 1 TP

A nicely sizable collection of Batman and Robin Eternal, issues #1-12, suggests the whole series should be collected in two volumes.

Batman Beyond Vol. 1: Brave New Worlds TP

The first six issues plus the Convergence: Batman and the Outsiders story. I've read the preview of this, and there's a distinct lack of reference to the events of Futures End, including who Batman Beyond is supposed to be working with. That concerns me, and seems to defeat the "at least Batman Beyond continues the Futures End story" theory. Is this supposed to be a Convergence time shift, or something?

Black Canary Vol. 1: Kicking and Screaming TP

Issues #1-7 and the Convergence: Blue Beetle story.

Cyborg Vol. 1: Unplugged TP

Issues #1-6 and the Convergence: Crime Syndicate story.

Doctor Fate Vol. 1: The Blood Price TP

Issues #1-7 and the Convergence: Aquaman story.

Earth 2: Society Vol. 1: Planetfall TP

Issues #1-6 and the Convergence: Justice League preview.

Gotham Academy Vol. 2: Calamity TP

Issues #7-12 and the story from Convergence: Green Lantern Corps (which seems a very odd match-up).

Green Lantern Vol. 7: Renegade HC

"Renegade, renegade, living like ..." Oh, um, issues #41-46, the Convergence: Atom story, and what's listed as Annual #1 but should actually say Annual #4.

Harley Quinn and Power Girl TP

The six-issue miniseries. I go back and forth on my enjoyment of the Harley Quinn series but her previous team-up with Power Girl was pure fun.

Justice League 3001 Vol. 1: Déjà Vu All Over Again TP

Collects the last two issues of Justice League 3000 (#14-15), League 3001 #1-6, and the Convergence: Justice League International preview.

Red Hood/Arsenal Vol. 1: Open For Business TP

Issues #1-6 and the preview from Convergence: Titans.

Starfire Vol. 1: Welcome Home TP

Issues #1-6 and the Convergence: Green Arrow preview. I liked Emanuela Lupacchino's art on Supergirl and I'm curious to see it here on Starfire, even if Lupacchino recently announced her departure from the series.

Teen Titans Vol. 2: Rogue Targets TP

To search online for Teen Titans Vol. 2 reveals a long history of Titans, many of which I've read or reviewed: Teen Titans Vol. 2: Family Lost, Teen Titans Vol. 2: The Culling, not to mention New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 2. This latest volume 2 includes issues #8-12, the Convergence: Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes preview, and Annual #1 (confusingly, the second Annual #1 of the post-Flashpoint era).

We Are Robin Vol. 1: The Vigilante Business TP

"We are Robin, bum bada-bum bada-bum bum bum!" (I can't be the first to make that joke.) Issues #1-6 and the Convergence: New Teen Titans preview. "Robin War," collected elsewhere this month, crosses over with this title right after this trade, with issue #7.

• Robin War HC
Near as I can tell, the entire Robin War crossover collected in one book (and not multiple volumes, which is refreshing). Now whether you can read Robin War #1-2 in any other collection or if you'd have to get this for it remains to be seen ...

What are you buying this month? (War of the Gods!)

Review: New 52: Futures End Vol. 3 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Rarely have I been so frustrated with a comic as when I finished reading New 52: Futures End Vol. 3, and surely I should know better.

There's often debate regarding shared comic book universes as to whether every comic must "matter," or if there's room for mostly-disconnected shared-universe comics that "just" tell a good story. Err on the side of stories being too connected and you end up with something like Trinity War, an event whose main purpose turned out to be to itself lead in to other events. Err on the other side, however, and you get Futures End, which does also lead into Convergence, but in the main tells a variety of stories unlikely to be picked up anywhere else but that also don't end very conclusively here. One must believe very ardently that the journey is the thing, because Futures End is a lot of journey with little destination, and that feels very unsatisfying.

Entry Plug: Black Lagoon Vol. 1 review (VIZ Media)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

For all of my newfound enthusiasm about manga, I'm not much of an anime watcher. It's only within the last few months that I've found a solid hour-long anime block: the excellent adaptation of One Punch Man and what might be the best modern Gundam show, Iron-Blooded Orphans. I'm not opposed to going back and watching anime based on the manga I've reviewed for "Entry Plug," as this week's subject got me very interested in the Black Lagoon anime. I only mention this as a disclaimer -- I can't directly compare the manga to the anime as I haven't watched the latter yet.

Comic Book Gift Guide 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

With the holidays just around the corner (and stores starting to gear up earlier and earlier), I've started to think about what I want on my gift list and maybe what you might want, too. Here's my annual Collected Editions top trade paperback and graphic novel gifts recommendations, the books I (and contributor Doug Glassman) find noteworthy or interesting coming out about this time or that might make good gifts.

And as you peruse these potential presents, I've organized some gift packages for you of books that go together and net you free shipping, to maybe make some buying for your favorite comics fan a little easier.

For additional ideas don't miss my 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists for more gifting suggestions

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Mini-Comic Collection

If you ever enjoyed the toy-advertising juggernaut that was Masters of the Universe, then you no doubt also read the mini-comics that came with each figure. As the cartoon couldn’t always keep pace with the wide and wacky universe of He-Man figures, sometimes the mini-comics were the only place to see the newest characters in action. This is a heavy, hardcover collection at over 1,000 pages; no question you’ll have the power of Grayskull giving this as a gift this year.

Pair the He-Man book with any two of the Star Wars titles for free shipping and a package sure to please any child of the 1980s.

Star Wars Vol. 1: Skywalker Strikes
Star Wars: Darth Vader Vol. 1
Star Wars: Princess Leia
Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire
Star Wars: Kanan: The Last Padawan Vol. 1

Sales reports have shown Marvel killing it with their new Star Wars series, and with The Force Awakens arriving just before Christmas, no doubt Star Wars will be the hot commodity this holiday season. And Marvel’s got a book for every Star Wars fan — in the classic era there’s Star Wars, Darth Vader (both of which are set to cross-over soon), and Princess Leia; for a young or old Rebels fan, there’s the Kanan: The Last Padawan book; and then fan-favorite Greg Rucka has the lead-in title to the new movie, Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire. All five of these make an impressive package and come in at just over $50 with free shipping.

Multiversity Deluxe Edition
Sandman: Overture Deluxe Edition

Among DC Comics’s big releases for the holiday season is a deluxe (oversized) edition of Grant Morrison’s acclaimed Multiversity miniseries. This includes all the issues, the Multiversity Guidebook, and art including by Morrison’s All-Star Superman collaborator Frank Quitely and Batgirl’s Cameron Stewart. Taking place on a variety of alternate Earths, an encyclopedic knowledge of DC Comics isn’t necessary to enjoy this book, but a love of Morrison’s mind-bending superheroics is; this is a must-have for any Morrison fan’s shelf.

And whereas Multiversity deals with alternate realities, Convergence was DC Comics’s much-anticipated summer event that brought together decades worth of DC’s mainstream continuities in one grand mash-up. No true DC fan will want to have missed Convergence, and it arrives too with eight (count ‘em, eight!) companion collections, so you might just get your holiday shopping done with Convergence alone.

If that’s not enough, this holiday season also finally sees the release of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman: Overture deluxe collection, almost two years after the first issue came out, with art by Batwoman’s JH Williams. More than the origin of the Sandman and how he came to be imprisoned at the start of the lauded series, Overture is an equally winding, multiversal tale, surely right for any fantasy fan.

Multiversity pairs with either of these other DC Comics collections to earn free shipping.

Killing and Dying

Killing and Dying is a graphic novel work of short stories by Optic Nerve’s Adrian Tomine, interconnected and set against the backdrop of modern America. Your favorite comics fan likely needs no reminder that the medium is for more than just superheroes, but this work of comics literature would be a great gift as something different or a good gateway perhaps for someone you’re trying to get into comics.

Pair Killing and Dying with Southern Bastards for two realistic graphic novels that expand the definition of comics.

Southern Bastards Deluxe Hardcover Volume 1

A great jumping-on point to Jason Aaron’s Image series Southern Bastards arrives with this deluxe hardcover collection of the first two paperbacks. Called a “seminal southern-fried crime series,” Southern Bastards involves a small Alabama town run by a high school coach and crime boss, and the sheriff’s son who opposes him. Southern Bastard’s Jason Aaron is also the writer of Marvel’s Star Wars; combine these two maybe with one or two of the children's books suggested below to keep or give away, and all of that will add up to free shipping.

Bitch Planet Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine

Acclaimed Captain Marvel writer Kelly Sue DeConnick presents Bitch Planet, turning the sci-fi women exploitation genre on its head. Definitely for the grown-up reader in your life (Doug calls it “Orange is the New Black … in spaaaace!”) this is another boundary-pushing Image series for fans of Saga or Sex Criminals.

Value priced, Bitch Planet can ride along with Southern Bastards and Killing and Dying for free shipping, or pair with Jessica Jones, Princess Leia, and DC Super Friends: Flower Power (a kid's book featuring Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Poison Ivy) for a gift set with woman power.

Jessica Jones: Alias Vol. 1

Netflix’s Daredevil series was a tad intense for me and I’m concerned Jessica Jones will be even harder to watch … but I’ll still be binging as soon as November 20 rolls around! The series is based heavily on Brian Michael Bendis’s Marvel MAX series Alias, conveniently collected, and if you’ve got a Marvel TV fan with a stronger disposition than mine, they’ll no doubt enjoy this look at the original material.Jessica Jones matches the mature themes of Bitch Planet, and add in SHIELD for your favorite Marvel TV fan.

SHIELD Vol. 1: Perfect Bullets

Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, despite lack of stellar ratings, is a show not easily dismissed, having grown in its second season and already offering surprises in its third. Popular writer Mark Waid heads this new series of SHIELD characters set in the ongoing Marvel universe, with emphasis on Agent Phil Coulson. For a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who hasn’t quite gotten in to the comics yet, this might be a good starting point.

The first volume of SHIELD and the first Jessica Jones collection would be a nice package for your fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in all its iterations.

Squadron Supreme

Marvel’s bringing back Squadron Supreme in 2016 in a series spotlighting all the multi-dimensional iterations of this team, originally featuring analogues of DC Comics heroes. If you’ve seen copies of Marvel’s Secret Wars around the house, or for fans of Authority, Watchmen, or Kingdom Come, Doug recommends this collection of the 1980s Squadron Supreme miniseries as the Squadron takes control of the government.

Pair old Marvel and new, Squadron Supreme and SHIELD, for an accessible Marvel package and free shipping.

Complete Peanuts 1995-1998 Gift Box Set

If your favorite comics fan has already Peanutized themselves, that’s probably a hint they’re looking forward to the new “3-D” Peanuts movie. The animators have taken pains to adhere to the spirit of Charles Schultz; meanwhile Fantagraphics continues their collections series of every Peanuts strip ever published. No knock against the earliest material, but these later volumes — including the just-released box set of Vols. 23 and 24 — collect the more modern material that will be familiar to most fans (and moviegoers). There’s just one more volume after this to collect the final 1999-2000 strips.

Add Peanuts to any other item on this list and shipping is, well, peanuts (free, even)!

Jem and the Holograms: Showtime

The new Jem movie seemed to please essentially no one, but if you’ve got a young reader in your life whose interest was piqued, IDW has just released the first collection of their well-received ongoing series. Author Kelly Thompson is also writing the popular Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps for Marvel.

For a younger reader, pair perhaps with the main Star Wars book, and then for much younger readers one or two of the DC or Marvel kid's books (like the Wonder Woman/Batgirl DC Super Friends: Flower Power or Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War).

Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem

A Hanukkah present for your grown-up comics reader — or for any horror fan who’s surely familiar with 30 Days of Night’s Steve Niles — Breath of Bones collects the three-issue Dark Horse miniseries. It’s the traditional Jewish folktale of the Golem, but set against World War II and with Niles’s inimitable sensibilities.

Fans of mature titles might also enjoy Jessica Jones, Bitch Planet, and Southern Bastards.

Grendel vs. the Shadow

A heavy dose of noir when Matt Wagner’s Grendel time travels to the 1930s and faces off against the Shadow. It’s an atmospheric period piece that would appeal, for instance, to fans of Boardwalk Empire, not to mention that it heralds Wagner’s return to the Grendel character he created. Doug calls it “an artistic triumph, very accessible to new readers for both franchises.”Grendel vs. the Shadow pairs with Southern Bastards for free shipping and a whole lot of atmosphere.

Gundam SEED: Astray Vol. 1

Doug’s manga suggestion is Gundam SEED: Astray, a spin-off of the popular Gundam series and featuring a top-secret mechanized suit. If you’re dipping your toes into manga or trying to encourage someone else to, consider Gundam SEED, and also check out the first in Doug’s “introduction to manga” “Entry Plug” series. Doug says, “I’ll be covering more Gundam stories in future ‘Entry Plug’ articles, and if you’re not up for spending a lot on the $30 Gundam: Origin hardcovers, you might want to try this inexpensive action romp.”

DC Super Friends: Flower Power
DC Super Friends: Flying High
DC Super Friends: Battle in Space!
Spider-Man: Spidey’s New Costume
Avengers: The Kree-Skrull War

It’s a Collected Editions tradition to include low-priced children’s books on this list; there’s always some fun ones out there (Flower Power teams Wonder Woman and Batgirl against Poison Ivy, and who can resist Kree-Skrull War for kids?!). For some of the collection pairings listed above, one of these kids' books is a cheap way to put you at free shipping, but you’re also encouraged to donate them to your local library or Goodwill to get the next generation of comics readers started too.

And now it's your turn! What are some of the best collections of 2015? What else is on your wish list for the holidays? (Special thanks to contributor Doug Glassman of '80s Marvel Rocks! for his suggestions.)

I'm so glad to have spent another year with you at Collected Editions! This site would not exist without everyone who stops by and participates. Thanks to all of you for making this so fun.

(Lots of bloggers have affiliate links like the ones above, and when you do your holiday shopping after clicking these links, the blogger gets a few cents. This year, if you’re buying gifts online, consider clicking on someone’s link before you buy -- when I buy online, I always try to click through a blog before I do. There are lots of hard-working bloggers out there [see blogroll], and this is a great, easy way to support them. Thanks!)

Review: New 52: Futures End Vol. 2 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 16, 2015

At almost fifteen issues and 300 pages, I credit New 52: Futures End Vol. 2 for being a hefty collection. I also count over thirty characters involved in various storylines, making the story a kind of futuristic Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World here at the end of DC Comics's New 52-branded era. With all this variety, there are some storylines that clearly work and others that plainly falter. I came away from this book entertained, but also with a distinct sense of this as the middle act of a story that serves mainly to put the pieces in place for payoffs reserved for the last volume.

Review: FF Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

Given my perception of the story upon first reading it three years ago, the switchover from Fantastic Four to FF Vol. 1 was smoother than I had expected. Many of the big changes that could have been dropped on the readers in the first issue of FF were instead introduced or teased in the "final" issue of Fantastic Four. Spider-Man's addition to the team was heavily advertised months in advance. The real surprise of the first issue is the return of enemies that had gone largely unseen since Jonathan Hickman's first Fantastic Four arc: the Council of Reeds ... or at least, what remains of them.

Review: Batman/Superman Vol. 3: Second Chance hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, November 09, 2015

Batman/Superman is arriving at a similar difficulty to its predecessor Superman/Batman, and faster, too. After Jeph Loeb wrote a series of semi-connected, DC Universe-changing stories (in the case of Supergirl), later teams struggled amidst the ever-changing Superman and Batman continuities to tell relevant stories, often defaulting to middling "tales" that contrasted Superman and Batman in repetitive ways. In Batman/Superman Vol. 3: Second Chance, writer Greg Pak not only goes back to a very similar well as in his own first Batman/Superman book, but there's also an entire issue devoted to recapping just the first couple pages of Earth 2 issue #1. With an issue guest-written by Jeff Lemire, a "Doomed" crossover issue, and a host of different artists, it's hard not to see Batman/Superman as just biding its time between being called off the bench for Superman or Batman events.

Review: Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Vol. 4 hardcover/paperback (Marvel Comics)

Thursday, November 05, 2015

[Review by Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

After eight issues of build-up, Fantastic Four by Jonathan Hickman Volume 4 delivers the payoff with a six-issue trade that quite literally puts it all together. Pieces fall into place as Valeria finds out about the Council of Reeds and reveals it to Doctor Doom ... and thus, the first movement of Earth's final days begins. The opening of this issue explains why Doom didn't seem normal when I read the early FF trades: he had been recently drained of some of his intelligence and power by the Intelligencia in the Hulk books. His son Kristoff Vernard is asked to return and rule Latveria, the two having patched up their relationship between Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and now.

Titans: Total Chaos, Legends 30th Anniversary, Wonder Woman by Perez Omnibus Vol. 2, Checkmate by Rucka in DC mid-2016 solicitations

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Usually how it goes is that we see new collection solicitations in catalogs first, and then the online listings show up second, but every once in a while those online listings outpace everything, and there's a whole slew of interesting ones that just showed up. Among these DC Comics books (which seem to be scheduled for release between May and July 2016) are New Titans collections around the "Total Chaos" crossover; some unexpected material related to Suicide Squad and also Supergirl, two of DC's hot media properties; spotlights on some of my favorite Greg Rucka work; the mystery of the recently-solicited Batgirl Cassandra Cain books; a dedicated Killer Croc collection(?!); and more.

Dive in and take a look at what might be coming up. Remember all of these listings are subject to change before publication.

Starman (maybe)

Starman Omnibus Vol. 3

For a couple of years now we've been talking about the cancellation of the Starman Omnibus Vol. 3 paperback, which ended the paperback reprints of the hardcovers mid-series. Many collectors who bought volumes 1 and 2 of the paperback series felt let down that it didn't continue, especially since many of the hardcovers are out of print.

For a long while "phantom" solicitations for the Vol. 3 paperback could be found online that were really just artifacts of the original cancelled volume; some of these were future-dated, and it's possible that this latest solicitation is just one of those future-dated listings with the listing getting close. I don't want to get your hopes up, and don't believe it until you see the book actually officially solicited. At the same time, the fact that I'm posting it means I think it's worth watching.

Titans: Total Chaos

Titans: Total Chaos
Deathstroke, the Terminator Vol. 3

Following the solicitation for Deathstroke, the Terminator Vol. 2: Sympathy for the Devil is this solicitation for Deathstroke Vol. 3, which appears to collect issue #14-20 and whose solicitation, you can see for yourself, mentions Lord Chaos from the "Total Chaos" crossover with New Teen Titans and Team Titans.

You might've been thinking that Deathstroke book would read a bit funny without the "Total Chaos" issues when ... lo and behold, a Titans: Total Chaos collection solicitation. No word yet on the exact contents, though "Total Chaos" was New Titans #90-92, Team Titans #1-3 (yes, I bought five copies to get each of the different back-up stories) and Deathstroke #14-16. The latter Deathstroke issues weren't really that connected, however, and "Total Chaos" was really part of a larger Titans storyline that began back in issue #71 with "Titans Hunt" and concluded roundabouts issue #100 (when artist Tom Grummett left the book, though writer Marv Wolfman would remain).

I'm surprised to see the Titans book -- Deathstroke I know is popular right now, but not so much the Titans except if it's to relate to the TNT show or the new animated movie. I'm not complaining, mind you; I love that Titans era. But I am surprised to see Total Chaos before Titans Hunt, especially with the new Dan Abnett series. My suspicion is that all of this suggests a Titans Hunt collection not too far away ...

Suicide Squad

Suicide Squad: The Silver Age
Legends 30th Anniversary Edition

Two interesting Suicide Squad-related books, which I think are worth noting because they acknowledge the breadth of the Suicide Squad beyond just Harley Quinn and Deathstroke. The Silver Age Suicide Squad stories are considerably removed from the current incarnation, but star Rick Flag in weird war/Challengers of the Unknown-type stories. And then I love that DC is acknowledging the 30th anniversary of Legends which, not coincidentally, was written by Suicide Squad's John Ostrander and introduced the Squad into the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Universe. No word on the contents but I'd be happy to see this anniversary book collect beyond just the miniseries to some of the tie-ins.

Greg Rucka

Checkmate By Greg Rucka Vol. 1
Superman: Sacrifice
Wonder Woman by Greg Rucka Vol. 1

What's prompted a spate of new DC Comics/Greg Rucka collections, I'm not sure (too much to hope Rucka might be returning to DC? His recent prominent Star Wars work), but we see here collections of some of my all-time favorite comics. Rucka's Checkmate is a brilliant geopolitical spy thriller using a who's who of DC Comics characters; his Wonder Woman is also great superheroics by way of West Wing. Superman: Sacrifice is kind of an oddball addition here, but it is that famous pre-Infinite Crisis Maxwell Lord story and involves Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, so maybe it's being pitched to tie to the new movie. Either way, more Greg Rucka collections is always a good thing.


Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures of the 8th Grade (New Edition)
Supergirl: The Silver Age Vol. 1
Daring Adventures of Supergirl Vol. 1

Three very different Supergirl collections to coincide with the continuing new TV series. The Silver Age paperback undoubtedly includes Kara Zor-El's first Action Comics appearance and stories of that era; Daring Adventures, in contrast, is the early 1980s stories of Supergirl in Chicago, shortly before her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Cosmic Adventures is the popular miniseries aimed at younger readers by Landry Walker; there's been for a long time a sequel rumored, and I wonder if sales of the new collection would help move that along at all.

Superman: Panic in the Sky (New Edition)

One of my absolute favorite Triangle Titles Superman stories, and one that it's probably fitting for DC to re-release about now, since it heavily involves Supergirl (the Matrix version; Panic would re-introduce her as a member of Superman's supporting cast shortly before "Death of Superman") and also because it leads in to the stories collected in the recently-announced Superman and the Justice League of America collection.

Collections of Note

Elseworlds: Batman Vol. 1
DC Comics: Elseworlds Vol. 2

What had been DC Comics: Elseworlds Vol. 1 appears to now be listed as Elseworlds: Batman Vol. 1; hopefully this is still a collection of previously-uncollected Batman Elseworlds stories and not the better-known material like Thrillkiller, Red Rain, etc. On the heels of it, however, there's now a DC Comics: Elseworlds Vol. 2 solicited, which at this point might very well morph into another character-focused collection.

Icon Vol. 1

The recent announcement of a new relationship between DC Comics and Milestone came with the promise of both new graphic novels and new collections. It would be nice if, in DC's recent style, this new Icon collection included more than issues #1-8 from the original collection, or at least if the next collection was more complete (it skips from issue #13 to issue #19, etc.). Of course, to really be complete we're going to need collections of the "Shadow War" Milestone crossover and also the "Worlds Collide" DC/Milestone crossover.

Prez: The First Teen President

With the popularity of the new Mark Russell (mini)series, this appears to collect both the original Joe Simon four-parter and also the Ed Brubaker one-shot (no word on the Sandman story).

Sandman Mystery Theatre Book 1

UPDATE: Also apparently a new run of Matt Wagner's Sandman Mystery Theatre, which was never fully collected and tied in with Starman, quite apart from being great on its own.


Batgirl: Cassandra Cain Vol. 2

Troublingly to be sure, the recently announced Cassandra Cain collection Batgirl Vol. 1: Silent Knight is now showing signs online of being cancelled; however, there's a listing online now for a second volume. Hopefully this just means a change to the first book and not outright cancellation.

Batman: Arkham Vol. 4: Killer Croc

Killer Croc is a Batman villain I really enjoy mainly because he's not as over-exposed as your Jokers or Two-Faces, and still lends himself to a variety of interpretations, albeit Batman: Broken City, Gotham Academy, Batman: Earth One Vol. 2, and so on. I'm very curious to see what "classic" Killer Croc stories DC collects for this volume.

Batman: Contagion

As I was discussing on the Facebook page the other day, this book has changed from being called Legacy/Contagion to Legacy and now Contagion. The contents listed are still the "Legacy" event's issues however, which makes me hopeful in a convoluted way that this will become Contagion with "Contagion"'s issues, and then that a true Legacy collection will follow.

Robin Vol. 2

The recent Robin Vol. 1: Reborn collection was solicited to contain the first and second Tim Drake Robin miniseries, plus Batman #455-457, which to be very exact would collect the aftermath of the death of Tim Drake's mother without collecting the event itself. When released, this book actually contained the first miniseries, the Batman issues, but then also Detective Comics #618-621, so both the death and the aftermath. This second volume is solicited to include issues #6-10 of the Chuck Dixon Robin series, but probably now it's the second miniseries and maybe even the third.

Shadow of the Bat Vol. 1

No word yet on the contents but I'd be thrilled if this was going to start collecting the whole Alan Grant run.


Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Vol. 2

The first Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus collected all the early already-collected issues of Perez's Wonder Woman run, and so there was some question whether another volume would ever be released. It would certainly be great if this second volume finished out Perez's run, going all the way to issue #62 even if that made the book a little bigger than the first.

Swamp Thing by Mark Millar

This volume follows the Swamp Thing: Darker Genesis by Millar expected in November, and finishes out the Swamp Thing series that included Alan Moore and Grant Morrison,

52 Book 1
All-Star Section Eight
Arrow Season 2.5 Vol. 2
JLA Vol. 8
Justice League of America Vol. 1
Justice League United Vol. 3
Justice League Vol. 8: Darkseid War Part 2
Lucifer Vol. 1
Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 4
Wonder Woman '77 Vol. 1