Review: Justice League of America Vol. 2: Survivors of Evil hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 15, 2014

I like Matt Kindt's Mind MGMT a lot, and so I was disappointed not to enjoy his Justice League of America Vol. 2: Survivors of Evil more. On the face of it, Kindt writing ARGUS's semi-covert League team would seem an easy fit, and it's hard to believe I would have bad things to say about what this book turns out to be, namely a Stargirl origin story and a Stargirl/Martian Manhunter team-up. But Survivors of Evil is at times confusing, at times predictable, and ultimately mostly irrelevant; I also didn't much like what it established about some of the characters within. I liked Forever Evil and the Justice League tie-in, Forever Heroes, but Survivors I just didn't think held up.

Review: Justice League Vol. 5: Forever Heroes hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

There's a bunch for long-time DC Comics fans to like in Geoff Johns's Justice League Vol. 5: Forever Heroes, though it makes for kind of strange reading as a trade. Despite the "Forever" moniker before each chapter's title, there's essentially two different stories here only tangentially related, so that what you begin to suspect Forever Heroes is about in the beginning is not what it ends up being about in the end. Combine that with at least one issue that's told almost entirely in flashback and mostly unrelated to the book's forward action, and you have a book that might maybe read better in single issues than under the banner of a "collection."

That said, Forever Heroes nicely weaves in and out of the Forever Evil event story, coinciding well and telling a story that compliments Forever Evil without being obligatory, and at the same time having some relevance on its own (especially the second story). It is in part a Cyborg spotlight, which is always welcome (I wouldn't sneeze at a Geoff Johns-penned Cyborg series). And again, a handful of eccentric, fan-favorite DC Comics concepts make their first major New 52 appearances here. Taken as a whole story, Forever Heroes reads a little off, but there's plenty to recommend the stories within.

Review: Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye Vol. 5 trade paperback (IDW Publishing)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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

Sometimes it seems like the only reason IDW publishes the Transformers: Robots in Disguise comic is to have a traditional foundation for More Than Meets the Eye to bounce off of. As I’ve said before, toy tie-in comics are usually closer to fan-fiction, but MTMTE has been able to surpass any corporate limitations. Moreover, James Roberts has been able to do this while making references to lots of previous Transformers fiction and turning obscure toys into memorable characters. The last time anyone accomplished this was Simon Furman in Transformers: The War Within, which ended prematurely due to Dreamwave’s poor management and collapse. As a critical, financial and artistic success, Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye Vol. 5 is an assurance that the same fate won’t befall this title.

Review: Swamp Thing Vol. 4: Seeder trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 08, 2014

Charles Soule's Swamp Thing Vol. 4: Seeder is a good first volume for Soule's new run -- by which I mean that it would not be a great third volume for his run, but for the first volume, it works. Soule has a number of parts of this book that are quite engaging, even as I think there's some parts in the middle that get away from him. However, in writing voice trumps all, and what Soule delivers here best of all is a great voice for Swamp Thing; this voice carries the book and is largely what would bring me back for the next volume.

[Review contains spoilers]

Yanick Paquette drew Scott Snyder's run on Swamp Thing that preceded Soule, a run often given to the serious, grotesque horror of the Rot, enemy of Swamp Thing's Green. As Paquette's realistic, detailed images fit Snyder's story, so too is Kano's rounded, more animated style perfect for Soule's take on the character. I've been a fan of Kano since his Action Comics days (not to mention H-E-R-O), and he depicts especially well the book's lighter moments, as well as the horror that arrives at the end.

Review: Forever Evil hardcover/trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Geoff Johns's best DC Comics successes over the past decade or so have been in mega crossover events, and in writing multi-layered portrayals of DC Comics's villains -- most notably Green Lantern's Sinestro, but also Flash's Captain Cold, Superman's General Zod, and others. To that end, the Forever Evil event miniseries plays more to Johns's strengths, and succeeds, better than the recent Flashpoint, at least.

Forever Evil is at its heart a Lex Luthor story, couched as it is in the trappings of the New 52's first big event. Johns writes a controversial Luthor; I applaud some of the chances he takes with the character, even as I view some of them maybe with a little skepticism. Certainly I'm interested to see Johns's Luthor work continue into the pages of Justice League. Arguably Forever Evil might not set the New 52 off in the best direction, but this book itself tells an enjoyable story.

Review: Deadpool Vol. 3: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly trade paperback (Marvel Comics)

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

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

Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn’s Deadpool run is a classic example of why companies need to give writers time to understand their characters. From a good first volume and a great second volume comes this fantastic third volume, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, which locks them in as one of the best Deadpool creative teams of all time. Much of this comes from finally giving Emily Preston, formerly an agent of SHIELD and currently a voice in Wade Wilson’s head after her death, a key role in the story. Not only can she explore his mind, but she can also take over his body at certain points, effectively becoming the conscience he never had.

Review: Swamp Thing Vol. 3: Rotworld - The Green Kingdom trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 01, 2014

Swamp Thing Vol. 3: Rotword - The Green Kingdom has the unfortunate happenstance of being the second "Rotworld" volume that I read, after Animal Man Vol. 3: Rotworld - The Red Kingdom. This inevitably means that some of the good surprises in the parts of these books co-written by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire have already been spoiled, and that lessens the impact that the Swamp Thing volume might initially have had.

But, as has been the case throughout these titles' New 52 incarnation, I ultimately just liked the Animal Man volume better than this Swamp Thing volume. There is some to like in the book, including an engaging set of parallel stories and interesting, controversial changes in the end, but in all having seen what "Rotworld" could be in Lemire's Animal Man book, I came to feel more could have been done with Snyder's Swamp Thing book.

Review: Legends of Red Sonja trade paperback (Dynamite Entertainment)

Thursday, August 28, 2014

As I noted when I read Gail Simone's first Red Sonja collection, beasts and barbarians isn't really my thing, and additionally what would seem to be the built-in explotativeness of a warrior woman clad only in a chain mail bikini dissuaded me. But with Simone at the helm, obviously there was something going on in this title I didn't know about.

Impressively, in Red Sonja Vol. 1: Queen of Plagues, Simone takes what would seem to be a character that inherently objectifies women, and instead writes a story largely about women's relationships -- sisters, parents, mentors, and so on -- with plenty of action and intrigue to boot. Simone even uses, then loses, that chain mail bikini. Simone's Red Sonja is a swords and sorcery book I can get in to, and so I was eager to read the new Legends of Red Sonja, especially as written by Simone and a who's who of comics and fantasy talent, including Mercedes Lackey, Nancy Collins, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Blair Butler, Nicola Scott, and Devin Grayson.

Trade Perspectives: Marvel 75th Anniversary Omnibus

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

[Thoughts from Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

One of Marvel’s biggest projects, premiering in November (just in time for the Guardians of the Galaxy film to hit DVD ... hmm ...) is the Marvel 75th Anniversary Omnibus, boasting content chosen by fans. The results of the fan vote were revealed a few weeks ago and there were some interesting results. I won’t be buying it since it would duplicate many issues I already own and because I don’t have the space for such a book, but I can appreciate the effort put towards creating it. Please note that despite the above link and the online listings, the exact contents have yet to be revealed, so some of this preview is subject to change.

DC Trade Solicitations for November 2014 - Absolute Green Arrow by Kevin Smith, Futures End and Batman Eternal, Nightwing by Chuck Dixon, Spectre

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Some interesting stuff in DC Comics's November 2014 hardcover and trade paperback collections solicitations. Probably I'm most interested here in the collections of DC's new weekly series, though most notable on the list is the rare change-up of the deluxe Green Arrow by Kevin Smith to an Absolute Green Arrow by Kevin Smith. We also see another collection of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake's Spectre and the first in a new series of collections of Chuck Dixon's Nightwing series. Both of these were "wishlist" trades for me, and I'm both excited about the new collections and also hopeful there will be more volumes to follow each.

Absolute Green Arrow by Kevin Smith HC

I think pretty highly of Kevin Smith's Green Arrow stories, ones that first got me into Green Arrow and also that in a historical sense typify well the transition from 1990s to 2000s comics in bringing back the "iconic" Green Arrow as lead in his own series. The roots of the Green Lantern and Flash "rebirths" and even into what became the New 52 have some of their beginnings in Green Arrow: Quiver and its ilk.

I did notice a few weeks back, however, that the deluxe Green Arrow by Kevin Smith had been canceled. Aside from Smith's notoriety, I figured this was probably meant to capitalize on the current wave of Arrow popularity; when canceled, I figured that meant maybe DC had bet too hard on that popularity and the interest just wasn't there. Instead, I think we can interpret from this that there was so much interest that the book got a format bump, from deluxe up to an Absolute edition.

This probably says good things about the Green Arrow and Arrow franchises, but it's maybe not so good for our wallets. Weekly Collected Editions contributor Doug Glassman sent a couple thoughts on that point:

"One of the biggest regrets in my comics reading journey is selling back my copy of Green Arrow: Quiver. I've been unable to find the trade despite searching up and down Florida at comic book stores and conventions. For instance, not a single booth at Florida Supercon had a copy. I was excited when the deluxe hardcover edition Green Arrow by Kevin Smith was announced.

"So of course, it's now canceled and replaced with an Absolute edition at three times the price. Now don't get me wrong: 'Quiver' is deserving of an Absolute edition ('Sounds of Violence' less so, but hey, they might as well put out all the Kevin Smith stuff at once). Phil Hester's art is amazing, and hopefully the Absolute will include some process pages. But if this is the only way they'll reissue these books, I'll just get them on Comixology instead.

DC, please surprise me. Please announce some sort of softcover collection of Green Arrow by Kevin Smith as a replacement. I'd really like to put it on my shelf next to my old favorites like JSA, Manhunter, Geoff Johns's Teen Titans and Mark Waid's Legion threeboot. I'm simply not willing to spend $100 on a book collecting fifteen issues ... and I don't think I'm the only unwilling one either."

New 52: Futures End Vol. 1 TP
Batman Eternal Vol. 1 TP

In the same month, we have the first collections of the weekly series Futures End and Batman Eternal. The books collect through issues #17 and #20 of the series respectively, so we can expect maybe three collections for each. That these are paperback releases comes as something of a surprise (maybe a pleasant one), given that the last round of weekly series, Brightest Day and Justice League: Generation Lost, were both collected in multiple hardcovers. I think it would surprise no one, however, if we saw an omnibus volume of each series before all was said and done.

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

We recently talked about fixes to the Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus elsewhere in the blog; suffice it to say there's some better news now in terms of the "Sinestro Corps War" Green Lantern Corps issues being collected in this book.

Nightwing Vol. 5: Setting Son TP
Nightwing Vol. 1: Bludhaven TP

Curious timing in the release of Kyle Higgins's last Nightwing book alongside Chuck Dixon's first -- the first and last Nightwing titles, even if Grayson lives on. As I've said before, the real value to me in this new line of Nightwing reprints is not if it collects just the early issues, which I already have, but if it goes past issue #50 to some of the uncollected materials and even into Devin Grayson's run. I am skeptical the collection series will go that far.

Spectre Vol. 2: The Wrath of God TP

Pre-order, pre-order, pre-order! The second collection of John Ostrander and Tom Mandrake's Spectre needs your support if we're going to get a third. Hopefully this gets a bump from the new Gotham by Midnight series and/or the rumored appearance of the Spectre on TV's Constantine.

Larfleeze Vol. 2: The Face of Greed TP

Can't say I'm likely to pick up this, the last issues of Keith Giffen's Larfleeze series, any time soon, but it does include a favorite Green Lantern so I'll probably be along eventually.

Movement Vol. 2: Fighting For the Future TP

I'm pleasantly surprised the first Movement trade made it to print and hopefully that means the same for the second; I had thought maybe these would be canceled like Green Team, but apparently not. I would have preferred DC try to squeeze all twelve issues into one trade, perhaps, but no big deal.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 5: The Big Picture TP

Red Hood and the Outlaws is one of those books I've completely lost track of. Jason Todd still has no memory? Wasn't that like two books ago? For a long time I was holding out hope this book would address Starfire's own memory issues, and in that way fill in some of the not-Titans history in the New 52, but I eventually gave up on that. I wouldn't be surprised, just speculation, if the Red Hood title didn't last much longer; I think DC would do well to replace it with a re-tooled Arsenal title while the aforementioned Arrow iron is hot.

I am glad to see that this book includes the Red Hood-themed DC Comics Presents stories, however.

Red Lanterns Vol. 5: Atrocities TP

I still haven't had a chance to check out the post-Peter Milligan Red Lanterns title, but I'll probably pick this up eventually because of its ties to the Super-titles. Includes just the Red Lanterns half of the Green Lantern/Red Lanterns #28 flip book.

Worlds’ Finest Vol. 4: First Contact TP

If you compare this Worlds' Finest volume with the Batman/Superman Vol. 2, each book collects seven issues, but they share four issues and there's only three in each trade that are unique to the book. That feels like not enough, to me; I'd have preferred DC kept the two books separate and just let the audience read back and forth between the two.

I know what I'm getting; what looks good to you?