Review: Super Sons Vol. 1: When I Grow Up (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

I enjoyed Peter Tomasi's Rebirth Super Sons Vol. 1: When I Grow Up ... more than I thought I would. I found the backdoor pilot in Tomasi's Superman slow, favoring banter between Superboy Jon Kent and Robin Damian Wayne over the plot. Thankfully Super Sons moves more briskly (Tomasi shows restraint uncommon among today's writers in limiting the first arc to four issues in this five-chapter book), and an element of horror in the second issue demonstrates Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez as not just kidding around. The overall nature of the threat here is confusing, mired in Rebirth continuity that's unfortunately already mangled, but assuredly Tomasi gets the characters right, and I'm more curious about the next volume than I expected to be.

Review: Batman/Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition (Rebirth) hardcover (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When Geoff Johns spearheaded in 2009 the re-integration of Barry Allen into the DC Universe after almost twenty-five years of absence, one thing he established was the murder of Barry's mother by the Reverse Flash; another was a deep friendship between Barry and Batman Bruce Wayne. This was something we'd had no hint of post-Crisis on Infinite Earths in the years Barry had been away; it was a friendship, though logical, invented almost whole cloth by Johns, and given that at the time of Barry's resurrection, Bruce was "dead" (or lost in time), there was never anything to perpetuate or refute that friendship.

We would not see Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen on the same page at all, as a matter of fact, until the end of 2011's Flashpoint, where they meet "again for the first time" in the newly created New 52 universe, though neither one realizes it. Essentially, in the entirety of the post-Crisis era, the reader never actually saw Bruce and Barry have a significant present-time conversation despite that we're later given to know how much they meant to one another. This is one of my favorite aspects of Flashpoint, the way in which Johns makes true something that didn't exist before, a microcosm for the way in which everything was the same but everything was different in the New 52.

That 2016's Batman/Flash: The Button presents the next most significant meeting of Batman and the Flash since Flashpoint underscores how slowly what Johns established has actually evolved; Button is basically the culmination of a story Johns proposed almost a decade ago, as well as something of a mini sequel to Flashpoint. Other factors aside, Button is also momentous as potentially the first Batman title crossover with another title outside the Bat-family in at least 30 years; Flash has crossed over with Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and Green Arrow at least without an event miniseries being involved, but it's possible Button is the first inter-title, extra-family crossover for the Batman title ever, if not at least since Crisis.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Even if a charge has been leveled against DC Comics's Rebirth initiative that it's over-fond of what came before without moving forward, it's hard not to be taken in by the warmth with which James Tynion embraces this old material in Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows. This is an Orphan Cassandra Cain story, nee the No Man's Land-era Batgirl; there's not much Tynion does that's new with her, but at the same time it's been a while since we've seen a writer delight so fully in the Kelley Puckett take on the character. If Tynion is singing old songs, he's singing them well, and with gusto. Further, Tynion's Detective Comics remains an excellent team book, especially in the interaction between Batman and Batwoman, and Tynion's fraught plots kept me turning the pages well into the night.

Review: Superman Vol. 2: Trials of the Super Son (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke are some of my favorite current comics creators, and so if your premise is a comic where Tomasi, Gleason, and Mahnke just get to do their own thing for 20-some pages, I'm all for that. Whether it totally makes sense for them to do that under the auspices of a Superman title is a different question entirely. I thought the team's first Rebirth Superman collection was good, but given over too much to setting up Tomasi's Super Sons title without much else. Superman Vol. 2: Trials of the Super Son certainly has variety going for it, but here again it vacillates between either set-up for other books or a kind of purposelessness -- Tomasi, Gleason, and Mahnke doing the stuff they love and do well, but perhaps in spite of and not because of Superman in the lead.

DC Comics solicits Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect hardcover with first-run lenticular cover

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

A couple months ago here we looked at DC Comics's solicitations for some forthcoming Action Comics collections, including Action Comics Vol. 5, which collects Action Comics #993-999(!), and Action Comics Vol. 6, which collects Action Comics #1,001-1,006(!!). Among our own speculation at the time was that Action Comics #1,000 might turn out to be its own trade-sized issue like Fables #150, or that its proximity to Doomsday Clock (or if it's just a standalone "celebratory" issue) might see it collected elsewhere.

We also noted that Action Comics Vol. 4 collected Action Comics issues #977-984, the Superman Reborn aftermath and "Revenge" storylines, leaving issues #985-992 uncollected (of which #987-998 are "The Oz Effect"). Today we have answers (thanks for a tip from the Facebook page), because indeed in March 2018, DC will release the Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect hardcover, collecting Action Comics #985-986, "Only Human" by Rob Williams and Guillem March that leads in to "Oz Effect," and #987-992, "Oz Effect" itself.

The book will have a lenticular cover like the recent Batman/Flash: The Button, for its first run only. No mention of a deluxe-size printing.

This will mark the first time in Rebirth that DC will have pulled issues of a series out of the sequentially numbered trade paperbacks without an inter-title crossover being involved. This will also knock the numbers of the Action Comics trades out of sync with the Superman trades. Since there aren't other titles involved and The Oz Effect could just be Action Comics Vol. 5, this seems a questionable choice, though given the general interest in this story, I imagine DC wanted casual readers to be able to pick this up and not feel they had to go get Action Comics Vols. 1-4 before it.

There remains the question of what DC will do for the regularly scheduled deluxe hardcover edition of Action Comics. For books like Batman, involved in the Night of the Monster Men crossover, DC pulled the crossover issues from the paperback but replaced them in the hardcover. Action Comics: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Three could conceivably be issues #985-999 -- Oz Effect plus Action Comics Vol. 5 -- putting Action Comics Vol. 6 and Action Comics Vol. 7 in the next deluxe (again, going out of sync number-wise with Superman and etc.). If the Oz Effect standalone hardcover eventually got a paperback, then retroactively that would be the volume for the collectors of the individual trade paperbacks.

I'm not thrilled about the wonky numbering, but if there's a paperback to go with the paperbacks and the deluxe hardcover runs continue uninterrupted, then generally I'm satisfied with how this looks like it's going to go.

The solicitation follows. What do you think of DC's decision to collect The Oz Effect in its own volume? Which edition will you be picking up?


Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect

After years of build-up, the Man of Steel discovers the identity of the villainous Mr. Oz in SUPERMAN - ACTION COMICS: THE OZ EFFECT!

Shrouded in mystery for years, the puppetmaster known as Mr. Oz has finally shown his hand. His agents have begun to move as the Man of Steel works to stop the chaos they unleash in Metropolis and across the globe. But when Mr. Oz steps from the shadows, his identity rocks the Last Son of Krypton to his core. Who is he? The answer will change Superman forever.

A mystery that has weaved through the pages of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, DETECTIVE COMICS, ACTION COMICS and even Geoff Johns' SUPERMAN: THE MEN OF TOMORROW, is finally resolved here in SUPERMAN - ACTION COMICS: THE OZ EFFECT! Written by legendary scribe Dan Jurgens and illustrated by a team of superstar artists led by Ryan Sook and Viktor Bogdonavic, this graphic novel features a lenticular motion cover only available in the first print run! Collects SUPERMAN - ACTION COMICS #985-992.

Review: Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Dan Abnett's Rebirth Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan contains four issues and then an annual, of which the book's biggest revelations come in the final pages of the annual. The book hardly needs the issues that precede it to tell the main story, though charitably at least Abnett only uses three issues and an introduction and not six for this arc. But at the end of the second trade, Abnett has moved this book forward only by inches, and that's a frustratingly slow pace for what should be one of the linchpins of the Rebirth era. Artist Brett Booth is doing that "jagged panels" thing again when it's not needed; altogether at the end of the second Titans volume, this book still isn't coming together for me the way I want it to.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Path of Doom (Rebirth) trade paperback

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Caleb Mozzocco over at Everyday is Like Wednesday recently described some of DC Comics's Rebirth material as "a cover band play[ing] the hits of their favorite bands." I know what he means; this was what I was afraid of when the New 52 came around, that we would (and did) see things like Robin Tim Drake's dramatic multi-part origin "covered" in a quickie one-off issue that achieved the same result with none of the punch. I've been less bothered by that in some of the examples Caleb mentions -- including James Tynion's Detective Comics, which I adore -- but Caleb's idea came back to me the other day as I was reading Dan Jurgens's Rebirth Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Path of Doom.

If anyone's got a right to "cover" "Death of Superman," surely it's Dan Jurgens (and at that point I'm not even sure it qualifies as a "cover" so much as one of your favorite singers belting out their signature hit almost a quarter-century later). There is a moment within Path of Doom where Superman explains the rather complicated origin of Doomsday completely but concisely in a way I'm not sure anyone could pull off but Dan Jurgens. But even with all the right to tell this story, it remains that what Jurgens has here is just another Superman/Doomsday battle of the kind we've seen re-done plenty of times since -- and one in which we know full well that no one is going to die. Path of Doom is mostly action sequences, it is drawn out longer than it needs to be, and it's repetitive in the sense that Jurgens is writing for the issue and not for the trade. This is a satisfactory start for Action Comics but I'm eager for Jurgens to tackle some new material.

Review: Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Tom King's Rebirth Batman run continues to be controversial, even up to and including criticism from some parts sparking a change in the first hardcover collection. That "love it or hate it" dichotomy surely continues into King's Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane; as the third part of King's inaugural trilogy, this is the volume perhaps toughest on the reader. Even despite plenty esoterica around the edges, the first volume offered a traditional hero versus villain structure and the second a heist caper. The third has Batman set against his arch-nemesis Bane, something we've seen plenty times before, and in terms of linear plot structure spends a lot of time with the two in fisticuffs. That is, there's not as many places here for King's higher concepts to hide, and that makes for greater space than in the first two books where it's incumbent upon the reader to provide the meaning in all that King and his characters do and don't say.

DC Trade Solicitations for December 2017 - Superman: Exile and Other Stories Omnibus, Superboy by Kesel, Aquaman: Waterbearer, Batman: Shadow of the Bat Vol. 3, Black Lightning, final Green Arrow by Grell

Thursday, September 21, 2017

It's not my imagined "Triangle Titles Omnibus," but DC Comics's December 2017 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations brings with it the Superman: Exile and Other Stories omnibus, which is at least a step in the right direction. A whole lot of what's in that book remains firmly in DC Universe continuity, and along with Jerry Ordway and Roger Stern, this book includes some of Dan Jurgens's first regular-title Superman work, making this book wholly relevant right this very moment. This already came and went from the schedule in another form, so we've got to pre-order the heck out of this thing so that DC's compelled to follow it with another volume.

It's a good month overall for Super-family collections, since we also see here the first collection proper of Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett's 1990s Superboy series, a nice thing given "the Kid"'s current absence from the DC Universe. Also from the "have your cake and eat it too" department, despite that most of Sterling Gates's Supergirl collections just received new editions, it seems DC is continuing on with the larger-form collections of the mid-2000s Supergirl series by re-collecting Gates's Who is Superwoman?, give or take a little, with issues added back in that were removed to be collected with the Superman: New Krypton books (or is it? See below for a strange coincidence with the Peter David series). This may, yes, make for uneven reading without the crossover pieces, and especially in the next volume or so, but I do like these comprehensive issue-by-issue trades (see also Batman: Shadow of the Bat), and surely Gates's Supergirl work (inspiration for the TV show) deserves as many collection opportunities as possible.

All this plus some shifts and changes on the Aquaman and Black Lightning collections fronts for better or worse, Harley Quinn and Lobo get classic collections, and more. Let's take a look at the collections that'll be greeting you in the new year ...

Superman: Exile and Other Stories Omnibus HC

This is now Adventures of Superman #445-460, Superman #23-37 (not #27 as the solicitations had for a while), and Action Comics #643-646 and the Annual #2. For reference, the original Exile paperback collection started at Superman #28 and Adventures #451 and went to #33 and #456 respectively, plus just Action #643 and the annual, so we're getting a lot more than before here. This picks up immediately from the John Byrne Man of Steel run, and quite aside from the wrenching emotion and sci-fi wonder of the "Exile" story, this book includes appearances by no less than Batman, Starman Will Payton, Gangbuster, Guardian, the Newsboy Legion, Dubbilex, Emil Hamilton, Morgan Edge, the Matrix Supergirl, Rampage, Brainiac, Mr. Mxyzptlk, the proto-Eradicator, Draaga, Skyhook, and the Prankster, plus Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Lex Luthor, Ma and Pa Kent, and Invasion! crossover tie-ins. The book includes work by Triangle Title stalwarts Dan Jurgens, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern, Kerry Gammill, Brett Breeding, Dennis Janke, and Art Thibert, plus issues by Mike Mignola and Keith Giffen.

If we posit about the same number of issues for another volume, that would see us through such stories as the "Brainiac Trilogy," "Day of the Krypton Man," and "Dark Knight Over Metropolis," reasonably ending just before "Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite," which could head off a third volume.

Looking back at what's in this book has made me very excited for it, not to mention that some of it factors around the edges into the Rebirth Superman series. I implore you to check out the start of some of the best Superman stories there ever was.

By the by, this collection turns out to include more than the original Superman: Man of Tomorrow Vol. 1 collection was solicited to have, so maybe things turn out well after all ...

Supergirl Vol. 4 TP

So here's a puzzle. DC Comics has on their schedule for January 2018 two Supergirl reprint collections of two different series, one by Peter David and one by Sterling Gates. Both of the online solicitations list their contents as issues #34-43, and both of these, if you can believe it, look to be starting with about issue #34 based on their Vol. 3s, and for both of them, issue #43 is a reasonable place to finish.

The DC December 2017 solicitations describe the Gates series, so we can assume the book in question is Gates's. But how coincidental that DC should be releasing two different Supergirl collections of two different series in the same month with the same relative issues? My guess is the issues in the David collection will shift a little (starting with issue #32 instead of #34, perhaps), but still it's wild to see if you go look now.

If this is the Gates book, then as I mentioned, these just got reprints labeled "New Editions," though near as I can tell the contents were the same as the older books. Again, this is supposed to collect issues #34-43, of which issues #34 and #37-42 were collected in Supergirl: Who is Superwoman?, #35-36 were in Superman: New Krypton Vol. 2, and #43 was in Supergirl: Friends and Fugitives. This book does read fine with issue #43 added in terms of not ending on a significant cliffhanger; the bigger difficulty for some readers will certainly be the weaving in and out of New Krypton. (Side note, I'd forgotten that Mon-El is in this story and that he and Supergirl have significant interaction, an additional similarity between Gates's comic and the TV show, though they are not an item here).

Superboy Book One TP

Collects issues #1-11 of the 1990s Karl Kesel/Tom Grummett series plus the Zero Month issue #0, starring "the Kid" Superboy before he was known as Kon-El. Full of youthful vigor and joy, this is the run that not only gave us Superboy, Tana Moon, Rex and Roxy Leech, and Dubbilex in a Hawaiian shirt, but also lasting characters like Knockout and King Shark. I guess twelve issues is as much as they want to collect in this one, though issue #12 would be a better stopping point before the three-part (pseudo-Suicide Squad story) "Watery Grave" story in issues #13-15. We do get here Zero Hour and Zero Month tie-in issues, and also a couple parts of the "Worlds Collide" crossover with the Milestone Comics of the time (while I recognize this too will be an oddball reading experience, better some "Worlds Collide" than none).

Anarky: The Complete Series TP

As we've lamented here before, while a collection of all eight issues of Alan Grant's "ongoing" Anarky series (including a Day of Judgment tie-in issue) isn't nothing, a really "complete" collection would also encompass the contents of the 1999 Batman: Anarky collection, which included Grant's four-issue miniseries among other stories.

Aquaman Vol. 4: Underworld TP

Collects issues #25-30 of the new storyline by Abnett, and with Stjepan Sejic on art, presenting a more movie-recognizable Aquaman.

Aquaman: The Waterbearer TP (New Edition)

In possibly troublesome news, the book that used to be an apparent second volume of the Aquaman "Waterbearer" storyline has now become a new volume of the existing first trade, adding issues #5-6 to the existing collection of issues #1-4. Also the solicitation says it only collects a story from Aquaman Secret Files along with it, whereas the first trade also has a story from JLA/JSA Secret Files and Origins as well. Now, more is more, of course, but I'd always like to see never-collected material before previously-collected material. Also, given that we have collections of Will Pfeifer's run starting with issue #15, I'm really hopeful for issues #7-14 to be collected at some point so that the full run is covered.

Batman Beyond Vol. 2: Rise of the Demon TP

Collects issues #6-12. I haven't been hearing much about the Dan Jurgens series, which makes me wonder exactly how well it's doing. This volume seems to present some recognizable Bat-friends and foes, but I've long-since thought that unless books like this and Legion of Super-Heroes can demonstrate constant ties to the present DC Universe, they're always going t have an uphill battle.

Batman: Shadow of the Bat Vol. 3 TP

I know it's a disjointed reading experience and I know that almost every one of these issues is collected in a recent trade, but it's such a thrill that Alan Grant's Shadow of the Bat series is getting such swift trade love. This collects issues #0 and #24-31, which finishes out Knightquest/Knightsend and into the recent Batman: Zero Hour collection, plus the "Elseworlds" Annual #2 that apparently sees Bruce Wayne raised by the Scarecrow.

Black Lightning Vol. 2 TP

Another change from the early, early solicitations. Previously this was supposed to be issues #1-13 of the 1990s series, following the first volume collection of the eleven issues of the 1970s series (plus an unpublished twelfth issue released in World's Finest Comics #260). Now, however, this appears to collect more of Black Lightning's 1970s adventures, including World’s Finest Comics #256-260 (issue #260 again?), DC Comics Presents #16, Justice League of America #173-174 and Detective Comics #490-491 and 494-495. Fine with me but I hope this means a third Gangbuster-rrific volume on the horizon.

Black Lightning: Year One TP (New Edition)

A new printing of the Jen Van Meter/Cully Hamner miniseries.

Captain Atom: The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom TP

I didn't hear much about Captain Atom: The Fall and Rise, and this suggests to me the Rebirth ties weren't all that significant; DC certainly got the Death of Hawkman miniseries collected faster. Collects issues #1-6.

Checkmate by Greg Rucka Vol. 2 TP

Greg Rucka's Checkmate was one of my favorite books, fraught and complicated and with an unexpected DC Universe cameo around every corner. This final collection includes issues #13-25 plus the crossover with Judd Winick's Outsiders #47-49.

Green Arrow Vol. 9: Old Tricks TP

Finishing up Mike Grell's run on Green Arrow with issues #73-80, plus the Wonder Years miniseries. What a joy it is to be able to have this whole run on the bookshelf.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 4: Fracture TP

Collects issues #22-29. One of these days I'll start reading Robert Venditti's Rebirth Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps run. Venditti has been on the Green Lantern title now for an impressive amount of time, seemingly building up quite an epic, and I'm curious to dig in again.

Harley Quinn and the Gotham City Sirens Omnibus HC

If you can't collect it slowly, collect it quickly. This is all twenty-six issues of Gotham City Sirens in one volume plus the Blackest Night tie-in Catwoman #83. (Corollary: If collections won't stick, put Harley Quinn's name at the top, i.e. Harley Quinn and the New Titans: Titans Hunt and Harley Quinn and Superman: The Triangle Title Years).

Harley Quinn Vol. 4: Surprise, Surprise TP

Collects issues #22-27 and the 25th anniversary special, so issues coming out right now as a matter of fact.

Lobo by Keith Giffen and Alan Grant Vol. 1 TP

Collects the first Lobo miniseries plus the Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special, Lobo’s Back #1-4, Lobo: Blazing Chain of Love, and Lobo Convention Special, proving Lobo to be the Harley Quinn of his day. I wonder how long until we get to the Lobo series proper, which despite being satirical actually weaved in and out of quite a few DC Comics events.

Nightwing Vol. 4: Blockbuster TP

Collects issues #22-28. I guess I'll know when I get there, but I'm curious what continuity this is in -- whether this is a Nightwing who has or hasn't faced this Blockbuster before. They better keep on collecting those Chuck Dixon Nightwing books so I can get caught up.

Shade, The Changing Girl Vol. 2: Little Runaway TP

I liked the end of Shade where she made some new friends, so I was surprised and intrigued by the solicitation for this book that they apparently reject her and send her on the road. Collects issues #7-12; I'd pick this up when it comes out.

Super Powers by Jack Kirby TP

Collects the two Super Powers miniseries that Jack Kirby worked on, his only time drawing the Justice League. There were three Super Powers miniseries total, the last of which by Paul Kupperberg and Carmine Infantino without Kirby; at some point the solicitations for this book included that miniseries as well, and I rather wish it was in there for completeness sake.

Vigilante: Southland TP

Notably this collection of the Gary Phillips/Elena Casagrande series collects issues #1-6, of which #4-6 were pulled from the monthly schedule and are being released for the first time in the trade. I'm eager to see what this business is that Scott Snyder alluded to of longer-form comics being released as graphic novels; I've long since thought that certain less well-known titles should just skip monthly release and go straight to trade.

Apparently Action Comics #1,000 lands in April from what I understand ... How're you doing this month?

Review: Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason clearly have an imperative in their Rebirth Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman. There is little else here except the White family, nee Kent; to the extent that this book begins with the expansive Superman: Rebirth special, the rest of the book feels too insular, as if perhaps that ought have been the Action Comics: Rebirth special instead. Tomasi and Gleason do perfectly well by Clark, Lois, and son Jon, having inherited this work precisely because of their success doing the same on Batman and Robin. In that respect, even, the goings-on are tame; despite some rough patches, Jon Kent-White is unlikely to ever give his father the kind of time Damian Wayne did.

I'd pick a Tomasi-Gleason book off the stands over most all else any day of the week -- and with Doug Mahnke, to boot -- but as the very first volume of the return of the post-Crisis Superman, Son lacked some of the scope I might have expected. For those very invested in the Clark/Jon relationship, no doubt this book delivers, but I wonder if I'll be happier over with Action Comics or at least once I've read these both.

Review: Superman Reborn (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dan Jurgens's Action Comics has been doing well facing off the Kent family against their various strange doppelgangers, while here and there Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Superman has wondered at the true relationship between the post-Crisis and New 52 Supermen. Much of that is purportedly reconciled in Superman Reborn, the first crossover between the titles, though true answers are somewhat scant. Reborn does offer some concrete explanations, but only to what turns out to be its simplest mysteries; for the bigger things in some respects we're left to just interpret for ourselves. That's a troubling trend -- not the first time in recent comics -- and when DC Comics has so much on the line in service to their universe-wide storylines, one has to hope that how the mysteries are addressed here is not a template for what's to come.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Burning Down the House (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

First of all, yes, this is more like it. Second of all, I do wish Rob Williams would at some point write a multi-part, straight-off Suicide Squad story of the type like Sean Ryan's New Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Monsters, with the team going on and completing a complicated mission without any "abnormal" facets like betrayal at headquarters, the brain bombs being deactivated and the Squad "going rogue," etc.

But despite that Williams's Rebirth Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Burning Down the House is "abnormal" (to the extent that nontraditional Squad stories are becoming the norm), it is also fantastic, a marked improvement over Williams's first two Squad books. This is due heavily to the fact that, despite that the book supposedly keeps its main feature/back-up structure (with artists John Romita Jr. and Eddy Barrows respectively), each "chapter" is really just another piece in the same ongoing tale. Williams therefore has a lot of room to develop his story here, and it's emotional, surprising, and well-done. Coming off of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Williams's Suicide Squad picks up a lot of steam.

Review: Justice League vs. Suicide Squad (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Reading the Rebirth Justice League vs. Suicide Squad put me in mind of DC Comics's New 52 Justice League: Trinity War. These were each the first major events of their respective eras, and there's similarities in the stories' plots and structures, too. But Justice League vs. Suicide Squad has clearly learned from Trinity War's mistakes; the latter book is eminently better put-together and satisfying as a story. This marks a DC Comics trending upward, and I'm eager to see what comes next.

[Review contains spoilers]

As the Justice League uncovers a covert rival organization -- with involvement, no less, by Amanda Waller -- Justice League vs. Suicide Squad feels very familiar, and again when they all end up at a secret base together, and again as the groups pair off and again when half the team is mind-controlled. But Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is exceptionally more cogent than Justice League: Trinity War in its plot by Joshua Williamson; each issue serves to deepen or reveal another level to the story; and the tie-in issues contribute wonderfully without making the story feel padded or bloated.

Batman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One removes dialogue from Tom King's Batman #10

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Last week DC Comics released the Batman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One, collecting issues #1-15 and the Batman: Rebirth special. These are also the contents of the Rebirth Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham and Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide paperbacks, plus two Batman: Night of the Monster Men issues.

I've been enjoying writer Tom King's run on Batman, but I know it's been controversial, given among other things the wild "love it or hate it" swing in your comments on my review of I Am Suicide. Much of that seems to center on King's repeated dialogue in Batman #10, being melodious or cacophonous depending on your point of view.

I'd originally been looking in to the deluxe edition to see how DC would handle collecting Batman #7 and #8, parts one and four of the Night of the Monster Men crossover, this being the first Rebirth deluxe edition to collect issues not also collected in the trade paperback collections (issues #7-8 appeared in the hardcover Batman: Night of the Monster Men collection instead). Indeed those two issues are in the deluxe edition, with a simple tag at the end of issue #8 directing the reader to the crossover collection, as pictured below.


But hat tip to Facebook reader Jamie Miller, who pointed out that not only does the deluxe hardcover restore the individual issue credits to each issue (they moved them for the trade paperbacks and I prefer it that way), but it also removes some of the repeated dialogue from issue #10. I checked it out and as far as I can see, only one page from issue #10 is affected; see the original on the left and the deluxe version on the right.


I guess that's a win for those who didn't like the mantra dialogue; again, it didn't bother me and I found it effective, though on re-inspection that's an awfully dialogue-heavy page in the original. Irrespective, it's fascinating to think that DC might be using these deluxe hardcovers as "director's cuts" of the Rebirth series, making changes even from the trades; we were seeing this kind of thing a bit way back around Infinite Crisis, but I hadn't heard of it happening much lately.

The Superman: Action Comics: Rebirth Deluxe Edition actually goes the opposite way and removes the individual issue credits from each issue, in contrast to the trades (and this is how I prefer it); it also re-positions Justice League #52, originally collected in Superman: Action Comics Vol. 2: Welcome to the Planet, to before the start of Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Path of Doom.

We did, as you know, lose some of the deluxe editions originally solicited to collect the Rebirth trade paperbacks. Released so far have been the Batman, Action Comics, Justice League, and Flash deluxe editions, and forthcoming are Detective Comics, Harley Quinn, Justice League of America, Nightwing, Suicide Squad, Superman, and Wonder Woman deluxe editions, as well as the deluxe Batman/Flash: The Button. Early solicited but then cancelled were Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Aquaman, and Green Arrow deluxe collections.

Picking up these Rebirth deluxe books? What do you think of changes being made to these stories as they move from paperback to hardcover?

Review: All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Scott Snyder's All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth is in parts more accessible but also more wonderfully esoteric than the previous volume. Snyder still gives us this series's fantastically profane Batman, though the coarsely madcap violence (even for a Batman story) is less than it was in My Own Worst Enemy, making this feel in some ways like a more tonally-normal Batman book. At the same time, Snyder's heavy use of prose and nontraditional narrative style, as well as the presence of artists Jock, Tula Lotay, and Giuseppe Camuncoli, distinguish this book as something more than just the everyday. Here too, Snyder begins to show his hand with overt ties to the upcoming Dark Nights: Metal, though in this aspect Ends of the Earth is not as strong as it is elsewhere.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Going Sane (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

It's my fervent hope that after the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad crossover, Rob Williams is able to loose the burdens of Suicide Squad's backup stories and start spinning Suicide Squad stories proper. Williams's stories are compelling and his take on the characters good, but the Rebirth Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Going Sane suffers many of the same issues as the previous volume: it is short and the conflict involved is very insular. Whereas most Rebirth series have spread their wings by this point, mostly all that's happened in Suicide Squad so far is that the team has stolen one object and brought it back to their base -- that's it. In ostensibly one of DC Comics's flagship Rebirth titles -- if the presence of Jim Lee is any indication -- there really ought be more going on.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 1: The Black Vault (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

For what is supposed to be one of the flagship titles of DC Comics's Rebirth -- or at least prominently in the news at the time -- there's surprisingly little to Rob Williams's Suicide Squad Vol. 1: The Black Vault. Williams is a writer whom I've enjoyed, and his depiction of the Squad is tonally fine and respectful. But the main story, hampered perhaps by the page count given over to backups, doesn't have much to it; it's basically one long fight scene bookended by the Squad's journey there and back. As compared to rather complicated outings by Sean Ryan and Tim Seeley just before this, Williams's volume is slim, not seemingly the beginnings of an important and relevant Suicide Squad run.

[Review contains spoilers]

Setting aside the Rebirth special, which reintroduces Rick Flag to the Suicide Squad, the first "full" (main story) issue almost literally solely involves the Squad boarding a plane, Killer Croc throwing-up into his own altitude helmet, and Flag causing the plane to crash when he unbuckles to release Croc's helmet so Croc won't drown in his own vomit. The threat of Croc's vomit is not nearly the kind of credible foe the Squad needs to be facing right off, nor does this first issue really have any kind of arc in terms of conflict and resolution. Nor ultimately does this plane crash sequence even matter -- the Squad recovers without consequence and then continues on with their mission.

Review: Justice League Vol. 2: Outbreak (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Unfortunately with Justice League Vol. 2: Outbreak, I begin to understand what might have been some others' concerns about writer Bryan Hitch's Rebirth title. I still like Hitch's general approach to the title, and artist Neil Edwards -- with inks by Daniel Henriques -- even very often resembles Hitch in his artwork. But even though Hitch often succeeds in getting the characters on the page together -- this feels like a more fully-realized League than the Justice League has in a while -- the stories in this book are formulaic and at times display a startling lack of knowledge about these characters. That brings the book down, and makes me feel less patient with these one-off, continuity-light stories than I had been previously.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 3: The Truth (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Writer Greg Rucka is at his best with tales of high politics and espionage, and the Rebirth Wonder Woman Vol. 3: The Truth has espionage in spades. To the question of "the lies" Diana has uncovered about her past, Rucka provides about the best answer he probably could. The proceedings are compelling, and Rucka's particular triumph here remains the ties he establishes between Diana and her rejuvenated supporting cast of Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, and the Cheetah Barbara Ann Minerva.

At the same time, Rucka's new Wonder Woman origin remains markedly frustrating, further irritated by the fact that these are Rucka's final issues on the book (though not his final collection). Were Rucka staying, I might be placated by the idea that he could still explain in better detail the facets he glosses over and address the contradictions that threaten to swallow whole what advances he's made with the Wonder Woman character. Instead, what we have is a nice Wonder Woman story on the surface that disintegrates on second look, one that auspiciously wipes Diana's slate clean but then offers nothing to replace it. Rucka's return to Wonder Woman has ended up being only half of what we needed.

DC Trade Solicitations for November 2017 - New Teen Titans Vol. 8, Batman: Arkham - Joker's Daughter, Shazam: New Beginning 30th Anniversary, Judas Contract Deluxe, Ostrander Suicide Squad Vol. 7

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Some back-and-forth solicitations obscured this for a while, but it really seems the New Teen Titans Vol. 8 paperback in the DC Comics November 2017 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations list includes never-before-collected issues. Indeed, it rather looks like the eighth paperback fills at least one hole in the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3, which for those who've been following this saga for a while is a big deal indeed. And though it's unusual for the paperback to be leading the hardcover instead of vice versa, we can only hope this means the expected new edition of the third omnibus might correct some of the omissions of the past.

Aside from that, I'm particularly excited about the Shazam: The New Beginning hardcover, which fills in some uncollected gaps from the past; Benjamin Percy's Green Arrow is a Rebirth title I've been enjoying, and of course also James Tynion's Detective Comics.

When these books come out some of you will be digging in to turkey, but in the meantime let's dig into the solicitations ...

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Vol. 2: Source Code TP

Collects issues #7-13 of the Rebirth series, with appearances by Nightwing and Catwoman, and more about the mysterious new Oracle.

Batman and Robin Adventures Vol. 2 TP

Issues #11-18 and the first annual from the animated series tie-in comic. The annual is a sequel to the Mask of the Phantasm movie and features some of the last work by Mike Parobeck.

Batman in the Brave and the Bold: The Bronze Age Vol. 1 TP

Said to collect issues #74-91 with appearances by the Teen Titans, Aquaman, Flash, the Creeper, Wonder Woman, the Atom, Deadman, Green Arrow, the Metal Men, Plastic Man, and the Spectre.

Batman: Arkham -- The Joker's Daughter TP

I can't really argue with this collection of stories from the 1970s to the present; Joker's Daughter is a character not terribly well done in the modern era but with a long history as Duela Dent, and as a look at where she came from and where she's gone, this should be interesting. Notably Marguerite Bennett's Batman: Joker's Daughter special, which takes place just before Scott Snyder's Batman: Endgame, has never been collected before and should be included here. Also said to be included are Batman Family #6, #8, #9, #16, and #19, Duela's introduction and earliest appearances; Teen Titans #48, from 1977, in which Duela Dent becomes Harlequin; Detective Comics #482-483 (Dent as "Card Queen"); Titans Secret Files #2, in which Dent battles Beast Boy's Geoff Johns-era Titans L.A., a short from Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files, and the "Gotham Underground"-tied story from Batman: The Dark Knight, already collected with Ann Nocenti's Catwoman.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 4: Deus Ex Machina TP

Collects issues #957-962, the "Intelligence" storyline, including Azrael and Zatanna. The next book should include the "Lonely Place of Living" storyline.

Blue Beetle Vol. 2: Hard Choices TP

Collects issues #6-12, including appearances by Sugar and Spike from Keith Giffen's Legends of Tomorrow story, as well as some other of Giffen's characters. Ostensibly there's at least one more collection coming even if this title is on the (rumored) chopping block, given that issue #13 is also solicited this month.

• DC Essential Graphic Novels 2018

I like that Batman is reading a copy of Watchmen on this new cover by David Finch and Danny Miki. Studying up for the war to come?

• DC Super Hero Girls Box Set

Sure to be on this year's gift list, this box set includes the DC Super Hero Girls titles Finals Crisis, Hits and Myths, Summer Olympus, and Past Times at Super Hero High, by interim Wonder Woman writer Shea Fontana.

DC Universe by John Byrne HC

Between the original solicitation for this and the solicitation this month, the following items are no longer listed as being included. That might mean they're out, or it might simply mean they're just not listed in this solicitation: Untold Legend of Batman #1 (part one of a 1980 origin miniseries), World of Smallville #1-4, Superman Annual #2 (Maggie Sawyer backup story), World of Metropolis #1-4, DCU Brave New World #1 (All-New Atom).

Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Rise of Star City TP

Collects issues #18-25, including the newest reunion of Green Arrow Oliver Queen and Arsenal Roy Harper. The next book will collect the new "Hard Traveling Heroes" storyline.

Green Lantern: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Collects issues #36-75 from the 1960s.

Green Lanterns Vol. 4: The First Rings TP

Collects issues #22-26, the three part "Lost in Space" story and then "First Ring."

Injustice: Ground Zero Vol. 1 TP

Collects #1-6 of the miniseries bridging Injustice and Injustice 2. Writers are DC Writer's Workshop's Christopher Sebela and Brian Buccellato, both of whom did good work on the Suicide Squad Most Wanted miniseries lately.

JSA by Geoff Johns Book One TP

As we've seen before, paperback "chops" of a hardcover omnibus. This skips the "Justice Society Returns" prelude event to go straight to the comics by David Goyer, James Robinson, and Geoff Johns, collecting issues #1-15 and the Secret Files, the contents of the Justice Be Done and Darkness Falls collections. Next up is the "Return of Hawkman" stories.

Justice League of America: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2 HC

Issues #114-146 from the 1970s, including a JLA/JSA team-up thatg also includes the Marvel family of Earth-S.

Justice League vs. Suicide Squad TP

Collecting the first event miniseries of the Rebirth era in paperback, with the Justice League and Suicide Squad tie-ins. I've got the hardcover and it's an impressively thick book.

Justice League/Power Rangers HC

The Tom Taylor miniseries with Boom Studios.

Kamandi by Jack Kirby Omnibus HC

All forty of Jack Kirby's Kamandi issues. Was there a concern this was cancelled?

New Teen Titans Vol. 8 TP

This is supposed to collect issues #49-58 of Tales of the Teen Titans. Folks, if I'm not mistaken, doesn't that take this volume past the third New Teen Titans Omnibus? Issues #51-58 are what that omnibus lacked, taking the book up to Crisis on Infinite Earths and the point where Tales started reprinting old stories; the next issue would be New Teen Titans #1(second series), which that third omnibus included. So basically this book appears to fill the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3 gap (at least its first gap), and if DC is collecting these in paperback, it suggests really good things for the new-new edition of New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 3 that should be out in late 2018/2019.

New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Deluxe Edition HC

As discussed before, here's one of the best known Teen Titans stories, "Judas Contract," now in a deluxe-size hardcover. If any story deserves it, it's probably this one.

Robin Vol. 5 TP

Is this the first we're hearing about this one? This is supposed to collect issues #14-22 and Annual #3 of the Chuck Dixon series, which is a single part of "Troika" (to be collected in full in the third Knightfall Omnibus), one part of the "War of the Dragons" crossover with Dixon's Detective Comics, a run-in with Maxie Zeus, and one of the Elseworlds annuals. I am OK with the rest of "Troika" not being here, given that it's just about to be collected elsewhere, but I'd kind of like them to include those Detective Comics issues, given that this crossover includes Robin-centric characters King Snake and Lynx.

• Scooby-Doo Team-Up Vol. 4 TP

Every month at solicitations time I check to see what character is guest-starring in Scooby-Doo Team-Up; this is always good for a smile. This collection should be especially notable because it's got the Scooby gang's team up with Harley Quinn, plus Zatanna, Martian Manhunter, and Space Ghost.

Shazam!: The New Beginning 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition HC

I'm very excited for this one, a piece of post-Crisis world-building that followed out of Legends, by Dann and Roy Thomas. Now we just need that Cosmic Boy miniseries collected.

Smallville Season Eleven Vol. 9: Continuity TP

As I've said before, it's really astounding DC is finishing their Smallville Season Eleven collections some three years after the series ended, but I'm glad that they are. Written by Batgirl Stephanie Brown's Bryan Q. Miller. This is both the "Continuity" story and also the Effigy one-shot spotlighting Martian Manhunter (whom I sometimes forget was on Smallville before Supergirl).

Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Earthlings on Fire TP

Collects issues #16-20 of the Rebirth series by Rob Williams, with art by Tony Daniel and others.

Suicide Squad Vol. 7: The Dragon's Hoard TP

Collects issues #50-58 of the John Ostrander and Kim Yale series, including a War of the Gods tie-in issue (where one of the villains was Grant Morrison). This series ended with issue #66, so we ought be looking at just one more collection to finish this off. For all the collections series that don't ever see their way to completion, I'm glad this one (probably) will.

Superman Adventures Vol. 4 TP

Issues #26-35 of the Animated Series tie-in comic.

Superman/Batman Vol. 6 TP

Issues #64-75 and the Annual #4, including the "Big Noise" story (ultimately not really a tie-in to "Our Worlds at War") and also Blackest Night tie-in issues. These issues are collected in Superman/Batman Vol. 9: Night and Day, Vol. 10: Big Noise, and Vol. 11: Worship. The annual is a Batman Beyond story by Paul Levitz.

Tales of the Batman: Alan Brennert TP

A paperback of the 2016 hardcover,including the first official Elseworlds Batman: Holy Terror and a story from Detective Comics #500.

Trinity Vol. 1: Better Together TP
Trinity Vol. 2: Dead Space HC

A paperback collection of Trinity issues #1-6 in time for the second collection of issue #7-11. I have not read this, but judging by the solicitations it kind of seems like the heroes have been fighting the same villains in this title for over a year now. The second volume does have an appearance by Mr. Oz and a "Superman Reborn" aftermath issue.

All that and Doomsday Clock ... what caught your eye this month?

Review: Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bryan Hitch brings the Justice League into Rebirth with Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machines. If you liked Hitch's Justice League of America: Power and Glory then you'll like this, too. Hitch writes a pared-down League and knows the strength of this title comes from getting these characters on the page together; in his teamings, Hitch evokes the Silver Age Justice League "pair off" structure, and even the Super Friends or Justice League cartoons. Tony Daniel graduates well enough to the "big leagues" following Jason Fabok on this title.

There are some marked similarities between this book and Power and Glory, and what's worked for Hitch twice now might not necessarily work a third time, but there's no major red flags here; so far it seems Hitch is on the right track.

Review: New Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Freedom trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The tenets of a misfit-type team in fiction like the Suicide Squad aren't secret nor complex -- despite whatever dislike or misgivings the teammates might have about one another, the only place they fit in is together, and so the team thrives. This might be boilerplate, but I haven't seen it presented so well as in Sean Ryan's New Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Freedom, his final full book of the series -- in which everyone confronts that their "freedom" doesn't really mean being free. Ryan brings his trilogy to a head here with Amanda Waller versus her middle-management nemesis Vic Sage; I am not wholly sure everything that could have been said at the end of this story was said as well as it could have been, but there's a variety of interesting character arcs. In all Ryan should be credited for putting the Suicide Squad title on a much-needed upward path.

Review: Justice League of America: Power and Glory hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Bryan Hitch's Justice League of America: Power and Glory is a spritely diversion and one that makes me more eager than I had been for Hitch's Rebirth Justice League. Especially in the wake of the New 52 Justice League's "Darkseid War" finale that didn't even include Aquaman(!), Hitch's "Big Seven" line-up is considerably closer to what I want to see from a League title.

In his mix-and-match Leaguer pairings and elements of time travel, Hitch's aptly-named Justice League of America evokes at times Grant Morrison and company's JLA. That's a level the New 52 Justice League never quite achieved and even JLA stopped being JLA after a while; for a return to big ideas and widescreen action, it's surely apt to have Bryan Hitch back in the saddle. Even if the storytelling gets mildly labored at times, for one of his first solo writing gigs Hitch comports himself exceptionally well.

Review: New Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Monsters trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

After reading a couple trades lately collecting two or more stories -- including Sean Ryan's own inaugural New Suicide Squad volume -- New Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Monsters is kind of a shock to the system. On one hand, it left me wanting, with a sense there ought to be more to the book than just the one story; on the other hand, the unexpectedly long-form single-focus story reads almost like a graphic novel. And Ryan does well by the book, an improvement over New Suicide Squad Vol. 1: Pure Insanity -- more intrigue, less satire, less humor that doesn't land. Ryan writes these characters well, especially breakout star Black Manta, though I did feel Ryan posits some characters as will best fit his plot rather than how they've appeared elsewhere. Nonetheless, Monsters is interesting, with unexpected heart, and I'm curious to see where Ryan goes with this.

Review: Justice League Vol. 8: The Darkseid War, Part 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Geoff Johns fashions a high-action conclusion to his New 52 Justice League series with Justice League Vol. 8: The Darkseid War, Part 2. As a summer blockbuster, Johns's story is bar none, and artist Jason Fabok shines while Francis Manapul contributes a classy interlude. Wonder Woman takes center stage here, at the time ahead of her cinematic debut, and Johns does well by the character, up to and including how seamlessly she slips again into the role of the Justice League's leader.

As the end of the New 52 Justice League title, Johns's finale doesn't deliver everything I wanted. Resolution of some of Justice League's character arcs is there, but it's light. Johns dovetails this story into some of the exterior events in the DC Universe, but not as many as I might have liked. And for a writer known for creating villains as compelling as his heroes, Darkseid War's biggest shortfall is its bad guys, who're often evil just for the sake of being evil.