Review: Mother Panic Vol. 1: A Work in Progress trade paperback (DC Comics/Young Animal)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

That Jody Houser's Young Animal book Mother Panic seemed to be a mature readers title set in the Batman universe held much appeal for me, being more connected and less esoteric than what I understand of the Cave Carson title, for instance. But while Mother Panic Vol. 1: A Work in Progress starts well enough, especially with art by Tommy Lee Edwards, for me the story failed to distinguish itself as anything new and different, and with a mid-book change in artist, what had started strong became mundane, if not silly. That DC Comics has enough courage to let one of its characters say, "F--- the Bat," is admirable, a sign of not being so buttoned-up as in the past, but even choice words don't ultimately make this more than just another Bat-analogue title.

Review: Cyborg Vol. 2: Enemy of the State trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Unfortunately Cyborg Vol. 2: Enemy of the State loses a step in the run up to Rebirth. Halfway through, DC You-series writer David Walker, who wrote an exceptional first volume, bows out, and Marv Wolfman finishes the book. Wolfman is of course no stranger to the Cyborg Vic Stone character, but his swift completion to Walker's story doesn't quite satisfy, nor do his two one-off stories that follow before this iteration of the series ended. The book concludes with a Rebirth special by new writer John Semper that's a tad formulaic (though presents a fair primer on Cyborg so far). All in all, Cyborg loses a bit of its "wow factor" here, and we can only hope Semper can bring it back in Rebirth.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 9: Gordon at War hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, June 14, 2017

As I've said before, some of my favorite DC Comics of the Dan DiDio/Geoff Johns era have been written by Peter Tomasi. Aside from being a great writer, pairing thrills with emotion, and also routinely using gore with care and adeptness, Tomasi has demonstrated himself exceptionally versatile. It's no small thing that a writer who first made his splash for me on the cosmic Green Lantern Corps then went on to write street-level Batman and essentially define the Damian Wayne character after Grant Morrison, nor that Tomasi could then go on to equally succeed writing the superheroic Superman.

Tomasi demonstrates that versatility again in Batman: Detective Comics Vol 9: Gordon at War, two more stories starring Jim Gordon as an unlikely Batman, following Tomasi's Batman Jim Gordon/Justice League team-up in Detective Comics Vol. 8: Blood of Heroes. As I wrote in that review, these Detective stories that offshoot from Scott Snyder's Batman: Superheavy are totally unnecessary, completely ignored by the main story, and for that reason that Tomasi can make them stories as good and worthwhile as they are is all the more impressive.

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 4: Dark Truth hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I wrote the other day that I like my comics political, and I was much happier at the beginning of Greg Pak's Superman: Action Comics Vol. 8: Truth when Superman took part in a sit-in than I was at the end when he was fighting formless shadow monsters. Pak's Batman/Superman Vol. 5: Truth Hurts -- part of the same storyline -- failed to thrill because its fixation with subterranean monsters, a hard sell for a Batman story anyway, lacked at least the partial real-world grounding that Truth contained.

Of this mega-event, then, Peter Tomasi's Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 4: Dark Truth emerges as the best of the bunch so far. It doesn't get more political than an entire issue spent on Clark Kent explaining his newly-revealed secret identity at the White House. Things get even "darker" from there as Superman and Wonder Woman engage in some particularly rough and nefarious dealings to reach the villain of the piece. Tomasi's ability to mix action and emotion is long-since proven, and he shines of course paired with frequent collaborator Doug Mahnke; there are scenes in this volume that I think rank amongst Tomasi's best work.

Review: Batman/Superman Vol. 5: Truth Hurts hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

I praised Peter Tomasi's Detective Comics story, in which new Batman Jim Gordon meets the Justice League, for its surprising lack of angst; the League knows Gordon, trusts him, and as long as he's wearing the Bat-costume du jour, they accept him as one of their own. This is in significant contrast to Greg Pak's Batman/Superman Vol. 5: Truth Hurts, which takes place sequentially beforehand, in which Gordon and the newly-depowered Superman spend almost the entire 200 pages sniping at and mistrusting one another.

This is wearying. I get it, and maybe Pak takes the right road by creating tension between the new Batman and altered Superman instead of their being fast friends right away. But it's a book where everyone's pretty unhappy, the art tends dark and somewhat one-note, and Aquaman guest-stars, for instance, as an out-of-control bruiser. As the start of Pak's final issues for this series, he has some nice moments when he calls back to the beginning of his run, but even the presence of some key Bat-family members can't brighten this book.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: The Victim Syndicate (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Once again James Tynion proves his Detective Comics to be among the best of the DC Comics Rebirth relaunch; once again as well Tynion all but assassinates the status quo of a favored character before he finishes. That Tynion is able to wrench the characters so severely and still make it clear how much affection he has for them is a testament to the roll Tynion is on with this title. The new Detective is the perfect meshing of characters and creator (not to mention appealing art) and I hope Tynion's intending to stick with it for a while.

Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 2: The Victim Syndicate is the epitome of a non-team team book, a concept others have tried in the Bat-verse previously but never with the success of Tynion. The loosely-defined team changes here from the first volume and looks to change again with the next; though at some point Tynion has to stop benching teammates, it makes for organic transitions. Tynion also deftly introduces a new villain to the Batman mythos, perhaps the first great new lasting villain of Rebirth. In all, even despite a bevy of maddening character work, Victim Syndicate is a strong follow-up to the first volume.

Review: Doom Patrol Vol. 1: Brick by Brick trade paperback (DC Comics/Young Animal)

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Gerard Way's Doom Patrol Vol. 1: Brick by Brick represents a "rebirth," to be sure -- the rebirth of a mainstream, superheroic mature readers line at DC Comics. And what's immediately gratifying about Doom Patrol is that it's "mature" without mistaking maturity for grittiness; rather there's a vein of optimism that pervades these pages, perhaps even more surprising as it surrounds the oft-put-upon Doom Patrol. But even as the whole band doesn't get back together in this volume on its own, enough of them happily reconnect with one another as to create something of a party atmosphere. Things never get so dire in Brick by Brick, but even when they do, there's a levity to the proceedings, buffeted in no small part by Nick Derington's art. With Tamra Bonvillain and company's bright peppy colors throughout, Brick by Brick is a breath of fresh air romp of the kind it seems DC Comics's Rebirth is meant to evoke, even if it isn't a Rebirth title itself.

DC Trade Solicitations for August 2017 - Batman/Flash: The Button Deluxe, Superman Reborn, Batman and Robin by Tomasi, Catwoman by Balent, DC Meets Hanna-Barbera, Legion by Abnett, Night Force by Wolfman

Monday, May 29, 2017

DC Comics's trade paperback and collected hardcover solicitations for August 2017 contain two big Rebirth books, a seemingly-rush-solicited Batman/Flash: The Button deluxe hardcover, and also a hardcover of the Superman Reborn crossover. Those books alone are an indication of Rebirth ramping up, and that’s even before some of Geoff Johns’s recent big announcements.

Also this month we see another chance for Marv Wolfman’s Deathstroke, the Terminator Vol. 3: Nuclear Winter, the start of a collection series of Jim Balent’s Catwoman, a newly-expanded Batman and Robin Omnibus by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, a couple collections celebrating Jack Kirby’s 100th birthday, and the Superman and Harley Quinn deluxe Rebirth hardcovers.

Keep reading to see what else is coming this summer …

All Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth HC

This feels like a slightly shorter All-Star trade, collecting just issue #6-9, but of course that includes backups and also teams Scott Snyder with Jock again, so who's complaining? The paperback of the first volume will be out at the same time.

Batman and Robin by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason Omnibus HC

When this was first solicited, it appeared to be just a first volume that collected only issues #1-20 of Tomasi and Gleason's New 52 series. Now it’s nicely more comprehensive, with Batman and Robin #20-22 from the pre-Flashpoint series, the New 52 Batman and Robin #0-40, three annuals, Robin Rises: Omega and Alpha, and the Damian Wayne Secret Origins story (by Tomasi but drawn by Ian Bertram). A fantastic read; Tony Laplume, this one's still for you.

Batman/The Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition HC

As makes sense, DC is quickly soliciting a collection of the Batman/Flash: The Button crossover, and in deluxe format no less, and with a lenticular cover in the US. This is coming out in October, which pleases the continuity wonk in me because the Superman Reborn hardcover will still be out ahead of it. Also out ahead of it will be Batman Vol. 3: I Am Bane and Flash Vol. 3: Rogues Reloaded, so those playing at home will be caught up before this book.

Catwoman by Jim Balent Book One TP

I'm a fan of underdogs (or cats), these so-representative-of-their-time-it-hurts books; it thrills me to no end to see the Jim Balent-penned Catwoman getting collections (Extreme Justice next, please). Issues #1-14 and the "Zero Month" #0 issue span the entirety of the Knightfall saga plus Zero Hour, which is great if you're reading the new Knightfall books but want more context from Catwoman's perspective. Another collection of fourteen issues would see the already-collected "Catfile" storyline by Chuck Dixon plus an Underworld Unleashed tie-in, ahead of Contagion and Legacy.

DC Meets Hanna-Barbera TP

Collects Suicide Squad/Banana Splits, Green Lantern/Space Ghost, Adam Strange/Future Quest, and Booster Gold/The Flintstones, plus the Top Cat, Jetsons, Ruff and Reddy, and Snagglepuss backups.

Deathstroke the Terminator Vol. 3: Nuclear Winter TP

Again, we've seen this Deathstroke, the Terminator collection solicited and cancelled before, but I'm glad DC keeps trying; among the stories collected here is a well-regarded covert mission with Deathstroke and a pre-Arsenal Roy Harper (with significant implications for the DC Universe). This book, collecting issues #14-23 of the Marv Wolfman series, also includes Ravager Rose Wilson's earliest appearance.

Green Lanterns Vol. 3: Polarity TP

Collects issues #15-21, which is a nice long trade. I'm not totally up to date on what's happening in this title, but it's nice to see Dr. Polaris here, suggesting some of the classic Earth-bound Green Lantern rogues are back in play.

Harley Quinn Vol. 3: Red Meat TP

Collects issues #14-16 and the lead stories from #17-21, which is another nice long trade even with some half-sized issues. It's interesting that DC is holding back the Paul Dini backups, either to collect them all at once or in an entirely separate volume from the Rebirth series.

Harley Quinn: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Hardcover collection of the first two Rebirth paperbacks; some of these, we know, have since been cancelled, but not the Harley volume.

Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus HC

There's a mis-fit here and there in the solicitation, but I'm pretty sure this single volume -- listed at 1,536 pages and on sale for only $100 -- collects all four of the previous Jack Kirby's Fourth World omnibuses. Those themselves sold for $50 each (minus discounts, of course), making this a startling good deal if you don't mind how heavy it's going to be.

Jack Kirby’s Mister Miracle TP

Going along with DC's celebration of Jack Kirby's 100th birthday, I believe this is the first time outside of the Fourth World Omnibuses that Kirby's Mister Miracle issues have been collected all together and all in color (correct me if I'm wrong).

Night Force by Marv Wolfman: The Complete Series HC

DC has definitely solicited and cancelled this before, roundabouts when there was actually a new Night Force series on the stands. What makes this the right time I'm not sure, but good for Marv Wolfman if this'll finally hit the stands.

Nightwing Vol. 3: Nightwing Must Die TP

Collects issues #16-21, with appearances by Damian Wayne.

Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Burning Down the House TP

Issues #11-15, but happily also the War Crimes one-shot by John Ostrander published shortly after the movie (which I recently saw, and liked).

Superman Reborn HC

I've been catching up on my Superman reading lately; I know this is the biggie and I'm excited to get my hands on it.

Superman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Hardcover collection of the first two Superman Rebirth paperbacks, issues #1-13.

The Legion by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning Vol. 1 TP

Also as we previously discussed, DC has published but also cancelled collections of Abnett and Lanning's superlative Legion Lost (multiple times, I think), and now we have a collection of their just pre-Legion Lost "Legion of the Damned" story with a couple extras. The next volume of this would have to re-collect Legion Lost, unless DC leapfrogs that for the yet-mostly-uncollected material that followed.

Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan TP

Issues #7-10, the first Rebirth annual, and "stories" from the DC Rebirth Holiday Special, which is definitely James Asmus's Titans story and maybe the Flash story?

So which are you more excited about, Superman Reborn or Batman/Flash: The Button?

Review: Superman: Lois and Clark trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

I'm an avowed fan of Dan Jurgens's Superman from way back. I'll also acknowledge that some of Jurgens's newer material, in the New 52 specifically, didn't pack the same punch for me, so I approached Superman: Lois and Clark warily. If Dan Jurgens was going to write the pre-Flashpoint Clark Kent and Lois Lane, he was really going to have to write them, and lines as in the beginning where Clark calls Lois "Lo" -- which I don't think this Clark ever did -- threaten that. For this trick to work, DC bringing back these pre-Flashpoint characters, it has to be flawless; otherwise these aren't the pre-Flashpoint characters, just more new versions of these characters now using old names and costumes.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 8: Truth hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 22, 2017

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 8: Truth is an astounding example of just how quickly the fares of a work of serial storytelling can change. On one hand, we have perhaps the epitome of what the DC You tried to be, a story that combines superheroics and social relevance as movingly as in recent memory, but on the other hand, from those high lofts the book ultimately ends up in very basic superhero fisticuffs. Two full chapter in, I was ready to laud Truth as among some must-read Superman work, but seven chapters in, not so much.

I already knew writer Greg Pak wrote a strong Superman, and I don't think he and Aaron Kuder's work has received the recognition it's deserved among runs by Geoff Johns and Gene Luen Yang, Doomed and Rebirth and so on. The best work in this book just reinforces my esteem despite the missteps, and I'd still say this book's early issues are worth looking at even if Truth doesn't hold out throughout.