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?