Review: Dark Days: The Road to Metal hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Even despite Scott Snyder's continued testaments that the seeds of Dark Nights: Metal were always in his Batman run, it hits like a bolt of lightning re-reading Snyder's 2015 Batman #38 (collected among others in Dark Days: The Road to Metal) when "Crazy Quilt" Paul Dekker, paramount among the retrospective arbiters of Metal lore (and, perhaps, Snyder stand-in) looks straight at the reader and opines, "Heh, doesn't feel like a Batman story anymore, does it?" Say what you will, but that's a moment that had kick before and has even more kick now, specifically in the context of a patchwork book such as Road to Metal. It seemed at the time an acknowledgment of the misfit of the outsized lore central to "Endgame"; we can re-read it now as message-in-a-bottle proof from the past of Snyder's recognition that a series like Metal was going to be necessary to do this story justice.
Collected Editions 2017 Comic Book Gift Guide

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 5: Hard-Traveling Hero (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 20, 2018

In his penultimate Rebirth volume, Green Arrow Vol. 5: Hard-Traveling Hero, Benjamin Percy takes Oliver Queen on something of an apology tour across the DC Universe. The book serves to re-establish some old relationships -- and moreover, to re-contextualize some of these relationships in the Rebirth era, not in the least the friendship between Oliver and Green Lantern Hal Jordan. That's pleasant, though there's a queasy push and pull in that the resurrection of some of these friendships underscores how different this Green Arrow is from Green Arrow depictions past.

But even so, for the story that this is, there's nary a false note, and Percy's good character insights are buffeted further by the artwork of Otto Schmidt, Juan Ferreyra, and others. This remains a fine-looking book, finely told, and though it's a shame that Benjamin Percy is leaving, I'm eager for his next volume in December.

Review: Green Lanterns Vol. 1: Rage Planet (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I was unfortunately disappointed by the Rebirth Green Lanterns Vol. 1: Rage Planet, a careless and overdone first outing for Earth's newest Lantern pair. Art and story inconsistencies abound, over mostly predictable dialogue and a story far too padded out over six issues and a special. There are a couple key moments each for Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz, suggesting the premise is far from irredeemable, but writer Sam Humphries will have to get beyond the surface of these characters to deliver something really palatable.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 5: Heart of the Amazon (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Being the writer of a five-issue arc between two other writers' major runs is about the worst place for a comics writer to be, with little room to change or accomplish anything or really to justify the arc beyond that a monthly comic's got to hit its marks. Credit to writer Shea Fontana that at least Wonder Woman Vol. 5: Heart of the Amazon makes use of the Wonder Woman supporting cast coming out of Greg Rucka's latest stint; if all four of Rucka's volumes might be considered the Rebirth Wonder Woman "season"'s pilot, then Fontana's is a serviceable "monster of the week" episode that teams Diana, Steve Trevor, and Etta Candy, with no great import otherwise. There's some distance between my own favorite conceptions of Wonder Woman and how Fontana depicts her, and the story is predictable and not altogether seamless, but there's nothing objectionable here; unfortunately for casual readers there's not much to recommend this volume over skipping to the next.

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Rise of Star City (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Benjamin Percy and the Green Arrow creative team -- particularly artist Juan Ferreyra -- continue to produce a book that's a model for what every DC Comics series should be. Despite stories that may begin to seem familiar to fans of recent Green Arrow runs, Percy and team's work remains engaging and most of all visually mature, with clear craftsmanship that other teams just can't achieve. Percy only has two Rebirth Green Arrow volumes left, and at the twenty-five-issue mark, Green Arrow Vol. 4: The Rise of Star City feels distinctly like the end of the beginning, leading to the beginning of the end.

Review: Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 4: Fracture (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, May 07, 2018

The Rebirth Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 4: Fracture is another step upward for Robert Venditti's series. Though far from perfect, this one has enough twists, turns, and weird surprises to keep me guessing throughout. For my tastes, Green Lantern Corps stories are at their best at their most political and Venditti delivers in the beginning, followed by a rock 'em, sock 'em sci-fi tale that delights for the end. This structure of successive four-part stories has been working well for Venditti and were probably fun to read in biweekly two-month bites in the single issues.

Review: Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

The Rebirth Nightwing Vol. 5: Raptor's Revenge marks the final Nightwing volume by writer Tim Seeley. This is assuredly the end of an era, as Seeley was one of the writers of Grayson, which not so much reimagined Nightwing Dick Grayson as honed him into something leaner and more mature (though not less fun). Seeley and Tom King's Nightwing nee Grayson has been to an extent the kind of twentysomething, dashing Dick Grayson that writers have tried to get to for a while without it necessarily carrying over (Judd Winick's Outsiders is one example, and I'd argue Devin Grayson's Titans is another). Seeley and King seem to have made it stick, however, at least in part from Seeley shepherding the character back to his superhero roots and evidenced by the presence of artist Javier Fernandez and others, whose stylings represent more than just standard superheroics in the book's aesthetic.

Review: Batman Vol. 5: The Rules of Engagement (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, April 30, 2018

Even the most seasoned comic book reader may not be satisfied after the first story in Tom King's Batman Vol. 5: Rules of Engagement, but everyone should be by this book's end. With the preliminaries aside, we've arrived at the point where Tom King's Rebirth run has started to be about what it's actually about, and the result is delightful. Through the majority of this book there's nary a supervillain in sight, and instead we're suddenly enmeshed in a story about Batman and his own identity, his friends and family, and what happens when he dares to do something contrary to anything he's ever done before. King's story here is brilliant and madcap, and I can only hope we're in for more of the same in subsequent volumes. This book will surely offend some Batman purists, but it seems to me the kick in the tights the modern Batman needed.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 5: Kill Your Darlings (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Rob Williams' Rebirth Suicide Squad has been of mixed quality, sometimes dynamic and gripping, sometimes stalled in issues-long fight scenes. Suicide Squad Vol. 5: Kill Your Darlings is one of the "up" trades, populated by twists, betrayals, surprising brutality, and a couple of guest stars that carry it over the finish line at least by virtue of the difference. Williams still stubbornly refuses to tell anything resembling a "traditional" Suicide Squad story; the conflict and "mission" are devoutly insular, and at this point Williams has been telling aspects of the same story for about twenty-five issues now. But there's a bunch of good payoffs and character work here; every time Suicide Squad goes right like this, I hope it's the start of a trend.

DC Trade Solicitations for July 2018 - Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion, Batman: Caped Crusader Vol. 1, Aquaman by David Book Two, New Teen Titans Vol. 9, Flash: Rogues: Captain Cold

Monday, April 23, 2018

It's been a busy comics month with both Action Comics #1000 and Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman, but of course the comics train waits for no one and DC Comics' July 2018 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations are here, looking ahead to August and beyond.

On one hand this seems not the most ground-breaking month (I mean, once you've got Superman Blue Vol. 1, everything else is just kind of blah, no?), but on the other hand maybe I'm just getting spoiled by all the great collections we've seen lately. I mean, we've got more uncollected issues of Marv Wolfman and George Perez's New Teen Titans in New Teen Titans Vol. 9, Benjamin Percy's final Green Arrow volume, Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 1, and the Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion (now no longer Vol. 1 again, supposedly), not to mention another Aquaman by Peter David book. So not, like, Titans: The Wildebeest Saga, but no slouch either this month.

Read on for more details ...

Aquaman by Peter David Book Two TP

The second collection of Peter David's Aquaman is nicely following quick on the heels of the first -- February and then August. Issues #9-20 include an Underworld Unleashed tie-in and guest appearances by Dolphin, Tempest, Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, and that era's Wonder Woman-led Justice League. Also included is the "Year One" Aquaman Annual #1. A handy DC collection would be all the Justice League-related titles of these "Year One" annuals, which if I recall correctly had the throughway of Superman meeting the other heroes for the first time.

Batman and the Signal TP

To balance out the three-issue miniseries by Scott Snyder and Tony Patrick, this has the All-Star Batman backups and a story from New Talent Showcase 2017. I do like DC getting all the Signal material together in one package; I've already got those backups via the All-Star trades but I'm not sure there's much else DC could have padded this book with. A three-issue mini is always going to be tough to collect but I appreciate that the creative team didn't bite off more issues than they needed.

Batman Beyond Vol. 3: The Long Payback TP

Issues #13-19 of the Dan Jurgens/Bernard Chang series.

Batman by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones Vol. 2 TP

Picks up from the first volume and continues to collect their run with Batman issues #536-552 and #555. Among other things that's Final Night and Genesis tie-in issues, plus the Spectre and Ragman.

Batman: Arkham: Penguin TP

It's rather astounding this one didn't come out earlier; I think I hadn't been looking for it because I thought it had (blame Super Friends but I always think of Penguin as Batman's second arch-nemesis right after the Joker). Collects Detective Comics #58 (first appearance), #610-611 ("Snow and Ice" by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle) and #824 ("Night of the Penguin" by Paul Dini and Don Kramer); Batman #155, #374, and 548-549 ("Penguin Returns" by Doug Moench and Kelley Jones); Batman: Penguin Triumphant #1; and Joker’s Asylum: Penguin #1.

Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 1 TP

Well, we got Batman: The Dark Knight Detective the other day and it included an image of Caped Crusader; here comes Caped Crusader for August, and DC's mentioning Dark Knight Detective in the solicitations. It's not often we see "partner" trades like that, and this is interesting and I'm eager to see these continue for a while -- through "Knightfall," I guess.

This latest solicitation has the book at Batman #417-425, #430-431, and Annual #12. That's "Ten Nights of the Beast," but specifically skips over "Death in the Family." That's controversial to say the least, if it's correct; I would admire the gumption of the person in the DC office who said, "Y'know, we've collected 'Death in the Family' a bunch of times, let's not include it here," but as long as they're collecting these stories in sequential order, might as well go for all of them, no?

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II HC

By James Tynion and Freddie Williams, the latter of whom will also be drawing the Injustice/Masters of the Universe crossover series.

Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Deluxe Edition HC

Last month when we saw DC Comics's Fall 2018 catalog solicitations, this was back on the schedule -- having been solicited and cancelled before -- but as the first of multiple volumes. This solicitation doesn't mention "Vol. 1" and suggests this is "all the tales that tied in to Crisis on Infinite Earths." Well, I can tell you that what's listed for the volume, at least, isn't everything, but rather only collects tie-ins going up to about Crisis #9, and specifically omits issues that followed that were branded as Crisis tie-ins. Either there's many more contents than what's listed or this is indeed volume one of two.

Here's what the solicitation says is in it so far: Justice League of America #244, Justice League of America Annual #3, Green Lantern #194, Wonder Woman #327-328, Losers Special #1, Infinity Inc. #18-20, DC Comics Presents #87-88, Omega Men #31, Blue Devil #17-18, New Teen Titans #13-14, All-Star Squadron #50-51, Fury of Firestorm #41-42.

DC Comics Bombshells: The Deluxe Edition Book One HC

Deluxe-size collection of issues #1-12

Deadman TP

Issues #1-6 of the new Neal Adams miniseries.

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles TP

Matt Santori has written a great couple of articles about Mark Russell's Snagglepuss series, making me more and more interested to check it out every time. Arrives in stores in late August, the six-issue mini plus the backup from Suicide Squad/Banana Splits.

Flash: Rogues: Captain Cold TP

This is a neat idea a la the Batman: Arkham books, and could lead to a fine Gorilla Grodd or Reverse Flash book. Contents are Showcase #8 (first appearance by John Broome); Flash #150 (Gardner Fox) and #297 (Cary Bates); Flash #28 (William Messner-Loebs) and #182 (Geoff Johns); Flashpoint: Citizen Cold #1 (Scott Kolins); Flash #6 (Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul) and Flash #17 (Joshua Williamson).

Flash: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Three HC

Collects the Rebirth Flash Vol. 5 Negative and Vol. 6 Cold Day in Hell, making up issues #28-38.

Green Arrow Vol. 6: Trial of Two Cities TP

Collects issues #33-38, the last issues by inaugural Rebirth writer Benjamin Percy. A warning, do not read the solicitation for this trade, which spoils a pretty big twist in the series.

Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica HC

Due out in late August, just a couple months after the start of the Batman '66/Archie comic.

Harley Quinn Vol. 6: Angry Bird TP

The first Harley collection by Frank Tieri, issues #35-42.

• Infinite Crisis Unwrapped HC

I'm not much for these un-inked collections, but original pencils by Phil Jimenez and George Perez is tempting indeed.

Injustice 2 Vol. 2 TP
Injustice 2 Vol. 3 HC

With Tom Taylor continuing as writer. Collects issues #7-12 and #14, and #13, #15-17, and Annual #1, respectively.

Also, Tim Seeley of Grayson and Nightwing mastery is going to be writing the ultra-twenty-first century Injustice meeting the ultra-1980s He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. Say what? Harley Quinn and Orko in one adventure together? Stand back, Action Comics #1000. The future really is a wonderful place.

JSA by Geoff Johns Book Two TP

JSA #16-25 (the JSA Vol. 3: Return of Hawkman trade) and Secret Origin of Super-Villains, JSA: Our Worlds at War, JLA/JSA: Secret Files, and JLA/JSA: Virtue and Vice.

New Gods by Jack Kirby TP

Another of DC's new Jack Kirby collections; includes New Gods #1-11, "Even Gods Must Die," and Hunger Dogs.

New Teen Titans Vol. 9 TP

This is New Teen Titans (second series) #1-9, of which issues only issues #1-6 have been collected before. DC's making great progress here finally getting Marv Wolfman and company's Titans collected.

Superman Vol. 6: Imperius Lex TP

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's second-to-last Superman trade, collecting issues #33-36 and #39-41 (missing ones are Super Sons of Tomorrow. With James Robinson.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 5: Booster Shot TP

The last collection of Dan Jurgens' Rebirth run on Action Comics, this is issues #993-999 plus Jurgens' forthcoming Action Comics special.

Wonder Woman, Diana Prince: The 50th Anniversary Omnibus HC

The 1970s adventures of the white-suited "new look" Wonder Woman, previously collected in four paperbacks. This is Wonder Woman #178-204 (some just covers because the books were reprints), Superman's Girl Friend Lois Lane #93, Brave and the Bold #87 and #105, and World's Finest Comics #204.

So what is in the Crisis Companion anyway, and will it be volume one of two? Should Tom Seeley and Freddie Williams write Injustice/Masters of the Universe/Thundercats next? Lemme hear from you in the comments.