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.