Review: Sinestro Vol. 4: The Fall of Sinestro trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Much like Charles Soule's Red Lanterns, Cullen Bunn's Sinestro series climaxes with a battle royale worthy of its own DC Comics crossover; Sinestro Vol. 4: The Fall of Sinestro is a fitting end to a series that might've started slowly, but ended superbly. Like Red Lanterns, however, Sinestro peaks a few issues before its actual end, and the result is a great finale followed by a couple issues where the book peters out on the way to a hurried ending. But at ten issues, Fall of Sinestro is still a nice, and nice-sized, trade, including even when it didn't have to the final two issues of Bunn's mostly-unrelated Lobo series. The most important thing is, Cullen Bunn handles Sinestro well here, as well as Geoff Johns did before him, and he sets a high bar for handing Sinestro back over to Robert Venditti and the Rebirth Green Lantern team.
Collected Editions 2017 Comic Book Gift Guide

Review: Aquaman Vol. 2: Black Manta Rising (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Dan Abnett's Rebirth Aquaman Vol. 2: Black Manta Rising ends up with the same kind of crackling geopolitical drama that made his first volume, Aquaman Vol. 1: The Drowning so good. Given nine issues, it's not such a problem that the first three are given over to a somewhat-repetitive action-focused story arc. Essentially, if -- like me -- the beginning of this book concerns you that perhaps the loftiness of the first book was a fluke, never fear, because Black Manta Rising gets back there in time.

There's aspects of Rising that follow common storytelling tropes, and there's material that's all too familiar among Aquaman stories of late; if there's a concern to be had, it might be that Abnett demonstrates there's only so many stories one can tell with Aquaman and Atlantis. But Rising is enjoyable, and its politics are its defining factor; Rising follows up on Drowning well.

Review: Sinestro Vol. 3: Rising trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

I have been critical of Cullen Bunn's Aquaman and Lobo, even the pace of his Sinestro, but there's no question that Bunn writes Sinestro himself well. A lot of things come together in Sinestro Vol. 3: Rising, a book that in some ways doesn't move this series' plot that much farther forward, but whose depiction of Sinestro and those around him is so good, it increasingly ceases to matter. Further, Bunn's Lobo series also gets a significant pick-me-up being now essentially just a second Sinestro title. In the DC You absence of a proper Green Lantern title, Bunn can now apparently do what he wants with the franchise and its catalog of characters; the result is madcap and bloody, probably a bit wrong-headed but a bunch of fun in its audaciousness.

Review: Supergirl Vol. 1: Reign of the Cyborg Superman (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 07, 2018

DC Comics caught flak for not having a mainstream Supergirl series on the stands when the then-CBS show premiered, following only belatedly with a digital-first TV tie-in series. Perhaps waiting was opportune, however, because Steve Orlando's Rebirth Supergirl Vol. 1: Reign of the Cyborg Superman is one of the best TV-to-comics adaptations I've seen, perfectly recognizable to now-CW fans while still fitting cogently into the DC Comics universe. Orlando and artist Brian Ching trend a tad too all-ages for me, and the TV-similar accoutrements are better than the plot itself, but this is a far stronger start than Supergirl had in the last relaunch. Clearly DC is positioning this book as one to watch.

[Review contains spoilers]

I give Orlando points for a story -- Supergirl's ongoing conflict with the Cyborg Superman -- that follows almost seamlessly from her New 52 series. Maybe that's not what Rebirth writers are supposed to be doing, but I appreciated that there were no great unexplained continuity jumps here, but rather that this Supergirl and the goings on around her seem mostly in line with the New 52 (including a cameo by her New 52 costume). All the same, there's little nuance to the events -- the Cyborg Superman arrives with a plan that sounds evil, Supergirl's pretty sure it's evil, indeed it turns out to be evil, etc. The book's conclusion is nicely epic (an improvement, perhaps, on TV Supergirl's recent Daxam invasion finale), but the story is simplistic, and in that respect I didn't feel engaged or challenged as a reader.

Review: Superwoman Vol. 1: Who Killed Superwoman? (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Late in Phil Jimenez's Rebirth Superwoman Vol. 1: Who Killed Superwoman?, the titular hero recounts the motley crew gathered to help her save Metropolis: "A narcissist, a clone, an atomic villain, and a ghost." It is indicative of the charming also-ran aesthetic of Jimenez's Superwoman; back in the Triangle Titles era, Superman's supporting cast was almost well-realized enough to support their own title, and that's about what we have here -- a title that teams some of Superman's best-loved allies, friends, and villains, almost everyone except the Man of Steel himself. It is of course no impediment in the Rebirth era that some of these characters haven't been seen for a while, as Jimenez (and fellow Super-team members Peter Tomasi and Dan Jurgens) grafts them almost just as they were on to the modern era. The result is interesting and endearing, and with deference to the long history of the "Superwoman" name.

Review: Black Canary Vol. 2: New Killer Star trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 31, 2017

That the "DC You" initiative only lasted one year turned what were ostensibly ongoing series into twelve-issue mini-, or perhaps "maxi-", series. This had a curious effect on their trade collecting, for instance the "Robin War" crossover that perfectly bisects a number of Batman-spinoff collections. In the case of Midnighter, this gave us a longer first volume that was in many ways beginning and climax to the story, and a shorter second volume almost entirely devoted to epilogue, with the unusual collecting structure itself lending to the experimental themes of "DC You."

Black Canary Vol. 2: New Killer Star is somewhat in the Midnighter model, where the first volume was really the star of the show -- Black Canary on the run as lead singer in a band -- and the second volume is ... something else. Perhaps in the parlance of Geoff Johns's JSA series, we might call New Killer Star a "down trade," the calm before the next big storyline, which in this case of course never came.

Review: New Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Kill Anything trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Tim Seeley and Juan Ferreyra are a powerhouse combination, one half of the writing team that brought emotional lyricism to Grayson's spy shenanigans and one half of the art team drawing a retro-cool Rebirth Green Arrow like nothing else on the stands. Their New Suicide Squad Vol. 4: Kill Anything is as good as you would expect, a smart take on the Squad both in plot and layouts, a fine end to the New Suicide Squad title with a Quentin Tarantino aesthetic. I'll say at the top, do not read the back of this book, which spoils the story's good twist of the kind Seeley and Tom King were known for on Grayson.

[Review contains spoilers]

My only complaint about Kill Anything is that it is not a Suicide Squad story proper, but rather in large part the book is about the Squad gone rogue and Amanda Waller deciding to come save them. Were Seeley continuing a long run on Suicide Squad (and no offense to Rebirth Squad writer Rob Williams, but I wouldn't mind seeing Seeley take on the Squad again), then a deviation from the norm wouldn't be a problem. Given just one story, however, it's unfortunate we only barely get to see the Squad be the Squad and, in some respects, the "fight club" aspects of this story could have been told with any set of characters, not just the Squad. In broad terms we also have the issue of having just seen a "rogue" Squad of sorts (or at least one briefly un-leashed to kill Waller) in Sean Ryan's New Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Freedom, though that's just unfortunate coincidence.

Top 10 Marvel 2017 Collections Sale Recommendations

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

[By Doug Glassman, who Tumblrs at '80s Marvel Rocks!]

The holidays are over, but Amazon/Comixology has kindly kept their immense sale on Marvel trade paperbacks going until January 2nd. This includes a lot of obscurities, older stories, and event tie-ins that might have gotten skipped over. Here’s ten recommendations of books I haven’t reviewed yet that are worth getting at such a reduced price. I’ve compiled this issue with the help of the War Rocket Ajax podcast’s "Every Story Ever" list, where they rank comics in relation to one another to some surprising results.
  1. Luke Cage, Hero for Hire Masterworks Volume 1 ($4.99): I rarely endorse getting a trade solely for one story, but you can now get the classic tale of Luke Cage flying to Latveria to get the $200 that Doctor Doom owes him plus fourteen more issues of classic blaxploitation. While the Netflix series isn’t quite the same as Luke’s original comics, they’re a ton of fun. (Amazon | Comixology)
  2. Daredevil: Born Again ($3.99): Likely the source of the upcoming third season of Netflix’s series, this is Daredevil’s '80s Marvel Epic, bringing him low only for him to rise again. It’s some of the best writing Frank Miller has ever done, and I particularly enjoy the slow but persistent escalation of stakes that really makes it a page-turner. (Amazon | Comixology)
  3. Wolverine by Claremont and Miller ($1.99): Speaking of great work by Frank Miller … It’s the book that made Wolverine the character and merchandising juggernaut he is today. Logan’s back after a few years of death (and a fantastic blockbuster movie) and two dollars is a steal for a major classic story. (Amazon | Comixology)
  4. Super-Villain Team-Up: M.O.D.O.K’S 11 ($5.99): Before there was Superior Foes of Spider-Man, there was Super-Villain Team-Up, featuring another team of minor villains alternately working together and backstabbing each other. It’s one of Fred Van Lente’s many Marvel projects which should’ve gone on longer. (Amazon | Comixology)
  5. Immortal Iron Fist Vol 1: The Last Iron Fist Story ($2.99): Don’t hold the underwhelming Netflix version against Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction’s kung-fu epic. The David Aja artwork presages his work on Hawkeye with Fraction, while the story quickly gets so engrossing that you’ll be lucky that the other volumes are part of this sale. (Amazon | Comixology)
  6. New X-Men: E is for Extinction ($5.99): Hot on the heels of Logan’s return is Jean Grey, and Grant Morrison’s tenure on New X-Men is one place where Jean shines. Your mileage might definitely vary on the art, particularly in how Frank Quitely draws faces, but it’s a comic that still has resonance over a decade later. (Amazon | Comixology)
  7. Captain America: Man and Wolf ($7.99): This one is particularly motivated by the "Every Story Ever" list. Mark Gruenwald’s throwback to '60s comics is just about as silly as you can get while still presenting a serious comic book title, and Nick Spencer paid homage to it in one of my favorite Sam Wilson, Captain America arcs. (Amazon | Comixology)
  8. Deadpool Classic Vol. 1-5 ($4.99; $5.99 for Vol 4): For $26, you can collect the issues of Joe Kelly’s original Deadpool run. That’s a steal considering the omnibus is another $100. I loved these stories long before Deadpool became mainstream with the film and they belong in the collections of every Marvel fan. (Amazon | Comixology)
  9. She-Hulk: Single Green Female ($6.99): Before Dan Slott became the go-to Spider-Man writer, he wrote an all-time great single issue of She-Hulk in which Peter Parker sues J. Jonah Jameson for defamation. That story, plus the tale of Awesome Andy and the rules of comic book law, are all found here. (Amazon | Comixology)
  10. Runaways: Pride and Joy ($2.99): Rounding out the list is one last media tie-in. I haven’t had a chance to watch the Hulu live-action series, but it seems to be a faithful adaptation. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona led the way for a renaissance of teenage heroes that’s still playing out with Ms. Marvel and The Champions. (Amazon | Comixology)

Monday Talkback for 12-25-17

Monday, December 25, 2017

Season's greetings! If you've had enough of family and friends and have turned to the internet for a little peace and quiet, we've got a Collected Editions open thread for your enjoyment.

Let's hear it: Favorite gifts of the season? Things you're looking forward to next year? How's life treating you?

Best wishes and and thanks for reading Collected Editions.

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Review: We Stand on Guard deluxe edition hardcover (Image Comics)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

[Review by Haydn Spurrell]

What stands out, if we’re thinking in broad strokes, when I consider what helps Brian K. Vaughan’s body of work separate itself from the crowd in an industry that seems to unveil new talent every week, is that for starters, his concepts are simple, and almost laughably so.

Saga is about the child of two lovers from opposite sides of an ongoing war, and how their little family tries to find somewhere safe and peaceful. Y: The Last Man is even simpler; what if a disease wiped out every mammal with a Y chromosome, except for one young man and his monkey? These concepts work beautifully as long-running narratives. The characters are either fleeing from something or searching for something, which keeps them and the story moving. Thus, it opens up new and exciting opportunities as Vaughan expands the worlds he invests in. We Stand on Guard is an anomaly amidst Vaughan’s recent wave of books, including the two aforementioned titles as well as Paper Girls and, before all that, Ex Machina.