Review: Superman Vol. 2: Return to Glory hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Within the confines of the Superman: Savage Dawn crossover, Gene Luen Yang's Superman stories bugged me a little bit. I ultimately liked Yang's "Mythbrawl" stories (under the "Truth" heading) that lead in to Savage Dawn, but within Savage Dawn I noted that Yang's issues kept pulling Superman one way while the other writers kept pulling him another. While just three of the ten full issues in Yang's Superman Vol. 2: Return to Glory (with Peter Tomasi) are only collected in this book, and six are parts of the Savage Dawn and Final Days of Superman crossovers (the first, fourth, seventh, tenth, and then first and eighth parts respectively), Yang's shared issues do come off better when read laterally like this. I wouldn't recommend anyone read those crossovers in this disjointed of a manner, but there are ultimately some throughways in this mix-and-match pre-Rebirth Superman book.

DC Trade Solicitations for October 2017 - Aquaman: Atlantis Chronicles, Detective Comics and Justice League of America Rebirth Deluxe, Titans: Lazarus Contract, Odyssey of Amazons, Two-Face: 75 Years, Batwoman Rebirth

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Mostly Rebirth reprints on DC Comics's October 2017 list of trade paperback and hardcover solicitations, though nothing to sneeze at necessarily, when we've got new volumes of Superman, Flash, Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, both Justice League books, and the dedicated collection of Titans: The Lazarus Contract. As I mention below, the speed with which DC is releasing their Rebirth collections these days really thrills me; I finish a book I really like and the next one is right there on the schedule waiting for me.

Of course, let's not overlook that an especially significant item coming out this month is Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles, a deluxe edition of Peter David's sweeping history of the underwater city. Atlantis Chronicles has been on my list of books I wished DC would collect for a long time, and I thought it had the best chance mainly because it was a miniseries; I did not think DC would be following it with a seemingly-ongoing collection series of David's Aquaman series itself, which they are. Hopefully all the hoopla around the Aquaman movie gives this one a bump, but I can't overemphasize that pre-ordering is your friend in these situations.

Take a look with me at this month's list.

Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition HC

We have waited a very long time for DC to collect Peter David's masterwork of Aquaman mythology, and the best news is that this is only the start, because DC plans to follow it with a collection of Peter David's hook-handed Aquaman stories proper.

Batman Year Two 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition HC

Getting a lot of play, apparently, because there's also a Dark Knight Detective trade series coming up that will collect the same material, this is Mike W. Barr's "Year Two" from Detective Comics #575-578 plus the Full Circle sequel.

Batman: Detective Comics: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

It seems DC is releasing some but not all of the Rebirth titles in two-trade deluxe hardcovers. Among them, Detective Comics is a great read (including the "Night of the Monster Men" issues) and Eddy Barrows's art is going to look fantastic in deluxe format.

Batwoman Vol. 1: The Many Arms of Death TP

Marguerite Bennett's first Batwoman collection sees a paperback trade, collecting the Rebirth special and issues #1-6.

Flash Vol. 4: Running Scared TP

Green Arrow Vol. 4: Blood and Oil TP

I've had a look at what's coming up in both Flash and Green Arrow and I couldn't be more excited for November to get here for these books. The Flash trade, of course, follows the "Button" crossover with Batman. The Green Arrow book is on the short side, just three issues and an annual, but lately Benjamin Percy's been knocking it out of the park so I'm not even going to worry about it.

Gotham Academy Second Semester Vol. 2: The Ballad of Olive Silverlock TP

Collects the issue #4 interlude and issues #9-12.

Justice League of America Vol. 2: Curse of the Kingbutcher TP

Justice League of America: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One HC

November sees both the second collection of Steve Orlando's Justice League of America series and also the first deluxe hardcover. Usually these deluxes come out along with the third volume, but it seems DC's counting the Road to Rebirth collection; Vol. 2 has issues #7-11 while the deluxe has all the specials plus issues #1-6. Between Lobo, Ray, Lord Havoc and the Extremists, and a title like "Curse of the Kingbutcher," Orlando seems to be riffing on a 1990s vibe that I'm excited about even as I haven't cracked the book yet.

Justice League Vol. 4: Endless TP

The next collection of Bryan Hitch's Justice League collects issues #20-25.

New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2 HC [New Edition]

This new edition of the omnibus doesn't totally map to what came before, at least as far as the solicitations can be believed; this collects issues #21-41, the first two annuals, and Batman and the Outsiders #5, but lacks from the previous book the third annual and Tales of the Teen Titans issues #42-44.

Odyssey of the Amazons TP

I've really heard nothing about the Kevin Grevioux series since its original announcement, which makes me wonder whether many people picked it up and whether it has been a success for DC or not. A smart marketing person would probably slip James Robinson a note and ask him to drop a reference to it into an upcoming issue of Wonder Woman; otherwise I'm not quite sure what ongoing life this will have.

Superman Vol. 4: Black Dawn TP

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 4: The New World TP

Admittedly I am someone given to feeling enthusiastic about what's coming out of DC Comics, but I've been reading some really good Rebirth releases lately, and now here we have DC releasing the next volumes of Action Comics and Superman -- the fourth volumes, each following Superman Reborn -- both in the same month. Not only are these books coming out fast, but they're also good -- what more could you ask for?

Superwoman Vol. 2: Rediscovery TP

The second Superwoman collection includes a "Superman Reborn" tie-in, the last issue written by Phil Jimenez.

Titans: The Lazarus Contract HC

The dedicated "Lazarus Contract" collection is said to collect Titans #11, Teen Titans #8, Deathstroke #19-20, and Teen Titans: The Lazarus Contract Special. This still leaves Titans #12 missing, neither collected here nor in Titans Vol. 3, though I'm sure DC is going to pick it up somewhere.

Two-Face: A Celebration of 75 Years HC

The credits mention Peter Tomasi and Greg Rucka, among others, which probably means material from Tomasi's Batman and Robin: The Big Burn and either Gotham Central or something from Rucka's Detective Comics. The promotional cover, though, shows Batman Annual #14, a superlative origin of Two-Face by Andrew Helfer that details the abuse Harvey Dent suffered as a child. That annual has only been reprinted once before in a now out-of-print volume, and it was not included in the Batman: Arkham: Two-Face collection, so I'm hoping that we do see it here.

A Very DC Universe Rebirth Christmas TP

A curious exercise in repackaging, this is the DC Rebirth Holiday Special plus just the Batman Annual #1 and Harley Quinn #10. At the same time I'm not sure if that Batman annual is collected anywhere else, so maybe I'm going to get suckered in.

Wonder Woman Vol. 4: Godwatch TP

Collects issues #16, #18, #20, #22, #24, and Greg Rucka's story from the first annual, marking the final volume of Rucka's latest run on Wonder Woman.

Bunch of Rebirth event collections coming out soon -- which one are you most looking forward to? Superman Reborn, Button, Lazarus Contract, or another?

Review: Robin, Son of Batman Vol. 2: Dawn of the Demons hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Patrick Gleason gets top billing in Robin, Son of Batman Vol. 2: Dawn of the Demons, but in fact all but one of the seven issues collected here are written or co-written by Ray Fawkes (Constantine) with art by Ramon Bachs. Arguably Fawkes's book takes a step back from Gleason's first volume if only because Fawkes basically does again a second (and even a third) time what Gleason has already done; at the same time, Fawkes finds in Damian some interesting metaphors that help make the character more relatable. Artist Ramon Bachs too has the difficulty of simply not being Gleason, but his art is fun and attractive (and not wholly dissimilar from Gleason's), and I wouldn't mind seeing Bachs on another DC title in Rebirth.

Review: Shade, the Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy trade paperback (DC Comics/Young Animal)

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Unless Cave Carson is unexpectedly spectacular, Cecil Castellucci's Shade, the Changing Girl Vol. 1: Earth Girl Made Easy may turn out to be the best of Gerard Way's Young Animal debuts. Emerging somewhere between Heathers and Edward Scissorhands with a heavy aesthetic of 1980s teen movie, Shade is strange and fun, effortlessly shifting between the serious, mundane, and absurd, from alien moonscapes to psychedelic art to high school classrooms. Castellucci and artist Marley Zarcone create a weird, immersive world that goes perhaps to Young Animal's mandate of distinct art styles more than any of the imprint's other titles I've read so far.

DC Comics Early 2018 Collections - Hawkworld, Green Lantern Corps, Aquaman by Peter David, Batman: Legacy Vol. 2, DC Meets Looney Tunes

Monday, July 10, 2017

We've probably got a month or so until DC Comics releases their Spring 2018 catalog, but some exciting collections have popped up online in the meantime. Most notably we've got new collections of John Ostrander and Tom Truman's Hawkworld, the post-Crisis Green Lantern Corps, and Peter David's Aquaman, plus 1980s and 1990s Batman (including a really solid Batman: Legacy Vol. 2), Black Lightning, Marv Wolfman's Deathstroke, David's Young Justice, and more. In all of this I see DC's continuing dedication to releasing "new classic" material from the last 30 years -- I mean, Hawkworld collections?! That's exciting stuff.

Here's what I noticed:

Adam Strange: The Man of Two Worlds Deluxe Edition

As I understand it, this post-Crisis Adam Strange miniseries was controversial for a number of reasons, not in the least that it suggests Adam Strange's wife Alanna's father Sardath assaults her, and much of this story was later smoothed out and retconned in JLA among other places. However, like Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters, Green Lantern: The Road Back, and others, this is another one of those post-Crisis origin books that becomes a fixture of the era and therefore likely deserves collecting; art, in addition, is by Andy Kubert.

Aquaman by Peter David Book One

As we were hoping when DC solicited the long-awaited collection of Peter David's Atlantis Chronicles, here comes a collection series of David's Aquaman run. Whether you agree the hook-handed look was a good one for Aquaman or not, it was certainly recognizable, and David's tenure ran almost 50 issues. This first collection is supposed to collect David's Time and Tide miniseries and issues #1-10, but the Zero Month zero issue following Zero Hour ought also be in there too. With appearances by Superboy, Lobo, and Green Lantern Kyle Rayner, this continues DC's recent spate of 1990s-era collections.

Batman: The Dark Knight Detective Vol. 1

We've seen this one pop up a couple times, apparently collecting Detective Comics #575-578, Mike W. Barr's Year Two story, plus the sequel prestige format story Batman: Full Circle. That means no new material collected here, though the hope is that this becomes a collection series of the 1980s immediately-post-Crisis Batman stories.

Batman: Legacy Vol. 2

After delaying their collection of the "Legacy" crossover for a while, DC has delivered well with a Vol. 1 trade that collects a lot of prelude and interstitial material (basically, along with the recent Contagion trade, collecting all Batman material published in this era) and a Vol. 2 that not only collects the rest of "Legacy," but also the related titles Batman: Bane of the Demon #1-4 and Batman: Bane. The issue Catwoman #36 is either missing from these solicitations or was included in Vol. 1 and I just didn't notice it, but I'm sure DC will get that worked out, and in all I am very, very pleased. It was worth the wait, because these are the definitive Legacy collections.

Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 2

A second full-color collection of Mike W. Barr's Batman and the Outsiders series from the 1980s, with art by both Jim Aparo and Alan Davis. The next collection should be able to get through issue #32, after which the book became Adventures of the Outsiders.

Batman: Super Powers

There's not likely much to see here; this reprints Batman Confidential #50-54, a title that seemingly existed mostly to release sub-continuity stories for the trade, but that never much made a very big splash. The selling point is that the story is by Arrow's Marc Guggenheim, but I don't think I'll be picking this up very quickly.

Black Lightning Vol. 2

In time for the new CW television series, this second collection of Tony Isabella's Black Lightning moves from the 1970s series to the 1990s series, collecting issues #1-13. I picked up a lot of this at the time, actually, in part because the Superman Triangle Titles' Gangbuster Jose Delgado was a supporting cast member.

Deathstroke the Terminator Vol. 4

Though not given a title, this collection can't be called anything but "World Tour," since it collects Marv Wolfman's issues #27-34 "World Tour" storyline, plus the Bloodlines Annual #2. This gritty 1990s series was Slade Wilson at his best, and an eight-part story sounds like something to really sink ones teeth into. This title becomes Deathstroke, the Hunted with issue #41-47, so conceivably if the next volume went a little large then it could collect all of "Hunted," and then it might be just one or so volumes after that until the title ends with issue #60, except there's a couple Titans and etc. crossovers here and there that we'll have to see how DC collects.

Deathstroke Vol. 4 (Rebirth)

Christopher Priest's fourth volume collects issues #21-26, so immediately following the "Lazarus Contract" crossover with Titans and Teen Titans (the third Rebirth Deathstroke collection stops at issue #18, putting the "Lazarus" issues only in the Lazarus Contract book proper if a deluxe Rebirth Deathstroke hardcover doesn't come around.

Doom Patrol Book Four

Continues the collection of Rachel Pollack's Vertigo run with issues #64-74, Doom Patrol Annual #2, and Vertigo Jam #2. Pollack's run ends with issue #87 so it should be just one more volume to finish this up.

Doom Patrol Vol. 2

We know some issues of Gerard Way's Young Animal Doom Patrol had been delayed, but this collects issues #7-12, scheduled to come out by April 2018.

Green Lantern Corps: Beware Their Power Vol. 1

This new collections series appears to collect Steve Englehart and Joe Staton's post-Crisis Green Lantern Corps series, starting with the Legends tie-in issue #207 through #215 and the Annuals #2-3. It's kind of funny to start with #207 and not #201, when this series changed from Green Lantern to Corps, but issues #201-206 are in Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3, and issues #172 to #200 are in the Sector 2814 trades. So I applaud DC for not making us double-dip even though the collection series name has changed, as has been their custom previously, and I'm eager to see this one play out. The series ends with issue #224, so one more collection should do it (and that one ought include a Millennium tie-in).

Hawkworld Book One: The Byth Saga

Again, no lack of good stuff on this list, as DC finally starts collecting John Ostrander and Tim Truman's 1990s Hawkworld series. As troubled as Hawkman's continuity has become, Thanagarian police officer Katar Hol looks better all the time. Ostrander and Truman's take is gritty and sharp, and I'm excited for this collection and also for it to continue into some later issues where Katar and Shayera interact with more of the DC Universe.

DC Meets Looney Tunes

For those who didn't pick up Batman/Elmer Fudd the first time around, the DC Meets Looney Tunes collection is due out in February 2018. Collects Batman/Elmer Fudd, Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam, Legion of Superheroes/Bugs Bunny, Lobo/Road Runner, Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian, and Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil, plus the more animated Superman/Bug Bunny #1-4 from 2000 by Mark Evanier and Joe Staton.

New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Deluxe Edition

A deluxe-size collection of "Judas Contract," though the contents hew to the most barebones of "Judas" collections, Titans issues #39-44 and the Annual #3. Still nice to see the book in this format and retaining popularity after all this time.

New Teen Titans Vol. 2 Omnibus New Edition

Still hard to say whether these new editions of the New Teen Titans omnibuses are mapping to the originals or not. The solicited contents for this are a little short of the original omnibus, omitting a Tale of the New Teen Titans Annual and issues #42-44. Because that's right in the middle of "Judas Contact," I don't think they'd leave those out; the only possibility, we can hope, is DC might collect this second volume differently so as to make the third omnibus an actual sequential book instead of a writer/artist spotlight volume.

Nightwing Vol. 7: Shrike

This seventh volume of Chuck Dixon's Nightwing is still within what's been previously collected, though it does collect the previously-uncollected Nightwing: Our Worlds at War and Nightwing: The Target books. Dixon wrote NIghtwing through issue #70 (and then again from issue #101-106), but this volume, collecting issues #54-60, does finish out what's been previously collected for this series. Eager for the next one!

Superman: Action Comics: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2

The second deluxe hardcover collection of the Rebirth Action Comics includes issues #967-984, so including the "Superman Reborn" crossover issues that were omitted from the paperback.

Superman: President Luthor

For some reason DC thinks a collection of stories about businessman Lex Luthor becoming president might be of interest right now. A previous collection of these stories came out in 2003 (part of a nice series of collections of the Jeph Loeb et al run); the solicitations for this new edition seem to omit some of that book's issues, which I hope is just an oversight, but the better thing is that this collection includes James D. Hudnall and Eduardo Barreto's prestige format one-shot Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography, which I still think is one of the greatest post-Crisis Lex Luthor stories ever told.

Teen Titans Vol. 2 (Rebirth)

Collects issues #6-7, #9-11, and #13 of Benjamin Percy's Rebirth series, omitting the "Lazarus Contract" issue #8 and the Dark Nights: Metal tie-in issue #12. Granted this is not actually a Dark Nights collection, but it's heartening that books coming out around Metal will be here as soon as January.

Titans Vol. 3 (Rebirth)

The third of Dan Abnett's Rebirth Titans collections includes issues #13-16, which means both issues #11 and #12 are omitted between the second and third volumes. That's interesting because only issue #11 is a "Lazarus Contract" tie-in, while issue #12 is an aftermath issue. It's not listed for the Lazarus Contract collection either, so possibly there's an adjustment coming to one solicitation or the other.

Young Justice Book Two

Collects issues #8-18 of Peter David's Young Justice series (at last!), plus the Secret Files and the 80-Page Giant. Among other things there's a crossover with David's Supergirl series here (the Supergirl issue doesn't seem to be collected, but I don't recall it being all that essential to the story; also those issues should be along in the fourth Supergirl by Peter David collection). There's also a "Day of Judgment" tie-in issue here; the next collection should also include the Sins of Youth event issues. (Solicitation for this book, curiously, seems to be riffing on issue #10 of the Young Justice cartoon tie-in comic.)

That's just a start -- I think we'll have much, much more in a couple weeks. What's going to be on your pull list?

Review: Batman/Superman Vol. 6: Universe's Finest hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 09, 2017

Of all the individual trades that tie into the Superman events "Savage Dawn" and "Final Days of Superman," Batman/Superman: Universe's Finest may be the one you will most, or least, want to pick up. Of the eight issues collected in this book -- including an annual -- only two are crossover issues reprinted elsewhere; the other six are "exclusive" to this book, including two issues and the annual that do actually just appear in the collection and were never released in monthly form.

But at the same time, in something of the style of Superman/Batman titles past, the three-part "Universe's Finest" and "Criss Cross" stories found here fall outside the mainstream ongoing DC Universe storyline, if not outside continuity entirely, and to that end one has to gauge on their own whether these are worth picking up versus other material. Given that what else is here is (the second and fifth) parts of Final Days of Superman, however, at least one thing in this book's favor is to enjoy two "average" team-ups in the lives of the New 52 Superman and Batman before, well, you know.

Review: Superman: The Final Days of Superman hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Peter Tomasi's Superman: The Final Days of Superman earns its "Road to Rebirth" moniker, as it reads mainly as a backdoor pilot for a number of Rebirth series. In this way, Final Days comes off somewhat scattered, pursuing red herrings for most of the story. Also I wouldn't say that the threat here quite meets the level of what's necessary for a "Superman's last battle"-type story; "Whatever Happened to the Man of Steel" this isn't. That said, Tomasi does bring the emotion when needed, offering especially touching moments between Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and that makes this a unique "Death of Superman" story that stands distinct from its predecessors.

Review: New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made in China (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Gene Luen Yang's Rebirth New Super-Man Vol. 1: Made in China reminds of Karl Kesel's Superboy, featuring a brash young Super-analogue who only occasionally takes his superheroing seriously. That'll be a nice change of pace for some, though in all the first volume of New Super-Man came off a little light for my taste. Also, though there's political struggle at the center of New Super-Man, Yang couches it in a lot of fancifulness and metaphor that mitigates the Chinese political situation; I didn't come away feeling I'd learned much nor that Yang really explicated daily life in China for the reader. Giving this book not only its own Superman but also its own Chinese Justice League straightaway is a smart move by Yang, and it seems to me that how strong or weak the book's ties are to the greater DC Universe will largely decide whether this outlying title continues.

Review: Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Nightwing Vol. 2: Back to Bludhaven in many respects represents the real first volume of the DC Comics Rebirth series, and it's an admirable accomplishment by writer Tim Seeley. Seeley has the unenviable job of taking Nightwing Dick Grayson back to his pre-Flashpoint home of Bludhaven in such a way as to not seem just a soft re-hashing of a story already told, and he does so with alacrity. The Rebirth-based conceit with which Seeley accomplishes this works better than I expected, and also Seeley manages to pay homage to and utilize a variety of villains from the Nightwing series past -- using them, even, perhaps better than Chuck Dixon did originally. Not unlike James Tynion's Detective Comics, Seeley's second Nightwing volume ends with Dick Grayson to some extent back where we left him pre-Flashpoint, but fresher and with perhaps clearer purpose than he's ever had before. I finished Nightwing Vol. 2 much more excited to read the next volume than I was before.

Review: Superman: Savage Dawn hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, June 25, 2017

The recent Batman: Night of the Monster Men is a crossover done right, compact and focused, and based on that limited sample suggests good things for crossovers in the Rebirth era. That's auspicious because crossovers struggled in the New 52 era, especially among the Superman titles toward the end, with a tendency to bloat and meander. This was true of the Doomed crossover, and while the "Truth" event started auspiciously with connected-but-separate titles, with Superman: Savage Dawn we're back to a crossover so large it loses sight of itself.

Savage Dawn has moments here and there -- moments of impressive art, moments of inspiring story, moments of fine inter-character drama. But they're punctuated by a ten-chapter story that includes almost two-issues-worth of alternate-realty sequences, almost two-issues-worth of action sequences (with plenty of one- and two-page splash pages), and a bevy of mistakes. Moreover, though it begins to seem like Savage Dawn has interesting things to say in the beginning, whatever themes are set up in the beginning are lost or unremarked upon by the end, and the conclusion skips blithely over some of Savage Dawn and "Truth"'s biggest issues.