Review: Justice League of America Vol. 2: Curse of the Kingbutcher (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Steve Orlando's second Rebirth Justice League of America volume reminds in some respects of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis's Justice League, with purposefully B-list villains taking a backseat to the character interactions (though fortunately without the cornball comedy). I hadn't realized ahead of time that Justice League of America Vol. 2: Curse of the Kingbutcher was a collection of shorter arcs, and so it was interesting to see Orlando flit through these one- and two-offs, largely using homemade antagonists. The book felt episodic, like X-Files or one of the CW shows that Orlando's League has so much connection to.

I go back and forth on Orlando's League; it has not been as good as I'd hoped and the second volume (third, including the Road to Rebirth volume) did not improve my opinion. On one hand, this book includes an astounding deep dive into much-maligned 1990s territory -- some of my favorite material -- and by the end of this volume, there's a curious mystery forming and some intriguing storylines to come outside of the book's promised Rebirth-centric, Atom-centric story. On the other hand, that reference to 1990s material makes almost no sense, part of a continued pattern of Orlando deciding this book's continuity as he goes, which along with other errors makes the book feel carelessly put together. While I like these characters, the team's internal conflict du jour is both silly and also one that we've seen many times before. I appreciate what Orlando seems to want to do with this book but a lot of this is not very original.

[Review contains spoilers]

The book's second story, "The Man From Monster Valley," sees the League rescue a feral man from the valley and rehabilitate him, only to learn that he's the heir to a fortune before he sets out to take revenge on his extended family for stranding him to start with. The story moves instantaneously from the League saving Makson to Makson, hale and hearty, holding court over the family he's about to kill. Batman, based on his reading of Makson's body language, determines he's lying and sets to investigating him, which creates a rift with the League and especially the Ray, who's angry Batman's not willing to give Makson a "second chance."

The themes of Orlando's book are trust, hope, and indeed second chances, and clearly Orlando wants for story purposes to create a rift between suspicious Batman and the trusting League. Good for Orlando, at least, that Batman is right in the end and this isn't a story of the optimistic young League teaching stodgy old Batman what's what. But even if Batman was wrong, he's so mild here -- it's not as though he goes to bust Makson's jaw, but rather based on Batman's well-reasoned observations, he proceeds to conduct a circumspect investigation that very swiftly reveals wrongdoing. The Ray is gigantically angry because Batman peacefully says, "Let's think about this," which ought be a value Orlando's League should espouse. Their conflict underscores, and so also undermines, the rest of the book; the fact that Batman is clearly right and the Leaguers are clearly wrong makes all the time Orlando devotes to this a little dull. (Not to mention that Orlando skips Makson's entire rehabilitation that makes the Ray so invested in the first place.)

Further, there's a lot of debate here about whether Batman wanted the League to be a "team" or an "army"; while fighting the so-called "Kingbutcher" later on, Ray gets in a dig that Batman is afraid of the Leaguers' powers so he's trying to control them. This debate about trust and control and teamwork is the same argument just about every creative team's been writing for Batman for at least the past twenty years or more, up to and including that this same thing is going on right now in James Tynion's Rebirth Detective Comics. The really groundbreaking thing about Orlando's Justice League would have been if he had Batman put together a team that didn't complain that Batman doesn't give them enough leeway; instead, not only are we being subjected to the same thing over again, but also the book is turning out to be the opposite of what its promising premise seemed to be when Batman recruited the reformed Killer Frost in the first place.

I'm inclined to give this book an extra point mentally because it includes the severed head of a Bloodlines alien in it, which might be the most unexpected moment of the year if not for a similar deep dive in Tim Seeley's Nightwing Vol. 3. But Orlando's reference to Bloodlines and use of Terrorsmith is confusing; if we're meant to take Black Canary's lack of memory of Terrorsmith as a sign of in-story continuity issues (not that the two would have met anyway), Orlando is too subtle about it. Instead, as with a variety of moments in this book so far, it comes off as Orlando simply being careless about the continuity in which he writes -- see also Canary's reference to Doctor Fate, whom she really ought not know; that Vixen and Batman apparently seem to be long-time friends; and that the Ray apparently grew up idolizing the shadowy urban legend Batman.

And as before, the continuity issues are only compounded by what seems like general sloppiness among the creative team. Early in the book, Jamal Campbell draws Ray shining, inexplicably, while Vixen talks to a group of students about meerkats (presumably art is mismatched with dialogue here or vice versa). Batman apparently leaves a room mid-conversation, again demonstrated only by dialogue. Andy MacDonald draws Vixen generating the power of an alien animal, when we've never understood she could do that; he also draws a scene of Lobo's home planet of Czarnia but with everyone looking human except Lobo. At another point, Felipe Watanabe has the League wrapping blankets around people in their headquarters, despite that there's no reason that they would have transferred the people they just saved in Gateway City over to Happy Harbor; here again, the art on the page seems disconnected from the dialogue. (Also, neither Hi-Fi nor Campbell get Batman's newly purple cape right in this book, whereas Marcelo Maiolo and others remembered it in Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists).

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Justice League of America Vol. 2: Curse of the Kingbutcher

I do like that Steve Orlando creates new threats in Justice League of America Vol. 2: Curse of the Kingbutcher, and I like that these threats are smaller and more character-driven than ye olde alien conqueror in Justice League proper; this series of shorter stories serves this title well. And the idea that Batman might travel to Lord Havok's world in the future is exciting indeed -- Orlando exploring material we haven't seen all that much previously. But League remains a book ironing out its kinks, and furthermore the problems between writer and artists do give me pause about DC's proposed artist-focused line coming up.

[Includes original and variant covers, character and cover sketches]

Summary

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Justice League of America Vol. 2: Curse of the Kingbutcher
Author Rating
3 (out of 5)
Collected Editions 2017 Comic Book Gift Guide

Review: Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists (Rebirth) trade paperback

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Among the best parts of Steve Orlando's Rebirth Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists are the characters. I'd have never thought I'd see a comic where the 1990s Lobo was mentoring Atom Ryan Choi, but it's here and it works. In the tradition of Batwoman in the Rebirth Detective Comics, it's also refreshing to have another team book where Batman's colleagues, namely Vixen and Black Canary, question his motives and tell him off. And though Orlando's populist Justice League doesn't feel new so much as another in a long string of attempts of this type, there is an extent to which this particular kind of Justice League feels particularly relevant and welcome in this day and age.

Entry Plug: Inuyashiki 1-2 graphic novels (Kodansha Comics)

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

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

While American audiences know many of Akira Kurasawa's films, one that often flies under the radar in the West is Ikiru, the story of a worn-out salaryman dealing with his own mortality and his realization that his family simply no longer cares about him. It's a powerful and often heartbreaking work . . . and it's not the first thing you'd imagine someone could turn into a science fiction series. You might also find it surprising that the creator of said series is also the man behind the controversial, ultra-violent manga and anime Gantz. Yet this is the kernel at the core of Hiroya Oku's Inuyashiki, and despite Oku's previous work, this recently-completed manga has become one of the standout anime of 2017. This review covers the first two volumes of the manga, which in turn were adapted into the first two anime episodes.

Review: Superman Vol. 4: Black Dawn (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Superman Vol. 4: Black Dawn is an ambitious outing by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Free to use Superman continuity old and new after Superman Reborn, the two take on perhaps among the toughest Superman character to write. The result is exciting story-wise, as the culmination of Tomasi and Gleason's entire run so far, and drawn well by top talents Gleason and Doug Mahnke. In the technical details unfortunately the story collapses under its own weight, a confusing morass of elaborate and contradictory storylines, which in its freedom to use previous continuities doesn't pause to explain what's going on. In one respect Black Dawn is an exuberant example of the Superman title stretching its wings; in other respects it's a prime example of how DC Comics's long continuity (or lack thereof) can harm a story in significant ways.

Dark Nights: Metal, Electric Superman Red/Superman Blue, Superman: Zero Hour, Batman: Caped Crusader, Wonder Woman by Byrne Vol. 2 and Perez Vol. 3, Batman and Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison, Impulse Omnibus, Aquaman: Tempest, more in DC Comics Summer 2018 solicitations

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The weather might be getting colder, but DC Comics is already looking forward to summertime with the release of the DC Comics Summer 2018 trade paperback and hardcover solicitations.

Among big headlines for you here are all the Dark Nights: Metal collections arriving in June 2018 -- Dark Nights: Metal and Dark Nights: The Nightmare Batmen in hardcover (plus the Dark Days: The Road to Metal hardcover out in May) and Dark Nights: Bats Out of Hell and Dark Nights: Gotham Resistance in paperback. Hawkman Found is in Bats Out of Hell; Batman Lost is in Gotham Resistance, and Grant Morrison's Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt is in The Nightmare Batmen. The Metal hardcover proper will have a foil-embossed cover.

Update: A tweet from Scott Snyder suggests some of the Metal solicitation listings are incorrect, and that Batman Lost and Wild Hunt will both be in the Metal trade proper.

Update 2:: Things are changing fast. Seems the Dark Nights: Metal: Gotham Resistance trade is now cancelled; the contents for Bats Out of Hell hasn't changed but it's now called Dark Nights: Metal: The Resistance, so possibly these two paperback trades are being combined into one (rescheduled for July).

Plenty of other great, surprising, and just plain weird books on this list. Superman Red/Superman Blue looks to collect some or all of the "Electric Blue Superman" era, while Superman: Zero Hour follows the Batman book to collect the Superman tie-ins. There's an Impulse Omnibus by Mark Waid, and Legion by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning Vol. 2, which collects Legion Lost. I can't believe Batman Arkham: Penguin isn't already published, and the Flash titles seem to be getting on the villain-trade bandwagon with Flash Rogues: Captain Cold. Aquaman: Tempest with Phil Jimenez and Aquaman by Peter David Book Two. Batman by Grant Morrison Omnibus Vol. 1 and Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison Omnibus and Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2. Both Wonder Woman by John Byrne Vol. 2 and Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Vol. 3 collect previously-uncollected issues, as does the new edition of the New Teen Titans Vol. 3 Omnibus. Maybe, just maybe, the immediate-post-Crisis Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 1 will come out. And the Rebirth Super Sons of Tomorrow crossover sees its own collection.

Without further ado ...

[Be among the first to get news like this by following Collected Editions on Facebook and Twitter. And you do know about the DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline, don't you?]

Note that all of this information is subject to change before publication. Not all links may be functional yet.

Absolute Authority Vol. 2 (New Edition)

Following the recent new edition of Absolute Authority Vol. 1, this is issues #13-29 from the original Absolute Authority Vol. 2, plus the AuthorityAnnual #1 (2000) and a story from the Wildstorm Summer Special.

Absolute Sandman Overture

Neil Gaiman and JH Williams's Sandman Overture has been collected in deluxe format, but not yet in Absolute.

Aquaman by Peter David Book Two

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.

Aquaman Vol. 5: The Crown Comes Down

The second collection by Dan Abnett and Stjepan Sejic. Collects issues #31-34.

Aquaman: Tempest

This is an exciting surprise, an unexpected boon of the Aquaman movie. Collects Teen Titans Spotlight #10 and #18 (the latter is also a Millennium tie-in, a story from Aquaman Secret Files #1, and most notably, Phil Jimenez's four-issue Tempest miniseries.

Astro City Vol. 15: Ordinary Heroes

Astro City Vol. 16: Broken Century

Batman - Detective Comics Vol. 6: Fall of the Batmen

Collects issues #969-977 in the aftermath of "Lonely Place of Living," this time seeming to spotlight Clayface.

Batman & Robin Adventures Vol. 3

Batman '66 Omnibus

Batman Arkham: Penguin

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 Beyond Vol. 3: The Long Payback

Collects issues #13-19. I hear nothing about this book. Anyone picking it up? On the chopping block?

Batman by Doug Moench & Kelley Jones Vol. 2

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 by Grant Morrison Omnibus Vol. 1

No issues listed by the solicitation mentions Final Crisis. As this is just volume one, I expect this goes through Batman RIP but maybe not Batman and Robin.

Batman Vol. 6 (Rebirth)

Not much to say without spoiling things here either, but this should collect issues #38-43. Hard to believe we're so close to issue #50 already.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deluxe Edition

With scripts and variant covers. After a book comes out in paperback and does well, deluxe seems fairly ubiquitous these days.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II

Wasting no time, the second book by James Tynion and Freddie Williams throws Bane into the mix.

Batman: Creature of the Night

The new four-issue miniseries by Kurt Busiek and John Paul Leon that just started, out in hardcover in July.

Batman: Death & the Maidens (New Edition)

A paperback release, most likely reflecting the enhanced contents of the recent deluxe hardcover.

Batman: The Brave & the Bold: The Bronze Age Omnibus Vol. 2

Batman: The Caped Crusader Vol. 1

This has been on and off the solicitations for a while and I'd be pleased to see it, now scheduled for August. Generally a collection of Jim Starlin's immediate-post-Crisis Batman stories, the listing says it's issues #417-430 plus the Annual #12. That's Ten Nights of the Beast and Death of the Family, a fine run to be sure, and picks right up from where the Batman: Second Chances collection ended. But won't someone ever take pity on the Legends tie-in Batman #401?

Batman: The Golden Age Omnibus Vol. 5

Batman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2

Collects issues #16-32 and the Annual #1, so Vol. 3 I Am Bane, parts one and three of The Button, and Vol. 4 War of Jokes and Riddles.

Batman: Thrillkiller (New Edition)

Batwoman Vol. 2: Fear and Loathing

Issues #7-11 of the Marguerite Bennett/James Tynion series.

Blue Beetle Vol. 3: Road to Nowhere

The third and final Rebirth collection of Blue Beetle, with issues #13-18.

Bombshells: United Vol. 1: American Soil

Books of Magic Book Two

Issues #19-25.

Dark Nights: Bats Out of Hell

In paperback, this collects Flash #33, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #32, Justice League #32-33, and Hawkman: Found #1. Five issues isn't a lot, though I'm sure this'll be stuffed with variant covers, and fortunately at least it is paperback. Said to be released June 19, 2018, the week after the Metal hardcover.

Dark Nights: Gotham Resistance

Also in paperback, also just five issues, collects Teen Titans #12, Nightwing #29, Suicide Squad #26, Green Arrow #32, and Batman: Lost #1. Also said to be released June 19, 2018.

Dark Nights: Metal

Said to arrive June 12, 2018, in hardcover with a foil-embossed cover, this collects issues #1-6 of the series.

Dark Nights: The Nightmare Batmen

In hardcover, to be released two weeks after the Metal hardcover (a week after Gotham Resistance and Bats Out of Hell), this collects Batman: The Red Death #1, Batman: The Devastator #1, Batman: The Merciless #1, Batman: The Murder Machine #1, Batman: The Drowned #1, Batman: The Dawnbreaker #1, The Batman Who Laughs #1 and Dark Knights Rising: The Wild Hunt #1. That's a heck of a creative team on this book, including Grant Morrison, Peter Tomasi, James Tynion, and Francis Manapul.

Update: See updates at the top -- looks like Bats Out of Hell and Gotham Resistance may be combined into a The Resistance trade set for July, and Batman Lost and Wild Hunt will be in the Metal trade proper.

DC Bombshells: The Deluxe Edition Book One

DC Super Hero Girls: Out of the Bottle

DC Universe by Mike Mignola

DC/Young Animal: Milk Wars

Just announced and impressively we already see a paperback solicitation, though it won't be out until June 2018. I hope this exists in some sort of continuity where the Young Animal characters actually are an aspect of the DC Universe proper. Includes Justice League/Doom Patrol, Doom Patrol/Justice League, Shade, the Changing Girl/Wonder Woman, Mother Panic/Batman, and Cave Carson/Swamp Thing. The solicitation, at least, also teases Shade meeting the Green Lantern Corps and Cave Carson racing the Flash.

Deadman

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

Doom Patrol: The Silver Age Vol. 1

Ex Machina: The Complete Series Omnibus

Kind of astounding this hasn't been published already, this collects issues #1-50 of the Brian K. Vaughan political superhero series and the Ex Machina Special #1-4.

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles

Applause to DC for doubling-down on their Hanna-Barbera revisions, and it's hilarious and wonderful that the main title of this isn't "Snagglepuss" but rather "Exit Stage Left." Because this has something of a historical bent more so than the fictional-but-metaphorical Flinstones, I'm more curious to pick up this than that.

Flash by Geoff Johns Book Five

Issues #214-225, from the middle of the Vol. 7 Secret of Barry Allen through Vol. 8 Rogue War, ending Johns's run. Equally this matches the latter half of the Omnibus Vol. 3. Technically Wonder Woman #219 should be in here, too, and I'd be pretty surprised if it wasn't.

Flash Rogues: Captain Cold

This is a neat idea a la the Batman: Arkham books, and could lead to neat Gorilla Grodd or Reverse Flash books. 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 and Flash #17 (Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul).

The Flash Vol. 6: Cold Day in Hell

I've been unhappy with the Rebirth Flash series, but obviously a title like "Cold Day in Hell" suggests the inclusion of a certain Rogue who's been among the best parts of this series so far. The mention of "the turmoil of [Barry Allen's] personal life doesn't please me," but here's hoping. Collects issues #34-38.

Flash: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 3

It's funny that the solicitation cover for this is the Justice League: Dawn of Justice variant. This collects the Rebirth Flash Vol. 5 Negative and Vol. 6 Cold Day in Hell, not even released yet, making up issues #28-38.

Flash: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 3

Frank Miller's Ronin (New Edition)

New edition includes promotional art and fold-out pages.

Gotham City Garage Vol. 1

Green Arrow Vol. 6 (Rebirth)

Issues #26-31, the new "Hard Travelin' Hero" storyline guest-starring the Justice League.

Green Lantern/Green Arrow: Hard Travelin' Heroes Deluxe Edition

Deluxe edition of Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams's Green Lantern/Green Arrow #76-87 and #89, and Flash #217-219 and #226.

Green Lanterns Vol. 6: Our Worlds at War

Issues #33-39 by Tim Seeley, taking over from Sam Humphries.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 5: Twilight of the Guardians

Issues #30-35. Guest-starring Superman; can I assume this ties in to recent issues of Peter Tomasi's Superman title?

Harley Quinn Vol. 6 (Rebirth)

The first Harley collection by Frank Tieri, issues #35-40.

Harley Quinn: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2

Issues #14-27 and the Harley Quinn 25th Anniversary Special, so the Vol. 3 Red Meat and Vol. 4 Surprise, Surprise collections. The next deluxe, it seems, will combine the end of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's run with the start of Frank Tieri's.

Harley's Little Black Book

Impulse by Mark Waid & Humberto Ramos Omnibus

If there was ever a really good use for an omnibus, it's 768 pages collecting Mark Waid's whole run on Impulse plus the Flash issues of the "Dead Heat" crossover character's Flash introduction, issues #108-111, and the Secret Origins 80-Page Giant. For those playing along at home, we get an Underworld Unleashed tie-in issue plus the Impulse parts of the Flash "Dead Heat" crossover. Hopefully this sells well enough that DC decides to continue into the other writers' material.

Infinite Crisis Omnibus (New Edition)

This is surely the definitive way to read Infinite Crisis, though I can't discern any difference between this and the previous edition.

Infinite Crisis Unwrapped

Injustice 2 Vol. 2

Injustice 2 Vol. 3

With Tom Taylor continuing as writer. Collects issues #7-13 and #14-20 respectively.

Injustice: Ground Zero Vol. 2

The Invisibles Book Three

The Jetsons

Not totally my thing, but if they did a new Jetsons/new Flintstones meet-up, I might have to give that a look.

John Constantine, Hellblazer Vol. 19: Red Right Hand

Issues #216-229 of the Vertigo series. There's a collection by this name already that only collects issues #223-228. Still 71 issues left to go before this is all collected.

JSA by Geoff Johns Book Two

JSA #6-20 and Secret Origin of Super-Villains #1.

Justice League of America Vol. 4 (Rebirth)

Issues #18-21 and the Annual #1 of the Steve Orlando series; five issues does feel a bit thin to me.

Justice League of America: The Silver Age Vol. 4

Justice League Vol. 6 (Rebirth)

Issues #34-38 by Christopher Priest and Pete Woods, taking over for Bryan Hitch. Priest has been doing a lot of good lately so I expect to like this, but if he's not going to be League's regular writer, I'd like that person to hurry up and arrive. This book needs to be more steady and central to the DC Universe than it is.

Legion by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning Vol. 2

After the last collection of the "Legion of the Damned" storyline, this is Legion Lost #1-12. Those issues have been collected before in hardcover but not, as now, in paperback. It'll be nice if DC can get to a third collection with some of the never-collected Legion Worlds specials.

Legion of Super-Heroes: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 2

Legion of Super-Heroes: The Silver Age Vol. 1

Mystik U

Do I understand this a story of a young Zatanna, present-set? So, in conflict with Zatanna's recent appearances in Detective Comics and essentially out of continuity? That dampens this for me a bit; I'd rather have the Mystik U as an existing place in the DC Universe.

New Gods by Jack Kirby

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

New Super-Man Vol. 3: Equilibrium

Issues #13-18, just before the book becomes New Super-Man and the Justice League of China.

New Teen Titans Vol. 3 Omnibus New Edition

We finally know now that the new editions of the New Teen Titans omnibuses will indeed continue collecting New Teen Titans in order (as opposed to the last time around). This is Tales of the Teen Titans #42-58, both "Judas Contract" and some Crisis on Infinite Earths lead-in stories, and New Teen Titans #1-9. I think Tales #51-58 and Titans #7-9 have never been collected before; the Annual #3 will also need to be in here for "Judas Contract."

New Teen Titans Vol. 9

This is New Teen Titans (second series) #1-9, of which issues #1-6 have been collected before.

Nightwing Vol. 6: The Untouchable

I actually hadn't realized Tim Seeley was leaving Nightwing, but given what I understand to be Sam Humphries' character-driven work on Green Lanterns, hopefully he'll uphold Seeley's level of quality. I'm not so sure about Bernard Chang's sketch-like art on this title, however, though a look back to this continuity's Dick Grayson's (mostly untold) Robin days should be interesting.

Ragman

The new six-issue miniseries by Ray Fawkes. Curious that they're introducing a new Ragman at a time that DC continuity generally seems to be reverting back to earlier days. I'm reminded that Ragman on the Arrow show was a fun character; it's unfortunate he didn't remain as a regular with the rest of the new team.

Ruff and Reddy Show

Scalped Book Three

Seven Soldiers by Grant Morrison Omnibus

The entirety of Seven Soldiers in one book (previously four paperbacks or two hardcovers), though Morrison's tie-in JLA Classified issues are not said to be included.

Suicide Squad Vol. 6: The Secret History of Task Force X

Issues #27-31 by series writer Rob Williams.

Super Sons of Tomorrow

Notably this crossover will be collected outside of any of the individual series, at least in the initial paperback. Collects Super Sons #11-12, Superman #37-38, and Teen Titans #15. Obviously this is the way DC has collected Rebirth-era crossovers so far but I had still thought this would end up a Super Sons collection proper.

Super Sons: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1

Collects issues #1-12, so Super Sons Vol. 1: When I Grow Up and Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of the Capes, plus the two Super Sons of Tomorrow issues also collected in their own title on this same list.

Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol. 2

Issues #241-258 and DC Comics Presents #13-14

Supergirl: Being Super

Collects the four-issue miniseries by Mariko Tamaki and Joelle Jones. The "Midvale" episode of Supergirl was a good advertisement for the viability of this as an ongoing thing.

Supergirl: The Silver Age Vol. 2

Superman by Mark Millar

Perhaps a bit randomly, this collects Adventures of Superman #573-576 -- so the start of the "new Triangle Titles" era with Jeph Loeb on Superman, and veering in to collecting just one part of the "Y2K" storyline with issue #576 -- and some equally displaced parts of the "Superman: King of the World" storyline with Action Comics #753-755 and #758 (much of this is uncollected, but also it wasn't great), plus Team Superman #1, Superman 80-Page Giant #2, Tangent Comics: Superman #1, and Superman for the Animals.

Superman For All Seasons (New Edition)

Paperback of the recent deluxe edition that includes Superman for All Seasons #1-4 plus stories from Superman/Batman #26 and Solo #1 (though the listing doesn't mention Superman/Batman Secret Files 2003).

Superman Red/Superman Blue

Said to reprint Superman #122-125, Adventures of Superman #545-547, Action Comics #732-734, Superman: Man of Steel #67-69 and Superman Annual #9. I suspect we'll find this is either a Vol. 1 or the contents are to be expanded, because even though this book is called Superman Red/Superman Blue, the contents only contain the early "Blue" issues from the late 1990s "Electric Blue Superman" storyline. The contents listing excludes, among other things, the Superman Red/Superman Blue special (which, despite not being mentioned as included, is essentially described in the solicitation) -- put another way, based on the issues listed, Superman Red actually isn't in this book.

As a historical record I'm eager to see this book make it to print, but as a Superman fan these stories are part of a real nadir in the Superman titles, about the time the once great "Death of Superman" team was hitting rock bottom before Jeph Loeb and company would come in to turn things around. On the face of it the creative teams don't seem that bad -- Stuart Immonen on Action Comics, Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett on Adventures of Superman, and Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove on Man of Steel. But Ron Frenz had taken over pencils from Dan Jurgens on Superman and that anchor title had lost a lot of pep, and the Red/Blue story was a muddled mess.

Despite some lasting imagery (and good use by Grant Morrison in JLA), I don't think readers ever loved the Electric Blue Superman even as a temporary measure. His power-set, whys, and wherefores were all over the place even before the writers then introduced the Red Superman. It ended in the truly abhorrent "Millennium Giants" crossover with a variety of DC titles, and things were bad enough off by that point that Superman was written back to normal with barely any explanation for what had happened.

Not to mention that there were a variety of silly storylines in the Superman titles at that time -- including one with the blind daughter of a conservative Daily Planet columnist being in love with a blue Kandorian monster and another with one of the Fourth World "Hairies" dating Jimmy Olsen -- that often distracted and bumped Superman out of his own titles. It was in some respects the worst realization of the really good plot- and character-juggling that the Triangle Titles team had once been famous for.

I had speculated, in thinking about Triangle Title omnibuses, that DC would never collect "Millennium Giants." I'd be happy to be wrong, of course. We'll see what this looks like in July. The "Electric Superman Red/Superman Blue" story ends with "Millennium Giants," so either this collection won't actually see Superman restored or it'll collect those issues.

Update: See comments from reader Paul Fletcher below for some further thoughts on how this story has been collected before. I'll follow up later with another post.

Superman Vol. 6: Imperius Lex (Rebirth)

The next volume of Peter Tomasi's Rebirth series. With Doug Mahnke and the Kents on Apokolips, this seems like a winner. The missing issues #37-38 are part of the "Super Sons of Tomorrow" crossover. Issues #40-41 are by James Robinson; DC's February 2018 solicitations repeat the contents of #38 for #39 so I'm not sure what that one will be.

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 6 (Rebirth)

This collects issues #1001-1006, with the solicitation just referring to Oz Effect. Guess we'll know next month what Action Comics #1000 is and how it might lead in here.

Superman: Action Comics: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 3

Said to collect issues #993-999 and #1001-1006, the Vol. 5 Booster Shot and Vol. 6 books.

Superman: Zero Hour

This is a fun series that DC is now apparently releasing, following the previous Batman: Zero Hour collection. There's unfortunately not a lot of other series that had multi-part Zero Hour tie-in stories that would also make good collections, though the Justice League titles are certainly one. This only says it collects the Zero Month (#0) issues of Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, Superman, and Man of Steel, but if it's anything like the Batman book, we should also see Man of Steel #37, Superman #93, Adventures #516, and Action #703. Among the Zero Hour time-lost elements are a gaggle of alt-Batmen, Jor-El and Lara, and the hero Alpha Centurion; the Zero Month issues introduce Conduit Kenny Braverman, an interesting-enough villain that I'm surprised no one ever used him again after the "Death of Clark Kent" story that followed.

Sweet Tooth Book Two

Tales of the Batman: Gerry Conway Vol. 2

Teen Titans GO!: Their Greatest Hijinks

Titans: The Lazarus Contract

Trinity Vol. 2: Dead Space (Rebirth)

Paperback collection of issues #7-11.

Trinity Vol. 3: Dark Destiny

The newest hardcover Trinity collection, issues #12-15, with guest appearances by Red Hood and the Outlaws and Rob Williams writing instead of Francis Manapul.

Vertigo: A Celebration of 25 Years

Supposed to be out August 14, 2018, the solicitation describes this as "a luxurious hybrid of oral history and retrospective art book." With a timeline of Vertigo projects, behind-the-scenes features, interviews, and all-new stories.

The Wild Storm: Michael Cray Vol. 1

Spin-off of Warren Ellis's new Wild Storm, re-imagining Deathblow by Bryan Hill. Issues #1-6

Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Vol. 3

It's great to see DC finishing out the mostly-never-collected George Perez Wonder Woman run with this final omnibus, collecting issues #46-62. Nicely DC is also including the Wonder Woman crossover War of the Gods even though it saw its own collection not too long ago, and also Perez's guest shots issues #168-169 and the Gail Simone story that Perez drew in the #600 issue (though some creative renumbering).

Wonder Woman by John Byrne Vol. 2

The second Wonder Woman by John Byrne collection includes issues #115-124 and the Annuals #5-6, ending just before the Genesis crossver, which Byrne would write and which would be the most Wonder Woman-centric DC Universe crossover since War of the Gods. These issues include Cave Carson, Jason Blood and Etrigan the Demon, Cheetah, Hippolyta, Donna Troy and then-new Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark, Neron, and notably Artemis, fresh from William Messner-Loeb's Artemis: Requiem miniseries of the time -- not included here, but maybe it should be. Annual #5 is a "Legends of the Dead Earth" Elseworlds-type story; Annual #6 is a "Pulp Heroes" story by Byrne with an Artemis backup.

Wonder Woman/Conan

By Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti, collecting issues #1-6.

Wonder Woman: Earth One Vol. 2

The next book by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette is supposed to be out August 21, 2018. Seems at least at the outset that Wonder Woman's mission of peace goes up against political realities, as only Morrison can do ...

Wonder Woman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 2

Issues #15-25 and a story from the Annual #1, this is Greg Rucka's Rebirth Vol. 3 The Truth and Vol. 4 Godwatch. Like the first deluxe volume, the issues should be interspersed, which I agree is the best way to read it.

Happy new year and to all a good night. What will you be waiting for next summer?

Review: Justice League of America: Road to Rebirth (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Justice League of America: Road to Rebirth collects the five specials that bridged Justice League vs. Suicide Squad to the new series -- Atom, Vixen, Ray, Killer Frost, and Justice League of America itself. Of these, only one truly introduces a brand-new character, and the League issue is included also in Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Extremists. To that end, in mostly telling stories that don't establish anything new or retread old ground, Road to Rebirth doesn't impress to the extent it could. I might've just preferred writer Steve Orlando integrate all of this into the first storyline or just get on with it and tackle how the group came together later. Road to Rebirth ought have made me eager for the first true volume, but instead just made me impatient.

DC Trade Solicitations for February 2018 - Justice League Task Force, Action Comics #1000: 80 Years, Wonder Woman by Perez Omnibus Vol. 3, Dark Days: Road to Metal, All-Star Batman Vol. 3: The First Ally

Monday, November 27, 2017

2018's off to a good start looking at the DC Comics trade paperback and hardcover collections solicitations, which include the never-thought-we'd-see-it first trade of Justice League Task Force.

It's a wild world we live in that by the time this book comes out, one will be able to read Justice League America all the way from when Keith Giffen and company's run ended and Dan Jurgens's began, through "Death of Superman" and when Wonder Woman joined as leader; the entire and most complete run of Knightfall ever collected; and now to be able to read the full initial run of Justice League Task Force from the start to where it intersects with Knightfall and then to just before it meets Justice League America ahead of Zero Hour. That's an astounding chunk of 1990s comics that I don't think any of us thought we'd ever see collected.

And that's not even mentioning what ought be the real main event of the month, the Action Comics #1000 hardcover special (not to be confused with the issue itself). There's also the Dark Days: The Road to Metal "prelude" volume and the next Rebirth volumes of All-Star Batman, Batgirl, Flash, Green Lanterns, Hellblazer, Justice League of America, and Super Sons. We also see both Aquaman and Wonder Woman volumes that came between the characters' Crisis on Infinite Earths-era depictions and their better-known post-Crisis versions; notable too is the third and final volume of the Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus series, collecting the War of the Gods-era Wonder Woman stories (plus War of the Gods itself [again!]).

Let's go ahead and take a closer look at the listings.

Action Comics #1000: 80 Years of Superman HC

It'd be hard to pass up this companion volume to Action Comics #1,000. This seems pretty OK to me; we don't yet know how extensive or not Action Comics #1,000 itself is, but if let's say it's just the comic itself, then shunting all the celebratory material to a separate hardcover at $30 (less after discounts) seems OK to me. I'm a tad skeptical of the hedging of bets in "... don’t miss a previously unpublished 1940s Superman tale believed to be written by Jerry Siegel with art by the Joe Shuster studio," as if also like maybe it's not (and who hid it away, and why?). Overall the solicitation copy for this reads a little funny; the tone is off DC's normal solicitation tone, and a little flip for this particular book -- "Enjoy sparkling essays from literary wizards who have won Pulitzer Prizes and hit the bestseller lists." Still, I think now we know what to expect when Detective Comics reaches this same milestone.

All-Star Batman Vol. 3: The First Ally HC

Collects the final issues of All-Star, issues #10-14. It seems in some respects the whole purpose of All-Star has been for Scott Snyder to tell this story, so I'm looking forward to it.

Aquaman: The Legend of Aquaman TP

It's nice to see DC mining their Aquaman material and especially the immediate-post-Crisis Aquaman material. This was a take on Aquaman that didn't last, overshadowed by the Peter David run, but it's a cool bit of post-Crisis nostalgia that we get in trade.

Batgirl Vol. 3: Summer of Lies TP

Collects issues #12-17, guest-starring Nightwing.

Batgirl: Stephanie Brown Vol. 2 TP

The final new collection of Bryan Q. Miller's Batgirl has issues #13-24 and the Bruce Wayne: The Long Road Home: Batgirl and Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes issues, previously collected though not alongside the Batgirl series. The Leviathan issue makes Grant Morrison a co-writer in this volume.

Batman and Harley Quinn HC

The solicitation calls this a sequel to the new animated movie, but I thought it was a prequel. Either way, between this and the Killing Joke movie, I think I'm off Bruce Timm's contributions to the franchise for now.

Batman by Neal Adams Book One TP

If I'm not mistaken, this is the start of a paperback series breaking down the Batman by Neal Adams omnibus into smaller chunks.

Batman: Gothic [New Edition] TP

I know Metal is taking from a lot of places; not sure if this is one of them or if DC is just bringing the Grant Morrison/Klaus Janson story back into print. Collects Legends of the Dark Knight #6-10.

Batman: New Gotham Vol. 2 TP

This second volume, essentially Batman: Detective Comics by Greg Rucka, collects issues #755-765 and Superman #168 -- so, picking up from the last volume, side-stepping the Officer Down crossover, and then continuing through to just before Batman: Murderer/Fugitive, which recently got its own comprehensive collections. That does it for "New Gotham," I'm pretty sure.

Batman: Tales of the Man-Bat TP

As mentioned before, this collects Chuck Dixon and Flint Henry's Showcase '94 #11 and Man-Bat miniseries, and then Bruce Jones's unrelated Man-Bat miniseries from about ten years later that involved the Gotham Knights-era Hush. The more collected material the better, but you'd think Man-Bat would be appearing somewhere for this to be coming out.

Dark Days: The Road to Metal HC

This was originally solicited with just Dark Days: The Forge and The Casting, the Rebirth Nightwing #17, and the Metal story from Detective Comics #950, which seemed slim for a $30 trade. DC has updated this now to include Final Crisis #6-7, The Return of Bruce Wayne #1, and the New 52 Batman #38-39, "and more" (the Detective issue isn't named but could be part of "more"). On one hand I'm not very eager to buy issues I already have; on the other I'm a big fan of the ye olde Prelude to Final Crisis, and Scott Snyder seems to have been planning this story for so long (or taken so much inspiration from elsewhere) that I'd be curious to see a book that brings all that earlier material together.

Ex Machina: The Complete Series Omnibus HC

Kind of astounding this hasn't been published already, this collects issues #1-50 of the Brian K. Vaughan political superhero series and the Ex Machina Special #1-4.

Flash Vol. 5: Negative TP

I wrote at some length how the tone of the Flash series isn't working for me. As we get down to a book called Flash: Negative, I can only hope -- if the glumness of Joshua Williamson's book is intentional -- it's the start of this title's upswing.

Green Lantern: Earth One Vol. 1 HC

I saw a comment the other day that these Earth One have just come out too slowly to be relevant; given the number of reboots DC has had since Earth One started in 2010, another set of new origins didn't have the punch it originally seemed it would, and it's hard to get invested in "series delivered by graphic novel" with books within a series separated by two and three years. That said, a Green Lantern Hal Jordan story set in the semi-future, and with Hal as an astronaut instead of a test pilot (which makes more sense for the here and now anyway) sounds really interesting, and I'm curious to see what Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko do with this.

Green Lanterns Vol. 5: Out of Time TP

Collects issues #27-32, which are Sam Humphries' final issues before Tim Seeley takes over.

Hawk and the Dove: The Silver Age TP

It's interesting to see this, what seems another in DC's recent release of "era-based" collections (with snazzy retro covers), in paperback rather than in hardcover. At the same time, all the material here -- Showcase #75, The Hawk and the Dove #1-6, Teen Titans #21 -- was recently collected in the Teen Titans: The Silver Age Omnibus hardcover, so this is kind of a Hawk and Dove-centric teardown of the material from that book.

Hellblazer Vol. 3: The Inspiration Game TP

The fact that I've been hearing almost nothing about the Rebirth Hellblazer series is surely not a good sign -- it's problematic, or a heck of a lot of restraint, that this book hasn't even had any inter-title crossovers yet. I do see that initial writer Simon Oliver seems to be gone now and Tim Seeley has come on; I enjoy Seeley's work a lot and maybe that portends good things.

Justice League of America Vol. 3: Panic in the Microverse TP

So far I've been underwhelmed by Steve Orlando's Justice League of America title, but the main event for this book from the start has been finding Atom Ray Palmer and his whereabouts' relation to Rebirth, so hopefully that story will give this book some pep. Collects issues #12-17.

Justice League Task Force Vol. 1: Purification Plague TP

We never thought we'd see it, but here is the first collection of Justice League Task Force, reprinting issues #1-12. A quirky series about covert missions by Martian Manhunter and a rotating team of heroes -- and creative teams -- this takes us right up to the "Judgment Day" crossover recently collected in Wonder Woman and the Justice League Vol. 2, and includes "Knightquest" tie-in issues and appearances by the Bloodlines "New Blood" characters, among many others.

Sal Velluto drew many of these issues; Greg LaRoque is also here. Writers include David Michelinie, Chuck Dixon, Dennis O'Neil, Peter David, Jeph Loeb, and Michael Jan Friedman.

Hopefully we get a second collection of the book after Zero Hour, when it took a "Justice League in training" bent, written by Deathstroke's Christopher Priest.

Super Sons Vol. 2: Planet of the Capes TP

The second collection of the Peter Tomasi series includes issues #6-10, and most notably has Superboy Jon Kent teaming up with the Teen Titans.

Wonder Woman by George Perez Omnibus Vol. 3 HC

It's great to see DC finishing out the mostly-never-collected George Perez Wonder Woman run with this final omnibus, collecting issues #46-62. Nicely DC is also including the Wonder Woman crossover War of the Gods even though it saw its own collection not too long ago, and also Perez's guest shots issues #168-169 and the Gail Simone story that Perez drew in the #600 issue (though some creative renumbering).

Wonder Woman: Forgotten Legends TP

The Kurt Busiek/Trina Robbins miniseries that bridged Crisis on Infinite Earths to the George Perez run, plus some assorted other material by Busiek. (Robbins was the first woman to draw Wonder Woman in her own series, as Busiek clarified for me recently.)

So, to be more excited about Justice League Task Force or the Perez Wonder Woman Omnibus Vol. 3? Dark Days: Road to Metal or the Action Comics #1000 hardcover? And what are you most looking forward to unwrapping this season?

And if by chance you're doing some gift-giving, don't miss the Collected Editions 2017 Comics Gift List, as well as our 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists from years past.

Review: Batwoman Vol. 1: The Many Arms of Death (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, November 26, 2017

I've been following DC Comics's modern Batwoman Kate Kane for seven years now, and I felt a certain trepidation in starting Marguerite Bennett and James Tynion's Rebirth Batwoman Vol. 1: The Many Arms of Death. Despite Bennett's acclaimed work on DC Bombshells and Tynion's stellar Batman: Detective Comics, both writers are relative neophytes on the DC Comics scene, and before Detective, neither really had a DC ongoing that defined them. And indeed, Kate Kane is a character that I'd venture it's hard to get right; Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams did such defining work with the character -- often with a high bar too for the digital art effects -- that when the vision differs, as with Marc Andreyko's run, it really doesn't feel like Batwoman.

Review: Flash Vol. 4: Running Scared (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

I had high hopes for Joshua Williamson's Rebirth Flash Vol. 4: Running Scared, coming off both the Button crossover with Batman and also this series's smart, emotional third volume. But with Scared, Williamson is back to his sad sack Barry Allen, a character so oppressively morose that he forgets his own birthday and then can't crack a smile at his own surprise party. And then mopes about it. If Barry's sadness is part of some grand Rebirth storyline on Williamson's part, that's tenable, but the book isn't doing near enough to clue us in that this isn't how things are supposed to be (especially since we do otherwise understand explicitly other problems with the fabric of reality). And to that end, Williamson bridges a couple of continuities here; nothing wrong with that on its face, but Williamson is inconsistent about what happened and who remembers what in ways that ultimately drag the story down.