Review: Red Sonja Vol. 3: The Forgiving of Monsters trade paperback (Dynamite Entertainment)

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Gail Simone's final volume of the Red Sonja regular series, Red Sonja Vol. 3: The Forgiving of Monsters, is oddly-shaped. Though there's elements here that hearken back to the first volume, one has to turn their head and squint a little more than is optimal to see this fully as a conclusion (if Simone even means for the three collected volumes to share a trilogy structure, which might simply be my construction). Mostly the awkwardness comes in the initial four-part story here perhaps serving better as the climax, and the final two-part story less so, though this might indicate alternatively the most pertinent points Simone wants to make here.

Irrespective, Simone's three Red Sonja volumes are action-packed, surprising adventure stories full of humor, wisdom, and gore. They serve certainly as a pitch-perfect primer on the character and present Gail Simone as a writer at the top of her game.

Review: Adventures of Supergirl Vol. 1 trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 26, 2016

DC Comics's tie-ins to their burgeoning line of CW television series have improved as they go. Digital was obviously a godsend to these types of comics, an improvement over the awkward mixing of comic and fan magazine from back in Smallville's heyday. The Arrow digital tie-in comic series that I first sampled felt too-purposefully toothless, spinning middling origin stories so as not to step on the television show's toes; Flash: Season Zero improved on that (and I understand later Arrow comics have been better, too) in telling longer and more relevant stories, though the occasionally collision with the television series continuity still grates (see Flash: Season Zero's proto-King Shark King Shark story).

Next up is the digital-to-print Adventures of Supergirl, which has at its start the distinction of being written by Sterling Gates, whose own in-continuity Supergirl run clearly served as a template for the present TV series. Following the Flash comic model, Adventures of Supergirl tells an episodic, connected story rather than relating self-contained shorts, and, at about half the size of the Flash book, reads as very organized and put-together. Gates has no problem here capturing the voices of the television characters and his enjoyment of the material is palpable. All the lessons learned from previous DC digital tie-in series result in Adventures of Supergirl being the best of this genre so far.

DC Comics Trade Solicitations for December 2016 - Superman, Batman Rebirth, Arkham: Man-Bat, Checkmate by Rucka, Bloodlines

Friday, September 23, 2016

Obviously the big draw for DC Comics's December 2016 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations are the first eight Rebirth collections, as we discussed last week. These solicitations answer as many questions (paperback, shipping a little closer together) as they do raise them (how will crossovers be collected, will there ever be hardcovers), but I'm certainly excited to get my hands on the next big thing from DC.

If that weren't enough, we've got a variety of fun collections and reprints from DC this month -- a new Cassandra Cain Batgirl trade ending Kelley Puckett's run, the last Will Pfiefer "new edition" Catwoman trade, another Mike Grell Green Arrow collection, the Bloodlines miniseries collection fueled entirely on 1990s nostalgia, post-Crisis Green Lantern ... plus PLUS a "new edition" collection of the first two volumes of Greg Rucka's Checkmate, one of my top comics recommendations.

All in all, a good way to start/end the year. Here we go ...

Aquaman Vol. 1: The Drowning TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-7.

Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-6, ending just before the "Night of the Monster Men" crossover. (It's a weird coincidence[?] that the first Bat-family "Rebirth" crossover and New 52 crossover both began with "Night of ...".)

Flash Vol. 1: Lightning Strikes Twice TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-8. Since DC Universe: Rebirth is not collected here, my next guess is it'll be collected with Titans.

Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-5.

Green Lanterns Vol. 1: Rage Planet TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-6. Got nerves about this one. Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz headlining a title is great, but apparently Bleez is the villain. Will the writer undo all of Bleez's growth in Charles Soule's Red Lanterns? Sure hope not.

Justice League Vol. 1: The Extinction Machine TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-5. Totally unsubstantiated guess -- could this title be cancelled and replaced with Justice League of America after the Suicide Squad crossover?

Nightwing Vol. 1: Better Than Batman TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-4, 7, and 8. As we discussed earlier, this volume omits the "Night of the Monster Men" issues. Possibilities are: the "Monster Men" issues could be in the next Nightwing volume, plus in the Night of the Monster Men trade; Batman and Detective Comics will also omit their "Monster Men" issues and they'll all just be released in the Monster Men trade; or Batman and Detective will have those issues but Nightwing won't, requiring a significant double-dip to get the Nightwing issues. Obviously we're hoping for a good outcome.

Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman TP

Collects the Rebirth special and issues #1-6.

Batgirl Vol. 3: Point Blank TP

The third new collection of the Cassandra Cain Batgirl series collects issues #26-37, which includes among other things appearances by Spoiler and Green Arrow Connor Hawke and Batman: Murderer/Fugitive issues. If the issue list is right, then this does not include a Joker's Last Laugh issue as the solicitation suggests (indeed that was Batgirl Vol. 2: To the Death). This volume also ends original writer Kelley Puckett's run on the series; issues #30-32 and #34-37 have never been collected before.

Batman: Arkham – Man-Bat TP

No word as to the contents but I love that these Batman: Arkham have started collecting the stories of Batman's less well-known villains like Killer Croc and Man-Bat. That missing issue in the Croc volume still stings, though ...

Catwoman Vol. 6: Final Jeopardy TP

Issues #66-82 of the 2000s series, written by Will Pfiefer, with the Blackest Night special issue #83 from 2010 by Tony Bedard. These are the Catwoman Dies, Crime Pays, and Long Road Home trades, which dovetail with Amazons Attack and Salvation Run in the Countdown to Final Crisis era, if you like that sort of thing.

Bloodlines TP

Collecting the six issue miniseries by JT Krul. I will be getting this for the nostalgia value and the hope it might lead to a collection of the original Bloodlines event. DC needs to start releasing omnibus editions of the annual(s) crossover events stat.

Green Arrow Vol. 7: Homecoming TP

The next Mike Grell collection, issues #51-62. If these keep at about 10-11 issues each, just two more to go to collect Grell's Green Arrow run in total.

Checkmate By Greg Rucka Book 1 TP

One of my all time favorite series, a smart, political espionage series utilizing the most random characters from across the DC Universe. This collects issues #1-12, so A King's Game and Pawn Breaks, ahead of the Checkmate/Outsiders crossover that follows. Not to mention this title stood in for Suicide Squad in the post-Infinite Crisis era ...

• Green Lantern: Hal Jordan Vol. 1 TP

Collects Emerald Dawn #1-6 and Emerald Dawn II #1-6, a pair of late 1980s miniseries that served as Green Lantern Hal Jordan's post-Crisis on Infinite Earths origin (Emerald Dawn the first being to Green Lantern what Man of Steel was to Superman). These are hopelessly outdated now and contradicted by Geoff Johns's work but are a great bit of history, and the "Vol. 1" on this hopefully means we'll see more of the 1980s Green Lantern series collected to follow.

Grayson Vol. 5: Spyral’s End TP

The final Grayson collection, issues #17-20 and Annual #3 (those slim Grayson volumes to the end!).

Justice League United Vol. 3: Reunited TP

I'm glad to see this Jeff Parker volume, the final of the series and previously cancelled, back on the schedule again, in no small part because this is one of the "DC You" series that specifically acknowledged the events of Convergence.

Starfire Vol. 2: A Matter of Time TP

The final collection of the "DC You" Starfire series, collecting issues #7-12. Though my sense is this series might be sillier than I'm looking for, Dick Grayson cameoing in a Starfire series, especially before Rebirth clears everything up, is definitely a draw for me.

Those're my picks (not a comprehensive list, mind you, just my picks). What'll you be putting on reserve?

Review: Red Sonja Vol. 2: The Art of Blood and Fire trade paperback (Dynamite Entertainment)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

As I've said before I'm not much of a fan of the sword and sorcery genre, sticking mostly to superheroes and sci-fi, but Gail Simone has given me new respect for Red Sonja, at least, with her recent Dynamite series. Red Sonja Vol. 2: The Art of Blood and Fire is a fine follow-up to the first; Simone carries over a great depiction of Sonja, but this book is structurally and tonally different enough from the first volume, Queen of Plagues, to feel realized in its own right. Simone's Red Sonja remains dynamic and likable, a hero presented respectfully such to immediately transcend the traditional roles of women in pulp fantasy. Given unfortunately just one more volume of Simone's Red Sonja, I'll be curious to see the ultimate shape and arc of this great trilogy.

Review: Dark Night: A True Batman story hardcover/paperback (Vertigo/DC Comics)

2 comments | Tags:

Monday, September 19, 2016

It seems overly cruel given the inciting incident of this book to say I didn't enjoy Paul Dini's Dark Night: A True Batman Story as much as I'd hoped, but that is the case.

The story of Dini's mugging, beating, and subsequent depression is certainly harrowing, horrific, and gripping, and what Dini presents feels true and eminently relatable. Artist Eduardo Risso does yeoman's work flitting between a variety of styles often on the same page to blend past and present and also reality and fantasy. But Dini's story is often over-narrated and lacks subtlety when it counts; "Somehow writing about Batman seems real pointless right about now," he states directly at one point. For a book that deals with the Batman: The Animated Series era, Risso's depictions of the comics characters are surprisingly off-model, and there's a couple artistic choices made that I just couldn't understand. Not to undercut this book's seriousness, but there's certain aspects akin to the theatrical Who Framed Roger Rabbit? that seemed to warrant an artist like Ty Templeton maybe in addition to Risso.

DC Comics announces details on first eight DC Rebirth collections

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Ahead of the DC Comics December 2016 solicitations, to be released next week, DC has let retailers know the latest details on the first eight DC Rebirth collections. As we already know, these will all be released in paperback to start out. According to these solicitations, all of these collections will include their titles' "Rebirth" special (which means some double-dipping for those series that also ended their last collections with the "Rebirth" special); also, contrary to previous solicitations, the issue length will vary for these collections, with Green Arrow and Justice League collecting five regular issues where as Flash collects eight regular issues.

I notice also that the Nightwing collection skips the two "Night of the Monster Men" crossover issues, which may not make Nightwing readers happy. I'll be curious to see if these are collected in another book, like Batman or Detective, or if they're only collected in the Night of the Monster Men trade itself.

Here's the listings:

AQUAMAN VOL. 1: THE DROWNING TP
Written by DAN ABNETT
Art by SCOT EATON, BRAD WALKER, ANDREW HENNESSY, PHILIPPE BRIONNES and others
Cover by BRAD WALKER and ANDREW HENNESSY
Aquaman, the King of Atlantis, has never found a true home in either of the worlds that he was born of. In these tales from AQUAMAN: REBIRTH #1 and issues #1-7 of the new series, the King of Atlantis attempts to broker a peace between Atlantis and the surface, but this noble quest might force Aquaman to choose whether to live his life above the waves, or below them. Plus, Black Manta makes his bloody return and seeks to destroy everything and everyone Aquaman loves!
On sale JANUARY 11 * 192 pg, FC, $16.99 US

BATMAN VOL. 1: I AM GOTHAM TP
Written by TOM KING and SCOTT SNYDER
Art by DAVID FINCH and others
Cover by DAVID FINCH
The Caped Crusader has never been stopped. Not by the Joker. Not by Two-Face. Not even by the Justice League. But now, in the wake of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, Batman faces his most challenging foe ever-the idealistic hero known as Gotham, who wants to save the city from Batman himself! Collects the pages of BATMAN: REBIRTH #1 and issues #1-6 of the new, hit BATMAN series! This collection features a new cover by superstar artist David Finch!
On sale JANUARY 11 * 192 pg, FC, $16.99 US

THE FLASH VOL. 1: LIGHTNING STRIKES TWICE TP
Written by JOSHUA WILLIAMSON
Art and cover by CARMINE DI GIANDOMENICO
A new storm brews over Central City and disproves the old adage about lightning never striking twice! Just as Barry begins to feel overwhelmed fighting crime, a new speedster appears-but just where did this amazing new ally come from? Now, the Fastest Man Alive finds himself in a city of speedsters-and dealing with the reappearance of Wally West! Collects THE FLASH: REBIRTH #1 plus issues #1-8 of the new series.
On sale JANUARY 18 * 216 pg, FC, $17.99 US

GREEN ARROW VOL. 1: THE DEATH AND LIFE OF OLIVER QUEEN TP
Written by BENJAMIN PERCY
Art by OTTO SCHMIDT and JUAN FERREYRA
Cover by JUAN FERREYRA
Green Arrow's life will be forever changed as he is betrayed by those closest to him! A budding relationship with Black Canary forces Ollie to confront the fact that he can't fight "the man" if he is "the man." And one by one, his friends desert him-and all the money in the world won't bring them back when he needs them most. Collects GREEN ARROW: REBIRTH #1 and GREEN ARROW #1-5.
On sale JANUARY 4 * 160 pg, FC, $16.99 US

GREEN LANTERNS VOL. 1: RAGE PLANET TP
Written by SAM HUMPHRIES and GEOFF JOHNS
Art by ETHAN VAN SCIVER, ED BENES, ROBSON ROCHA, TOM DERENICK, NEIL EDWARDS, JACK HERBERT and others
Cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER
In these stories from GREEN LANTERNS: REBIRTH #1 and GREEN LANTERN #1-6, new Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz begin a new era of emerald excitement, tackling the universe's toughest beat: Earth. These rookie Lanterns promised to protect others in brightest day or blackest night, but as the "Red Planet" begins to rise, the duo finds themselves confronted with the unimaginable threat of Bleez and the Red Lanterns!
On sale JANUARY 25 * 168 pg, FC, $16.99 US

JUSTICE LEAGUE VOL. 1: THE EXTINCTION MACHINE TP

Written by BRYAN HITCH
Art by TONY S. DANIEL, BRYAN HITCH, JESUS MERINO, MATTHEW CLARK, SANDU FLOREA and SEAN PARSONS
Cover by TONY S. DANIEL
In these stories from JUSTICE LEAGUE: REBIRTH #1 and issues #1-5 of the new series, a new day dawns for the Justice League as they welcome a slew of new members into their ranks. The question remains though, can the world's greatest superheroes trust these new recruits? And will the members of the League be able to come together against an ancient evil that threatens to reclaim not just the world, but the entire universe?
On sale JANUARY 18 * 168 pg, FC, $16.99 US

NIGHTWING VOL. 1: BETTER THAN BATMAN TP
Written by TIM SEELEY
Art by JAVIER FERNANDEZ
Cover by JAVIER FERNANDEZ
Dick Grayson is back in Gotham City, fighting to reclaim the life that was taken from him! But when a new evil threatens those closest to him, he must once again tear himself away from his home in order to combat this dark force as Nightwing! Collects NIGHTWING: REBIRTH #1 and NIGHTWING #1-4, 7 and 8.
On sale JANUARY 25 * 176 pg, FC, $16.99 US

SUPERMAN VOL. 1: SON OF SUPERMAN TP
Written by PETER J. TOMASI and PATRICK GLEASON
Art by DOUG MAHNKE, PATRICK GLEASON, JORGE JIMENEZ, JAIME MENDOZA and MICK GRAY
Cover by DOUG MAHNKE and JAIME MENDOZA
After the stunning events of DC REBIRTH, the world is left without Superman! Luckily, there is another Man of Steel to fill his shoes: the pre-Flashpoint Kal-El! However, can this new Superman protect the world while raising a super-son with his wife, Lois Lane? And should they help their boy use his new and rapidly increasing abilities, or hide them from the world? Don't miss these stories from SUPERMAN: REBIRTH #1 and SUPERMAN #1-6!
On sale JANUARY 4 * 176 pg, FC, $16.99 US

Review: Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 3: Casualties of War hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

On one hand, Peter Tomasi springs a couple of genuine surprises in Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 3: Casualties of War, such to make the book almost can't-miss reading. On the other hand, as the incoming writer on the title, Tomasi brings his own take on the Superman/Wonder Woman relationship, and for me it was immediately problematic.

I appreciate that Tomasi parallels the change and growth of the characters in the book's superhero plot, but in some respects Tomasi bends the established portrayals of these characters to fit the needs of the story. Most of the problem resides with Wonder Woman, and it speaks to the New 52 era's difficulty overall in establishing Wonder Woman's personality and persona.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 7: Under the Skin hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 12, 2016

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 7: Under the Skin follows a similar pattern of the other Superman titles post-"Doomed" crossover. There's a bit of cleanup from "Doomed" here, but also a sense of marking time until "Truth" starts in the post-Convergence "DC You." Surely Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder are an inspired Superman team, turning out enjoyable and tonally appropriate Superman stories. But the main story, told in four issues, feels like something that might've been told in the Triangle Titles era in just two, and then the book's two closing one-shots equally lack much implication.

Pak and Kuder have had three volumes so far, of which one was devoted to a crossover and this one feels interstitial, and then they only get one more before their run is done. That's a shame, because I think this is team that could have done something even more extraordinary given freer reign -- and the ability to actually work in Metropolis.

Review: Stormwatch Vol. 4: Reset trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

It's hard to figure what the thinking was behind Stormwatch Vol. 4: Reset. Certainly writer Jim Starlin is a comics legend, and I have liked artist Yvel Guichet in partnership, for instance, with Doug Mahnke on JLA: The Obsidian Age. But Starlin's dialogue and plotting were short of modern standards even in Death of the New Gods, and the plain style Guichet uses here makes the book unlikely to jump off the shelves. The endeavor seems almost a farce, with the return to the 1990s Stormwatch logo and the use of that era's Lobo, except the book never gives a sense of satire.

If anything, Reset embraces the '90s with characters named Mordak, Extremax, and the Kollective in such a way as to suggest the creative team thinks '90s sensibilities are where readers are, and that's disturbing. I've seen better-attuned teams cancelled much more quickly, and it's astounding Starlin's run lasted ten issues (mercifully, at least, collected all in one volume instead of being split into two).

Review: Teen Titans: Earth One Vol. 2 hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, September 05, 2016

When DC Comics's Earth One line of graphic novels debuted in 2010, I felt excited for a "trade first" series of books, essentially, that might mean trade-waiters could join in the discussion without monthly readers digesting all the individual parts first. But a relatively-slow publication schedule has tempered this somewhat, and also since 2010 we've seen a variety of relaunches, rebirths, and live-action debuts, such to make my appetite less for another book about a kind-of-different-but-mostly-the-same Superman or Batman. All the Earth One books so far have been interesting and enjoyable in their own way, but I'm not sure the mission or purpose of the line is as clear as it once was.

Into this arrives Jeff Lemire's Teen Titans: Earth One Vol. 2, as good as his first and in the running collectively as the best series of the Earth One books. Where Lemire wins is that even though the names and some barest of the characterizations are the same, most of this Titans story is wholly different from what we've read before, though still overtly influenced by Marv Wolfman and George Perez's original.