Review: Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death is enjoyable but light fare. What distinguishes this book is in some respects its greatest obstacle: it's essentially set in the pre-Flashpoint Gotham City Sirens continuity. This will make it an immediate buy for some readers, but at the same time there's material especially toward the end that indicates Ivy's adventures here "can't" have happened and are therefore unlikely to affect the current Poison Ivy going forward. That's no reason not to otherwise enjoy a book, of course, but it lessens for me the appeal of what's already a dubious prospect, a villain-focused miniseries, whose characterizations traditionally don't stick as time goes on.

DC Trade Solicitations for January 2017 - Knightfall Omnibus, Batman: Night of the Monster Men, Rebirth Wonder Woman: The Lies, Batgirl 50 Years

Friday, October 21, 2016

DC Comics's January 2017 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations include the first in-family crossover of the Rebirth era, Batman's "Night of the Monster Men," though no new information about how the story will be collected in the individual titles. We've also got a couple new Rebirth collections, notably the first for Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman, Action Comics, and Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps. Finally there's a Batman: Knightfall Omnibus, which might be significant cause for celebration if we knew what it does and does not contain, but those details as you'll see are murky for now.

Dig into it with me, won't you?

Batman—Detective Comics Vol. 1: Rise of the Batmen TP

First collection of James Tynion's well-regarded Rebirth series. Collects issues #934-940, so the question of whether the individual Rebirth trades will collect "Night of the Monster Men" continues for another month.

Batman: Night of the Monster Men HC

Collects Batman #7-8, Nightwing #5-6, and Detective Comics #941-942. The trades of all three of these individual titles have halted just before (or skipped) the "Night of the Monster Men" issues; the question remains whether the second volumes will collect them or not.

Batman Beyond Vol. 3: Wired For Death TP

The final collection of the pre-Rebirth Dan Jurgens series collects issues #12-16 and a "sneak peek" of the Rebirth special. It has often seemed to me the best way forward for "future" books like Batman Beyond and Legion of Super-Heroes in this day and age is to be very interactive with the present DCU, much in the way the post-Zero Hour Legion books were toward the end; that's what I'd suggest here too.

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 1: Sinestro’s Law TP

Collects issues #1-7 and the Rebirth special. I just noticed Ethan Van Sciver riffing on some of his earlier Green Lantern covers for the cover of this one, which is a fun nod.

Superman -- Action Comics Vol. 1: Path of Doom TP

Collects issues #957-962 of the post-Rebirth series.

Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies TP

Previous solicitations had Wonder Woman Vol. 1: The Lies collecting the odd-numbered issues of this series through issue #9; this new solicitation says it collects issues #1, 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11, plus of course the Rebirth special.

Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years HC

Writers for this one include Gardner Fox, Chuck Dixon, Kelley Puckett, and Gail Simone, so that suggests to me Birds of Prey/Oracle, Cassandra Cain, and the New 52 Barbara Gordon. I'm hoping Bryan Q. Miller's Stephanie Brown Batgirl gets a nod, too.

Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol. 1 HC

Curiously the solicitation says it collects issues of Batman, Detective Comics, Batman: Shadow of the Bat, Robin, Catwoman, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight "and more -- watch for more details soon!" My fervent hope is that this is finally the one, true Knightfall collection(s) that includes all the pieces omitted from previous trades.

Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 1 HC

Collects Brave and the Bold #200, New Teen Titans #37, and Batman and the Outsiders #1-12, which is a little short of the black and white Showcase Presents that collected through issue #19. This one ends with a timely Katana spotlight. Still 26 issues to collect, excluding the issues that reprinted the earlier material.

Cosmic Odyssey: The Deluxe Edition HC

If you haven't read Cosmic Odyssey, Jim Starlin in his heyday and art by Mike Mignola, deluxe size certainly seems to me the way to do it.

Earth 2 Vol. 6: Collision TP

As we've been discussing on the Collected Editions Facebook page, for a while it looked like Earth 2 Vol. 6: Collision would only be released in hardcover and not paperback, but we'll now finally see the paperback more than a year after the hardcover came out. This isn't an earth-shattering collection as it goes, but our discussion reflects that different people collect differently, and there's a want for the paperback regardless of how important the trade is, just as there's a want for the hardcover. Frankly I'm surprised that DC went back for the paperback at all (especially at the cusp of relaunches, trades have a tendency to appear in one form or to be cancelled), but I know some readers are glad they did.

Harley Quinn and Her Gang of Harleys TP

I'm a little surprised this paperback of the Harley Quinn miniseries wasn't hardcover first, as if perhaps there's a ceiling on Harley-mania. Anyway, no lack of Harley Quinn material out there for you to read if that's what you're looking for. Who'd of thought we'd live in a time where there was a live-action Harley Quinn in a Suicide Squad movie?

New Teen Titans Vol. 6 TP

This volume does not go any farther than the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2, but it does collect New Teen Titans #38 chronologically, whereas the second omnibus omitted that issue and put it in the third volume (which broke from chronological collecting altogether to jump ahead about forty issues). Though obviously it's slow-going, that this volume includes issue #38 where it's supposed to be maybe suggests the seventh or eighth volume will begin collecting uncollected material (after all, it looks like we're getting a second Wonder Woman by George Perez omnibus collecting the uncollected issues of his run there).

Superman/Batman Vol. 5 TP

This volume, collecting issues #50-63 of the pre-Flashpoint series, mashes up all of Vol. 8, Finest Worlds and part of Vol. 9, Night & Day in order to get the last of Michael Green and Mike Johnson's stories all together. Among other things, Batman gets Superman's powers, there's a Robin Tim Drake/Supergirl team-up, plus an important epilogue to their Search for Kryptonite story. Also included is Len Wein's never-before-collected Annual #3, which riffs on the classic Composite Superman-Batman.

Teen Titans Vol. 4: When Titans Fall TP

The final issues of the second New 52 Teen Titans series, #20-24, plus the Annual #2 and a "preview" of the Rebirth special (I'm curious to see how much material these "previews" include; my sense is that what was at one point the entire Rebirth specials being stuck into the final post-Flashpoint trades has now become "previews.")

Wonder Woman: Her Greatest Battles TP

No exact word on the contents, but writers include George Perez, John Byrne, Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Geoff Johns and Brian Azzarello, so you can basically piece together which eras those are, plus probably Wonder Woman's introductory issue of Justice League.

Is it January yet? I'm excited for the Rebirth trades and I'm not even through the "DC You" books yet. What are you looking forward to? Also don't miss this post on the Collected Editions Facebook page -- I'm looking for holiday gift suggestions!

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 7: Kingdom trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"The pause that refreshes" could also be a good tagline for Green Arrow Vol. 7: Kingdom. I might be skeptical of a single volume by a new (albeit TV-connected) creative team, bridging the gap between the previous and next ongoing creative teams, as that tends to suggest perhaps-skippable filler material. But after Jeff Lemire's three mostly-standalone Green Arrow volumes, CW Arrow's Andrew Kreisberg and Ben Sokoloswki not only further this book's ties to the TV show -- in what I felt were generally inoffensive ways -- but also bring a whole bunch of the DC Universe into the Green Arrow title.

Kind of like how Wonder Woman Vol. 7: War-Torn or Batman/Superman Vol. 4: Siege each served to re-center their characters in the DCU just prior to the Convergence/"DC You" changeover, I'm a sucker for these guest-star-heavy kind of tales. Kreisberg and Sokolowski do a good job of balancing action and story in each issue, and though the book's story might seem familiar to Arrow fans, I felt this was a solid outing that increased my enthusiasm for the Green Arrow franchise.

Review: Katana Vol. 1: Soultaker trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, October 17, 2016

I haven't been overly taken with Ann Nocenti's recent DC Comics work (Catwoman, Green Arrow), but there's something about it I find compelling. I am unsure whether her Katana Vol. 1: Soultaker, for instance, suffers from lazy writing, or if there's a thematic imperative in two different characters repeating almost the same line of dialogue four times in the last chapter, whether Nocenti's work is full of poetry or confusion.

Katana is a complicated tale of women's lives, love, obsession, subservience, and revenge. Nocenti populates it with characters with vying motives on all sides; there's a lot packed in with ties big and small to Geoff Johns's Justice League of America, Jeff Lemire's Green Arrow, and the Creeper via Dan DiDio's Phantom Stranger. To those ends, Katanta might almost be workable, were it not for the strained (and repetitious) dialogue and what seem to be Nocenti's almost trademark leaps of logic. These elements combine to make a book that's hard to figure.

Review: Superman: American Alien hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Yet another Superman origin story is a hard sell. Fortunately DC Comics makes no claims to Superman: American Alien being in-continuity, and instead it's something of an objet d'art, as notable for the words of writer/director Max Landis as for the individual chapters depicting Clark Kent's young adulthood by a variety of DC's best artistic talents, including Francis Manapul, Jae Lee, and Jock.

The pervading question for a project like this is whether it significantly adds to the Superman mythos or offers any surprises not covered in the bevy of origins and re-tellings previous, and the answer is that it does. Landis offers some clever twists especially as relate to Clark Kent and Smallville, as well as some smart, unexpected cameos. American Alien reads like a fan tribute, at times hewing maybe too close to what we've seen before, but there's touchstones here to the John Byrne and "Death of Superman" eras that ought please fans of those runs.

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 6: Broken trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, October 10, 2016

By virtue of shifting creative teams, the New 52 Green Arrow series has ended up with some odd-sized trades, of which Green Arrow Vol. 6: Broken is the latest, at three issues, the Futures End tie-in issue, and a Secret Origins story. But here again are the creative team of Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Marcelo Maiolo, so even a short trade is a stunner. Lemire's concluding Green Arrow story is perhaps a tad small in scope for a finale, though in three issues Lemire effectively bridges the gap between his run and the next (and pays some deference to the Arrow TV show), so maybe that's sufficient. All this and, from one of the architects of Futures End, a tie-in that actually relates to the series itself.

Review: Omega Men: The End Is Here trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, October 06, 2016

Just before I read Tom King's Omega Men: The End Is Here, I spotted a review that said the book didn't live up to its hype. Indeed, given all the great things I'd heard about Omega Men, not the least the outcry that saved this miniseries from cancellation halfway through, I wondered if it could really be that good.

Oh, yes.

Omega Men is a gripping, involved miniseries, starting with its provocative, ripped-from-the-headlines prologue and continuing through to its morally gray end. King brings the puzzle-antics and circular storytelling of Grayson to often pages-upon-pages of nine-panel grids, making for dense chapters that beg re-reading. In the sharp detail Omega Men gives both its heroes and villains -- a category often overlapping -- Omega Men is in some respects the closest a cosmic DC title has come to going toe to toe with Image's Saga. Obviously I haven't yet read DC's upcoming Death of Hawkman yet, but a bar has been set here for space-fairing stories -- really for DC titles in general -- that I fear few are going to be able to meet.

Review: Trinity of Sin Vol. 1: The Wages of Sin trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, October 03, 2016

Given the tortured history of these characters in the New 52, Trinity of Sin Vol. 1: The Wages of Sin is better than it has any right to be. The comics staring Pandora and Phantom Stranger (with guest star Question) were actually for the most part good, give or take a bloated Forever Evil: Blight crossover, and the short-lived Trinity of Sin serves as a fine coda to those books. Phantom Stranger writer J.M. DeMatteis knows these characters and writes them well, and makes a story of demigods and dreamscapes -- often tedious territory for comics -- eminently palatable. These characters deserve more than to be the butt of jokes or fodder for "shocking deaths," and DeMatteis delivers with their last adventure.

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.