Review: Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

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Thursday, January 12, 2017

As an early foray into the DC Comics "Rebirth" universe, Tom King's Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham delights and disappoints. The flair for smart action King showed on Grayson is in full force here, and this is a pulse-pounding Batman story well-drawn by David Finch. But the story unfolds along predictable lines, and for a story published twice-monthly and told in fairly decompressed manner, it stops short of delving into its material as deeply as it could. Further, the seams of this latest DC relaunch are already showing, with confusion abounding as to who's who and who knows who and how.
Collected Editions 2016 Comic Book Gift Guide

Review: Flash Vol. 9: Full Stop hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Monday, January 09, 2017

Flash Barry Allen has a central role in DC Comics's Rebirth (if overshadowed by his own sidekick) and the CW's Flash television show continues to grow in prominence (most of the Invasion! crossover, even, revolved around Barry). It behooves DC, therefore, to get Flash right in the comics; arguably this should be the comic with the most muscle behind it short of Batman. The final "DC You" entry of Flash by Van Jensen and Robert Venditti, Flash Vol. 9: Full Stop, does not reach the level that this title needs to, and the Rebirth special included here by Joshua Williamson didn't wow me, either. Given the ties to Rebirth proper, obviously I'm following Flash into its next new first volume, but I've got some concerns about this one.

Review: Green Arrow Vol. 1: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Benjamin Percy's first Rebirth volume, Green Arrow: The Death and Life of Oliver Queen, starts out with a lot of promise, and it's promise that carries through the book's early issues. It is not promise that carries through the whole time, however, and my concerns are equal parts that some of this I feel we've seen before and also that it all becomes more fanciful than I like my Green Arrow stories. That doesn't dampen my enthusiasm necessarily, however, because I like the dynamic Percy has set up among the cast and the end of this volume has an interesting hook, and that plus the promise of more of Otto Schmidt's art is likely to bring me back again.

Odds and Ends for 1-2-17 - DC Universe: Rebirth Omnibus contents and Legends of Tomorrow/Star Wars crossover

Monday, January 02, 2017

Happy new year! If you're just joining us after the holiday, don't miss a variety of new material on Collected Editions, including my recent review of the DC You Flash Vol. 8: Zoom, my series on the Justice League 3000/3001 books, the recent update to the DC Comics Trade Paperback Timeline, and you can also chime in on our Talkback thread to share what gifts you got this season or just talk about the year.

New reviews will resume later this week, but in the meantime, a couple of odds and ends to discuss:

• Contents of the DC Universe: Rebirth Omnibus Vol. 1

Over the holiday I had a chance to lay my hands on a DC Universe: Rebirth Omnibus Vol. 1, and I can confirm that it contains "only" the DC Universe: Rebirth special and all the individual series' Rebirth specials (plus covers and sketches) and not any of the first issues of the series.

I was under the impression that the first issues were in there, so I thought if I was still confused, maybe you were, too.

The book does notably say "Volume 1," so whether a second volume might contain the first issues or something like the Justice League of America Rebirth specials or, projecting, Justice Society of America or Legion of Super-Heroes Rebirth specials remains to be seen.

• Star Wars: Legends of Tomorrow

I've never been one to take sides in DC/Marvel rivalries; you can like what you like and I enjoy DC Comics, DC television, Marvel television and movies, Marvel's Star Wars comics, and so on. But when DC struggles in the movie department, in my opinion, and among I think their lesser successful shows is Legends of Tomorrow, it seems rather defeatist to devote an episode to Lucasfilm properties including Star Wars and Indiana Jones, given that they're owned by Disney (a rival media company of Warner Bros., even aside from Disney owning Marvel).

I have to hand it to Legends of Tomorrow for telling the story they want to tell despite the external politics, and for telling a story that's matters, as I understand it, to the makeup of their characters Nate "Steel" Heywood and Ray "Atom" Palmer. At the same time, we understand Legends has tried to improve their historicity this season but it's still suspect at best, and made up -- as we saw in the mid-season finale "The Chicago Way" -- mainly of most of the characters being markedly ignorant so other characters can info-dump to them.

Which is to say, it's kind of interesting that they're going to do a George Lucas episode, but they could just as soon not do a George Lucas episode and instead accomplish the episode's goals some other way. To the extent Legends struggles (I find it patently un-funny, except that I've tried to start viewing it through a Justice League International lens), to spend an entire episode basically paying fan service to another company's properties again seems like throwing in the towel and acknowledging the others' superiority.

Still going to watch it, though.

New reviews coming up. Happy 2017!

Review: Flash Vol. 8: Zoom hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

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Thursday, December 29, 2016

There's double the pressure on a comic book with its own ongoing TV series, especially when The Flash is the best of the CW's DC Comics shows. I don't necessarily believe a comic needs to contort itself to match its onscreen translation, but television's Flash is so good that one wouldn't think the comics' creative teams would have so much difficulty with the same character.

But Flash Vol. 8: Zoom is another troubled outing from Robert Venditti and Van Jensen, whose individual work I've enjoyed on Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps respectively. The story is over-long and overwrought, something that's plagued these writers on their Flash volumes previous. They also have the double-trouble of trying to follow not one but two writers' wildly popular stories about the titular "Zoom," and also of telling a story recently told very similarly -- and better -- on the show. Such handy comparisons only serve to spotlight this book's problems.

Review: Justice League 3001 Vol 2: Things Fall Apart trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, December 26, 2016

There are moments that made me think Justice League 3001 Vol. 2: Things Fall Apart was the best of this futuristic four-volume series, but true to the title, in the end things fall apart. Writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis leave no punch pulled, reserving the book's final issue for its most serious moments and its most absurd. Loyal readers come this far only to find the joke's on them, but if you're going to appreciate Giffen and DeMatteis (especially Giffen), then it's going to mean laughing at yourself and the vagaries of comic books as well. This collected edition, however, includes an impressive extra that mitigates somewhat how this book concludes.

Sunday Talkback for 12-25-16

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy holidays and happy new year! If you've enjoyed your cheer and now you're browsing the interwebs, we've got a Collected Editions open thread for your enjoyment.

So tell us: What comics have you been gifted lately? What were your notable comics moments of the year? Or hey, how's it going?

Wishing you all the best and thanks for reading Collected Editions.

(And if your gifting isn't done or you've got a gift certificate to spend, please click through to these comic book listings and help support our site!)

Review: Justice League 3001 Vol. 1: Deja Vu All Over Again trade paperback (DC Comics)

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis ramp up wild and wacky to its highest degree in Justice League 3001 Vol. 1: Deja Vu All Over Again, the fourth volume in their 3000/3001 saga. The writers manage to populate their 31st century with an almost absurd (probably purposefully) number of current DC Comics characters, from A-list and B-list Justice Leaguers all the way through more esoteric characters from deep in the DC mythos. Thus far, the 3000 books have struggled somewhat to balance Justice League action with the writers' trademark bicker-talk, not always successfully; with Deja Vu, the book gives itself over talking, often eschewing the action entirely, and it improves the tone overall. By this point 3001's got a pretty large cast, and it begins to feel like familiar, comfortable territory for Giffen especially, who juggled large casts in his well-regarded Legion of Super-Heroes runs with aplomb.

DC Trade Solicitations for March 2017 - Batman: Legacy, Superman Triangle Titles, Flash by Mark Waid Book Two, Young Justice Book One

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

In our last DC Comics hardcover and trade paperback solicitations for 2016 (from the DC March 2017 solicitations), we see not only a variety of Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 Rebirth trades, but also a whole bunch of really cool reprints -- the first of a multi-volume Batman: Legacy series, Flash by Mark Waid Book Two, Justice League: Breakdowns, the post-Zero Hour Legionnaries, the first just-pre-"Triangle Titles" Superman: Man of Tomorrow collection, Young Justice Book One, and more.

Plus, more news on how DC will collect the Batman crossover "Night of the Monster Men," and a pre-Rebirth Batman/Superman collection with trade-exclusive content!

Let it snow and let's take a look.

All Star Batman Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy HC

As many of you noticed in DC's earlier solicitations, the Rebirth "paperback first" rule does not seem to extend to crossover collections nor to "special" series, likely ones DC discerns readers would be willing to pay hardcover prices for. One such, not surprisingly, is Scott Snyder's All Star Batman, which sees its first collection of issues #1-5 in hardcover.

Aquaman Vol. 2: Black Manta Rising TP

The second collection of Dan Abnett's Rebirth Aquaman series collects issues #7-15.

Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide TP

The contents solicited for Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide are issues #9-15, whereas Vol. 1 collected issues #1-6. Yes, that means if these solicitations hold, the only place you can read the Batman issues of the "Night of the Monster Men" crossover is in the Night of the Monster Men hardcover itself. It looks, however, like the same is true for the second Detective Comics collection, and the first Nightwing collection simply skips those issues altogether within itself.

That Nightwing approach is controversial; what I'd really like is for each individual book to collect its own issues, since I'm buying the individual books anyway, and then I can just read across the trades as I like. But, my foremost concern is not feeling like I have to double-dip, so if all the "Monster Men" issues will be collected in their own trade and none of them will be collected in their individual series, that's better, at least. I simply don't want a situation, like Green Lantern: Godhead or Superman: Doomed, where one or two issues are isolated in a crossover trade and all the other issues are in individual books.

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Vol. 1: Who is Oracle? TP

Collects issues #1-6 and the Rebirth special.

Green Arrow Vol. 2: Island of Scars TP

Collects issues #6-11.

Green Lanterns Vol. 2: The Phantom Lantern TP

Collects issues #7-14.

Justice League Vol. 2: Outbreak TP

Collects issues #6-11.

Red Hood and the Outlaws Vol. 1: Dark Trinity TP

Collects issues #1-6 and the Rebirth special

Superman -- Action Comics Vol. 2: Welcome to the Planet TP

Collects Action Comics #963-966.

Superman Vol. 2: Trial of the Super Sons TP

Collects issues #7-13

Batman: Legacy Vol. 1 TP

A new collection of the Batman: Legacy crossover has been on and off the schedule for a while, so it's good to see it finally, officially solicited. This is notably called "Volume 1," and the issues listed are a curious set of pre-"Legacy" stories -- Robin #31 (collected in the previous Legacy trade but I think about one page leads in to "Legacy"); Catwoman #33-35 (of which only #35-36 were collected in the previous Legacy trade, and #33-34 are lead-ins); Shadow of the Bat #53 and Batman #533 (both labeled "Legacy preludes"); and Detective Comics #697-700, of which the former two were generally unconnected issues between "Contagion" and "Legacy" (whereas this trade collects Detective "long" and Shadow and Batman "short," the recent new Contagion trade collected Shadow and Batman leading up to this point).

I would like to see the Bane of the Demon miniseries included, but otherwise DC is doing a bang-up job of collecting this era of Batman with few holes.

Batman/Two-Face: Face the Face Deluxe Edition HC

Circa 2006, just after Infinite Crisis, when the "One Year Later" Batman story "Face the Face" came out, I'd have absolutely devoured a hardcover instead of the paperback. Now I'm pretty well beyond it, but a new deluxe edition is a curious artifact. Leaving aside that new publication of James Robinson's DC work is a good thing, artists here were JSA's Leonard Kirk and Don Kramer, two great artists who for whatever reason don't have the celebrity status of some others, and for their work to be reprinted in deluxe format is surely deserved.

My original review of Face the Face notes not so much the Two-Face story as Robinson's presentation of a "kinder, gentler" Batman in the wake of some of his War Games and Infinite Crisis antagonism; remember Face the Face in many respects bridged what came before to Grant Morrison's "hairy-chested love-god" era of Batman, which directly lead into Scott Snyder's New 52 version and the present day.

Batman/Superman Vol. 6: Universe’s Finest HC

If you consider that the other Super-titles that this volume crosses over with saw/will see their collections by the end of December 2016, and this collection doesn't come out until March 2017, it's fairly late, and especially to be set prior to the events of DC Rebirth. That said, this collects issues #28-32 plus the never-published issues #33-34 and Annual #3 -- so, in-continuity trade-first stories -- and I am chomping at the bit to read these (and in Superman/Wonder Woman Vol. 5: A Savage End) and see what they are.

Earth 2: Society Vol. 3: A Whole New World TP

The Earth 2: Society series ends with issue #22 (also solicited this month), so we can assume that this collection of issues #13-16 and the first Annual will be the second-to-last collection.

Flash by Mark Waid Book Two TP

Collects issues #69-79, the Annual #6, Green Lantern #30-31 and #40, and a story from Justice League Quarterly #10. That is the "Gorilla Warfare" crossover with Green Lantern (issues #69-70 and the first two Lantern issues), a Dr. Alchemy story (timely), and then into "Return of Barry Allen." Issues #74-79 are previously collected (and one page each from issue #72-73), and the rest is new to collection, including Green Lantern #40. Annual #6 is a "Bloodlines" crossover that introduces the Argus character who'll show up again later;

Justice League: Breakdowns TP

At some point this collection showed up online as Breakdowns Vol. 1, but the contents here show the full "Breakdowns" story from Justice League America and Justice League Europe, detailing the end of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis's "Bwa-ha-ha" era. The end of this book leads right into the recently-published Superman and the Justice League collections; hopefully good pre-orders of this book might trigger more of the Justice League International collections of the beginning of this series (collections currently go up to America #35 and Europe #11, vs. this book's #52 and #29 respectively).

Legionnaires Book One TP

Collects the beginning of the popular post-Zero Hour Legion reboot by Tom McCraw, Tom Peyer, and Mark Waid. Issues #0 and #62-65 of Legion of Super-Heroes and #0 and #19-22 of Legionnaires have already been collected, but #66-68 and #23-24 respectively are new to trade. Next volume could collect a crossover with Karl Kesel's Superboy and Underworld Unleashed tie-ins.

Suicide Squad Most Wanted: El Diablo TP
Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Killer Croc/Boomerang/Amanda Waller TP

Apparently after the Suicide Squad Most Wanted: Deadshot/Katana miniseries, this second mini moves to even more of an anthology series with a leading El Diablo story and then a backup story, first with Captain Boomerang, then Killer Croc, then Amanda Waller. So all told these two collections together collect all of the second Most Wanted series. (The latter collection is titled Suicide Squad: Secret File online.)

Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Book One HC

It's here! The long-awaited first book to collect the Superman "Triangle Titles" era of the 1980s and 1990s, arguably the greatest modern era of Superman that saw Lois and Clark engaged and included the best-selling "Death of Superman" storyline. The first book has Adventures of Superman #445-450 and Superman #23-27, so picking up right where the John Byrne Superman: The Man of Steel Vol. 9 left off. These are previously uncollected stories leading into the (collected) Superman: Exile storyline, which see Superman dealing with a proto-Brainiac in the aftermath of his controversial actions in the "Supergirl Saga," plus an increasingly violent Gangbuster and an Invasion! crossover.

Wonder Woman: Who is Wonder Woman? TP New Edition

Going along with the new printing of James Robinson's "One Year Later" Batman story is this new edition of Allan Heinberg and Terry Dodson's "One Year Later" Wonder Woman story. I called this at the time "Hush for Wonder Woman" since it involves a large swath of Diana's villains, as was en vogue at the time. Though this is the title that would ultimately lead to the much derided Amazons Attack, it came out the other side with Gail Simone's Wonder Woman run. The ways in which this story hearkened back to the Lynda Carter television series makes reprinting it now pretty sensible.

Young Justice Book One TP

The second-best news after the Young Justice cartoon getting a third season is a new, hopefully complete and definitive, series of collections of Peter David's Young Justice comic. This first volume collects nothing that wasn't already in the JLA: World Without Grown-Ups and Young Justice: A League of Their Own collections, but the series is mostly uncollected from there so the next volume should get into new stuff.

One last time for 2016, what's on your buying list? What comics are you hoping to get as gifts this year?

Review: Justice League 3000 Vol. 2: The Camelot War trade paperback (DC Comics)

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sometimes the best ideas can come from desperation, and that seems no more apparent than in Justice League 3000 Vol. 2: The Camelot War. I find it hard to believe the twist in this story was planned from the start, but be that as it may, it's what got me reading Justice League 3000 in the first place.

As in the first volume, this book is well-plotted, though the repetitive bickering between writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis's stock Leaguers Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman grates after a while. The book is invigorated considerably, however, by the addition of two of the writers' best-known characters, whose voices are so synonymous with Giffen's brand of unfunny funniness that it seems less gimmicky and more natural. Also helpful are a couple of new-old characters (new characters in old bodies and old characters in new bodies), whose voices as well freshen the patter that threatens to grow stale.