Review: Trinity Vol. 1: Better Together (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

I think Francis Manapul has the right idea with Trinity Vol. 1: Better Together. Given that a teaming of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman isn't such a unique thing any more, with the three regularly appearing in each others' titles (including Batman, which used to be more rare), Manapul focuses on quality, not quantity. He takes the three on an emotional journey that, rather than the typical approach of comparing and contrasting the characters, instead revisits past moments that simply makes them individually vulnerable to one another, and in that way builds a bond between Wonder Woman, Batman, and the new Superman from a different reality.

But the first volume of Trinity does not come together well, despite Manapul's efforts. I credit Manapul again for looking inward instead of outward, but the effect is ponderous. Depictions of these characters' origins are so ubiquitous these days that spending three issues on some of these characters already most recognizable attributes comes off dull. Manapul probably couldn't have chosen a threat for the heroes other than the one he did, but riffing almost exactly on a well-known story only contributes to the sense we've seen this before. Manapul's art is bar none here, and neither would I complain about Emanuela Lupacchino drawing Wonder Woman especially, but their styles and others in the book don't mesh, making for an overall uneven reading experience.

DC Trade Solicitations for January 2018 - Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol. 3: Knightquest, Superman: The Oz Effect Deluxe, Aquaman and Young Justice by Peter David, Nightwing Vol. 7 by Chuck Dixon, DC Meets Looney Tunes

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mostly books we already knew about in DC Comics's January 2018 hardcover and trade paperback solicitations, but DC is certainly starting 2018 off right. Most notably on this list is surely the Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol. 3: Knightsend, which collects both the complete end of "Knightfall" plus the "Prodigal" storyline and for the first time ever, the "Troika" four-parter that introduced Batman's new costume of the era.

But right behind the Knightfall omnibus are plenty more great books: the Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect deluxe hardcover with lenticular jacket, the first collection of Peter David's Aquaman run and the second never-collected volume of David's Young Justice, a more-complete second volume of Batman: Legacy, immediate-post-Crisis Green Lantern Corps with a Legends tie-in, and more of Chuck Dixon's Nightwing, plus books around the Rebirth Titans: Lazarus Contract event, Jack Kirby 100, and more.

A whole bunch of books to be excited about here. Let's take a look.

Aquaman by Peter David Book One TP

This collection of the Zero Hour-era hook-handed Aquaman series by Peter David was originally solicited with the introductory Time and Tide miniseries and issues #0-10; now it's through issue 8. You've still got appearances by Superboy and Lobo (this is a 1990s book in all its glory), but you'll have to wait till next time for Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and an Underworld Unleashed tie-in.

Batman and the Outsiders Vol. 2 HC

A second full-color collection of Mike W. Barr's Batman and the Outsiders series from the 1980s, with art by both Jim Aparo and Alan Davis, collecting issues #13-23 and Annual #1. The next collection should be able to get through issue #32, after which the book became Adventures of the Outsiders. With issues #20-23, this series now collects more Outsiders issues than the black-and-white Showcase Presents.

Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol. 3: Knightsend HC

It's very exciting that DC is finally collecting every issue of the Batman: Knightfall saga. The contents here haven't changed from the original solicitation, which not only finishes out "Knightquest" and "Knightsend," but also includes the aftermath stories, "Prodigal," and the "Troika" story that debuted Batman's new costume. This is a great three-volume set, complete at long last. (Hat tip to Bob on Facebook for noting that three missing Legends of the Dark Knight issues have been added to Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol. 2: Knightquest).

Collects Batman #509-510 and #512-515, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #29-30 and #32-35, Detective Comics #676-677 and #679-682, Robin #8-9 and #11-14, Catwoman #12-13, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #62-63, Showcase ’94 #10, Nightwing: Alfred’s Return #1, and Batman: Vengeance of Bane #2.

Batman: Legacy Vol. 2 TP

Along with the three, complete Batman: Knightfall volumes, DC is doing a nice job re-collecting Batman: Legacy, starting with a lot of the previously-uncollected (or partially-collected) lead-in material. The story finishes out with this volume; the solicitation says the contents are Batman #534, Batman: Shadow of the Bat #54, Detective Comics #701-702, and Robin #32-33, plus the related miniseries Batman: Bane of the Demon #1-4. Also listed is Batman: The Vengeance of Bane #1, which is probably a misprint (that story preceded Knightfall and is included in those collections) and should be the Batman: Bane special. Missing from both these and the previous solicitations for this book is Catwoman #36, which is a labeled Legacy tie-in and I hope won't be omitted.

Batman: Super Powers TP

As mentioned before, a collection of Batman Confidential #50-54 by Arrow's Marc Guggenheim; the story involves Batman and a Chinese Justice League. For those playing along at home, the 54-issue Confidential has issues #1-35 and #44-48 already collected, with Batman: Ghosts by Sam Keith collecting issues #40-43 next year. That leaves issues #36-39 by Royal McGraw and issue #49 by James Patrick uncollected.

Cave Carson Vol. 2: Every Me, Every You TP

Collects issues #7-12 ahead of the apparent Young Animal relaunch.

Challengers of the Unknown HC

Hardcover collection of the 1991 eight-issue miniseries by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, just in time for the Challengers' role in Dark Nights: Metal.

DC Meets Looney Tunes TP

Collects Batman/Elmer Fudd, Jonah Hex/Yosemite Sam, Legion of Superheroes/Bugs Bunny, Lobo/Road Runner, Martian Manhunter/Marvin the Martian, and Wonder Woman/Tasmanian Devil, plus the Superman/Bug Bunny four-issue miniseries from 2000 by Mark Evanier and Joe Staton.

DC Universe by Neil Gaiman TP

Previously released as a deluxe hardcover, this is a paperback of the same, with Batman #686 and Detective Comics #853 ("Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?"), Secret Origins #36 (Poison Ivy) and the Special #1 (Riddler), Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame, and Wednesday Comics #1-12 (Metamorpho, with Mike Allred). The deluxe edition also had a story from Solo (Deadman) and Batman: Black and White, which might just have been left off the solicitation.

Elseworlds: Superman Vol. 1 TP

DC keeps trying this one but it never quite makes it to print. This is supposed to collect Superman: Speeding Bullet, Superman: Kal, Superman: Distant Fires, Superman: A Nation Divided, Superman, Inc., and Superman: War of the Worlds.

Absent here, that had been solicited earlier, are Kamandi: At Earth’s End #1-6 and Superman: At Earth’s End, Superman: Kal, Superman/Batman: Doom Link, and Superman/Wonder Woman: Whom Gods Destroy #1-4. Of all of these, Speeding Bullets (where Clark Kent grows up to become Batman) is the one I remember most fondly, so I'm glad it's still in there.

Green Lantern Corps: Beware Their Power Vol. 1 HC

It's a curious solicitation for this book that does not offer any context for why these stories are being reprinted at this time, just a plot summary: "Guy Gardner rejoins the Green Lanterns of Earth, Kilowog leads the battle against the Rocket Red Brigade, while Hector Hammond and Star Sapphire join forces to try and kill Hal Jordan. Plus: a night out on the town leads to ruined romances and nightmare visions."

What this is, is what the Silver Age Green Lantern title became after Crisis on Infinite Earths (Green Lantern itself would be relaunched after the Emerald Dawn miniseries). This book follows immediately from the Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Vol. 3 book, and begins as a matter of fact with Corps's Legends crossover. Issues #207-215 go to shortly before the series's Millennium crossover; if we can get a second collection, it should finish the series with issue #224.

The Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2 collected here has the "Tygers" story by Alan Moore that formed the basis for some of Geoff Johns's Green Lantern stories.

Jack Kirby 100 TP

Collects the 100th birthday Jack Kirby specials: New Gods by Shane Davis and Walt Simonson; Newsboy Legion and Boy Commandos by Howard Chaykin; Sandman by Dan Jurgens and Jon Bogdanove (I had no idea this was the creative team for this book!) and Steve Orlando and Rick Leonardi; Manhunter by Dan DiDio, Keith Giffen, Mark Buckingham, Sam Humphries, and Steve Rude, and Darkseid by Mark Evanier, Scott Kolins, Paul Levitz, and Phil Hester.

Justice League Vol. 5: Legacy TP

Collects issues #26-31, the end of Bryan Hitch's run.

Legends of Tomorrow: The Atom TP

A Legends of Tomorrow (TV) themed book, not to be confused with the recent Legends of Tomorrow DC miniseries by the same name. Collects Showcase #34 is Ray Palmer's first appearance; Secret Origins #29 is his post-Crisis origin; Atom Special #1 is one of a couple 1990s stories by Tom Peyer (too bad not also the second special); Giant-Size Atom continues Jeff Lemire's story from Adventure Comics (so you'd think those backups would be here too), and then there's the Justice League of America: The Atom: Rebirth special, which is of course about Ryan Cjoi and not Ray Palmer. Still remains to be seen if there'll be a Black Canary or Vixen or Firestorm collection next.

Mother Panic Vol. 2: Under Her Skin TP

Collects issues #7-12 of Mother Panic, also ahead of the Young Animal soft relaunch.

Nightwing Vol. 7: Shrike TP

This collects to the end of what classic Nightwing issues were collected before, with issues #54-60 (most of the On the Razor's Edge). The next collection will finally start collecting un-collected regular series material. There is here the previously-uncollected Nightwing: Our Worlds at War special.

Superman: Action Comics – The Oz Effect: The Deluxe Edition HC

We discussed the Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect collection previously, but now we know it will indeed by in deluxe format like Batman/Flash: The Button. This almost guarantees, if we didn't already expect so, that Doomsday Clock will see a deluxe hardcover collection as well.

Superman: Action Comics – The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Two HC

Collects Action Comics #967-984, which is the third and fourth trade paperbacks, plus the Action issues of Superman Reborn (parts 2 and 4). This goes right up to Oz Effect.

Superman: President Luthor New Edition TP

As mentioned before, for some reason DC thinks a collection of stories about businessman Lex Luthor becoming president might be of interest right now. A previous collection of these stories came out in 2003 (part of a nice series of collections of the Jeph Loeb et al run); most of the issues solicited for this collection map the previous one except for Action Comics #773, though Lex only appears at the end of that issue. The better thing is that this collection includes James D. Hudnall, Eduardo Barreto, and Adam Kubert's prestige format one-shot Lex Luthor: The Unauthorized Biography, which I still think is one of the greatest post-Crisis Lex Luthor stories ever told, a really atmospheric thriller in which a journalist could reveal Lex Luthor's secrets, if he stay alive long enough.

Superman: The Many Worlds of Krypton TP

Collects Superman #233, #236, #238, #240, #248, #257 & #266, Superman Family #182, World of Krypton (1979) #1-3, and World of Krypton (1987) #1-4. Paul Kupperberg writes and Howard Chaykin draws the earlier miniseries; John Byrne and Mike Mignola did the latter.

Teen Titans by Geoff Johns Book Two TP

Heckuva longevity on Geoff Johns's Teen Titans run that DC is still releasing new editions over ten years after the issues came out. This collects material from the third paperback, Beast Boys and Girls, and part of the fourth, The Future is Now, issues #13-19 plus Johns's Beast Boy miniseries and the Teen Titans/Legion special. Also the solicitation says Legends of the DCU 80-Page Giant #1, but I'm sure it's the Beast Boy story from #2 also by Johns and Ben Raab.

Teen Titans Vol. 2: The Rise of Aqualad TP

Collects issues #6-7, #9-11, #13, and #14. The first break is Lazarus Contract and the second is Dark Nights: Metal. I imagine I'll have to read at least Lazarus Contract in the middle of this; I can't imaging #9-11 won't hold some spoilers.

Titans Vol. 3: A Judas Among Us TP

Collects issues #12-18 following Lazarus Contract.

Young Justice Book Two TP

The second new collection of Peter David's Young Justice series. The previous solicitation said this was issues #8-18, but this one says #8-17 (pumping the breaks a little earlier before the Sins of Youth event). As a happy trade-off, however, this newly includes the Young Justice 80-Page Giant, Young Justice in No Man's Land, pages from the Young Justice Secret Files, and the two crossover issues with David's Supergirl #36-37. (Somebody's still using the plot of a Young Justice cartoon tie-in comic issue for the description of this one, however.) All the regular-series issues here are previously uncollected.

So pick one ... Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol. 3: Knightsend? Young Justice Book Two? DC Meets Looney Tunes? What's the one book from this list you'd take to a desert island?

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 2: Welcome to the Planet (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

There's hardly a villain in Dan Jurgens's Superman: Action Comics Vol. 2: Welcome to the Planet, and rather it largely involves the alt-continuity Clark and Lois sussing out their new lives and doppelgangers, and digging into some of the central mysteries of the Rebirth title. Through answers are scarce, the process is a lot of fun, and frankly I enjoyed Clark and Lois just knocking around here more than I did last volume's Doomsday re-hash. This is a talky trade, to be sure, and you've got to like that kind of thing, but I enjoyed Jurgens's efforts here to get a bunch of the Super-characters on the same page.

[Review contains spoilers]

Planet kicks off with Jurgens's Justice League #52, which really deserved its place at the beginning of Jurgens's Action run (it's restored such at the start of the deluxe collection). It explains quite a number of things, not the least how Lex Luthor suddenly came to be owning the Daily Planet; there's also a fair bit the issue establishes ahead of Phil Jimenez's Superwoman debut. Among things Jurgens is doing well in this Action run is continuing to write Geoff Johns's slightly-less-evil New 52 Lex, and the issue presents well Lex's various sides -- not to mention art by Tom Grummett(!).

Review: Super Sons Vol. 1: When I Grow Up (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 15, 2017

I enjoyed Peter Tomasi's Rebirth Super Sons Vol. 1: When I Grow Up ... more than I thought I would. I found the backdoor pilot in Tomasi's Superman slow, favoring banter between Superboy Jon Kent and Robin Damian Wayne over the plot. Thankfully Super Sons moves more briskly (Tomasi shows restraint uncommon among today's writers in limiting the first arc to four issues in this five-chapter book), and an element of horror in the second issue demonstrates Tomasi and artist Jorge Jimenez as not just kidding around. The overall nature of the threat here is confusing, mired in Rebirth continuity that's unfortunately already mangled, but assuredly Tomasi gets the characters right, and I'm more curious about the next volume than I expected to be.

Review: Batman/Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition (Rebirth) hardcover (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

When Geoff Johns spearheaded in 2009 the re-integration of Barry Allen into the DC Universe after almost twenty-five years of absence, one thing he established was the murder of Barry's mother by the Reverse Flash; another was a deep friendship between Barry and Batman Bruce Wayne. This was something we'd had no hint of post-Crisis on Infinite Earths in the years Barry had been away; it was a friendship, though logical, invented almost whole cloth by Johns, and given that at the time of Barry's resurrection, Bruce was "dead" (or lost in time), there was never anything to perpetuate or refute that friendship.

We would not see Bruce Wayne and Barry Allen on the same page at all, as a matter of fact, until the end of 2011's Flashpoint, where they meet "again for the first time" in the newly created New 52 universe, though neither one realizes it. Essentially, in the entirety of the post-Crisis era, the reader never actually saw Bruce and Barry have a significant present-time conversation despite that we're later given to know how much they meant to one another. This is one of my favorite aspects of Flashpoint, the way in which Johns makes true something that didn't exist before, a microcosm for the way in which everything was the same but everything was different in the New 52.

That 2016's Batman/Flash: The Button presents the next most significant meeting of Batman and the Flash since Flashpoint underscores how slowly what Johns established has actually evolved; Button is basically the culmination of a story Johns proposed almost a decade ago, as well as something of a mini sequel to Flashpoint. Other factors aside, Button is also momentous as potentially the first Batman title crossover with another title outside the Bat-family in at least 30 years; Flash has crossed over with Wonder Woman and Green Lantern and Green Arrow at least without an event miniseries being involved, but it's possible Button is the first inter-title, extra-family crossover for the Batman title ever, if not at least since Crisis.

Review: Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Even if a charge has been leveled against DC Comics's Rebirth initiative that it's over-fond of what came before without moving forward, it's hard not to be taken in by the warmth with which James Tynion embraces this old material in Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows. This is an Orphan Cassandra Cain story, nee the No Man's Land-era Batgirl; there's not much Tynion does that's new with her, but at the same time it's been a while since we've seen a writer delight so fully in the Kelley Puckett take on the character. If Tynion is singing old songs, he's singing them well, and with gusto. Further, Tynion's Detective Comics remains an excellent team book, especially in the interaction between Batman and Batwoman, and Tynion's fraught plots kept me turning the pages well into the night.

Review: Superman Vol. 2: Trials of the Super Son (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke are some of my favorite current comics creators, and so if your premise is a comic where Tomasi, Gleason, and Mahnke just get to do their own thing for 20-some pages, I'm all for that. Whether it totally makes sense for them to do that under the auspices of a Superman title is a different question entirely. I thought the team's first Rebirth Superman collection was good, but given over too much to setting up Tomasi's Super Sons title without much else. Superman Vol. 2: Trials of the Super Son certainly has variety going for it, but here again it vacillates between either set-up for other books or a kind of purposelessness -- Tomasi, Gleason, and Mahnke doing the stuff they love and do well, but perhaps in spite of and not because of Superman in the lead.

DC Comics solicits Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect hardcover with first-run lenticular cover

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

A couple months ago here we looked at DC Comics's solicitations for some forthcoming Action Comics collections, including Action Comics Vol. 5, which collects Action Comics #993-999(!), and Action Comics Vol. 6, which collects Action Comics #1,001-1,006(!!). Among our own speculation at the time was that Action Comics #1,000 might turn out to be its own trade-sized issue like Fables #150, or that its proximity to Doomsday Clock (or if it's just a standalone "celebratory" issue) might see it collected elsewhere.

We also noted that Action Comics Vol. 4 collected Action Comics issues #977-984, the Superman Reborn aftermath and "Revenge" storylines, leaving issues #985-992 uncollected (of which #987-998 are "The Oz Effect"). Today we have answers (thanks for a tip from the Facebook page), because indeed in March 2018, DC will release the Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect hardcover, collecting Action Comics #985-986, "Only Human" by Rob Williams and Guillem March that leads in to "Oz Effect," and #987-992, "Oz Effect" itself.

The book will have a lenticular cover like the recent Batman/Flash: The Button, for its first run only. No mention of a deluxe-size printing.

This will mark the first time in Rebirth that DC will have pulled issues of a series out of the sequentially numbered trade paperbacks without an inter-title crossover being involved. This will also knock the numbers of the Action Comics trades out of sync with the Superman trades. Since there aren't other titles involved and The Oz Effect could just be Action Comics Vol. 5, this seems a questionable choice, though given the general interest in this story, I imagine DC wanted casual readers to be able to pick this up and not feel they had to go get Action Comics Vols. 1-4 before it.

There remains the question of what DC will do for the regularly scheduled deluxe hardcover edition of Action Comics. For books like Batman, involved in the Night of the Monster Men crossover, DC pulled the crossover issues from the paperback but replaced them in the hardcover. Action Comics: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book Three could conceivably be issues #985-999 -- Oz Effect plus Action Comics Vol. 5 -- putting Action Comics Vol. 6 and Action Comics Vol. 7 in the next deluxe (again, going out of sync number-wise with Superman and etc.). If the Oz Effect standalone hardcover eventually got a paperback, then retroactively that would be the volume for the collectors of the individual trade paperbacks.

I'm not thrilled about the wonky numbering, but if there's a paperback to go with the paperbacks and the deluxe hardcover runs continue uninterrupted, then generally I'm satisfied with how this looks like it's going to go.

The solicitation follows. What do you think of DC's decision to collect The Oz Effect in its own volume? Which edition will you be picking up?


Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect

After years of build-up, the Man of Steel discovers the identity of the villainous Mr. Oz in SUPERMAN - ACTION COMICS: THE OZ EFFECT!

Shrouded in mystery for years, the puppetmaster known as Mr. Oz has finally shown his hand. His agents have begun to move as the Man of Steel works to stop the chaos they unleash in Metropolis and across the globe. But when Mr. Oz steps from the shadows, his identity rocks the Last Son of Krypton to his core. Who is he? The answer will change Superman forever.

A mystery that has weaved through the pages of DC UNIVERSE: REBIRTH, DETECTIVE COMICS, ACTION COMICS and even Geoff Johns' SUPERMAN: THE MEN OF TOMORROW, is finally resolved here in SUPERMAN - ACTION COMICS: THE OZ EFFECT! Written by legendary scribe Dan Jurgens and illustrated by a team of superstar artists led by Ryan Sook and Viktor Bogdonavic, this graphic novel features a lenticular motion cover only available in the first print run! Collects SUPERMAN - ACTION COMICS #985-992.

Review: Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Dan Abnett's Rebirth Titans Vol. 2: Made in Manhattan contains four issues and then an annual, of which the book's biggest revelations come in the final pages of the annual. The book hardly needs the issues that precede it to tell the main story, though charitably at least Abnett only uses three issues and an introduction and not six for this arc. But at the end of the second trade, Abnett has moved this book forward only by inches, and that's a frustratingly slow pace for what should be one of the linchpins of the Rebirth era. Artist Brett Booth is doing that "jagged panels" thing again when it's not needed; altogether at the end of the second Titans volume, this book still isn't coming together for me the way I want it to.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Path of Doom (Rebirth) trade paperback

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Caleb Mozzocco over at Everyday is Like Wednesday recently described some of DC Comics's Rebirth material as "a cover band play[ing] the hits of their favorite bands." I know what he means; this was what I was afraid of when the New 52 came around, that we would (and did) see things like Robin Tim Drake's dramatic multi-part origin "covered" in a quickie one-off issue that achieved the same result with none of the punch. I've been less bothered by that in some of the examples Caleb mentions -- including James Tynion's Detective Comics, which I adore -- but Caleb's idea came back to me the other day as I was reading Dan Jurgens's Rebirth Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Path of Doom.

If anyone's got a right to "cover" "Death of Superman," surely it's Dan Jurgens (and at that point I'm not even sure it qualifies as a "cover" so much as one of your favorite singers belting out their signature hit almost a quarter-century later). There is a moment within Path of Doom where Superman explains the rather complicated origin of Doomsday completely but concisely in a way I'm not sure anyone could pull off but Dan Jurgens. But even with all the right to tell this story, it remains that what Jurgens has here is just another Superman/Doomsday battle of the kind we've seen re-done plenty of times since -- and one in which we know full well that no one is going to die. Path of Doom is mostly action sequences, it is drawn out longer than it needs to be, and it's repetitive in the sense that Jurgens is writing for the issue and not for the trade. This is a satisfactory start for Action Comics but I'm eager for Jurgens to tackle some new material.