Review: Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason clearly have an imperative in their Rebirth Superman Vol. 1: Son of Superman. There is little else here except the White family, nee Kent; to the extent that this book begins with the expansive Superman: Rebirth special, the rest of the book feels too insular, as if perhaps that ought have been the Action Comics: Rebirth special instead. Tomasi and Gleason do perfectly well by Clark, Lois, and son Jon, having inherited this work precisely because of their success doing the same on Batman and Robin. In that respect, even, the goings-on are tame; despite some rough patches, Jon Kent-White is unlikely to ever give his father the kind of time Damian Wayne did.

I'd pick a Tomasi-Gleason book off the stands over most all else any day of the week -- and with Doug Mahnke, to boot -- but as the very first volume of the return of the post-Crisis Superman, Son lacked some of the scope I might have expected. For those very invested in the Clark/Jon relationship, no doubt this book delivers, but I wonder if I'll be happier over with Action Comics or at least once I've read these both.

Review: Superman Reborn (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Dan Jurgens's Action Comics has been doing well facing off the Kent family against their various strange doppelgangers, while here and there Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Superman has wondered at the true relationship between the post-Crisis and New 52 Supermen. Much of that is purportedly reconciled in Superman Reborn, the first crossover between the titles, though true answers are somewhat scant. Reborn does offer some concrete explanations, but only to what turns out to be its simplest mysteries; for the bigger things in some respects we're left to just interpret for ourselves. That's a troubling trend -- not the first time in recent comics -- and when DC Comics has so much on the line in service to their universe-wide storylines, one has to hope that how the mysteries are addressed here is not a template for what's to come.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Burning Down the House (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

First of all, yes, this is more like it. Second of all, I do wish Rob Williams would at some point write a multi-part, straight-off Suicide Squad story of the type like Sean Ryan's New Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Monsters, with the team going on and completing a complicated mission without any "abnormal" facets like betrayal at headquarters, the brain bombs being deactivated and the Squad "going rogue," etc.

But despite that Williams's Rebirth Suicide Squad Vol. 3: Burning Down the House is "abnormal" (to the extent that nontraditional Squad stories are becoming the norm), it is also fantastic, a marked improvement over Williams's first two Squad books. This is due heavily to the fact that, despite that the book supposedly keeps its main feature/back-up structure (with artists John Romita Jr. and Eddy Barrows respectively), each "chapter" is really just another piece in the same ongoing tale. Williams therefore has a lot of room to develop his story here, and it's emotional, surprising, and well-done. Coming off of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Williams's Suicide Squad picks up a lot of steam.

Review: Justice League vs. Suicide Squad (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Reading the Rebirth Justice League vs. Suicide Squad put me in mind of DC Comics's New 52 Justice League: Trinity War. These were each the first major events of their respective eras, and there's similarities in the stories' plots and structures, too. But Justice League vs. Suicide Squad has clearly learned from Trinity War's mistakes; the latter book is eminently better put-together and satisfying as a story. This marks a DC Comics trending upward, and I'm eager to see what comes next.

[Review contains spoilers]

As the Justice League uncovers a covert rival organization -- with involvement, no less, by Amanda Waller -- Justice League vs. Suicide Squad feels very familiar, and again when they all end up at a secret base together, and again as the groups pair off and again when half the team is mind-controlled. But Justice League vs. Suicide Squad is exceptionally more cogent than Justice League: Trinity War in its plot by Joshua Williamson; each issue serves to deepen or reveal another level to the story; and the tie-in issues contribute wonderfully without making the story feel padded or bloated.

Batman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One removes dialogue from Tom King's Batman #10

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Last week DC Comics released the Batman: Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One, collecting issues #1-15 and the Batman: Rebirth special. These are also the contents of the Rebirth Batman Vol. 1: I Am Gotham and Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide paperbacks, plus two Batman: Night of the Monster Men issues.

I've been enjoying writer Tom King's run on Batman, but I know it's been controversial, given among other things the wild "love it or hate it" swing in your comments on my review of I Am Suicide. Much of that seems to center on King's repeated dialogue in Batman #10, being melodious or cacophonous depending on your point of view.

I'd originally been looking in to the deluxe edition to see how DC would handle collecting Batman #7 and #8, parts one and four of the Night of the Monster Men crossover, this being the first Rebirth deluxe edition to collect issues not also collected in the trade paperback collections (issues #7-8 appeared in the hardcover Batman: Night of the Monster Men collection instead). Indeed those two issues are in the deluxe edition, with a simple tag at the end of issue #8 directing the reader to the crossover collection, as pictured below.

But hat tip to Facebook reader Jamie Miller, who pointed out that not only does the deluxe hardcover restore the individual issue credits to each issue (they moved them for the trade paperbacks and I prefer it that way), but it also removes some of the repeated dialogue from issue #10. I checked it out and as far as I can see, only one page from issue #10 is affected; see the original on the left and the deluxe version on the right.

I guess that's a win for those who didn't like the mantra dialogue; again, it didn't bother me and I found it effective, though on re-inspection that's an awfully dialogue-heavy page in the original. Irrespective, it's fascinating to think that DC might be using these deluxe hardcovers as "director's cuts" of the Rebirth series, making changes even from the trades; we were seeing this kind of thing a bit way back around Infinite Crisis, but I hadn't heard of it happening much lately.

The Superman: Action Comics: Rebirth Deluxe Edition actually goes the opposite way and removes the individual issue credits from each issue, in contrast to the trades (and this is how I prefer it); it also re-positions Justice League #52, originally collected in Superman: Action Comics Vol. 2: Welcome to the Planet, to before the start of Superman: Action Comics Vol. 1: Path of Doom.

We did, as you know, lose some of the deluxe editions originally solicited to collect the Rebirth trade paperbacks. Released so far have been the Batman, Action Comics, Justice League, and Flash deluxe editions, and forthcoming are Detective Comics, Harley Quinn, Justice League of America, Nightwing, Suicide Squad, Superman, and Wonder Woman deluxe editions, as well as the deluxe Batman/Flash: The Button. Early solicited but then cancelled were Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Aquaman, and Green Arrow deluxe collections.

Picking up these Rebirth deluxe books? What do you think of changes being made to these stories as they move from paperback to hardcover?

Review: All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Scott Snyder's All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth is in parts more accessible but also more wonderfully esoteric than the previous volume. Snyder still gives us this series's fantastically profane Batman, though the coarsely madcap violence (even for a Batman story) is less than it was in My Own Worst Enemy, making this feel in some ways like a more tonally-normal Batman book. At the same time, Snyder's heavy use of prose and nontraditional narrative style, as well as the presence of artists Jock, Tula Lotay, and Giuseppe Camuncoli, distinguish this book as something more than just the everyday. Here too, Snyder begins to show his hand with overt ties to the upcoming Dark Nights: Metal, though in this aspect Ends of the Earth is not as strong as it is elsewhere.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Going Sane (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, September 03, 2017

It's my fervent hope that after the Justice League vs. Suicide Squad crossover, Rob Williams is able to loose the burdens of Suicide Squad's backup stories and start spinning Suicide Squad stories proper. Williams's stories are compelling and his take on the characters good, but the Rebirth Suicide Squad Vol. 2: Going Sane suffers many of the same issues as the previous volume: it is short and the conflict involved is very insular. Whereas most Rebirth series have spread their wings by this point, mostly all that's happened in Suicide Squad so far is that the team has stolen one object and brought it back to their base -- that's it. In ostensibly one of DC Comics's flagship Rebirth titles -- if the presence of Jim Lee is any indication -- there really ought be more going on.

Review: Suicide Squad Vol. 1: The Black Vault (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

For what is supposed to be one of the flagship titles of DC Comics's Rebirth -- or at least prominently in the news at the time -- there's surprisingly little to Rob Williams's Suicide Squad Vol. 1: The Black Vault. Williams is a writer whom I've enjoyed, and his depiction of the Squad is tonally fine and respectful. But the main story, hampered perhaps by the page count given over to backups, doesn't have much to it; it's basically one long fight scene bookended by the Squad's journey there and back. As compared to rather complicated outings by Sean Ryan and Tim Seeley just before this, Williams's volume is slim, not seemingly the beginnings of an important and relevant Suicide Squad run.

[Review contains spoilers]

Setting aside the Rebirth special, which reintroduces Rick Flag to the Suicide Squad, the first "full" (main story) issue almost literally solely involves the Squad boarding a plane, Killer Croc throwing-up into his own altitude helmet, and Flag causing the plane to crash when he unbuckles to release Croc's helmet so Croc won't drown in his own vomit. The threat of Croc's vomit is not nearly the kind of credible foe the Squad needs to be facing right off, nor does this first issue really have any kind of arc in terms of conflict and resolution. Nor ultimately does this plane crash sequence even matter -- the Squad recovers without consequence and then continues on with their mission.

Review: Justice League Vol. 2: Outbreak (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Unfortunately with Justice League Vol. 2: Outbreak, I begin to understand what might have been some others' concerns about writer Bryan Hitch's Rebirth title. I still like Hitch's general approach to the title, and artist Neil Edwards -- with inks by Daniel Henriques -- even very often resembles Hitch in his artwork. But even though Hitch often succeeds in getting the characters on the page together -- this feels like a more fully-realized League than the Justice League has in a while -- the stories in this book are formulaic and at times display a startling lack of knowledge about these characters. That brings the book down, and makes me feel less patient with these one-off, continuity-light stories than I had been previously.

Review: Wonder Woman Vol. 3: The Truth (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Writer Greg Rucka is at his best with tales of high politics and espionage, and the Rebirth Wonder Woman Vol. 3: The Truth has espionage in spades. To the question of "the lies" Diana has uncovered about her past, Rucka provides about the best answer he probably could. The proceedings are compelling, and Rucka's particular triumph here remains the ties he establishes between Diana and her rejuvenated supporting cast of Steve Trevor, Etta Candy, and the Cheetah Barbara Ann Minerva.

At the same time, Rucka's new Wonder Woman origin remains markedly frustrating, further irritated by the fact that these are Rucka's final issues on the book (though not his final collection). Were Rucka staying, I might be placated by the idea that he could still explain in better detail the facets he glosses over and address the contradictions that threaten to swallow whole what advances he's made with the Wonder Woman character. Instead, what we have is a nice Wonder Woman story on the surface that disintegrates on second look, one that auspiciously wipes Diana's slate clean but then offers nothing to replace it. Rucka's return to Wonder Woman has ended up being only half of what we needed.