Review: Nightwing Vol. 3: Nightwing Must Die! (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

There's a joyful irony in that the Grant Morrison Batman and Robin run that Tim Seeley's Rebirth Nightwing Vol. 3: Nightwing Must Die! celebrates could not have taken place precisely the way it did, at least as far as the DC Universe stands right at the moment. That's not to say Seeley shouldn't tell his story nor that Morrison's run shouldn't be celebrated; rather I imagine Morrison would appreciate this much ado about "nothing" (continuity-wise). Indeed the intricacies of how Final Crisis and Batman RIP took place in the Rebirth era are only the tip of the dimension-hopping this book does in its lead-ins to Dark Nights: Metal.

Seeley's Die! reminds of Scott Snyder's Batman: Black Mirror in its tribute to an elder Bat-story, though Die! only reaches back five or so years versus Black Mirror's twenty-plus years to Batman: Year One. Maybe that's too soon, though the original stories were good, and Nightwing and Robin Damian Wayne's wonderful relationship perhaps did need to be dragged explicitly into the present. Die! does nothing to dismiss the criticisms leveled at Rebirth for dwelling too much on stories past, but as with James Tynion on Detective Comics, I think Seeley does it well enough that I'd give him a pass; also there's a curious bit of past- and future-looking in this book dually serving Batman and Robin and also Metal.
Collected Editions 2017 Comic Book Gift Guide

Comic Book Gift Guide 2017

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

It’s time for the 2017 Collected Editions top comic book trade paperback and graphic novel gift recommendations! As has become a tradition around here, this list is culled both from suggestions you sent by email or posted on our Facebook page, as well as my picks.

As always, I’ve tried to make your holiday season a little easier by suggesting books that go together for ready-made gift packages for the comics fan in your life.

For additional ideas, don’t miss my 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 lists for more comic book suggestions.

DC Universe: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition
Batman/Flash: The Button Deluxe Edition

Just a week from when you’re reading this, DC Comics will release the first issue of their Watchmen sequel, Doomsday Clock. It doesn’t come more improbable than a sequel to Watchmen, but so far DC’s Rebirth-initiative tentpole books have been good enough that they might just pull this off.

If you’ve got a comics fan wondering what the fuss is all about, let me suggest the deluxe editions of DC Universe: Rebirth and Batman/Flash: The Button. DC seems to be using the deluxe size to indicate Doomsday Clock lead-ins books, also including the deluxe Superman: Action Comics: The Oz Effect coming in March. These make for a nice set together on the bookshelf and an easy introduction to DC’s current status quo.

• DC Comics Rebirth Deluxe Hardcovers

Batman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Batman: Detective Comics: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Flash: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Harley Quinn: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Justice League: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Justice League of America: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Nightwing: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Suicide Squad: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Superman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Superman: Action Comics: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1
Wonder Woman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book 1

Not to be confused with the Rebirth deluxe specials, these are hardcover editions of the first and second trade paperbacks of select individual Rebirth-era DC Comics series (often followed by a hardcover of the third and fourth trade paperbacks). Some of these, like Suicide Squad: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One, read way better in this extra-long format than they do split into shorter books; others, like Justice League: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One, are epic in their own right but get even more so when the longer book sets one- and two-issue stories next to six-parters. There’s enough of these to make a nice (and nicely sized) gift for comics fans of many interests.

Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol. 1
Justice League International Vol. 1

Speaking of big books, DC’s got a couple of much-requested omnibus series going on right now. Batman: Knightfall was essentially DC Comics’s "Death and Return of Batman" storyline that ran in the 1990s. It has been collected piecemeal over the years, but only recently did DC commit to a three volume omnibus collection that includes enough of the nooks and crannies of this story that we’ll call it comprehensive. You or your favorite comics reader can’t really call themselves a Batman fan unless you’ve read "Knightfall," and with the second volume, Batman: Knightfall Omnibus Vol. 2: Knightquest just released and the third volume out in 2018, this is a gift idea that’ll last you a couple holidays and maybe a birthday too.

In the same vein, DC has begun releasing a series of Justice League International omnibuses, collecting a variety of Justice League titles from the 1980s. While Watchmen was grim and gritty, Justice League International was slapstick fun, and the tone has especially been compared to today’s television’s Legends of Tomorrow. Again, this is just the first volume, so this is a gift series that’ll last you for a little while.

You picked ...

Justice League: The Detroit Era Omnibus - Funny how, with time and nostalgia, one of the most derided Justice League lineups now becomes a hotly anticipated collection, likely precisely because we haven’t been treated to much of this team since. This comprehensive trade includes both Crisis on Infinite Earths and Legends tie-in issues.

Batman and Robin by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason Omnibus - Also just released, this is Tomasi and Gleason’s Batman and Robin saga in full, from before the New 52 through plenty of crime noir and into the cosmic heights of the Fourth World -- all rooted in the relationship between a father and a son -- Batman and Robin is a sweeping accomplishment.

Fourth World by Jack Kirby Omnibus - I went through my Jack Kirby phase a couple years ago with the first set of Fourth World Omnibuses, but a bunch of you brought up Kirby now, maybe on the mind because of a bevy of new DC collections releases timed to the 100th anniversary of Kirby’s birthday. About to be released is a new edition of the Fourth World Omnibus that takes all four of the original omnibuses and puts them together in one gargantuan package (a gift option sure to impress), plus collections of Kirby’s Mister Miracle, Demon, and Challengers of the Unknown.

DC Universe 10th Anniversary Animated Collection

Not strictly collected comics, I know, but a good number of the 30 animated movies included in this box set are based on graphic novels that you or your favorite comics fan probably have in their collection. There’s a great range here, too -- Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Teen Titans, Green Lantern, supernatural characters, and more. Guaranteed for the pages not to turn yellow or the spine wear out. If your favorite comics fan has every book there is, maybe a big box of movies will surprise.

Black Lightning Vol. 1
Black Lightning: Year One

The newest DC Comics superhero to appear on the CW will be Black Lightning, set to begin in 2018. Among DC Comics’s first African American superheroes, Black Lightning Jefferson Pierce has recently been portrayed as a family man raising superpowered daughters. Both of these collections are early-set Black Lightning stories, which might give a reader a sense of the character prior to the events of the TV series; Tony Isabella’s Black Lightning Vol. 1 collects early appearances of the character in the 1970s, while Jen Van Meter’s Black Lightning: Year One is a more modern re-telling of Pierce’s origins.

Black Panther Vol. 1: A Nation Under Our Feet

Next year’s Marvel Cinematic Universe slate will kick off with Black Panther, fresh from his debut in Captain America: Civil War. Marvel has recently released Black Panther Vol. 1 by MacArthur Genius Grant recipient Ta-Nehisi Coates, collecting issues #1-12 of one of the newest series (three earlier collections worth). Marvel will undoubtedly be releasing a lot of Black Panther material in the coming year, but here’s one place for you or your favorite Marvel movies fan to get in on the ground floor.

Royals Vol. 1: Beyond Inhumans

I might be in the minority, but I’m rather enjoying television’s Marvel’s Inhumans. I’m not done yet, but despite a low budget (and maybe low expectations) the show has not been egregiously bad, with strong performances especially by Anson Mount as Black Bolt, an interesting storyline for Karnak, and some cool super-powers among the antagonists. Marvel’s most recent comics Inhuman series, Royals by Al Ewing, has not garnered rave reviews, but it does appear to star a cadre of characters that’ll be recognizable from the show.

You picked ...

Deadpool and the X-Force Omnibus - A reader recommendation, this just-released Marvel omnibus collects a big swath of 1990s comics starring everyone’s favorite Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool, plus Cable and the X-Force. Stories here are by Fabian Nicieza with art by Batman’s Greg Capullo, in the aftermath of the X-Cutioner’s Song crossover. No doubt Deadpool and Cable’s forthcoming cinematic teaming helped to prompt this one.

Star Wars: Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma

If it’s the end of the year it must mean it’s time for a new Star Wars movie, and that means a Marvel tie-in comic. Last time around Greg Rucka wrote a sweeping story that had to try (successfully or not) to bridge the decades-long gap between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens. This year is smaller in scope, if not in importance, as writer Kelly Thompson spotlights Captain Phasma’s actions between Force Awakens and Last Jedi. We didn’t see much of Phasma in Force Awakens but we’re given to understand that she’s going to be important, so your favorite Star Wars fan might enjoy this primer before they head out to the theaters.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

I admit my interest in Riverdale went up exponentially when promos started mentioning the Black Hood; I doubt the show’s going to stray so far from Archie and friends as to give us Jaguar or the Fly, but one can hope. Meanwhile it looks like Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is headed to TV next, loosely based on the horror comic of the same name. Especially if you have a Riverdale fan in your life, the first collection of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina came out last year, and the second collection is due just before the holidays.

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie

Television has tried a couple different Nancy Drew launches lately, and every time they do, I hear someone say they might as well have just gone with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie by Anthony Del Col and Wether Dell’Edera, from Dynamite. Neither the Nancy Drew nor the Hardy Boys of your youth, this is a noir-ish take on the teen detectives in the spirit of Afterlife with Archie. If you know someone who read these books as a kid, or perhaps appropriate for the Riverdale fan in your life, the paperback collection of this series is just hitting shelves now.

You picked ...

Colder Omnibus - The acclaimed horror series by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra has recently received an omnibus edition from Dark Horse Comics, featuring the immortal detective who can get inside other peoples’ madnesses. I’m not as familiar with Tobin but Ferreyra’s painterly art has often been can’t-miss on DC Comics’s Rebirth Green Arrow.

Black Hammer Vol. 1: Secret Origins - The first collection of Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Eisner award-winning series is already out and the next volume Black Hammer Vol. 2: The Event will be out in January, so this makes a good set of holiday and birthday presents, for instance. The book follows a team of heroes wiped from existence by a "crisis"-style event in this meta-commentary on reboots and relaunches.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Year One Deluxe Edition - You read Doug Glassman’s rave review of the first collection of this Kyle Higgins series, and now BOOM! is collecting the first twelve issues of the series in a deluxe hardcover. Power Rangers nostalgia is at an all-time high these days, so if the new movie wasn’t enough, this will surely make a great gift. Reader Scotty Beattie says this comic takes "the fantastic premise of Power Rangers ... and use[s] it to tell sophisticated stories that the original show either couldn’t or wouldn’t." Reader Bobby Barrett agrees the series is "fabulous for nostalgic fans. Kyle Higgins clearly has reverence for the material and it’s quickly becoming one of BOOM! Studios’ flagship franchises."

Rick and Morty Hardcover Book 1 - I will admit I mainly know about Rick and Morty due to the recent unfortunate Szechuan sauce incidents. But you all seem to love ‘em and recommended them for this list, with the second hardcover just released of the Oni comics based in the Cartoon Network "adult swim" cartoon, called a cross between The Simpsons and Futurama. Apparently the second book includes a sound effects chip.

Night Night, Groot
The X-Files: Earth Children Are Weird

For your littlest comics and sci-fi fans (or comics fans-to-be), two recent fun ones are Night Night, Groot and The X-Files: Earth Children are Weird. Both are lush pictures books with decidedly all-ages takes on these properties. These may be more geared toward parental nostalgia than juvenile understanding; the X-Files book for instance is a heap-load of "revisionist history," though certainly no less fun. (For grown-ups, also don’t miss the audio drama X-Files: Cold Cases, based on the Season 10/Season 11 comic books by Joe Harris, and with the voices of David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis, and others.)

What else would you suggest? What were your favorite books of 2017? What comics or comics-related stuff are you wishing for this season? (Appreciation again to the Collected Editions Facebook page for the added suggestions!)

Thanks to everyone who keeps reading Collected Editions. This has been an exciting year for the site, with more new trades coming out sooner and sooner I’ve been able to shrink my reading backlog a bunch in order to bring you reviews of the newest books faster. It wouldn’t be half as much fun without all of you!

(Lots of bloggers have affiliate links like the ones above, and when you do your holiday shopping after clicking these links, the blogger gets a few cents. This year, if you’re buying gifts online, consider clicking on someone’s link before you buy -- when I buy online, I always try to click through a blog before I do. There are lots of hard-working bloggers out there [see blogroll], and this is a great, easy way to support them. Thanks!)

Review: New Super-Man Vol. 2: Coming to America (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Given six issues and three two-part stories, Gene Luen Yang's Rebirth New Super-Man Vol. 2: Coming to America feels impressively long, and the scope of the stories nicely epic. We have spotlights on the individual members of the Justice League of China layered on top of superheroic battles, on top of a heavy dose of the supernatural. Yang does a significant amount of world-building here, all with his trademark good humor, and I'm glad this title apparently received a reprieve from cancellation so that all that work didn't come to naught.

It's all still too silly for me. The comparisons to Karl Kesel's Superboy continue to hold up, but possibly I don't have the appetite for that kind of thing that I once did. Yang dawdles a bit in the middle of the book on material tertiary to this book's central plots, and it slows things down when there's so much more interesting ground to cover. Also, while I appreciate the amount of Asian culture and mythology Yang imbues the book with, the mythical parts of the last story get downright bizarre, stretching credibility perhaps because Yang hasn't done enough to set up those areas of the book prior to now.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 4: The New World (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Superman: Action Comics Vol. 4: The New World is about the best Dan Jurgens's Rebirth run has been so far. Notable here is Jurgens laying out Superman's new post-Superman Reborn combined post-Crisis/New 52 origin and history. But moreover from there Jurgens spins a villain team-up story that is quite gripping, and as lukewarm as I've been on some of Rebirth's "everything is old is new again" moments, Jurgens's return to some of his trademark bad guys had me cheering. Everything does not make sense, and I wonder at this decision to soft reboot Superman aside from the rest of the DC Universe, but Reborn has given Action Comics a jolt of energy and I'm eager to see where Jurgens goes with this.

Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows changed to remove All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth spoiler

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

A few weeks ago we talked about how DC Comics had altered the contents of the Batman: The Rebirth Deluxe Edition Book One to remove some dialogue found in the Batman Vol. 2: I Am Suicide trade paperback. This was lauded by some readers and deemed unnecessary by others, but an interesting move by DC, which hadn't been doing this kind of "director's cut" editing to trades for some time (at least that we noticed).

Well, it looks like another change has been made in the similar spirit of responding to reader complaints, this time between Batman: Detective Comics #954 and Batman: Detective Comics Vol. 3: League of Shadows in order to remove some spoilers for All-Star Batman Vol. 2: Ends of the Earth. Read on to Bleeding Cool for more details ...

Review: Justice League Vol. 4: Endless (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, November 05, 2017

The titular aspect of Bryan Hitch's Rebirth Justice League Vol. 4: Endless is a two-part sci-fi story reminiscent of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and it's an enjoyable use of the Justice League framework that still ties in to the book's ongoing story in the end. But that ongoing story has been built for too long on hype with no real plot growth, and Endless's final chapter is another exercise in Justice League spinning its hyperbolic wheels. Sandwiched in between those parts are three stories by guest writers; in some respects there's utility in getting some other voices in this title, but on the other hand, the guest writers bring some mischaracterizations worse than what this title already suffers from.

Moreover, there's an overwhelming focus in this book on Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, none unfortunately that does any better job endearing her to the reader than this book has attempted so far. I am eager to read Sam Humphries's Green Lanterns to see what I hope is Jessica written right (and Lantern Simon Baz too, for that matter), because I don't think this is it.

Review: Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3: Men of Steel (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

I was flipping through some 1980s-1990s Superman comics the other day and I was impressed again how every couple of months the titles managed to come together to tell a multi-part story that always felt epic and earth-shattering without being repetitive or stalling the book's forward action -- "Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite," "Day of the Krypton Man," "Time and Time Again," and "Blackout" all come to mind. That's been tougher for a number of modern teams to recapture in part because there's not three or four Super-titles any more making essentially a weekly series (though now there is, effectively). Also, with the advent of writing for the trade (or the advent of trades in general), it's nigh impossible to have eight issues of done-in-one stories followed by a four-part epic; that'd take a year and two trades of a regular series these days without the benefit of our connected ongoings.

I mention this because Dan Jurgens's Rebirth Superman: Action Comics Vol. 3: Men of Steel put me in mind of those Triangle Title epics. Admittedly I wasn't looking forward to Men of Steel for a variety of reasons, including that it seemed likely to -- and does -- pull Superman out of the book's Metropolis forward action for a number of issues. But Jurgens tells the story with a subtle parallel structure that becomes more apparent as it goes, focusing on Superman and Lex Luthor on one side and Lois and Jon Kent on the other, in a manner much like the Triangle Titles used to do. And though the conflict within Men of Steel is rather flimsy, Jurgens has been doing an exceptional job building up the relationship between the alternate-continuity Superman and the New 52 Lex Luthor in this book, and Men of Steel's A-plot is the perfect metaphor to bring that to a head.

Review: Justice League Vol. 3: Timeless (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Bryan Hitch's Justice League -- both Rebirth and beforehand -- has had its share of ups and downs. Justice League Vol. 3: Timeless is fortunately an improvement on the previous volume, but in large part because Hitch tells a story again with much the same setup of two of his other League books. Clearly Hitch has a line on what works, but this is so repetitive as to be really pushing the lines of credibility at this point, not to mention a variety of little errors along the way. It does help that artist Fernando Pasarin, a long-time favorite, does fine work for the most part here, and at least we can say Pasarin has some Jason Fabok-esque big moments in this book that demonstrate him as a League-caliber artist ready for the big time.

Review: Superman Vol. 3: Multiplicity (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason's Superman Vol. 3: Multiplicity is the best of the three volumes so far, spinning a Superman-centric super-tale that, with hardly an exaggeration, steals the fire of the (Grant Morrison-ian) gods and dares to wield it in "everyday" twice-monthly comics. As with "Escape from Dinosaur Island" and as with "Super-Monster," Tomasi and Gleason's creativity has never been in doubt, and "Multiplicity" is wonderfully wild.

The story is only hampered by where it ends up, and really the denouement if what Tomasi, Gleason, and Dan Jurgens have been setting up between their two Super-books is going to have to be good or there's going to be plenty egg-on-faces to go around. My disappointment in Multiplicity's final tally only reinforces to me how eager I am to see Tomasi and Gleason do their own thing here; the Rebirth Superman title has been consistently stronger when dealing with its own ongoing internal storyline than external ones, and that's the direction in which I'd like to see the Superman title continue.

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.