DC Trade Collections Round Up

I’ve been catching up on my reading and thought I would do a large round up of DC books. They have all come out in the last couple months.

ALL STAR WESTERN Volume 2: WAR OF LORDS AND OWLS
Collecting All Star Western 7-12

The western comic has seen a rebirth at the hands of Justin Grey and Jimmy Palmiotti, their work on Jonah Hex has been astounding with great story telling and wonderful art added to make a great comic read. In the new 52 the western is back as All Star Western and its more fun than ever. Adding ties to Gotham for Hex has added a new and interesting dimension to the character and the story here adds to the Batman mythology of Gotham and the Court of Owls. We also have all new stories with old school characters Batlash and Cinnamon who in the last couple decades were only brought out for big crisis tales. This is some great crime fiction driven story telling and should be on everyone’s list of must read books.

 

 

BATMAN: ARKHAM UNHINGED
Originally published online, collects Arkham unhinged 1-13 and Arkham City digital 6 and 7

Usually comics based on video games leave me cold, but this one really popped for me. The set up is pretty simple and yet works great for a Batman tale. It’s kind of Escape From New York with Batman. Hugo Strange has gotten control of Gotham’s asylum and has talked the mayor into letting him turn part of Gotham into Arkham City, which as you might imagine turns the whole place into a madhouse. Catwoman and Two face are still free, but not for long and Strange has his sights set on Batman as well, he wants them all under this large microscope he’s made so he can study them and watch what happens. Loads of action, great art and an adrenalin fueled read.

BATMAN INCORPORATED
Collecting Batman Incorporated 1-8 and Batman Incorporated Leviathan Strikes!

This Batman tale sees Batman making his way around the world recruiting people to become a part of a larger group of batmen, all financed by Bruce Wayne. Grant Morrison is channeling his inner Bat-Fan on this one and it is a lot of fun, expanding on his story arc from a few years back with the batmen of many countries. It’s a grand idea and in a practical sense it seems like a great way to fight crime on a much larger scale. I really loved the first story, Mr. Unknown Is Dead with art by Yanick Paquette. Batman and Catwoman go to Japan to find a crusader of the night to recruit him only to discover that he is now dead and his protégé has been acting on his behalf. It’s then down to South America followed by a great story involving a flashback with Kathy Kane, the first Batwoman. The Chris Burnham art is so delicious and perfect you want to read real slow to take it all in. Morrison and Burnham then take us to the wild west to hang out with Man of Bats, a cyber-adventure with oracle and Batgirl in England at a boarding school from Hell. They all come together in a surreal feeling wrap up on an island when the mastermind behind the leviathan plan is revealed.
Batman Incorporated is the kind of fun comic books should be and it is continued into the new 52 with even more twists and turns. Morrison is really leaving his mark on Batman and this is a run people will talk about years from now, and it really kicks into gear here. When there is talk about story telling creating a mythology or adding to it this is the kind of writing they mean.

BATMAN NIGHT OF OWLS
Collects stories from a number of different comics

OK, how best to describe this? Throughout Gotham City’s history there has been a secret group of people of means who have tried to steer and control the cities destiny known as the owls. There interests are their own, not in the best interest of the people of Gotham. This tale is told in BATMAN AND THE COURT OF OWLS. Batman discovers this group and eventually he and the Batman family confront them and their minions/soldiers known as the Talons. It’s a dark and sinister feeling story arc and this collection is the culmination of these events as it crosses throughout all the Gotham and Bat related books.
The art is varied as the parts of this collection come from a number of different books, but it is all top notch and really does a great job of telling the story. The story itself is really a wide reaching and fun ride. Lots of action with some sadness and triumph, basically everything you want in a good read. A terrific edition to the batman mythology, Scott Snyder really went above and beyond the call of duty with this idea.

BATMAN THE DARK KNIGHT : GOLDEN DAWN
Collects Batman The Dark Knight 1-5 and Batman the Return

David Finch Writes and draws Batman in some of his first work for DC, a dark tale with very visceral art at batman faces killer Croc and Penguin and also dances with the Demon Etrigan. This is not you Father’s batman with big pennies and fun cars, this is Batman taking on evil in the dark. Great story and the art is, well, a work of art, every page worthy of being framed.

 

DC COMICS PRESENTS Volume 1: DEADMAN &CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN
Collects issues 1-8

The Deadman story is by fan favorite Paul Jenkins with Bernard Chang on art. It is a fun supernatural romp in the style of stories we saw with Deadman in the 70s. He’s trying to set things right in a universe that wouldn’t let him truly die, and Jenkins take on the character is respectful of his history and also fresh. Dan Didio and the always amazing Jerry Ordway are dancing with the Challengers of the Unknown, in this new incarnation a group of people with a TV show called Challengers. When things go wrong on a shoot they end up on borrowed time and truly challenging the unknown and supernatural. Didio weaves a great story and Ordway really nails the art. It’s action comics story telling at it’s best.

GREEN LANTERN Volume 2 THE REVENGE OF THE BLACK HAND
Collects Green Lantern 7-12

In recent years the Green Lantern titles have really had a spectacular run with cosmic sized stories and big stories. The New 52 version follows along with that and has been a pure joy to read.
Hal Jordan lost his ring when the guardians took away his ring. To add insult to injury they gave a ring back to Sinestro. Now Sinestro and Hal are working together and they are trying to discover the secret of the Indigo lanterns, who also happen to have Black Hand under their thrall. After nearly wiping out the universe Hal is obviously a little concerned about whether or not they are really rehabilitating him or if he is still a danger. By the end of this book we know. The ending leads into the “Rise of the Third Army” story line which is just wrapping up in the monthly comics. Books like this are why I read comics.

 

 

HUNTRESS: CROSSBOW AT THE CROSSROADS
Collects Huntress 1-6
Paul Levitz really is a master story teller. I’ve been a fan going way back. These last few years I’ve really enjoyed just how much writing he has been able to do. The new 52 introduction to Huntress and Power Girl channels the old school earth 2 days and I for one love it. Helena and her friend Kara (Powergirl) get sent to our earth and spend a year getting acquainted with their new home which eventually leads into a new World’s Finest series. Huntress is tracking down guns bound for Gotham and stumbles across a bigger criminal empire involving human trafficking. It’s straight up vigilante style crime fighting in Italy and all fun.

 

JUSTICE LEAGUE Volume 2 THE VILLIANS JOURNEY
Geoff Johns, Jim Lee and Scott Williams
Collecting 7-12

I’ve been reading the Justice League in the monthly books and to be honest reading issue to issue it seemed to take forever for the story to really get going and it felt drawn out. Reading it as a single story collected it reads much tighter and flows better. I think goes with out saying that the art is amazing. Jim Lee is always on the top of his game, but this is really a sight to behold.
Geoff Johns is obviously having a lot of fun while reestablishing the dynamics between these characters and his take on Green Lantern as a cocky brash all action kind of hero is really fun. I’ve always thought that the Justice League is best when dealing with big threats and the new villain here fits that well and at the same time because of the nature of who it is it allows for some nice character development and even a bit of flashbacking. All in all this is a nice addition to the Justice League legacy.

 

 

 

LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT : ALAN DAVIS Volume 1
Collects Detective Comics 569-575, Batman Full Circle 1 and Gotham Nights 25

I love this series of collections, there have been some amazing creators of Batman over the long years since he first showed up and spotlighting some of them like this is a real great way to collect some beautiful comics without going broke. For me after Jim Aparo Alan Davis is one of my favorite Batman artists. The stories originally told in the late 80’s and early 90’s were a little darker than batman had been but were still really fun. Davis does great Joker making him to be a truly demented clown with a maniacal look. The stories by Mike Barr have the fun of the early 60’s Batman with his chum Robin and they do it without feeling sappy or corny, really the best of both worlds. This is another of the wonderful reprint books from DC that I have come to love.

 

SGT ROCK ARCHIVES Volume 4
Collects Our Army at War 126-137 and Showcase 45
Written by Robert Kanigher and illustrated by Joe Kubert

Wow, this really is silver age war comics at its best. Joe Kubert did a lot of amazing things over the years but for me the best was always Sgt Rock. The stories always have a moral, they show that war is not fun, but can be heroic, though in a sad way. Reading this collection really is holding history in your hands both in the tales told and the folks who told them and their place in comics history. These are from the early sixties which is an interesting period before we pointed out all the flaws and looked at war with the cynical eye of movies of the later 60s, but it doesn’t glorify the war either. I loved these as a kid and I still love them now.

 

SUICIDE SQUAD Volume2: BASILISK RISING
Collects issues 0, 8-13

The Suicide Squad idea of a group of villains being pushed into service by a secret government group was cool when it first debuted and it’s still a great idea now. Characters now bound by the morals of regular heroes opens up all sorts of possibilities. Adam Glass lets them run wild here as we see Harley Quinn, Deadshot and the others wreak havoc across the DC universe. We also get a nice flashback as to who Amanda Waller is and why she is doing what she does. This is just crazy good fun.

SUPERMAN VS. SHAZAM
Collects DC Comics presents 33.34, 49, Annual 3 and Collector’s Edition C-58

Over the years we’ve seen a lot of variations of Superman and Shazam fighting it out for various reasons. The are some of the old school stories by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas. While it may not be the heavy or deep story telling we’re used to getting now it is really entertaining. While I think we all know Superman is the more powerful of the two there are some good arguments to be made why Billy Batson and his magic word could prevail. This is fun and family and kid friendly.

SUPERMAN Volume 1 WHAT PRICE TOMORROW?
George Perez, Jesus Merino and Nicola Scott
Collection Superman 1-6

I’ve been reading Superman for a long time. To put this in perspective, the first issues I owned cost 20 cents each, so early 70’s is when I became a regular reader. Over the years I have read LOT of Superman including going back to older stories.
I’ve lived through a number of relaunches before and a few “new” beginnings. The one that really stands out is the John Byrne stuff in the 80’s.
This New 52 relaunch is interesting to me because it feels like pieces of a lot of different things I’ve read over the years. Morgan Edge and his TV station harkens back to the mid-seventies, and in today’s world with the decline of newspapers it really makes sense. It would be hard to see a print newspaper as overly vital in today’s world in the same way they were vital back in the day. What I took away from this Superman written by George Perez is something I am noticing with a number of the DC books, the writers have a respect for the character and also seem to have a fondness for them that come from being a fan. This story arc plays into the “alien menace” in a fun way with a nice explanation of why Superman is seen as a threat. We get to see Clark Kent being Clark Kent, confident and yet with human flaws. In the end this is a Superman we’ve come to expect, he’s doing what is right and doing it for the right reasons. He’s trying to embrace humanity but knows he’s never going to be completely human.
I plan to keep right on reading Superman.