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DC Trade reviews

The All New Atom: Small Wonder
DC Comics

I’ve always been funny about second and third generation heroes taking the lead. Wally West as Flash, Kyle Raynor as the Green Lantern. Ray Palmer being replaced by Ryan Choi just didn’t seem right to me. Usually if the right writer is doing the change I end up liking it and in some cases loving it. Gail Simone followed by Rick Remender have made me a fan of this latest incarnation of The Atom.
This trade reveals a lot. We find out why all the weirdness has been happening in Ivy Town and who’s behind it. Chronos has often been a silly villain, a great power not used right. Not the case here. Here he’s crazy and dangerous. There’s also a small problem of Ryan’s blood being a interdimensional rift portal.
Simone made me love this character again. If you haven’t read the new version of The Atom check it out.

Brave and the Bold Showcase Volume 3
DC Comics

As a kid my two favorite comics above all others were World’s Finest and The Brave and The Bold. These were the only two comics I ever subscribed to, back in the day when comics showed up a month after they were in the drugstore and they were folded in half, on purpose, when they arrived in a paper sleeve.
This collection covers issues 109-134 with everything written by the great Bob Haney and drawn by Jim Aparo. These guys were the team supreme, like Rum and Coke, like Run and DMC, Jagger and Richards and Page and Plant. In the 70’s these guys were my rock stars. Jim Aparo defined the way I see Batman and is what I compare all other versions to.
My favorite part of course was always seeing who the guest star would be opposite Batman. Over the years they surprised me a few times. They also introduced me to some characters I hadn’t read before. It was in these pages I learned to love Wildcat, the Metal Men, the Phantom Stranger and Deadman. The stories never seemed forced, it always seemed perfectly natural that Batman would be hooking up with these people.
Standouts in this volume include Grasp of the Killer Cult with the Spectre (no one draws the Spectre like Aparo), Man-bat in Bring back Killer Krag, and one of my all time favorites, Small War of the Super Rifles with Sgt. Rock. This issue was really great because Aparo and Haney are also characters in it.
The showcase series is great because it lets people read really great stories without blowing a ton of money. I would suggest starting with the Brave and the Bold volumes 1-3 to start with. I can’t help bu think these comics influenced a lot of the guys doing comics today.

The Strange Deaths of Batman
DC Comics

The rule of thumb in comics is that characters never really die. Over the years Batman has died quite a few times and this trade chronicles these deaths, just in time to coincide with what actually looks like Batman dying for real in the regular series. In stories from 1966-2001 with writers and artists such as Gardner Fox, Cary Bates, Bob Haney (One of my favorites), Gerry Conway and Chuck Dixon. Jim Aparo, Greg Land, and Carmine Infanto.
The stories are all fun. My favorite is from Brave and the Bold, The Corpse that Wouldn’t Die guest starring the Atom. It’s a who’s who of villains and is a really great cross section of Batman stories. And while the eras change the consistant is Batman who overall really doesn’t seem to go through that many major changes. This is another great reprint book.

Superman Vs. Brainiac
DC Comics

When thinking Superman villains most people immediately thinks Lex Luthor. That’s cool, Luthor is a bad as and plenty dangerous. But for my money Brainiac has always been more entertaining and through the years he just gets more and more dangerous. A computer mind that eventually became all machine he is a cold ruthless opponent who has destroyed worlds and civilizations. He shrunk a city from krypton and kept it in a jar, which as we are now seeing is having some really bad results all around.
This trade chronicles his appearances and changes through the years starting with a tale from 1958, The SuperDuel in Space by Otto Binder and Al Plastino and takes us right up to 2000 in Sacrifice for Tomorrow by Joe Kelly. It was really cool to read the Cary Bates and Curt Swan stories from the classic era for my favorite Superman stories, the 70’s. This is a great book for fans of the man of steel.

Superman Past and Future
DC Comics

This is another themed collection of some great tales from DC’s history. Superman’s travels in time, from 1865- 101963 and points in between the man of steel sure does get around. Stories range from juvenile fun like Superman as a boy trying to save Lincoln, Jimmy Olson working for the Germans during WWII, and futuristic stories that at the time might have seemed amazing but know are just fun. The story set in 1990 in particular was a gas. The stories were written between 1947 and 1983 by such luminaries as Jerry Seigel, Bill Finger and one of my favorites Elliot S! Maggin. While the predictions for clothing styles were off, the fact that these were all written in different eras about eras they didn’t know the one constant is that it’s all damn fun Superman fiction.

Titans: Old Friends
DC Comics

The classic line up of the Teen Titans is back. I’m not sure how I feel about this as an ongoing series, but this first story arc was enjoyable. I’m not the biggest fan of Judd Winick, I think he sometimes over writes things and I don’t always like some of the choices he makes. That said, when he’s on, he’s really on.
In Old friends Winick brought his A game. The Titans reunite because someone is tracking and attacking people who have been members of the Teen Titans. As the plot unfolds we learn more about Raven as a few of her family members rear their heads. Winick nails the camaraderie between the characters and they really do feel like a family. Over all the art was cool, but I liked Ian Churchill better than Joe Benitez and Julian Lopez, Something about the way Benitez does eyes bugs me a bit.
I’m also curious about this being an on going series. Is Roy leaving the Justice league? What about Flash? They really earned their spots on the big team and it seems like a step backward to have them here full time. We’ll see. It may be great. Fans of the Titans should really dig this book.