DC Trade Editions Round up
Here’s a few reviews of some of the recent trade collections from DC and Vertigo. Some really great stuff coming out from DC so expect more reviews soon!
AMERICA VS. THE JUSTICE SOCIETY
Originally released as a mini-series in 1985 I actually read this when it first came out. I’ve always been a fan of the golden age DC heroes, though a lot of the actual stories from that time don’t make for the best reading for fans used to modern comics. This is a great chance to enjoy the characters in a more modern setting while Earth 2 was still the original incarnation.
The premise is pretty cool, Batman has passed away and before his death he gave a diary to a doctor friend of his so that in the event of his death it could be given to Clark Kent at the Daily Star. In the diary Batman tells a very different version of events in the Justice Society’s history. Championed by a ruthless newspaper man who’s father was a Senator who tried to unmask the JSA and blames them for death of his father a Senate subcommittee brings about a hearing to decide if the JSA should be charged with treason. To dispute the charges members of the JSA take turns recapping highlights from their career. For legal representation Helena Wayne, Batman’s daughter is working for the JSA while Dick Grayson is working with the committee.
Roy Thomas does a great job with this, and for my money he is the king of the golden age characters. Art chores were handled by Jerry Ordway and Howard Bender among others. This is a great book and a really fun way to be introduced to the golden age DC characters if you are unfamiliar.
Scott Snyder has been tearing it up on Batman and Batman Eternal is just another in a line of great stories from Snyder. The whole thing opened with someone setting up Commissioner Gordon and getting him sent to prison. One by one Batman’s foes are coming out of the woodwork and it is obvious someone is orchestrating an attack on Gotham and Batman. Everyone that is a part of the Batman family has come to his aid and it is still overwhelming them. In volume two of the collected story it looks like the mastermind might be Hush, a boyhood friend to Bruce Wayne who nearly tore Batman’s world apart a while back.
Watching as Batman’s world is systematically attacked over and over as his allies endurance is tested is actually almost exhausting. The pace of this story just keeps building in a way that makes it hard to do anything but read the whole book in one sitting.
Having read the whole thing as it came out I can say that as good as this volume is, it’s just a prelude of the final installment. This is one of my all-time favorite Batman tales ever and that includes classics like Dark Knight Returns and Killing Joke.
On the surface this is a crime fiction tale in graphic form. Four different eras, four different detectives, one body. In 1890 Inspector Hillinghead is risking his job looking for a killer, 1940 sees Inspector Whiteman is leading a double life and his work on this case puts it all in jeopardy, 2014 and Detective Sergeant Hasan is dealing with race relations and sexual politics while trying to do her job. In 2050 a young woman known as Maplewood is trying to make sense of her life as it is altered by the dead body she discovers in a world with tech gone bad that left everyone an amnesiac. The story flows from one period to another and like any good mystery we find out more about the cases with our detectives.
The part of this that make it such a perfect Vertigo book is that the cases draw together and patterns emerge of something beyond our detectives.
Books like this are why I love the Vertigo books and this was so much fun. Si Spencer worked some real magic and made a story that draws the reader in from the first page and keeps them flipping pages until they run out. A real winner.
This weekly comic ran 52 issues; vols 1 and 2 collect the first 30.
Thirty five years from now the earth is in dire straits, Brother Eye created by Batman has jumped it’s programming and all but eliminated humanity in order to protect the earth. A small pocket of humans remain and in a last ditch effort to save the planet they send Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond)back in time to right before Brother Eye goes on line. But the mission failed before it started as Terry lands 5 years too late. Superman is missing, heroes like Firestorm and Red Robin have vowed to live as civilians. Stormwatch is gone and a threat in the form of Brainiac is coming. Terry realizes he jumped out of the time stream early and determined to finish his mission does what he can to stop his future from happening. Throughout the series we see DC’s heroes and villains in various situations which all seem to be drawing together. Earth 2 is gone and it’s refuges heroes are being kept on an island and experimented on. By the end of the second volume we are gearing up for some big showdowns.
I love the idea of jumping five years into DC’s future. Co-Writers Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens and Keith Giffen manage to take a large story with a lot of different threads and keep the pacing fast and the tale intriguing. The cool thing to me was the fact that this could very easily have gotten really dark, but through out the tale there is hope and fire in the hearts of the people working to keep a horrible future from happening. Each of these writers have different strengths and I read and enjoy each of them for different reasons. The final result is seemless and I could not tell who wrote what parts but see the influence of each. There were twelve artists working on the series and I imagine being weekly this was the only way to make deadlines and not kill an artist in the process. I like the art through out and especially the visions of the distant future.
I’m looking forward to volume 3 to read the whole finale in one sitting.
JUSTICE LEAGUE Vol 6, INJUSTICE LEAGUE
Collecting issues 30-39 this is the first story arc after the Crime Syndicate took over the Earth. Luthor along with a handful of villains ended p helping to save everyone. Now he wants to be on the Justice League which I’m sure we all agree is just crazy.
The story begins with aftermath cleanup, Luthor helping take down the Injustice League, tracking down the power ring from the invaders which leads to a head to head with the Doom Patrol. This all leads to the entire League facing a bio hazard in the form of the Amazo virus. Luthor while appearing to be doing the right thing still can’t help but come off as a villain at times. The Amazo virus coming from an accident in one of his labs does not help endear him to the League. The virus starts as a cool thing giving people powers but it quickly goes bad as they turn into mindless creatures bent on violence. When all is said and done the League saves the day with Luthor’s help. But of course that’s not the end of the story and the final few pages hint at things to come.
I’ve always enjoyed Geoff Johns but never more than when he is writing team books. His run on the Justice Society is one of my favorites. This far along into his run on the JL he has the team dynamics down and it’s a joy to read the interactions among the players, especially the way he does Shazam. Justice League books have been must reads for me since I was around 10 years old, with the strength of Geoff Johns story telling that has a remained a constant for me. Nice to know my favorite team is in good hands.