Summer Reading List ~ DC Style

Going back as far as I can remember summer always meant comics. I associate warm weather with green leaves and superheroes. When I first started getting an allowance I would go along to the drug store to buy comics, when I got my first summer job I would get a ride to the comics store and when I first started driving I would go to the comics store every Wednesday, which also happened to be payday at the summer job.

Summer = Comics

Of course now I can buy comics whenever and where ever I want. And I get a lot year round. What I read is also different. i still read the guys in tights, but I read a lot more than that. But come summer time I still want stacks of new comics around. So here’s some new stuff to keep you busy this summer.

Superman is a perennial favorite and there are bunch of new books out.

Superman: NEW KRYPTON Volumes 1-4 chronicle the adventures of Superman on New Krypton, pretty much what it says right on the cover. What the cover doesn’t say is that it is a wonderful excuse to right a story about a society reinventing itself, blending old traditions with new out of necessity. It has Superman in a role we haven’t seen much of before, and that is one of him surrounded by people who are his physical equal and have a very different take on peoples place in society. Kal is a fish out of water and his romantic views of life on Krypton are dashed. The run of stories also sets up the War of Supermen and the current arc in the current issues. Great stuff from Greg Rucka and James Robinson.

While on the subjunctive of Kryptonians, Supergirl has a new collection also part of the the New Krypton story. FRIENDS AND FUGITIVES has Kara in a difficult position torn between her newly adopted planet and her own people, including her family. Sterling Gates and Greg Rucka really put the girl of Steel through the paces as she has to go back to Earth to grab a fugitive wanted for killing her Father.

Another New Krypton book is SUPERMAN: PATRIOT. A conspiracy from Earth has someone attempting to kill General Zod on New Krypton. Superman and Supergirl are on his trail but there is something not right going on deep within the government. Tense and written like a great thriller this is fun reading and also a nice social commentary that says some important things with out Preaching.  Again featuring the New Krypton trio of Sterling Gates, James Robinson and Greg Rucka.

The last of the New Krypton books is NIGHTWING AND FLAMEBIRD. These two characters have been around a long time and are fabled heroes of Krypton. The latest incarnation is two members of New Krypton working on Earth. This puts them at odds not only with their own people but also the people of Earth, who they are actually trying to protect.  Greg Rucka takes these characters and adds a depth to them we’ve not seen before and really does a wonderful job of explaining exactly how the powers work and where they come from.

In SUPERBOY THE BOY OF STEELwe see the superman/Luthor clone Conner Kent back from the dead and trying to find his place in the world. Worried he may be too much like Luthor and not enough Superman he heads back to Smallville to find himself.  I love this book and it did a lot to make me enjoy a character I always thought was missing heart. Geoff Johns does a terrific job of taking a character who really never fit and make him something unique. I also love the art by Francis Manapul.  Though I will say there is something about Wondergirls’s outfit that simply can’t work in reality due to the design. Still, great art.

The first collection of the run on POWER GIRL is A NEW BEGINNING by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with Amanda Conner on art. That trio of names should be enough to get any fans of comics excited.  It’s a fun story re-establishing Power Girl as her own character and the art is FABULOUS. The Ultra-Humanite is back and he may destroy all of New York, big story great book.

Rounding out the Superman section are two books also staring Batman. Superman/Batman Finest Worlds and WORLD’S FINEST.   WORLD’S FINEST teams up members of both the Superman family and the Batman families and is loads of fun as they go up against the Toyman and Mr. Freeze. It is very obvious Sterling Gates had a lot of fun writing this.

FINEST WORLDS sees a transfer of powers between Batman and Superman. Just what would Batman do if he didn’t have to sleep and had unlimited power? This shows that it may not be what you think.

Moving on to Batman lets start with a collection of classic tales, DC’S GREATEST IMAGINARY STORIES featuring Batman and Robin. Most of these are from the 60’s and presents as tales made up by Alfred. They have batman retired and married to Batwoman Kathy Kane. Robin (Dick Grayson) takes over as Batman II and Bruce and Kathy’s son become the new Robin. Silly, and fun. The last stroy is from Batman #300 and is written by David Vern Reed. I’ve never seen the name before and after reading this last story hope to never see it again. It is another future tale of the Dark Knight and it is disjointed and confusing and just bad. Art by Walter Simonson with Inks by Dick Giordiano couldn’t save this turkey. So look at the last story, but don’t bother reading.

RED ROBIN: THE GRAILfollows Tim Drake after the death of Batman. You see, Tim doesn’t beleive Bruce Wayne is dead. His theory works on the belief the New Genesis tech isn’t understood and Bruce may have been shot back in time.  Tim is on his own and at odds with just about everyone. Chris Yost does a really nice job on this and refreshes a character who was getting a bit stuck in a rut.

BATMAN AND ROBIN: BATMAN REBORN is another must have book. Almost everyone alive knows the names Batman and Robin, but for the first time it’s not Bruce Wayne. It’s actually a variation on the imaginary tales told by Alfred. Dick Grayson has stepped up and taken the cowl and made it his own. Too bad for him that Robin, who is Bruce’s son, is a pain in the ass. A kid who knows it all and doesn’t feel he needs to be taught anything. The dynamic between Dick and Damion is wonderful and Grant Morrison does such a bang up job with these two it feels like two brothers fighting. Frank Quietly on art is an added bonus and every page is suitable for framing. I love this book.

I have not read a book by Gail Simone that I didn’t love. It may happen some day, but I doubt it. She is particularly wonderful when writing characters she loves and if you have read any Secret Six you’ll see she does love these misfit villains. SECRET SIX: DEPTHS is another great story with these bad guys who are the perfect examples of anti heroes. Guarding an island being turned into a prison these bad guys can’t sit by and let evil go unchecked. great action, wonderful use if characters that have all been given new life by one of today’s best writers.

Unless you have been living in a cave you know there is a movie of Jonah Hex in theaters now. Like any smart publisher DC is releasing a number of books to coincide with that. The first is JONAH HEX: WELCOME TO PARADISE, a collection of older tales from Weird Western Tales and Jonah Hex’s own magazine. These are great tales for people unfamiliar with the character or a nice reprint for folks who are already fans.

Also out now is an original graphic novel called NO WAY BACK. This story by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti tells the where and who of Jonah Hex and his past. A great story with perfect western noir anti hero story telling.

JONAH HEX SIX GUN WAR is a western team up from Gray, Palmioti and Cristan Cucino. Quentin Turnbull has waited long enough and finally hires a team of killing experts to track down Hex and kill him once and for all. And while a loner at heart, Jonah manages to call in some friends and brings the fight to them. Not necessarily traditional western dialogue, this is a great western story, a bit more Deadwood than Tombstone.

I an a huge fan of Neil Young. I saw the tour of his album Greendale and saw the movie. in NEIL YOUNG’S GREENDALE Joshua Dysart and Cliff Chiang add another dimension to the tale with Neil overseeing the story. It’s a tale of why people protest, wand why we should. In a not preachy way we are told to stop ruining the planet, and stop killing each other. This is an amazing book and even for people who don’t like comics a must read.

Jason Aaron on SCALPED THE GNAWING is showing a flair for noir and hard boiled story telling that most novelists would envy. This series gets better and better and in this 6th collection some things finally come to a head. Violent, sad and almost too real this is a book that leaves an echo in my brain for days after reading it. powerful stuff from a man that in another time and place would most likely be an outlaw.

Grant Morrison has a fondness for some heroes at DC that others seem to forget. In SEVEN SOLDIERS OF VICTORY he gets to pay with some obscure characters and really do interesting things. This is the first hard cover re-release of the trade collections. It is great story telling and looks beautiful. If you didn’t read it when it first came out you really need to get t now.

I said it before and will say it now again. 2010 is the year of Peter Milligan.  The latest book with his name is SHADE THE CHANGING MAN: SCREAM TIME. Reprinting Shade issues 14-19 from the early nineties this is still one of the best book Vertigo ever did. Crazy, psychedelic, thought provoking and just weird and a really great way this is character driven madness that dares you to take a look in the mirror and at the world around you.

Geoff Johns is probably the only person I can think of that could pull off bringing back Barry Allan as the Flash and not make it seem like a gimmick. THE FLASH REBIRTH is a perfect tale for this new age at DC Comics, Barry has been a big part of all the other really big changes and this seems very appropriate. It is also very fitting that Johns writes it, as Johns and his enthusiasm for what he does is really bringing about a new golden age at DC. Will Barry be the only Flash, will his return only be temporary? How Barry deals with all that’s changed in his world in the last twenty some years is as much a part of this tale as the reason he’s back and his fight to stay back.That buzz I used to get every summer as a kid is back, and books like this are whats doing it for me.

I’ll have more summer reading recommendations soon.