Review: Titans: The Lazarus Contract (Rebirth) hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

After two so-so editions of the Rebirth Titans and a so-so edition the Rebirth Teen Titans, but three fantastic volumes of the Rebirth Deathstroke, I was optimistic for a good turnout in the crossover Titans: The Lazarus Contract. Unfortunately, the result is underwhelming, a story without much in terms of content, a truly anticlimactic ending, and which largely ducks the very questions about Titans history that it was ostensibly meant to answer. I give the gathered writers points for a story that does finish with consequences for all three of the teams, but hardly does this crossover live up to the greater story that its title alludes to.
Collected Editions 2017 Comic Book Gift Guide

Review: Deathstroke Vol. 3: Twilight (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Christopher Priest's Rebirth Deathstroke Vol. 3: Twilight is insane. Priest spins an entertaining, dysfunctional family saga, surely the most complex and mature title of DC Comics's inaugural Rebirth line. I'm not sure to what extent this book still tracks as "Deathstroke" any more, but there is so much fantastic mayhem here it hardly matters. Whatever brought Christopher Priest out of retirement, DC Comics needs to hold on to him tight; I hope we see Priest on Deathstroke for a very long time.

[Review contains spoilers]

Only a scant couple issues ago did Jericho Joey Wilson team up with Superman to send his father, Deathstroke Slade Wilson, to prison; now with no animosity Deathstroke is phoning Jericho for a mid-battle assist and later attending his wedding -- a wedding to a double-agent that Slade is also sleeping with. Joey dismisses much of this back-and-forth as "between my mom and pop" (he wrongly believes his fiancee is working for his government spy mother) with only the barest hint of concern.

Review: Green Lantern Vol. 7: Renegade hardcover/paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Given the the unenviable task of following Geoff Johns's historic run on Green Lantern, Robert Venditti has penned an interesting, exciting take on the franchise, faithful to what came before but tonally different. (In this, Venditti is Johns to Johns's Mark Waid on Flash.) The design for the Green Lantern Vol. 7: Renegade DC You's Hal Jordan is terrible -- all the more so because of the great Billy Tan sketches in the back of this book for what could have been -- but in this unusual chapter of Venditti's Green Lantern saga, he's got another winner. Whether by plan or by fiat, Venditti delivers a quieter Green Lantern story here than he's been able to do so far, with an unusual cast of characters that offer something distinct from what we're used to.

Review: Deathstroke Vol. 2: The Gospel of Slade (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Christopher Priest's Rebirth Deathstroke Vol. 2: The Gospel of Slade builds well on the volume that preceded it. With this book, Priest further demonstrates his intention to tell this story in his own way and at its own pace; Gospel actually includes the final chapter of the "Professional" story from the previous book plus the two-part "Professional" epilogue and concludes with a one-off issue set outside the book's main timeline. This makes "Professional," with prologue and epilogue, a nine-part story that bobbed and weaved rather significantly, bucking the six-issue "trade and done" trend — and in all of that, Priest has only moved Deathstroke's present action by inches.

All of this conveys a literary sensibility and a willingness to "go weird" as the title calls for it, a hallmark of some of the best series, and I'm certainly interested in what Priest is going to do as Deathstroke ramps up for its first crossover.

Review: Teen Titans Vol. 1: Damian Knows Best (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Teen Titans, which should be one of DC Comics's flagship titles, has had a rough time of it lately, surely since the beginning of the New 52 but really probably for more than a decade. Benjamin Percy's Rebirth Teen Titans Vol. 1: Damian Knows Best marks a slight uptick, if at least because these Titans are no longer rebels or misfits, but rather teen-ish heroes in their own right who decide to fight crime together. But Percy's got nothing new or groundbreaking here, and rather there's a fairly boilerplate conflict that could have fit into another volume of Robin, Son of Batman rather than here -- nor does the book's art hold up to its original promise. Percy gets points for an aspirational take on the Titans, but he'll have to do more to hold my interest.

Review: Deathstroke Vol. 1: The Professional (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, February 04, 2018

After four volumes of the DC You-era Deathstroke title I felt some Deathstroke fatigue, and I wasn't sure if even Christopher Priest's lauded Rebirth Deathstroke series was going to be enough to solve that. It was, fortunately, a sure sign of which is that even though I found Deathstroke Vol. 1: The Professional far from flawless, clearly enough thought has gone into it that I'm enthused to keep reading more. Certainly Priest's down-to-earth Deathstroke plot is a big improvement over the meandering "fight of the month" we've been living with for almost the entirety of the last go-round.

Trade Perspectives: Reactions to Forbes on Brian Michael Bendis, Superman news

Thursday, February 01, 2018

On Thursday Mark Hughes released on Forbes a surprisingly in-depth and far-ranging interview with new DC Comics-exclusive writer Brian Michael Bendis. (At what point business magazine Forbes began covering comics-writer shakeups I'm not sure, but I guess when comics goes mainstream, comics goes mainstream.)

Kudos to Hughes for an interview with as many twists and turns as any good superhero epic; probably my mouth hasn't hung open as much reading about DC's upcoming plans since their live Rebirth roll-out. As I noted on Twitter, there's a lot to unpack here, and indeed I'd like to do just that in a "quick hits" (or "not-so-quick-hits") format -- snag some quotes from the Hughes interview and offer my reactions as a starting point for further conversation. Again, you can read the full interview over at Forbes.

"Award-winning fan-favorite writer Brian Michael Bendis ... will be taking over writing duties on DC Comics' monthly Superman and Action Comics titles."

That's a bomb dropped right in the first sentence, because of course this means the exit of Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, and Patrick Gleason (except Gleason is staying with Bendis on Action). I'm not totally bummed about this because I have not been thrilled by Action's direction since "Oz Effect," and while I haven't been keeping as close an eye on Superman, my sense is Tomasi and Gleason have been keeping it light in deference to the big events in Action. So it's not as though either team is killing it, though I am eager to see where Tomasi and Gleason go, being a powerhouse duo in their own right.

Review: Teen Titans Vol. 3: The Sum of Its Parts trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I had high hopes for a turnaround for the third volume of DC Comics's second New 52/DC You Teen Titans book, especially with Scott Lobdell joining writer Will Pfeifer and then Greg Pak taking over the title. Unfortunately, Teen Titans Vol. 3: The Sum of Its Parts doesn't mark an improvement for the title, or if it does, it comes too little, too late in this title for the turnaround to have an effect.

It's almost laughable at this point, but Sum of Its Parts includes yet another "Who is Wonder Girl" story -- laughable because that title's gone beyond mere tradition to full-on necessity, the way continuity wipes away each successive Teen Titans' Wonder Girl (and Rebirth is no exception). That's Pak's story, for which again I had high hopes -- he's knocked it out of the park on Action Comics -- and it's not terrible but not great; I don't think Pak is helped there by artist Ian Churchill. But here at the almost-end of the New 52, when indeed Wonder Girl Cassie Sandsmark is about to take a continuity wallop, Sum does serve to fully-realize a story thread from Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman series, for what that's worth. Better, at least, that it's tied up than that it's not.

Review: Aquaman Vol. 4: Underworld (Rebirth) trade paperback (DC Comics)

Sunday, January 28, 2018

It was just before writer Dan Abnett joined the Aquaman franchise that DC Comics last ran an "Aquaman in exile" story, murky and ill-received, so it's a curious moment when Abnett returns to that well with Aquaman Vol. 4: Underworld. The Aquaman of the current era didn't lose much cache in that earlier volume misstep, but in some respects we're at a point where Abnett has built up enough goodwill over his own pre- and post-Rebirth volumes that he can upend the status quo without the same pushback. Certainly the painterly, fantasy-inspired pencils, inks, and colors of artist Stjepan Sejic don't hurt.

But also, inasmuch as this seems like a new direction, it becomes increasingly clear that Aquaman Arthur Curry, Atlantean freedom fighter, is a natural outcropping of the story Abnett has been telling all along. This does suggest, for one, a feint in the story Abnett seemed to be telling to start with; for two, there now seems a different point Abnett's trying to get to in terms of "status quo," and I'm all the more eager now to see what that endpoint is and what kinds of stories Abnett tells from there.

Review: Deathstroke Vol. 2: God Killer trade paperback (DC Comics)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The DC You Deathstroke Vol. 2: God Killer sees Tony Daniel's Deathstroke (now co-written with James Bonny) set against the backdrop of Brian Azzarello's New 52 Wonder Woman. At this point in Wonder Woman, Azzarello's run was now on its way to being dismantled; Daniel also overlays elements of he and Charles Soule's Superman/Wonder Woman, also at a time when a new creative team was on that book. So God Killer marks the curious intersection of a variety of things, but unfortunately that doesn't make for a workable Deathstroke tale. The story within is predictable and generic, taking every shortcut to pad this out into a trade-sized arc. With two more volumes to go, I'm hopeful Daniel lets go of this tendency to stick Deathstroke into superheroic situations and gets down to the the kind of espionage setting where this character works best.