081 Deadman: Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love

This is probably my favorite book in quite a while.  I was really iffy on it, but no longer.  This is fantastic.  It takes a lot of things that I love and throws them all together.  Deadman.  Check.  Ghost stories.  Check.  Romance comics.  Check.

Now I'm not sure what DC was thinking with this book.  It was announced as a three issue, bimonthly mini-series.  Bi-monthly automatically tells me they had no faith in the book.  When I read the book, I realized that each of the three issues were actually two issues combined into one book.  I'm scratching my head over why DC took this strategy with this book. 

Although Deadman is the titular character in this book, he's not the lead character.  He's more of a supporting character than anything.  The story centers on Berenice, a young woman who is living in this old mansion with her boyfriend as he's trying to write a novel.  Berenice is also psychically gifted.  The story is about a ghost that haunts the mansion and Deadman, who was drawn to the mansion but now can't escape.  It's a fascinating tale and I couldn't get enough of it.  I can't recommend this book highly enough.

Oh, and we get the real version of Deadman back, not that awful New 52 rendition.

Deadman: Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love
Writer: Sarah Vaughn
Artist: Lan Medina, Phil Hester
DC Comics

080 Red Hood And The Outlaws Vol 1: Dark Trinity

I'd like to start this post by publicly stating that I think all the work Scott Lobdell has done for DC since the New 52 started has been shit.  Awful.  Terrible.  But DC seems to love him.  He's constantly working.  I'd also like to state for the record that I had no intention of reading this book.  Mostly for the above stated reason.  But I was told to actually give this one a chance.  So I did.  I went in open minded.  And I will admit, I really liked this book.  I have tried reading Red Hood in the past and it was garbage, so I don't know if the bar was set really low or if this was actually really good.

The story starts with Red Hood out on his own.  He's about to try to infiltrate the Black Mask's criminal empire in an attempt to bring him down.  Along the way, his path crosses with Artemis (possibly her first post New 52 appearance?) as they are both hunting down things that bring them together.  And then the two of them come across Bizarro.  It all feels fairly organic in nature and makes sense.  They bring the Black Mask down and decide to stick together for the time being.  They make an oddball team, but it seems to work for them.

Red Hood And The Outlaws Vol 1: Dark Trinity
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Artist: Dexter Soy
DC Comics

079 All-Star Batman Vol 1: My Own Worst Enemy

This book was great.  In spite of John Romita Jr's art. (I'm really not a fan.  I don't hate his art, but I don't really like it either.)  It was non-stop action from cover to cover.

I'm guessing this is the Rebirth interpretation of Two-Face.  I don't really remember his being exactly like this previously (so if he was, my bad.)  He's more Jekyll & Hyde than ever before.  Harvey and Two-Face being two distinct people sharing the same body.  One emerges as the other one subsides.

The backstory is new, as far as I can tell.  Bruce Wayne and Harvey Dent were childhood acquaintances and have a deeper history now than ever before.  

The story itself is nuts.  Two-Face has offered the fortunes of the top three crime bosses in Gotham to anyone who could take Batman down.  This all happens as Batman is taking Two-Face on a road trip of sorts in order to put an end to the Two-Face side of Harvey for once and for good.  And it's a great excuse to fit as many A, B, C and D-List villains into the story.  It's brutal, but it's fucking great.  I had a hard time putting this book down.  I love Scott Snyder's Batman.  

All-Star Batman Vol 1: My Own Worst Enemy
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: John Romita, Jr., Danny Miki, Tom Palmer, Sandra Hope, Richard Friend
DC Comics

078 Aquaman Vol 2: Black Manta Rising

I have been kind of lax with my reading lately.  There's been too much tv to catch up on and that's left not a lot of extra time for comics.  But the season just ended on most of my shows, so I hope to get some of my backlog of comics read over the summer.

This is Dan Abnett's third Aquaman collection.  He started the book just before Rebirth and this is his latest.  I've enjoyed all three volumes he's written, but something seemed just a little off to me.  I don't know what it was, but after finishing this book, I don't think that way any longer.  Maybe he was just adjusting to writing the character?  I don't know.  

This picks up where the last book left off.  Black Manta took over N.E.M.O., a covert secret society hellbent on domination, and went after his arch nemesis by pitting the world against Atlantis, leaving Aquaman in the crosshairs.  Abnett has really built up and fleshed out Atlantis more and I really appreciate it.  I hope his version of Atlantis stays as is.  Seems every writer has a separate idea of what Atlantis should be, but this one I like.

There is some silliness (not in a good way) in this story, too.  The Aqua-Marines.  Bio-engineered soldiers who transform into different human/sealife hybrids.  Really fucking cheesy and cliched.  But I'm willing to give them a pass.

Aquaman Vol 2: Black Manta Rising
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Scot Eaton, Brad Walker, Philippe Briones, Wayne Faucher, Andrew Hennessy, Daniel Henriques
DC Comics


077 Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey Vol 1: Who Is Oracle?

I loved this book.  Cover to cover.  I loved the story.  I loved the art.  I loved everything about it.  Rebirth Birds of Prey is so much better than New 52 Birds of Prey, I can't even tell you.  And I'm not quite sure, but reading this makes me think that New 52 Birds of Prey has been retconned out of existence.  It builds more on pre-Flashpoint BoP than anything else.  But it's not pre-Flashpoint.

Anyway, Batgirl and Black Canary are together again and they're trying to track down and figure out who usurped Batgirl's old Oracle identity.  It also brings into the mix The Huntress, fresh from her run in Grayson.  And not only is BoP building on the foundation laid down by the pre-Flashpoint BoP, the Huntress has her roots in the origin of the pre-Flashpoint Huntress.  It's a fun story to read, it's great watching the dynamic between all three main characters, and it's fucking awesome watching them burn up the streets on their motorcycles.  

I really, really, really, really can't recommend this book enough.  

Oh, and I forgot to mention this in my Justice League post, but Yannick Paquette has turned in some of the best covers of his career with this book.  He did the variant covers for JL, but the main covers for this book.  They're all amazingly beautiful, at least to me.

Batgirl And The Birds Of Prey Vol 1: Who Is Oracle?
Writer: Julie Benson, Shawna Benson
Artist: Claire Roe, Roge Antonio, Yannick Paquette
DC Comics

076 Green Arrow Vol 2: Island Of Scars

The first volume of this series ended on a cliffhanger.  And it pissed me off because I didn't want to wait to see how it was resolved.  Luckily the book is on a twice-monthly schedule, so the wait wasn't that long.  

Team Arrow was left scattered and possibly dead at the end of the first storyline.  This volume shows us what happened to everyone.  It's split into two distinct stories.  The first one involves Arrow's sister Emi.  I was less interested in this story (told in present day and flashback, just like the tv show) than what happened with Oliver, Diggle and Dinah.  But Emi's story wraps up the storyline with her mother nicely and frees her to get back into the main storyline.

With the rest of the team, they find themselves stranded on a deserted island (a recurring theme for this character!) which turns out to be not so deserted.  Diggle gets captured by robot bears (really!  and it's not as ridiculous as I'm making it sound), Dinah finds Ollie and they both find and rescue Diggle.  Which then puts them right into another adventure aboard a high speed train zooming under the ocean.  You know I'm awful at writing when I put those words down but tell you to trust me, this is good stuff.

Green Arrow is one of DC's most improved books, hands down.  It made it's way back into a good place pre-Flashpoint.  New 52 Green Arrow practically destroyed the character. If it wasn't for the success of the Arrow tv show, the book would have been immediately cancelled and who knows if we'd ever see Green Arrow again.  But because the book was so bad and the tv show was so good, DC brought in Jeff Lemire to fix things before passing the book on.  Benjamin Percy is my new hero for what he's doing with this character.  Green Arrow is fast on track for shaking off the stink of the New 52 and getting back to the character we all know and love.

Green Arrow Vol 2: Island Of Scars
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Stephen Byrne, Otto Schmidt, Juan Ferreyra
DC Comics

075 The Lone Ranger / Green Hornet: Champions Of Justice

I really didn't know what to expect from this.  I recently finished the first giant arc of The Lone Ranger's book and was looking for some more.  I haven't read very much Green Hornet at all, so my knowledge of the character is limited.  I figured this would be some sort of time travel story since Lone Ranger was from the old west and Green Hornet is a modern hero.  It's not.  And this is where my ignorance comes into play.  I'm not sure exactly when the Green Hornet stories take place, but I thought they were more modern.  This book takes place in the 1930's.  The Lone Ranger is old.  The Green Hornet is young.  So their timelines overlap.

And more ignorance here.  Both characters have the same last name and are related.  I don't know if that was a happy coincidence or if it's canon.  Whatever it is, it works.  

Michael Uslan gives us a well thought out story.  He uses a lot of historical realities in writing this story while tying in a lot of the Lone Ranger's history.  I was finished reading this way before I was ready to let it go.  I have to give this book a big thumbs up.

The Lone Ranger / Green Hornet: Champions Of Justice
Writer: Michael Uslan
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Dynamite Comics

074 Mockingbird Vol 2: My Feminist Agenda

This book was HIGHLY disappointing, but not for the reason you might be thinking.  I was disappointed because it was cancelled before it could properly fill up a trade paperback.  To pad it out, the back of the book features a couple issues of the Avengers that featured Mockingbird.  What's funny is that one of the issues barely features her, but it key to her updated status quo.

Anyway, Mockingbird was probably one of my favorite recent Marvel books.  It took a character who has never been given proper love by Marvel and finally gave her a direction and a purpose.  I could read this book until the end of time.

The final story of this series is a three parter that is loosely tied into the big Civil War thingie.  But only peripherally, which makes me happy.  Yes, Mockingbird is a part of the MarvelU, but we're not forced to read her in an adventure that's centered right in the middle of a giant fight scene.

This book is funny as shit.  I didn't realize until I was reading the afterword, but Chelsea Cain isn't a comics writer.  This was her stab at it.  And knowing that, I want her to stab away more.  She's got a fresh voice that I love.  More!!! More!!!

Mockingbird Vol 2: My Feminist Agenda
Writer: Chelsea Cain, Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons, Mike Deodato, Howard Chaykin
Marvel Comics

073 Last Days Of the Justice Society Of America

I love collections like this.  There wasn't enough of the main story to fill a trade paperback, so it's more of a themed collection than one story.  Which is fine by me.  I've read all of these stories in the past and I was excited to read them again.

My memories of the main story weren't very good.  I remember not feeling satisfied with the story when it was first published.  It was published as a Special after Crisis On Infinite Earths finished.  DC wanted to take the JSA off the page and Roy Thomas was tasked with that job.  He was the perfect choice since he wrote most every JSA (and related) story during the 80s.  Rereading this story didn't bring me any new insights.  It just made me sad all over again.  I always felt that this story just didn't do the JSA justice.  All these amazing characters were sentenced to a hellish limbo to live out their days (at least until someone decided it was okay to bring them back.)  It just wasn't my favorite story then, it still isn't my favorite story now.

To round out this collection, we get a ton of origin stories from Secret Origins.  These were fun to read.  Roy Thomas' love of these characters and their histories showed in each one.

Overall, it's a good book if you're looking for some done in one JSA stories.

Last Days Of The Justice Society Of America
Writer: Roy Thomas, Dann Thomas
Artist: David Ross, Mike Gustovich, Michael Bair, Steve Montano, Tom Grindberg, George Tuska, Jerry Acerno, Luke McDonnell, Tony DeZuniga, Mike Clark, Dave Hunt, Michael T. Gilbert, George Freeman, Bob Downs
DC Comics

072 Justice League Vol 2: Outbreak

Even without Bryan Hitch drawing this book, it still has this great, cinematic feel to it.  He continues to write this book like it's a big, widescreen movie.  I love the whole feel of it.  This volume, although still very cinematic, has a lot of smaller moments.

This book collects two stories, which makes me happy.  I like that we still get occasional two-part stories.  There's a two-parter and a four-parter.  Not everything needs to be six issues.  The first story focuses heavily on Jessica Cruz, Earth's newest Green Lantern.  The League battles and defeats an alien invader, or so they think.  The creature managed to infect the League with fear.  They defeat the creature, but at the end, Jessica doesn't think the League is the place for her and leaves.

The second story is kind of silly to me.  The League gets hacked.  Hardcore hacked.  By a hacker that makes Oracle look like an amateur.  I know this is just a comic book, but this story was even a little too far fetched for me when we find out who the hacker turned out to be.  Read it and tell me if you agree.

Justice League Vol 2: Outbreak
Writer: Bryan Hitch
Artist: Neil Edwards, Jesus Merino, Matthew Clark, Tom Derenick, Daniel Henriques, Andy Owens, Sean Parsons, Trevor Scott
DC Comics

071 Batman Vol 2: I Am Suicide

 I liked the first volume of this Batman run.  I really liked this volume.  A lot.  Tom King is extremely reliable.  This book picks up on threads left from the issues before.  Batman collects a handful of his villains and mounts his own Suicide Squad mission to retrieve the Psycho Pirate from Bane.  It's a fun romp, if you can call any modern Batman story a fun romp.  It's an interesting collection of rogues, many who haven't been seen (at least in anything I've read) in a really long time.

The only thing that I'm unsure of is the whole part of this book involving Catwoman.  I haven't read any Catwoman stuff since the New 52 started.  I don't know if this Catwoman's backstory is the same as the New 52 backstory or if this is all reinvented for Rebirth.  Either way, I really don't care for a lot of it.  I wish they'd steer her back to her conflicted anti-hero status of the days of old.  It kind of seems like that's where they're heading, but it might be a while before she's back.

Batman Vol 2: I Am Suicide
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin, Mitch Gerads, Hugo Petrus
DC Comics

070 Black Widow Vol 2: No More Secrets

This book is beautifully drawn and well written.  It picks up after the first volume ends and barrels through to a satisfying conclusion.  It kills me that still, after as many years as he's been writing comics, Mark Waid can still produce.  And it's not just one book a month he writes.  It always seems like he's got a dozen titles going at the same time.

As I've said before, I don't pay attention to a lot that goes on in the Marvel Universe.  They've actively pushed me away from their books over the last few years.  So imagine my surprise to see what they've turned Nick Fury into.  I don't know how, I don't know why.  I don't know what the fuck he's supposed to be, but there his is.  Can anyone explain?  I don't care enough to actively seek out what they've done to him.

I think the series was cancelled after this volume.  Because that's what Marvel does.  Which drives me bonkers.  I like old school numbering.  I hate this launch a series, run it for 12 issues, cancel it, repeat.  But that's just me.

I need to search out whatever Chris Sammee is drawing next because his work here is stellar.

Black Widow Vol 2: No More Secrets
Writer: Mark Waid, Chris Sammee
Artist: Chris Sammee
Marvel Comics

069 Green Lantern: Hal Jordan

Green Lantern: Hal Jordan collects both Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn mini-series.  So I'm not quite sure why the title isn't Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn, but whatever.  Emerald Dawn and Emerald Dawn II were mini-series that came out in between Green Lantern having a regular series.  Maybe this was the Green Lantern: Rebirth of the time.  

In a nutshell, these mini-series retell the origin of Hal Jordan.  And take a bunch of liberties.  Most of the liberties I don't believe are canon any longer.  Hal was responsible for the death of one of his friends and ended up going to prison for it.  I really don't recall that being part of his history any longer.  The first series deals with him becoming Green Lantern, the second series is his first encounter with Sinestro.  Honestly, both series aren't all that great, nor are they all that memorable.  It was an attempt by DC to bring Green Lantern back to the forefront.  It did result in him getting his own book again, but that series ultimately led to his death.  A volume collecting the first year or so of that series was solicited by DC, but cancelled shortly thereafter because the writer, Gerard Jones, was arrested on child pornography charges.  The timing was unfortunate.  I'm sure the book will be re-solicited somewhere down the road, but for now, this volume will be all of that era of Green Lantern in print.

Green Lantern: Hal Jordan
Writer: Gerard Jones, Keith Giffen, Jim Owsley
Artist: M.D. Bright, Keith Giffen, Romeo Tanghal
DC Comics

068 Blue Beetle Vol 1: The More Things Change

I have to admit that I don't know too much about this version of the Blue Beetle.  I do know that DC likes him a lot.  They keep giving him chances, but his series don't seem to last.  This is at least his third series, if my memory is correct.

Since I haven't been a BB reader, I don't know how Rebirth has affected him and his history.  I do know that Ted Kord is a part of the supporting cast, so that's new, at least since the New 52.

This was a decent enough read, but I was kind of lost.  I just don't know who any of these people are.  I do like the dynamic between Jaime and Ted.  I love the art by Scott Kolins.  But storywise, it felt no different than just about anything else Keith Giffen has written in the last ten years.  Not fantastic, not awful.  Just Giffen.

Blue Beetle Vol 1: The More Things Change
Writer: Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins
Artist: Scott Kolins
DC Comics