165 Batman: Year Two *The 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition*

Sequels rarely live up to the original.  It's a fact.  Sometimes they excel, but more often than not, they fall short.  Batman: Year Two is a sequel to Batman: Year One.  Different creative team, different approach.  And it's a damn fine story.

I'm not the biggest fan of Mike Barr.  He's a fine writer, but I don't often take him seriously.  He writes fun stuff, but it's mostly fluff to me.  However, it's been years since I've read this, so I tried to go in with fresh eyes.  And he surprised me.  The book isn't the cutesy fluff I'm used to from him.  It's straightforward, decent writing.  And I enjoyed every bit of it.  I guess I didn't realize Alan Davis only drew the first chapter of the story before quitting the book (detailed in the forward).  Todd McFarlane stepped in and finished the book off.  Alan Davis came back for the sequel to this sequel and both men gave us top notch stuff.

This book collects the original Year Two and the follow up story, Full Circle.  Full Circle had a lot of holes in it, but it suspend your disbelief just a little more than normal, it's not a problem.  

I don't know how much of this book is still in continuity.  My memory gets worse with age, but I don't think much of any of it is canon anymore.  It features a lot of Joe Chill and his family.  That's the part that I'm not sure fits in with current (or even later pre-New 52) continuity.  Things like this change from time to time and I wouldn't be surprised to learn this continuity went out the window two decades ago.

This is a really good and satisfying read.  If you haven't read it recently, it's worth picking up.

Batman: Year Two *The 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition*
Writer: Mike W. Barr
Artist: Alan Davis, Todd McFarlane, Paul Neary, Mark Farmer, Alfredo Alcala, Pablo Marcos
DC Comics

164 Green Arrow Vol 8: The Hunt For The Red Dragon

Here's another airplane read from last weekend.  Although it collects ten issues, this book has always been a quick and decent read.  This volume doesn't change that course at all.

It's kind of amazing to me to see this book is up to issue #72 and it's still being written by Mike Grell.  You rarely see anything like that anymore.  I miss seeing people plant themselves on a book for any length of time and continually turn out good stuff.

While in the hotel, the tv was on and Ken decided to watch a horrible Hallmark Channel Christmas movie.  It was while watching that that I realized what Grell's dialog reminds me of.  TV movies.  The way he writes scenes rings true to the kind of chat and conversation I witnessed in that movie.  The movie was awful, but this book isn't.  It continues the quality (for me at least) that Mike Grell started the series with and it's high quality.  I really enjoy reading THIS Oliver Queen.  I know he's a thing of the past now, but this era of his career really appeals to me.

I can't remember how much longer this series goes for before Ollie dies, but I'm going to enjoy every last page of it until then.

Green Arrow Vol 8: The Hunt For The Red Dragon
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Rick Hoberg, Frank Springer, John Nyberg, Pablo Marcos
DC Comics

163 Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition

I love this Deluxe Edition series DC has been doing.  I love that the books are just slightly oversized (because grandpa here doesn't always have to wear his glasses to read them!).  The artwork seems to pop better on the slightly bigger pages.

I haven't read this since it was first published.  I'll admit I remember none of it.  A lot of books I haven't read in years come back to me upon a re-read, but not this.  So, for all intents and purposes, it was brand new to me.  I was torn about how excited I was to read it.  I was excited to reacquaint myself with the back story of Atlantis, but I was dreading it because it was written by Peter David.  I don't care much for his writing style.  Quite frankly, he's obnoxious and he's his biggest fan and it comes out in his writing.

But not here.  Here he shows that he can actually write if he strips away his asshole veneer.  I really enjoyed what I read.  Sure, the book still has some issues, but they're issues I can deal with.  The part that I find the most glaring is how lop sided the book feels.  It's a seven part series.  He spent the first five parts telling the story of Orin and Shalako and their extended, multi generational family.  Then we fast forward for the last two issues into other eras.  It's almost like it was supposed to be a 12 issue series that got cut back after he already had most of the first arc written.

He does a great job explaining things that needed explaining.  We now know why some Atlanteans look like normal humans and why some look like mermen and mermaids.  We know how they survived the sinking of Atlantis.  We know how they learned how to breathe underwater.  And where the telepathy with sealife came from.

All in all, it's a great series.  I highly recommend this book

Aquaman: The Atlantis Chronicles Deluxe Edition
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Esteban Maroco
DC Comics

162 Batman Detective Comics Vol 3: League Of Shadows

I wish they would just call this book what it really is.  Batman Family.  But Detective Comics needs to be around, so that's the title (by default, imho).

I think this is my favorite Batman book right now.  Batman isn't the main star.  There really isn't one.  It's the whole family instead.  This volume showcases Batgirl, er, um, Orphan more than any of the other characters.  It's nice to see more of the Rebirth version of her.  She's not too different from the Batgirl version, but all the history has been washed away and we're still figuring out what is still canon and what is new.

This volume is my favorite of the three so far.   The story feels so big that it couldn't possibly fit in this one book, but it does and it's all quality, no filler.  I don't think James Tynion gets enough recognition for what he does.  He's fantastic in what he writes and he's at the top of his game right now.  He makes me want more.

Batman Detective Comics Vol 3: League Of Shadows
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Marcio Takara, Christian Duce, Fernando Blanco, Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez, Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira
DC Comics

161 The Demon By Jack Kirby

I've gone on record before stating I'm not a Kirby fan.  I did read his Mister Miracle recently and actually enjoyed it.  Mister Miracle is probably my favorite Kirby creation ever.  The Demon has always been another Kirby creation that I've always liked.  I figured that if I enjoyed Mister Miracle as much as I did, the same could be said for the Demon.

I was wrong.  I really didn't like very much of this.  It was just way too Kirby for my tastes.  Maybe it's because, according to the forward, he created the book, planned to do a little bit with it and pass it off to other creators.  DC didn't let that happen, though, so maybe he didn't put the right kind of energy in the book?  I don't know.  I do know that I only ever recall reading the first issue of this before, so this was all new to me.  I see the base he tried to lay down for the series, but he mostly neglected it.  Other writers took the seeds he planted and worked with them the way they needed to be worked.

I still love the Demon.  I think just about everyone who has touched him since Kirby did a great job with him.  I need to look into more post-Kirby Demon.

The Demon By Jack Kirby
Writer: Jack Kirby
Artist: Jack Kirby, Mike Royer
DC Comics

160 Birds Of Prey Vol 3

Last weekend I flew to Dallas for a wedding.  I brought four books on the plane hoping to read two of them.  This is one I brought.  I wasn't sure how much of it I was going to get through considering it's about a dozen issues and I'm not the quickest reader.  Needless to say, I got through ten of the twelve issues reprinted in here before the plane landed.  The other two I read the night after.

I've forgotten how much I loved this era of BoP.  It's still pretty early in the series, but this is the part where the BoP universe really starts expanding.  The previous volumes set up the series and got us used to the characters.  This book we really spread our wings.  Catwoman shows up.  Nightwing shows up (and his book crosses over with this one.)  We learn about Power Girl being a former BoP.  Babs and Ted Kord start up their thing.  Jason Bard reappears on the scene.  Dinah and Babs finally meet face to face.  There is a lot going on besides the main story plots and that's what really makes this a fun book to read.

I just love everything about this book.  It's been sitting on my shelf for longer than it should and for that I apologize to myself.  LOL.

Birds Of Prey Vol 3
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Greg Land, Dick Giordano, Patrick Zircher, Butch Guice, Drew Geraci, Jordi Ensign, Jose Marzan Jr
DC Comics

159 The Hellblazer Vol 2: The Smokeless Fire

I have always loved John Constantine.  The Vertigo series is top notch (though if you read a few posts back, I didn't love ALL of it) and I've been enjoying reading through it again.  A few years back DC decided to end John's Vertigo life and replanted him firmly in the proper DC Universe.  In effect, they took everything awesome about the Hellblazer series and cut it off at the balls.  It's been a few years now and they seem to finally be ready to give John his balls back again, or at least one of them.

This book was kinda, sorta great.  It's still not quite where John should be, but it's the closest we've seen from the proper John Constantine in years.  He sounds like John again, he acts like John again, he's a bastard again.  I like.  My only real quibble with this book is the art.  The art is just not right.  It looks like a lighter, more kid friendly style that doesn't jibe with the happenings in the book.  To me, at least.  The art is lovely, but it just doesn't fit.  I want Simon Oliver to stay with this book for a good long time.  DC finally has found a decent writer for this series.

The Hellblazer Vol 2: The Smokeless Fire
Writer: Simon Oliver
Artist: Davide Fabbri, Philip Tan, Jose Marzan Jr, Karl Kesel
DC Comics


158 The Silver Age Teen Titans Omnibus

This book is pure, unadulterated joy.  Plain and simple.  The original Teen Titans stories.  Nick Cardy artwork.  Everything good in the world all wrapped up in a beautiful package.

The book collects about 900 pages of Teen Titans comics.  The Brave & The Bold appearances, the Showcase books, the first 24 issues, a Brave & Bold Batman team up and the whole run of the first Hawk & Dove book.

It so much fun revisiting these cheesy as hell stories.  The first half (or more) are just so god awful, they're good.  The book was clearly a victim of it's era, but it was also written to appeal to 8 year olds, who I'm sure looked down on these scripts as being too juvenile.  LOL.  About half way through the book, the stories start taking a more serious vibe, written less for 8 year old and more for a general comics audience.  These are the stories I loved the best.  The Bronze Age Omnibus will have more of this type of story in it, which I'm so looking forward to revisiting.  

Teen Titans has been my favorite series ever since the first issue I bought.  It was #44, the revival issue.  I was living in Bethel, CT at the time and that is my strongest memory of the entire time I lived there.  Discovering this book.  I was probably 8 or 9 at the time (wait, I just googled it.  I was 10.)  It left a lasting impression in my head, 41 years later.

The Silver Age Teen Titans Omnibus
Writer: Bob Haney, Steve Skeates, Neal Adams, Steve Ditko, Mike Friedrich, Gil Kane, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman
Artist: Nick Cardy, Gil Kane, Irv Novick, Neal Adams, Steve Ditko, Bruno Premiani, Bill Molno, Lee Elias, Bill Draut, Sal Trapani, Jack Abel, John Celardo, Wally Wood
DC Comics

157 Iron Fist Vol 1: The Trial Of The Seven Masters

Here we go again.  Another volume one.  Jesus, Marvel, stop it already.  How many Iron Fist Volume 1s do you need to publish?

Anyway, Iron Fist is back with a new creative team, a new vision, a new series.  I highly enjoyed this look into the life of Danny Rand.  It's the first time since Ed Brubaker brought the character to A List status that I've felt he's getting an A List creative team.  This story could very easily have been the natural continuation of what Brubaker was doing.  It's a shame it took us this long to right the sail of Iron Fist.  

The story itself is quite simple.  Danny's chi is fading.  He's looking to prove he's still worthy of being Iron Fist.  He ends up on a mysterious island with ties to K'un-Lun and battles the Seven Masters of the Island in a plot that's not exactly what he thinks it is (because what comic story ever is?)  Danny is kick ass and so is this tale.  I'm now anxiously awaiting volume 2.  

Iron Fist Vol 1: The Trial Of The Seven Masters
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Mike Perkins
Marvel Comics

156 Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman

I was really looking forward to this.  This is an epic crossover I could only ever dream about happening.  Two of the strongest genre characters on tv in the 70s meeting each other.  And for the most part, it accomplished what it set out to conquer.  The story makes sense, for the most part.  I could see this as happening on 70s tv (with budget restrictions paring some of it down.)  It was a decent read.  However.....

It wasn't perfect.  While the story was enjoyable, it read no better than competent fan fiction.  You could tell it was written by a fanboy who tried to cram every single character and reference from both shows into the story.  And by doing that, it really did bring it down to fanfic level.  There are too many things going on.  The plot is way too dense.  There are waaaaaaaay too many characters.  Clearly the editor on this book had no power to say PARE THIS MESS DOWN.  Okay, maybe mess is the wrong word, because it was decent enough, but it was not nearly as good as it could have been.

I love this whole series of books DC has been doing by itself and with other publishers.  It's fun fluff to read.  Lord knows we can all use an escape.

Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman
Writer: Andy Mangels
Artist: Judit Tondora
DC Comics/Dynamite

155 Supergirl Vol 2: Escape From The Phantom Zone

While I liked the first volume of this series, I didn't love it.  It felt like there was too far a sharp turn taken from the New 52 Supergirl into the Rebirth Supergirl.  These two characters are very different from each other.  Add to that the editorial edict to make this more similar to the tv series, it just felt like it was too much, too soon.  This volume, however, is much better.  The backstory is in place and we can focus on the story.  I love that Batgirl is in this.  We're establishing the Rebirth relationship between the two and I couldn't be happier.  They gel!!  I like that a lot.

What I don't particularly care for is the Rebirth version of the Phantom Zone.  It's now basically another dimension where there are buildings, electricity, communities, etc.  That's not the Phantom Zone to me.  The Phantom Zone is an ether dimension where everyone is incorporeal and that's that.  This is almost like they are living on their own planet.  It really does not work for me.

But the rest of this really did.  I was worried after the first volume, but I'm less worried now.  We'll see how this goes.

Supergirl Vol 2: Escape From The Phantom Zone
Writer: Steve Orlando, Hope Larson
Artist: Brian Ching, Matias Bergara, Inaki Miranda
DC Comics