This is a book I loved back in the day. It wasn't my favorite, but I really did love this book. I'm a sucker for team books. This came out during the height of the popularity of The New Teen Titans, my favorite book of the 80s. It used the formula that Titans used when it came out. Take a handful of established characters, sprinkle in a couple new ones and voila, super-team.
The team formed by sheer luck. Batman had just quit the JLA because the team vowed to stay out of Markovia during civil unrest. Batman wasn't having it because Lucius Fox was in Markovia and was kidnapped. So Batman recruited Black Lightning and the two of them went in to rescue Lucius. Along the way, they met up with Metamorpho, Katana, Geo-Force and Halo. Mission accomplished, they returned to America and formed their own superteam.
The writing in this book is just as cliched and subpar as I remembered, but the art by Jim Aparo is stunning. Still to this day I look at it and oooh and ahhh at it. As off as the writing is, it was still a really fun read and it brought me back to my youth in the 80s. And as much as I gushed about the Showcase line of books a few posts ago, reading this in full color and reading this in the Showcase format are two totally different beasts.
That cover, too. That cover is just beautiful to me.
Batman And The Outsiders Vol 1
Writer: Mike Barr
Artist: Jim Aparo, Bill Willingham, Steve Lightle, Pablo Marcos
Confession time. I love the Flash. I've always loved the Flash. Then the New 52 came along and I couldn't read the Flash anymore. It was an awful book. They took away the Flash and replaced him with someone I didn't recognize. Now we're in the midst of Rebirth and I thought I'd give The Flash a look. I was happy with what I read. I honestly wasn't expecting to like this book. Maybe I had the bar set low and this exceeded my expectations because of it? I don't know. He still isn't quite my Barry Allen, but this is the Barry Allen I could have accepted with the New 52. He sounds like Barry. He looks like Barry. He acts like Barry.
I felt like this first trade was kind of mirroring or maybe aping what's going on on the Flash TV show. That show is obsessed with speedsters. Every season, every week it seems like all we have are speedsters. And it gets tiring. This trade is all about speedsters. A new speedster villain. A new speedster sidekick. A whole slew of new speedsters. Speedsters speedsters speedsters. Sure, a lot of them end up dead, but there are still way too many speedsters in this book. But it was a well done story, rushed (no pun intended) in some spots, but a really fun read. The art is beautiful. Carmine Di Giandomenico has something in his style that reminds me of Scott Kolins run on the book. It's beautiful. My only gripe with the art is I still hate all the lines in the costume and I really hate the constant halo of lightning surrounding the Flash. That shit needs to go.
Based on this first volume, I plan on a return visit.
Flash Vol 1: Lightning Strikes Twice
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico, Neil Googe, Felipe Watanabe, Andrew Currie, Oclair Albert
I want to like this book. I like the writer. I like the artist. I like the concept. But it really failed me. Checkmate is a revival/revamp of the 1980s series that was spun out of the Infinite Crisis series. Checkmate has been reestablished and restaffed. There's the white side (with it's King, Queen, Knight, Bishop, etc) and the black side. What should be a great espionage book is actually a slightly dull administrative procedure book. They spend way too much time talking about procedures and votes and all that bullshit and too little time on the action.
Another issue I have with the book is it's incredibly large cast. And not only it's large cast, but the fact that everyone has multiple identities. They have their real names, they have their Checkmate designations and in some cases, they have their superhero names.
By the end of this first trade, I felt like Greg Rucka was finally getting his groove. He wasn't trying to squeeze everyone into each issue and that helped matters. There was a little more action outside of the headquarters and I liked that. But overall, I was bored reading this.
Checkmate By Greg Rucka Vol 1
Writer: Greg Rucka, Nunzio DeFilippis Christina Weir
Artist: Jesus Saiz, Cliff Richards, Steve Scott
I love the Showcase series of DC reprints. It's a fantastic way to read and collect a lot of old books in a very affordable format. Printed on newsprint in black & white, it helps keep the costs down. An average Showcase book is in the neighborhood of 500 pages, so you get a lot of stuff.
The particular volume of Showcase reprints it's namesake series. Showcase. It was an anthology book that tested out different ideas for potential new series. It's interesting reading the initial 21 issues as DC tried to figure out exactly what to do with the book. The first couple issues featured themes of firefighters, kings of the wild and frogmen before it landed it's first success. The Flash. This volume reprints four Flash issues. I've read these stories before, reprinted in various formats over the years. It's still good stuff. There are also issues featuring the Challengers Of The Unknown, a team that I try so desperately to like, but I just don't, Space Ranger, Rip Hunter and one of my all-time favorites, Adam Strange.
I can't say anything bad about the Showcase books. I love them.
Showcase Presents Showcase
I've said before that I do love a good compilation. This is one of those things that sounds so good in my head, but in reality kind of falls short. The problems, for me, are (1) there are so many stories you could pick, but such limited space that something good is going to miss out and (2) there are rarely any done-in-one stories anymore that anything you put in a book like this is going to be one part of a multi part story. So odds are you're going to be lost or not really care what's going on.
It's an interesting choice of stories here. The oldest is from the beginning of George Perez's run and the most recent is from the Azzarello/Chiang run. I'm bummed out that nothing from Phil Jimenez's run on the book made the cut. Or from Allan Heinberg's run. But space limitations and such.
The book does work well giving you a lot of fighting. Wonder Woman battles Ares, Max Lord, Cheetah, Power Girl. You get a nice variety. There's an issue of Geoff Johns' New 52 Justice League in here that really doesn't fit. At all. I wish that was sacrificed in favor of something else.
All in all, it's a good, mindless romp through Wonder Woman's recent history.
Wonder Woman: Her Greatest Battles
Writer: George Perez, John Byrne, Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Geoff Johns, Brian Azzarello
Artist: George Perez, John Byrne, Drew Johnson, Rags Morales, David Lopez, Tom Derenick, Georges Jeanty, Karl Kerschl, Chris Battista, Fernando Dagnino, Jim Lee, Cliff Chiang
I'm a sucker for a good compilation book. Something like this. The first volume of Batman Elseworlds stories. The book clocks in at about 500+ pages. There's a lot of cool stuff in here as well as some mediocre stuff. I love the concept of the Elseworlds stories. Basically, take your characters, put them in any time, any locale, any situation and build a story around them. Some succeed, some fail.
The book starts off with Alan Brennert's Holy Terror. I just recently read this story for the first time in years in the Alan Brennert Batman collection that came out last year. He only wrote a handful of Batman tales, but they were all great. This was no exception. I think I enjoyed it more this time than when I read it a few months ago.
There's a Batman in the old west drawn beautifully by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez.
Robin 3000 was a two issue mini-series that I have no recollection of but enjoyed the hell out of. It felt so much like a 1950s pulp. I kind of wish there was more than just the two issues.
Batman/Dark Joker: The Wild. Nice tale, but probably my least favorite of them all.
Batman/Houdini was a lot of fun.
My favorite story, however, was probably the Frankenstein tale told with Batman characters. It was great. It wasn't just sticking the characters we know into a different setting. The characters were molded to fit the roles they needed to fill. It worked so well.
I've got a second volume sitting in my backlog pile to get to yet. I can't wait.
DC Elseworlds: Batman Vol 1
Writer: Alan Brennert, Elliot S. Maggin, Alan Weiss, Byron Preiss, Steven Ringgenberg, Doug Moench, Howard Chaykin, John Francis Moore, Jack C. Harris, Mike, W. Barr
Artist: Norm Breyfogle, Alan Weiss, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, P. Craig Russell, Kelley Jones, John Beatty, Mark Chiarello, Bo Hampton, Terry Bingham, Howard Chaykin
I used to love Hellblazer back in the day. I read the series when it first came out and stuck with it for a number of years before ultimately dropping the title. There was a time when my choice was between reading everything I wanted to or buying groceries. I was fat. Groceries won. By the time the stories in this volume were originally published, I was no longer reading the book. And that's a shame. Over vacation at the beginning of December I read the previous volume of this, collecting the first half of the Ennis/Dillon run. It was wonderful. This book finishes up their amazing run. To date, it's been my favorite run. Garth Ennis did such an amazing job building up (and ripping apart) the supporting cast. He put John through the fucking ringer and it was so much fun to watch John fall, pick up the pieces and rise again, sticking it to the fucking devil.
DC/Vertigo has done something pretty wonderful with this series. They've gone back and are in the process of "remastering" the run. Most every issue has been collected in trade before, but what they're doing with this run is more of a chronological reprinting of the entire series. Some of the stories presented in the earlier volumes haven't been collected before because they didn't fit the trade paperback format. I think volume 14 is the most recent one out, so I'm a bit behind, but I'm catching up!
I enjoyed this run so much I ordered the first Preacher trade. I need to get to that soon.
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Steve Dillon, William Simpson, Peter Snejbjerg
This is another volume of Mike Grell's 1980's Green Arrow run. I'm kind of amazed. This collection covers up to issue 62 and Mike Grell has been the writer on the book since the beginning. I'm so used to how things go nowadays where you're lucky if you have someone stay on a book for 12 issues. It's really an interesting read. I'm not sure exactly how well this series holds up today, but it's still a good read. From this run of the book, you can absolutely see the building blocks for the tv series Arrow. That show pulls more from here than any other Green Arrow book. Especially the first season.
Green Arrow Vol 7: Homecoming
Writer: Mike Grell
Artist: Rick Hoberg, John Nyberg
Another volume of the great Supergirl series. This book gives us three stories. The first one is about Bizarrogirl, the second features a modern retelling of Supergirl joining the Legion of Super-Heroes (and does a great job of picking the best parts of the original version of this tale) and the third features the Toyman. For some reason I had stopped reading this book monthly by the time this came out originally. I can't remember why I dropped the book, but reading this makes me sad that I did. Still fun, still really interesting, still very well done. I wish DC could put Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle back on the book to see what they can give us with the current version of the character (though, to be honest, I haven't seen what Steve Orlando has done yet. Trade waiting his first arc.)
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Jamal Igle, Jon Sibal
Bernard Chang, Matt Camp, Marco Rudy, John Dell, Marc Deering, Richard Friend, Robin Riggs
I sang the praises of this series a few posts ago. This is the fourth volume of the series (I know I skipped over volume three. I read that a while ago. I loved the first volume so much, I ordered the next two. Volume 2 was out of stock, but I couldn't wait to read the third. But now I'm back on track.) This volume finishes out the first over-arching storyline and it was good. I don't know that I've ever read a book that looks so much like I'd imagine a movie would look like. The art is amazing. The action is great. The story itself it A+. Never rushed. The progression of the plot flows so well. I can't wait to jump into the next volume soon.
The Lone Ranger Vol 4: Resolve
Writer: Brett Matthews
Artist: Sergio Cariello
Art Director: John Cassaday
I think this is my favorite era of Supergirl's solo book ever. After a couple false starts trying to reintroduce Supergirl into the DC Universe after killing her off in Crisis On Infinite Earths, they finally got it right. This version of Supergirl was introduced by Jeph Loeb in the Superman/Batman book and then spun out into this series. The beginning of the series was okay, but nothing to write home about. And then Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle got put on the book and things really took off. It was finally interesting and fun to read. It doesn't hurt that this particular book takes place during the New Krypton era of the Superman books. The whole family of books, imho, was at it's peak. I loved that whole era of Superman.
Supergirl: Friends & Fugitives
Writer: Sterling Gates, Greg Rucka
Artist: Jamal Igle
The good news. It's another light-hearted, fun book. Nothing too serious, lots of fun and adventure. The bad news. Although it's Starfire, it's the New 52 Starfire who is just NOT Starfire. If this book just changed the name of the character, I would be 100% behind it. But it stars this phony character. Sure, I can suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy it and all, so the book isn't all bad. Also, I have almost no working knowledge of the New 52 Starfire before this book. I didn't read that awful looking Red Hood book, so I don't know how much this version differs from that version. I do appreciate the costume redesign. Still very revealing, but somehow this version seems way more modest than the last version.
I appreciate DC trying something different.
Starfire Vol 02: A Matter of Time
Writer: Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino, Elsa Charretier, Mirco Pierfederici, Ray McCarthy, Sean Parsons
This is the third trade I've read reprinting stories from the Legends Of Tomorrow anthology book DC recently published. I was pleasantly surprised by the first two books I read. Metal Men and Firestorm. There was a real focus in both those books to start to undo the damage the New 52 did and to try to find the heart of the characters again. To bring the books back to where they actually worked. Metamorpho is slightly different, but very much the same in those regards. As far as I can tell, this is his first New 52 appearance, so there isn't a whole lot of "fixing" that needs to be done. If he has appeared already, I'm unaware of it. This book is his New 52 (or Rebirth) origin story. What I like about it is Aaron Lopresti has taken the core cast and thought about how they might have been introduced in a modern setting. And it works. Simon Stagg is pretty much Simon Stagg. Sapphire Stagg, his daughter, is anything but a spoiled socialite this time around. She's an accomplished scientist and it doesn't seem to take away much from the character. It adds another layer, if you ask me. The Sapphire of the 60s worked well then, but I can't see making her a Kardashian clone working well. Java has been given an upgrade, too. And again, I think it works well.
While the story itself wasn't my favorite, it does show a lot of potential for the character. DC remains true to Metamorpho, which makes me very happy. I didn't much care for how the book ended, but hopefully that will be addressed in the near future.
Metamorpho: Two Worlds One Destiny
Writer: Aaron Lopresti
Artist: Aaron Lopresti, Matt Banning, Jonathan Glapion, Livesay
Odd, this is the fifth trade I've read this year so far and the fourth one to be Volume 2. I think it's odd.
Anyway, Gail Simone's Secret Six was a book I loved back in the day. You could tell she had the best time writing the book. Full of irredeemable characters, she probably had more liberty to do things with them than she would have on Birds of Prey or Batgirl. I was bummed when the book went away when DC did their ill-conceived New 52. I was thrilled when I heard they were letting her bring the book back. And now, this is where I'm torn on this book.
Gail was forced to re-introduce the characters from the old book she wanted to use, many of them appearing in the New 52 Universe for the very first time. She got to create some new characters for the book, too. And that's a shame, because you can tell she really was held back by the fact that, for all intents and purposes, these were ALL brand new characters with no history. History that the characters had and new history she built on that base.
This trade contains two stories. The first one felt like it ended abruptly for no good reason. The second was much better, not that the first one was bad. Classic Gail storytelling. But with strangers with familiar names. Also, she got to reintroduce Elongated Man into the New 52 universe. Even with her deft skills, I don't like what she did with him. I don't know how much of that was her doing and how much of it was editorial, but I just didn't care for his reintroduction. And near the end, he got his costume back and it instantly reminded me not of any of his previous costumes, but my first thought was Joe Staton's E-Man.
The book is good. The stories are solid. The art is beautiful. I just felt like they were wasted on this shadows of characters.
Secret Six Vol 02: The Gauntlet
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Dale Eaglesham, Tom Derenick
Much like Pasty Walker aka Hellcat from a couple posts ago, this is another book Marvel has given a lighter touch to. I will admit that I was skeptical about this whole Batgirling of Spider-Woman. She didn't seem the type of character that this would work with. To me, at least. I was against the costume redesign. I was really against the having a baby thing. But I still like the character, so I tried it. And you know what? I was mostly wrong about everything. While I'm still not sure I like the baby part of her history now, it is growing on me. And the book's tone is perfect. The costume fits the mood of the book and I like where this is going. Also, this trade crosses over into the widespread Civil War II crossover, but it only really touches the fringes of it, sort of like the Hellcat trade did. I'm loving watching the relationship between Spider-Woman and Captain Marvel grow and change because of what's going on in the Marvel U. Read this book. It's good.
Spider-Woman Vol 02: Shifting Gears - Civil War II
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Rodriguez, Veronica Fish
Last year when I was in Austin, Texas on vacation, I was poking around the Half Price Books store there for something different to read. I picked up the first volume of The Lone Ranger. And I devoured it all in one sitting. I remember watching the Lone Ranger tv show in reruns as a kid, but I don't remember too much about it. I certainly don't remember going deep into his origin, so I don't know how much of this is new and how much of it is canon. But it's fascinating to me and I love this series so much. Dynamite publishes a lot of licensed stuff and every time I pick another one up, I just want to read more and more. Another series I highly recommend.
Lone Ranger Vol 02: Lines Not Crossed
Writer: Brett Matthews
Artist: Sergio Cariello
Art Director: John Cassaday
I'm enjoying the hell (no pun intended) out of this series. I'm long loved Hellcat and felt that she was always getting the short end of the stick. I love that Marvel has taken a handful of books are injected a lot of levity into them without making them too cartoonish. I'm madly in love with some of these books. They aren't heavy, they make me laugh out loud and they've expertly executed. While the tone is lighter, there are some serious moments in the book, like dealing with the fallout with She-Hulk from the latest Civil War mini-series. The art can get just a little too cutesy sometimes, but it still fits the tone of the book perfectly. I highly recommend this book.
Patsy Walker Aka Hellcat 02: Dont Stop Me-Ow
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Brittney Williams
This blog has been sitting here and collecting dust for a while now. I've decided that I want to track what I'm reading this year, and this is as good a place as any to track. So I'm going to do very short blog posts about the books I'm reading during the course of 2017.
The first book I finished was Metal Men: Full Metal Jacket. It collects the stories that originally ran in the Legends Of Tomorrow mini-series. I already read the Firestorm trade and was pleasantly surprised by it, so I thought I would try this. Len Wein has never been my favorite writer, but he was always reliable to turn out entertaining stories. It's been years and years since I've read anything he's written, so I was wary. I shouldn't have been. I really enjoyed this book. Len immediately found the heart of this team, something that's been missing for years. I find the New 52 character designs to be rather distracting. I think the original designs work best. Very simple designs. There's a way to use those, even with an update, and still seem modern. These designs are very 90s looking and kind of awful. By the end of the story, the team does get a redesign, but they go from bad to worse. That's the only thing about this book I hated.
Metal Men: Full Metal Jacket
Writer: Len Wein
Artist: Yildiray Cinar, Trevor Scott