Published: October 17th, 2017 Written by: Marv Wolfman Art by: Steve Erwin, Will Blyberg, Art Nichols
DC Comics, 257 Pages
I was really high up on this series after reading the first two volumes. Sadly, this one was a big step down and I’m hoping it was just a minor hiccup, as I continue to read on beyond this one.
I think the big issue with this was that Marv Wolfman felt the need to crossover Deathstroke with the Teen Titans, as the anti-hero has had a deep connection with those characters since he debuted in their comic a decade before this.
However, in this era, the Teen Titans title had gotten really weird and the team was full of a bunch of D-team noobs undeserving of their spots, at least in my opinion.
That being said, this collection of issues was a clusterfuck and that mainly has to do with this just collecting the Deathstroke issues within a larger crossover story. Additionally, this tacks on a completely unrelated story at the end, which was just chapters taken from the Showcase anthology series.
Overall, this just felt like a bunch of random ass shit thrown into one beefy, double-sized trade paperback because they needed to dump it all somewhere.
Hopefully, volume four doesn’t do this and it gets back to kicking proper ass.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: the other volumes in the original Deathstroke: The Terminator series from 1991 to 1996.
Published: 2004-2005 Written by: various Art by: various
DC Comics, 515 Pages
This is one of the giant Batman sagas I hadn’t yet read. So I was pretty stoked to pick it up but ultimately, I was left pretty disappointed, as it’s slow, dry and honestly, not that exciting.
Being that I am a fan of Stephanie Brown a.k.a. Spoiler, I did like her parts in this, as it is a major turning point for her character and because it helped to fill in some of the blanks I had with her character’s development. I really dug the hell out of her time as Batgirl before they took it away from her and gave the identity back to Barbara Gordon.
This collection doesn’t feel much like a large cohesive story. There are plot threads that stretch the duration of the book but it is mostly a few short arcs stuffed into a massive volume to collect the tales of the era.
I guess the main common thread is that this mostly focuses on combating Gotham City’s street level crime but this book sort of just sets the stage for what I assume will be a more action heavy second book.
For the most part, I liked the art but some of the stories felt like a waste of time. But I guess I’ll have to see how things play out in the second and final volume of this “saga” before being too harsh.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other Batman stories of the late ’90s and early ’00s.
Published: August 15th, 2017 Written by: various Art by: various
DC Comics, 318 Pages
I’ve read a bunch of these Batman Arkham collections and I’m glad DC Comics is still putting one out a few times per year. If you remember those old collections like The Greatest Joker Stories Ever Told or The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told, these are similar and are always focused on one character: a Batman villain.
Now I say that these are focused on one villain but this installment is a bit different, as it features Clayface, which there have been multiple versions of over the years and all of them are pretty unique.
What I really loved about this is that it gives us the first appearances of every Clayface in regular Batman canon. Hell, it even gives us the story of the Mud Pack, which was a villain team comprised of multiple Clayfaces.
The Clayface that most people are familiar with is the original, Basil Karlo. He was the one featured in Batman: The Animated Series in the ’90s and has monopolized Clayface’s comic book appearances since.
However, I loved seeing all the different versions here. My favorite story and now my favorite Clayface is the third version a.k.a. Preston Payne. I knew of him but never got to read his debut until now. His look and armored suit were badass and his story was fantastic thanks to the great Len Wein. As much as I like Karlo, I’d love to see Payne make a real comeback.
Overall, this was a pretty cool collection. Most of these are stories I’ve never read but they also gave me better clarity on the bizarre history of the Clayface moniker.
Rating: 8/10 Pairs well with: Other Batman Arkham collections, as well as Clayface-centric stories.
Published: April 5th, 2016 Written by: Scott Lobdell Art by: Denis Medri, Paolo Pantalena
DC Comics, 141 Pages
I was a fan of Scott Lobdell’s work on Red Hood and the Outlaws, so I figured I’d go backwards and read his short-lived Red Hood/Arsenal series that takes place just before the formation of Red Hood’s Outlaws team with Artemis and Bizarro.
Also, with the recent death of Arsenal and Red Hood having to deal with it and process it, I wanted to get more context to their friendship.
This was a good read, a pretty energetic story and it does do a lot to show you how special Red Hood and Arsenal’s relationship is. It also channels back to events that effected them before this story. And maybe I’ll have to go back further and read those too.
However, this wasn’t as good as the Red Hood and the Outlaws stuff that followed. While both are written by Lobdell, the more recent (and still ongoing) series has just a bit more depth to it.
This collection is the first of only two in this series and while this one serves to set things up, upon finishing it, it doesn’t feel like there is much to look forward to, as the series seems to present itself as something with more longevity than just one more arc. And maybe that longevity was intended to be the Outlaws series but I know that I’ll probably want more of Red Hood and Arsenal than just this small sample size. Especially, now knowing what Arsenal’s fate will be down the road.
If you like Red Hood stories though, this is probably worth your time. It’s hard to judge it though, as there is one more volume after it and maybe I should have just read both as one body of work.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with:Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Published: September 12th, 2018 – November 28th, 2018 Written by: James Robinson Art by: Stephen Segovia, Carmine Di Giandomenico
DC Comics, 144 Pages
Collecting Detective Comics issues 988 through 993, Deface the Face is the second to last story arc before the monumental 1000th issue.
The story focuses on Two-Face, one of my all-time favorite villains. It also gives us a pair of Fireflies because having just one wasn’t enough and if they’re working for Two-Face, they need to come in a pair.
This starts with Batman investigating fire related crimes but it doesn’t take long for him to figure out that it’s related to Two-Face. However, this leads to Two-Face working together with Batman to take down Kobra.
Overall, the story is just okay. It’s not boring but it also isn’t exciting. It just feels like filler and we end up building towards the death of Two-Face but they don’t commit to the bit and you find out that he’s still alive almost immediately.
This was just a mundane arc that didn’t do much for me. Even the action was fairly mediocre.
I hate stories like this because there just isn’t much to say about it.
I did enjoy the art but really, I’m just ready for the new creative team that’s coming in to carry Detective Comics into 2019 and the milestone 1000th issue.
Rating: 5.5/10 Pairs well with: other recent Detective Comics and Batman story arcs.
Published: June 20th, 2017 Written by: Tim Seeley Art by: Minkyu Jung, Marcio Takara, Marcus To
DC Comics, 169 Pages
I’ve heard great stuff about Tim Seeley’s run on Nightwing. After reading the first collection, I really wanted to jump into this. And while the first wasn’t great, it left me feeling as if it was building towards something solid. This, however, really took the wind out of the sails of Seeley’s run, in my opinion.
This focuses on Dick Grayson a.k.a. Nightwing going to Blüdhaven for the first time (in this new continuity that I’ll never get used to). He wants to mark out his own path and be a hero without the support system he’s always had. He even takes a social worker job to pay his rent, as he wants no help from Bruce Wayne.
This then introduces us to a whole slew of new characters that Seeley created. Nightwing teams up with some ex-villains who are trying to redeem themselves as heroes. These ex-villains are comprised of characters that Nightwing, back when he was Robin, helped bring to justice. So he feels somewhat responsible for helping their rehabilitation and allowing them to truly have a second chance.
The problem is, all these characters seem really generic and destined to be thrown away fairly quickly.
One thing I really didn’t like about this, which I enjoyed in the first volume, was that Nightwing and Batgirl’s budding relationship is put on hold. Dick falls for the Defacer, one of the ex-villains that debuts here. Having read later in this series, past the Seeley stuff, I know that Dick and Barbara Gordon still aren’t together but it was nice seeing them explore the option. They have a moment here but it’s kind of sad, as I’m not too keen on Seeley’s Defacer character.
Anyway, this just didn’t resonate with me like I hoped it would. It’s not terrible but it also didn’t make me want to pick up the third volume. So, I guess this series is on hold for me now, as I read some other stuff in the meantime.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: the ongoing Nightwing series, as well as Batgirl, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Detective Comics and Titans.
Published: January 31st, 2017 Written by: Tim Seeley Art by: Javier Fernandez
DC Comics, 164 Pages
I’ve been reading Nightwing for about a year now but I was behind on all the Rebirth era stuff because I was tired of DC Comics hitting the reboot button every few years. But I heard pretty good things about this series and started reading them. Now I want to go back and get all the previous stories in the Rebirth era to help give context to the newer chapters.
This collection has two story arcs in it but they’re both very connected, as they deal with the character of Raptor and his relationship with Nightwing a.k.a. Dick Grayson.
Also, this story starts on the heels of Dick leaving the Spyral organization where he was known simply as Agent 37.
This first arc sees Dick become Nightwing once again, as he is pulled into the Parliament of Owls to help protect Damian Wayne, the current Robin and son of Batman. Nightwing is forced to work with Raptor but the two have their own agenda and we see them work towards defeating the Owls. The story also brings in the Kobra organization and deals with their rivalry with the Owls.
I’m not as versed on the Court/Parliament of Owls stuff as I should be but I did enjoy the story and what it meant for all parties involved. However, the real emotional weight and the real story doesn’t happen until the final two issues collected in this volume. This is where Raptor’s intentions become clear and where Dick discovers that the two men have personal ties to one another.
I’ve enjoyed Tim Seeley’s work for quite awhile. I was an avid fan of his Hack/Slash comic series and I’ve reviewed all five omnibuses already. He just seems to be having fun writing Nightwing and he understands the difference between Dick Grayson and Batman, as well as all the other Robins.
One of my favorite parts about this series is the evolution of Nightwing and Batgirl’s relationship. Seeley does a fine job of working in the romantic stuff without it being in the way of the story. This may actually be one of the best handled romances in modern comics, even if the two can never seem to get together or be on the same page at the same time. It’s certainly more interesting than whatever the hell happened with that Batman and Catwoman wedding fiasco.
I’m glad that I’m working my way through this series and anticipate picking up the second volume as I catch up to where I am now, around issue 50 or so.
Rating: 7/10 Pairs well with: the ongoing Nightwing series, as well as Batgirl, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Detective Comics and Titans.
Published: May 9th, 2018 – July 11th, 2018 Written by: Rob Williams Art by: Eduardo Pansica, Julio Ferreira, Adriano Lucas, various
DC Comics, 103 Pages
I haven’t read a Suicide Squad comic in awhile but the idea of Batman teaming up with Deadshot peaked my interest. I’ve also liked DC Comics much more than Marvel, as of late, and their titles that deal with former or reforming villains have been really solid. The other comics I’m referring to are Deathstroke and Red Hood and the Outlaws and maybe even The Silencer fits in there, as her backstory doesn’t paint a heroic picture.
The premise for this is great. Batman breaks Deadshot out of Amanda Waller’s prison. The two then go on a road trip in an old pickup truck in an effort to stop a snake cult that has abducted Deadshot’s daughter. Also, the Suicide Squad is in hot pursuit. What’s not to love?
I liked the art and the character design in this arc. I also thought that the story was well-written and it made some good connections between the characters of Batman and Deadshot. Mainly, Batman, whose son was raised by a cult, doesn’t want to see the same fate befall Deadshot’s daughter, who the Kobra cult are trying to use to be a vessel for their dead leader.
Amanda Waller is pissed about the prison break and knows Batman was involved, even though there is no proof of it. She unleashes Harley Quinn, Captain Cold and Captain Boomerang to bring him in dead or alive.
My only real complaint is how the comic portrays Harley. She is made to be a dumb character for comedic effect and while I don’t blame this specific writer, I blame DC for downplaying her actual intelligence all the time. It was fine for Batman: The Animated Series but in the comics she shouldn’t be a goofy caricature. The Joker is a clown but he’s not an idiotic buffoon, he’s super intelligent and that makes him scary and formidable. This version of Harley Quinn would never be put on some special forces task force used by the government. I mean, she doesn’t even know the difference between a helicopter and a submarine. I haven’t really read anything with Harley since the DC Rebirth started but I had hoped that she was more like her live action film counterpart and less like her cartoon version. It’s time to make her something better than DC’s version of Squirrel Girl. I mean, she was a professional psychologist for fuck’s sake.
But moving on!
This was an entertaining and badass read. I hope this means that Deadshot is going to continue down some sort of path to redemption. DC is doing this with Deathstroke and I like how that’s gone so far. I wouldn’t mind seeing Deadshot also evolve into a character that isn’t just a throwaway assassin type to toss randomly into a story whenever one is needed.
After reading this arc, I had Suicide Squad added to my pull list at my comic shop. So we’ll see how it goes moving forward. But if the quality dips too far below this, I’ll cancel it and move on.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: The current runs on Deathstroke, The Silencer, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Nightwing and Batman.