NIGHTWING: Better Than Batman and Back to Bludhaven by Tim Seeley and artists Yanick Paquette and Marcus To are TPBs in DC’s ongoing Rebirth phase. Like Green Arrow the books don’t retcon Dick as much as reboot him to pre-New 52, when he was fighting crime in Bludhaven; the first volume wraps up various existing plotlines involving Spyral and the Court of Owls, the second brings Dick to Bludhaven for an encounter with a therapy group of reformed criminals. The second worked well, though I retract that if the closing cliffhanger means what it appears to; the first tries too hard to convince us that the mysterious Raptor is effortlessly superior to Nightwing. Cover by To, all rights remain with current holder.
THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL: Squirrel Power collects the first issues of the perky hero’s series, plus the Ditko story that introduced her as a joke (and a pretty funny one) only to discover people liked her, they really liked her! For myself, the adventures of the girl with the proportionate speed and strength of a squirrel are hit-or-miss, but there are enough hits that I’m glad I read this.
The third of volume of Jeff Smith’s RASL: Romance at the Speed of Light isn’t as heavy-handed on the Tesla worship as Vol. 2, though it still has too much (Smith says Tesla was a major influence on the series). Still it gets interesting and weird as a little girl depicts the multiverse, Rasl meets the president and the apocalypse draws night. Good overall.
Roz Chast’s CAN’T WE TALK ABOUT SOMETHING MORE PLEASANT? is more painful than pleasant to read as Chast recounts her experiences becoming caregiver for her parents: coping with their many quirks (some of which she notes predated any problems), with dad’s increasing dementia and mom’s health issues, and their stubborn refusal to believe they need any help. Dreadfully true-to-life if you’ve had any experience with these issues.
HOUSE OF PENANCE by Peter J. Tomasi and Ian Bertram has a great concept — sinister goings on at the Winchester House (a real-life place built by Sara Winchester as a strange atonement for the people killed by her family’s guns) — but it ended up a near mess. A big part of the problem is the art: lots of the panels show tentacles of blood coiling around people, but I wasn’t sure if it was meant to be delusional, a demonic manifestation or an arty dramatization of their psychological state.