(2006) Jeph Loeb, Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines, Titan Books, £17.99, hrdbk, 156pp, ISBN 1-84576-178-2
This is the fourth of the (British) annual-like collections of the ongoing title (ie. hardback cover, no dustjacket) and collects issues 20-25 (issue 19 was included in the new Supergirl collection) and sees the return of the artists of the first six issues (and first collection), McGuinness and Vines. To get the obvious moan out of the way: the US price of this volume is $19.99 and, given the current exchange rate, £17.99 is way too expensive for this book - do yourself a favour and order it and get it sent from a US store, it'll work out cheaper. These issues take place during the Infinite Crisis but, sadly, on their own do not amount to much, except perhaps for comics' buffs with a bent for nostalgia and long memories.
Briefly, Mr. Mxyzptlk and the Joker (at least a version of him), play a game in which various Superman/Batman teams and incarnations, not to mention several of their old supporting characters, are pitted against various 'villains' (in fact heroes) who have mistaken them for the evil counterparts from previous volumes. By the end of the book, nothing has happened ('cos it's all "really" happening in the Crisis-event), so in that respect this is all a waste of time. However... For the nostalgic various alternate Batmans and Supermans abound, including Bizarros and females and Russians, not to mention Batman-of-the-Future and other cartoon incarnations, along with several Supergirls - who save Superman from being embedded in the Source Wall, after he's free'd Darkseid that is - and the God-like Joker back from the ghost of the memory of his own title from way back when. The last of these sets up the best joke of the largely humorous run. When Joker asks Mxyzptlk why no one remembers when he (Joker) had all his (Mxyzptlk's) power, the imp responds, "They don't remember because I don't want them to remember," then continues (in a 'let's break the fourth wall' voice), "That... and they haven't collected those stories into a trade paperback yet..." Personally, I can only hope that someone at DC was taking note of the point, so that we do see a tpb of The Joker at some point. Anyway, it all turns out OK, and as for the future, it'll have to wait for the conclusion of the Crisis...
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