My copies of Wednesday Comics #1-3 arrived in the mail this week, so I’ll make some general observations and then talk about each feature individually. First, I love the format. It’s the perfect size and somehow even though it’s newsprint it seems to be able to handle the full range of colors that modern comic books use. (Though not always successfully in a couple of cases that I’ll get to later.) I really think they could sell this to mainstream readers if they could get it in front of them (in Starbucks maybe?) and it cost a little bit less. It’s more relatable to people than a comic book – it’s like the Sunday paper without the newsy bits! – and I think they’d be interested in most of the features. This is really an artist’s showcase: so much so that I’m a little reluctant to take apart the stories only three pages in, but those three pages per feature were a $12 investment so I think I’m entitled.
Batman: This feature probably moves the fastest – Azzarello opens with a chilling murder, then the funeral (with a Bruce Wayne appearance), then a disturbing domestic scene – and the size suits Risso’s art really well. The coloring is atmospheric in the night scenes and bright (but not too bright) in the daytime scenes. It’s definitely not an all-ages feature, but since this isn’t aimed at the mainstream yet that’s not a problem.
Kamandi: Gibbons and Sook are doing a “Prince Valiant” homage here with both the art style and the use of captions instead of word balloons. One can question the wisdom of doing a riff on a strip that most of the readership is not old enough to remember – and I will question one of the later features about this – but it works here. It’s bright, it moves and it’s fun.
Superman: This is the one feature that everyone can see on the “USA Today” web site, and looked at from that point of view I’m not entirely happy with it. John Arcudi’s story is too introspective for this format, and Superman comes off a little bit whiny. Lee Bermejo’s art is great but it either was colored or printed too dark – I wish it popped off the page more. I don’t necessarily think this strip should be a throwback or completely traditional, but I don’t see people reading it at “USA Today” and wanting to go out and buy more.
Deadman: Good. It moves along, it uses the page well, and the coloring is just the right combo of dark and garish for this character.
Green Lantern: This is the strip I would have picked for “USA Today”. It’s classic without being retro, the colors look great, and it’s not too experimental.
Metamorpho: It’s got the feel of the classic Metamorpho stories, and I love the way Allred is showing motion on the page without breaking it up into panels. The goofy little “fan kids” strip is great too. I also note with amusement that still nobody seems to be able to settle on whether Metamorpho can become any element, or just ones found in the human body. (The bit about naturally occurring elements is new, as far as I can remember, but logical.)
Teen Titans: I kind of like the cartoony art and the pastel colors, but the story is a mess – too many characters and a lame villain.
Strange Adventures: I don’t always find Paul Pope’s work aesthetically pleasing, but I think his “Flash Gordon”-style Adam Strange works really well. And he’s using the ill-timed Zeta Beam, which was always my favorite part.
Supergirl: I’m not a huge fan of any of the Super-Pets, but this is cute and fun. I wish there had been a straight humor strip included, but this one will have to do.
Metal Men: I honestly don’t even care about the story in this feature; I just want to look at Garcia-Lopez drawing these characters as much as possible.
Wonder Woman: Wow, where to start. I think a lot of ambition went into this feature, but it didn’t translate successfully to the page. I’m not hugely familiar with “Little Nemo in Slumberland”, but since this is all dream sequences I’m assuming it’s supposed to be a take on that. Which I think is a problem in this case, because hardly anyone is going to get the reference. (At least “Prince Valiant” is still being published.) I want to like this, but I find it physically hard to read. The panels are really small, the figures in the panels are hard to make out because the coloring is flat, and I even have trouble making out the (hand?) lettering sometimes. And this is young Diana before she even has the iconic Wonder Woman look. Ben Caldwell took a big risk here, and he’d look like a genius if he pulled it off but I don’t think he did. (At least not for me.)
Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.: Probably the most traditional of all the features – except for the content being a little too brutal for the newspaper, I could easily see this in the Sunday comic section. And what’s not to like about Joe Kubert?
Flash Comics: My favorite 0f all the features. I love the separate Iris and Barry strips, and all the wacky time travel science.
Demon/Catwoman: Um, OK. This pairing is just weird, and I hate Selena becoming an actual cat on the most recent page.
Hawkman: I like this a lot, but the preview art that Kyle Baker posted on his web page looked better – I think the colors are printing a lot darker than intended here.
So, mostly successful so far, and probably something I would buy year-round if they could keep up the quality.