Wednesday Comics

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.

Comments

  1. I wound up posting my reviews on this elsewhere, so a quick copy/paste for here. Just a note: this is after the first two issues, the third hasn't arrived for me yet, so.

    I love the format, although the newspaper quality gives me pause--not because I have a problem with it (I love it), but because I know my sister is going to want to read this, and she has a history of not taking the best care of my comics. Maybe I can keep these out of her hands?

    I wasn't a fan of Broken City (I wound up skimming the first few issues and then wandering away out of complete apathy), but Azzarello and Risso are doing much better in their Batman story here. The first chapter carried the real sense of hopelessness, and you could feel the emotion in every panel--Gordon admitting defeat, Batman's shock, and the victim's despair. I don't know what's going on yet, but I'm definitely intrigued, and I agree that this is worthy of being the main feature. The second chapter was...well, not brighter in tone, but at least in appearance, and there's clearly something going on. I'm looking forward to new installments a lot more than I thought I would.

    Kamandi is a solid story--it's not great, like some of the other stories here, but it's solid. Dependable. It has a "Prince Valiant" sort of feel, which can be appealing in the right circumstances--here, for instance, it works. And Ryan Sook's artwork, man, he's really good. This is the best I've seen Kamandi since Kirby--Sook has captured the apocalyptic feel of the Last Boy on Earth, while at the same time making it his own instead of just aping Kirby. I don't think that this strip will give us a groundbreaking Kamandi tale, but I think that it will help bring the character into the public eye, reminding the audience about how rich his world is, and maybe paving the way for more stories in the future. Kamandi's my favorite Kirby-DC character, so I'm hopeful.

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  2. Teen Titans, well, I wasn't a fan of this art style back when it was used in TTG, but it's grown on me, and although there are some flaws, the artist is really showing his chops as a storyteller. And Wonder Girl's costume? I love it. The story is fairly simple for now, but there's enough to make me intrigued--someone new (disguised as someone old?) attacking the Titans, determined to bring them down, to really cause them trouble? It's nothing we haven't seen before, but Berganza writes the characters as charming, endearing, and it makes me want to see more from this story, even if it's not a particularly original story. I haven't enjoyed what I've seen of the Titans lately (which is a shame, because I was a real Titans-fan for awhile), but I'm enjoying this.

    Hawkman was about what I expected--an excellent story from Kyle Baker. Telling the first story from the birds' perspective was a nice touch, and I think it really set the stage for who Hawkman is, and what he stands for--my only concern is that, moving into the second chapter, the narration focus shifts completely to the title character. It didn't read poorly here, but when it's inevitably collected to the trade, there will be some problems. Still, the story is solid--not groundbreaking (you'll be hearing this a lot, I think), but solid, and, let's face it, one of the better Hawkman stories in awhile. It hasn't been specified, but rather implied, that this is Katar Hol instead of Carter Hall--the comment about him not being from this world. I wonder, will that play a role later on, or is it just a throwaway remark? The art is, as always, incredible--Kyle Baker is such a talented artist, completely reimagining his style for every new project. I honestly don't know of another artist that can do that, and certainly not one who achieves such success with the method. I'm becoming a huge Kyle Baker fan lately, and I want to see more.

    The Flash story started off easy, innocent--a bit of a Silver-Age style tale, perhaps? Dramatic, over-the-top, but still pure and charming. Telling it in the format of two strips was a nice touch, and I'm glad to see it--it's almost a breath of fresh air, right when you need it, because these strips can be (despite, or perhaps because of, their one-page nature) dense. The art is great--Kerschl gets some criticism, but I wish I could see him on so many projects, because the man really knows what he's doing. The story takes a much different turn in the second issue, and it's welcomed--I didn't dislike the first story, by any means, but I worry that it might've become stale after twelve installments, and this suggests to me that the roller-coaster is just beginning.

    I know that a few of you weren't fans of Etrigan not rhyming in The Demon and Catwoman--I wasn't a huge fan of it, either, when I saw it (even knowing that he wouldn't, I saw Etrigan and expected rhymes). But I've already moved past that, because this is a story that really surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. All of these stories are completely removed from continuity, focusing on more "iconic" representations of the characters, and here we see Catwoman as the socialite thief, and Etrigan as the Arthurian demon. After a series of at-best-solid stories, Walt Simonson finally returns in grand form with a story I completely enjoy. And I may not know too much about this artist, but I'm definitely going to be looking his name up.

    Supergirl is adorable. Seriously, it's like an injection of sugar, and in the best way possible. Krypto and Streaky make for a hilarious romp, and Supergirl's matched emotions of frustration and confusion ring true in every panel she appears in. What I enjoy most, though, is how the background cast--the civilians in every panel--gain just as much of a personality as the main characters. I love this strip.

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  3. I'm probably the only one, but I wasn't as thrilled with Paul Pope's Adam Strange. I don't have that much experience with Paul Pope or Adam Strange, but the character isn't really ringing true to me, not like the Adam Strange I like. Then again, I'm going to go and reread this story, because I know it has to be good. I mean, really.

    Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred's Metamorpho is not bad. At worst, it's like the Dan Jurgens Metamorpho: Year One. Which, again, wasn't bad. But there aren't too many occasions where it rises above that, either. The art is nice, yes, and there are some classic character moments--and I'm intrigued by the concept of there being mutliple elemental beings--but the only part that I really loved was the "letters page". Which was, admittedly, a hoot.


    Dan Didio and Jose Garcia Lopez on the Metal Men? Okay, not too thrilled with the writing choice, but I did at least find some enjoyment in his holiday stuff from recent years, even if it wasn't anything to write home about, but man, Garcia-Lopez on art duties, yes please, all the time. And this strip? Solid. Again, not groundbreaking, but rock-solid. The Metal Men have distinct personalities, the story is pure with a timeless feel, the art is (as expected) gorgeous, and...just about everything I'd hoped for. My only bother was Mercury being colored more orange than a vibrant red, as he usually is, but hey, you can't have everything, yes?

    Okay. Wonder Woman. Most of you did not like it. I disagree with you. My first impression was that I really liked the logo. It's incredibly simple, but very appopriate for a light story where the emphasis is on magic. Now, in every project like this, where a writer only has a limited amount of space to tell an installment of their story, you run the risk of getting a writer that uses a thousand panels to circumvent that restriction. And, to be fair, Ben Caldwell does that here. But, unlike many other creators, Caldwell--in my opinion--does it well enough to escape most pitfalls associated with this method. The smaller panels represent a sense of movement, telling a story without words, while the dialog tells a different story. Yes, this is a story that can require more than one reading to understand--but I don't see how that's a bad thing, either. My only concern with this strip is that I'm not seeing why it's a Wonder Woman story--there are connections to Greek mythology, yes, but it's more of a "young girl with magic" story, instead of a more traditional, iconic Wonder Woman story. Then again, maybe that's part of the problem--Wonder Woman doesn't really have iconic stories. So maybe it's a good thing that Caldwell is taking a different approach? That might be needed, at this point. Either way, I love the Nemo parallels.

    I'm not a huge fan of war stories, but Sgt. Rock intrigues me. Not too much has happened so far, admittedly, but it looks like we'll get a solid story out of it, telling of Rock's days as a prisoner of war? Perhaps? I don't know too much about Sgt. Rock, so I'm not really sure. Still, as Rad said, Joe Kubert demonstrates that he's still the best artist in the family, and it's a pleasure to see him on projects again.

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  4. I'm not incredibly enthused with the Superman story, but I have no problems with it, either. It looks like Arcudi is planning to tell a traditional Superman story with some quirks, just enough to build an interesting hook. And I'm fine with that, and I think that it makes this a good choice to put into USA Today. It would have had to be a toss-up between this and Batman, for character-recognition (after all, I don't really see USA Today signing off for Metamorpho, Neil Gaiman or not). And although the Batman strip is better, it's also darker, and an argument could easily be made that you need a lighter strip for the mass audience. Anyway. The art is nice as always--Lee Bermejo is a very strong talent, and these oversized pages look incredible, even on newsprint.

    The two stories that I forgot about were Deadman and Green Lantern, but that's not indicative of their quality. Green Lantern is obviously a Silver Age tale, drawn in a style that is somewhat evocative of Darwyn Cooke (and there are worse people to take inspiration from). kurk buizIaueie is one of my favorite writers, at the very worst dependable, and more often than not excellent. As with most of these stories, we probably aren't going to see a groundbreaking Green Lantern story, but rather a fun superhero romp. And I'm perfectly fine with that.

    Deadman, on the other hand, looks like one of the few stories that's attempting to do something new with the character, and because he hasn't been successfully used in some time (he was off-limits to the DCU for awhile so that Vertigo could attempt their ill-fated Deadman revamp), I think it's necessary. We get a fairly traditional introduction to the character, with bits of his origin mixed into the new mysteries presented, but with the second chapter, everything changes, and Deadman's decisions lead to...well, we don't know yet, do we? The art is perfect--dark and gloomy, but perfectly capable of reflecting the ethereal nature of the character. I'm actually interested in Deadman.

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  5. Oooookay, there we go. One final note--for what it's worth, not only did I get the Prince Valiant and Little Nemo homages, but so did most of the people my age that I spoke to about it, so I don't think that's a problem there.

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  6. Where else are you posting? I'd love to check it out if you wouldn't mind.

    The "Wonder Woman" feature seems to be a love it or hate it thing. I probably would like it if I didn't find it so hard to read. Hopefully, it'll someday be collected on better paper for us old folks. ;-)

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  7. It's a smaller messageboard, http://forum.superdickery.com. It's attached to a site that was an amusing comic injoke at one time, but the messageboard is more or less off in its own world now. I just happened to post those reviews in the Wednesday Comics thread.

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  8. I hear that the printing on the "Wonder Woman" strip improved with #4, so I look forward to checking it out when my next batch of issues comes in.

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