Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #8

Wednesday Comics #8 – Overall rating: 4 whiskers.

I sit ready to read WEDNESDAY COMICS #8 and I must admit to some trepidation. Why? Last week’s edition scored the highest whisker rating to date – how can this week hope to compete with that? Alas, nothing ventured nothing gained – taking a page from DC themselves with this wonderful little experiment – so into the breach, dear friends, and all that other stuff.

The DC heroes await! Here comes Batman!

BATMAN4 ½ whiskers. Batman and Commissioner Gordon make note of a “walk” while criminals confer. This week’s strip is deceptively simple yet there’s a lot going on here. A new wrinkle in the story above all but also another fold and crease in the relationship between Batman and Gordon, as see back in #1. Not your happy-go-lucky “duly-deputized officer of the law” and his boss here. Tension you could have sliced up in a butcher shop. I like it. I’m not so sure of the pat scene of our supposed killer meeting with his own boss, the beautiful widow. Too simple. Got to be more to it. Right?

KAMANDI5 whiskers. Kamandi and his friends grieve deeply for the lost souls of war but gain a new pride of allies. Gibbons and Sook continue their march towards the perfect comic strip and this week does nothing to slow them down. The punch to the gut of the tiger-ape battle having taken place at Historic Gettysburg is an inspired move on the creators’ parts and the art somberly carries the mood. I also appreciated the oddness and wonder in a canine convincing a tribe of cats to fight alongside them. But can we trust the lions? Regardless, I see something like THE HOBBIT’s “Battle of Five Armies” on the horizon…

SUPERMAN4 whiskers. Superman gets wise but continues to get hurt for his troubles. Like “Batman” this strip’s deceptively simple this time around – but with a little less going on. Stand back and take a look at this page. It’s gorgeous. Bermejo’s probably doing the work of his career here. Can’t always say the same for Azzarello. I appreciate the situation he’s in with this format and its demands but he’s got only four more installments left to bring this to a close. I liked the force of Superman’s anger in the first panel and that he’s thinking again, like the hero he is, but too often the lure of producing beautiful art has curtailed plot development. There are glimmers of hope here, and I still look forward to the answer to the question of Kal’s super-funk.

DEADMAN4 ½ whiskers. Deadman learns more about his prison and takes the fight to his jailer. Now here’s a situation where the art – normally wow-wowing us – takes a back seat to the writing. But that’s okay, for the most part. I’m glad to know about that stone we’ve seen in the trees the last few weeks and the entire situation grows a little bit more intriguing with every chapter. “The kiss” comes off as both a cliché but also as a poignant reminder of Boston’s own personal situation – he’d dead. His costume is now himself. He can try to free these girls but he cannot love any of them, cannot end the story “happily ever after” in the company of any one of them. Its good stuff and I think a kind of a sleeper strip, one that might be flying under some readers’ radar.

GREEN LANTERN4 ½ whiskers. Green Lantern shows his true face to the monster he battles. I’ve really been getting my wish for action these last few weeks in this strip and this week’s no slacker. I’ve always liked the idea of a hero who has to appeal to someone’s inner self to be able to stop the destruction, etc. My only real gripe here is that Quinones’ sparse, comedic “hruh?” panel fell flat when I think a bit more dramatic impact was needed. Though there’s something inherently cartoony in his art I think the design choices in that single image stick out like a sore thumb. One other thought, and not a grouse: I wonder if GL’s vulnerability to yellow would’ve been too much to put across in this strip? We rarely see much that can get through the ring’s shields, thus my train of thought carries me to the traditional lantern weakness…

METAMORPHO4 ½ whiskers. Rex and Urania run down the table of elements in pursuit of an ancient enemy. Ha! Say what you will but you have to hand it to Gaiman and Allred for going out of their way to give you something different in this strip. I’ve complained a bit before about clever games and bits that don’t do much to advance the story but this week they try mighty hard to combine it all into one helluva quirky-jerky-hurdy-gurdy fun ride of elemental proportions. After much thought, after much staring at all that’s there, I’ve decided I like it. And hey, I don’t know the Peroidic Table from a pencil and tablet so Gaiman scores right there. He also loses half a whisker for the very unfunny Java coda. Blehhh. Beautiful portrait of Urania, though.

TEEN TITANS2 ½ whiskers. The team goes back to their original nest and headlong into their history. Hmm. Let’s take this slow. Okay, I griped about not getting any background on this team and its characters, so now Berganza throws a boatload of TT history at us – but essentially in the space of a single panel. It could be interesting but its way too much in too quick of an instant to be worthwhile. Here we are in #8 and I still ma not sure of what the story is – is it a revenge story? Was that what we were told? And has Kid Devil been in the strip all along? Again, too much, too quick and too confusing.

STRANGE ADVENTURES4 whiskers. Alanna takes her plea to Lord Korgo, seeking an ally. Back to Alanna on Rann, Pope continues to flesh out his own version of the famous planet, this time by introducing us to Lord Korgo of the blue monkey people. Pope does something a bit funky here by using omniscient narrator captions to hide actual dialogue boxes in an effort to put across the idea of words lost to history. I’m intrigued by the device but I’m not completely sure it works. Would we have liked to have read Alanna’s speech instead? Regardless, it’s a good installment, interestingly presented despite the absence of our star. Oh, but Paul? Get rid of that same old panel layout you’ve been using the last few times. Give us something new, please.

SUPERGIRL3 ½ whiskers. Supergirl takes her pets to the doctor and meets a tasty owl. Hurrah, Dr. Mid-Nite! Poor Charlie, though! Palmiotti and Connor continue with their mini-tour of the DCU and bring Supergirl to the JSA’s resident physician to seek help for her furry friends. Connor loads the strip with a multitude of gags, funny ones too, but overall I think she and her partner hand this week’s strip over to the gags a bit too much. I really get the feeling that whatever’s going on will be addressed in the final week as a minor note and the gags will rule all. But maybe that’s intention. Ah, what the heck; it’s a fun strip and WEDNESDAY COMICS really needs something like this.

METAL MEN4 ½ whiskers. The Metal Men finally get out of the bank – and straight into Chemo’s grasp. What can I say that I haven’t already said? DiDio and Garcia-Lopez offer everything a super hero strip should and do it gracefully. I’m glad to see their venue opened up a bit into the streets and I’m hoping we get a kind of Godzilla-giant monsters-vibe in the last four weeks of the story. And that o’ ante’s really been upped, huh? Kudos to Iron for his single-minded ode to friendship and heroism – this is the Metal Men that I love. The real, honest-to-goodness Metal Men.

WONDER WOMAN3 whiskers. Diana meets a wolf and gains a certain lasso. Caldwell rolls out a fairly drastic change to his usual cramped and profuse panels in the form of a gigantic panel right in the middle of the strip. That about bowled me over when I turned the page. Way to grab my attention. Diana finds the Golden Lasso, which is cool, but is confused by all that she’s bombarded with through other characters. I know how she feels. There’s a lot do here with Norse mythology but its not really clear how it impacts the story – still, Caldwell seems to be tightening things up and there’s a feeling of movement in the plot. One other thing: didn’t Diana have the eagle on her chest in one or more installments? Or was that a dream?

SGT. ROCK AND EASY CO.4 ½ whiskers. Rock confronts his tormentor but the tables turn terrifically. I dig it. This might be the best blending of both the art and writing to come along yet. Our hapless Rock’s out of the frying pan but steps straight into the fire – and a strange dilemma. The set-up is now that his rescuer, a man he does not know, is being held with a knife to his throat by a Nazi officer. Rock could just kill them all and flee, but he’s too much of a shining knight to leave the guy to the German’s tender mercies. It’s a good development and one that Kubert Senior draws to perfection. Look at the looks on that officer’s face in panels 6 and 9 – classic and expressionistic. Good stuff. Story's moving.

THE FLASH5 whiskers. Barry gets a super-speed lesson from his other selves and the mother of all nosebleeds. Things are moving – dare I say it? – quickly and Kerschl and Fletcher waste no time rolling out the plot points. I got a real kick out of the way the Flash seems a bit less smart than the other Flashes, though of course they’re all himself! It’s like a time travel story that’s fun! I also notice, after I finished reading it, that the strip is now simply named “The Flash” and all stories have become one. The juxtaposition with the nosebleeds and the collapsing Flashes was handled very well and dramatically – this one’s an edge-of-the seater, kids!

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN4 ½ whiskers. Selina’s about to lose herself. Listen, this strip – and boy does that word take on deeper meaning here – is about as hot and heavy as they probably allow for this project. Simonson’s loading Morgaine up with sexy innuendo and Stelfreeze is doing his best to draw the sexiest near-Kirby women he can – it all gets pretty steamy! Basically, Morgaine wants Selina’s body to inhabit for, well, some adult pursuits; I guess she’s pretty frustrated after thousands of years. Overall, the strip’s – there’s that word again – atmosphere is one of decadence and decay and hints of pleasures of the flesh beyond even mortal understanding. My only concern here is that Selina’s hasn’t really been herself since the first few weeks and we’re not really seeing what Catwoman’s all about. I’m sure that will change, though.

HAWKMAN2 ½ whiskers. Hawkman calls for help. I think this story’s gone off the rails – or pinfeathers, if you like. Is it a Star Trek tale or a Hawkman adventure? Baker’s stacking the deck with aliens and Justice Leaguers but the whole house of cards looks to topple soon from the weight. I get no real sense of Hawkman here. The thought of the Winged Wonder stuck on Dinosaur Island is a good one. No, a great one. But that’s not what we’re getting. We’re getting Hawkgirl and Batman and alien armadas and Hawkman without his wings and a whole bunch of extraneous stuff. Where’s the incredible feeling from the first few weeks? Where’s the sense of wonder and barbaric strength in the character of Carter Hall? What I see here is just about everything but.

And that’s another edition of “Thursday Follows Wednesday” in the can and I am outta here…what? Who? Oh, him. Yeah, yeah…

Mr. Wednesday Wanty – wants more talk about WEDNESDAY COMICS. He’s afraid that DC has, in a way, shot itself in the foot by making this out of continuity and therefore drawing the lowest amount of interest and conversation to the project. Kind of sad, because it’s worthy of more reviews and discussion. He wants to know what MORE people think of this incredible production.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #7

Wednesday Comics #7 – Overall rating: 4 ½ whiskers.

Wow, #7 already. This’ll be done before we know it – but in a good way.

Going to try something a bit different here in the second half. Going to read it while holding it, like a newspaper, instead of laid out flat. Will that make a difference? Will “Teen Titans” suddenly become my favorite WEDNESDAY COMICS strip? Let’s find out together, shall we?

Oh, and btw: I find I’m referencing past issues more now than I have before. Oh sure, that’s most likely that my memory’s shot to hell but I like to think its because I’m enjoying the reads so much that I want to get the whole picture…or it could just be that my memory’s shot to hell.

Anyway – turbines to power, batteries to speed, the Caped Crusader’s up first!

BATMAN5 whiskers. Batman interrogates a suspect while his real prey becomes Number One with a bullet. This week’s strip has everything: Plot development, characterization, intrigue, mood, and of course…eye injury. Where’s Wertham when we need him??? Regardless, look for Batman at his best – threatening a goon for information – and fantastic coloring job that segues from a cool night high over Gotham to the hot streets below. Just follow the falling cig – and make those damn dogs stop staring at me!

KAMANDI5 whiskers. Kamandi, Dr. Canus and the human girl come upon a scene of great horror. Loved that opening panel of post-apocalyptical grandeur, which then moves us to a more intimate scene of our heroes attempting to communicate with the girl. Each character present is full of personality, which is a tribute to Gibbons’ writing and Sook’s art. After lingering on a beautiful portrait of the girl we’re then brought to a true view of devastation and Sook once again pulls out a few nice touches, such as the wailing tiger, kneeling over their dead comrade. Moving stuff, wonderful strip, as always. I’m sad to leave it and move on…

SUPERMAN5 whiskers. The Man of Steel’s beaten within an inch of his life but he can only think of his loved ones. Listen, you’re going to think I’m crazy by giving this week’s “Superman” a perfect clipping but hear me out: The story’s moving ahead and there’s a definite sense of danger and trauma in action. The art’s lovely – you can FEEL those punches in your bones – and the characterization is pure Superman. Despite the heavy beating he’s only concerned for Ma and Pa. The mystery of the aliens expands, too. Why are they more powerful? And can they read his mind? I loved it. This is what the strip should’ve been all along.

DEADMAN5 whiskers. Deadman listens to the chilling story of the lost souls he’s discovered. Okay, this is getting weird. FOUR perfect ratings in a row? I must be insane – or really digging my WEDNESDAY COMICS. So, we learn the set-up behind Boston’s latest troubles and it’s perfectly bone-chilling. I’m reminded here a bit of “Poltergeist” when we’re told that there’s an unseen demon on “the other side” that holds souls in a grip of terror and from their final journey – always a terrifying thought. I’m glad for the wonderful layout of the page as it perfectly conveys everything it needs to in what amounts to a single, large image. I also dig Deadman’s cool, or what appears to be cool…now let’s see him kick some demon booty!

GREEN LANTERN5 whiskers. Green Lantern encounters his friend-turned-monster but learns he may get more than he’s bargained for. Okay, I’m insane, I guess, but dammit, this is good stuff. From Busiek’s terse but oh-so succinct opening caption he throws us into some honest-to-Oa GL ring-slingin’ action. It was everything I wanted. Hal’s creepy as he oozes through the wall – ala Alan Scott! – and blazes into the studio. Great characterization – he’s a man of action but wants innocents to be safe – and great art – Quinones’ take on GL’s power shields is simple and effective – and the cliffhanger wrapped in a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in some sudoku is exciting. Kudos all around. This really deserves those clippings, folks.

METAMORPHO5 whiskers. The expedition gets down and dirty and runs into an old adversary. This is getting weird. Really, really, REALLY weird. Six strips, all with perfect clippings. BUT THEY WARRANT IT! My gosh, I laughed out loud at this week’s “Metamorpho”! The humor – “They had antimatter beams in Atlantis? Who knew?” “Java. He knew. That is me.” I mean, who knew that Gaiman had such a knack for clever quips? Pile that on top of a rapidly moving plot and the full intro to a dastardly evil Element Man and in the words of one of my readers, “Gaiman’s channeling his inner Haney.” And we reap the benefits. This is definitely now one of my most favorite strips. Bravo! Now, anybody able to translate Latin?

TEEN TITANS3 whiskers. The Titans dope out the situation and fly off to save a friend. You knew it had to end at some point, didn’t you? Yeah, and what better place to end the five whiskers streak than with “Teen Titans”? Okay, it DID rate its highest ever score yet and here’s why: It explained itself. The reader gets a better idea of who these characters are and what they’re up against and a sense of being a team is definitely imparted. I liked Robin’s inner dialogue and it was cool to see Superman and Batman. What I didn’t grok is the strange nod to current continuity concerning Dr. Light – seems out of place in this “kiddie” strip – and the somewhat annoying on-again-off-again use of contractions. Either Robin uses them or he doesn’t. Sounds weird when he doesn’t; too formal, too stiff. Awkward. Starfire can get away with it, though – but she should really stop ending sentences with a preposition. Regardless, a step up from previous weeks but it still harshed my perfect rating mellow.

STRANGE ADVENTURES4 ½ whiskers. Adam dreams of Fate and some of his prayers are answered. Okay, this strip just took a left turn into looney land – but WHAT a turn. Dr. Fate, fellow JSA fans. Dr. freakin’ Fate! Who would have seen Dr. Fate visiting? That’s truly inspired, especially the great observation that they’re both archaeologists, but as cool and wonderful as the dream sequence is it’s screwed by that garish red coloring job, in my opinion. Pope’s still firing on all cylinders in what’s happening but in an urge to impart and other-worldly feeling in the art he obscures his JSA visitor and lessens his impact. Again, it’s a wonderfully wonky wrinkle in the story and I dig it the most but man is this strip hard to look at. Oh, well. Adam’s got what he needs to ride the Zeta beam and that’s all that matters. Stranger days ahead!

SUPERGIRL3 ½ whiskers. Aquaman reads Supergirl the riot act. You know, this strip’s come a long way since its beginning seven weeks ago. Look at how dense it this week with panels and exposition. That’s a good thing, I think, if it actually advances the story. This installment – ehhh, not so much. It’s cute, in a way, and it’s lovingly drawn and the dialogue’s crisp but I think it’s inherently flawed. This is pretty unfair treatment of Aquaman, everybody’s doormat, and what I hoped last week was just a funny intro to him turns into an almost relentless jerk portrayal. Then, Supergirl’s status as a, well, blonde, is played up, also at the character’s expense. I’m intrigued by what’s wrong with Streaky and Krypto but the humor can fall flat when the characters are subject to put-downs. It’s a shame, ‘cause it’s drawn to humorous perfection and Palmiotti and Conner’s hearts are in the right place – but a mean-spirited core is starting to show. Prove me wrong, guys. Please.

METAL MEN5 whiskers. The Metal Men meet Chemo and find out the hard way just how corrosive he is. Here’s what I like about this week’s strip: it takes the conventions of comics – heroics, villainy, bravado in the face of danger, action and pathos – and rolls it all out with obvious love for the material. One can tell DiDio and Garcia-Lopez LOVE these characters. There’s no ground-breaking story here, no medium-busting message, just simple, straightforward comic book adventure. I find it interesting to compare this strip with Berganza’s “Teen Titans,” both by editors yet seemingly irreconcilable with each other in their construction and deployment. We know who the Metal Men are, we know their situation and we now know who the villains are and what they’re capable of. It’s not a lot to ask for, but “Metal Men” provides it in a deceptively-simple fashion. More, more.

WONDER WOMAN3 whiskers. Diana flies in the face of her adversary, the Cheetah, and makes a play for the Sword. Oops, something just happened here that caught me off guard: Caldwell intrigued me. Suddenly, and this could be just me, things got a mite interesting. I felt as if there was a clear definition of the enemy this week and of the battle. I felt as if Etta shown through as a viable character, and a funny one to boot. In fact, the humor this week was nice, and I actually smiled in a few places. Overall, its still a jumble of graphics that doesn’t lend itself to clarity of storytelling and how Diana got herself into this situation is unclear, but I’ll give Caldwell props for the coloring this week – and this line: “Oblivion is the fate of all those who stand on the wrong side of history…” That’s a lovely line. Made me stop and ponder it. Okay, let’s see where we go from here, then. Baby steps.

SGT. ROCK AND EASY CO.4 ½ whiskers. Rock’s free and Easy Co. plays a game of “Hot Potato.” This may be, for me, the most interesting installment of the strip – as late as it’s appearing. Rock is actually Rock now and not a punching bag. The ease with which he slips into command mode is comforting to see. One wants to trust Gustav but when one considers the situation, said trust is difficult to scrape together. The knife goes into Rock’s hand but it could just as easily slide between his ribs. And the potato bit with Easy Co. was great. In five easy panels the horrors of war are clearly illustrated – everything may possibly be an attack. In the rain a potato becomes a grenade and your life flashes before your eyes. This strip’s taking some heat for moving so slowly – and I’ve laid on some of that heat myself – but if you spend a little bit of time with this week’s page I think you’ll be rewarded with a particular genius at play.

FLASH COMICS4 whiskers. Everything explodes in Flash’s face and Barry follows his nose. Cool stuff this week. A juxtaposition of both strips, Barry’s and Iris’, and it creates a weird confluence of intense Super hero science fiction and Stephen King romance. And that’s only scraping the surface here. Fletcher’s art has never looked better and if there’s an award somewhere for drawing evil monkey waiters than he needs to get at least two or three of them. Brrr. The story’s in overdrive now and though Kerschl’s still skirting losing us all in wackiness he knows how to entertain us, too. I was worried that Iris’ story would be buried in the all the dimensional gewgaws but she’s keeping her head above water admirably. Oh, and nice nod to the Flash TV series, guys!

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN5 whiskers. Morgaine gets the better of Etrigan but Selina regains her true form. Good, great, wonderful! Everything’s heating up nicely here and I’m loving every frame of it this week. Morgaine’s deliciously evil in her wicked and salacious ways – rrowrrr! – and I really felt bad for poor Jason. But as he descends into his troubles Selina’s on the rise and – watch out, Morgaine! Wow! Simonson and Stelfreeze put the Cat back in the scene and make one eager for the next installment. That’s a good feeling. A little scary, a little sexy; its all good.

HAWKMAN3 ½ whiskers. Hawkman gets all Jurassic. See, I’ve got a problem – I’m in a love/hate relationship with this strip. On one hand, Baker’s got the feeling down pat here, all nice and rugged and manly. Hawkman as he should be. And I totally dig Dinosaur Island. That’s just cool. But on the other hand the coloring is getting way out of hand and actually made it difficult to enjoy this otherwise-enjoyable installment. Why does it look like everything’s being bathed in the light from a nuclear blast? I feel like I’m looking at a negative image or something…and the heavy use, again, of CGI doesn’t help. Hawkman himself still looks great but why the jokey giant glasses on the realistically drawn little girl? I mean, why go for caricature in the midst of computer-generated bits of reality? Maybe I’m just not understanding something here, but I’ll just hope that the ultimate coolness of Hawkman on Dinosaur Island outshines the art problems.

Wow. Eight strips out of fifteen with perfect ratings this week means the highest overall whiskers a single issue of WEDNESDAY COMICS hasn’t gotten from me yet. Congrats, DC! Keep ‘em flying!

Mr. Wednesday Wanty – wants to thank everyone who chimed in on their picks for strips in a possible sequel to this project – which leads him to his Big Want: more WEDNESDAY COMICS!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #6

Wednesday Comics #6 – Overall rating: 4 whiskers.


Halfway through. In the middle. The glass is half empty – or half full? However you want to look at it, this series reaches its center point and is still rockin’ right along. Not every piston's pulling its weight but overall the engine’s in good shape and the ride’s pretty smooth. But enough with mechanical allusions, let’s talk about me.

I’ve gotten some good responses from these reviews, enough to make me feel like I’m entertaining people. Or amusing them at least. Even gotten a few pro responses, specifically from creators who, wow, appear in this series. Interesting and always humbling. Some other reviewers might pause and ponder whether or not to tailor their future reviews in one way or another, to perhaps favor or even further piss off said creators. That said, I want to assure all “Thursday Follows Wednesday” readers that what you get HERE is always and simply my unadulterated reviews. No agendas, no hidden costs, no extra charge for valve stems. Just me and a few opinions. Just like Mom used to make. If she was a comic book reviewer.

Le’s git to it!

BATMAN4 whiskers. Batman plays cat-and-mouse with a man he believes to be a killer. So, the Darknight Detective’s hunted a few murderers in his day and it probably gets boring after a while. Why NOT play with them a bit? Good, moody entry this week, with some nice touches: an ex-boxer/presumed killer who listens to opera, a big splash to emphasize the action, an evil smile on our hero that sent chills down my spine. Not much happens, per se, but Azzarello and Risso always evoke a mood-o, and for my money, that’s the key to the Bat-o. Cheerio, guy-with-a-gun.

KAMANDI5 whiskers. The strange girl gets a kick out of her gorilla captors and gets Kamandi back on the road. Anybody out there getting sick of this strip’s perfect scores across the board? Hands? Hands? No? Didn’t think so. The colors this week are so great, so rich, that they ramp up the art to a very high place. I love that middle panel, that tableau straight out of a pulp illustration. Girl with gun. Apes beware. Now, I’m not so sure that a young girl’d be able to fell a full-grown gorilla with one kick, and one right in his big leather belt rather than his kidneys, but hey, sometimes perfection in writing and art make me suspend some disbelief in things that make you go, “hmmm.” And thank Kirby that Dr. Canus is okay – now go help Tuftan, gang! Please!

SUPERMAN4 ½ whiskers. A restful peace is shattered by the arrival of some unwanted visitors at the Kent farm. Waitasecond. Did Arcudi just, wait for it, DO SOMETHING? Did he just, I dunno, ADVANCE THE PLOT? It took all of three seconds to read the damn thing this week but I was so overjoyed that the moping dematerialized and the crazy-ass alien infestation began. Just what this strip needed. Cool to see aliens of the same variety as that in #1. Sad to see Ma and Pa’s house ruined. troubling to see the very sad-looking grandfather clock lying amidst the rubble. Something poignant about that…

DEADMAN5 whiskers. Deadman falls to his death, watched by three strange personages. Everything clicked here this week and I’m moved to give “Deadman” the elusive perfect clipping. Boston’s inner dialogue of how this death differs from his first is as surreal and fascinating as it sounds. Art and colors were spot on and the wrinkle of the three women appearing at the cliffhanger, one of who Deadman recognizes – the girl from the alley in #1 – is a good shot in the arm for the story. Good job, all, though I have to chuckle a bit at a classically-garbed goddess type - who wears panties. Editorial mandate or…?

GREEN LANTERN3 ½ whiskers. Hal remembers the events of his dismissal from the astronaut program. A good balance here this week between the flashback to Dill’s story, a catalyst of change in Hal’s life and Green Lantern heroically swooping in to – hopefully – save the day. I think it presages some deeper struggle that might occur between GL and whatever Dill’s become, deeper than a physical one. Quinones art is really great on the centrifuge but I have to assume that the device had slowed down considerably when Hal was thrown from it – be more than a cracked rib or two if not, eh? As always, an interesting story and I think I’m about to get all the Green Lantern action I could hope for.

METAMORPHO5 whiskers. The intrepid explorers are waylaid by gigantic snakes deep in the Antarctic ruins. Okay, if we have to have a compression of story panels to make way for what amounts to a clever game board – I can dig it. Here’s how I justify it: the story advances, characterization evident and a few morsels of the future to be gleaned if you know where to look. “Chutes and Ladders” was one of my most favorite games when I was a kid, so that’s a win right there. Yeah, yeah, it’s called “Snakes and Ladders” in the UK; I can still dig it and it IS pretty clever to insert it here. But also look for the reference to “Algon” at the bottom – he’s the Roman Centurion Element Man who’s mentioned in #2 and who “died in a volcano,” i.e., the volcanoes that harbor the ruins Stagg and Co. are even now trampling through. Extra points for the little boy who wants to play Element GIRL in the game. Poor kid – “gender roles are hard!”

TEEN TITANS2 ½ whiskers. Blue Beetle wonders what he’s doing here as Trident moves in for the kill. So, we actually get some explanation of who one of these Titans is and why he’s here. Was that so hard? Why did it take six chapters? Anyway, it was a good bit of monologue and though Beetle comes off as not much of a HERO he at least intrigued me. I liked the part where he and Trident said each other’s name and then fell over. Cute. Still muddy colors and goofy art, though. And Trident is Dr. Light’s son? Is that in regular continuity, too? Not interesting enough for me to look up; just sayin’.

STRANGE ADVENTURES5 whiskers. Adam hits the dirt and his old life comes crashing down on him soon after. Wow. Paul Pope is doing wonders with this strip. So many little touches, so many grand ideas, so cool of a story. Here’s what’s to love this week: the culmination of the disco ball graphic from last week, Adam an old man on Earth, postcards and dusty photographs from Peru, the frustration of a dream and a grim reminder of death. Who’d have ever thought that an Adam Strange adventure could possess this much nuance alongside such larger visions of science fiction and derring-do? Paul, you made me FEEL for Adam in this strip – I don’t think that’s ever happened before for me. Kudos.

SUPERGIRL4 ½ whiskers. Supergirl calls on a friend for help. Best. Supergirl. Strip. Yet. I’m serious – suddenly I love this. Aquaman? I mean, Aquaman??? Who saw the coming? And I sympathize with Jimmy here ‘cause, y’know, you have to look for something to do with the King of the Sea, something interesting – and who’d ever have thought that Aquaman would end up as “that guy.” You know, that annoying guy on the cellphone. Hilarious. And funny art touches throughout from Conner: watch the pets closely and they’ll crack you up. None of this really advances the story but hey, “Supergirl” has never really been about the story, has it? Good marks for you this week, team. Fun stuff.

METAL MEN5 whiskers. Tin saves the day – or does he? I mean really; Tin is tops. What a great way for DiDio to ratchet up the love for the Metal Men’s “weakest” member. Wow – I seem to be saying that a lot this week. And I totally called Chemo last week! You know it! It’s good to be right, and if this is being right I don’t ever want to be wrong again. Err, or something like that. I’m sounding like a long-playing record but: good story, good dialogue, good characters, good development, good art. All this and a burp from the Villain with Gas to Spare. Way cool. Go get ‘im, Metal Men!

WONDER WOMAN2 whiskers. Diana gains a new friend in her quest. Took me a few minutes but I figured out that you have to read this one vertically rather than horizontally. Some call that “playing with the comic book format,” but I call that “somewhat annoying.” Thanks though to Caldwell for the introduction of Etta Candy and a narrative that makes a bit more sense than previous weeks. Where this takes place or when is a mystery and what it all means to boot but again, it appears as if we’re getting WW’s origin. Now if only we could ever get one clear shot of our heroine so as to set her in our mind’s eye as a living, breathing character – we’d be all set. Oh, I liked the sucker at the beginning, though I felt a little like I was looking in a mirror.

SGT. ROCK AND EASY CO.4 whiskers. Rock receives an unexpected ally. DON’T TRUST ‘IM, ROCK!!! Sorry, couldn’t help myself, soljer. I, like Rock, am suspicious of this new development, but hey, stranger things have happened in war - and to Rock. And nobody can draw poverty like Kubert. Nobody. He makes you feel every old garment, ache in the belly and punch to the face. Thanks for the development this week, father and son.

FLASH COMICS3 ½ whiskers. Flash creates even more time disturbances and Grodd conquers all. After those opening caption boxes, Barry should have said, “What the…??” instead of “Where the…??” But that’s simply an indication of what comes next as this strip gets even more crazy and, yes, convoluted. Gone is the “Iris Allen” strip and in its place appears a new “Gorilla Grodd” story which though interesting also throws something of a, heh, monkey wrench into the proceedings. It’s a speed bump, the first in this story, but one that I want to see what Kerschl and Fletcher do with. It could be fascinating, or it could just hurt your head. It’s a pivot point this week, folks.

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN4 whiskers. The Demon meets his foe and goes for the gusto. Yay! Jack Kirby’s Morgaine le Fay is here and hopefully to stay! We get a nice encapsulation of Etrigan’s origin and his connection to Camelot and some set-up for the battle ahead – all we need now is Catwoman. You know, the co-star of this strip? I’m afraid with no appearance of late she’ll be overshadowed by all the mystic hoo-hah and whatnot. What’s her place in this story now? Also, is it just me or did Stelfreeze this week channel an artist by the name of – Simonson? And in a good way? Nice look this strip has, gentlemen.

HAWKMAN4 whiskers. Hawkman checks for survivors of the downed airliner. I like the questions Baker’s asking here: can Hawkman be a hero without his wings? What can he do about the larger picture while stuck on the ground? Can he relate to the plane’s passengers? I really like how Baker’s brought this strip back down to Earth, so to speak, and dispensed with the aliens for now. I liked the grimier vibe we got in the first two weeks and I’m hoping that’s what we’ll be getting more of from here on out. But don’t go to long without getting some wings back on that boy, Kyle! HAWKman, not WALKman!

What? Another week’s flown by? Where did the time go? Must be a little left for…

Mr. Wednesday Wanty – wants hear some suggestions for strips for a “Wednesday Comics” sequel – which we’ve been told is a possibility. Aquaman? Check. Sugar and Spike? Check. Robin? Could be cool. Who else? We want to know!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #5

Wednesday Comics #5 – Overall rating: 4 whiskers.

Hi, everybody. Thanks for checking in and or checking again with my weekly WEDNESDAY COMICS review. I appreciate it more than you can know. One quick thing before we start.

I’m still not quite getting this whole “I’m not paying 4 bucks for a newspaper!” argument. I’ve said I get the whole money-is-tight thing but past that there’s a connotation here that WEDNESDAY COMICS is as temporary and transient as a real newspaper. To that I say: really? Would I pay 4 bucks for USA TODAY? Nope. THE NEW YORK TIMES? Nope. TOLEDO BLADE? You’d have to pay ME. What I’d pay 4 bucks for is a keeper – a publication with 15 different stories by some of the top names and talents in comics and meant to be a lasting testament to the power and concept of a great tradition, namely Sunday Comics. Which just happens to be printed on newsprint. THAT’S what I’ll be paying 4 bucks for – and I do.

I give that argument only 1 whisker. Pretty weak and – dare I say it? – cheap as newsprint.

Back to the Reviewcave!

BATMAN4 ½ whiskers. Deep in the bowels of the earth Batman ponders the problem and Alfred offers opinions. With moody coloring that fits the submerged grotto of Batman’s deep thoughts Azzarello opines on Bruce’s thought patterns and psychological problems – which he passes to Alfred for the zinger. Alfred zingers, when done right, can be worth all the gold in a pimp’s choppers. Taking a bit off here ‘cause it doesn’t do much to advance the story, though it does open the door a bit on the detective.

KAMANDI5 whiskers. Gorillas galore as Kamandi struggles supremely against a tide of tufted titans. It’s the mark of a good DC artist to draw monkeys marvelously and Ryan Sook proves his mettle on that score this week. And again this strip clocks in with a perfect score. Do you blame me? Interesting plot and dialogue. Check. Fantastic art. Check. Understanding of the medium and project. Check. THIS is the strip that should have gone out to the world, not “Superman.” This is the strip that “gets it.” Lay them stinkin’ paws on me, oh Baaku! I don’t ever want to get free from “Kamandi”!

SUPERMAN3 ½ whiskers. Kal flashes back to his life on Krypton and its untimely demise. Here’s what I’m trying to do this week – I’m trying to put myself in the mind of Arcudi and ask myself what I’m attempting with this strip. I’m asking because, frankly, it seems to be just a tour of Superman’s world and really, nothing much else. Is it because this is the strip that’s in USA TODAY, the one being shown to “normal” people? Are there some editorial parameters because of that? I think it looks great this week, no problems there; this is a beautiful Krypton. But for those of us who already know the character, and that’s pretty much everyone, eh? We might like a little, y’know, ACTION. There was a kind of promise made in Week 1 – let’s see that promise kept. Let’s see what the Man of Steel can DO, not what he CAN’T do.

DEADMAN3 ½ whiskers. Deadman tries to take matters into his own hands but he has a devil of a time with backstabbers. There’s something kind of interesting going on here if you think about it: Deadman, who’s dead, goes to a place where he’s alive and must fight as someone who’s alive but is seemingly killed – and I’m guessing will be dead again. That makes me interested to know what happens next. I love the colors in this strip; they really make this sucker pop. Also dig Boston’s dialogue and thought processes. It slows down a bit this week at first but that last bloody burst of a panel makes up for it.

GREEN LANTERN3 whiskers. The difference between Hal Jordan and rival Joe Dillon is illustrated. Okay, what’s being said this week is important to laying the foundation and characterization of our leads and I applaud that – but – we’re almost halfway through the run of the strip and Green Lantern himself is again nowhere to be enjoyed. Maybe that’s impatience on my part, I acknowledge that, but again I’m also thinking of the potential of Busiek’s story to hook people onto GL and his ongoing adventures. At this point I’m saying, “Well, this is some interesting astronaut rivalry stuff,” but as an ode to a magic ring slinging hotdogin’ man-without-fear super-hero – it’s falling a bit flat. Art rocks as usual as does the dialogue. What book is that from?

METAMORPHO5 whiskers. Rex wanders into an insidious attack and shows everyone what he’s made of. Now this, this is a perfect installment. It’s got everything: progression of story, action, danger, characterization, humor and wee bit of duck a l’orange. Gaiman knocks it out of the long-lost temple by showing us exactly what Metamorpho can do and how he reacts to situations. Toss in his rival/friend Element Girl and Simon Stagg’s wonky way of exploring archaeological sites and you’ve got a recipe for success. “What is a human life balanced against a perfectly cooked omelette,” indeed!

TEEN TITANS1 ½ whiskers. The Titans watch a rescue attempt. I’m trying to find something in this strip to like. Maybe I’m trying too hard. I realize this week that one of my problems with it is that there is no single “voice” to it, as exemplified by the introduction here of one of the SMASH people’s narration. Last week it was the villain. And I still don’t know or care who anybody is. I’d like to know what makes these Titans a team, who they look up to and who they can’t stand. Why are they heroes? Why do they fight? What does this particular mission mean to them and to the world? Why is the dialogue so clumsy? And did Robin just cop a feel? Yikes.

STRANGE ADVENTURES4 whiskers. Alanna makes her way into the desert and ponders her next move without Adam. I get that this is the continuation or sequel to Alanna’s little adventure last week but I can foresee Pope falling into the same situation as “Green Lantern”: lack of hero. I really like what I’m being shown here, especially the guide to Rann’s flora, but I’m hoping Alanna’s words in the last panel set up Adam’s return engagement next week. Also, what’s with the psychedelic baseball at top, front and center? I’m guessing it represents the zeta beam energy or Adam himself but, it really just sticks out like a…psychedelic baseball. Not one of Pope’s better graphic decisions.

SUPERGIRL3 ½ whiskers. Streaky gets his mouse but Supergirl and Krypto end up with the whole ball of yarn. I’ve grown to like this strip but am I the only one who’s beginning to feel that a humor strip involving a passenger jet in mortal danger is a bit…disturbing? That got hammered home with this installment when I saw the inside of the plane and its creaming passengers and LITTLE KID IN TROUBLE. Maybe it’s not the wisest of choices for comedy these days. Otherwise, yeah, it’s still cute with nice little touches of wit and I’m still glad for any exposure for the Super Pets but at the end of the day the laughs kind of wear thin when you step back and observe the whole picture. Love the blasé look on Streaky’s face in the title panel, btw.

METAL MEN5 whiskers. The Metal watch in wonder as their creator faces his teacher. Love it. LOVE it. Somewhere Earnest Thesiger is looking down – or up! – and getting a chuckle out of this. Maybe even with a shot of gin, his only weakness. And Bela, too, God bless the old Count. DiDio rolls out an interesting new adversary but not exactly for the Metal Men: for their creator, Will Magnus. It’s a cool set-up here – Magnus has advanced robotics to nth degree but almost refuses his creations to function as they were built. Will’s teacher has a beef with him over intellectual properties and dismisses the Metal Men as “amusement park attractions.” Good stuff. Wait. “Experiments with toxic waste”? Could this be a lead-in to a Chemo appearance? Zowie! Point one percent of a whisker off for a really, really dumb title, Dan.

WONDER WOMAN1 ½ whiskers. Diana gains an item. I feel pretty much the same about the strip this week as I have the preceeding weeks. It just makes me tired to even look at it. Nice to see The Cheetah and the tiara show up. That's something I guess. Looks like she'll be gaining pieces of her famous outfit bit by bit through dreams or something. Sort of looked like she had the eagle breastplate this time too but the coloring was so impenetrable I wasn't sure.

SGT. ROCK AND EASY CO.3 whiskers. Rock looks death in the face and gets crowned instead. Well, I’m at an impasse this week, folks. The beautiful Kubert art grinds its wheels pushing up against the brick wall that the story’s become. Ive looked the other way for a four weeks but this isn’t really going places. Here’s what we know in five weeks: Rock is being interrogated by Nazis and Easy Co.’s on some kind of a mission. I like the set-up, I like art, I like the tension and I like the potential – but I don’t dig the anticipation anymore. Kuberts: bring me back home, pappy and puppy. Tell me more about why I should be getting my feet dirty slogging away next to Rock and the boys.

FLASH COMICS4 ½ whiskers. Grodd goes fishing for “the Big One” and Barry tosses away the golden ring. It’s a testament to Kerschl and Fletcher that they’re making this trip work the fine way it does. I mean, where else can you get apes drooling over quantum mechanics and the soapiest of soap operas all in one good-looking package? Their super-heroic instincts are good and their balancing it with the domestic troubles of costumed crimebusters makes for an enjoyable evening with the Allens. Hey, have you realized that “Wednesday Comics” has three strips with apes? That’s worth 4 bucks alone.

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN4 ½ whiskers. Etrigan uncovers his enemy’s lair and bids her come forth! The grandeur of this strip just increased fourfold and its magic draws me in. And though Selina’s but a footnote this week I wonder at her place in the scheme of the story – what is special role will she play in the drama? She’s here in this tale for a reason. That’s the bit of intrigue that keeps me perky for this strip; that and the combo of Simonson’s sonorous speeches and Stelfreeze’s stunning stretches of sights. But, umm, guys? A bit too dark this time around; that third panel needs its moment to shine.

HAWKMAN4 whiskers. Hawkman lends wings to a wingless bird and pulls up with all his might. It’s quite interesting to weigh this installment against the “Supergirl” strip this week; two crashing jetplanes, two different moods. Action-wise I think Baker is firing on all cylinders – I don’t think I’ve ever seen Hawkman do something like that with his gear before. That was pretty cool. Art-wise I appreciate the lack of CGI but those dark, damp colors have got to go. I think it takes an edge off the tense situation. Regardless this strip made me get back up on my feet and holler again. Yeah!

Nice to be able to end on high-note this time. Of course, this next little gentleman could put a downer on things…

Mr. Wednesday Wanty – wants to know why, overall, “Wednesday Comics” is getting to be pretty gloomy with its coloring. Look at this edition; at least half its strips look like there’s suddenly a run on vibrantly colored inks. Maybe our dear old newspaper’s on the skids and the budget’s being slashed? Hold the presses! Send out for more color, DC!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #4

Wednesday Comics #4 – Overall rating: 4 whiskers.

I’m trying something a bit different here this week, my Faithful Few. Instead of reading the entire issue and then writing my review I’m writing about each strip right after I read them, so as to keep my thoughts fresh in my mind. Getting old’s a bitch, in case you haven’t heard. I’ve been meaning to start taking gingko for my memory but keep forgetting to do so.

Now, let’s join our strips in progress, shall we?

BATMAN4 ½ whiskers. Bruce Wayne gets mooned. Well, that was certainly pregnant with sexual innuendo, wasn’t it? WEDNESDAY COMICS’ most adult story continues to tease and please and frankly, the absence of Batman this week doesn’t hurt it a bit. That lovely shadow over Bruce is enough to tell us that the Darknight Detective is on the case and watching every move on the chessboard. And that’s what this feels like: a prickly game of chess. Or in Luna’s case, chest. Hmm, Freudian slip much?

KAMANDI5 whiskers. Kamandi and friends dangle themselves into the depths of danger and lose their ride to some damn dirty apes. I’m beginning to think that Gibbons and Sook can do no wrong with this strip. They do everything right, never missing a chance for action, exposition or excitement. I think Kamandi’s yearning for fellow humans comes through so strongly here and the world of animals he’s forced to live in becomes something of a cage for him. He wants to live peacefully. His enemies want him dead. Find out what Mr. Wanty wants at the end of this column.

SUPERMAN3 whiskers. Clark visits Kansas but receives little solace. This strip’s beginning to get on my nerves – just a bit. I think by now we get the fact that he’s “out of sorts” and depressed. Fine, Interesting premise for a story. How about now we get some story with that? I still think there’s a likely “outside influence” at work here and maybe the look into his Kryptonian heritage we should get next week will illuminate things. Otherwise, ho hum. Note to Bermejo: I really liked that transition from evening to night. Very effective. You’re holding your end of the strip up quite nicely, sir.

DEADMAN4 whiskers. Deadman’s got a hell of a problem with a guy with an axe to grind – in Boston’s head. Did I already use that joke? Anyway, another good installment here; I like this strip for its noir atmosphere and for getting the character of Boston Brand right. I loved the fine showing of his circus skills and especially the Cirque du Soleil put-down. Sissies indeed. Didn’t care much for the over-used joke of “couldn’t get much worse-next, things get worse!” nor did I dig the confusion of which panel to start at. I went first for “Krak!” but found out it was really “Die, Human!” Let’s not sacrifice clarity for nifty, eh? In all, Deadman probably hasn’t had it this good in a while.

GREEN LANTERN4 whiskers. Hal Jordan remembers a friend as he speeds toward a possible new enemy. In the words of Hal himself this week, “Nice strip you’ve got here.” I love it when writers give me something to work with. And it’s true. Busiek’s building a real feeling of an era, of a time in history here and really cements that this time around. I could always use a LOT more GL action but I’m beginning to dig this strip for its period performance. I’m wondering if it might be fun to see a few historical personages show up here – what do YOU think?

METAMORPHO4 ½ whiskers. Element Girl makes an appearance and the stakes of the mission are laid out for all to ponder. Before I turned the page to this strip I said to The Little Woman, “I’m afraid – what if it’s as disappointing as last week? I want to like this strip.” Whew. All is well. Gaiman and Allred kicked in the afterburners and dialed this puppy up to, well, at least 9 or so. As if to make up for the last two week’s single-panel duds they throw us a bunch of story and development. In only a few short panels Element Girl reveals herself to be a fascinating character – I had to laugh as she gives the boys a peek at Christmas then seemingly regrets it and covers herself demurely. Then, when Sapph-baby shows up, E-Girl tousles her own hair in an unconscious – or conscious – nod to feminine vanity. Prime stuff. Firing on all cylinders except for the wonky Java portrayal and a bit of confusion over the shadow man’s identity. Is that Stagg? Or are Rex’s blood-shot eyes meant to convey surprise at a new arrival?

TEEN TITANS1 ½ whiskers. The Titans are going down with the ship. Boy, do I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t know these characters in advance ‘cause Berganza’s not giving them much to go on. Who is Blue Beetle? Who is that girl with the glowing hand? Why should I care about any of them? The team as a concept is one thing but its compoenents are cyphers. This is the one strip that really demands some foreknowledge of the concept and frankly that’s a bad thing. And why did the Titans supposedly “turn” on society? And why purposefully color a comic story in mud, rust and other unsavory materials? Confusing and dull, this strip does little to inspire any interest in the Titans. Sink this one, please.

STRANGE ADVENTURES5 whiskers. Alanna takes her own destiny in her blood-stained hands and makes her escape. Wow. This strip clocked in with a perfect score this week. And no Adam Strange to be found. This is all Alanna’s gig, for the moment, and I doubt if she ever shown this fiercely and capably in any Silver Age or otherwise adventure. Around a stark but beautiful portrait of her by Pope her adventurous escape from the blue monkey’s clutches speaks to the oldest sense of derring-do and again gives one a perfect picture of the John Carter of Mars tradition. Pope’s amazing me, folks. I hope you’re seeing everything I see here. Good stuff.

SUPERGIRL4 whiskers. Streaky goes a’stalking and sinks her claws into trouble. I think I finally “get” this Supergirl story this week. I actually chuckled out loud at Streaky’s stealthy and evil-eyed stalking of “Mel Mouse” – I could see it as if it was a film, with the intercutting of the cat with the mouse. Fun, fun stuff. Add to this the wry, “Really, Krypto? Woof?” which I read as sarcastic on Supergirl’s part, and this strip definitely moved up a notch or two in my estimation. Writing and art come together at last. One question: has Streaky always been a “her”?

METAL MEN5 whiskers. The Metal Men solve one crisis only to be handed another. Another prefect score this week. I must be ill. Or, I must be likin’ what I’m readin’. From the drop-dead artistically-impactful opening panel to all the humor, back story, action and adventure, DiDio and Garcia-Lopez fully mesh in this installment and produce a real winner. And that mysterious figure who’s haunted the backdrop for three weeks reveals himself! Yipes! Extra points for the funny exchange between the kid and Mercury – which make up for the points lost for Mercury’s orange-ish opulence.

WONDER WOMAN1 whisker. Diana flies around and gets a shield. To go from strips like “Strange Adventures” and “Metal Men” to this little gem isn’t what I call consistency. I’ll admit it: I just skimmed over Caldwell’s latest offering of jigsaw-storytelling this week. He lost me after the first tier (?) of panels and I mean LOST me. Where you were supposed to go after that, I seriously couldn’t tell you. It all seems to be a re-telling of how Diana gained all her Wonder Woman accoutrements with Hispanic (?) overtones but again, I only skimmed over it when I realized I was spending too much time on figuring out what panel came next – and me a 35+ year veteran of reading comics. If a creator insists on being what I see as self-indulgent – my opinion – then I don’t need to waste my time and energies on it. I wanted to like it but Caldwell’s working against his readers.

SGT. ROCK AND EASY CO.3 ½ whiskers. Rock’s interrogation comes to an end and Easy Co. finds some new friends. Unfortunately, the Kuberts seems to be falling into the same trap as the Superman strip: repeating themselves. We get that Rock’s being beaten. Got it. Thanks for bringing it to a close, perhaps, with a gun loosed from its holster. More interesting is the path of the battle-happy joes of Easy Co. and the underground warriors they chance upon. That’s an avenue I’ll happily follow; let’s hope Rock gets a similar chance to strut his stuff.

FLASH COMICS4 ½ whiskers. Flash travels back along a race he’s already run, risking both his life and his life with Iris. Okay, I had to get out my copy of WEDNESDAY COMICS #1 to put things together and if you do the same, I think it will be very worthwhile. Sure, I spent a bit of extra time on this strip to figure it out, like “Wonder Woman,” but unlike that I was actually rewarded for my efforts. Kerschl and Fletcher cleverly use time to their advantage and again not only weave both stories together but also all previous installments. Can’t wait to see where else this goes, guys. Cool.

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN4 ½ whiskers. A transformed Catwoman squares off against a curious Demon. Ask for a meeting between the strip’s two stars and ye shall receive! In a flurry of Ye Olde Speeche the Demon gets down to the business of figuring out what’s what and you the reader has a front-row seat. And it’s pretty cool. Simonson’s upped the ante on Selina to make her a match for Merlin’s monster and the fight and the magicks come off pretty damn cool. As to all the flowery talk – ehh, I’ll leave it to more learn others to tell me if it’s “correct” or not. Me, I always get a kick out of stuff like that. Shades of Stan Lee!

HAWKMAN3 whiskers. Hawkman summons help to stop an alien invasion. Couple of things disrupted my enjoyment of this story this time around. First and foremost, I don’t care for computer-generated art mixing with hand-drawn. Something about it makes for a speed-bump the size of Rhode Island for me. It was probably there all along but Baker’s use of it here with the spaceships and the texturing made me a bit queasy – either one or the other, Kyle! I know that incredibly creative things can be done with drawing programs but it still smacks of laziness to me when it’s mixed with hand-drawn art. And I already know Baker can draw up a storm. Two storms. A tempest, actually. Second nitpick: why tease us with Hawkgirl and Batman and then not fully show them? What was up with the silhouettes? Is Baker worried that other heroes will steal Hawkman’s thunder? Kyle, not when Hawkman is being portrayed as THIS COOL. See? I’ll put forth that we didn’t need the JLA at all in this strip, though Hawkgirl’s a very welcome addition. Third pick of nits: why do the alien craft look like the Reliant from “Star Trek”? Sigh. Hailing frequencies closed.

Though we end here on something of a downer I just want to say that it’s still an overall pleasure to buy and consume a new issue of this incredible project. What? Oh, he’s right here…

Mr. Wednesday Wanty – wants to see some more of the ruined Earth in the “Kamandi” strip. We’re getting its denizens but wouldn’t some more coolness like the sunken NYC in the first issue be great? Also, Mr. Wanty wants to tell you that he’s to the point that spreading his copy of WEDNESDAY COMICS out flat on the floor and smoothing it down a bit works the best for his reading pleasure. What’s YOUR preferred mode of reading it? We want to know!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #3

Wednesday Comics #3 – Overall rating: 4 whiskers.

Continuing with my informal, unscientific poling of message boards I’m seeing a lot of disdain for the “Teen Titans” and “Wonder Woman” strips in WEDNESDAY COMICS, a situation that doesn’t exactly fill me with glee – I want the entire project to succeed – but I think it confirms that I’m not crazy at least. How did those two stories fare this week along with the rest of the continuing adventures of The World’s Greatest Heroes?

Let’s find out. Together. Just you and me. Pull up a chair, pal.

BATMAN4 ½ whiskers. Batman eavesdrops on a domestic squabble, delving further into a mysterious case. This strip continues to surprise me. Lots of subtle things going on here but the stand-out thought in my mind is that Batman’s stuck on the outside looking inside on a private life, however disgusting, that’s lost to him. One of the nicest touches is Batman’s doubled-up fist when witnessing the slap; the lady may be a tramp but she’s a human being nonetheless. Violence, though often the Caped Crusader’s tool, is something that boils his insides. What a moody piece this is. Bravo.

KAMANDI5 whiskers. Kamandi and Tuftan escape the rats and go sailing away with another ally. I was really hoping Dr. Canus would show up sooner than later and was not disappointed by his arrival this week. Again, Sook uses the huge playing field to great advantage and with a nice arranging of panels gives the airship a beautiful introduction. The richness of Kirby’s world is given full flower this time and the perky glimpse of beauty and beasts in the final panel make me thrill for more. Beautiful colors, btw.

SUPERMAN3 ½ whiskers. Superman’s still troubled by thoughts of being an alien and flies home for a taste of what really matters. I think perhaps this week’s entry provides the nicest art of the three installments but I’m still wondering – lightly – where this is going. I appreciate the look at Clark’s two worlds, both of Metropolis and Lois and the Kent’s Smallville, but there’s something about Arcudi’s abrupt endings that bugs me. Could it be he feels a “To Be Continued” or a “Next Week” would be out of place in the strip? Regardless, it’s interesting that the character with the greatest power and action potential of WEDNESDAY COMICS has one of the quietest strips of the lot.

DEADMAN4 ½ whiskers. Deadman’s attempt at possession sends him hurtling into the abyss, only to find someone with an axe to grind at the bottom. Turning the page to this strip was one of the highlights of the issue. What a loaded gun that was! I liked Boston’s inner struggle between helping the girl and the idea of welcoming her into the spirit world. Interesting stuff. And why is Deadman “alive” at the end and who is “Kalak”? Count on me to be right here next week to find out…

GREEN LANTERN4 whiskers. No sooner does Green Lantern enter as Hal Jordan then he exits again as GL – to save a friend-turned-monster! There’s an underlying humor in this strip that not only compliments the action but the art, too. Hal’s friend perk up when he enters and that in itself is a joy to behold, though Carol Ferris is less than impressed – supposedly. What’s up with astronaut Joe Dillon? I dunno – but boy is he ugggggllllyyy! Note: Colors were a bit too somber this week, I thought.

METAMORPHO3 whiskers. Rex and Co. enter an ancient temple. Sound like the description for last week? It is; good spotting. If this one giant panel thing continues – this is the second week of it – I may have to reassess my enjoyment of this strip. Oh, it looks GREAT but does nothing at all for the narrative. It’s almost as if Allred’s more concerned with showing off his panoramic powers than telling a story, as if Gaiman thinks he has more than twelve parts to spin a yarn and why hurry with the spinning? Guys, c’mon. Metamorpho is a FANTASTIC character with a FANTASTIC supporting cast – don’t use up your precious few installments with pretty pictures alone. DO something. And Java isn’t erudite or poetic – what’s up with that? And as cute as the MFA panel is it doesn’t mean the rest of the strip gets a pass. Give us some meat.

TEEN TITANS2 ½ whiskers. The Titans seek aid from the medics but Trident’s still on their tails. I must admit that while overall I continue to not care for this strip at least something happens this week. I sort of like the idea of S.M.A.S.H. but that art is am eyesore and the cast is completely uninspiring. Who are these characters? Why are they together? What do they do, other than get their asses handed to them? Before I forget, that “Yamato” cartoon or whatever called and wants their flying submarine back.

STRANGE ADVENTURES4 ½ whiskers. While Allana’s led to the larder Adam gets in touch with the Zeta beam and – disappears. Ladies and gentlemen, I think this story might just be the one that’s running under everyone’s radar and I submit here and now that it’s worthy of much, much more attention then its getting. It’s good. Very good. And it’s so pulpy, so in tune with the early days of science fiction that it makes it a joy for an old school fan like me to read. The whole bit with the Zeta energy harkens back to classic stuff like the “Lensman” novels and all those seminal uses of mind powers in pulp days. Pope really knows what he’s doing here and surprising me every issue. May be one of the best things he’s ever done.

SUPERGIRL3 whiskers. Krypto calms down and joins Supergirl in the quest for Streaky. Again, this strip isn’t really bad or really good – it just is. Its fun, sure, and it’s drawn in a fun manner and if you like the Super Pets like I do than bonus. Personally, I think we didn’t need the last panel of Supergirl telling us exactly what we can see is happening in the penultimate panel but, hey, that’s probably just me.

METAL MEN4 ½ whiskers. One of the bank robbers takes a hostage and the Metal Men are put between a rock and a hard place. The Little Woman pointed out to me that there’s a shadowy figure in trenchcoat and wide-brimmed hat that’s been in the background of every installment so far – boy do I feel dumb for not noticing him. Maybe that’s a credit to DiDio and Garcia-Lopez’ cramming of action into every panel, or maybe its just that I didn’t notice it. The mystery man doesn’t seem to be fazed by all the goings-on…who could this be? What fun! That made this strip even better.

WONDER WOMAN1 ½ whiskers. Diana fights Dr. Poison. Yep, here we go again. I apologize for the tirade ahead, folks. Just about everything that Caldwell does here is a great disservice to the strip and it audience, in my opinion. I realized while reading it that the tiny panels do absolutely nothing for my sense of the action; what is going on, exactly? If there are fights and other movements I cannot discern them through the cramped artwork. If there is wonderful dialogue and speeches I cannot fathom them through the near-unreadable lettering. If there is wonder and magic I cannot glimpse them through the muddy coloring. Why do I dread this strip each week? Why do I collect myself and save my strength up to start down its path each issue? Its one big attempt at turning WW into a faux-Disney feature, complete with their typical moon-eyed heroine, talking/joking animal sidekicks and just this side of scary villains. I gave this week’s chapter a half point for using an established WW opponent but other than that I wouldn’t cry too much if I didn’t have to slog through nine more weeks of this. And get a costume on that girl.

SGT. ROCK AND EASY CO.4 ½ whiskers. Easy Co.’s closer to finding Rock but the battered soldier himself isn’t looking too pretty. Joe Kubert knows how to draw the effects of a serious beat-down, that’s for sure. And that’s a good thing! I continue to appreciate Rock’s insolence in the face of adversity and I’ve become quite fascinated with the photographer character who’s stepped out of the background to perhaps take center stage. His presence is almost perverse, in a way, and I look forward to discovering why his presence is so important to the “Kommadant.” Go, Kuberts!

FLASH COMICS4 ½ whiskers. Iris has had enough and leaves while the two Flashes go back to the future. Thing are moving, well, FAST here this week and there’s no time to reflect on Iris’ angry departure. We’ve got a date with the future and a future Flash who echoes many of the Scarlet Speedster’s comic book adventures of the past several years. Kerschl’s just this side of complicating things a bit too much but I’m still greatly enjoying this double strip and I can’t say enough about the art. It suits the story to a “T.”

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN5 whiskers. Catwoman’s captured by a strange old lady who collars the kitty and induces a transformation. Wow, this strip just moved into the 5 Whiskers Club. I’ve said it before: I never expected to like this one as much as I do and this week’s installment fired on all cylinders. The sense of Selina’s entry into a darker world beyond her abilities is thick and her magical change this week was both surprising and eerie. Who’s the old crone? The Demon’s traditional and eternal enemy is Morgan Le Fay – if this is her, its something of a new take on her. Might also be the legendary Baba Yaga. We’ll find out one way or another and I can’t WAIT for Catwoman to meet Etrigan face-to-face! Meow, indeed!

HAWKMAN4 whiskers. The Winged Wonder uncovers the vanguard of an alien invasion of Earth. Sure, Hawkman’s been a science fiction character for decades but I must admit to a bit of disappointment when the terrorists of weeks 1 and 2 turned out to be “Makkorthians.” Why? I think there’s already enough SF in WEDNESDAY COMICS, pure and simple, and I think something more along the lines of a political thriller might have stood out more. Still, there’s a great feeling of power in Baker’s Hawkman and a gritty realism. Still like the strip and will see where it all goes.

And that's pretty much it for another week, except for...

Mr. Wednesday Wantywants to know how this thing’s selling and what the plans are for collecting it. The mind boggles: can you imagine the size of the tpb for this? Surely they won’t shrink it down? Defeats the purpose! Clue us in to what’s up, D(o)C! And while were at it, why isn’t there a WEDNESDAY COMICS forum on the DC Message Boards? Insane!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #2

Wednesday Comics #2 – Overall rating: 4 whiskers.

If I’m any judge of gauging reactions as I’ve traveled around the ‘Net I’d say DC has a winner on their hands with WEDNESDAY COMICS. Oh, there were a few quibbles over the format – as if there wasn’t a ton of explanation before hand – and a few stink bombs about the price – I get it that money’s an issue, as it is with me – but I wholeheartedly believe I’m getting my money’s worth here with the amount of paper, the talent, the storytelling and only one ad. And I understand and appreciate the history of the format. I feel as if I’m walking in the footsteps of my father, my grandfather, great-grandfather, etc. That’s a pretty cool feeling.

This week brings some improvements to a few of the more lacking strips and a couple o’ nice surprises to others. Let’s dig right in, shall we? We shall!

BATMAN4 whiskers. Bruce Wayne attends a funeral and falls head over heels for a widow. This is the way I think it should be for all the strips: introduce your hero the first week and start playing around with the set-up thereafter. It was very cool to see Bruce enter the story – a facet of Batman I never get enough of – and a good glimpse into Bruce’s “life.” I’m assuming his callous remarks about the widow are simply to maintain his status as a shallow playboy; regardless, he’s got some new trouble on his hands of which I’m betting it’s all a trap to snare him like Franklin Glass before him.

KAMANDI5 whiskers. Kamandi greets an old friend but crosses paths with a horde of savage mutated animals. The perfect strip, hands down. I love its continued emulation of such classics as “Prince Valiant” with the dialogue in the text and not in balloons – and can Ryan Sook’s art get any more gorgeous and illustrative? I honestly think this is a strip that Kirby’d be proud of – and it’s what he originally intended, his DC creations begun by him put continued by others. This is one exciting and charming exercise in comics.

SUPERMAN4 whiskers. Superman heads to Gotham City for some advice but his words fall on unsympathetic ears. Wow! Didn’t see THAT one coming! Batman’s appearance here ups the ante for me on this strip and Bermejo’s supplying a Dark Knight that crouches and snarls and glowers. Two caveats here: Superman should have been way past such feelings a long time ago and his departure came off as petulant. Still, a good-looking strip and the dialogue’s handled well. But poor widdle Supes!

DEADMAN4 whiskers. Boston Brand tells his spiritual benefactor to stuff it and steps into deep doo-doo. Nice confrontation here between Deadman and Rama Kushna, giving the reader an idea of the forces at play in his ghostly world. Kind of chilling when she says his “mere existence” is at her “discretion.” But Boston’s headstrong – gotta love ‘im – and leaps when he should think. Looks like everything’s going to Hell in a red and white handbasket…

GREEN LANTERN4 whiskers. Green Lantern shows us what he’s made of and astronaut Dillon gets the mother of all headaches. Okay, this is what I’m talkin’ ‘bout: GL action. Ring-slingin’, baby. And against Russkie spy-warriors. It looked great, reads as well and the stuff with Joe Dillon is interesting. Is he going to become one of Hal’s rogues’ gallery? I dunno, but consider my interest piqued and my outlook on this strip changed for the better.

METAMORPHO3 ½ whiskers. Rex and Co. enter an ancient temple. Okay, didn’t really see this coming, either. Basically, its one very large panel with a weird little extra added bonus at the bottom. Clearly, Gaiman and Allred are going to be playing fast and loose with this strip – and they should – but I think there’s a bit of a mis-fire here. There wasn’t much that happened last week; not much happens here. If that’s the intention, that the art is the draw and whatever else is just along for the ride, well, okay, I guess. I did dig the fantasy of the MFA at the bottom, really, but…I’m waiting to see if this’ll be the norm for this page. Nice try with the logo, btw.

TEEN TITANS2 whiskers. The Titans fight Trident and must be saved by their elders. I was going to give this strip an extra half whisker this week for actually getting on with it but I deducted it for calling Trident a toothpaste instead of a gum. Weird thing is that Berganza’s an EDITOR. Huh.

STRANGE ADVENTURES4 whiskers. Adam Strange is forced to play a different tune but has something else up his sleeve. I like this strip. I think I like it even a bit more than last week. Pope’s creating a balance of conventionality and the avant garde that not only fits the strip but fits the overall concept of WEDNESDAY COMICS. If you’re an Edgar Rice Burroughs fan, as well as a Julius Schwartz fan, I don’t think you could go too wrong with this. Fun stuff. Blue monkeys rock.

SUPERGIRL3 whiskers. Supergirl’s pets create more havoc. Second verse same as the first. I think I have it now: this is the humor strip. This is the light-hearted story for fun and frivolity. And it fills that role fairly well, too. Nice to look at, relatively innocuous; I have no real complaints about it nor passionate feeling, either. I was glad they mentioned the amount of property damage, though.

METAL MEN4 ½ whiskers. The Metal Men stop the bankrobbers but face Doc Magnus’ ire as well as the security cop’s gun. Yeah, baby: that’s some Metal Men right there. THAT’S what I wanted last week. Metal Men action and hijinks and goofy one-liners and Tina’s crush on Will and Will’s complete exhaustion over what do with these crazy-ass robots he’s created. DiDio kicks it in this week and dammit, I want to know why that cop is pointing a gun at them. Oh, and btw, that kid is a-okay in my book. Mercury’s orange coloring is not. Must be some wacked-out thermometers in the Mulvihill household.

WONDER WOMAN1 whisker. Diana goes through water and talks to more animals and thinks she’s dreaming again. Does that sound right? Listen: I wanted to give this strip a completely new, even fairer chance after my disappointment last week. It squandered that chance. Everything it did wrong last time it did wrong this time. I just don’t believe this is the place for an experimental take on Wonder Woman – save it for a graphic novel. Hell, there’s no Wonder Woman even in it. There are tiny panels, tiny lettering, horrible colors and boring happenings. I am sorry, Mr. Caldwell, truly, but I don’t care about whatever’s going on here. Please make me care. Where’s the myth? Where‘s the WONDER?

SGT. ROCK AND EASY CO.4 whiskers. Rock gets another chance to speak but holds his tongue. Kubert’s really the master, isn’t he? Can anyone else make war comics look this brutal, this visceral, yet this grandiose? You have to LOVE Rock’s bravado in the face of the ultimate beating. That alone was worth the turning of the page. And glad to see some of Easy Co. enter the story, too.

FLASH COMICS5 whiskers. Iris wants to leave but the Flash enters into some supreme weirdness. I have this strip pegged now, too: it’s the romance comic of the book. I totally dig that, especially since the crazy-ass stuff that happens this week puts it into something more like “Dark Shadows” territory. I mean, Flash meets himself and fights himself over a note on a piece of paper? And kudos to Kerschl and Co. for tying these two strips together the way they do. I love that. Its fun, its flashy and its one of my favorites. More! More!

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN4 ½ whiskers. Catwoman pilfers the goods and a certain demon’s not too happy about it. Like I said last week, the fun here is the idea of Selina getting into a situation that’s far, far out of her league. I really liked the oddity of Jason’s home – another nod to “Dark Shadows” in a way – and I’m glad to see Etrigan so soon. Half a point off for some confusion as to what exactly is going on in the last panel: is the Demon howling or the wolves or both?

HAWKMAN5 whiskers. Hawkman approaches the hijacked plane and must contend with both captors and captives. This is a rough Hawkman. He throws his “army” into harm’s way and damn the cost. On the other hand, he charmingly and engagingly gives a little girl a cherry thumbs-up. This strip continues to amaze me. I think perhaps this could actually be good for the character once all is said and done. And that’d be a miracle.

Two weeks in and already there are calls for a continuation, a sequel. I think people are seeing the magic of the format and the quality that DC’s pouring into it. It’s an enjoyable experience.

Mr. Wednesday Wanty – wants to like TEEN TITANS and WONDER WOMAN, no fake, but sense the rest of the community marshalling their forces behind him in support of his negativity. But the calls for the two strips to be dropped and replaced with something else? Heh. It’s a done deal, Bunky. This ain’t an ongoing.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #1

WEDNESDAY COMICS #1 – Overall rating: 3 ½ whiskers.

Hey, everybody. Thanks for taking a look at my first WEDNESDAY COMICS review. I hope you’ll enjoy it or find it worthwhile and join me for the next 11 weeks.

I’m going to be looking at DC’s grand new experiment with an eye towards their own advertisement of the project – that it’s accessible to new readers yet accessible to everyone. Do the stories within give you enough to go on and enough to make you stick around? For the most part, I’d say “yes.” There’s a few odd chances being taken here by some of the writers but overall this is a creatively intriguing “book” and I’ll be glad to follow it for 12 weeks.

Also, a small part of me is chuckling over thoughts of some fans cringing at the folds and stress marks on the paper. Visions of them ironing it have me in stitches…

BATMAN3 ½ whiskers. The Dark Knight’s on a new case, one that doesn’t exactly jibe with other kidnappings. I liked Azzarello’s opening insight into Batman and Gordon’s relationship but I thought he made our hero come off as something of a neophyte. The Caped Crusader’s lack of foreknowledge of the case and his surprise as to the time isn’t inspiring me with confidence in his abilities. Risso doesn’t help things with panel 11’s pained expression but he does do a very nice Mignola-type visual.

KAMANDI5 whiskers. The Last Boy on Earth reflects on his world and is confronted by a stranger. Wow. Top marks for both writing and art. Gibbons sets the mood as both wistful and adventurous by not focusing too strongly on the apocalyptic angle but definitely playing up the “entire world to play in” thing. There’s a touch of Tarzan here, too. Sook’s art is glorious and his tilted view of a partially submerged building is easily the Panel of the Week. I appreciate the nod to classy to Kirby, also.

SUPERMAN3 ½ whiskers. The Last Son of Krypton meets an alien who has something to say about our hero’s heritage. Another visual treat here, with Bermejo’s painterly visuals leaping off the page with a single bound. Arcudi has a few interesting things to say about Superman’s outlook towards other aliens and the public’s view of his fights. Good stuff and I’m hoping for more on these angles.

DEADMAN4 whiskers. The Ghost With the Most sticks his nose into a strange series of murders. Bullock and Heuck get high marks right off the bat for presenting the original version of Deadman, that is, not the emaciated, skeletal spook of the last several years. This is a full-bodied Deadman who basically tells us he’s too curious for his own good. While I appreciated the opening establishing text box I feel as if the actual narrative wasted space going over some of the same points, which these strips cannot spare. Still, it’s a good first look at the character’s milieu – I just hope he’ll do some body-hopping next week.

GREEN LANTERN3 whiskers. Hal’s friends talk about him in a bar. I wish it was a bit more exciting than that but that’s the gist of the story this week. It’s an odd beginning by Busiek, taking a chance on excluding his star until the final panel and while his secret identity of Hal Jordan is definitely referred to otherwise I’d have to say that someone new to the character might not get that first important impression. It’s not necessarily the wrong way to go put the visual hook of GL and his ring isn’t truly there. Cool that the NEW FRONTIER setting and look is being used – Quinones rocks the house visually.

METAMORPHO4 ½ whiskers. The Element Man’s in his element and then out as Stagg sends him on a new mission. Another fantastic visual treat with Allred’s careful art considerations from literal top to bottom. The roll call lit me up like a Christmas tree. My only story caveat here is that Gaiman is hiding his light under a bushel – there’s no real glimmer of his unique voice in the writing. This is 1960s Metamorpho all the way, baby…but maybe it could be a bit more? Where are the Gaiman touches?

TEEN TITANS2 whiskers. The Titanic Teens gain a new adversary. One of the low points of the issue, Berganza goes with the modern Teen Titans instead of a membership that may have appealed to a wider slice of readers. A lot of the page is taken up with a history lesson, by the villain, and nothing much more to intrigue us. Galloway’s art is a manga-mash and is simply not my cup of tea. Too cartoony for its own good its muted coloring robs the strip of the visual punch it needs to carry the story.

STRANGE ADVENTURES3 ½ whiskers. Adam Strange wakes up to find he’s needed to put down a strange invasion. I’ll admit it: I was a bit tremulous about what Pope – a fellow Ohioan – would do with the character but I was pleasantly surprised. He sticks to the established Adam Strange history and really gives it his all. There’s a quirky sense of modernism underlying the whole thing and sadly here too do we get muddy, muted coloring – what gives? Regardless, the story’s off on a strange and exciting launch.

SUPERGIRL3 whiskers. Supergirl’s got her hands full with not one but two super-pets. I appreciate the retro Supergirl look and the use of both Krypto and Streaky but I’m not too sure of what we’re in store for here. Adventure? Comedy? A mixture? It’s certainly a competently-handled strip on all fronts but doesn’t tell me too much about the character – other than her seeming lack of concern for the public’s safety and a helluva lot of property damage. It’s definitely a wait-and-see entry.

METAL MEN3 ½ whiskers. The World’s Greatest Automatons go on a field trip and fall smack dab into a bank robbery. First thought as I read this: where are the Metal Men? Why is there yet another strip that holds its main characters in reserve? The Garcia-Lopez art is drop-dead gorgeous and DiDio’s scripting is smooth – as well as his choice of a retro look – but that tiny peek at one of the Metal Men’s powers doesn’t really cut it. These are characters that rely on the visual hook of their personalities PLUS their powers, in my opinion. At least the colors here are bright and a sense of fun is in high evidence.

WONDER WOMAN1 ½ whiskers. Princess Diana dreams (?) she’s in Mortal’s World. I truly do not have much of a clue as to what’s going on here. It’s absolutely the lowest point of this issue. From the terrible logo to the muted colors, tiny lettering and uninteresting story, Wonder Woman’s seen much better days. I hesitate to even call it “Wonder Woman” for she’s really nowhere to be seen. I’ll give Caldwell credit for trying something new – I think he’s re-telling the origin? – but in a nutshell I grew bored with it about ¾ through. Full disclosure: I’m not a WW fan but I hope and hope for someone to come along and make me a fan. Even hoped that this series would do it, supposedly being ground-zero for accessibility, but Caldwell’s first foray gave me a slight headache as I tried to discern what it’s all about, both in writing and art. Not a great start.

SGT. ROCK4 whiskers. Rock’s captured and at the mercy of a Nazi officer and his thugs. Wow. Wow again. Kubert’s back and brought his son with them and the results are great, but – it’s not enough! I compliment the Kubert’s for starting right in the middle of the action with some fist-falls and hard knocks but it’s so good that the urge to want more NOW is too overwhelming. Looking forward to this one – though I bet Rock isn’t. Gonna be brutal.

FLASH COMICS5 whiskers. Flash faces off against Gorilla Grodd and Iris decides to leave Barry. Whodathunkit: two strips for the price of one! Kerschl and Co. managed to squeeze two separate stories into their page, one of Flash and one for Iris. They seem to be connected and I dig that aspect the most. Flash is shown using his powers and up against a great adversary and the balancing of the fantastic and the mundane was one nice surprise. This is a page I’ll look forward to every week. I hope Iris can maintain her own logo…that’s too unique to drop.

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN4 ½ whiskers. Selina’s off on another caper, this time in England where she sets her sights on Jason Blood. When I first heard of this strip’s concept I scratched my head over it, but Simonson sold me right out of the gate and made a pitch for the logic behind Catwoman’s interest in what Blood’s got. No, the Demon’s not present but the mood and atmosphere are and Stelfreeze’s art is both expansive and detailed. The potential that Simonson lays out is terrific: what will a lone, mortal cat burglar do when she finds herself in the home of a supernatural powerhouse the likes of the Demon? I for one want to know and know soon. Glad to see this one.

HAWKMAN5 whiskers. Hawkman and his avian entourage head for a rendezvous with danger high in the sky. I can find no fault with this Hawkman strip; in fact, I think it’s wonderful. Through the unique voice of one of the birds who follow him on a mission Baker tells us pretty much everything we need to know about the Winged Wonder. I appreciated the cinematic visuals and the particular danger of the mission Hawkman’s approaching and I’m thoroughly intrigued. Bring it on.

In summation, a good, solid start. I’d love to know what someone who may pick this up off a discerning newsstand might think of it. There’s something here for a wide variety of readers, but…

Mr. Wednesday Wanty – wants to know why there’s super-heroes, war and science fiction but no western strip or, amazingly enough, one of DC’s golden age characters in a 1940s setting. What a missed opportunity he thinks to not have prepared a Sandman story or an Hourman tale with plenty of what made the heyday of Sunday comics something special. Wouldn’t that have made sense? There’s some redundancy herein and the ticket would have been, in his opinion, a bit more diversity. Give us the Golden Age next time!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Thursday Follows Wednesday #0

Okay, its Friday - so sue me.

In this space starting next Thursday the 9th you will find my weekly reviews of DC Comics' WEDNESDAY COMICS. I'm pretty excited about it, as you can see from my photo. Hope you are too.

See you then.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Batman & Robin Ichiban!

Written to Dan DiDio on Facebook:

"Dan, BATMAN & ROBIN #1 was a romp yet encompassing a serious core. Good action, great art, simple yet eloquent dialogue and it touched upon things that a both modern and classic Batman fan'd be interested in - namely Dick's almost-shy shouldering of the mantle, Damian's brashness-of-legacy, Alfred's presence (thank you!) and a couple of fun new baddies. Hey, it was fun. And that's praiseworthy in itself."