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.