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!


kevrhon said...

I like the final thought. Is "Mr. Wed. Wanty" you or someone else? I'd much rather have seen Silver Age Titans, done less...experimentally. But better yet, dump Titans and Wonder Woman (what a mess) and put in a Capt. Marvel strip, and (wait for it) THE SPIRIT! Would have raised the package a couple of notches in my estimation. Overall, a nice package and mostly nice execution. I don't agree totally with your thoughts, especially regarding Superman, Hawkman and Sgt. Rock. Bigger page shouldn't mean bigger panels, it should mean more story. (Not to the WW extreme.) I think those 3 were too decompressed. With only one page a week for 13 weeks, Kubert et. al. will need to get a move on if they're going to tell a story and not just depict a scene.

Glen said...

For the most part I enjoyed it, and agree with your criticisms, but I thikn I liked the Metal Men strip more than you. I got a kick out of seeing them in "civilian" guise.

I agree with you about the diversity issue. I think NightHawk or the cowboy Vigilante would be a perfect fit. Maybe even a jungle strip with B'wana Beast. Or some sort of humor strip, Captain Carrot, or even Binky.

On the whole though, it's nice to see DC doing something new and experimental instead of variant covers.

Jim Beard said...

Kevrhon, sorry, I always forget to look for comments here. Mr. Wanty is a character of mine that started back in my "52" review days. He was singled out by Keith Giffen himself for "special" abuse in Keith's own columns :) Thanks you for your comments!!!

Jim Beard said...

Glen, nice to see your comments here. I too like the MM's civilian guises - but not in their first chapter and at the expense of their regular robotic selves.

I'm hoping for a Ma Hunkel strip next time.