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!


Robert R. said...

I think you're misreading the Metamorpho strip. The shadowy figure is the mystery villain with his own element man, not Rex. Basically, crazy eyes = evil in this case.

Nikki said...

modern streaky is a she, silver age streaky was a he.

Jim Beard said...

Robert - yikes. I really did NOT "get" that. Might have to take a point off... ;-)

Nikki - thanks! I THOUGHT so! :)

Aaron said...

I didn't appreciate the sissies comment, and I'm a touch disappointed that you did. It was an unnecessary comment, and one that seems to make Boston come across as a teenage douchebag.

Or perhaps that was just the writer Mary-Sue'ing his own insecurities on the character.