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!