Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday Comics

I finally managed to read the hardcover collection of DC's Wednesday Comics experiment. I was pretty skeptical--it seemed a little precious to me, trying so hard to replicate the old Sunday strip format with serialized stories--but I loved it. It's a wonderful thing, and I hope they do this again sometime.

As I get older, I find my patience for the soap operatic world of comic book universes getting shorter. This is why I've turned so much lately to older comics, especially comics for kids; they're funny, they're brief, they're enjoyable, and then they're over. Even a long serial, like the classic "Monster Society of Evil" story from Captain Marvel Adventures, is self-contained and fun. It's when the continuity-conscious come into comic books that I really don't care much anymore. To me, a story is a story. Sometimes, like with Bone or Sandman, it's a long story, but it's still a story. To look at Marvel or DC now, it seems like most readers don't or can't enjoy a story unless they know how it relates to every other story the company has ever told. So much so, that crap like Civil War and Final Crisis make continuity their chief concern, instead of the story itself.

Anyway, blah blah, you've heard me rant about this at length before, and I'm as sick of it as you. What I want to say here is that the wonderful thing about Wednesday Comics is that the main concern is telling fun, clever stories in a short amount of space. And for the most part, it really works. Several times while reading this, Becca told me if comics were like this all the time she'd read them more often. I have to agree with her.

For the hell of it, some breakdowns on the contents:

Batman by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso
Fun stuff; a moody callback to pulp detective/romance novels. I like the art. Bruce is a big guy; Batman is something of a thug. I give it 3 out of 5.

Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth by Dave Gibbons & Ryan Sook
One of my favorite stories in the whole thing. The art deserves special praise; the pages of Kamandi recall Hal Foster's Tarzan pages. The story recalls Raymond's Flash Gordon more than Kirby, but it's still incredible fun. The kind of adventure story I crave but almost never get. 5 out of 5.

Superman by John Arcudi & Lee Bermejo
Not bad; I always have fun with Arcudi's Superman, and I like all of the Smallville stuff. There are some twists I really enjoyed. 4 out of 5.

Deadman by Dave Bullock & Vinton T. Heuck
I'm not really the biggest Deadman fan in the world, but I loved a lot of the mystical ins and outs of this story, mixed with Boston Brand's typically no-nonsense attitude. At times, it felt like Bullock and Heuck were trying to write a cross between The Goon and Hellboy, but damned if I didn't enjoy it because of that. 3 out of 5.

Green Lantern by Kurt Busiek & Joe Quinones
What a pleasure to see Busiek just go all-out and write an unself-consciously Silver Age Green Lantern story. This was pure pleasure from start to finish. This is Green Lantern as I want to remember him, anyway: the space adventure, the science fiction, the strange creatures and the optimism. I've never seen Joe Quinones' artwork before, but I hope to see a lot more of it in the future. 5 out of 5.

Metamorpho, the Element Man by Neil Gaiman & Mike Allred
Gaiman & Allred make a great team; but where Green Lantern reveled in its Silver Age setting, Metamorpho is a little too self-conscious an attempt to replicate the feel of comic strips of the time. At first it was cute that they kept throwing in things like puzzles in the bottoms, but after a while, it was a chore to look at. The art is so creative, too, and you can tell Neil Gaiman really loves old comics, but it just wasn't as fun as the creators obviously thought it was. 3 out of 5.

Teen Titans by Eddie Berganza & Sean Galloway
This one was just all over the place and hard to follow; and it didn't really make following it worthwhile. It's not that I'm not a Teen Titans fan, but this one just seemed to be stuck in continuity and I couldn't really figure out after a while what I was supposed to be looking at. I admit, I didn't finish reading this story. 1 out of 5.

Strange Adventures by Paul Pope
Grand space opera the way it's supposed to be. 'Nuff said. 5 out of 5.

Supergirl by Jimmy Palmiotti & Amanda Conner
Wonderful. Totally wonderful. It begins with Supergirl trying to control Streaky and Krypto as they get out of hand, and just gets more and more beautiful from there. A perfect comic for kids, thoroughly enjoyable, and Amanda Conner's Supergirl is frankly definitive. Nice to see creators who actually understand what Supergirl should be. 5 out of 5.

Metal Men by Dan DiDio & Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Great art, as if you needed to be told. I admit, I was kind of hoping to hate this one because I despise what Dan DiDio has done to the DC Universe, but it wasn't bad. He's got the characterizations of the Metal Men down. The only major problem I had with it was the episodic style of writing. It just piles on so much in one place: then this happens, and then these people happened to be there, and then this happened. But I admit, I enjoyed it. 3 out of 5.

Wonder Woman by Ben Caldwell
It's a neat story, but it's hard to read. The story involves a teenage Princess Diana--not yet gone to the outside world to be Wonder Woman--being charged with quests in her dreams to find different mythological artifacts. It's very dense with detail, and as a result, the pages are jampacked with tiny panels. It's difficult to look at because the length of the tale necessitates the look. I think this is the wrong format for this one; it would've been much more enjoyable as a special, where the story could've taken its time and given the art room to breathe. So, while the story's great, the limits of the format just hamper the whole thing. 2 out of 5.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. by Adam Kubert & Joe Kubert
Fantastic. Just fantastic. Always a fan of Sgt. Rock, and this is a great episode. 5 out of 5.

The Flash by Brendan Fletcher & Karl Kerschl
Another Silver Age tale, with Barry Allen facing off against Gorilla Grodd and time-traveling and dimension-hopping in the process. Like Green Lantern, very optimistic and fun and science fiction, but I think it unravels at the end. The final twist feels more like a cop-out, which mars what is otherwise a great story. 3 out of 5.

The Demon and Catwoman by Walter Simonson & Brian Stelfreeze
I expected not to like this much, to be honest, but it's really fun. Jason Blood and Selina Kyle make a surprisingly great pairing that I'd never considered before, and of course I usually enjoy the use of Arthurian myths. 4 out of 5.

Hawkman by Kyle Baker
I don't know what it is that didn't work here for me. One of my favorite comic book creators, and a great character, but there was something about the beautiful art and the dialogue that just didn't mesh together for me. 2 out of 5.

Plastic Man by Evan Dorkin & Stephen DeStefano
My biggest disappointment with this is that it turned out to be only one page. More, please. 5 out of 5.

The Creeper by Keith Giffen & Eric Canete
It was okay. Nothing more to say here. 2 out of 5.

Really, if you get a chance to, pick up the collection and check some of the stories out. There's a lot here to appeal to a wide array of readers. And as someone who misses fun in comics and latches onto it when I do see it, I highly recommend it. This is one of the few gems to come out of the Big Two in this swiftly-ending first decade of the 21st century.

1 comment:

sambo said...

Only Two
Yours And Calvin's Cave
Worth Reading
Damn Always