Review: Wednesday Comics #3

Wednesday

Last week’s Wednesday Comics was the first to really disappoint.  The premise of the project should suggest that the creators compress their stories as much as possible, at least in general – when all’s said and done, they only really have 15 pages to finish the story.  While some creators have risen to the challenge, like Caldwell on Wonder Woman or Pope on Strange Adventures, some strips that started out strong have begun to peter off already.

There is still the seeds of genius that were strongly evident in the first two issues, but there are too many non-starters here.  The flaws remain relatively unfixed, with the weakest pages among the first two issues showing little improvement.  Not all is bleak, of course – a project with this many gifted creators is bound to have some astonishing moments – but I am not sure that a book facing all the challenges that Wednesday Comics faces can afford to have many more issues like this one: Not bad, but not quite worth the trouble.

Grade: B-

– Cal Cleary

Wednesday Comics #2

Wednesday Comics #1

Review: Wednesday Comics #2

Wed2

Though Wednesday Comics #2 didn’t do much to improve over the flaws of the first one, and certainly won’t change any minds about the project as a whole, it also kept all the charm, wit and creative energy of the first issue, and even improved upon some of the slower stories.  The keyword with Wednesday Comics is variety, and you get a lot of it.

Busiek’s Green Lantern is a wonderfully retro The New Frontier-style sci-fi adventure, while Pope’s Strange Adventures is classic pulp action.  Flash reads like a bizarre blend of romance and super-hero stories, while Baker’s Hawkman offers a dark, fascinating look at a frequently muddled character.  As with the first issue, not every story is a hit, and the two biggest offenders from #1 (Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.) remain relatively weak, though both show at least some signs of improvement over the previous issue.

Meanwhile, the creators are making full use of the space, sometimes in interesting ways.  The Gaiman/Allred Metamorpho is essentially one enormous panel while Caldwell’s surreal Wonder Woman features roughly fifty panels on its only page.  

The format is definitely bringing out the best in many of these artists, most of whom have admirably risen to the challenge.  The less-glossy pages and creases that come from the folding were a worry to some people when it came to the quality of the art, but rest-assured, this is rarely the case.  Only Caldwell’s Wonder Woman and the Arcudi/Bermejo Superman seem to have been hampered by the fact, each of them a little too dark for their own good.  Despite that, however, both pages remain well-crafted and interesting.

Wednesday Comics is too scattershot to appeal to everyone, but those who try it out will find a selection of interesting stories by star creators that hearken back to the early days of comics and the traditional stories without being lazy or condescending.  Everyone involved seems to be having far too much fun to either.

Grade: A-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Wednesday Comics #1

Review: Wednesday Comics #1

Wednesd

Wednesday Comics is here!  While DC often struggles to stay relevant in the fact of a vastly more trendy Marvel Comics, it’s had a few successes in recent years.  One such success was their year-long event, 52, a weekly with an absolute powerhouse of a writing team that managed to gain both critical and fan acclaim – no small feat for an event comic largely lacking Batman, Wonder Woman and Superman.  After that, of course, DC felt the urge to repeat their success story with the watered down Countdown and then again with Busiek’s Trinity.  Still, three years in and the weekly format, once a fresh revival, had begun to seem stale.

That all changed with the announcement of their next weekly, Wednesday Comics, a 12 week long project, packaged as a newspaper, in which superstar creative teams would be given continuity-free reins on a vasty supply of DC characters to tell their stories… one page each week.  There were a lot of risks, obviously, but the announcement of the creative teams was where they had it: Gaiman, Busiek, Allred, Azzarello, Risso, Gibbons, Pope, Baker and many more, all getting involved in the project.

So, with all that expectations, how does the issue stack up?

Very well.  Very well, indeed.

It’s tough to review due to the grab bag nature of the book – Caldwell’s Wonder Woman, for example, is gorgeous and surreal, while Kubert’s Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. on the very next page is about as bland as can be.   I toyed briefly with the idea of reviewing each story, but the simple fact is this: these stories stand together or fall together, but the strength of an Azzarello/Risso Batman doesn’t necessarily offset the slow start of the Berganza/Galloway Teen Titans.  You buy one, you get ’em all.

And, as a collection, it works.  This, this is traditional super-hero comics done right.  For those yearning for a set of simple, gorgeous stories, Wednesday Comics delivers.  Not every story will be a hit, but #1 offers a number of strong starts and relatively few missteps.  I eagerly await seeing where it will go.

As a note, however, the stand-outs of the issue for me were Batman, Kamandi, Supergirl, Metal Men, and The Demon/Catwoman, with Superman and Wonder Woman having okay starts but gorgeous art.  The only pages I didn’t really appreciate at all were Teen Titans and Sgt. Rock and Easy Co., so the bulk of the issue was, for me, a hit.

Grade: B+

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Review/RANT: Green Lantern: Rebirth TPB

After all this time, after the Sinestro Corps War, the prelude to Blackest Night, the fanfare around the return of Hal Jordan (including Ross’s childish ‘we won!’ that’s been echoed about randomly by one of the most obnoxious fandoms in existence), and the fact that I just got a late 100$ for graduating from college, I figured I would pick up a few trades that I was curious about.

Green Lantern: Rebirth was one of those trades, being a book that has received such massive heapings of praise that I couldn’t help but be curious about what I’d miss when I decided against buying it after reading the first issue.  While I liked Hal a lot from JLA: Year One, parts of Hal’s fandom has long since been insulting and/or irritating enough, both in real life and in forums, to turn me off from the character in general.  Still, I’ve generally enjoyed what Jordan tales I’ve read – Year One, Hard Traveling Heroes – that I felt I should give it a shot.

The story starts off poorly.  As I read through the prologue, I thought there was some decent suspense building with the aliens prophesying the return of Parallax, but when we moved onto the segment with Hal, I could see that I might have problems – Geoff Johns, it appeared, was part of Hal’s fandom that grated on me so much.  Hal is portrayed as the perfect hero – a ladies man, a man’s man, a man about town, confidant that what he believes is more right than what God believes, and the book most certainly sympathizes with him.  His hair didn’t gray because he was aging, but because that’s what fear does to you.  He didn’t become a more thoughtful hero, a more introspective person, because he reached a certain point of his life and realized that, for all his fighting, he wasn’t really ever winning.  He did it because Fear instilled doubts in him.

And this is the core of my problem with the book.  Geoff Johns has a great grip on Kyle, John, and Guy.  I think he even has a decent handle on Alan Scott.  In one of the most polarizing scenes in the book, Johns and Van Sciver show ‘n tell how each Lanterns’ constructs vary based on their beliefs and values, a genius scene – only to follow it immediately with all of them collectively being taken out in a single instant except for perfect, precise, potent Hal.

The book is worth reading, I think, for it’s introduction to and propagation of the Green Lantern mythology, and it made me excited to read other stories dealing with it, such as the Sinestro Corps War, and Blackest Night.  And, obviously, if you’re a hard-core fan of Hal Jordan, you’d have read this a long time ago.  Even if you don’t like Jordan, though, there are great character moments in here for Kyle, John, and Guy, as well as excellent mythos-building scenes for the Corps as a whole, so it’s worth checking out.

This is the book where Johns really begins to play around with the Green Lantern mythology, and he does so with such a confident, graceful touch that I find it hard to believe that this wasn’t all part of it from the beginning.  It almost makes me sad that he likes Hal so much, because those are the biggest slips in the book, as Johns is so dedicated to making Hal look good that he forgets to make him human.