Top 5 Best Comics of October 2010

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I read 26 comics in October, and these were the best.

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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

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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

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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

Bruce Castle Presents: DC Comics Rule!

Final Crisis Resist #1 (Cover B)

Final Crisis: Resist (*****)

I’m starting to sound like a broken record aren’t I? I just can’t help it! This is another Final Crisis related comic that I love. I never read Rucka’s run on Checkmate (Hell, I haven’t even read all of Queen & Country!), but this issue definitely makes me want to. This comic has it all! Do you think Sasha Bordeaux, Mr. Terrific, Cheetah and Snapper Carr are cool? Probably not, but thanks to Rucka’s fantastic writing you will after this! I just love the situation these heroes are in. Few against many? Check. Heroes fighting heroes? Check. Love and sacrifice? Check. In the beginning of the book I had no hope and by the end I felt like these guys could actually resist (Oh yeah I used the titular word). Rucka even managed to make me laugh a few times along the way. And of course, Ryan Sook rocks the art. Sorry Johns, but Rucka is definitely writing the better tie-ins (Especially since they actually TIE-IN to Final Crisis in a meaningful way).

Justice Society Of America #20 (Eaglesham Variant Edition)

Justice Society of America #20 (***1/2)

This issue is definitely a weak link. It’s not bad, but when every other issue (except maybe those Lightning Saga ones) is so great, this one looks a little bad. Johns has proved himself to be an excellent juggler on this series. There are so many cast members and yet they all have their great moments, but Johns finally slips on the plot. Ever since the Annual, that Earth 2 story has been running alongside the Gog arc. That’s worked well until now, but the complete absence of Gog bothered me a bit. I’d be more forgiving if the Earth 2 business had concluded. However, you did read that star count correctly. This is a good issue. There are still those magical character moments (The best involves Mr. Terrific. Hey! Isn’t he fighting for his life right now?) and Dale Eaglesham does make the book look pretty. Maybe what’s bothering me is the fact that it doesn’t really feel like an arc has concluded in JSA since the first one 16 issues ago!

Secret Six #3 (*****)

I don’t like to have two five star ratings in the same post, but they are both so awesome! I’ve already tossed out enough compliments in my FC Resist review and I’d prefer not to repeat adjectives. I love this book. I would even say that this is the book Gail Simone was born to write and Nicola Scott provides some phenomenal art. Do people realize how awesome Scott is yet? These women know their psychotic killers! Hey! Cheetah is in here!? Shouldn’t she be fighting for her life too? Not only is this book a lot of fun, it also has a really creepy villain! For those who have already read this, how awesome was Junior with that pink umbrella!?