Wednesday Comics

Wednesday ComicsSummary: This is it! The oversized, hardcover collection of DC’s 2009 weekly comics sensation that USA Today called “cool, classic-looking.” Featuring composite cover art, the WEDNESDAY COMICS HC includes:• ADAM STRANGE written and illustrated by Paul Pope • BATMAN written by Brian Azzarello with art by Eduardo Risso including additional panel art on each page!• METAMORPHO written by Neil Gaiman with art by Michael Allred • DEADMAN written by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck with art by Dave Bullock• THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN written by Walter Simonson with art by Brian Stelfreeze• THE FLASH written by Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschl• GREEN LANTERN written by Kurt Busiek with art by Joe Quinones • HAWKMAN written and illustrated by Kyle Baker• KAMANDI written by Dave Gibbons with art by Ryan Sook • THE METAL MEN written by Dan DiDio with art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan• SGT. ROCK written by Adam Kubert with art by Joe Kubert• SUPERGIRL written by Jimmy Palmiotti with art by Amanda Conner• SUPERMAN written by John Arcudi with art by Lee Bermejo• TEEN TITANS written by Eddie Berganza with art by Sean Galloway• WONDER WOMAN written and illustrated by Ben Caldwell

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Wednesday Comics, by various authors and artists 8.0

‘Wednesday Comics’ was a limited run of twelve weekly issues that was published by DC Comics in 2009. Much like the Sunday comics of yesteryear, it was published in an oversized format, and each page featured a different adventure, to be continued the following week.

Naturally, each adventure was written and penciled by a different creative team and each page in ‘Wednesday Comics’ followed a different DC Comics superhero or team. This amounted to 15 continuing stories for readers to follow every week for three months.

Given its format of 14″ x 20″, ‘Wednesday Comics’ impresses immediately; this collection is a comparatively imposing book, being such an over-sized hardcover. But, despite the inconvenience this causes (it doesn’t carry well or fit on the shelf neatly), there is one major advantage.

The first thing that one notices is the art. Blown up so large and with so much room to work with, for the most part the artists have gone to town with their respective stories. I have rarely seen such high quality product coming from so many sources at once. It defies the odds.

And it’s veritably eye-popping. Stunning, even.

For this collection, the twelve pages of each story are grouped together. This makes each individual story easier to read and follow.

Batman: This one follows Batman as he tries to find the murderer of a wealthy old man. The art is rather pleasing to the eye, but I would love this more if it were more coherent; the way the story unfolds leaves many gaps, and the way it is laid out on the page is sometimes confusing (for instance, right at the second page, you’re not sure if Bruce Wayne saved the girl’s life or if her bodyguard did). Still, I do like that much is left for the reader to fill in; I just wish it was done a bit better. And I could have done without the ending, which is meant to be somewhat tragic for Bruce (but is really a contrived farce, in my estimation). 7.25

Kamandi: While I wasn’t all that keen on the idea of reading this story, which is based on the Jack Kirby character of “the last boy on earth”, who wanders a post-apocalyptic landscape in search of other humans, I rather enjoyed this one. The art was absolutely superb, and the story made me think of a Planet of the Apes-type scenario – with not just apes, but tigers, dogs, and lions as well. It’s hard to make a serial coherent, but Dave Gibbons did a decent job of it; I could see this as a blueprint for a more fleshed out story. But, really, the art is what did it for me: Ryan Sook fills each page with detail and has an eye for character design and just about everything under the sun. I’d love to see more of his work. 8.0

Superman: This story follows Superman in a moment of crisis, as he begins to believe that he doesn’t fit in on Earth. I liked the angsty aspect of the story, but felt it would have been better-suited to a teenaged Clark Kent – that, once he was Superman, his resolve would be made of steel (pun intended). But then we discovered the root behind his troubles, and it sort of made sense. Still, it was ultimately unsatisfying. As for the art, it was okay, but it didn’t really do that much for me. 7.0

Deadman: I was never a big fan of Deadman. I like his look and name, but the supernatural stuff has always bored me to death (!) – which explains why I was never that keen on Dr. Strange, whereas some people just lap those comics up. Here we find Deadman trying to stop a murderer, only to find out that there are demonic forces at work – which he proceeds to battle in the spiritual world. The art supported the material but it wasn’t enough to interest me. 4.5

Green Lantern: This Green Lantern story comes courtesy of Kurt Busiek, Joe Quinohes and Pat Brosseau. It’s quite enjoyable, well-paced, exciting, and total eye-candy. It explores Hal Jordan’s rivalry with Joe Dillon, and how the latter was chosen over Jordan for space exploration after Hal got too cocky and caused an accident. In the present, Dillon is on a talk show, discussing his space adventure when he transforms into an alien creature. Only Green Lantern can save him – and Earth. Hey, I’m no great fan of Green Lantern (although I love the suit, the power and the basic concept; I was just never into the whole space adventure stuff) but, in short doses such as this one, it was kind of fun. Plus which the art is really gorgeous. 7.5

Metamorpho, the Element man: I don’t think I’ve ever paid any attention to Metamorpho, the elephant man (!), but he’s somehow not unfamiliar. I don’t know where I stumbled upon him, but this version is written by Neil Gaiman, and it’s a blast – and I’m not even a Gaiman devotee, like some people. He just tapped into the campiness of the characters and setting and played it up subtly, having fun with the genre conventions. For his story, Metamorpho is taken on an expedition to Antartica where billionaire Simon Stagg is hoping to find the legendary Atlantis Diamond. Naturally, they get into all sorts of adventures as they make their way through the ruins of a defunct civilization there. Plus there is a mystery villain lurking in the shadows. The art and the paneling are terrific. And playful, too, with such fun elements (!) such as kiddies strips and a snakes and ladder game. There’s even a page where Metamorpho and Element Girl actually pass through the table of elements. Clever. All in all, this was a really fun comic. A real gas to read. 8.25

Teen Titans: Teen Titans… a group of all the superhero kiddies? Can you say super-angst? I was never interested in them, and even now, none of the characters are familiar or interesting. It doesn’t help that this short strip doesn’t have the time to introduce them to us; we have to go in knowing them. But there are so many that they become interchangeable: they all have powers and fight, with no real distinction between them. Here they are confronted by Trident, who is whooping their collective butts. They have no idea who he is, and they have to find out before he defeats them for good. I like that we get a few pages from different perspectives, not just Robin’s (who is the team leader), including Trident’s (who believes that the Titans will terrorize the future). That switched things up. But, in the end, it’s all battle scenes and not much else. I liked the art, though: Sean Galloway was good at action and I really like his style – a soft, under-saturated look and clean lines. All in all, it was entertaining, but I’m glad it was short. 7.0

Strange Adventures: I know very little about Adam Strange, but I kind of enjoyed ‘Strange Adventures’; it felt like a throwback strip, something you’d have read in the fifties; even the colour scheme makes it seem dated, a nice touch. The story follows Strange as he tries to fend off an attack from the rock-people of Ragathann, who are basically big blue apes. Unsurprisingly, they want Strange’s Zeta-Beam, an energy force that transfers him between Rann and Earth so they captured his beloved, Alanna, who is a warrior. Through both of their efforts, they manage to fight off the evil Lord Korgo (surprise, surprise). This strip wasn’t anything special, but it was a fun read, and I liked the art, which made me think of ‘Aeon Flux’ to some degree. 7.25

Supergirl: This Supergirl story, courtesy of Jimmy Palmiotti, is all for laughs. It begins with Krypto and Streaky going wild through town, with Supergirl trying to stop her superpets. Then she consults with a clam-phone-talkin’ Aquaman, who is too busy negotiating the world’s aqua problems to talk with her (he brushes her off in a jerky fashion but with a monologue which is meant to be funny). He apologizes and sends her to Dr. Mid-Nite, who quickly pinpoints an alien ship dumping waste into the sun – and it’s the cause of Krypto and Streaky’s misbehaviours. It’s all very light, but there’s a fine balance taken with an environmental message or two. Nice. And the artwork is stellar. It adds credibility to what could otherwise be dismissed as fluff. Instead, it turns out to be an extremely fun and well-conceived story – for what it is. 8.0

Metal Men: The Metal Men have always seemed goofy to me, being robots made from different metals, but a dozen pages is a nice way to discover them. Unfortunately, the writing isn’t exactly stellar: it finds the Doctor and his Metal Men undercover in a bank at the very moment that it gets robbed. Then it turns out to not be just a robbery, it so happens that Doc’s nemesis is behind it – by utter, sheer, pure coincidence. And the stakes just keep getting higher, one contrived twist after the other. Sigh. At least the art was mostly amazing to look at. There were a couple of discrepancies, but otherwise this was all sweet eye candy – so it flew by breezily. 6.75

Wonder Woman: Woah. I’m both impressed and stumped by Ben Caldwell’s take on Wonder Woman. The art is amazing on all counts, from the character designs to the details, colouring, lay-outs, …etc. But there’s so much crammed into each page that it’s all too dense, becoming slightly incoherent. Caldwell is trying to tell Princess Diana’s origins here, as she seeks the seven stars of the Amazon which, collected, will make her into Wonder Woman. But it’s not always clear what is going on and how a conflict takes place or is resolved. It doesn’t help that much of the story takes place in a dream world, with Diana drifting in and out of sleep, so we don’t really know what’s what. It’s all too confusing, even as it’s gorgeous to look at. 7.5

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co.: War comics… sigh… just about as interesting as war movies; why people remain fascinated with WWII is beyond me. Anyway, this wartime story takes us on an adventure of Easy Company as they try to find Sgt. Rock, who’s been taken by the Germans and is being “interrogated” (i.e. beaten to a pulp). The art and storytelling (courtesy of Adam and Joe Kubert) are simplistic, easy to read, so it breezes by. And yet there are implausibilities in those few thin pages: How could Rock get lost in the mines apart from the rest of the company – and also get caught by the Germans, who take him back without alerting the company? And interrogate him to find the rest of company… who were right there in the mine. And so it goes for the whole strip. Meh. 6.75

The Flash: How can I describe this strip? It essentially tells the story of Flash trying to keep his marriage with Iris together while fighting off General Grodd. But it delves into quantum physics – which, as can be expected, confused me some. This means The Flash is going back and forth in time, and there are multiple Flashes and Barry Allens at once! What made the book interesting to me, however, is that it was told in three parts: from Flash’s perspective, from Iris’s perspective, and a little bit from Grodd’s perspective – all in separate comic strips with different styles. Brilliant! Adding to this are reinterpretations of classic newspaper comic strips, but with the Flash characters in them. This was a lot of fun. So, even though I didn’t get all of the story, I really enjoyed reading it anyway; it was extremely creative and pleasing to the eye on top of that. 7.75

Demon and Cat Woman: Man, I was so bored reading this. Essentially, Cat Woman is sent to steal a trinket from Jason Blood, not knowing that he’s the Demon nor that his employer is Morgaine le Fey. For some reason, Morgaine has decided to take over Cat Woman’s body, and uses the trinket to make a slave of her. Then Demon and Morgaine fight, Cat Woman is eventually released, and together they foil Morgaine. Most of the book is action, which is mundane, and the dialogues are mostly spell-casting crap. I really don’t like magic-related comics, so I’m probably biased, but this didn’t do anything for me. And the art was okay, but nothing more. I’m sure some people would like this, but certainly not I. 4.5

Hawkman: Courtesy of Kyle Baker, whose work I love (particularly his humourous graphic novels), we have a very good Hawkman story in a traditional vein. It begins with Hawkman rescuing a plane from hijackers, only to find that they’re actually the first volley in an alien invasion. While the JLA is trying to stop the invasion, he has to land the airliner safely, by himself. But he misjudges and lands it on Dinosaur Island, which only compounds the problem. The art isn’t stellar, but between that and the story this felt like a Golden Age comic. Plus the writing was sharp and the thrills didn’t only depend on action; there was a good balance struck here. 7.5

Plastic Man: This is a one-page humourous comic that shows Plastic Man spoiling Professor Grushenko’s attempt at stealing a life-giving elixir from the museum. It’s brief, easy on the eyes and filled with corny one-liners. It’s fun, but nothing special. 6.75

The Creeper: Another on-pager that feels more like an intro to The Creeper than a strip proper. It all revolves around a prose about fear and rage and the things that hide in the closet and under the bed. The art shows us a murderer finishing off a corpse and being caught by The Creeper. It’s alright, but it’s thin. And really dark, grim. 7.0

While not each character or story is equally interesting to me, I think that this was a bold idea: it allowed the authors to write in a very different format while liberating the artists with the splendour of full-sized canvases. One could hardly find a more stunning set of superhero comics.

I’d highly recommend ‘Wednesday Comics’ to fans of DC Comics characters and graphic art.

Frankly, I’m sad that I totally missed out on these comics when they were first published; I only found out about it when the collected edition showed up at my local library. Somehow, this massive book found its way on my request list, and I’m very grateful for it; it’s a wonderful product.

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