The Wednesday Comics Experience

You might be in a recession if: you see someone kicking a can down the street and you ask them what they are doing and they say "moving."

You might be in a recession if: you wave around a popsicle and call it air conditioning.

You might be in a recession if: your comics are shorter, printed cheaper, and still cost four dollars.

But seriously folks... Wednesday Comics is the much hyped newspaper throwback style comics where each creator takes one page per issue. As I alluded to jokingly above, the big problem with Wednesday Comics is the strange combination of quality and shoddy production. The quality of these high-profile creators' stories makes you want to tear into the thing, but being confronted with an actual newspaper is like being forced to solve a complex puzzle from another solar system. I remember watching my Dad navigating a newspaper as a child and being amazed at his skill in handling that bulky paper. I never got the chance to really master is because, you know, newspapers are dead and all, but now my time has come and I'm too worried about ruining it.

The first issue of Wednesday Comics was an exciting experience. Opening up for the first time and seeing a sad Commissioner Gordon staring at you, or a giant Kyle Baker Hawkman will make nearly any comics fan giddy. The stories themselves are really varied in tone and with all the creators working with a new format, it's awesomely overwhelming.

BATMAN by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso
"Every time I turn this on, it's like I'm signaling failure." A pretty bold kick off of the first comics you open up to when you unfold the pages. This comic is definitely one of the highlights of the collection. It uses up its page to perfection to introduce us to the story but also to tell its own contained story. If this page was the only page in the whole story, it would somehow make perfect sense.

KAMANDI by writer Dave Gibbons and artist Ryan Sook
This is another really solid page. It tells Kamandi's origin in a simple and direct way. It reminds me of reading an actual action newspaper strip like The Phantom. The art does a great job of making Kamandi and his world look like a contradiction of modern and savage. When he turns around in the last panel with a gun in his hand it's a real surprise. Interesting the story begins after the death of Kamandi's Grandfather.

SUPERMAN by writer John Arcudi and artist Lee Bermejo
Bermejo's art takes center stage here and seeing it in this oversized format is easily one of best parts of the whole collection. The gleaming city of Metropolis and Superman's reaction to the telepathic question from the Madman's Mott-like alien are exclamation point bookends to the comic. The words and panel are chosen carefully enough to be a sort of comic poem. It's strange to me that this of all the comics was picked up by USA Today. This page is so quickly paced that it might not even seem worth it to someone who isn't a comics fan--it's mainly an exercise in art and comics grammar and hero mythology.

DEADMAN by writers Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck and artist Dave Bullock
This is another origin set-up story. It's a little peculiar because his origin is in the title and also in the comic itself. The art here is pretty good--the Deadman in the center being a stand out highlight. This one seems like it will pick up as the story progresses.

GREEN LANTERN by writer Kurt Busiek and artist Joe QuiƱones
Good Green Lantern stories are pretty hard to come by, so when I was looking at teasers for Wednesday Comics and saw the art I was pretty excited about this one. The intro box was good giving the story a timeless sort of feel but the rest of the story didn't really back it up. With nothing really notable standing out on the page, it doesn't seem to utilize the format well. The last panel has got me a little hopeful for future installments though.

METAMORPHO by writer Neil Gaiman and artist Michael Allred
Probably the biggest disappointment of the bunch. Allred's art is Allred but Gaiman's writing ruins it. While most of the other comics are mostly homage to the newspaper format, Gaiman goes for more of a campy/satirical approach. Gaiman just seems confused by the format and just decided to write a regular comic story and have it read a page a week, instead of inserting natural breaks.

TEEN TITANS by writer Eddie Berganza and artist Sean Galloway
The origin/explanation of the Titans as a group is solid, but this page falls apart with the Trident character. The art is decent enough, especially the Titans, through the ages does a good job of showing them in their different incarnations developing fluidly. It falls apart with the story and the panels get confusing towards the end.
ADAM STRANGE by writer/artist Paul Pope
Paul Pope is already a master at telling short cut off stories (see: Spiderman Tangled Web) so his Adam Strange is well paced. His art style is definitely modern, even "indie" by some standards, and the first half of the story plays into that showing Adam Strange waking up in his bed and hanging out a little in his house. The second half of the page plays with the sort of camp stuff Gaiman was trying but Pope pulls it off. Strange rattles off a list of sci-fi jargon that just comes off as completely genuine. Pope's art and the calmed introduction of Strange's character allow Pope to do this kind of sincere distance well.

SUPERGIRL by writer Jimmy Palmiotti and artist Amanda Conner
We'll have to wait to next week to see how this one really pans out. Supergirl plus animals is a good mixture but nothing really happens here.

METAL MEN by writer Dan DiDio and artists Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan
Didio goes for camp too, but pulls it off because he just goes for it instead of trying to be too clever or above it all. The joke with Gold being part of their stash and talking to them is actually funny so it works.

WONDER WOMAN by writer/artist Ben Caldwell
Here, Caldwell jams about three pages worth of story into one page. I think it utilizes the format well and the art is really interesting. Having this sort of prequel Wonder Woman, totally modern and neon, makes a sort of weird sense. It's a nice change from the sword-bearing killer that Wonder Woman has turned into recently.

SGT. ROCK by writer Adam Kubert and artist Joe Kubert
Six huge panels of Sgt. Rock getting beat up looks really awesome. These guys obviously know what they are doing. No surprises here but reading Kubert--Joe at least--is all about this kind of hard-ass craftsmanship.

THE FLASH by writers Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher and artist Karl Kerschl
This one sort of suprised me. It divides the page into two separate strips. The Flash's strip is completely action but it's done well with the Flash using and explaining his power in a coherent way that sometimes doesn't happen with the Flash. The panels at the end are well done, enhancing the effect of the Flash's compressed time. The second strip is about his girlfriend Iris done in an Apartment 3G style. Kerschl also changes the art slightly giving it a more dramatic/romatic focus. The combination of the two works really well and makes the other one better. Kind of like a real relationship.

THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN by writer Walter Simonson and artist Brian Stelfreeze
I like where this is headed. Both have these snobby personalities that actually play well into each other. Nothing too spectacular about the panels but the art is good especially the shadow panel of Catwoman. How Catwoman is ever going to tangle with Etragon should be interesting.

HAWKMAN by writer/artist Kyle Baker
is similar to Batman and Superman pages by being a story into itself. Told from the point of view of his birds, the story gives insight into Hawkman's strength of character as a leader. It's also a look into the mindset of soldiers of any sort of autocratic governing system and how they value strength and purity. The art is simple but really effective. It matches the tone of the story and takes complete advantage of its format. Even the colors seem to be complimented by the paper.


samuel rules said...

It's such a great concept but it was four bucks for sixteen pages, what a bummer.

I was really into the Superman story which was the one I thought I wasn't going to like, Gaiman kinda pulled this bullshit move where he tried to make it too pulpy, but it was unnatural and overwhelming.

Brandon graham said...

I'm going through this today.
I like reading the page and then your reaction to it.

I thought Kamandi was nice in the same way as you--old school comics nice.

I really liked the art on Green latern even though Busiek is usually so fucking boring it's hard not to fall asleap typing his name.

I think Green laterns stories can be great. He's one of those characters like superman, whose powers make them better suited for space. Where they could find a challenge.

Metamorpho --I'm not even mature enough to read without getting stuck gigeling over "the mother of all pearl necklaces" followed by a giant clam.

The pope page was my reason for buying this. It's so nice to see him lettering his own stuff again and the colorist who I think has shat on his stuff in the past did a nice job on this. and its dense and it's not just an orgin story.

I'm on such a Garcia Lopez kick I was thrilled to see him on this Metal men. plus the writing is dense and you get an idea of each character and a story--NICE!.

man, I dunno about this wonder woman... It doesnt seem like the character at all. I like the talking birds but then it gets all disney movie. The artist is good but it looks like loose animation story boards.

I like this flash page.
The 2 strip split is awesome.

Man, "I googled you. You're a famous Arthurian scholar.." has to be one of the shittiest lines of dialog I've ever read.

I agree that Hawkman is on the same kick as the batman/superman pages but I liked the art so much more.

I was thinking after reading this about how much could be done with the format. It seems like it's best suited almost more as a cheap poster book than an expensive newspaper. I'd be thrilled to see an issue come out with like a full page pope pin up of Strange and his lady.

Jesse Reese said...

I think ultimately it's worth it. At least issue 1. We'll see how my pocketbook feels after a couple weeks.

I'm glad you liked it because another one is coming...

I'm into the art on GL but just as him as GL for whatever reason. Some of the preview pages for the upcoming ones look great. Got any recommendations for GL comics? He's one of my favorite characters but no one seems to know what to do with him. I should add Green Lantern/Green Arrow to the list of ones I've read and liked. Even though he's not in space.

I like the WW because it's seems to be getting into her fantasy roots while mixing in some weird stuff. The layout of the page as a whole got me. I appreciate the effort and it makes it exciting at least for now.

Pinups would rule for sure (like these great ones The Baltimore Sun puts out for the Ravens) and some crazy stuff could happen for some double page spreads if each comic had it's own issue. This has been something I've bee excited about for a while though and I think nothing can live up to what you have built for something in your head. Overall I liked it and am still really excited for this weeks.