Saturday, July 11, 2009

Wednesday Comics From DC

Wednesday Comics #1
DC Comics $3.99

This week DC begins the most talked about experiment in the comicbook publishing business in recent memory; the newspaper-sized anthology comic called, "Wednesday Comics." The comics are shipped folded 3 times. Unfold the pages and you get 15 single page comics each measuring 14" x 20".

The first comic up is Batman by the Eisner Award-winning 100 BULLETS team of writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso. The art is beautiful and the writing sets up a cool premise: Batman has one minute to save a hostage's life. I am curious to see how this plays out. 15 panels

Next is Jack Kirby's Kamandi by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook. This is at the top of my list in this issue. The beautiful art and text set up an intriguing story. 8 panels

Third is John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo's take on Superman. The story starts with a bang, literally. Superman is fighting an alien that telepathically questions his identity. I don't care for the dark, excellently crafted, yet somehow ugly, artwork. Near the bottom of my list. 10 panels

Deadman is next; written by Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck with art by Dave Bullock. The page is strikingly graphic, with well written text setting up an intriguing story. This has a strong pulp style and I like it. 8 panels

Fifth is a strong start to a Green Lantern story written by Kurt Busiek with art by Joe Quiñones. This story is set in the late '50s and sets up Hal Jordan's co-workers at Ferris Airfield. The Green Lantern is seen in an action packed final panel. 9 panels

Metamorpho, the Element Man is next from the interesting pairing of Neil Gaiman and Michael Allred that looks plucked out of the 1960's. One of the more fun beginnings. 11 panels

The Teen Titans are midway through the paper. The story is written by Eddie Berganza with art by Sean Galloway. This is one of the more controvercial (or at least talked about) comics. The first page is mostly a team set-up and introduction. Galloway's art is like a pastel anime. The anime style seems to alienate some of the readers. 9 panels

Eighth is Strange Adventures with Adam Strange by Paul Pope working in a sort of Alex Toth style. While this first episode left me cold, I somehow feel that this could end up being one of my favorites. The panel design and the composition are outstanding, but some of the faces are a bit ugly. I am unfamiliar with Pope's work and I think that it will grow on me. 11 panels

Supergirl is next, teaming Amanda Conner's cartoonish style with Jimmy Palmiotti's humorous story. This is fun and I'm sure my daughters will love it. 10 panels

Metal Men continues with the high panel count. Writer Dan Didio sets up the action comedy with the great art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan creating a page that is a pleasure to read. This is another of my favorites. 12 panels

The 11th page is bound to be the most controversial; Ben Caldwell's take on Wonder Woman. This is by far the hardest to read with a page choking 50 panels and text that is often tough to read. The smallest panel is 3/8 x 3/4 of an inch and includes 2 word baloons! Even with all that art, there is a lot of text on the page and the whole thing feels clogged. The colors are garish - purple and green - and the art has an anime / manga feel. Among my least favorites... 50 panels

After the claustropobically tiny panels of Wonder Woman, Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. feels open and free, even though the story is confined and brutal. The father and son team of Adam Kubert (writer) and Joe Kubert (artist) provide the restrained work on this page. Sgt. Rock is being brutally questioned by the Germans. There are few works cluttering the powerful images from the Legend - 82 year old Joe Kubert. I look forward to seeing how Easy Co. gets Rock out of this mess. 9 panels

Lucky 13 is Flash Comics written by Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher and illustrated by Kerschl. This page is interesting in that it is divided into 2 comic strips. The top half of the page is The Flash and the bottom half is titled, Iris West. The halves are illustrated in very different styles. Iris West is a Mary Worth-esque affair while The Flash half is quite a bit more cartoony. I liked this story and look forward to see if the format is carried over next week. Flash - 14 panels, Iris West - 9 panels, Total - 23 panels

The Demon and Cat Woman is the 14th page. Once again the story is just a bare introduction, but the art by Brian Stelfreeze is stylish and the colors by Steve Wands? are beautifully muted giving a tone of mystery to the story by Walter Simonson. I am curious to see this one develop. 12 panels

Kyle Baker's Hawkman is the final page of the compilation. In just 5 powerful panels he sets up a powerful rescue of a hijacked plane. 5 panels

If the quality of this package continues this should prove to be a success. The huge pages show off the art and with fold lines through every page reinforce the idea that this is meant to be read, not just bagged, boarded and collected. There are no mint condition copies at your comic shop.

Buy Wednesday Comics. Read and enjoy.

Additional Thoughts and Speculations

Thinking about the price - $4 for 16 quadruple size pages. So it's like a 64 page comic for $4. Not bad. Except that only a few of the stories got anywhere near 4 pages of story on the page. Most got about 2 and some were a lot like a regular comic page, but big. Wonder Woman got about 6 pages of material in, but was very hard to read.

Until we get into a few more issue it is hard to tell which stories will be good. Batman could be great, but we don't get a lot in this first page. All we get is that he has one minute to save a guys life. I didn't care for Superman, Wonder Woman, Teen Titans, and Adam Strange. Hopefully they will improve.

It would be really cool if this became a weekly ongoing thing. It could be distributed along side of the Wednesday (or any day really) USA Today for $2 bucks. It could be expanded with one more big page to include 1 more story or text page and 3 ad pages to keep the cost down.

I like the idea of returning to comics' newspaper roots and DC should not be afraid to use regular newsprint paper to bring the cost down. As comic fans, we need to get comics into kids hands and this would be a good way to do that.

For comics to survive the industry needs a strong effort to provide good, cheap entertainment for younger readers. The kids do not need bag and board glossy covers and premium acid free paper for $4 or $5. They need $2 comics. The Marvel Adventure series are good, but we need to get the prices down and one way to do that is with cheaper paper. Face it, a kid is gonna read the book over and over. The cover is coming off, the pages mangled, and pen marks everywhere. (Can you tell I have kids?) The kids comics should not be viewed as collectables, but as something that will be read and enjoyed and wear out and go into the recycling. They should be cheap to get people to buy them and they should be fun and appropriate for kids.

© 2009 W. Peter Miller

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