For months I awaited the arrival date of DC’s Wednesday Comics #1, an anthology made up of one-page installments of DC’s well- and lesser-known characters.
Really, I'm absolutely delighted. Wednesday Comics (which I will call “WC”, since Wednesday is the day of the week with the most letters) is the freshest comics idea I have seen in a long time.
Ironically, it is also one of the oldest. In format, WC looks like the Sunday funnies in the local newspaper. Each page has one or two strips (in #1, most strips are a full page). Instead of newsprint, WC is printed on upgraded paper on a big-size 14” x 20” format. It will be weekly for 3 months.
As in Sunday funnies, artists have limited space to tell a story. This is no comic book, and the artists are obviously aware of that. The pacing of the stories is pushed and pulled. Each one-page strip has to grab you, tell you a small something about the story, and then hook you enough so you’ll be back next week.
The art provides challenges and opportunities. In the typical comic format, action can be spread across 20-plus pages or more. The artist has the luxury of mapping out movements, thoughts and stories. But here, pages are a hybrid of splash pages and multiple panels.
Some highlights are Batman by Brian Azzarello features a gruesome murder. The art is moving, moody and expertly detailed.
Kamandi: Ryan Sook’s pencils capture the pathos of a world in decay and manipulating viewpoints with cinematic and Kirby-esque precision to animate the action, gives just enough classic Kamandi shots to remember why Jack Kirby's work is so special.
Deadman combines the dead hero's origin with the setup of a murder mystery , jumping right into the action with a cliffhanger.
Superman: A beautifully painted first contact story hinting at Superman's unease as a stranger in a strange land.
Green Lantern: Kurt Busiek's boozy Silver Age romp into Mad Men territory.
Metamorpho: Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred capture Metamorpho's weirdness and fun.
Strange Adventures: Paul Pope’s nervous line work captures feelings both futuristic and nostalgic, perfectly suited to Adam Strange’s origins from the Golden Age of Science Fiction. Brings to mind Princess Leia's slave girl outfit.
Sgt. Rock: Adam and Joe Kubert capture the horror of a brutal beating by Nazi thugs.
Hawkman: Beautifully rendered by Kyle Baker and narrated from the point of view of the hero’s winged friends rushing to help their master foil a terrorist plot.
Unfortunately, with fifteen stories in one book, there are bound to be some duds. The Teen Titans script did nothing for me. The narration from the villain is stilted, and comes across as heavy handed. The art does little to help, so stylized I wonder if the artist knows how to draw faces.
Most disappointing, however is the mess of a Wonder Woman story. Between the art (mired by awkward sequencing and muddy coloring) the illegible lettering and a mixed-up dream sequence script, the strip falls apart. Wonder Woman, my favorite character in the DC universe, deserves better.
Still, I anticipate the next installment, because the whole package is really fun.