Thursday, July 9, 2009

Reviews: Wednesday Comics hits the tabloids

Don't you love it when some surprisingly good stuff turns up in your comics stack? Me too! Let's take a quick look at some titles that hit the stands this week.

Wednesday Comics #1: Of course, this is the title a lot of people are talking about this week. Printed on a mid-grade, non-glossy paper (think along the lines of a high-grade newsprint), this folded, tabloid anthology draws its inspiration from traditional Sunday comics. And for the most part, it works.

Looking at the cover, I was worried the art and color would be muddier than I'd hoped, but opening it up to the first feature (Batman, by writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso), my first thought was, "Beautiful." On the other hand, those big panels do make me concerned that full-page installments don't necessarily mean readers won't be getting a small overall panel count, and because of that less overall content. (The exception was Ben Caldwell's Wonder Woman, which was cramped and hard to read). And at $3.99 an issue, Wednesday Comics feels a bit more expensive than it should. Still, since the strips are in the spirit of the old-school Sunday funnies, I'm willing to shift gears and go along for the ride.

Favorite features: Paul Pope's Adam Strange, which struck just the right balance between zany adventure and high-concept Golden Age derring-do; and Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher's Flash Comics (especially the clever romance-strip inspired secondary-feature, Iris West — loved it).

Booster Gold #22: This issue was much better than the previous one, which read like an over-extended piece of place-setting. Instead, this time we got a story from writer and artist Dan Jurgens that moves right along and continues to develop a mystery in the middle of all the action. I especially appreciated the way Booster was less mopey and characterized with more intelligence and initiative than before, and there's a brief, one-word exchange that is heartbreaking in the way it sums up the hero's desperate need for acceptance. Throw in some humor and a couple of decent fight scenes, and now I've got a comic I enjoyed and will be looking forward to picking up next month.

The Blue Beetle back-up story was, as usual, a ton of fun. It really feels as if writer Matthew Sturges has found his groove with Beetle, and the story flows naturally with characters that are familiar but not static. The art by Mike Norton is great — energetic and clean — and you can tell both he and Sturges are having fun (there's that word again). And am I the only who hears the Dalek's "Exterminate!" whenever a Unimate says, "Imperfect! Imperfect!" The Blue Beetle universe continues to expand, and it's a treat to watch it develop with every chapter.

Plus, even with all the punching, blasting and exploding going on, Brenda still manages to deliver the cruelest blow of all.

Green Lantern #43: OK, how freaking creepy is Black Hand?! Also, I was really happy to see Doug Mahnke as the regular artist on this title; his work is perfect for the dense, atmospheric tone of Geoff Johns' story, and his talent for expressive characters and detail-packed panels makes this a great-looking comic. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Johns is essentially writing a horror story, and if he can keep up the uneasy tension he achieves in this issue he'll be giving Green Lantern readers a weird, creepy comic tinged with cold menace. I was interested in this crossover before, but now I'm actually eager to see where Johns and Mahnke take it.


Patrick Joseph said...

Due to concerns that it would sell out elsewhere, I picked up Wednesday Comics at my least favorite local shop. I cracked it open at the aptly named Curry In A Hurry next door, and was almost late getting back to work I got so sucked in.

The Flash is my favorite DC character, and it was nice to read a story with him that didn't feel ugly. Pope is always fun, Baker is one of my top five cartoonists. Basically, it mostly worked. The Titans piece was slight and muddy, and the Wonder Woman, which should have been up my alley, was a little too dense.

Looking forward to week 2 for sure.

rob! said...

I'm saving WC #1 for Sunday, when I'm going to sick back with a cool drink and enjoy. All the reviews I've read so far seem to be pretty positive!

Maxo said...

Yikes! First of all, let me apologize for all the typos and misspellings in this post - that's what I get for doing it in a rush. Hopefully I caught 'em all!

Patrick: Yeah, I think the Wonder Woman strip was the one that disappointed me most, mainly because it looks as if it has a lot of potential but wasted it with the presentation. It it gets some room to breathe I think it will be pretty good.

I agree with you about Flash comics - that's the Flash I want to read. And I'm right there with you on Baker and Pope. As you said, there seemed to be more hits than misses, and it is a lot of fun to read.

Oh, and I know which store you're talking about. My least favorite is one really close to where I live; it's a great place for comics if you're there to play Warhammer.

Rob: I think you're going to enjoy it, and it really is the sort of thing you should make time for and just sort of savor. Be sure to come back and let me know what you thought!