Recently, DC launched an interesting experiment called WEDNESDAY COMICS. The idea is a retro tribute to those old Sunday adventure strips of yore. So once a week we’re treated to 15 one-page strips of various DC characters. Issue #4 came out this week, and it’s pretty good. While I won’t have a complete review until all 12 issues are released, I thought I’d throw out some thoughts on each of the strips. Some are great. Some are weak. And it might be surprising to discover which is which.
BATMAN: This is a really solid Batman adventure. Intentionally, it’s written more like a crime caper than a traditional superhero story. In fact, Batman has really only appeared in 2 of the 4 strips, and in one of those, he doesn’t say a word. Bruce Wayne also shows up though. While this isn’t an action packed strip, and it doesn’t feature any Batman characters other than Commissioner Gordon, it’s a fun little crime story with a mystery element and a subtle appeal. Rating: 8 of 10.
KAMANDI: This one shines, perhaps because he is such an obscure character. Kamandi is the last boy in a world of mutant animals. While I’ll admit a fondness for the world (always count me in when mutant tiger princes are invovled and dog scientists pilot airships to the rescue), I find that this strip really captures the retro appeal of the entire Wednesday Comics idea. It reminds me of Prince Valiant in all the best ways. And the story is expertly paced. And did I mention evil gorilla horsemen? Yeah, it’s that awesome. RATING: 11 out of 10
SUPERMAN: Meh. A promising start leads to a series of strips where Clark Kent sits around and thinks about his place on Earth. Who really cares? What is it about so many writers that compels them to make Superman boring? There’s nothing terrible about the story, but there’s nothing noteworthy about it either. The art is very good though. RATING 5 out of 10
DEADMAN: I like Deadman, and I like this strip. It’s briskly paced. Trying to explain a Deadman story is rarely easy since he’s a hero who is a ghost who at this point has found himself in hell apparently after trying to save a woman from a deranged killer. The point is that this is good stuff. RATING 9 out of 10
GREEN LANTERN: Another big meh. This one started slow and hasn’t picked up yet. There’s something about an astronaut being possessed by space fungus. But so far, Green Lantern has barely shown up and it just seems like a lot of unnecessary backstory. RATING 4 out of 10.
METAMORPHO: Not bad. Not great. The start was promising, but 2 of the 4 strips seemed more like timekillers than advancing the story. Still, Metamorpho is in it, which puts it ahead of the Green Lantern strip. RATING 6 out of 10
TEEN TITANS: This one started slow, but quickly picked up. The art style is a lot of fun, and the story involving a second-rate supervillain menacing the Titans is intriguing. Also, Blue Beetle is in this. And anything with Blue Beetle is always worth my time. RATING 8 out of 10.
STRANGE ADVENTURES: Awesome. Just awesome. Adam Strange has much in common with John Carter of Mars. He’s an earthman who defends an alien world. Invading space baboons, butt-kicking princesses, and jet packs make this a real treat. My second favorite strip here (and only by just). RATING 10 out of 10
SUPERGIRL: I have a weird relationship with Supergirl as a character. In the animated Superman and Justice League shows, I really like her. In mainstream comics, I wish she’d just go away. But this strip is pretty fun. It’s more of humor strip as Supergirl chases down Krypto the superdog and Streaky the supercat around town. The art is just too cute (but in a very good way), and it’s strange that this “fun” strip is actually more super than the Superman strip. RATING 8 of 10
METAL MEN: Once again, the more obscure characters prove to be the most interesting. I’m not a big fan of the Metal Men. I want to like them, but never read anything to push me into it. But this one is a lot of fun as the Metal Men find themselves in the middle of a bank robbery. Great art, cool characters. RATING 8 out of 10
WONDER WOMAN: Wonderful art. Too bad I can’t make myself bother to try and read it. This is just too crammed. I want to like it because I want to like Wonder Woman and the art is pretty and lively. But whereas the Metamorpho strip seems too slow, this one seems like it’s trying way too much. Or maybe not. I don’t know. Like I said. I don’t read it. Maybe after it’s all done. Still, it’s the one strip that I don’t read, so that means a RATING of 1 out of 10
SGT. ROCK: I want to like this one, too, but I can only read so many pages of Sgt. Rock getting beaten by Nazis. There’s another story going on here, told in flashback, but it’s just not terribly interesting. I’m not a war fan either though, so take my criticism for what it’s worth. RATING 4 out of 10
FLASH / IRIS WEST: This is really good. I mean, really good. Each strip is actually two strips. A more traditional superhero strip about the Flash and a romance homage starring his wife. Both strips are interconnected in a seamless way, and the difference in art style and coloring works beautifully. Thinking about it, I realize just how great this strip has been so far. (Gorilla Grod doesn’t hurt either.) RATING 9 out of 10
CATWOMAN & THE DEMON: Surprisingly good. If you’d told me that you could take these two characters and make a good story out of it, I’d have believed you. Because how the hell could you not? What starts as a traditional cat burglar has now become a tale of the supernatural. Any story where Catwoman is transformed into a feline by an evil witch has got to be worth reading. RATING 8 out of 10
HAWKMAN: This one is another surprise. I’m not a Hawkman fan, and this one started slow. But it’s done a great job of building on itself as a simple plain hijacking is revealed to be a sinister alien plot. Hawkman kicks a little butt. Aliens attack. Kyle Baker is a solid artist and writer, a combo not easy to find. RATING 8 out of 10
So there you have it, a rundown on DC’s Wednesday Comics. While a final verdict is still 8 issues away, I have to say that I’m enjoying this project overall.