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Wednesday Comics: Metamorpho

Earlier this week I reviewed Wednesday Comics, a rather spanking anthology from DC Comics. I kinda figured, however, it might be worth my while to break out some of those fifteen stories on their own (but not all of them) and discuss them, as it’s easy to lose sight of a particular writer/artist’s work in an anthology. And hey! It’s Neil Gaiman!

Good old Metamorpho. If ever there was a cult DC property, good old Rex Mason would be in the running. He isn’t exactly the highest profile name in the DCU – he’s not even B- or C-List (which makes it hilarious when this script introduces us to “the Metamorpho Fans of America”, followers of “the most popular comic book in America”, and he even has his own TV show). But those who know him love him and his basic concept – he “can transform himself into 94 elements!” – is wonderfully hokey. Hokey enough, perhaps, that he seems a perfect fit for the conscious throwbacks of Wednesday Comics. Indeed, that this was the character writer Neil Gaiman and artist Michael Allred chose to work on shouldn’t really be a surprise, nor should the fact that it’s one of the very few strips in the collection which boldly experiments with the format.

That shark needs a fast food chain...

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Wednesday Comics: Sgt. Rock & Easy Co.

Earlier this week I reviewed Wednesday Comics, a rather spanking anthology from DC Comics. I kinda figured, however, it might be worth my while to break out some of those fifteen stories on their own (but not all of them) and discuss them, as it’s easy to lose sight of a particular writer/artist’s work in an anthology. Now we’re going back to a “new” old bunch of pulp characters.

Sgt. Rock & Easy Co. is an interesting choice for the anthology. Although it’s a war comic, it was only introduced in 1959, long after the end of the conflict and in the twilight days of the newspaper strips that this anthology is meant to reproduce. It’s inclusion arguably speaks more to the desire by DC to create a nostalgia for a long legacy that never quite existed than it does to the character’s popularity or place within DC continuity. Sgt. Rock & Easy Co. is one of only three non-superhero strips included – the post-apocalyptic adventures of Kamandi and the Strange Adventures strip, following Adam Strange: Space Hero – and it seems a logical fit if the goal was to create the impression of a large interconnected tapestry of DC history. After all, the only thing as pulpy as a superhero story is good old fashioned war yarn.

That's the closest you'll come to a splash page in this storyline...

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Wednesday Comics: Superman

Earlier this week I reviewed Wednesday Comics, a rather spanking anthology from DC Comics. I kinda figured, however, it might be worth my while to break out some of those fifteen stories on their own (but not all of them) and discuss them, as it’s easy to lose sight of a particular writer/artist’s work in an anthology. I’ve done Batman and Wonder Woman, so I figure I should round out the trinity with the Man of Steel.

John Arcudi’s Superman project was arguably the comic in Wednesday Comics with the most banking on it. Aside from featuring perhaps the most iconic superhero on the face of the planet, it was also serialised in USA Today. That’s a pretty solid forum for publicising a comic book event, a respectable newspaper with an international circulation. So I can understand that DC might have wanted to avoid a particularly “challenging” or even “geeky” story. However, they ended up choosing perhaps the must dull and lifeless story in the collection to serialise to the public at large. Even more than that, Arcudi’s Superman is a perfect illustration of everything that’s wrong with the character in recent years and why he has seen his hold on popular culture somewhat diminished.

Superman's ship isn't the only thing which crashes and burns...

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Wednesday Comics: Wonder Woman

Earlier this week I reviewed Wednesday Comics, a rather spanking anthology from DC Comics. I kinda figured, however, it might be worth my while to break out some of those fifteen stories on their own (but not all of them) and discuss them, as it’s easy to lose sight of a particular writer/artist’s work in an anthology. Now it’s time to discuss the most controversial (or, at least, divisive) of the bunch: Wonder Woman.

When you discuss the ambition of DC Comics’ wonderful Wednesday Comics series, the argument inevitably comes back around to Ben Caldwell’s Wonder Woman strip, which seems to be the most divisive of the bunch. Everyone hates Teen Titans and loves The Flash, but Caldwell’s take on the iconic Amazon has served to split readers down the middle. It shouldn’t be too surprising, though, since the strip is really one of the handful to play with the extra space the book was allowed. While I’m not exactly overjoyed with the story, I certainly respect it a great deal for having the guts to follow through on some fascinating design ideas.

Wonder Woman fans should get a kick out of it...

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Wednesday Comics: Kamandi

Earlier this week I reviewed Wednesday Comics, a rather spanking anthology from DC Comics. I kinda figured, however, it might be worth my while to break out some of those fifteen stories on their own (but not all of them) and discuss them, as it’s easy to lose sight of a particular writer/artist’s work in an anthology. I thought I’d turn my attention to one of the conspicuously non-superhero titles in the anthology, an adaptation of the classic Kirby comic, Kamandi.

Although Kamandi only debuted in 1972, there’s an argument to be made that the character is better suited to this particular format and style of storytelling than the DC superheroes which otherwise populate the collection. Created by the legendary Jack Kirby, Kamandi is the story of the last boy on earth, attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic future ruled by hyper-evolved talking animals (rats, cats and – most viciously – apes). The character has a lasting cult appeal, but was never necessarily the most popular property at the publisher, but it’s nice that they dusted him off for this project. I have to admit being a bit surprised at the creative team – Dave Gibbons is regarded as an author, but made his name as an artist, so it’s strange to see him writing this – but it works, it really comes together and suits the unique format of the project perfectly.

Gibbons successfully apes the adventure comics of yore...

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Wednesday Comics: Batman

Earlier this week I reviewed Wednesday Comics, a rather spanking anthology from DC Comics. I kinda figured, however, it might be worth my while to break out some of those fifteen stories on their own (but not all of them) and discuss them, as it’s easy to lose sight of a particular writer/artist’s work in an anthology. And I thought that the opening strip deserved a bit of discussion, as it’s perhaps come under a bit of fire for a lot of flaws that are present through a lot of the stories collected.

Batman is the story arc which opens Wednesday Comics. Indeed, it was the story which would find itself peering out at the reader week-on-week. Perhaps it was unfortunate that Brian Azzarello’s take on the Caped Crusader went first, because it’s typically drawn a lot of criticism that the stories told failed to take advantage of the format. A lot of the criticism of the story can also be directed at a lot of the subsequence serials, but the Dark Knight draws the brunt of the negativity. Which is a shame, because – despite its conventional nature – Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso offer a pretty effective snapshot of the Caped Crusader.

Go with a bang...

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Wednesday Comics: The Flash

Earlier this week I reviewed Wednesday Comics, a rather spanking anthology from DC Comics. I kinda figured, however, it might be worth my while to break out some of those fifteen stories on their own (but not all of them) and discuss them, as it’s easy to lose sight of a particular writer/artist’s work in an anthology. So I figured I’d start with the best of the bunch, The Flash.

I think it’s safe to say that the Flash is on a road to reinvention. Writer Geoff Johns, who pioneered the resurrection of Green Lantern as one of the company’s most successful properties (and one of the most impressively consistent books), is currently working on a relaunched Flash series, that looks to follow the pattern set by Green Lantern. There are rumours of Warner Brothers greenlighting a movie. The scarlet speedster is definitely in an upswing. Still, one of the best things to happen to the character in… quite a while, actually, is this twelve-page comic in Wednesday Comics, written and illustrated by Karl Kerschl, with some help from Brenden Fletcher. It’s easily the best comic of the collection, but it also stands as a proud testament to the possibilities of the character, one of the original Silver Age heroes.

Quit monkeyin' around...

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