Wednesday Comics #1
Creators: Brian Azzarello, Eduardo Risso, Paul Pope, Neil Gaiman, Mike Allred, Walter Simonson, Brian Stelfreeze, Dave Bullock, Vinton Heuck, Dave Gibbons, Ryan Sook, John Arcudri, Lee Bermejo, Ben Caldwell, Kurt Busiek, Joe Quinones, Eddie Berganza, Sean Galloway, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, Kyle Baker, Adam Kubert, Joe Kubert, Karl Kerschl, Brandon Fletcher, Dan DiDio, Jose Luis-Garcia Lopez and Kevin Nolan
Publisher: DC Comics
As I unfolded my copy of Wednesday Comics #1, I was greeted by a banner that proudly proclaimed: "The World's Greatest Heroes! The World's Greatest Comics!" And you know something? I think DC Comics is well on their way towards delivering on that promise.
In many ways, Wednesday Comics is nothing less than a political statement, a manifesto correcting what some would argue the coarsening of an industry. With the success of Secret Wars all the way through Blackest Night, comic book companies have known that the Event has been their bread and butter. And while I think these events have their place -- Dark Reign and Batman Reborn being two such lines that I've really enjoyed -- Mark Chiarello has, in his way, assembled the greatest defense of the non-Event comic in recent memory.
The premise is simple, but one that is too often overlooked in the daily bustle for content: Chiarello has brought together the best and the brightest to not worry about continuity or future story arcs, but to simply do what comes natural -- art. With Wednesday Comics, he has taken the oversized format and used it as a banner, as a flag for anyone reading in a subway, a restaurant, or a public park -- it proclaims loud and proud that yes, these are comics, and that they should be ubiquitous in American life.
It's this enthusiasm that bleeds through the entire enterprise. By working in an anthology-style format, Wednesday Comics has something for every type of sensibility, whether it be the classical realism of Lee Bremejo's Superman, the anime-style energy of Sean “Cheeks” Galloway's Teen Titans, or the jagged indie feel of Paul Pope's Adam Strange. As I mentioned before, this project is really a means of showcasing great art and great characters, and in that regard the writers in this project have really bent over backwards to accommodate for their visual counterparts.
But does the single page format work? Almost uniformly so. Perhaps my favorite comic of the bunch was Karl Kerschl and Brandon Fletcher's The Flash, which really maximizes the oversized format, utilizing a number of panels to tell not one, but two stories -- an action tale of Barry Allen, and a soap operatic story of Iris West -- without hurting the clarity or pacing of the images. Paul Pope, meanwhile, gives a great, crazy tone to Adam Strange, as giant blue aliens attack the Escher-esque City of Ranagar. "Great Scott!!" Adam says. "Why, they resemble nothing less than the Mandriullus Sphynx Monkey of the family Cercopithecidae... only huge, blue-furred, and operating strange flying machines. The sight would be patently absurd if it wasn't so horrible!" Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck's Deadman features, as they really designed a fantastic origin recap with a distinct voice for Boston Brand, which was only improved by the strong reds, whites, and greens of colorist Dave Stewart.
Other comics, meanwhile, open with more of a spotlight on the artist, rather than the story. Jimmy Palmiotti's Supergirl, for example, puts the impetus on Amanda Conner, whose Giffen-esque style really charms the pants off a reader, whether it be Krypto the Super-Dog, Streaky the Super-Cat, or Supergirl herself chasing angrily after them. "Want that!" A little girl points after them. Me, too. Meanwhile, former Teen Titans editor Eddie Berganza and Spectacular Spider-Man character designer Sean Galloway take the first page of their issue to really show off the history of the group, as well as to hint at the motivations of new villain Trident (with a well-timed "The End" finishing it all off). Mike Allred, meanwhile, does a great balancing act with Neil Gaiman on Metamorpho, one of the strongest pieces in the book, as he manages to make Rex's shapeshifting as fluid and seemingly effortless as he makes Sapphire beautiful.
Now, this isn't a perfect opener by any means, as certain stories felt a little slow in the opening. Joe Quinones looks like he'll draw the heck out of Green Lantern, but Kurt Busiek only scripting the lead character in the last panel of the page seemed like a bit of a misstep. Meanwhile, Ben Caldwell does some great experimental work with his colors in Wonder Woman, but the sheer number of panels makes following his smooth artwork -- not to mention the story -- fairly difficult. However, in a book with this many irons in the fire, DC can get away with some of these stories starting a slow burn, especially in the name of sequential art experimentation.
With some breathtaking art and with some other stories -- such as Kyle Baker's cinematic Hawkman and Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook's epic Kamandi -- looking like they will soon explode off the page in the coming weeks, DC and Mark Chiarello have really done a great thing for this industry. While it remains to be seen if the series will continue to improve or struggle under the weight of its own ambitions, based on the first issue of this groundbreaking series, I only wish that every day could be like Wednesday.