Ambidextrous 304: Please Believe - Wednesday Comics

So yeah…that was about as great as I expected it to be…

Wednesday Comics #1 was the last comic I read this past Wednesday, as I’m still layering my weekly stacks and always saving the best stuff for last. And though I came home with a lot of great books (Chew, Batman, Green Lantern, Red Robin, Unwritten, etc.) this was the one I was the most excited about, and even now, is the one I keep coming back to with a Kool-Aid smile. Just unfolding the whole thing and randomly flipping to any sequence is a bit of an experience, because the art inside is uniformly gorgeous, and even though it would probably cost over a hundred bucks, I hope DC finds someway to reprint this at the current size. But I’m certainly not willing to chance that it won’t get eventually resized, or even worse, that it won’t get collected at all. Know a lot of people are reflexively assuming that, but for me personally, this project is too ambitious and too good-looking to take that big of a chance on. There are a lot of comics out there with 3.99 price tags…this is one worth it without question.

And so this week, Ambidextrous presents to you fifteen short essays covering my initial impressions and thoughts on the first installment of Wednesday Comics…all of them exactly seventy words.

Batman (Azzarello/Risso)

Now struck by the incredible urge to go re-read Azzarello and Risso’s Broken City arc. The last 100 Bullets trade also dropped yesterday, which means I’ll likely be reading that seminal series from the beginning and writing a feature on it late summer/early fall. Anything that continues this obviously successful creative pairing is cool with me, and there is really nobody better to get things off to a noir-soaked start.

Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth! (Gibbons/Sook)

First off, that “Kamandi created by Jack Kirby” banner is awesome, and hopefully it’ll be included at the bottom of all of the strips. Second, Ryan Sook is also awesome, and there’s really no reason one panel of a kid paddling a raft through the ruins of New York should look so cool. And yet it does, while Gibbons’ captioning tells me everything I need to know to get onboard.

Superman (Arcudi/Bermejo)

Great choice for the cross-promo with USA Today, as it features Superman, and is also packing an artistic interpretation of the character that is unquestionably gorgeous. Maybe I’m underestimating the so-called “mainstream,” but I’d think most of the people who don’t care about comics, or forgot about them several years ago, haven’t seen Superman looking quite like this. Just tons of great details, facial expressions, and energy in Bermejo’s artwork.

Deadman (Bullock/Heuck)

Like the Kamandi strip, the writer goes out of his way to ensure you know exactly who and why Deadman is. Mentioned in the SOLO piece that Teddy Kristiansen and Gaiman’s story got me very excited about reading more of the character, and Bullock’s work easily continues that trend. A complete, yet concise re-telling of the origin story, cleverly worked into a circular layout was also a nice treat.

Green Lantern (Busiek/Quinones)

Lantern only appears in a single panel, but that’s more than enough to show that Quinones’ style is going to serve Hal Jordan well over the next several weeks. Maybe it’s just the diner and the clothing, but getting a strong Norman Rockwell vibe off everything, and I’ll be following Quinones around to his next couple projects. Completely unfamiliar with his previous work, and suddenly, that seems a bit obscene.

Metamorpho, The Element Man (Gaiman/Allred)

I really shouldn’t like this one, because of the deliberate silver age flair, but much like All-Star Superman, there’s something endearing and appropriately modern about it that grabs me. This probably isn’t quite as weird as a giant clam, but something I really loved was the cool cast listing lining the bottom, which described everyone’s role with a few choice words, and promised the introduction of a shocking mystery villain.

Teen Titans (Berganza/Galloway)

The manga-style art really fits the property and characters well, but I need to see a little more before I can get a decent read on this. In a project that’s going out of its way to eschew modern continuity constraints, I was surprised to see the story directly referencing the long Titans history, and some of its roster movements over the years. Could easily turn into something great though.

Strange Adventures (Pope)

Can’t decide between this and another section (to be named later), as my absolute favorite of the week, but the sci-fi adventures of Adam Strange and Paul Pope were obviously a brilliant pairing. So much to love in this one, Pope’s signature lettering, Alanna’s repeated use of his full name, and the marauding blue monkeys firmly among the immediate highlights. Really though, that final image makes the entire story fantastic.

Supergirl (Palmiotti/Conner)

Because of Connor’s superb storytelling abilities, the Power Girl book is beautiful, without being exploitative, and this Supergirl take appears to be striking a similar balance. Couple great details to point out---the little girl’s huge eyes as she begs her father for a puppy, the little guy in the next shot playing to the camera, and the hearts fluttering over the other dog’s head when Krypto crashes onto the scene.

Metal Men (Didio/Lopez/Nowlan)

Not quite as consciously manic as the recent mini Duncan Rouleau did from Morrison’s notes, but still another statement of how interesting and nuanced these characters can be. In broken record fashion, I must again comment on how fantastic the art here is, and the variety in body language and clothing style that subtly gives away everyone’s identities. We’ll see exactly where it goes, but this is a good start.

Wonder Woman (Caldwell)

By far the densest story offering, with smatterings of tiny panels and dialogue balloons all over the page. With a couple readings, the narrative becomes less intimidating and the layout a breeze to follow, as Caldwell weaves a dream-like tale, complete with talking animals and portents of imminent doom. Despite the billing, feels like “Teen Wonder Woman” and fits in well with Supergirl as great material for the younger folks.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Co. (Kubert/Kubert)

Love that Joe Kubert is working on this strip with his son, as I’ll always remember that opening sequence they did together in Ultimate X-Men #11. Beyond that sentiment, Sgt. Rock is obviously a perfect artistic showcase for Joe Kubert, and his sense of storytelling is still miles ahead of many of today’s “hot” artists. Also very impressed that the strip is essentially one giant nine-grid, which is always effective.

The Flash (Kerschl/Fletcher)

My other favorite, as Kerschl and company manage to tell two stories from two different perspectives, and all of this in an extremely limited space. Sure it helps that they are in fact the same intertwining story, but it was really cool they even gave Iris her very own logo, in a seamless transition panel that has Flash speeding through the background, only to soon discover a “Dear Barry” note.

The Demon and Catwoman (Simonson/Stelfreeze)

After the creative listings were revealed, I probably had my eyebrow raised the most over this one. Not the creators of course, both of them are incredibly talented, but at how these two characters were actually going to come together. The answer was right there all along, with Selina infiltrating Blood’s castle to steal something allegedly valuable…and likely inviting the ire of a certain demon. Silly question asked and answered.

Hawkman (Baker)

Taking full advantage of the incredible size, Baker continues his assault on anyone that ever questioned his range as an artist. The spotlight panel---Hawkman armed with a sword, a mace, and flanked by dozens of birds is a thing of absolute beauty. Having one of the birds narrating the story was also an inspired touch, and if his aim was to make Hawkman look and feel cool as hell…congratulations.

That’s week one of twelve over and done with, folks. Remind me never to do a fixed word count ever again, and there likely will be a smaller version of this feature included in the next, oh I don’t know, eleven or so columns. Hope you all enjoyed Wednesday Comics as much as I did, and everybody have fun in San Diego. I’ll be skipping this one, but more on that and some other things next week.

The Fiction House

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