Wednesday Comics: Was it worth it?

Wednesday Comics
If you look real close, you'll see the picture has two copies of issue 10. Why? Because I lost my issue 3, that's why!

It’s over! This summer; DC’s brave experiment was a 12 issue long series done on newspaper broadsheet in the style of the Sunday comics. Bringing in some big name writers and artists such as: Azzarello, Gibbons, Busiek and Gaiman; DC pulled out all the stops for this project. Nothing like this has been attempted in recent comic history. The basic premise behind this concept was that 15 stories would be told; each of them given one page per week to tell a story in twelve installments. The stories being told were; Batman by Azzarello & Risso, Kamandi by Gibbons & Sook, Hawkman by Baker, Deadman by Bullock & Heuck, Superman by Arcudi & Bermejo, Green Lantern by Busiek & Quinones, Metamorpho by Gaiman & Allred, Teen Titans by Berganza & Galloway, Strange Adventures by Pope, Supergirl by Palmiotti & Conner, Metal Man by Didio & Lopez, Wonder Woman by Caldwell, Sgt Rock by the Kubert brothers, Flash by Kerschl & Fletcher and Demon and Cat by Simonson & Stelfreeze.

 So while that sounds like a lot of per issue, keep in mind that each title has only one page per week to tell its story. That requires strong pacing; as each week the story needs to open and close within a short span. You can’t just have the page end in mid sentence as if you ripped a page out of a regular comic as it leaves the story disjointed week to week. Some of the titles like Kamandi, Hawkman, Sgt.Rock and Strange Adventures have perfect pacing for a weekly title. Some of them like Batman, Superman and Flash will read better in the trade form when it comes out.

 Let’s talk price! Each issue of Wednesday Comics is listed at 3.99 for 15 pages of ad-free comics. Compared to your standard sized comic, that seems like a pretty terrible deal, especially when you factor in that the comic is printed on newsprint. Of course, DC can try to justify the price by stating that the enormous cast of writers and artists doesn’t come cheap. So is it worth it? Sadly, I don’t believe that Wednesday Comics; due to the mixed bag of quality in each issue is worth the price of admission.

What about collectability? Some of us like to collect comics to read and enjoy while others like to collect, read and then seal them away in plastic. It has to be pretty difficult to preserve issues of Wednesday Comics due to the newsprint it’s on. I don’t think we’ll be seeing many issues of Wednesday Comics showing up on the CGC census ever. In fact, is it even possible to examine a copy of Wednesday Comics without affecting its grade?

So how good were the individual series? Well, some were great, some were good and some were bad.

 Great: The cream of the crop.

Metamorpho: Gaiman and Allred told a great story about Rex on a mission to retrieve a giant diamond from a trap filled pyramid. The art was great, the pacing was good and they had fun with the concept. One issue was nothing but an enormous panel that featured the cast moving through a jungle scene. Another issue had them turning the panel into a snakes and ladder board, while another issue turned the panel into the periodic table; fitting perfectly into the elemental theme. Fantastic read overall.

Hawkman: Kyle Baker’s Hawkman is about Hawkman rescuing a hijacked plane only for it to crash land on an island filled with dinosaurs. No overarching plot here, just a plot device to get them onto an island and fight dinosaurs and it works! Every issue’s last panel managed to draw you into wanting to see what happened next.

Kamandi: This strip was possibly the best out of the Wednesday Comics lineup. Kamandi was done in the same style as the Prince Valiant comics in which there were no text bubbles. It had an interesting story, good art and the pacing was exactly how it should be in a strip feature. The art was beautiful and the colors jumped out in a way you didn’t think you would get with newsprint. You never felt you weren’t getting your money’s worth from Kamandi. Every issue had some action and plot device to move the story forward.

 

Some of the best art Wednesday Comics had to offer.
Some of the best art Wednesday Comics had to offer.

Strange Adventures: Ok, I might have a little bias because I’m an Adam Strange fan since he showed up in Starman. It’s got a very cool art style and doesn’t even focus too much on Adam himself, choosing to give a lot of the spotlight to his wife. Again, the pacing of this series was good, which seems to make or break a title in Wednesday Comics.

Good:

Sgt.Rock: I really wish I could have bumped this series into the Great category. It started off with a great idea of Rock being stuck in an interrogation room by Nazis and making it an escape story. The art was fabulous and story was good so what cut it from Greatness? Each issue felt too short. Even though it averaged the 9 panels most other strips were doing, the large size of the art made me feel like they could have added more dialogue for the plot. I might be wrong and more might be less but to me, it didn’t feel that way.

Supergirl: Conner and Palmiotti opted to craft a general plotline of Supergirl having troubles with her cat and dog and then made each page completely episodic. Sure, there was nothing overly deep about this series, but it was a fun cute read with each issue jumping around different locales and meeting different players of the DCU. Fun for all ages.

Meh:  These are the titles that well…are just average or aren’t that good.  

Wonder Woman: I couldn’t get around how disorganized this comic really is…the art style was whimsical and fit in with the idea of a dream sequence, but everything else was bad. The plot was hard to follow and uninteresting, the sequencing was bad, the pacing was bad and hard to follow overall.

Demon and the Cat: Why would you pair up Etrigan and Catwoman? I can’t think of any real good reason for it. The storyline for this is quite forgettable as well. If you read Hawkman and Kamandi, you will have a general idea of what happened the week before, but this series is completely forgettable.

Batman: Speaking of forgettable…I had extremely high hopes for Batman by Azzarello and Risso. I’m an enormous fan of their work on 100 Bullets and their Broken City arc in the regular Batman title. The art is passable, but the plot doesn’t even come close to doing it justice. A good story should stick in your mind. I have all 12 pages in front of me and I can’t for the love of me figure out what the point of this story was. Rich man is murdered and predictably the hot wife is the culprit, but what makes this a Batman story? Nothing really.

Teen Titans: The art is good, that’s really all I can say about this title. Uninteresting plot and well…the ending seemed like they looked at the clock and realized they had 5 minutes to hand in the strip.

Superman: The art is just fantastic, but this title had an extremely slow start that is hard to overlook. When Wednesday Comics debuted, DC placed the first issue of Superman in USA Today as a sample. To be honest, that was a terrible choice given that nothing happens in the first five or so odd issues to draw readers in. On the plus side, Bermejo’s art was incredible as usual. I wouldn’t mind DC giving him the fulltime art duties on Superman or Action Comics.

Superman had nice art, but not much more.
Superman had nice art, but not much more.

Flash: I really wanted to like this title. It had a strong start plot-wise and Karl’s art is stellar. But halfway through; the use of Gorilla Grodd as the main protagonist just didn’t work for me. I think that is a flaw in many of the Wednesday strips; none of the characters ever faced off against their really iconic foes to draw in new readers.

Metal Men: Cool concept for characters that probably saw its peak in the pages of 52, but this time it just wasn’t that good. The plot was pretty straight forward revolving around a bank robbery and then Chemo busts in. Not quite sure why they choose Metal Men to be in Wednesday Comics given their relatively low profile in the DC universe. The art was there, nothing outstanding about it but it did its job.  

Deadman: Deadman’s a pretty cool character, but his whole shtick is pretty much being dead and possessing people. So why would you place him into a story where he travels to Hell where he doesn’t even get to make use of it? A good story should be at least somewhat memorable. I can just remember him investigating a murder then he gets sent to Hell where he beats a demon…and leaves. That’s all I can honestly remember. The art was pretty cool at least.   

Green Lantern: I have been a massive Green Lantern fan ever since Rebirth. So I was thinking that we would get some epic space drama where Hal travels from planet to planet meeting alien races. How wrong I was. Sure we did get the payoff with a big alien invasion in the end, but all of the lead up to it? Boring exposition about Jordan’s past with him? You can’t take up entire pages with that stuff when you only have a page per week! The art was pretty good and matched the sci-fi nature of Green Lantern.

What’s the final verdict? Well for this writer, Wednesday Comics was a flop. Four great strips and two good ones don’t outweigh the mediocrity of the other nine. Especially when we’re paying a premium price for something printed on news print. Here’s hoping that this series gets a beautiful oversize hardcover that does justice to the Kamandi, Strange Adventures, Metamorpho and Hawkman strips!

 

David Diep is the News Editor for ComicBookDaily.com and an assistant manager at Big B Comics in Hamilton, Ontario.

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