You know, I’ve scanned something out of Wednesday Comics every week since it started, like so…
…and I gotta say, that thing is a hassle to scan. I don’t know if DC’s actually advanced the art form or anything, but I’ve got the sneaking suspicion that they’ve finally produced the comic that’ll make even the most die-hard digital pirate throw his hands up and say “You know what? Y’all can go buy that one in the store.”
But enough ruminations about the state of the industry! It’s another Thursday night, and that means it’s time for another round of the Internet’s Most Digitalist Comics Reviews! Here’s what I picked up this week…
…and here’s what I thought about ’em!
ISB BEST OF THE WEEK
Detective Comics #855: Given how much I liked the first part of Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III’s Batwoman story, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone that I’m still enjoying it, but even I was surprised at just how much I’m loving it.
The obvious credit goes to Williams and colorist Dave Stewart, for the obvious reason that this book is just flat-out gorgeous. I’ve talked about Williams before, owing mainly to his phenomenal work on the Black Glove story from Grant Morrison’s Batman run, but his work has never looked better than it does here. The detail, the incredible facial expressions, the angles he chooses, the way that everything from the panel layouts to the actual linework reflects what’s going on in the story; it’s all amazing, and it makes for something that’s not just one of the best looking comics on the stands today, but that I think I’ve ever read.
And amazingly, it’s got the story to match. Despite a few missteps, Greg Rucka’s still a guy that’s written some of my favorite comics, but it’s not just that he’s doing good work that makes me like this book so much. Given what I often find myself complaining about, I think it’s pretty clear that I value innovation, and this thing’s full of it. It’s not just a new (albeit legacy) character, and it’s not just that there’s a new villain, but the idea that it’s all happening in the flagship title that the company takes its very name from… well, it’s melodramatic to say that it gives me hope, but it’s certainly one of the best things DC has going for it. It’s truly amazing comics, and as you can tell, I’m pretty excited about it.
Plus in the Question story, there are nunchuks.
Justice Society of America #29: This issue marks the arrival on JSA of the new creative team of Bill Willingham, Matt Sturges, and Jesus Merino, and it’s something I’ve been looking forward to since it was announced a while back. After all, I think the record will show that I’m a pretty big fan of Willingham and Sturges’s other work, and for all my grousing about getting on with the new, I actually do like DC’s Golden Age and legacy characters quite a bit. Well, except Magog. And Citizen Steel. And the new Mr. America, who fights with a whip in each hand and reminds me more of the climactic towel battle from I Love You, Beth Cooper than anything else. And Wildcat’s kid the furry. And Cyclone, who is really annoying. And, jeez, is that Jonni Thunder in there? Yeesh.
Really though, I actually do like most of them (especially poor Doctor Mid-Nite, who had an amazing start courtesy of Matt Wagner but was then quickly relegated to patching up super-sprained ankles all the time), but for some reason, this issue left me a little cold. It’s certainly not bad or poorly written, and there’s enough about it that’s interesting that I’m planning on sticking with it, but something just felt a little off.
Then again, I’ve not read any Justice Society comics in a couple of years, and while I’m usually prone to snap judgments, it occasionally takes me a few issues to warm up to a series that I end up liking a lot (heck, I outright hated Manhunter for the first few issues, and now I’m buying a comic I actively dislike just to get eight pages of Kate Spencer backup stories). Or it could be that I’m distracted from an otherwise solid issue by the fact that there’s a) a woman in jodhpurs and b) an analogue for Cable that everyone’s talking to like he’s not absolutely ridiculous. Either way, it doesn’t quite feel right just yet, and since I can’t put my finger on exactly why, I’m willing to accept that it might just be me, but I’m hoping it snaps in place soon.
Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose #57: In this issue of everyone’s favorite witchity “adventure” series, the title character spends an (admittedly low) nine pages nude, eight of which involve her tied up and one of which involves a dragon running its tongue over her breasts. Secondary characters are nude (and in two instances, fully splayed) on eight pages. In the backmatter, there are six photographs of nude (but tastefully obscured) women.
On the letters page, someone writes in to ask Jim Balent if he’s ever going to do something really explicit.
That is all.
Wednesday Comics #4: Well, we’re officially a month into DC’s experiment with the newspaper-sized format, and while I applaud its revolutionary scanner-foiling properties, I’ve got to admit that I’ve just flat-out given up on a few chunks of this thing.
I mentioned my problems with Caldwell’s Wonder Woman strip in my review of the first issue, and to be honest, I’ve just stopped reading it. As pretty as it is–and it is pretty–Caldwell errs in the exact opposite way that most of the strips do, cramming in too much instead of too little. From a purely visual standpoint the twisting layouts look great, but in practice the shading that would look great on a better paper stock just ends up looking drab, and it’s just too dense. There are fifty-five panels in this week’s, and even at four times the size of a normal comics page, that works out to 13 panels per, and that’s just too much. Plus, while the “it was all a dream… or was it?!” endings are a nice callback to Winsor McCay and the strips of the past, is really repetitive. Still, there’s a chance that when it’s all done, I’ll sit down with them and try to get through, as it’s at least got stuff going on.
The Superman strip, however… I honestly cannot imagine who would want to read this.
Don’t get me wrong, I actually do like John Arcudi’s work a lot on the B.P.R.D. books, and Lee Bermejo’s doing a beautiful job drawing it, but the things he’s drawing are boring. This is Superman, but for the past three issues–ever since the flawed but promising fight with the robot in the first issue–we’ve seen him do nothing but act like an insufferably self-absorbed child, especially in the interactions with Batman in the second part. And in this one, he spends the entire page hanging out at the county fair looking at things.
Again, this is Superman, and out of everything that ran in Wednesday Comics, this one was supposed to be the one that had the best chance of really introducing people to the character (with the first page running in USA Today and all), but not only is there nothing here I’d want to be introduced to, this is the same version of the character that people have seen in stuff like Superman Returns. It’s not new, it’s not engaging, and it’s not good. And it’s especially annoying both because Arcudi’s capable of better work and because DC can put out a much better continuity-free Superman comic that captures the essence of the character without miring itself down into pointless introspection. We know they can. We’ve seen it.
Of course, the story’s not over yet, and there’s always a chance Arcudi could pull out a winner, but for it to be this frustrating to read a full third of the way into the project, I’m not holding out hope.
But those are the bad bits; there’s also a lot of Wednesday Comics that’s really enjoyable: Kamandi and Adam Strange are darn-near-perfect uses of the form, Supergirl and Flash are a hoot, and Dan Didio, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan’s Metal Men story is way, way better than I ever expected it to be. And although the last two weeks of Neil Gaiman’s Metamorpho read like someone suddenly told him it was twelve pages and not ten, it’s pretty enjoyable too.
And then there’s Hawkman, which is by the incredible Kyle Baker and ends with a joke so gloriously, perfectly awful that it loops back around to awesome and pretty much justifies the whole series. That guy knows how it’s done.
Woman of A.C.T.I.O.N. #1, Chapter One: I honestly considered making the first chapter of this my Best of the Week, but that would push even my shameless self promotion past its limits. So I’ll just use this space to mention that my latest comic, drawn and lettered by “Peerless” Chris Piers and colored by “Swingin'” Steve Downer, is now available for your reading pleasure over at the Action Age.
These are the first ten pages, but there’s still fifteen more to go that’ll be going up over the next two Wednesdays, along with some incredible pin-ups and a letter column with the third installment. So if you haven’t yet, go read it! And if you’ve read it already… uh… go read it again? Or tell someone else to. Consider it ISB homework.
You Shall Die By Your Own Evil Creation: We’ve discussed Paul Karasik’s collections of the work of Golden Age madman Fletcher Hanks a few times here on the ISB since the release of the first volume, I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, and as much as I’ve been looking forward to the second collection, I honestly thought there was no way it could be as crazy, awesome, or crazy-awesome as the first one.
I was wrong.
This is the best thing ever.
And on that planet-destroying note, that’s the week! As always, any questions or concerns can be left in the comments, so if you want to talk about how great the past few issues of Secret Warriors have been (“Recoil.”) or how awesome that Ghost Rider story where the fate of Heaven is decided by a motorcycle race around the world is (guest starring Thor and the Punisher! Seriously!), that’s the place to do it.