Thursday, August 13, 2009

Wednesday Comics: The Halfway Point

I think by now, everyone's pretty much formed their opinions on each strip, and I doubt much will happen to change them. So let's see how things have turned out.

Batman by Brian Azarello and Eduardo Rizzo: Well, it's definitely turned out differently than I expected. I would say that this strip does the best at keeping each installment a discrete unit; unfortunately, it goes a bit too far, so that the connection between the strips isn't immediately evident. I have to remind myself of the overplot each week, and it's not always clear how what's going on relates to what's happened in the past. The art's been pleasant, though, and the structure does mean we get a variety of scenes.

Kamandi by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook: I think that when all is said and done, there are two types of Wednesday Comics readers: The kind who think this is the best strip, and the kind who thing Paul Pope's Strange Adventures is the best strip. For me, it's Kamandi (no slight against Pope; see below). Ryan Sook's art is just gorgeous, and each chapter draws out another element to Gibbons's wild future-fantasy story. The cliffhangers in particular have been great; this is the kind of material people are talking about when they say "I've GOT to read the next issue!" Which, if you'll notice, they don't say that often anymore.

Superman by John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo: Ugh. Finally, this week, Superman stops moping about not being from around here and something freaking happens. Unfortunately, Arcudi's pretty much used up all my goodwill. This was just not a good script for this format, or any other, if I'm being honest. And if the aliens who show up here spend the next sequence just talking, I am going to hit someone. Bermejo's art still seems off to me; there's nothing wrong with it, exactly, I just feel like it's too flashy and photo-realistic for the format. It reminds me of Mike Choi's X-Men, where I felt like I was watching cut scenes from a video game rather than reading a comic. It's a nice-looking video game, though.

Deadman by Dave Bullock and Vinton Hueck: Bullock's story is another one that's been good with the cliffhangers, and with the pacing. Each installment has moved along quite well, and it's fun to look at, too. The hellscapes are getting a bit old, but fortunately we get a change of scenery this week. I do admit, though, that I have no idea where this plot is going, and get the feeling that there will be at least one info-dump strip before we're done, which I'm not really looking forward to.

Green Lantern by Kurt Busiek and Joe Quiñones: Well, this has certainly stumbled. We're halfway through, and we actually haven't seen much of Green Lantern. Instead, we've gotten some supporting cast material that went nowhere, Hal's previously-unrevealed old friend (a cliche that should have long since been retired) turning into a monster, and a three-week flashback of Hal washing out of the Mercury program. Which, okay, but I was expecting, I dunno, Green Lantern to hit stuff with his ring by now. We might get that next week (actually, we damn well better), but it's a bit late for forgiveness.

Metamorpho by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred: All right, I think it's clear by now that Gaiman and Allred are just fucking around. But, measured as two very talented guys just fucking around, this does pretty well. It's fun to look at (for all that the two-week spread slowed things down, you know you thought it was gorgeous), the kids' stuff gags are cute, and they're exploring some old ruin, and that's all I need, really.

Teen Titans by Eddie Berganza and Sean Galloway: I summed up my feelings on this to my friend Jeff earlier this weekend: "After the first issue, I was disappointed. After the third, I said 'Oh, come on' out loud. After the fifth, I wanted the strip to become a person, so I could punch it in the face over and over." And things get worse this week (Hey, everyone, did you know the new Blue Beetle is Hispanic?). And it's all Eddie Berganza's script, let me be perfectly clear on that. I have nothing against Sean Galloway's art; I'd love to see what he can do with material written by someone with talent. Or skill. Or who has the faintest idea what he's doing. Or who's read more than old, crappy Teen Titans and X-Men comics. Or...

Strange Adventures by Paul Pope: I took out the "starring Adam Strange" because, as it turns out, Alanna has played just as big a role in this story, if not a bigger one. Good on Pope for doing that; she's been relegated mostly to the role of "mobile hostage" throughout the series' history, but here she gets a chance to do some honest-to-Dejah-Thoris badassery. And the art certainly looks weird enough; Pope draws great weird landscapes and creatures, so this was a natural fit for him. I'm not sure about this week's bit with a seemingly aged Adam Strange stuck on Earth, but we'll see where it goes.

Supergirl by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Connor: Well, it's gorgeous to look at; Supergirl, Krypto and Streaky are all adorable. The plot's moving at a snail's pace, though; this week's strip even stops completely for an extended Aquaman-as-Bob-Newhart bit (which is, sadly, the best characterization he's received in years). But I guess if I'm cutting Gaiman and Allred slack for basically fucking around, I can do the same for these two. And if there were a Supergirl comic strip, this is probably what the Sundays would look like. (Why isn't there a Supergirl comic strip, by the way?)

Metal Men by Dan Didio and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez: Well, it's not bad, but if you've ever read a Metal Men comic before, you know exactly what to expect. The Metal Men's Playskool personalities are as they've always been, and I think by now they're not going to get out of that bank, so all that's left is, it looks like, a by-the-numbers adventure. Garcia-Lopez's art is great, though, so it's got that going for it.

Wonder Woman by Ben Caldwell: Okay, I'm apparently the only person even still reading this, but fuck all y'all, this is some good shit. Now that they've got the coloring figured out, I'm enjoying this strip on all fronts. There have been a lot of fun recastings of Wonder Woman's supporting cast and villains (including Etta Candy as a spunky firecracker of a kid), the plot's advancing, and I enjoy what Caldwell's doing with his composition. I'm something of a genetic freak in that I don't find complex layouts as confusing as others do, and I enjoy a challenge anyway.

Sgt. Rock and Easy Company by Adam Kubert and Joe Kubert: Okay, Adam? In stories, things happen. Seriously, is Rock going to be tied to that chair the whole time? It's getting rather old at this point. It's always nice to see Joe Kubert doing war comics again, but I kinda wish he were plotting, too, since so far nothing's advanced. The stakes are still what they were, and while "Rock in peril" is decent enough stakes, I'd expected things to get ratcheted up by now. So this is kind of a letdown.

Flash Comics by Karl Kerschel and Brendan Fletcher: Hey, speaking of complexity, here's a story with time travel, recursive events, multiple universes, and multiple versions of the Flash arguing with each other. So yeah, I'm enjoying this. The "two-strips-in-one" gimmick has worked out pretty well, especially with this week's curve ball of introducing a new strip starring Grodd in his little pocket universe of the apes. And Kerschel has joined the elite group of writers who have managed to make Barry Allen not boring, so good on him for that.

The Demon and Catwoman by Walt Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze: Hasn't been much of the "and Catwoman" since Selina got turned into a giant cat for reasons that are still a bit unclear (it looks like Morgan La Fey wants to steal her body, but why turn her into a cat for that?). Stelfreeze's art is appropriately gothic, though, and I like how Simonson has Etrigan speak in blank verse, if only because it means a Demon writer is finally giving a damn about meter in addition to rhyme. (Seriously, as an English major, it drives me batty when writers just have every two lines rhyme and call it a day.)

Hawkman by Kyle Baker: Pretty much the number three strip for me. Baker puts in everything I expect from an action serial (alien marauders, hijacked planes, the hero beating the bad guys into mush, a plucky sidekick, a cheap "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" reference, etc.), and makes it look gorgeous. And I understand there will be dinosaurs. Glee.

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