Sunday, July 12, 2009

Comic Review: Wednesday Comics #1 (DC Comics) by Adam P.

DC attempts a comic book revolution

Notwithstanding Blackest Night which is getting underway, I have to say that Wednesday Comics is the comics event of the summer. This is a surprisingly fresh idea from DC Comics that ends up being way more than the sum of its parts, a thoroughly engrossing and refreshing experience for both comic book newcomers and jaded veterans.

Wednesday Comics #1 begins a twelve-issue weekly series where readers will witness the simultaneous unfolding of fifteen separate stories by different creative teams. Each issue is printed in a tabloid format resembling the newspaper Sunday comics section from the good old days. Unfolded, each feature is displayed in rich full-colour in on a huge 14” by 20” page.

We're slowly getting to the age of digital comics, with publishers gradually making issues available online. This is a change the music industry underwent first and one way they've reacted to it is by trying to make physical albums fun again, with deluxe editions and vinyl versions. Similarly, DC is giving us a good reason here to read physical comics. It's not an experience that can be replicated digitally, what with the feel of newsprint and the sheer size of the pages. It's making the reading of comics an engrossing experience again.

Another current phenomenon in the comics industry is the proliferation of trade paperbacks. TPB's are often announced before the issues being reprinted have all been released. There's a certain appeal to reading entire story arcs in a single sitting. In the age of the internet video and on-demand television, we're becoming acclimatized to obtaining we want whenever we want it. However, this fast pace of modern life carries with it its own particular kids of stress. Wednesday Comics hearkens back to the age of newspapers when kids would have to wait till Sunday came around to get their hands on their favorite color tales and took the time to pour over them on long, lazy Sunday afternoons. There's also a certain beauty in being forced to slowly savor various tales over three months, like eating a fine multiple-course meal versus chowing down on fast food. The gigantic format of Wednesday Comics also makes it much easier to appreciate the artwork.

The one-page-per-hero format forces the writers to pack a lot into a small space. It's an interesting switch from the 22-page format and means more punch per panel. Like in Haiku or Twitter, strict limitations can lead to stronger humor and more poignant action.

The content is split between top-tier superheroes (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern), others that are well-known but not necessarily read on a regular basis by fans (Teen Titans, Hawkman, Catwoman, Deadman, Supergirl), and characters who are fascinating but relatively obscure (Kamandi, Metamorpho, Adam Strange, Metal Men, Sgt. Rock). This makes it a great introduction to some major elements of the DCU that not all may be familiar with.

The styles are extremely varied. In the same way most readers will learn more about characters they are less familiar with, readers will also be exposed to different types of storytelling that they're less accustomed to. In all, an enriching and enlivening experience.

Particular standouts are the silver age Green Lantern, Neil Gaiman's gut-bustingly funny take on Metamorpho, Paul Pope having Adam Strange take on sphinx monkeys, Amanda Conner's delicious Supergirl artwork, and Iris West getting her own half-page beside the Flash.

Adam P.
Review Co-Editor

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