Thursday, 9 July 2009

Four Colour Glory - Wednesday Comics

Over the last three years or so, DC Comics have been experimenting with weekly comics to a mixed degree of success. It all kicked off with 52 which was set a fairly high standard and showcased some of the more minor characters of the DC Universe who don't always get a look in; the concept being being that each issue covered a week in a year during which Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were absent. While it sometimes struggled with juggling the five or six main storylines, it was always compelling and came to a satisfying conclusion. Sadly, they chose to follow this up with the ultimately pointless Countdown, a year-long lead-in to a series which it ended up directly contradicting and having no influence on due to some unfortunate editorial bungling (which is a shame as it started in a promising fashion). The follow-up Trinity was somewhere inbetween - at least what I read of it; I gave it up about two-thirds of the way in in an effort to save a little cash.

Which leads us to the latest weekly comic that DC have launched this week - Wednesday Comics, as comics come out on a Wednesday in the States. Do you see what they did there? Unfortunately, that title becomes slightly meaningless over here as we don't get them til a Thursday but still... They've gone down a different road this time. Instead of the usual format comic with a complete storyline, they've gone for a broadsheet-sized affair of just 16 pages and each story lasting for only one page (and being continued in subsequent issues). The idea being that want to hark back to the time of oversized comics with the Sunday papers with individual strips which ran from half a page to a page a time.

The first thing to say is that it looks gorgeous. The design and feel of a broadsheet-sized comic is definitely very appealing and the artists they've shosen (for the most part) deserve to have their work shown off in this fashion. They've also lined up a nice array of creators and characters. Sure, you've got the expected outings for Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman but, alongside them, you've got a lot of the older niche characters like The Metal Men, Metamorpho and Adam Strange. The whole thing definitely has an old-school feel about it; a combination of that newspaper sensibility they're emulating combined the anthology feel of earlier DC titles.

Is it any good? Well, as with any anthology, it's a mixed bag. Some of the tales seem to lend themselves nicely to being doled out a page at a time, others less so. The most intriguing ones for me are Batamn, Kamandi, Metamorpho, Strange Adventures and Metal Man. The clunkers so far are Teen Titans, Hawkman and a slightly confusing page of Wonder Woman. However, it is only week one and I'm still intrigued to see how it all develops over time.

Is it worth buying? Well, if you have a passing interest in comics, then yes, I'd say so, if only to see DC trying something both retro and slightly experimental at the same time. It remains to be seen whether it will manage to sustain my interest over the twelve week run but, for now, I'm intrigued enough to stay signed up for my Thursday dose of Wednesday Comics.

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