Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Grab These Books

I've decided to do something a little bit different this week. Instead of reviewing specific issues from last week, I'm going to talk a bit about my favorite strips from Wednesday Comics. If you're not aware, Wednesday Comics is the brainchild of Mark Chiarello. It collects some of the most exciting talent in the comics industry and lets them run wild with a page the size of a traditional newspaper. The stories are all serialized tales from the DCU, twelve chapters, with a new issue coming out each week. So far it's been nothing if not fun. I'd like to take this week's Grab These Books as a chance to talk about some of my favorite strips from this ambitious project.

Strange Adventures by Paul Pope & Jose Villarrubia - Paul Pope doing Adam Strange? Epic! The pencils, the inks, the colors, the story, it all just explodes off the page. For the first three weeks of this project Strange Adventures has been the feature I've dug the most. Pope makes great use of the large format to create a full, sweeping and striking view of Adam Strange at war. This is big, weird and beautiful. We've come to expect nothing less from Paul Pope.

Green Lantern by Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones - What could be seen as an otherwise generic (yet entertaining) early Hal Jordan/Green Lantern story is turned into a can't miss by relative newcomer Joe Quinones. Quinones, a regular contributor to Surfing the Bleed friends Project Rooftop may be the best artist working in comics today that you haven't heard of. His jutting chins, exaggerated jawlines and playful facial expressions create a 50s lounge pastiche that works perfectly for Hal "Highball" Jordan and his crew. Expect to see a lot more from Joe Quinones in the near future.

Metamorpho by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred - With an all-star team like Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred, you'd expect a lot. Metamorpho does not disappoint. While the majority of the strips in Wednesday Comics are simply larger format comic pages, a few do everything they can to utilize the new format to do something truly unique. Metamorpho succeeds at this perhaps better than any other strip in the comic. A fun, old pulp adventure style comic, each page is exactly that; a page. Gaiman and Allred aren't just making a giant comic here, they're telling this Metamorpho story one page at a time. Allred will pencil one expanisve environment and then show Metamorpho and crew moving through various stages of it and Gaiman's conversational narrative works perfectly for this format. Seriously fun, seriously great work by two of the comic book world's heaviest hitters. Great colors too from longtime collaborator and wife, Laura Allred.

Deadman by Dave Bullock, Vinton Heuck and Dave Stewart - While this Deadman story is little more than a psychadelic whodunnit, it gets serious points for using the format to create some vastly interesting layouts. The combined force of Bullock, Heuck and Stewart has created something worth framing here. Like Metamorpho, the Deadman creative team has shucked the tradition of panels and gutters for a more free-flowing, full page narrative. While I don't think it succeeds as well as Metamorpho (few people write as good a story as Neil Gaiman), it does use this new format for innovation and fun. And Dave Stewart? Egads! The colors on this strip are the best part. They really should just name the Eisner for achievement in coloring after this guy.

Those are my four favorite strips from Wednesday Comics but that's certainly not all there is to see. If you haven't been following this new DC experiment I suggest you start. Back issues may be hard to find but they're still out there. I highly suggest you inquire at your local comic shop about this if you haven't already. And today is Wednesday, so don't forget to get out there and grab these books!

Pull List

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #7
Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps #3
Detective Comics #855
Superman #690
Wednesday Comics #4

...and Marvel comes up a big goose egg again this week. : (

That's it for this week!

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