Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wednesday Comics

Under the direction of editor Mark Chiarello, who was last responsible for the absolutely astonishing SOLO series, DC Comics is currently putting out one of the most groundbreaking comics on the stands today, and at the same time one of the most retro: Wednesday Comics. A weekly art extravaganza, WC is printed on classic newspaper paper like the old days, filled with full page strips serialized over the course of three weeks by some of the greatest names working in the industry - from the mainstream to the indies. This is a celebration of comics as an art form embracing the present, past, and future of the medium in one fell swoop. And it is gorgeous. Not every strip is as spot on as the others but as a whole it's a wonderful package, and some of the strips (like Azzarello and Risso's Batman) are already establishing themselves as weekly must reads. The project is on such a scale that USA Today is serializing John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo's Superman story on their website, with the first portion included in the print edition.

The roster is as follows:
- Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (the team behind Vertigo's award winning 100 Bullets) on Batman
- Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook on Kamandi: The Last Boy on Earth (a Jack Kirby character done in the style of Prince Valiant)
- John Arcudi and Lee Bermejo on the aforementioned Superman
- Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck on Deadman
- Kurt Busiek and Joe Quinones on Green Lantern
- Kyle Baker takes on Hawkman
- The absolutely All-Star team of Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred on Metamorpho: The Element Man
- Eddie Berganza and Sean Galloway on Teen Titans
- Paul Pope on Strange Adventures
- Husband and Wife team Jimmy Palmiotti and the sensational Amanda Conner do Supergirl
- DC Comics Executive Editor Dan Didio, Jose Luis Garcia Lopez and Kevin Nowlan take on the Metal Men
- Ben Caldwell on Wonder Woman
- Father and Son Joe and Adam Kubert on Sgt. Rock
- Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher on The Flash
- and finally Walter Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze bring the unlikely combination of The Demon/Catwoman

That right there is a veritable Justice League of comic's talent. At $3.99 a pop it's not the cheapest entertainment investment (the whole series should run you $48 plus tax) but this is a really beautiful tribute to the old Sunday pages back when Will Eisner and Walt Kelly ruled the roost. It's also doing quite well, and while nothing has been confirmed, there's talks of another Wednesday Comics event next year - which means people are already assembling their dream teams, and as a would be one day comic's editor, here's mine.

(Note: for the sake of this game I'm trying to be as realistic as possible in the current environment - no repeated creators, and no one ezclusive to Marvel (like Brian Bendis) or on such bad terms with DC that they would never be invited (Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid). Characters may repeat from year to year because I sincerely doubt DC will run something like this without a Superman or Batman feature to anchor it.)

Jason's Dream WC2 Roster:
- Darwyn Cooke on The Spirit (The Spirit returns exactly where he belongs - the oversized Sunday section he debuted in - guided by the best talent to touch him since his creator)
- Geoff Johns and John Cassaday on Superman (I'm literally drooling just thinking about it)
- Garth Ennis and Brian Bolland on Batman (Bolland on interiors? Heaven)
- Grant Morrison and Doug Mankhe on Shazam (All-Star Captain Marvel by the Scottish God of Comics himself)
- Keith Giffen, JM Dematteis, and Kevin Maguire on Blue And Gold (The JLI team provide a Bwa-Ha-Ha a week with the buddy comedy of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold)
- Warren Ellis and Steve Dillon on John Constantine: Hellblazer
- J. Michael Straczynski and Jim Lee on Aquaman (I'd beg for a monthly but we know Lee can't hit those deadlines)
- Peter Milligan and Cliff Chiang on Human Target (the team behind my favorite comic book series of all time reunite just in time for the new TV show)
- Paul Dini and Bruce Timm on Zatanna (Magic. Mayhem. Fishnets. By the team who brought you Batman: The Animated Series)
- Denny O'Neil and JH Willliams III on The Question (Denny O'Neil, who wrote The Question's ground-breaking 1980s series brings more Vic Sage and Zen Noir accompanied by perhaps the best illustrator working today)
- Adam Hughes on Wonder Woman (The All Star line seems pretty much dead - lets see what he had in mind)
- Matt Wagner on Green Arrow/Black Canary
- Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra on Dial H for Hero
- Joe Kelly and Ethan Van Sciver on Plastic Man
- Sam Kieth on Arkham Asylum

I couldn't even find a place for JG Jones... maybe in round 3...
Oh man. I've just made myself so sad realizing this will never happen.
I ought to go buy issue 3 and cheer myself up.

Secret Files and Origins... coming soon weekly to TG.


Anonymous said...

Lately my interest in Big-3 superhero comics has been pretty minimal, but I did page through this one-- some pretty cool stuff. I think the Mike Allred/Neil Gaiman team is pretty intriguing, and of course I salivate over anything touched by my beloved Paul Pope...


Jason Heat said...

Few lines exemplify why I like comics as much as this from Pope's Strange adventures in issue 1 -

"...Why they resemble nothing less than the Mandrillus Sphynx Monkey of the family Cercophithedecae... only huge, blue-furred, and operating strange flying machines. The sight would be patently absurd if it wasn't so horrible!"

Do you have his SOLO issue? You'd love it.

Anonymous said...

I do have the issue of Solo, which is indeed terrific.

As I said, I'm not reading much superhero stuff these days, but it's really interesting to see it done by people like Pope who are really disciples of a different kind of comics tradition. The visual vocabulary and grammer of Pope's comics takes more, I think, from manga and 1970's European comics (the Heavy Metal crew) than the Marvel/DC tradition, and infusing the iconic cape characters with this sensibility has made for some pretty fascinating results. Did you read Batman Year 100? It's a really exciting, visceral read, totally terrific.


Jason Heat said...

I started it at your place and never finished it - I'll have to pick it up soon.

Who else are you digging these days in that vein?

Anonymous said...

I'm having a hard time thinking of similar capes stuff that I've been paging through lately, but comics I'm digging in general these days:

- Lots of classic European stuff, including some of the old Heavy Metal guys like Moebius and Enki Bilal, Guido Crepax's erotic comics, and even revisiting Herge. Also the work of Geoff Darrow, who I think is basically a scion of Moebius. Have you read Hard Boiled? Badass.

- Trying to educate myself in Manga a little bit better. Going through Lone Wolf and Cub right now, and dipping into some Tezuka here and there.

- In terms of stuff coming out presently, the only books I am following are Tony Salmons' The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft and the Morrison/Quitely Batman and Robin. I heard David Lapham has something new coming out soon, which I am looking forward to seeing. Hopefully it will be better than the bullshit he's been releasing lately.