Wednesday Comics #3 (DC): Overall, the novelty of the trick format is wearing off and I’m cautiously fighting the feeling that this is going to degenerate into a pretty middling group of stories, with more low valleys than high peaks on the opposite ends of the bell curve. Batman still has strong characterization and is more crime/mystery oriented than outright superheroics, no surprise considering the creative team. Grade A. Kamandi is quickly growing to be my second favorite in the lot, with a vintage aesthetic courtesy or Ryan Sook and a modern sensibility and general sense of wonderment. Grade A. Superman is moving very slowly and I’m not really enjoying the brooding Kryptonian routine. Grade B-. Deadman comes with a stream of consciousness style of storytelling which is quite dull and doesn’t accomplish a whole lot. Grade C. Green Lantern still has a gorgeous mastery of visuals for the most part, but is hindered by Hal’s big nose and dorky clothes which feel like a misstep on characterization. Grade B+. Metamorpho walks a fine line and weaves all over it. The bottom strip that insinuates Metamorpho was once a more successful property than it ever actually was risks being too cute for its own good. Not a single thing happens in this big huge static image and lines like “So your expedition came a cropper, huh, Staggsy?” mean absolutely nothing to me. Grade B-. Teen Titans is a little more readable every issue, but feels inconsequential despite its fun tendency to meta-jab. Grade B-. Strange Adventures is still the standout for my money, feeling dense and full of story. Paul Pope’s design sense is evident in everything from Adam’s wisps of hair, to his interpretation of the Zeta Beam, to the spears holding him captive. Grade A+. Supergirl is its usual bout of harmless cute fun, drawn particularly well. Grade B. Metal Men seems to take a lot of abuse online, but I enjoy the fast pace, great art, and lighthearted Silver Age feel. It’s quite consistent with what it has to offer. DiDio’s dialogue is also not as bad as one might expect. Grade B. Wonder Woman has a running gag which seems to be her waking up (yes, it was all a dream) at the end of every strip. Yaaawwwwnnnnn. It’s not that I didn’t want to read it. It’s that I actually couldn’t. It was physically impossible. The font is disgusting and the monochromatic palette hurts my eyes. It actually gave me a headache. What I did instead was count the number of panels and words these people tried to cram in here. There are 48 panels cluttered on this page. There are 520 words shoved into those panels. By comparison with the preceding Metal Men strip (which seems fairly average in terms of panels and dialogue with a quick glance), it has only 9 panels and 155 words. I don’t know what a typical ratio is in a standard comic and I’m sure this experimental format means all rules are off, but that seems very out of whack to me. Grade D. Sgt. Rock is all middle, but very pretty. Grade B. Flash and Iris West keep up their straightforward two for one fun. Grade B. Demon & Catwoman is still happening, only in a slightly more boring fashion. Grade B-. Hawkman comes with a big plot development and is worth it for Baker’s crisp art alone. Grade A. I actually sat here and averaged all those grades out and it only came to a 75% utilizing the 4.0 grading scale with the letter grades, this issue earned 46 out of 60 possible points. That’s a flat C. It feels better than that due to the strips I like because, well I like them a lot more than I dislike the ones that fail, if that makes any sense, and the format will still score you some points. Let’s go with a generous Grade B.
X-Force #17 (Marvel): On one hand, it was really a smart move to limit the Messiah War to a 30+ hour time span as a storytelling tool. Coupled with the time travel element, it allowed the team to jump right back to where they were moments before the crossover began. On the other hand… while only a few hours passed in comic book time, out here in the real world months have passed and I really don’t remember what was going on with Boom Boom, Hellion, and Surge. I guess the Leper Queen had them? I guess she’s dead now? I do like the fact that this book isn’t afraid of depicting brutal, bloody violence. It shows some bold swagger with a mainstream X property. But then it strays back into very familiar territory with the MRD – Mutant Response Division – another tired government program designed to reign in the X-gene active demographic. We’ve seen this before quite a few times and I believe that Craig Kyle and Chris Yost are slightly better writers than that, to have to return to this popular well again. Mike Choi and Sonia Oback’s art isn’t my favorite, but I will admit it’s slowly getting better. It’s about 80% perfectly serviceable, with about 20% of the shots bearing awkward poses and disproportionate body parts. I’m pretty close to dropping this title, but it didn’t seem like there was anything else to buy this week. What a ringing endorsement. Grade B.