Roundtable Review: ‘Wednesday Comics’ Hardcover, Part 1
In a special double-sized Roundtable Review, Laura Hudson, Chris Sims, David Brothers, and David Uzumeri take on the ENTIRE “Wednesday Comics” anthology hardcover, rating each comic one comic at a time. SPOILERS FOLLOW.
David U: ALL RIGHT! “Wednesday Comics”! Every once in a while, art guru Mark Chiarello leaves his editorial hidey-hole at DC to produce some stunning, creator-centric comics. His pedigree as an editor basically includes “Batman: Black & White” and “Solo,” so this is a guy who basically works on out-of-continuity stuff with artists and writers he’s always liked. This leads to mixed results in “Wednesday Comics,” 2009’s highly experimental weekly comic printed on broadsheet and consisting of 12 Sunday-comic-strip-style comics each issue. Those 12 continued over the entire book’s 12-issue run, leading to Wednesday’s hardcover collection on slightly smaller but glossy pages, with each story collected as a whole rather than anthologized page-by-page like the original issues.
Chris S: Can we all agree that this is an Artist’s Comic? The size is the key selling point, in that you’re getting pages that are four times the size of regular comics, and while that’s perfect for showing off art, I think it also hurt more than it helped.
David B: Yeah, “Wednesday Comics” is definitely an art-first book. The line-up is pretty fantastic, I think, and it is definitely the first thing you notice when you’re picking up the book. The size, the format, all of that works toward a focus on the art.
Laura H: There’s a lot of nostalgia in some corners about the old over-sized newspaper comic pages, and the things you could do in that format that you can’t do in a typical comic book today. There’s a sense that something has been lost with the death of the format, and this is an opportunity to bring the best of industry today, and set them loose on the playground of broadsheet. As you say, there are mixed results — partly depending on the level of comfort with this format — that range from unfortunate to enchantingly brilliant.Chris S: It’s weird, because when was the last time newspapers actually had gigantic full-page comics? The ’50s? The ’40s?
Laura: Yeah, but a lot of those artists were serious masters of sequential art, and are still really influential. Milton Caniff, Alex Raymond, George McManus.
Chris S: I mean, no joke: I’ve got books of Milton Caniff and Alex Raymond and Hal Foster and yes, they are great, but it’s not really the big size that makes them good.
Laura: A larger format just means that you can do different things, and you can do them literally bigger. They’re not inherently better or worse, just different.
Chris S: I agree, but I don’t think many people actually did them in “Wednesday Comics.” Gaiman and Allred did, but Azzarello and Risso didn’t.
Laura: Speaking of which…
Laura: I hate to start out negative, but did this feel like noir caricature to anyone else? The first page seemed promising, but after that it was a steep dive into cliche. The trophy wife is a bad woman who killed her old rich husband, which is telegraphed from the very first moment you see her. Aaaaand scene. That’s the whole story.
David B: It actually felt pretty in-line with their previous work, “Batman: Broken City.” Azzarello’s Batman is one that is a little more willing to indulge in wordplay than the normal one. I thought the art was fantastic. Azzarello walks this fine line with the noir and crime comic tropes in “100 Bullets” and “Jonny Double,” and while it feels a little out of place here, I didn’t think it was like caricature or anything. Just a little too hard-boiled.
Chris S: I think Azzarello and Risso are going to get an unfair brunt of my complaints because the problem with their stuff is endemic to the whole project and they have the misfortune of going first, but man, this thing. It’s clear that most of the people doing it were trying to figure out how they were going to pace their stories, and we get to see them do that through trial and error. When you think about it, they had the same amount space as 48 pages of normal comics, but if they’d used it as normal the pacing would’ve been screwed up. Instead, they have to figure out what they want to do with 12 bigger pages, and the pacing is STILL screwed up.
David U: I enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow me away. Yeah the art was gorgeous — Risso and Mulvihill always is — but the whole thing just felt really… rote.
Laura: Right off the bat, Bruce Wayne spends five panels wondering why a beautiful young woman would marry a rich old man, because as a billionaire he doesn’t comprehend the allure of money? Or, more likely, to set up a hard-boiled one-liner about what “a woman like that” is like.
David U:It’s like Azzarello took a generic noir story he had sitting around and repurposed it to involve Batman and have huge-ass pages. With none of the cutting social commentary or long-term brilliant character work that made “100 Bullets” a modern masterpiece.
Chris S: The art was, in fact, gorgeous. But what does Risso do here that he couldn’t have done in a normal comic? I think there’s a lot of wasted opportunities in “Wednesday Comics,” where instead of using these massive pages, they just make them into larger-than-average comics pages, which is pointless. Can you imagine what a guy like Paul Grist would’ve done with this book? Or Morrison and Quitely?
David U: God, I’d LOVE to see Morrison/Quitely in this format, but frankly I’d LOVE to see Morrison/Quitely printed on strips of toilet paper with Gutenberg’s original press.
Chris S: The cookie-cutter nature of the stories is something else that bugged me about this, but I’ll get into that with Superman.
Laura: Seriously, there is no mystery in this comic at all. We know exactly what happened from almost the very beginning, and it plays out with virtually no uncertainty or suspense. And you don’t care about any of them, especially the widow, especially when she dies, and don’t understand why Batman does either.
Laura: Also the Glass thing? There’s actually a newspaper headline that reads: “GLASS HEIR SHATTERED OUTSIDE GAMBLING DEN.” And then at the end Mrs. Glass throws herself through a window.
Chris S: Yeah, there is some hamfisted imagery.
David U: Oh wow, I actually never noticed that, possibly because it’s so obvious and possibly because in later issues of “Wednesday Comics” I started hitting the skim button mentally hard.
Chris S: I might be alone in this, but I’m not a big fan of Azzarello on Batman, and I think that stuff is typical of what he’s done with the character before. I don’t think he’s a bad writer — “100 Bullets” is fine and “Dr. 13″ is seriously the best thing he’s ever done — but his Batman just does not work for me.
David U: His Batman’s just a bit wilder. Did you ever read Lex Luthor: Man of Steel? There was a Lex/Bruce scene that I thought was pretty much wildly entertaining.
David B: I like his Batman in part because it’s distinctly his — the voice and the methods bring a sensibility to Batman that I enjoy.
Chris S: Also, this is the first time I’ve looked at the whole thing all together, and it feels really choppy. Which again I think is part of the learning curve of the format of doing a giant-sized weekly book. To their credit, nobody had ever done this before and the fact that most of it is actually readable is an achievement itself, but it feels chopped all to hell and then put back together. If this was a 48-page one-shot, it would feel completely different. ONE MORE POINT: This is a big special thing and it’s completely out of continuity, which means that the only reason we have to care is what’s in the story itself. And while Risso does a fine job drawing it, Azzarello fails hard at making me care about anything in this book
David B. Vote-wise, I think I’d come down on the side of Read, though just barely. I didn’t dislike it, but I didn’t love it, either.
David U: It was there, I guess. I wasn’t offended by it, it wasn’t “Teen Titans” or anything, but it was totally carried by the fact that Risso can draw the hell out of a beautiful woman. And a Batman.
Chris S: I’d give this one a D+, and I’d probably write “You can do better–see me after class.”
David U: I’d say… nah, not really. Not worth your time. Don’t read.
Chris S: Look at, yes. Read? No.
KAMANDI: Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook
Chris S: Loved it. THIS is what I think they were trying to get at. Sook does a great job of using the page, and he and Gibbons set up this great Hal Foster riff that’s just gorgeous and engaging.
Laura: Beautiful use of space — and beautiful art — especially, in the panoramas and battle scenes. It felt the most authentic in terms of using the page in the way that old school comics used to do — e.g. “Prince Valiant.”
David B: I liked that it was a story about a Kirby character without being a Kirby pastiche. Gibbons and Sook brought their own sensibility to it, with a solid dose of Prince Valiant as a chaser, and did something that stands up pretty well.
Chris S: Wow, you’re right. I hadn’t thought about it like that, but there’s very little of the typical tropes we see when someone works with a Kirby character. At the same time, I think they basically just plugged him into Prince Valiant, but it’s interesting to see that these characters that are so incredibly defined by one creator can work in a different milieu.
David B: All of the Kirby elements were there — lots of wacky animals, bombastic fight scenes, ridiculous ideas — but they were done in Sook’s style, not Kirby’s. Gibbons kept an adventure book tone for the story, rather than emulating Kirby’s dialogue. It all clicks, and it fits together perfectly. Along with a couple of the later strips in “Wednesday Comics,” I’d like to see a Kamandi ongoing.
David U: It was a cool experiment, yeah — it used the fact that Kamandi and Prince Valiant are both essentially fantasy stories and took the latter’s narrative methodology and applied it to the former. But to a certain degree, and maybe this is just my taste, it just seemed to lack the raw imagination of Kirby’s original stuff. And I mean, NOBODY can match that imagination, but overall it was some “Planet of the Apes”-style stuff that was heavily dependent on the Command-D, animal tribes, etc. ideas. I feel like shrunk down, this would be the same story, and of the same quality, but Sook’s really detailed style is what makes it shine since it’s so huge. Apes vs. Tigers at Washington DC with army humvees — yeah, it’s badass, but it’s kind of rote. I wish it’d been wackier, but Gibbons did what he did for his style, and it’s totally worth the time to read. I’m selfish that way, when I see Kamandi I want 50,000 crazy-ass things I’ve never seen before.
Chris S: “I wish this comic where a boy in cutoff jean shorts fights talking apes on an airship flown by a tiger was wackier.” –David Uzumeri
Laura: I can kind of see that, David, but I’m so seduced by the art I don’t care. Sook’s storytelling is just fantastic. Looking at a lot of the pictures felt like — when you see art online that’s high resolution, and you click through and it’s so detailed and gorgeous in a way that doesn’t always translate when it gets reduced for the page. But instead of scrolling all over the place to view it, it’s laid out in front of you in a way that feels organic. It didn’t just feel inflated.
Chris S: Yeah, that’s what I mean: This actually used the page in a way that you can’t do in a regular comic or even on a monitor or the iPad.
David B: How so?
Chris S: Well, you could do it on a monitor if you had something of the same dimensions. But having the huge physical paper object means that you can take the whole thing in and let it feel your field of vision. It becomes a vista instead of a panel, you know?
Laura: It essentially lets you do miniature murals. And in the same way that you can present a greater breadth and depth of a panorama on a mural, you can do that on the page here in a way you can’t in a normal comic books.
David U: The thing about broadsheet is that it’s basically the IMAX of comics. It totally overwhelms your entire field of vision, to a degree making things more immersive. And the detail is what makes the difference. You can always tell the difference between an IMAX movie and a regular movie shown on an IMAX screen. Gibbons and Sook made an IMAX movie, basically.
Chris S: I’m specifically looking at the third strip with the airship here.You could not have done that page that way in a regular comic. You could’ve done something similar — the top two thirds could’ve been a double-page spread, for instance — but that couldn’t have just been shrunk down or broken up. It uses the space.
Laura: Yeah, the detail — in the battle scenes, you could theoretically shrink them for a typical comic page, but you’d lose a lot in detail and impact.
David U: As opposed to, say, the Kuberts in “Sgt. Rock” later on, who totally just made a regular movie and projected it on an IMAX screen.
David B: I really appreciated a couple of their smaller touches, too. The Jack Kirby box on a few of the strips and the “Next Week:” boxes.
David U: I’d also like to point out “Wednesday Comics” Kamandi is the first comic Sook’s completed since “X-Factor” #1 in 2005. His other attempts include halves of “X-Factor” #2-4, like eight pages of “Final Crisis: Resist” and half of “Atom & Hawkman” #46.
Chris S: I think it’s safe to say here that this is the best cutoff jean shorts have ever looked in comic books.
David U: I really, really, really, really, really hope Sook gets to actually complete “Return of Bruce Wayne” #5, because he is a stupendous artist. And one day, I will be able to design my dream DC Universe RPG, which will be a Final Fantasy-style JRPG where Kamandi gathers companions across ruined Earth and summons Superman and Batman and the rest of the JLA as spells against the remaining evil of Darkseid. It’s going to be the greatest thing ever made.
David B: I vote Read.
Chris S: Read.
David U: John Arcudi is an excellent writer and it depresses the hell out of me that he basically emptied the Superman Cliche Store.
David B: Superman was extremely boring, which is confusing to me. John Arcudi is writing what is probably the best comic on the stands in “BPRD,” with great art from Guy Davis, so I expected big things. His work on Superman didn’t deliver, and was instead the most cliche and boring Superman story there is to tell.
Laura: I mean, you talk about Kamandi not having enough piping hot ideas, David, but this comic actually deserves the criticism.
Chris S: My Awesome Hospital co-writer Chad Bowers and I had this conversation when this was coming out. Every time DC gets a chance to show Superman to the non-comics reading audience (this strip ran in USA TODAY, remember), they do the same story about how Superman just doesn’t belonnnnnnng and he doesn’t fit innnnnn and oh noooooo am I really a personnnnnnn? And you know who actually wants to see that? NOBODY.
David U: Honestly, I’ll just say it: I didn’t finish Superman.
Chris S: Yeah, I quit after a few weeks because reading it was actually making me angry.
David U: I couldn’t do it. It ended with him realizing his WHY AM I SO ALONE was some telepathic crap, right? Then he beat up some aliens?
Chris S: Yeah, and it took him like ten parts of a twelve-part story to remember “Oh wait, I do have things to care about. My mom and dad. And my girlfriend. And all of my friends. And the entire planet. SORRY EVERYBODY.” They should’ve literally picked 24 random pages from “All-Star Superman” and slapped them onto this thing sideways. Alternately, three Silver Age stories from Swan and Schaffenberger. Any of them, really.
Laura: Oh man, and that Batman dialogue on the second page. Was it pasted in from an AIM conversation? Does Batman really need both two exclamation points and a question mark at the end of a sentence? Also when Superman gets emo about Not Belonging on Earth, Batman snarks at him to take some “Super-Prozac.” What?
David U: Look, let’s be honest here, nothing will ever match All-Star Superman, where the creation of two working-class Jewish dudes in Cleveland was perfected and immortalized by a Scottish chaos magician who lives near a castle.
Chris S: Superman doesn’t DO anything. Superman DOES stuff. Superman HELPS people. Superman does not fly around moping. Or rather, he DOES fly around moping, and that’s the problem.
Laura: Well, Superman punches a guy. But mostly that’s so he can have a revelation. About something he already knows.
David U: The way you talk about it, Chris, you’d think it was a Bendis comic.
Chris S: I am very passionate about Superman, David. Can you imagine anyone reading this and then wanting to read more about Superman? Like, if this is your first Superman story, are you going to come back for more?
David U: God, no. I wouldn’t as a child, teenager or adult. Superman was a total bust, and the fact that it was serialized in USA f—ing Today both mystifies and infuriates me.
Chris S: Exactly. And Superman’s a great character. But you wouldn’t know it from this. Why wasn’t this Geoff Johns and Gary Frank?
Laura: Aw, you miss Geoff Johns on “Superman,” don’t you Chris?
David U: I miss Geoff Johns on “Superman” too. It was the character his on-the-nose literalism fit best. I don’t even mean that negatively, his “Action Comics” run was absolutely fantastic.
David B: What’d you guys think about the art? I think we’re all fairly down on the story. I think Bermejo draws a good-ish Superman, but something about this outing didn’t impress me.
Laura: There are a number of bad photograph moments, where people get caught in weird expressions at weird angles.
Chris S: Again, I don’t think this is going to be a popular opinion, but I don’t care for Bermejo’s style. I think he’s a good artist and his faces are excellent, but I just don’t like it. A lot of it has to do with his costume design (he and Bryan Hitch have this fetish for stitching and fixing things that aren’t broken), but it certainly doesn’t help that this thing is done entirely in shades of brown. It’s like an XBox First Person Shooter.
David B: Yeah, the color scheme was an interesting choice. It seems awfully subdued for a Superman comic. I was expecting day-glo garishness, and instead got… a Vertigo comic.
Chris S: It’s a treasury-sized “Superman Returns” movie adaptation.
David U: Man, this WAS “Superman Returns”-level bad.
Chris S: Superman Returns was disappointing, right? Like, most people agree on that? Or at least, that’s the narrative that critics and popcult afficianados took away?
David B: It was disappointing, but it still made almost 400 million bucks.
David U: Superman Returns was a pretty awful Superman flick, and I kind of hate myself for seeing it.
Laura: I mean, jeez — I don’t hate myself for seeing it. I saw things I might see on a comics page move around on a screen in pretty configurations. I liked it the way I used to like watching the Winamp visualizer when I was high in college.
David U: Yeah, but you can smoke weed WHILE watching the Winamp visualizer, but if you’re in a movie theater watching a stupid Superman movie the most you can do is drink gin & tonic out of a Canada Dry plastic bottle.
Chris S: Remember that time the Winamp visualizer got iTunes knocked up? And then went to space for five f–king years?
David U: If you are on a desert island, and you are dying, and all you have to read are, coincidentally, the exact ripped-in-half broadsheet pages that make up the Superman strip, and the other sides of each page are water damaged, then maybe I would recommend you read it. Otherwise, don’t read.
DEADMAN: Dave Bullock and Vinton Heuck
David B: I wasn’t down with Deadman. The art was fine, but the story was… blah.
Laura H: Yeah, it’s almost weird. It LOOKS like I should like it, but I ended up feeling pretty indifferent.
David B: I thought the layouts were cool, the colors were great, and the art was great. But it was a little… traditional? Rote?
David U: The Sesame Street word of the day is: “rote”!
Chris S: It’s basically a Conan story starring Deadman. Which sounds really cool in theory, but just sort of lays there.
David U: Deadman bored the hell out of me. Too many words that weren’t interesting. If you’re gonna use the broadsheet page to drop a whole lot of dialogue and captions, they’d better be REALLY interesting.
Laura: If I were a teacher I’d give it a passing grade. You know, the fundamentals are all there. But nothing pops.
David U: Definitely negative for me. Didn’t dig it. I expect excellence in this format. If you ain’t gonna blow my mind, then get off the stage. I didn’t come to “Wednesday Comics” for “competent.”
David B: I think the art is at least worth checking out. Read.
Chris S: Dave Bullock’s a really good artist and he gives himself some cool things to show, but the story’s the literary equivalent of iceberg lettuce. Don’t read.
David B: I like Kurt Busiek, and the art in this strip was great, but I think I’m physically incapable of caring about Hal Jordan. But as far as being a Space Age story, Quinones has the look down pat.
David U: Busiek bored me here, totally. Art was great, Quinones rules, but he was given nothing interesting to work with. It was a Green Lantern story on broadsheet, and like 50% of it took place in a goddamn Air Force base. It should have been a balls-out insane cosmic extravaganza.
Laura: My concerns are more structural. I feel like we got the wrong first page. It starts off in a confusing bar scene with a lot of characters that aren’t Green Lantern. Then jumps on the very last panel of that page to Green Lantern, in the middle of a random throwaway battle that is never mentioned again, and then to a guy on to TV. And then to Green Lantern back at the bar. It all feels jumbled out of comprehensible order.
David B: I actually kind of like that. It’s like joining a story in-progress.
Laura: There’s a difference between joining a story in progress and being thrown into a story with no easy entry point. I get enough of that from regular comics.
Chris S: Beautiful, beautiful art from Quinones, but again, the pacing feels like Busiek wasn’t sure how this was supposed to work. Like, I bet it reads absolutely fine as a twelve-page story, but one page a week was just a total snooze, compounded by the fact that the first page has a bunch of dudes in a bar and one tiny panel of GREEN LANTERN FIGHTING IN SPACE. Talk about not using the space… A giant broadsheet splash of Green Lantern doing space stuff? That would’ve been awesome.
David U: It’s GREEN LANTERN. ON BROADSHEET. Why is *ANY* of it on Earth?
Chris S: The pacing really cripples it. Also, I can’t for the life of me figure out why this is in the crazy ’50s timeline. I mean, I guess there’s no reason for it NOT to be, but why go out of your way to establish that when this could’ve been a story set… well, any time in the past sixty years?
David U: I guess for that retro feel? Look at the logo, it has that ’50s diner approach. It was probably a conscious attempt not to step on Geoff Johns’s “Modern Hal Jordan” take.
David B: I don’t know that he goes out of his way to establish that. It’s just “It’s the Jet Age!” and bam, into the story. And retro sci-fi works for Green Lantern in a way that it wouldn’t necessarily work for Superman or Batman. It’s like how if you’re doing a Batman riff, you’re either doing the modern day or some moody ’30s/’40s thing.
Chris S: Clearly you have not read my pitch for BATMAN: THE AVENGING DISCO GODFATHER OF GOTHAM. It’s basically DARK KNIGHT meets BLACK CAESAR meets VANISHING POINT in space. With Rudy Ray Moore as Alfred.
David B: This is one of those that isn’t for me, but I can see how people would like it. It’s just a regular old Green Lantern story to me.
Chris S: Yeah, and it’s not like Kurt Busiek doesn’t know how to write comics; I think it’s just a weird pacing thing that crops up everywhere. Like… how much better would this have been if they did a complete story every week? Instead of one page of twelve stories for twelve weeks, you get a full twelve-page story in the broadsheet format every week.
David U: That’s a really good question. I dunno if it would have worked as well as a serial periodical — you’d see some issues with higher sales than other for sure — but maybe more interesting, taut stories
Chris S: It would’ve been less true to the “Big Sunday Funnies” model they were going for, but I think it could’ve led to some interesting things. And maybe Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred wouldn’t have been the only guys doing Double-Page Spreads.
David U: Having to rifle through each issue to find the page of the strip for each we’re talking about, yeah, I would have preferred it as a reader/purchaser/consumer too. It’s weird, since I wonder how many of these creators are operating off of actual nostalgia for the full-page Sunday comic and how many are operating off of a theoretical construct that existed before their conception.
Chris S: I think there are technical problems beyond the story with this that I can only assume came from the unfamiliar format. Even so, I’d give this one a Read. It’s not terrible, and there is some gorgeous art.
David U: I’m a negative nancy today: I was bored by it, entertaining art aside, skim, don’t read. Really, I think it’s fair to say that implied in all of our “don’t read”s is a “skim”, since they’re all in the same hardcover. Unless it’s Teen Titans. Just rip those pages out.
Chris S: I have mixed feelings about this one. On the one hand, I was kind of disappointed in the story itself, which has a lot to do with the fact that the original Bob Haney “Metamorpho” is one of my top ten comics of all time. On the other hand, this is the only one where it feels like the creators are taking risks with the format.
Laura: But the periodic table was a wonderfully inventive little gimmick. And the Snakes and Ladders-style board game! And the massive two-page splashes! I like that he’s experimenting with the space.
David U: “Gimmick” is an accurate one-word description for this strip. It was a little too cute and gimmick and experimental for my tastes. Too clever by far.
Laura: I don’t think everything was successful, but they’re taking risks and some of them pay off.
Chris S: I don’t know. I was disappointed, but there’s a lot to like here. It does feel in a lot of ways like Gaiman’s goofing off and padding it out. There are things he could do in one page (or half a page) that he does in two.
David U: It doesn’t feel like Gaiman’s taking advantage of the broadsheet format, it’s like the broadsheet format is taking advantage of Gaiman.
Chris S: I will say I think the Metamorpho Fans of America are pure gold. And I’d honestly rather see stuff like Snakes & Ladders and the Periodic Table spread than pages that are just blown-up regular comics pages.
Laura: Yeah, I think it’s a far greater sin to be boring. This is flawed, but it’s interesting. And I mean, obviously this was made for the hardcover.
Chris S: Yes it is, and I think that’s a problem. It didn’t work serially nearly as well as it does all together, and that’s a gigantic flaw. It doesn’t matter if most of your audience is going to get the hardcover; it either works in both or IT DOESN’T WORK.
David B: I don’t know that I’d agree with that.
Chris S: But at the same time, there was plenty about it that did work, and I agree: Better to have tried and failed then had Superman mope for twelve pages.
David B: At this point, the singles might as well not exist for the majority of consumers. It’s like the thing about late comics–people who buy it monthly get mad. People who buy trades just enjoy the consistent art.
Laura: It’s nice if a comic is versatile and can do both, but if you can do only one, play the long game. Making it for the hardcover is making it to last.
David U: It really is. Look at something like New Krypton versus something like All Star Superman. Or Second Coming versus New X-Men. I think people sometimes forget how much the conventional wisdom opinion can change. Look at the reception of DK2 when it came out as opposed to how it’s discussed today.
Chris S: I completely disagree.
Laura: Are we going to have a singles vs. trades fight?
Chris S: Wait, have people decided DK2 is good? Because I was not consulted at that meeting.
David B: Anything but a DK2 fight.
David U: I largely buy only singles, but I think the dream format is serialization over the Internet and immortalization in bookstores. That’s how I’d rather roll.
Chris S: I WILL CHAMPION THE 22-PAGE SINGLE ISSUE AGAINST THE EVILS OF PAST-ITS-PRIME SEQUELS! If you’re doing an OGN, it’s fine to make it an OGN. But if it’s going to come out in singles, it needs to work in singles. And comics can work that way perfectly well. BUT ANYWAYS.
Laura: Read or don’t read Metamorpho? I say read.
Chris S: I give Metamorpho a Read. It’s not the best, but it’s interesting and there are some great gags.
David U: Uhhh…. is there a Look At?
Laura: READ OR DO NOT READ. THERE IS NO LOOK AT.
David B: Sounds like a Don’t Read to me!
David U: Don’t Read it is!
Chris S: I assume we’re saving our secret third option for Teen Titans, where we’ll unveil “DESTROY.”
Teen Titans: Eddie Berganza and Sean Galloway
Laura: I know this is probably not the biggest problem, but the coloring is a huge problem for me. It’s like saturation got turned all the way down, and the effect is soporific.
David U: I think every aspect of this comic is the biggest problem.
Chris S: Really? I don’t dislike the art at all. Except that, you know, Sean Galloway doesn’t really seem to be all that into drawing backgrounds.
David U: Galloway can do some strong stuff, but his layouts here are a mess and it seems totally unsuited to the big format. Galloway’s background is storyboard art for animation, right? Honestly, the art felt more like a suggestion of an eventual comic than a comic. Or, maybe, a cartoon.
David B: I don’t mind the art. I think on normal comics paper, it’d be fine. It just looks a little muddy due to the paper.
Chris S: The story, however, is problematic on just about every level there is.
David B: I hate to be Captain Snarky Jerk, but the story wasn’t worth reading. Why’d Jaime turn into ’70s-era Comic Book Mexican? “Oye vato, we need to go fight the bad guys before they destroy the world!”
Laura: “I was just your typical Tex-Mex teen, when this alien beetle scarab attached itself to me and gave me super-powered armor. Que suerte!” That’s an actual quote.
David U: These 12 pages are basically a microcosm of everything that’s made the Titans a narrative embarrassment since the Wolfman/Perez days started declining. There’ve been some up points since then, but they’re few and far between, and that’s because everything seems to fall into the same basic pattern that’s encapsulated in this strip. I mean, first of all: this is the only Wednesday Comics strip to pretend to take place inside the DC Universe.
Chris S: Oh yeah, and it’s SPECIFICALLY tied into the DCU. Like, it references “Identity Crisis.” IDENTITY CRISIS! In Wednesday Comics! In a Teen Titans strip! That has the logo of the cartoon! And looks like a fun friendly kids’ book! The visuals want to be “Teen Titans Go,” the story wants to be “New Teen Titans.” Obviously they wanted it to look like the cartoon; that’s why they went with the cartoon logo and a guy in animation who drew Starfire with her animated series hair instead of her Perez Curls. So why not tell an animated-style story instead of all this nonsense that throws Nightwing and Identity Crisis into it?
David B: What’s kind of funny to me is that 2008’s “Teen Titans: Year One,” from Amy Wolfram and Karl Kerschl, blows this out of the water and was tone-appropriate for the Titans cartoon. They should’ve pulled Wolfram back into the fold for this story, rather than Eddie Berganza.
David U: The reveal was that Trident was Dr. Light’s kid, right?
Chris S: No, the reveal was that it was ACTUALLY Deathstroke. Seriously. “You said you can’t kill the Teen Titans because you like them so you had to hypnotize yourself into thinking you were Dr. Light’s son from the future who came back to the past as a legacy villain who has nothing to do with either you OR Dr. Light, and I’m telling you all this before you actually kill the Teen Titans.”
David U: OH YEAH! I forgot about the SECOND twist!
Chris S: Two twist villain reveals in 12 pages. In fact, two twist villain reveals in TWO pages. They happen one right after the other.
Laura: Also, it ends really suddenly. They’re in the middle of a big fight, and then in the very last panel of the comic suddenly they punch the bad guy and Robin says, “And it’s over!” And it is. And then a caption reads, “NEVER THE END.”
Chris S: NEVER THE END! In general, I really like it when comics end with “Never the end!” because it reinforces the serialized nature (even though that usually accompanies the last issue of a canceled book), but this one really should’ve swapped in something else. “THANK GOD IT’S OVER!” maybe. Or “SORRY!”
Chris S: “HEY, I GAVE IT A SHOT!”
David B: “Better luck next time, ese!”
Chris S: “NOT AS EASY AS I THOUGHT!”
Chris S: In the interest of fairness, though, “S.M.A.S.H.” is a pretty good idea. Did that originate here?
David U: Actually, yeah, that was the most interesting idea and I’m pretty sure that’s straight from here.
Laura: Should we vote? Do we need to?
David B: I think we all have the same vote.
David U: Avoid like the damn plague.
Chris S: I wish I could go back in time and tell myself from 2 days ago that my vote is “Don’t read, even if it’s your actual job to do so.”