"Wednesday Comics" is set to debut this week, and if the smattering of preview images (see below) is any indication, it has the potential to be very, very good.

Printed at an eye-catching 14" x 20" on a weekly basis, "Wednesday Comics" hearkens back to the days when the large-format digest could be found at nearly every newsstand in America, and comics routinely sold over a million copies. Of course, those were mostly cheap reprints of newspaper strips cobbled together by fly-by-night publishers for a nickel a pop; "Wednesday Comics" will feature all-original material with high production value, and at $3.99 a copy, it better.

Pricey though it is, comics has needed a publication like this for quite a while. It's been a long, long time since short, accessible stories have been available in an anthology format, let alone one that ships weekly. It also has the potential (fingers crossed) to draw in many new readers. If enough copies get into bookstores, newsstands, and convenience stores, the large format and sheer volume and variety of stories might possibly hook the next generation of comics fans. Possibly.

The "Superman strip" from the digest will be serialized weekly in "USA Today," and while it's tough to get any comic into the hands of the general public these days, if there's going to be a concerted effort to push any series, "Wednesday Comics" might be the best candidate for launch. It's hard to dismiss the simplicity and immediacy of a self-contained story when presented by top drawer talent like Neil Gaiman, Kyle Baker, and Paul Pope. Throw in a weekly publishing schedule and you've got all the ingredients for a classic.

Unlike the other DC weekly comics, "Wednesday Comics" is only scheduled to run twelve weeks, rather than the full fifty-two. But if successful enough, who's to say it can't continue? Previous experiments lik e"52," "Trinity," and "Countdown to Final Crisis" have met with mixed results (we're looking at you, "Countdown"), but "WC" seems to be the purest application of the idea that birthed each of them. Can it keep the weekly ball rolling?

We'll all have to wait and see.

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