Loaded with Adventure: DC’s Wednesday Comics

Geek Culture

It’s like Sunday Comics. With Superheroes.

Images from Issue #1 of DC's Wednesday Comics mini-seriesImages from Issue #1 of DC's Wednesday Comics mini-series

Images from Issue #1 of DC's Wednesday Comics mini-series

Wednesday Comics is DC’s twelve issue newsprint miniseries, a modern twist on the adventure strips first popular in the 1930s. The series features some of the most well-known and popular superhero creators of today, including Neil Gaiman, Kurt Busiek, Kyle Baker, and Dave Gibbons.

“I’ve always found the old adventure strips from the 30′s and 40′s interesting, but there’s an antiquated, old-fashioned connotation to them now,” said Wednesday Comics editor Mark Chiarello. “We thought it might be cool to marry DC’s popular, larger-than life characters to this larger-than life format and see if we could create something brand new. It seems that a lot of writers and artists felt the same way, because everyone we asked to join the project immediately said yes.”

There are fifteen different strips, one per page, each featuring a superhero. Each issue costs $3.99. For the most part, they deliver exactly what Chiarello and DC hoped: adventure and fun and are well worth the price.

The full-page spread really allows the art to shine. Mike Allred particularly is having fun with Metamorpho, even creating a Chutes and Ladders-style game in one issue.

The stories are dense, too. It took over ninety minutes for to work my way through the eight issues of review copies that DC sent to me.

The usual suspects–Batman, Superman, Supergirl, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, the Teen Titans and Catwoman–are included but so are less familiar characters like the Metal Men, Sgt. Rock, the above-mentioned Metamorpho, Kamandi, Adam Strange, Hawkman, the Demon (paired with Catwoman), and Deadman.

Kamandi, written by Dave Gibbons with art by Ryan Sook, was my youngest son’s favorite. Originally created by the great Jack Kirby, Kamandi is the last boy on Earth, lost in a world of intelligent animals. Gibbons & Sook’s version has a Prince Valiant feel and is packed with action, so I can see why my son liked it.

Supergirl, written by Jimmy Palmiotti and art by Amanda Conner, is the most adorable. Krypto the Superdog and Streaky the Supercat are running wild around town and Supergirl is trying to prevent them from causing too much collateral damage, like when Streaky decides to chase an airplane that features a mouse logo.

My personal favorite is Adam Strange, with by story and art by Paul Pope. Adam Strange is a Earth archeologist who is transported across the universe via the intergalactic Zeta Beam to the planet Rann, where he falls in love with the daughter of the local scientist. The story evokes Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter series, complete with barbarian outfit for Alanna, Adam’s wife. And I was very glad to see that Alanna takes an active role instead of being a damsel in distress.

Other strips focus on evoking different pulp styles.

Sgt. Rock is a hard-nosed World War II story, written by Joe and Adam Kubert. There’s the magic and mystery of The Demon and the Catwoman by Walter Simonson and Brian Stelfreeze, and the crime noir of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s Batman.

The only story I had trouble getting into was Wonder Woman, written and ilustrated by Ben Caldwell. It’s an ambitious story with a great concept: young Princess Diana is on a magical quest for the sacred items of the Amazons. Unfortunately, I found the art a bit too murky and confusing.

I was unexpectedly charmed by the Flash, written by Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher. The original Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, is not normally a whimsical character but the story of a time-traveling Flash that includes multiple Barry Allens looking to simultaneously stop Gorilla Grodd and save his marriage is great fun.

Chiarello said that DC is pleased with the response to Wednesday Comics.

“We knew that if we told great stories with great art on these humungous pages, the project would be a ton of fun and reach a lot of people. Getting the Superman strip in USATODAY was the absolute cherry on top.”

He said DC might be considering doing it again once the series ends this month.

“There’s already talk of a possible sequel series next summer. Reader and online response has been SO positive, I can’t imagine DC not revisiting the idea, but again, we still have a few issues of the first series to complete first!”

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