First off, thanks to all our customers and special guest star Ben Templesmith for making Third Coast Comics' first anniversary party a huge success!
But now, since DC's Wednesday Comics experiment is at the halfway point, I'm giving my midterm grades to the strips. Creators are judge on quality of story and effective use of the newspaper comics page format.
BATMAN (Azzarello & Risso): The 100 Bullets crew has done noir Batman before, and this is up to their usual high standards. They're making good use of the one-page format. This is the front page for a reason. A.
KAMANDI, LAST BOY ON EARTH (Gibbons & Sook): Leaving aside the fact that i've been a Kamandi fan since childhood, this strip is the highlight of the Wednesday. They've hit the Prince Valiant vibe perfectly in presentation and pacing, the art is gorgeous, and the story is clear and kickass. A+.
SUPERMAN (Arcudi & Bermejo): Oh dear. Well, Lee Bermejo's art is gorgeous as ever, and the color palette makes you feel like you're in a perpetual sunset. But have we learned nothing from some less than successful Superman runs (I'm looking at you J.M. DeMatteis and Joe Casey) and Superman Returns, NOBODY wants to see a mopey self-doubting Superman. D.
DEADMAN (Bullock, Heuck, Fletcher, & Stewart): The art's an acceptable Bruce Timm/Darwyn Cooke homage, but I'm at a loss as to why this strip exists. Deadman's way out of his element here. He works as a ghost walking between bodies and solving mysteries (you'll never convince me the creator of TV's Quantum Leap wasn't a Deadman fan). A reader who'd never seen this character before would be at a loss--spirit world? Rama Kushna? What seem to be mythological figures? This reads like it was a Hellboy story dusted off and rewritten with Deadman. D.
GREEN LANTERN (Busiek & Quinones): Kurt Busiek's not really capable of a bad story (ok, ok, the 80s Red Tornado miniseries notwithstanding) and Quinones does a lovely early sixties mod design style, but this thing moves at a snail's pace. Some weeks Green Lantern is barely seen suited up. Busiek's trying for a depth of story here that isn't really suited for one page a week. C-.
METAMORPHO (Gaiman & Allred): Ok, Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred are having a lot of fun with the format, and the jokes hit more than they miss. But when they do miss, they reveal a strip that's a little too in love with its own cleverness (e.g., the 'snakes n ladders' segment in week six. A solid B.
TEEN TITANS (Berganza & Galloway): I think it took until week six to get to the point of this, and I really didn't care what was going on in weeks one through five. Sean Galloway (character designer for Spectacular Spider-Man) has decent art skills, stylized but clear. But this story doesn't have much to recommend it. And really, Blue Beetle alternating between English and Spanish every few words? You know who did that? El Dorado on Superfriends. 'Nuff said. D.
STRANGE ADVENTURES WITH ADAM STRANGE (Pope): Like the Kamandi strip, Paul Pope is evoking an old-school classic strip (Flash Gordon) in his own style. Nicely paced, well drawn, and just a little bit tongue in cheek. A.
SUPERGIRL (Palmiotti & Conner): Amusing light story about the Girl of Steel and two Super-Pets and the art is well suited for it. This would be a baseline. A midle of the road grade. However, in week six, there's a guest appearance by Aquaman apparently as portrayed by Jeremy Piven, which I find hilarious. B+.
METAL MEN (Didio, Garcia Lopez, & Knowlan): I don't much care for Dan Didio's editorial decisions the past few years, but he's turning in a well paced story here, and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez's art is stunning as ever. This is a great use of the Metal Men, but loses a point for bringing up the human disguises the team used to wear in the early 70s. nobody wanted to remember that. A-.
WONDER WOMAN (Caldwell): Oh this is a mess. Ben Caldwell aims for the stars with a dense story not clearly told in the one-page format, daring layouts that are tough on the eyes, and coloring much too subtle for the printing method and newsprint paper stock to handle. None of this is working. F.
SGT. ROCK AND EASY COMPANY (Kubert & Kubert): Joe Kubert and his son Adam are legends in the field. The story and art are perfectly fine, but this is another strip that's moving too slow. The suspense and intrigue don't carry well from week to week. C-.
FLASH COMICS (Kerschl & Fletcher): Perfect use of the format! The two parallel strips are a great idea, and Flash's time travel plot is treading a fine line between comprehesible and confusing. All this and beautiful art pastiches of Mary Worth and Tarzan. A+.
THE DEMON AND CATWOMAN (Simonson & Stelfreeze): This is a teamup that came out of left field, and I'm not entirely sure it's giving a balanced exposure to both of its stars, but it is pretty entertaining. Unlike the Deadman strip, both characters are in their element, Catwoman flirting and stealing, and Etrigan leaping 20 feet in the air and speaking all Shakespearean. As a side note to anyone writing the Demon. If you can't do poetry, PLEASE don't have Etrigan speak in rhyme. There are very few writers who can pull this off, and most of them are named Alan Moore. See what Simonson is doing here? Flowery but not compelled to do a rhyming couplet in every speech balloon. Anyway, B+.
HAWKMAN (Baker): Does Kyle Baker hate Frank Miller? Judging from the first two pages of this I concluded the answer is yes. However, this strip looks great and has had some twists, turns, and an anything can happen feel to it. A-.