Wednesday Comics was a tough sell for me as I just couldn't look past the use of the newspaper format and how much I disliked it. Green Lantern was a slow paced look at just who Black Hand was, but ended strong and has me pumped for Blackest Night.
Hit the jump for the full reviews!
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy
First things first, Bruce Wayne, his corpse or anything related to that cover does not occur in this issue. It is about as cheap a cover as DC could possibly put on the book. Thankfully, the actual issue is excellent and, cover shenanigans aside, everyone should walk away happy with this purchase.
With that out of the way, I think we should clarify what this issue is about. It's not a Green Lantern comic, despite the title of the book. This is basically Black Hand #1. The issue highlights the early days of Black Hand as a child, his life growing up, recaps how he got his powers, which was also shown in Secret Origin, and ends the issue by ushering us into Blackest Night with a bang.
The first and most immediate thing to mention is the artwork of new series artists, Doug Mahnke. I'm a huge fan of Mahnke's art and this is easily some of his best work. It's dark and moody, as befits a story about the birth of the first Black Lantern, but is clean and detailed at the same time. A real treat after some muddled art from Tan's fill-in arc on Agent Orange.
As for the content of this issue, I'm torn. On one hand, I did enjoy the issue a great deal and it really ramped up a notch in the closing pages. On the other hand, though, the first 15 pages or so are, well, basically filler if you ask me. It's just recapping things we already know about Black Hand and events from the past. It has Johns's unique twist on the recap through Black Hand's eyes and I feel it was important to flesh out Black Hand at this time, but I just felt like I was watching a rerun of something I've already seen with some voice overs.
However, I also believe the majority of the people picking up this issue, especially those that are merely jumping on for Blackest Night, will greatly appreciate the background information on Black Hand. I'm probably a bit clouded on the topic since I just spent a great deal of time researching and rereading for the Blackest Night primer we've been running all week.
All this brings us to the present day section of the book, which featured the splashpage full of names teased on DC's The Source blog. The way I read this section was that the "voice" speaking to Black Hand was listing off various deaths that have occured, such as Martian Manhunter's, Ted Kord's, Vic Sage, etc. It didn't read as a who's who list of guaranteed Black Lanterns as many people immediately speculated on forums around the internet. The "voice" continued by listing off the people that have also come back from the dead, such as Flash, Superman and Hal Jordan, before telling Hand that he "wants them all" back, implying the mystery big bad is someone that controls the land of the dead, lending some weight to the Nekron theory that's been floating around for a while.
The issue ended in a chilling and distrubing manner as Black Hand, at the behest of the "voice", slaughters his family, sits down at the dinner table and promptly blows his own brains out. Scar shows up, coughs up a black ring and Hand is reborn as the emdodiment of the Black Lantern Corps. Scar even compares him to Parallax, Ion and the newest emotion entity, the Predator, of the Star Sapphires and the embodiment of love. This appears to be the same Predator from an older Green Lantern story that possessed Carol Ferris when she was a Star Sapphire.
It's curious how Scar worded this section as it sounded like she was saying Black Hand was the actual embodiment of death; not that he was possessed by something, but I may be reading too much into it at this point. Furthermore, the black ring repaired Black Hand's head, brains and all, and he was in full control of his mental faculties (or as much as he was before), laying to rest the possibility of Black Lanterns being actual zombies or mindless husks.
Verdict - Must Read. While I didn't get as much out of this issue as I'd hope, it is still a very good issue that tells you everything you could ever want to know about Black Hand while simultaneously kicking off Blackest Night with a literal bang.
WEDNESDAY COMICS #1 (OF 12)
Various Writers and Artists
I'm torn. I want to like Wednesday Comics, I really do, but I just can't bring myself to heap praises upon it like many of my peers. A lot of people seem to be caught up with the format and how much they liked what little was given and fail to really tell you that this is just an anthology book with, for the most part, standard comics on bigger pages.
And therein lies my biggest problem with Wednesday Comics - it's a standard, out of continuity anthology comic with Silver Age throwbacks. The creators are the only draw to the book as the format is a mere novelty. There's nothing unique here that could not have been achieved in a standard comic book. Sure, we have some bigger panels or more story on one page, but are you honestly telling me that a Karl Kerschl or Paul Pope or Eduardo Risso couldn't recreate the exact same style and format for a standard sized comic book? Do you think the stories from any creator would be worse because they didn't have bigger pages to work with?
This all leads me to another issue with the comic - the price. It was $3.99 for this "newspaper". I have no problem paying $3.99 for a comic, as evidenced by my purchasing of dozens of overpriced comics every month. However, there's an intrinsic value I get from each purchase that I just do not get from this one. The stories are great, the art is beautiful, but it feels like I was sold a cheap bootleg/shakey cam copy of a comic that could have looked ten times better in the standard comic book format instead of being printed on newsprint and folded over three or four times.
Add in the fact I know this will be reprinted in a better format than what I'm purchasing and I'm already feeling cheated. The format should serve a purpose. It should not be a gimmick or detriment to the final product and I feel that putting it in this newspaper style, while mainstream news worthy and commendable in its own right, was the wrong call for something that amounts to a normal comic book on bigger pages for all but the rare few comics.
One final complaint about the format is that I found it entirely unwieldly. For one thing, I couldn't read it on the ride home nor was it easy to unfold and take a look inside before purchasing - my cramped shop just doesn't have any room for people to be standing around with these newspapers unfolded and taking a look. Even at home, I almost felt like I had to be standing up to properly read the thing without it getting all bent up.
Ignoring the formatting of the issue and my general displeasure with it, many of these comics are actually quite good. While there's the odd clunker, like the Wonder Woman story, which featured way too many panels that were arranged terribly and word balloons crammed into tiny spaces, the majority of these were enjoyable - just not unique enough to justify the newspaper format. The Flash one was one of my favourites and Kerschl did a fantastic job, as always, on the art, but, again, nothing that could not have simply been repeated in a standard comic.
My only complaint about Wednesday Comics, from a story standpoint, was that almost every comic was "identical". No, they all don't fight the same villain and not all were the exact same style or narration, but just about all of them amounted to a "this is the hero, here's a demonstration of his powers, here's the threat, to be continued". If this was a long running comic that had some stories already in progress, a few similar stories beginning at the same time wouldn't be a big deal. With all 15 stories beginning at the same time and just about every one of them featuring the same basic plot, it's an odd feeling of deja vu as we you turn the pages and begin reading each story.
Verdict - Check It. Does it bother you that this is just an overpriced comic book in newspaper format? If no, this is probably a must read for you. Does it bother you that this "comic" won't physically stand the test of time and that a "proper", cheaper oversized trade is inevitable? If yes, this is probably an avoid it for you. Personally, while I don't hate the stories told and I do think the art looks fantastic for just about every single one of these pages, the format simply acts as too much of a barrier for me for what amounted to a basic series of out of continuity anthology tales from top creators. I'll be waiting for the trade on this one where I'll be able to enjoy it in a much easier to handle manner.