“Weird World” is one of those comics that you want to like more than you actually do. A good anthology series is worth its weight in gold, in part because it means that the creators all understand how to use a reduced page count to keep you still interested with each new installment. So far, though, “Weird Worlds” is showing a lot of potential but not quite following through.
Kevin VanHook and Jerry Ordway get the lead position with their Lobo story, and after three chapters it’s going absolutely nowhere that you aren’t already familiar with. Blown off heads, surprise attacks, that sort of thing; it’s Lobo-by-the-numbers. The problem is, it’s also a slightly neutered Lobo. Compare this story to, say, the “Lobo” mini-series by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, and Simon Bisley and the amount of energy (or rather, the lack thereof) by way of comparison is startling. VanHook’s script doesn’t have any pep to it, and while I like Ordway as an artist I’m increasingly convinced that he is the wrong fit for this story. His art is too pretty, too refined, too polished for the character of Lobo. Then again, to a lesser extent that’s the same problem with the script. This is too genteel for the self-proclaimed Main Man.
Aaron Lopresti offers up another chapter of his creation, Garbageman, and I’m loving the art here. His people have wonderfully expressive faces, and Garbageman himself (despite the horrible name) looks creepy and pathetic. Sure, it’s hard to keep from feeling like we’re seeing Swamp Thing 2.0 (and that’s not even including characters like Man-Thing or Sludge, the latter of which Lopresti co-created in the ’90s), but Lopresti’s building the character’s backstory up bit by bit. The one problem is that as a serialized story there’s never been enough pep to it; I feel like we’re reading a graphic novel that’s been sliced up over the course of 8 issues, and as such the momentum isn’t quite there. (It probably doesn’t help that the title character is a bit of a sad sack.) Still, it’s a step up in the comic overall.
Kevin Maguire’s creation Tanga closes the title out, and so far Maguire seems to be the only one who entirely gets how to write for an anthology. Each issue’s installment has had a proper rise and fall of action and drama, and considering that a lot of these three issues have involved protracted conversations, that’s no small feat. Maguire gives Tanga a fun streak of sass that readers can grab onto, and the art just looks fantastic. Maguire can draw big monsters better than most, and the regular-sized characters also have a smooth, slick look to them that makes them instantly appealing. If “Weird Worlds” turned into an all-Tanga, all-the-time comic I’d be delighted.
I want to love “Weird Worlds” (because I do love the anthology format) but right now, it’s not quite there. This is a comic where you’ll come for Tanga, and while you’re there enjoy Garbageman. And as for Lobo? Well, you can look at it and see how two talented creators were completely mismatched with a character. VanHook and Ordway have done good things elsewhere, but they just aren’t right for Lobo.