I applaud Mark Chiarello’s efforts to plan and coordinate this exciting project. Every single issue of “Wednesday Comics” came out on time, and, as a whole, the series looked absolutely amazing.
But this review is about issue #12, and though I’d give Chiarello six stars for effort (and hope he’s able to wrangle another series of “Wednesday Comics” and push the boundaries even farther next time), this final issue still has enough problems to bump it down from the level of astonishingly brilliant to the merely quite good.
It was still one of the comics I looked forward to reading most each week for the past three months — and not just because I knew I’d get a chance to talk about in the CBR “Splash Page.” But the problems that hindered the series continue to appear in its final issue. As a twelve-issue experimental undertaking, it was a surprisingly consistent series. The strips that were great by the end of the first month stayed great until the end, while the strips that didn’t work very well continued not to work all the way to the final installment.
Take “Teen Titans,” for example. Sean Galloway’s art always looked faded out, his figure drawings and page layouts never quite matched the quality of the other strips in the series, and Eddie Berganza’s strip started out too exposition-heavy, turned to be too cliche-ridden, and even with the surprise reveal over the final couple of weeks, ended up being a completely dull exercise overall.
While Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher’s “The Flash” started strong and accelerated (appropriately enough) into something wonderful, playing with form and content, and it ended up being the best 12 pages a Barry Allen story has ever seen. “The Flash” was the best stuff available in mainstream comics over the past three months, injected into the world at a dose of one page per week.
It’s not all that surprising, I suppose, that the good strips were consistently good while the bad strips were consistently not good, but what was surprising was how easy it was to lump the strips into tiers of quality. Issue #12 features the same tiers, with “The Flash,” “Batman,” “Hawkman,” “Kamandi,” and “Strange Adventures” taking the top spots, and the continually disappointing “Teen Titans,” “Metal Men,” “Superman,” “Deadman,” and “The Demon and the Cat” falling to the bottom. In any anthology project you’ll get a range of quality — and a range in story styles to fit various tastes — but there are commonalities between all the good strips (evidence of imagination, emotional intensity, stylistic experimentation), while the less-good strips have their own common factors (dramatically thin characters, cliche situations, plodding narrative).
If this series does continue with new creative teams, I’d hope that more writers and artists would shoot for the former and less would find safety in the latter. Because for an experiment in form and content, “Wednesday Comics” was pretty safe overall, and many of the strips suffered in that bland realm of comfort.
Still, like every issue of the series, issue #12 is certainly a good comic. Hawkman climbing inside a T-Rex’s mouth? Batman’s tragic kiss of death? Barry and Iris Allen reunited? Yeah, you certainly get your money’s worth, sometimes with a little bit of style thrown in as well.