Wednesday Comics #6

We've hit the halfway mark on DC's weekly newspaper-esque series, "Wednesday Comics," and things still look pretty good. I mean that literally: this comic is just as gorgeous now as it was in its first week and has remained so, possibly improving thanks to clearer printing on Ben Caldwell's "Wonder Woman" strip. What's more, the writing has grown stronger, too, as writers grow more accustomed to the unique demands of the format. That said, the few bad spots continue to stand out with crystal clarity as the strips around them grow in quality, while they linger in the dregs.

This week's issue has numerous high spots as creators mix things up a bit, almost as if they anticipated that attention would be renewed in the series as everyone stops to check in on the book halfway through. "Supergirl," for instance, features a very funny chapter with Aquaman taking center stage, portrayed as a busy executive, using a seashell as the underwater version of a cell phone, while Supergirl and the Super-Pets wait patiently for his undivided attention. Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner's version of the hero is original and very, very good - as is Supergirl's exasperated, frustrated reactions.

In this week's "Metamorpho" strip, Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred change things up big time by advancing the plot forward in some small panels at the top of the page before giving readers a full-size snakes and ladders board game featuring the cast of the strip. A board game in a comic with jokes thrown in for good measure! How awesome is that? Or, Caldwell uses a vertical page layout, reading panels down the page before moving left to right, another great innovation that uses the size of these pages well.

That's to say nothing of Karl Kerschl and Brenden Fletcher changing their "Flash" strip so that the "Iris West" feature is replaced with one devoted to Gorilla Grodd, done in a completely different style from the Flash and Iris West ones. More versatility in one of the best strips week in, week out - who'd've thunk it?

Previously less discussed strips like "The Demon/Catwoman" and "Deadman" are progressing well, revealing the bigger picture of each. While they've required a bit more patience than other strips, that patience is beginning to pay off. Even "The Metal Men" takes a big step forward this week by introducing a new, more exciting bad guy that will challenge the team.

On the art side, I'm not sure there are many complaints anyone can have. As I already said, many strips alter their formats this week, each change working perfectly, while the other strips remain consistently great. "Batman," for example, relies heavily on visual storytelling this week with him dropping in on a criminal and Eduardo Risso executing the scene perfectly, the pacing tight, full of suspense, and paying off with a gun drawn only to show Batman with a big grin, having fun with this low-level punk.

Six weeks have passed with six to go for "Wednesday Comics," and the quality remains high, if not higher than when it began. While the novelty may be wearing off for some, it's not for the people behind these strips as many continue to experiment and surprise readers. I can't wait for to see what's in store for the next month-and-a-half.

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