I really like Wednesday Comics. Actually, check that. “Like” might not be strong enough a word. I love Wednesday Comics. No, I lust—wait, wait, that’s too strong a word. Let’s stick with love. I love Wednesday Comics.
Part of it is the simple fact that it’s there every week, which is the same thing I liked about 52 and Trinity—the comforting knowledge that no matter what the vagaries of comic book scheduling, I could count on at least one comic featuring my favorite DC heroes every Wednesday.
The other, greater part of that is that Wednesday Comics is chockfull of some of my all-time favorite comics artists, many of them doing great work.
That it’s also a project that offers a unique reading experience, that it prioritizes art and tone over plot and script (but not to the detriment of the story), that it prioritizes comics as a reading experience over comics as collectibles, that it emphasizes serial comics over trade collections to the extent that it’s difficult to even imagine a latter version of the former and that it’s a damn good value doesn’t hurt any either.
You’ll understand then that part of me doesn’t want the series to ever actually end, and, since I know it must, another part of me would like to see another volume of Wednesday Comics, perhaps next summer.
Of course, while a second volume of Wednesday Comics is something I’d like, I’m not sure it’s something that actually should happen.
The project was and is an experiment, and I don’t know if it’s going to prove successful for DC or not (financially; creatively, it seems to work just fine). In comics publishing, an experiment isn’t quite the same as it is science, where one does them over and over to replicate the same results, until certainty sets in.
In comics, an experiment often means a big, huge, maybe even crazy risk, and that even if it works once, there’s no reason to believe it will work again (It’s worth noting that Wednesday Comics is DC’s fourth weekly comic, and all three have been created using entirely different formulas).
Is part of the reason Wednesday Comics works so well for me that it is such a limited, unique experience? Will a second volume work? Will I like it? Will it be like a Hollywood sequel, where the original is better?
I don’t know. But if it is hugely profitable, if editor Mark Chiarello and others at DC decide they want to do a second volume, I’ve got some suggestions.
Not suggestions of a “Silver Age Batgirl by Jill Thompson on page 4, James Kochalka’s Legion of Super-Pets on page 5” sort of nature, but rather just some thoughts to keep in mind.
And if you have some unsolicited, unnecessary and probably unwanted advice for Chiarello, feel free to leave it in the comments section.
Characters to keep in mind
A theoretical second volume of Wednesday Comics would definitely want to keep Batman and Superman around for sales purposes, and Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Flash would probably also be features worth returning (I guess the exact calculus would depend on who’s doing what; for example, “Neil Gaiman” is probably at least as big a seller as “The Flash” in some markets).
Looking at DC’s sales charts, a Justice League or JSA strip probably wouldn’t hurt sales any, either. But as for new adds, to replace some of the features starring lower-tier characters?
Aquaman: It looks like he might be appearing in the Hawkman feature, which this week panned out a bit to show Hawkgirl in the old yellow, arrow-shaped Hawk-ship, the original JLA satellite, and Batman on monitor duty. That would explain why the Atlantean Ace didn’t get a feature of his own, but the format would certainly be kind to Aquaman, wouldn’t it? That giant page would be perfect for underwater vistas, fantasy Atlantean architecture, and the weird and beautiful sea life.
Plastic Man: With the Metal Men and Metamorpho already in, maybe the project had already filled its Characters Who Stretch And Otherwise Change shape quotient. But Plas is seemingly an ideal candidate for a project like Wednesday Comics, being one of those characters that pretty much everyone knows, even though there aren’t really all that many comics featuring him any more.
Captain Marvel: That second sentence above? Just reread that, only change the word “Plas” to “Captain Marvel.”
Enemy Ace: Joe Kubert drawing Sgt. Rock is such a no-brainer, that if you were going to do a Kubert-drawn war comic, that’s the one you’d want to do, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather see drawing an Enemy Ace strip than Kubert, so I’m not exactly surprised or confused that Enemy Ace wasn’t in the series. But maybe next time around? Imagine air battles drawn by someone like Kubert with all that space to work with…! I get excited just imagining the possibility.
Doom Patrol: They fit quite comfortably into that weird, likeable and not-household-name category occupied by The Metal Men and Metamorpho, and thus seem like a good fit for a second volume.
Jonah Hex: If a second volume wanted to try out a different genre, here’s a pretty obvious Western hero (I like Bat Lash too, but Hex has a better visual hook by far).
Artists to keep in mind
Just as a second volume would by necessity want to keep around some of the characters/features, I think it would be a crime not to keep a couple of the contributors around, particularly Kyle Baker, Paul Pope, Mike Allred and Joe Kubert, albeit on different features.
New blood? Or ink, as the case may be?
Grant Morrison (He’s the only writer on my list, although he’s also one of the only writers who successfully experiments with medium in a way that makes him an interesting candidate to script something for such a unique sort of project).
J.H. Williams III
Walt Simonson (on art this time!) with John Workman (Imagine—the biggest sound effects ever put to paper!)
George Perez (While his work is pretty much definitive of superhero comic books, at least for a generation of readers, which means his style doesn’t led itself to old-fashioned comic strip like art, having seen how much detail he can cram into a little comic page, the mind reels trying to imagine what he could do with 14-by-20-inch pages!)
Something else to keep in mind
I just noticed the other day that even though the current line-up is pretty much a perfect cross-section of DC superheroes, compromising between the biggest, best-sellers and quirkier ones with enormous potential, there aren’t any black folks in it.
Of course, there weren’t really any black folks in DC comics for at least the first twenty-some years of their existence. And as is the case with many superhero creations beyond the Golden and Silver Ages, few of those that have since joined the pantheon of DC heroes feel as classic those that come from the first few waves of heroes. (For example, I like Skyrocket from Power Company just fine, but I don’t think a Skyrocket strip in Wednesday Comics would really fit in with the other strips).
At the risk of getting way off-topic, who might be among the more Wednesday Comics-able black superheroes in DC’s stable?
I guess Black Lightning came first, but as nice a job as some creators have done with recent stories, he still seems to be really rooted in his original era of the late-70’s to me, and thus ill-suited to carry a time-less sort of feature.
Steel would work much better, and even if he is derivative of Superman, there’s no shame in being derivative of Superman (Supergirl, for example, works just fine in Wednesday Comics, and, like Batgirl, is more iconic and well-known than a lot of superheroes who aren’t derivative of other characters). Vixen could likewise work well in a strip, and her association with animals would certainly open up the possibilities for some nice illustration subjects in a Wednesday Comics feature.
Oh, and yeah, I know Cyborg has appeared in a few panels of the Teen Titans feature so far, but I’m not sure he’s really in that strip—in fact, it’s hard to say that there are any characters in it, given the jumbled, abstract nature of that particular strip.