Friday, May 8, 2009

DC COMICS Experimenting…WHAT?

Written By: Allen Ribsey

In the last few years, DC Comics’ weakness has been defining a new crop of talent, be it writing or art. The last buzz we had about “fresh new talent” was when…I don’t know, Grant Morrison and his Seven Soldiers project? Now, I may be simply underestimating in my comments, but let’s be honest- if we eliminated its divisions (Vertigo, Wildstorm) and talked about the two-letter company on its own, most of its talent has been working for numerous years. Now, I feel compelled to make a comparison to Marvel Comics, who has drawn a significant amount of talent, both writing and art, into projects that put them at their strengths. SO, why is it that DC Comics, the same company that gave us the trinity of heroes, and historically have made leaps and bounds in its books…lost its way?

We can make guesses, theories on either the editorial powers-that-be, executive editor Dan DiDio or whoever rules the company (insert opinion and rant and ramble here) and blame them for mistakes and the things that readers have suffered from. But, that isn’t my intent. It seems to me that DC Comics is making a leap forward with the Final Crisis: Aftermath line as well as a new weekly series called Wednesday Comics.

I recently came across the news of Wednesday Comics, a 12-part weekly series that spans the entire DC Universe. The artists and writers participating in this project include Brian Azzarello, Paul Pope, Walt Simonson, Dave Bullock, Dave Gibbons, Ryan Sook, John Arcudi, Lee Bermejo, Joe Kubert, Ben Caldwell, Kurt Busiek, Eddie Berganza, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner and Karl Kerschl. It is not based on continuity, but rather, intended to be accessible and more of the “fantastic”. As a reader, the idea excites me as something fresh, perhaps a new and experimental take that whether they succeed or not, I applaud them for trying. But it doesn’t end there- Final Crisis, a crossover miniseries that depicted a dark day for the DC universe, are filling the gaps of the event with a follow-up, Final Crisis: Aftermath. This will consist of 4 titles: RUN!, ESCAPE, DANCE and INK. What stuck out in particular for me was when I saw the cover for DANCE…Stanley Lau. Now he may be “new” but has done much of his work through Imaginary Friends Studios and is one of the many popular digital illustrators in DeviantArt and has done work through Radical Comics with the title Caliber. It surprised me that his art would end up in DC Comics, but it made me feel obliged to give them some kudos, and I can’t wait what else he will do. Ivan Brandon, who is the writer for ESCAPE, has done a majority of his comics work at Image with an interest mostly keen towards futuristic societies with robots, and applying human-like esthetics to them Such works include CrossBronx and NYC Mech, and he also edited two volumes of the 24 Seven anthology books, and recently collaborated with illustrator Nic Klein on Vikings. The point I’m getting to here is how it pleases me to see him doing some more work in DC (note: I have yet to read his FC tie-in, so I might get some flak on that!).

DC Comics is making an experimental leap forward. It excites me and makes me smile as a fan to know that with enough patience and a little risk, they may just reach out to more than just your average, Wednesday-buying, middle-age crowd. After all, comics should be shared like any other literature and should reach people of different ages without forcing it down their throats. I can’t make assumptions on how well these books will turn out, but it is good to know that they want to try something new.

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