- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 22, 2009

This chronic feature lets me review what’s recently passed my bloodshot pupils. So pull up a chair, break out the sarcasm filter and welcome to Mr. Zad’s comic critique

Wednesday Comics, No. 1 (DC Comics, $3.99 each) Batman’s favorite publisher is resurrecting the days before the comic book, when sequential art was revered on newsprint in a broadsheet format.

-No doubt sending a complete panic into collectors who buys books from shops to only slab them, speculating on future worth, DC Comics is offering a 16-page, 14-by-20-inch spread, demanding it be read and manhandled for its wondrous visuals.

This is a big, bold and beautiful 12-week experiment to give readers the chance to really appreciate one of America’s greatest art mediums.

The best of the best creators put together a full-page package skewing across the DC universe, easy to read and easy to marvel at.

From Batman noir from Brian Azzarello to Supergirl funny with Amanda Conner to a Jack Kirby tribute through Dave Gibbon’s plotting of Kamandi, it’s a dream line-up. How can I not love a massive Hawkman paneled poster orchestrated by Kyle Baker? Who wouldn’t drool over the Metamorpho story brought to life by Neil Gaiman and Mike Allred? Oh my, it’s Paul Pope’s version of Adam Strange. And, father and son Adam and Joe Kubert continue building upon the Sergeant Rock legend.

Will it work? Probably not; today’s kids have a “the smaller the better mentality” while the average comic reader might not find the price tag low enough to indulge and then toss away his funnies much like a newspaper.

I can’t wait to see how they package this as a trade paperback.

Sub-Mariner: The Depths, Nos. 1 to 5 (Marvel Comics, $24.99) - A pulp horror mystery akin to EC Comics’ Weird Science and “Night Gallery” gives a new interpretation to the famed superhero Namor.

When a 1940s researcher known for his myth busting takes a crack at debunking the existence of Atlantis and its famed protector, he dives deep with a hesitant crew and finds reality is what one makes of it.

Not unlike “Jaws,” writer Peter Milligan holds his dangerous beast card until much later in the issues, but finds plenty of seamen to fall as his victims. Or are they his victims?

This Sub-Mariner is not a brooding bum pining for Sue Storm, but rather an omniscient humanoid creature, focused and ready to strike.

Mr. Milligan’s story keeps the reader engaged, but occasional salty language distracts rather than enhancing the atmospheric experience.

Artist Esad Ribic beautifully delivers panels awash in pastels - punctuated with men screaming and the occasional gruesome image. His Namor is as creepy as a vampire in 30 Days of Night.

For those whose interest is piqued by the potential, a hardcover of the entire five-issue series is available ($24.99).

Predator, No. 1 (Dark Horse Comics Comics, $3.50)- The Aliens are back in comics so why not a new story about 20th Century Fox’s other ferocious sci-fi horror icon?

A Third World country is the battleground for not only greedy corporate types’ security forces versus militia, but also some extraterrestrials looking to hunt.

The first issue loads up on macho man posturing using profanity, big guns and burly biceps but offers little foreshadowing as to where writer John Arcudi wants to take readers.

-What’s mandatory, however, is seeing some Predators especially their unusual weaponry. Unfortunately, artist Javier Saltares ignores that important point during the creatures’ limited appearance. His drawing of the warriors is also way too clean and never detailed enough for me.

Not a good start. Hopefully Mr. Arcudi’s plot thickens and adds some twists, because the artwork alone won’t sustain Predator fans’ interest.

Pherone, trade paperback (Image Comics, $24.99)- A Frank Miller-sized blast of crime noir pulp gets squeezed out of Heavy Metal magazine and assembled in this 104-page hardcover book.

Artist Viktor Kalvachev obviously went to the Sin City school of illustration as he relays tales of a tough-talking, sexy spy named Eve with problems Jason Bourne would appreciate.

Check political correctness at the door, my mature readers. Guns, blood and seduction are mixed plentifully between black-and-white grit and bursts of color panels.

The book includes the first appearance of Eve published for the 2005 San Diego Comic-Con along with concept art and deleted scenes.

* Visit Zadzooks at the blog section of The Washington Times’ Community pages (www.washingtontimes.com/communities/zadzooks) or on Twitter .

• Joseph Szadkowski can be reached at jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com.

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