Weird Worlds #1
writers and artists: Various
Three of my favorite artists doing stories in one book should be a slam-dunk value, even at $3.99 in a month DC touts "holding the line at $2.99." From page count alone, it's a bargain. Three ten-page stories, three very alien characters, one of whom has a strong cult following – that should be a great book.
So why isn't it quite? The short answer is that Weird Worlds just isn't that weird, but let's take it separately.
Lobo achieved popularity because of how absolutely over-the-top the character can be, lightly sociopathic with a dusting of ultra-violence. When his appearances haven't worked, it's been when DC has tried to somehow make him palatable to the masses – with the possible exceptions of an episode of Superman: the Animated Series and for a moment or two when he had been reverted to his teen years.
Writer Kevin Van Hook has artist Jerry Ordway open on an image of Lobo with the top of his head blown off. So the ultra-violence gets taken care of right away, but nobody should believe that the Main Man is truly dead. Instead, it's just a hook to introduce the character to new readers, which would be fine, except…
Well, it really has nothing new to offer. So if you've never read a story with Lobo in it before, you sort of get that he's a real bad-ass, but it's too tame, lacking in the craziness that makes the character so strangely beloved. And I think the plot twist comes right out of that episode of Superman: the Animated Series.
Still, Jerry Ordway's art is gorgeous, which may be enough for some people, especially when the book continues with Aaron Lopresti's "Garbage Man." That feature, too, has gorgeous art, and an intriguing looking protagonist.
If anything, it turns out to be a return to the artist's roots, as one of his first regular assignments was for Malibu Comics' Sludge. That book was in the tradition of The Heap, Swamp Thing and Man-Thing, and Garbage Man is not much different.
At least Lopresti is honest about it, giving the character an origin somewhere between DC and Marvel's muck monsters, with an evil scientist even mentioning the search for a super-soldier formula. As plotting goes, "Garbage Man" has little new to offer, but the artwork really is superb. It's too hard to say if Lopresti will take this in any surprising directions, but it just doesn't seem likely.
Then there's Kevin Maguire's "Tanga," a cute manic pixie dream girl with cosmic powers. Maguire doesn't work often enough, so anything that adds to his body of work should be worthwhile. And of the three features, this one has the most mystery to it.
But it's also mostly a character piece with the tiniest bit of plot thrown in to bring you back for the second issue. Maguire spends most of his pages establishing Tanga's personality, which is well-written, but still not really giving us a clue as to who she is or why we should care.
I wanted to like this book so much more than I did. I wanted to begrudge DC $3.99 a month, and happily complain about the extra expense even while I pored over the work of three great artists at the top of their game. But it's doubtful that I'll revisit Weird Worlds.