Weird Worlds #1

Written by Kevin VanHook, Aaron Lopresti, and Kevin Maguire
Penciled by Jerry Ordway, Aaron Lopresti, and Kevin Maguire
Inked by Jerry Ordway, Matt Ryan, and Kevin Maguire
32 pages, color
Published by DC Comics

When done right, I like anthology comics a great deal. There’s a nice hook to having multiple stories to read in a comic, so even if there’s one part which might not be clicking quite for you, there are still others waiting to be read. (Of course, that means there needs to be more hits than misses.) So I found myself a little curious about Weird Worlds, DC’s new anthology mini-series promising some strange settings and characters. What I got? Well, a mixed bag is a good way to describe it as any.

The book opens with a Lobo story by Kevin VanHook and Jerry Ordway. This isn’t the story I’d have chosen to put first; I think you kick off with your strongest piece, to get that strong first impression if someone opens the book and makes a split-second decision on if they’re going to buy it or not. Sure, Lobo was hugely popular for a while, but considering the miniseries by Keith Giffen, Alan Grant, and Simon Bisley was now 20 years ago, it makes you wonder just how much of a draw the character still is. At any rate, the story is almost the definition of predictability; in a space station bar, one alien explains to another how he defeated Lobo (slumped in the corner with his head missing a large chunk) while flashbacks show that it was just luck, and slowly Lobo’s head repairs itself. It’s not bad, but it’s the sort of Lobo story that anyone could tell in their sleep. Ordway’s art is attractive, but it’s an odd choice for a down and dirty character like Lobo. This story just feels slightly misconceived from start to finish, and it certainly doesn’t belong in the lead slot.

Aaron Lopresti is next with his own creation, Garbage Man… not to be confused with Swamp Thing, Man-Thing, or (past co-creation of Lopresti’s) Sludge. It’s an incredibly old origin story (man forced into strange experiment, lab is then blown up, he awakes as new mutated monster) and while one of the scientists jokes that it sounds like a cliche, that doesn’t stop it from being so. While the narrative is underwhelming, the saving grace is Lopresti’s art, which looks great. From the veiny hands and arms of his characters, to the covered in bits of trash form of Garbage Man, it’s the real attraction for this story. I’ve been enjoying Lopresti’s art on Justice League: Generation Lost and this is no exception. I just wish we could have gotten a more interesting first chapter—and perhaps a better name for the character/feature while we’re at it.

Last up is Kevin Maguire’s Tanga, and the high point of the first issue. Considering the entire first chapter’s dialogue is Tanga speaking to herself as she flies through space looking for other people, this could have been disastrous. Instead, it’s a riot. Her running monologue is entertaining, and as we learn more about her we start to get the impression that this adorable-looking alien is not as innocent as she portrays herself. When she finally encounters a ship, all our suspicions come home to roost with a memorable climax to the issue. Helping matters is that Maguire’s art looks as beautiful as ever, drawing not only Tanga beautifully but everything from methane seas to space debris. Obviously future chapters will need her to start having actual conversations (although it looks like we should get that next month), but for now it’s a strong first installment.

Weird Worlds was a nice idea, but so far it’s on some slightly shaky ground; one installment that was fun, one that needs some work but has potential, and one that just doesn’t bring anything of big interest. Future issues are going to need to fix that ratio and fast if they want people to stick around. I’ll read the second issue for Maguire’s contribution, but I’ll be eyeing the other two carefully to see if it’s still worth sticking around beyond that. Overall, an uneven and slightly underwhelming first issue.

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