Looking ahead to the next few weeks’ comic releases, I realized that September 2nd brings the first issue of Strange Tales Max. This three-issue miniseries is composed of short stories by some of the most acclaimed creators in underground comics, many of whom have seized the opportunity to run amok with Marvel’s more recognizable characters.
On the one hand, I think this series could be great for all involved parties; the creators gain exposure that their usual work does not afford them, Marvel gets to tout a badge of artistic merit, and the readers get their filthy paws on some unique work. If all goes to plan, Strange Tales Max could be responsible for quite a few Eisner-nominations.
However, such an endeavor also runs the risk of choking on the vomit of its own novelty. Comic book fans are, on the whole, not a group who like their mothers’ apple pie recipes fucked with. If Marvel runs a story about Peter Parker giving up the superheroics in favor of free-form dance, then they might just shoot themselves in the foot.
Quirky or novel are not always synonymous with successful. Just ask DC’s Wednesday Comics — despite heavy promotion, its first issue was only the thirty-sixth best selling comic of July (with subsequent issues faring worse). And even though I think it contains some of the best story-telling I’ve read lately (Kerschl/Fletcher’s The Flash/Iris West, Pope’s Strange Adventures, & Busiek/Quinones’ Green Lantern comes to mind) even I can’t get over the shitty newsprint material. In my opinion, such beautiful art shouldn’t be folded over and printed on gray toilet paper.
Perhaps Wednesday Comics may work better once it’s collected into an absolute edition. Maybe Strange Tales Max will be unappreciated until collected into a full anthology. Either way, both should be commended for the ways in which they strive for something else.