I think that this news is the best thing since sliced bread.
Now, a lot of people will be excited at the idea of anthology book with such a large number of talented creators. What I am grooving on is taking Golden Age characters and writing them in a Golden Age style.
A new issue of Crack Comics? Crack Comics that gave us Captain Triumph, the Clock, and the gaytacular Black Condor? I've been waiting for this since before I was born!
There's been plenty of love at DC for Golden Age characters. The front ranks of the DCU's heroes are filled with Golden Agers (Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Ted Grant, Green Arrow, Black Canary, Aqua-- oh, wait; I forgot...), and the Golden Age DC group, the Justice Society, now enjoys unprecedented respect. At times, we've even been given some glimpses into past "untold" adventures of such characters from early in their careers, giving them a depth the characters didn't originally possess.
But telling a story with Golden Age characters in it or a story set in the Golden Age isn't the same as telling a story in the Golden Age style. And that is what I've been missing, and what I hoping will delight me about the Next Issue Project. The flat color, the deep shading, the weird perspective! The exposition, the compression, the Starmanly drama! I'm hoping it'll be a shot of espresso after decades of weak tea. I'm hoping "this is going to be OOMPHY."
Though I'm eagerly awaiting the "Clock" story, I'm also jazzed about seeing new stories for characters I've never even heard of. "Sub Saunders"? "Capt. Kidd"? I love them already. I'm already thinking of having custom clix made of them for my Aquaman Heroclix games (or at least tokens), and I haven't even seen them.
To me, the great tragedy of art (be it musical, literary, or visual) is that the evolution of a new style always seems to displace an old one. A natural human reaction, perhaps, but not, I think, always a necessary one. The fugue, the sonnet, the allegorical painting-- such modes of expression are just as valid as they ever were, still as potentially enjoyable, still as deserving of new composition. So, too, Golden Age comic book storytelling.
The Next Issue Project is also well timed. More and more, I get the feeling that many younger comic books readers think of Silver Age comics as "how comics started out"; they imagine that the wan and bloodless Superman secret identity farces of the Eisenhower era are the beginning of superhero comics. This is puzzling (and a shame), since reprints of Golden Age stories are now more accessible than ever before (well, assuming one has a very healthy wallet, at least!).
I have shocked younger friends by sharing with them the pungency and potency of the adventures of Golden Age heroes. I've seen them come away with a new and deeper respect for an artform they already loved, when they discover that Grant Morrison didn't invent violating the Fourth Wall and that Neil Adams wasn't the first person to draw figures extruding outside of their panel boxes. I love watching them discover that if Golden Age artists weren't masters of detailed anatomy, they were masters of grand composition; that if Golden Age writers weren't masters of subtle characterization, they were masters of powerful plotting; and that if Golden Age editors didn't demand big stories, they demanded stories created in a big way.
Will the Next Issue Project bring that kind of realization to a broader audience? Perhaps not directly. But it is my hope that when readers see how many stellar modern creators respect the Golden Age style enough to try their hand at it, they just may become interested in finding out why that is so.