Welcome to the Best Comic Panels of the Week! What a week of great comic art. This week’s article is packed with so many choices. We have a bit of everything. Some character moments, potty humor, action set pieces, and even a few more somber sequences as well.
I do try to avoid spoilers as much as possible. But to be safe the following comics are highlighter: Future State: Superman / Wonder Woman #1, King in Black: Thunderbolts #1, Future State: Teen Titans #1, S.W.O.R.D. #2, A Man Among Ye #4, The Wrong Earth: Night & Day #1, Sweet Tooth: The Return #3, Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1, The Amazing Spider-Man #57, Space Bastards #1, Seven Secrets #6, Serial #1, King in Black: Gwenom vs. Carnage #1, Haha #1, Future State: Justice League #1, Lonely Receiver #5, Red Sonja: The Superpowers #1, Penultiman #4, Green Hornet #5
Well, let’s get to it.
Future State: Superman / Wonder Woman #1
Two weeks into Future State and the standout character has to be Yara Flor. Despite having the moniker of Wonder Woman she is quickly becoming her own character. A panel like this helps in that development. That facial expression says so much. Almost a bit of sadistic joy at the hope of potential violence. Lettering on that second ‘Please” lets you know exactly how this piece of dialog is being spoken. She clearly has no shortage of confidence and based on her actions why would she.
Corresponding with that panel is the follow-up scene. We have seen heroes punch villains, torture them, or throw them in jail. There’s a ton of different ways to evoke justice. This was one of the more creative and got a literal laugh from me. Making me think back to watching the opening of The Simpsons. The fact that they are standing there willingly taking their punishment also shows the fear that Yara evokes in people. She does things differently and that has made her the standout character of 2020 thus far.
Script: Dan Watters / Art: Leila Del Duca / Colors: Nick Filardi / Letters: Tom Napolitano
King in Black: Thunderbolts #1
Why isn’t Juan Ferreyra one of the biggest comic book artists today? Every time he has a book out I know some of the best panels of the week are going to show up. If anything it was hard cutting it down to only two. The silhouette shot can be overused. It is a useful tool to take a scene that may be quite difficult to draw and simplify it a bit. Simplify may be the wrong word because the design of this panel is anything but simple. Instead, it is learning how to do more with less. You may not have a lot of detail here but you do not need it. Every piece has its place in telling the story. Plus it looks cool as hell.
What kind of power is leaping anyway? Well based on this panel it can be a very useful one. Scenes like this are when you know a creative team is clicking. Where they can take the makeup of a team and find ways to utilize each member in a creative sequence. Love how this panel drops down to a wide frame, like a panorama shot of this extended action set piece. Very distinct color choices as well. Placing the blue water against the hellish red sky are some that stood out to me.
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg / Artist: Juan Ferreyra / Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Future State: Teen Titans #1
As I have been doing this article series I try to keep a lookout for comics that start with a standout panel. Sometimes it is something exciting other times a panel provides necessary context for the story you are about to read. This is the latter. Future State has had books take place in a multitude of different times. Right away we see Future State: Teen Titans is not starting out in a happy place. The gravesite of fallen heroes is not breaking new ground, but the execution is at least a bit different. Having our heroes centered in the middle of these crosses represents the way these deaths still influence their current lives. These are clearly people who have not moved on and the story that followed verified that.
Script: Tim Sheridan / Pencils: Rafa Sandoval / Inks: Jordi Tarragona / Colors: Alejandro Sanchez / Letters: Rob Leigh
Toilet humor. Haha. I get it is lowbrow, but if there is a time for lowbrow humor to make you smile it is now. Creators like Al Ewing and Jonathan Hickman are not ones that get their acclaim for their humor or ability to be silly. Truth is at least Hickman does throw in some well-timed jokes from time to time. This being an issue that crosses over with a big event you do not expect it to start off with any type of joke. Let alone one to this degree, That surprise is why it standouts–along with the fact you rarely see superheroes on the toilet. Maybe it’s a hint that Mentallo is not a real superhero? The guy cannot get any respect.
Writer: Al Ewing / Artist: Valerio Schiti / Color Artist: Marte Gracia / Letterer & Production: VC’s Ariana Maher / Design: Tom Muller
A Man Among Ye #4
Surprise and violence captured within one panel. The faces tell the story. An ax to the chest that no one thought was coming. Even the lettering plays a role in the violence. The ‘SKRUCK” covered in blood to represent that slicing sound. What then follows is even worse as the ax comes out. Again we get another silhouette panel, and again it works. By showing less it messes with the mind more. You even have a blood trail operating the way a motion line would typically.
Writer: Stephanie Phillips / Artist: Craig Cermak / Colors: John Kalisz / Letters: Troy Peteri
The Wrong Earth: Night & Day #1
The Wrong Earth can be so many different things. It can be as silly or dark as possible. Here, if you cannot tell, we are in the world clearly inspired by the Adam West Batman series. Ludicrous does not begin to describe this scene. Characters dressed as puritans trying to boil our heroes alive in a gigantic boiling teapot. Chef’s Kiss The beauty of comics captured in one moment. Just look at the gigantic On/Off lever. You try to think logically for one second and everything explodes. Just accept it and enjoy the ride.
Writer: Tom Peyer / Penciller: Jamal Igle / Inker: Juan Castro / Colorist: Andy Troy / Letterer: Rob Steen
Sweet Tooth: The Return #3
In the pantheon of comic book creators that have caused tears to come out of my face, Jeff Lemire is near the top. Essex County, Royal City, and of course Sweet Tooth. He is so good at finding ways to evoke emotion in the oddest situations. A kid with antlers on his head trying to console a human-sized anamorphic elephant is not an everyday occurrence. Still, just through the use of a few lines, all the emotion is there.
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire / Colorist: Jose’ Villarrubia / Letterer: Steve Wands
Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1
That is one way to make an entrance. To avoid spoilers this scene involves a character appearing on the scene in an unexpected way. That ‘Wham’ looks like it is physically pushing Kara off the page. Not just Kara but all the art. How the color is pushed away as if it is slightly breaking the fourth wall. Debris flying throughout the air adds a nice touch.
Writer: Marguerite Bennett / Art: Marguerite Sauvage / Letters: Wes Abbott
The Amazing Spider-Man #57
A story in three panels. Fear. Violence. Regret. Spider-Man is a character you can quickly forget how powerful he can be because he tends to be lighthearted. He quips because he can. Then you get moments like this when he lets himself go too far. Something he shares similar to Superman. Obviously, he is not that strong but when you are dealing with normal humans Spider-Man can quickly hurt someone beyond repair if he does not watch himself. This moment stood out as a scene to showcase how hard Peter Parker has been pushed.
Writer: Nick Spencer / Penciler: Mark Bagley / Inkers: John Dell, Andrew Hennesy, Andy Owens / Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg, Edgar Delgado / Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Space Bastards #1
Going into this week I missed that this book was being drawn by legendary artist Darick Robertson. Even as I read through it my thought was, “Wow this artist clearly loves Darick Robertson’s work”. Not realizing it was in fact, Darick Robertson. Robertson can mesh humor, violence, and good storytelling so seamlessly as these panels show. It starts off a little silly only to get a quick zoom into an eye frozen in fear. I almost just included that panel of the bloodied face. It all works best when put in context. Cut to a body flying through the air in a way the screams pain.
Writer: Eric Peterson & Joe Aubrey / Art: Darik Robertson / Colors: Diego Rodriguez / Letters: Simon Bowland
Seven Secrets #6
So this is what they like to call in the business the money shot. No, not that type of shot. Get your head out of the gutter. Yes, I know we just saw a dude on the toilet. Let’s focus. It is a freeze-frame moment where time seems to stop for two characters as everything around them explodes into anarchy. Just the ideal stage to make this sequence both big and meaningful. A shot that would make Steven Spielberg proud.
Writer: Tom Taylor / Illustrated By: Daniele Di Nicuolo / Colored By: Walter Baiamonte, Katia Ranalli / Leterered By: Ed Dukeshire
Yes, I understand the irony of telling you to get your head out of the gutter, and then the next panel is a guy getting a kick to the groin. In my defense he very much deserved it. Why did I choose to highlight this panel? Because it shows what Terry Moore does as well as anyone; body language and facial expressions. That guy’s face perfectly exemplifies the inner turmoil a person goes through in that situation. His face is not overly exaggerated at all. Instead, he is attempting to bottle up the pain as much as he can. The characters also look real. Little details like how the shirt slightly lifts up to reveal his belly adds a bit of realism to anchor what could be overtly silly.
Speaking of overtly silly you have this panel. There are not many cartoonists who could handle such a jarring tonal shift like this. For those unaware, this is a dream sequence as we see Zoe’s love for cartoon violence personified. This brought me back to my days watching things like Looney Tunes. Love that she calls out not only ‘Cowabunga” but also ‘Yojimbo!”. I believe that is what they call in the cartooning world game recognizing game.
Story & Art: Terry Moore
King in Black: Gwenom vs. Carnage #1
This comic turned out to be so much better than I anticipated. In large part due to the art. Flaviano Armentaro is going to be an artist I look out for more often. Not just him but the entire creative team put in some good work. I choose this panel due to how the lettering is interacting with the art on the page. I am not sure who made the choice of placing that, “SNAP!”, in between the broken web, but it adds a lot of energy to this panel. The lime green is a smart color choice as well. All your attention goes right to it.
Writer: Seanan McGuire / Artist: Flaviano / Colorist: Rico Renzi / Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher
Who says clowns cannot make funny jokes? If there is a moment that makes me literally laugh out loud I usually always include it. Thus picking this panel this week. Plus it leads us to understand these characters and their current situation. This is a family not in a great place and a character that seemingly has the worst luck in the world. I have to call out the lettering as well. Keeping the ‘ka-click!’ relatively small just to hammer home the ineptitude of the moment, which is then followed up by dialog that looks like all the will has been sucked out of it.
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince / Art: Vanesa Del Ray / Colors: Chris O’Halloran / Letters: Good Old Neon
Future State: Justice League #1
Just look at how the fire engulfs the entire panel. So much force is being expelled that the entire atmosphere is changing into this dusty orange array. Despite that, you have this character standing there unfazed by what is coming. Again another panel that feels very manga-influenced. This also leads to one of the more compelling reveals in comics this week.
Writer: Ram V / Artist: Marcio Takara / Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo / Letterer: Rob Leigh
Lonely Receiver #5
There is something about eyes that just freaks me out a bit. Anytime a comic or movie has potential eye pain or damage I have to look away. So it is a bit challenging to even examine this panel outside of a quick glance. Even a normal person would have to find this shot unnerving. That needlepoint slowly inching towards piercing that cornea. Gives me chills.
Now, this was not a panel that gives me chills. This is a panel I found impressive due to the design. As a book, Lonely Receiver is not shy using imagery designed to open one’s mind. In this last issue, so many panels were stories within themselves. Someone who has never read a page of the comic can look at this panel and examine it for symbolic meaning. It is as if the journey of life is being assembled into one still image.
Writer: Zac Thompson / Artist: Jen Hickman / Letterer: Simon Bowland
Red Sonja: The Superpowers #1
One of the things I look for doing this article is different ways artists depict violence. There are those who go as gratuitous as possible or others that soften things to make a story more palatable. A panel like this finds a way to do a bit of both. Literally cutting a man’s head in half is quite a violent act. Instead of showing all the bones and inner workings of the human brain we see a cut go a bit deeper. So deep it is as if the page itself is being opened up.
Here is another example of taking on violence in a creative way. Taking a trick from the trade of black and white films and using black ink to represent flowing blood. Again we have some breaking of the fourth wall as that blood splatter fills the screen. Also, appreciate how the colors are a bit washed out in the foreground just to bring out that black even more.
Writer: Dan Abnett / Artist: Jonathan Lau / Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse / Letterer: Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou
This was one of the more powerful sequences I read in comics this past week. A man standing up for what he thinks is right being so heavily rejected by the very people he is trying to help. That face says so much. A level of somber acceptance and pity for those who meet him with anger. Superman type characters are so often allegorical explanations of the messiah metaphor. Rarely do those explorations show failure. Where the lie has become so big truth is seen as the villain.
Writer: Tom Peyer / Artist: Alan Robinson / Colorist: Lee Loughridge / Letterer: Rob Steen
Green Hornet #5
My favorite panel is one that is all about the lettering. To set the stage Kato and The Green Hornet are facing down in the entire army. After a series of events, the army lets lose its weapons to a shocking degree. This panel is the result. What a fantastic page-turn reveal. It puts into perspective the barrage of bullets coming their way. Making the odds of survival seemingly impossible. Things like this are why I love the comic medium. How there are so many different tools to use and adjust to tell a story. Kudos to Taylor Esposito because he killed it on this page.
Writer: Scott Lobdell / Art: Anthony Marques, J.Bone / Letters: Taylor Esposito