Welcome to this week’s edition of the Panels of the Week. This is where I pick out some of the standout moments that happened in comics.
I will try to avoid major spoilers, however, to warn you just in case the following books are included: Cable #7, Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1, Seven to Eternity #16, Rorschach #4, Future State: Nightwing #1, King in Black #3, Future State: The Next Batman #2, Abbott 1973 #1, Killadelphia #12, DCeased: Dead Planet #7, Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1, Crimson Flower #1, Batman / Catwoman #2, American Ronin #4, Barbalien: Red Planet #3, Catwoman #2
If you read my article last week you saw my favorite panel of the week has some similarities with this one. Both involve a lot of shooting, although this one has our hero being the aggressor. This is a type of panel that puts you right in the moment. Removing the background and filling it with sound effects brings in the focus. A type of image you can hear. Phil Noto has such a clean line with his work. It is a distinct style that even the lettering in this case is mimicking.
Another choice where sound effects are playing a major role in making this panel special. People tend to get so lost in detail when it comes to art. Here Phil Noto may not be using a lot of lines because there is no need. You get every sense of the force that is coming with Cable as he smashes down that door. Not only does the lettering look like it propelled the tables across the room but it also appears to be cut by the flying glass. It is like this living organism inside the pages of the comic.
Writer: Gerry Duggan / Artist: Phil Noto / Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino / Design: Tom Muller
Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1
This panel is a bit crowded with dialog boxes and a cutaway, however, the central image is why I choose it. We see the impact of Superman flying an attempted suicide bomber into the sky to save innocent lives. Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #1 was set in a time where Superman was just a memory. Those who he saved shared their stories and this one was especially impactful. The reason being we cannot even see Superman. We know it was him simply because of the inhuman requirement to do an act like this and how it fits the fiber of his being. Mikel Janin puts the camera at just the right spot to capture the entire sequence.
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson / Artist: Mikel Janin / Colorist: Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: Dave Sharpie
Seven to Eternity #16
Seven to Eternity finally came back this week and after reading a few pages I could see why Jerome Opeña took so long to make these pages. . Within the context of the story that sky blue and forest green stood out as a massive change of pace. In an issue of chaos, this panel provided some tranquility-even if it was for a fleeting moment. The scale here is impressive. These massive creatures have been molded into nature where they met their untimely end. A world that begs to be explored.
Written By: Rick Remender / Drawn By: Jerome Opeña / Colored By: Matt Hollingsworth / Letterer: Rus Wooton
What stood out for me in this panel is the timing. How the top horizontal panel happens concurrently with the panels below it. Having each ‘BLAM’ link up exactly with the smashing of one bottle. An issue about a circus we see a showman and showwoman displaying their true talents. This could have been a toss away moment that does not do much of anything. Finding a way to construct a compelling page design made it one of the standout moments of the week.
Writer: Tom King / Artist: Jorge Fornés / Colorist: Dave Stewart / Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Future State: Nightwing #1
When it comes to Nightwing artists look for ways to display his agility. I am a fan of this techqinue when done well. Nightwing gliding in the air like a Parkour ninja is always a sight to see. Adding to the strength is making the panel this slim vertical stack to reflect the buildings he is traversing.
Writer: Andrew Constant / Artist: Nicola Scott / Colorist: Ivan Plascencia / Letterer: Wes Abbott
Future State: The Next Batman #2
This was a panel that stood out because of this piece of dialog. Overall this is not a book full of jokes or quips making this standout. Almost feels like Shane Black came in to guess write this panel. Something he does often. Where a background character that is otherwise meaningless suddenly has a personality. Getting asked if you thought the person that attacked you was Batman is a bit of a silly question so it does deserve a silly response. I do wonder though if there is more meaning to this panel. You would never expect military personal to talk to their superiors in such a fashion. Is this designed as a minor hint that these officers are not as disciplined as they seem? Perhaps they are even against what they are doing?
Written By: John Ridley / Art By: Laura Braga / Breakdowns By: Nick Derington / Colors By: Arif Prianto / Letters By: Clayton Cowles
King in Black #3
I am going to group both of these panels together because I think there is something cool about people holding Captain America’s shield that are not Captain America. Unlike Thor’s hammer, it does not require you to be worthy, but in a way it does. Holding that shield does bring a lot of symbolic weight and creators know that. To steal some wrestling terminology it is a quick way to put over a character like Dylan. Taking a trick from Winter Solider’s book then unleashing his power to save Cap from the power of Knull.
Writer: Donny Cates / Penciler: Ryan Stegman / Inker: JP Mayer / Color Artist: Frank Martin / Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Abbott 1973 #1
When you are bringing a series like Abbott back you have to strike a balance to reestablish what this world was while looking forward to the new arc. A panel like this does a bit of both. Here you have a collage of past events to reflect on the growth of Abbott. Also to remind or introduce you to what she has become. Clearly those past demons are still with her in more ways than one. So much purple as well. A color I rarely see in comics to this degree.
Writer: Saladin Ahmed / Illustrator: Sami Kivelä / Colorist: Mattia Iacono / Letterer: Jim Campbell
Hell has probably been depicted more in comics than any other medium outside of Renaissance paintings and 80’s Rock music videos. So how do you make your depiction stand out? Well in this issue of Killadelphia it is done in a few ways including this panel with this insane group of characters. Even if I did not tell you they were in hell you would probably be able to assume these nice fellows are demons. Being a former Spawn artist, Jason Shawn Alexander is no stranger to depicting hell in a comic. Clearly, he used that experience to come up with some original creatures.
Staying in hell we have another panel as a character has a literal showdown with the devil. Placing Beelzebub on the high ground here is no accident. He stands tall on the throne of hell surrounded by chaos. We are deep in his domain. Giving him a design that is full of sharp and distinct angles. His superiority is not a moral one as he remains blacked out next to the hellish red as the hero, in this case, has this minimal glow.
Story: Rodney Barnes / Art: Jason Shawn Alexander / Color: Luis NCT / Lettering: Marshall Dillon
Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #1
This was a small character moment that appears innocent at the time. Just a cute scene of Luke Cage the babysitter. Please make that a comic. What it does is set up a relationship between these two that comes into play as the issue ends. I wish comics, especially superhero comics, had more moments like this. Let the characters be themselves in ways that does not always push the plot forward.
He tore a zombie ninjas head off and threw it at a guy. Are you not entertained? Obviously, Iron Fist can go as a hero. He is one of the best fighters in Marvel comics. That does not mean he has to solve every problem with a punch or kick. Why not also use that cannon of an arm? Breaking the panel gives the head a bit of 3D effect. Brings your eyes right to the collusion.
Snakes! Why did it have to be snakes? What stood out to me in this panel was how Iron Fist’s split legs cut the same way on the page as the panel border. A shot location can go along way. Here we just get enough of these snakes to understand the danger. As we are looking up at Iron Fist the danger seems even closer than it actually is.
Writer: Larry Hama / Artist: David Wachter / Color Artist: Neeraj Menon / Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
DCeased: Dead Planet #7
A big week for severed heads. You never know what random connecting tissue you will have picking apart these panels each week. This week apparently it is severed heads. Artistically this is not a panel that is doing anything special. Rather standard all around. Done well enough, but overall standard execution. Why I choose it though is because it shows how Jon is a bit different as Superman. He holds an actual head like this as a mode of intimidating his opponents. Yes, there is a functional reason as well. Still, he’s not dumb. He knows what he is doing.
Another example of a good character beat. Tom Taylor writes both of these characters so well. He knows John Constatine showing Jon this type of respect means a lot. He would not be that earnest with most people. It could seem out of character but it is written in a way that fits Constatine exactly. Plus this comic and these characters have earned this moment. It is a quick beat that does not lean in too heavily and become overly melodramatic. This is all you get and it says everything.
Written By: Tom Taylor / Pencilled By: Trevor Hairsine / Inked By: Gigi Baldassini, Stefano Gaudiano / Colored By: Rain Beredo / Lettered By: Saida Temofonte
American Ronin #4
In my most anticipated comics article, I mentioned how I love the way ACO utilizes sound effects into his art. This issue did not disappoint. There were a number of choices to pick from and this was my favorite. A punch right in the nose that is illustrated in a way that you feel it. Having the extreme close up within the lettering makes you take a second to fully recognize what you are seeing.
Writer: Peter Milligan / Artist: ACO / Inker: David Lorenzo / Colorist: Dean White / Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Barbalien: Red Planet #3
I am adding more rules to this article each week. Any time panel makes me laugh out loud I am going to include it. After M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games and now this my next rule is to include any time we see a Nazi getting hit. (Not including a World War II comic of course) For those worried, this is uncalled for know that the creature is holding a space gun that is ready to fire. Proving even Mars has secret nazis.
Script: Tate Brombal, Jeff Lemire / Art: Gabriel Hernandez Walta / Color Art: Jordie Bellaire / Letters: Aditya Bidikar
Future State: Catwoman #1
Say what you will about Future State, but you cannot deny that art has been consistently solid. With Catwoman, we got some Otto Schmidt art. One of today’s artists who has a knack for displaying action as this panel shows. For me, a good action scene has some key qualities; ingenuity, creativity, and fluidity. This has all three. One of the key parts is how the whip acts as a guide to bring us along with the action. The movement is smooth and clean from start to finish.
Writer: Ram V / Artist: Otto Schmidt / Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Black Cat #2
Here we have some panels that stand out due to how the movement interacts with the design of the page. How the symbiote goo is operating as a panel border and an obstacle. It makes you part of the moment. Sometimes with event tie-ins, you can tell when the effort is there or when it is absent. Injecting creativity like this tells me this was a creative team that did not take the issue off.
Writer: Jed MacKay / Artist: C.F. Villa / Color Artist: Brian Reber / Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Batman / Catwoman #2
Now that is one creepy looking Joker. You get just enough of a glance of that evil smile as the gun slowly makes its way out. Unlike the Rorschach panel above these two panels are not happening simultaneously. We do not see the gunfire but the bullet holes say it all. A small piece I also love is how Joker’s dialog bubble is rendered. That wavy tale helps represent the sneaky nature of his words.
Writer: Tom King / Art: Clay Mann / Colorist: Tomeu Morey / Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Crimson Flower #1
My favorite panel of the week comes from Crimson Flower #1. This is an announcement panel. By that I mean this comic is fully announcing what it is and its style as loud as possible. Either you are going to buy in or your not. There is so much I love about this panel. From the texture of the beard to the continuous motif of the rectangle. Nearly everywhere you look you can see a squared angle. It makes everything feel connected and of one world. Great cartooning all around. This is a style unlike any I am seeing in monthly comics right now. If you love this panel like me I would fully advise to pick up this book.
Writer: Matt Kindt / Art: Matt Lesniewski / Colors: Bill Crabtree / Designer: Ethan Kimberling