Welcome to my picks for the Best Panels of the week. this is where I look through the week that was in and pick out some of my favorite moments. I do try to avoid major spoilers but to be safe the following comics are covered:
King in Black: Thunderbolts #2, X-Force #17, Let Them Live!: Unpublished Tales from the DC Vault Chapter #1, Black Hammer: Visions #1, Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #3, King in Black: Black Panther #1, ‘King Tank Girl #3, Future State: Superman / Wonder Woman #2, Rorschach #5, Star Wars: Darth Vader #10, Eternals #2, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #278, DC Love is a Battlefield #1, Radiant Black #1, Norse Mythology #5, Home Sick Pilots #3, Taskmaster #3, Power Pack #3
King in Black: Thunderbolts #2
This is the first of many panels this week that involved head drama. Despite that nose looking like it is broken and the grimace on his face it is by far the tamest one. Juan Ferreyra has a lot of skill as an artist and facial expressions are clearly on that list. This is a type of punch you can feel. The folds in the skin leave an imprint of a major force behind that punch. Having the lettering being purposefully sloppy also fits into this series aesthetic.
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg / Artist: Juan Ferreyra / Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
To steal a phrase from wrestling this issue was dedicated to getting the character of Quentin Quire over as a character. Obviously, he has been around for a long time, and now with the new X-Men renaissance, he is taking the next step. This issue had a lot of comedy but to balance that we got a moment like this. Showing the trauma he has suffered during his life. Trauma that he is trying to hide with his sardonic persona. Trauma that continues in the present in a new way. As the next few panels show.
Speaking of trauma we have this panel! Quentin Quire has become the Kenny of X-Force finding new and more creative ways to die. Here we get a few examples. A sword through the back of the head is bad enough then you see the next panel. I do not hate spiders or bugs but being eaten alive by them might change that fact. The artistry in both panels is strong. Shifting from silhouette to a zoomed-in shot keeps the sequence compelling. Artist Joshua Cassara did not skimp on the detail with those bugs. Skin crawling.
Let’s take a break from all the violence to get to something more fun. A fashion show in the middle of a comic book? Why not. If you listen closely you may hear the Pretty Woman soundtrack in the background. As a long-time X-Force fan, I did appreciate the meta ‘Too pouchy’ joke. Sure it is low-hanging fruit, but if there is any comic that can make that joke it is this one.
Writer: Benjamin Percy / Artist: Joshua Cassara / Color Artist: Guru-eFX / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna / Design: Tom Muller
Let Them Live!: Unpublished Tales from the DC Vault Chapter #1
I told you we would see a lot of head damage. Let Them Live!: Unpublished Tales from the DC Vault Chapter is not only an egregious long title it is also a new digital series DC is producing. These are all previous comics that DC never published. After reading this issue I have no idea why. It was a fun Suicide Squad one-shot with artwork from Tradd Moore. Moore’s work was so fun including this moment. Harley Quinn’s face says it all as she looks upon Deadshot uses a guard’s face as a key. The stylization of the ‘CRUNCH” sound effect helps sell the impact. Each letter is slightly smooshed and crooked to correspond with the face hitting the wall.
I think that guy might be dead. How do I know? The lack of a skull and head was probably the biggest clue. Part of me wonders if the reason this issue was never released was due to violent moments like this. Tradd Moore’s art is so stylized I would think DC would be fine with this. Maybe staging a shot within the head of a random goon was too much for someone. For me, it was one of my favorite moments from comics this week.
Story: Jim Zub / Art: Tradd Moore / Colors: Felipe Sobreiro / Lettering: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Black Hammer: Visions #1
As someone who used to be a teacher and now a parent, this scene spoke to me. You will often have that one student who is much more aware of the world than others. They often like to share that knowledge at the wrong times. In this case, it is because Golden Gail is actually an older woman trapped inside the body of a child. Still, the theory holds. Having Patton Oswalt as a writer of this issue you would assume some funny moments would ensue. Would these funny moments overtake the actual story? No, they did not because of a sequence like this fit into the general design of this story. It was an organic joke that fit this narrative, the character, and Black Hammer as a comic book franchise.
Script: Patton Oswalt / Art: Dean Kotz / Color Art: Jason Wordie / Letters Nate Piekos
Wolverine: Black, White & Blood #3
This will be the first of a few panels Jorge Fornés did as he had himself quite a week. Just look at my Best Comic Covers article as well. What impresses me about this panel and the next is the staging. You have these stoic samurai standing for an attack. It almost looks like the frozen frame of an Akira Kurosawa film. Having the one sword break through the panel border adds an almost 3D effect.
With this panel we see Japan living up to the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ moniker. You have to appreciate how much artistry can be made with just three colors. Obviously black and white comics have been around forever, but adding red to the mix does give artists so much more to play with. I loved this entrance. It did remind me of old martial arts films where you would have opponents after opponents coming at the heroes. With each new appearance came a moment for some creative flair.
Writer: John Ridley / Artist: Jorge Fornés / Letterer: Clayton Cowles
You thought we were getting away from head trauma, didn’t you? Not so much. Wolverine’s healing factor can be ridiculous at times. One of the positives is getting moments like this. You can have flesh and bone fly off his face as if this one punch is making him a walking zombie. Having his eyeball removed is showing nothing is being held back. I am not in love with the design of the ‘Klonk’ sound effect. That font style does not fully mesh with the art style in my opinion. However, that is more of a personal aesthetic issue than a problem with the execution. Clayton Cowles is one of the best letters today as that ‘WHOUFF!’ dialog ballon shows.
Writer: Jed Mackay / Artist Jesús Saiz / Letter: Clayton Cowles
King in Black: Black Panther #1
So who wins in a fight between a symobite dragon and a giant vibranium engery panther? My money is on the panther. The coloring here is key as the glowing purple illumates the entire scene. I also like how the panther has some realastic animal characterisitics. For example, it is biting the neck and using its right paw to gain leverage like the truelife animal would during a hunt. Enormous events like King in Black need big moments to work. You do not get much bigger than a scene like htis.
Writer: Geoffrey Thorne / Artist: German Peralta / Colorist: Jesus Aburtov / Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
‘King Tank Girl #3
Doing this article I like to look at different ways violence is depicted, especially when it is violence designed to be more humorous. How do you make gruesome seem hysterical.? Here we have one attempt to answer that. Two key features try to enhance a comedic spin. Starting with the one old man’s facial expression. It is exaggerated in a cartoonish way to remind us none of this is real. Second, you have a small bit of dialog. Nurse vs Noice. Simple and straight to the point. This also shows how dialog boxes can infer a person’s inflection. The more jagged shape of the older soldier indicates pain and difficulty. Where Tank Girl’s dialog is clean and concise to match her assertiveness.
Writer: Alan Martin / Illustrator/Letterer: Brett Parson
Future State: Superman / Wonder Woman #2
There is so much energy in this panel. Everything is pushing your eyes upward to look at that crazy explosion of an energy weapon. I am not fully sure what those small yellow incomplete lines are supposed to represent, but they work to accent the moment. The key to this panel is the perspective. An angle like any other in this comic. It is an exciting angle that also frames the entire sequence.
Script: Dan Watters / Art: Leila Del Duca / Colors: Nick Filardi / Letters: Tom Napolitano
Jorge Fornés had himself a week. I cannot think of the last time I saw so much good work from one artist in a seven-day time span. I am a big fan of when an artist uses a sound effect to take up an entire panel. It is a technique that can be used within the pages of comics and no place else. You also have to appreciate how there is even a serial number on that gun. Part of me wonders if there is some sort of hidden clue within that number that helps answer the mystery of what is really happening. I doubt it…but maybe.
I almost only choose the bottom panel because it is notable on its own. However, grouping both of these together gives a better picture of the artistry at hand. Placing the agents shooting on the opposing end of the person getting shot is an obvious but important detail. It makes it all of one moment. Great body language as well. Despite being a still image there is an illusion she is falling in slow motion. Jorge Fornés has clearly be inspired by being put into the world of The Watchmen and is doing some of the best work of his career.
Writer: Tom King / Art: Jorge Fornés / Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Star Wars: Darth Vader #10
This panel combines two things I love: scale and Star Wars creatures. Setting massive scale in space is not the easiest thing in the world, but a shot like this accomplishes that. Setting that scale is also massively important for major events that follow. I should mention this is also the first image of the issue. Each week I try to find those striking images that get you excited to start reading. Looking at everything I read this week this was one of the better ways to start.
Writer: Greg Pak / Artist: Raffaele Ienco / Colorist: Neeraj Menon / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Esad Ribić was the perfect artist to put on a new installment of The Eternals. His character naturally looks like they were etched out of granite giving them a god-like appearance. He may not be the artist you call if you want a high flying ninja battle, but a sequence of two titians facing off? He is one of the first names on this list. Here you have two heavyweights going toe to toe. Ribic gives Thanos the type of heft he deserves. He is like a moving mountain being forced from his feet. It is going to take a mighty force to generate that type of impact, and that is what we see exploding on top of the panel.
Writer: Kieron Gillen / Artist: Esad Ribić
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #278
I choose this panel in large part to demonstrate two different ways to execute a vehicle explosion. This example comes from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero so the art style leans more toward the cartoony side. That does not diminish the impact of the moment. Instead of your normal explosion cloud, the sound effect is designed to represent the damage.The extended size makes it look like it is coming right at you.
Writer: Larry Hama / Artist: Dan Schoening / Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado / Letters: Neil Uyetake
DC Love is a Battlefield #1
That explosion matches nicely with this example. This has more of a realistic approach as this scene takes place during a WWII battle. The detail and excessive lines present a grittier and down to earth feel. Here the onomatopoeia is placed underneath the explosion so the entire sequence remains in the frame.
Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote / Artist: Chris Mooneyham / Colorist: Michael Spicer / Letterer: Ferran Delgado
Radiant Black #1
When you are launching a new superhero you have to do something to make that character stand. Of course, that can come from characterization but with a visual medium like comics, you also need to do something like this scene. This was the moment Radiant Black was born in a way. Some who may not click with the more digital look might not click with this but if you do those colors are sharp and distinct. A bit of a Power Rangers vibe with a more mature lean.
Writer: Kyle Higgins / Artist: Marcelo Costa / Letterer: Becca Carey
Norse Mythology #5
Norse Mythology #5 was one of my favorite issues of the week because of moments like this. Three panels with two words and tons of emotion. David Rubin’s characters tend to have elongated faces which give them more room to emote. That along with the way he renders eyes help sell that emotion. You start with a panel that sets the scale. Fenrir’s face engulfs that panel. He has gotten so large he cannot even fit within a given frame. Despite that size, you see so much sadness in his eyes. Pain and disappointment are engraved into those pearly blues.
Story & Words: Neil Gaiman / Script & Layouts: P. Craig Russell / Letters: Galen Showman / Art: David Rubin
Home Sick Pilots #3
When I read this panel all I could think about was how it represents how social media can be at times. People hate everything. The things they do like they only like to hate. We have all met this person. That guy who will call everyone a poser despite living a life of artificiality. All of it is just a persona to make the person feel superior.
Writer: Dan Watters / Artist: Caspar Wijngaard / Letterer: Aditya Bidikar / Designer: Tom Muller
The current Taskmaster comic has found a rhythm where they can make him a joke, but a joke that can still kick some major ass. Case and point these panels. Just because Taskmaster can memorize the moves does not mean he can memorize the names. I stink with names so this spoke to me on a personal level.
Writer: Jed MacKay / Artist: Alessandro Vitti / Colorist: Guru-eFX / Letterer: FC’s Joe Caramagna
Power Pack #3
Taskmaster is in all of the comics as of late. Clearly influenced by the supposed to be released Black Widow movie. There is a lot I like about these panels from the sharp angle panel borders to the ‘BANG!” sound effect that traverses both panels to the final surprising conclusion. The small quick breaks keep the pace fast. The coloring is sharp and distinct. Having the background colors from the first two panels mesh when the bullets meet is an effective way to enhance the moment. Nico Leon is not an artist I have seen a lot of work from. Based on this work that needs to change.
Writer: Ryan North / Artist: Nico Leon / Color Artist: Rachelle Rosenberg / Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Even though Radiant Black has only one issue at the moment, I’m just gonna say this here….. BREAKOUT SERIES OF THE YEAR!!!!
This is great. Dig these.