Welcome to the best comic panels of the week! This is where I pick out some of my favorite moments to happen in comics this week. I do try to avoid spoilers but to be safe the following comics are covered:
Batman / Catwoman #3, The Picture of Everything Else #2, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2, American Ronan #5, Cable 8, Hollow Heart #1, Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #2, Thor #12, Champions #4, Spider-Woman #8, The Immortal Hulk: Flatline #1, Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2, Savage #1, Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #2, King in Black: Planet of the Symbiotes #2, Marvels #5, Barbalien: Red Planet #4
Batman / Catwoman #3
Clay Mann is doing some career work with this Batman / Catwoman series. Here we see Batman’s anger towards Joker has gotten to such a degree he is throwing him like a ragdoll. Placing a motion blur on Batman’s hands helps not only sell the speed but also the anger. Clayton Cowles also demonstrates why he is one of today’s best letterers. From the bold “I’m done” to placing the onomatopoeia behind Joker as if he is flying through a glass sound effect window. A good example of how a great artistic team can complement each other.
Not often I get excited about brickwork in comics, but man the detail there is impressive. Knowing this was all done by hand and not digital is extra impressive. Besides the building aesthetics, there is a creepy vibe to how this image is constructed. As a bloody death occurs downstairs a party rages on the top. Knowing possible salvation is only a few feet away makes death even more tragic. Phantasm has felt like this unstoppable force and moments like this are a big reason why.
Writer: Tom King / Art: Clay Mann / Colorist: Tomeu Morey / Letterer: Clayton Cowles
The Picture of Everything Else #2
I would not consider myself a critic. Just some guy who likes comics and likes to write about them. However, I do try to take this seriously and respect the craft of criticism. Reading this panel in The Picture of Everything Else #2 spoke to the power of criticism and what it can do in its best form. Now, this issue was also well aware of the downfalls of the process as well, and it is that balance that made these words ring so true. Also, the artistry within this image is noteworthy as well. A simple silhouette but with how the lettering transforms to match the look of the letter you get transformed into the character’s purview.
Writer: Dan Watters / Art & Colors: Kishore Mohan / Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2
This issue had a number of well-executed action and fight scenes but this one stood out the most to me. In large part due to its pacing. A very cinematic sequence as a turtle takes out some foot soldiers bit by bit. Also, love that the final panel has feet coming down from the sky. A very unexpected way to conclude this sequence. Showing all the different abilities a Ninja Turtles has in his arsenal.
Story: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz / Script: Tom Waltz & Kevin Eastman / Layouts: Kevin Eastman / Pencils/Inks: Esau, Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, and Kevin Eastman / Color Assitance: Samuel Plata / Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado / Letters: Shawn Lee
American Ronin #5
When there is an issue of American Ronin coming out chances are I will be including a panel like this done by ACO. He is one of the more skillful artists today at utilizing sound effects with his art and page layouts. Here the technique gives the illusion the character is jumping out of two windows in a way. Placing the body in between the breaks gives a three-dimensional effect. The zoom-in shots show the before and after impact as this stained glass window shatters all across his body.
Writer: Peter Milligan / Artist: ACO / Inker: David Lorenzo / Colorist: Dean White / Letterer: Sal Cipriano
So far we have seen some more serious moments and big action scenes. Now to get to something a bit more comedic. Good comedy is all about the timing. Here we get the setup, the surprise, the reaction, and lastly the execution. The art does enough to sell the scene alone. Although the words give it a distinct flavor. The “Hold on I’m clocking in” line has to be my favorite. Domino acting like a janitor who just seen a massive spill during their lunch. Now she has to put that aside to clean up a mess. Instead of a mop and bucket, she has bullets.
Writer: Gerry Duggan / Artist: Phil Noto / Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino / Design: Tom Muller
My goodness did Thor #12 have a lot of fun and insane moments. For anyone who ever doubted Throg was a badass may I turn your attention to exhibit A. As a wrestling fan, I get a Rock vibe from his dialog here, and despite not having an eyebrow it almost looks like he has a raised eyebrow at this angle. Not only can he cut a promo he can also go as the next panels show. I for one smell what Throg is cooking.
I never had the desire to eat frog legs and after seeing this I never will. Donny Cates and Nic Klein seem to be living out their childhood dreams finding ways for all these characters to showcase who they are in creative ways. Throg’s hammer might be small but it can pack a major punch. Blood and teeth fly through the air as Donald Blake has a look of ultimate shock. Easily one of my favorite moments in comics this week.
Writer: Donny Cates / Artist: Nic Klein / Color Artist: Matt Wilson / Letterer & Design: VC’s Joe Sabino
A lot of people are sleeping on this current run of Champions. I know a lot of people are calling out this ‘Outlawed’ story event as a Civil War for kids, but in reality, it is more than that. Also, it does far more to examine the allegorical implications of its concept when compared to Civil War. Here is a prime example of that. We get a small human moment of a character learning about ‘Good Trouble’ as John Lewis used to say. Some may argue this type of scene is a bit on the nose, and sometimes calling out the obvious is the right choice. When the context is there and you try to ignore it more often you are wasting an opportunity to enrich your narrative.
Writer: Eve L. Ewing / Artist: Bob Quinn / Color Artist: Federico Blee / Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Future State: Superman: Worlds of War #2
It is not very often we see Superman on his knees. That alone makes this moment significant. To put this moment in context those words are not necessarily directed towards Superman and his actions. They are related to Superman but not in the way you think. Without spoiling the issue I will just say it was a clever and effective way to showcase the entire entity of Superman and Clark Kent. How heroism comes in different forms and from different sources.
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson / Artist: Mikel Janín / Colorist: Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: Dave Shapre
One of the most misused phrases is, “Show don’t tell”. People tend to take that too literally thinking fewer words mean a better story. When in fact it is not the number of words but the quality of them, or how those words fit onto the page. Take this panel design for example. This is how you take a massive piece of dialog and make it so it is not overwhelming. Splitting it across three panels helps aid the pacing. Adjusting the color palette also has your eye focus on that element as much as the words.
Writer: Brandon Easton / Valentine Del Landoro / Colors: Marissa Louise / Letters: Dave Sharpe
Hollow Heart #1
Another example of using sound effects to enhance an image. Adding the motion lines pushes it even further. A generally simple design that is well-executed, especially because the issue did not have a lot of these types of moments. Choosing instead to go out of the norm at specific times.
Story & Letters: Paul Allor / Lines and Colors: Paul Tucker
There is a lot to like about this panel, or in this case panels. Artist Pere Pérez takes the design of the DNA strand and uses it as a way to frame his page layout. Fitting for the narrative as much of this story has been about clones and their creation. You may not be able to make out every single bit in every single panel but that is because this designed to elicit a mood rather than inform. That mood can be plainly seen on the face of Jessica Drew. Pushing the imagery even further is an infestation of tiny spiders.
Writer: Karla Pacheco / Artist: Pere Pérez / Color Artist: Frank D’Armata / Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
The Immortal Hulk: Flatline #1
Two elements of these panels stand out to me. One is of course the use of Hulk in the reflection. How his presence in that window grows more and more as this conversation continues. It shows how Hulk is growing uncomfortable with this confrontation, and also how closer we are coming to the nighttime. Also known as Hulk’s time. The second element that is impressive is the coloring. Often when you have a single color dominate a book like this it can be dull and overbearing. Here this green tinge makes everything appear a bit off. As if the wall between Hulk’s world and Banner’s is not as separate as he thinks. Plus the distinct black lines within the imagery lend themselves well to this type of coloring choice.
Story/Art/Colors – Declan Shalvey
Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #2
Found this to be a nice little callback to The Flintstones comic that Mark Russell wrote a few years ago. A funny aside that also furthers the story of Second Coming: Only Begotten Son. Showing that some people seem to be unable to separate fact from fiction.
Writer: Mark Russell / Artist: Richard Park / Finisher: Leonard Kirk / Colorist: Andy Troy / Letterer: Rob Steen
The creators of Pacific Rim must be kicking themselves that they did not have this scene in one of their movies. Giant monsters playing baseball with Big Ben is an unabashed way to show your book is about having fun. Although being London maybe they are playing cricket instead? Also enjoy the chatoic design of the ‘Crack’ and how it connects both Big Ben and the truck to further sell their connection.
Writer: Max Bemis / Artist: Nathan Stockman / Colorist: Triona Farrell / Letterer: Hassan Ostmane-Elhaou
King in Black: Planet of the Symbiotes #2
Let’s go from one monster to another. King in Black being a big event needs big moments. Cannot get much bigger than this. You have a Godzilla-like creature using a subway train like a whip to fighting symbiote dragons. If you are a fan of movies like Pacific Rim or other kaiju tales it was a good week in comics. A big creature needs big letters and Cory Petit gives him just that. A nice little touch is having those letters being in white, red, and blue to toe in to the title of this story ‘American Kaiju!’.
Writer: Marc Bernardin / Artist: Kyle Hotz / Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg / Letterer: VC’ Cory Petit
Iron Fist: Heart of the Dragon #2
What impresses me about this panel is how David Wachter is drawing an image backward and forward at the same time. The difficulty level on that had to be insane. There were probably a million other ways to make this easier on himself, but it would not look nearly as cool. Having the washout look next to the sharply colored Iron Fast was a great way to differentiate both pieces. A smart choice by colorist Neeraj Menon.
Writer: Larry Hama / Artist: Dave Wachter / Color Artist: Neeraj Menon / Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Iron Man #6
Each week I try to find panels or images from the first pagethat do the best job at grabbing the reader’s attention. An important element of comic book storytelling that is not empathized enough. This week I choose the first page of Iron Man. At first, I almost went with the top grouping of images, but it did not do the picture justice. This series so far has done everything to break both Iron Man and Patsy Walker. Their tournament and broken bodies are in full representation. Cafu renders their faces with great emotion and color artist Frank D’Armata does wonders to accent those choices.
Writer: Christopher Cantwell / Artist: Cafu / Color Artist: Frank D’Armata / Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
I cannot remember the last time I saw Adam Hughes do interiors in a comic. One of the best things about this current Marvel series is the amazing group of creative talent each issue has. As a Captain America fan anytime we see him beat up Nazis I am there. This is just Cap being Cap. Jumping headfirst into action and knocking out Germans with their own weapons. Then ending with an image that would be fitting for a WWII-era propaganda poster.
I imagine the words right before this sequence were, “Captain America is only human!”. He clearly took offense. What is better than throwing a Nazi off a cliff? Throwing a group of Nazis off a cliff. A good time can be had by all. Well, except for the Nazis.
Storyteller: Adam Hughes / Letterer: VCs Ariana Maher
Barbalien: Red Planet #4
For my favorite panel of the week, I am doing something I have never done for this article. Instead of choosing one panel or even one page, I am looking at two pages. Why? To demonstrate how well this issue used the 9-panel grid. Specifically looking at these two pages the central panels focus on human connection. Each line of panels tells a story and that middle panel is used to represent the central emotion. How hands are used to show love, life, death, anger, and power. A powerful motif that was one of the biggest reasons this was one of the best comics this week. When people talked about the storytelling that is alive in comic book art it is work like this.
Script: Tate Brombal / Story: Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal / Art: Gabriel Hernandez-Walta / Color Art: Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: Aditya Bidikar