Welcome to this week’s Best Comic Panels! This is where I pick out some of my favorite moments to happen in comics this week. I tried to stay away from major spoilers but to be safe the following comics are covered:
Future State: Superman of Metropolis #2,
Future State: Superman of Metropolis #2
One of the biggest benefits of Future State is it is allowing for art styles you do not typically get in superhero comics. Especially with this Mister Miracle story. Valentine de Lando’s art may not have the detail some comic book fans are used to, but the creativity that is brought is impressive. Here we have a panel that combines an x-ray image with massive lettering to enhance the power of the moment.
I love this effect. Finding a way to represent seeing double or triple within one image. The varying degrees of detail for each Miracle Man sell the idea. Even the coloring is messy to place you into the head of someone dealing with blurred vision. Then you have the combination of the exploding fire hydrant in the background to mesh everything together. Having these bits of creativity through this short story has made it one of my favorite parts of Future State.
Writer: Brandon Easton / Art: Valentine de Landro / Colors: Marissa Louise / Letters: Dave Sharpe
The Wrong Earth: Night & Day #2
This issue began the meeting of the ultimate odd couple. Two superheroes with two very different personalities. Being superheroes there was an element of one-upmanship as they tried to demonstrate who was the alpha in the relationship. These panels demonstrate one of the key moments. How simply trying to climb scaffolding could turn into a competition. I do love that even in defeat Dragonflyman finds a way to win and show how he is the more responsible one.
Writer: Tom Peyer / Penciller: Jamal Igle / Inker: Juan Castro / Colorist: Andy Troy / Letterer: Rob Steen
Future State: Wonder Woman #2
How do you make Yara Flor stand out as a Wonder Woman? Have her do things other superheroes, not just Diana Prince would not do. She pulls out the trick that has baffled the mind of many toddlers for eons. The hidden thumb is a powerful weapon that should be used wisely. It is unexpected but speaks to her personality. We have so many characters that live to be dour. Seeing Yara goof off like this from time to time is refreshing. She can be serious and this issue had moments when things got real. When the jokes like this stop and the serious side comes out you know how high the stakes just got.
Writer/Artist: Joëlle Jones / Colors: Jordie Bellaire / Letters: Clayton Cowles
King in Black: Return of the Valkyries #2
I am always a fan of a good silhouette panel. These articles have been full of them. This adds a bit more to that idea with a flying Knull slashing through the sky and conversely the side of Jane Foster’s head. That yellow and orange have a lava look as if it is flowing from the confines of Muspelheim. Besides the appealing look, it is also some economic storytelling. Making the transition to the upcoming flashback seamless.
Writers: Jason Aaron, Torunn Gronbekk / Artist: Nina Vakueva / Colorist: Tamra Bonvillain / Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
The Dreaming: Waking Hours #7
Javier Rodriguez is known for how he plays with comic panels often incorporating them within the art. In this issue, he dialed that technique back, but we still got this flourish. Puck literally leaps out of the panel using the borders to propel him forward. Considering this character going in and out of different dimensions this choice had a purpose. He has been breaking reality and that includes within the comic as well.
Writer: G. Willow WIlson / Art and colors: Javier Rodriguez / Letters: Simon Bowland /
Avengers Mech Strike #1
Knowing an Immortal Hulk issue was coming out this week I did not expect my favorite Hulk transformation scene to come from an Avengers book. An Avengers book about the Avengers getting Mech suits no less. Here you definitely see the influence of the Marvel films within the pages of this comic. Very reminiscent of the ‘I am always angry’ scene in the first Avengers movie. Where Bruce Banner so nonchalantly turns into the Hulk to fight a giant beast. That homage is not why I included it though. The artistry is why it really stands out. A nice quick beat with the right amount of detail. Having the eyeglasses be the lynchpin between each moment was a nice touch. Although, Banner must spend a ton of money at LensCrafters with how many different pairs he must go through.
Writer: Jed MacKay / Artist: Carlos Magno / Color Artist: Guru-eFX / Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
With this article series, I have been looking for panels that are successful at displaying both power and/or speed. Case and point this panel of Man-Bat. The dedication to the curved angle is part of why it works. You see it everywhere. From how that “Slam” morphs to mimic the impact to the body in the air that does same. This showcases the power of Man-Bat to show what he can do when he puts his full force into something.
Writer: Dave Wielgosz / Artist: Sumit Kumar / Colors: Romulo Fajardo Jr. / Letters: Tom Napolitano
Transformers: Beast Wars #1
Not all jokes have to be filled with daring dialog or massive gags to work. A quick one-two punch like this can elicit a chuckle or two. Solid timing that does not overdo it. A lesser writer would have thrown a scream or two from the characters to push more laughs. Luckily that was not there. That sound effect and the morphing of the space ship tells us everything we need.
Writer: Erik Burnham / Art: Josh Burcham / Letters: Jake M. Wood
Canto II: The Hollow Men #5
Canto is a badass. You could take this panel and blow it up into a massive motivation poster. A hero who has gone through so much struggling to get up but not allowing it to minimize his will. His body language matched with that small bit of dialog epitomizes the spirit of the character. Removing the background places all the focus on Canto. He is used to carrying a burden so it fits.
So many hugs in comics right now. Maybe I am noticing it more because of our current Covid situation, or maybe the lack of human contact is leading creators to find ways to have those connections within their work. Whatever it may be this was a heartwarming sequence. Within the context of the story, it hits even harder but isolated as a lone panel you can still see the affection these two characters share with one another.
Story: David M. Booher / Art: Drew Zucker / Colors: Vittorio Astone / Letters: Andworld Design
Chained To The Grave #1
One of my pet peeves with current comics is the lack of impactful opening pages. Not enough start with a panel or sequence that grabs your attention right away. Chained To The Grave #1 did just that with this sequence. There is so much story within this first sequence. Past and present and clearly meshed together and the coloring helps differentiate the now from the then. One person escaping the grave and the other heading towards it.
Writer: Andy Eschenbach, Brian Level / Art: Kate Sherron / Letters: Micah Myers
The Cimmerian: The Frost-Giant’s Daughter #3
How do you describe epic adventure in one panel? That is the question I assume Robin Recht was asking when drawing this sequence. Hell and lighting are literally filling that air as Conan leaps off a massive cliff into incoming danger. You may not even notice Conan as the chaos surrounds him. Having the lettering disintegrate as the red rages also helps enhance the intensity.
Writer/Artist: Robin Recht / Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Fire Power #8
Another panel I picked out due to how well it depicts both power and speed. Artist Chris Samnee saturates this sequence in motion-lines. It is not just about the motion lines but making that wooden mallet has a hefty mass as well. Love that facial expression to sell the moent This is not breaking any rules. It is just adhering to what has worked in comics for generations.
Now to a much quieter sequence. A quick view may make you think you are just seeing a person going on a quant hike in the evening air. Then in the background, there is that small spec flying in the air to make you realize things are not as safe as you might think. Also, have to call out the coloring in this panel as the shadow work is pretty impressive.
Writer/Creator: Robert Kirkman / Artist/Creator: Chris Samnee / Colorist: Matt Wilson / Letterer: Rus Wooton
Future State: Harley Quinn #2
I have my issues with Simone Di Meo page designs and panel layouts at times, but I cannot deny how great the linework is in his work. Here is an example of when that quality linework and superb storytelling combined. Coloring is crucial to this. Every key piece is easily distinguishable from the next. That reflection effect is not easy to do right yet it looks so natural. Those little details make this scene like it is taking place in a living world.
Writer: Stephanie Phillips / Artists: Simone & Toni Infante / Colors: Tamra Bonvillain
Hellblazer: Rise and Fall #3
Darick Robertson is one of my all-time favorite artists so I love we are getting so much of his work already this year. With the series Space Bastards and of course Hellblazer: Rise and Fall he is as good as ever. He has a knack for rendering the three H’s: humor, horror, and humanity. All of which are demonstrated within this panel. Those facial expressions are as large as the moment needs. Fear and shock race across this crowd as a massive demon is eating people with reckless disregard for their lives.
Story: Tom Taylor / Art: Darick Robertson / Colors: Diego Rodriguez / Lettering: Deron Bennett
The Comic Book History of Animation #3
If you are a person that loves to learn about history, film, or animation The Comic Book History of Animation is an entire series with panels packed with tidbits like this. Dumbo is one of my personal favorite Disney movies and knowing how it is tied to the most infamous moment in the Twentieth Century is remarkable. Why tell this story in comic book form? Because you can get moments like this. Placing Dumbo in the middle of Pearl Harbor to demonstrate their connection so you make your point while having a bit of fun.
Writer: Fred Van Lente / Art & Letters: Ryan Dunlavey / Color: Adam Guzowski
There is a lot to take in with this image. I would be lying if I said I understood everything this was trying to say but I am fascinated by the expression. One where humanity, nature, and otherworldly imagery combine into one moving piece. You defiantly get the sense you are transcending into another plane of existence if you stare at this for an extended period of time.
By: Maria Llovet
Maniac of New York #1
This may not be the first panel in Maniac of New York #1, but it does happen early enough to establish this killer as a major force. This man is surrounded by dead bodies at a time people tend to celebrate the idea of new beginnings. On a side note, the date works as a bonus so you know exactly when this takes place compared to the moments that follow. When you have a book like this that centers on death and murder another question is how it will handle the gore. Will it be a bloodfest or handle it in a more tame approach? Based on this panel you can see the death that was caused but never making the bloodshed the story.
Writer: Elliott Kalan / Artist: Andrea Mutti / Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Future State: The Next Batman #3
My favorite part of any Batman Future State story maybe this take on The Outsiders. In large part because of the art. There is a bit of a manga influence meshed with a Western-style. This panel may not seem extra special but I appreciate how well it displays the act of speed. Car chases or in this case motorcycle chases are difficult to execute on the page of a comic. Here you get a small taste of why this sequence worked. Everything is on overdrive.
Writer: Brandon Thomas / Penciller: Sumit Kumar / Inkers: Raul Fernandez, Sumit Kumar / Colorist: Jordie Bellaire / Letterer: Steve Wands
Star Wars: The High Republic #2
Star Wars: The High Republic #2 was a step up from the first issue because you go moments like this. As someone who has read The High Replubic books, I heard a lot about the Nihil so it was cool getting to see them in action. Looking at this specific panel the lightsaber effects are what stand out. How it cuts through the smoke causing this neon-like effect. Using the smoke to cover up the severed body is a way to have the violence of this nature and still make it okay for older kids.
Writer: Cavan Scott / Artist: Ario Anindito / Inker: Mark Morales / Colorist: Annalisa Leoni / Letterer: VC’s Ariana Maher
Specter Inspectors #1
Specter Inspectors #1 played a lot with the different tropes of those haunted house shows and demon possessions. This sequence was one of my favorite. The setup begins as you see a character in the background getting the classic salt. Then a zoom-in as he discovers what he is looking for. A weapon to repeal this evil beast. Now to take action. Success! Oh, wait…not so much. If you enjoyed this panel you will enjoy the comic. A big reason I wanted to highlight it for this article.
Writer: Kaitlyn Musto / Art: Bowen McCurdy / Letters: Jim Campbell
Legend of Shang-Chi #1
Now that is just fun. High flying martial arts action with flying fists and slashing swords. Exactly what you want out of a Shang-Chi comic. This was also a moment the story built up to throughout the issue. Two master fighters spent some time to better understand their opponent leading up to this explosion of power and speed.
Writer: Alyssa Wong / Artist: Andie Tong / Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg / Lettering: VC’s Travis Lanham
Future State: Swamp Thing #2
If Swamp Thing says so it has to be right? Seeing Swamp Thing taking time to explain why we should fight for humanity it is a bit jarring. Usually, he is on the other side protecting his precious greens from humanity’s greed and consumption. Here we see what this two-issue series was attempting to tell. A story of why humanity is worth fighting for. How despite their faults there is good underneath. The key is being willing to sacrifice what is necessary to get there. A necessary message if I ever heard one.
Now to my favorite panel of the week. That face embodies innocence. Those wide eyes speak to such an unrelenting love and grace. Making what is happening all the more tragic. Without spoiling anything this again speaks to the need for imperfections. How failures can drive evolution and without them growth is impossible. This was not a Swamp Thing run about man vs nature or nature vs man. No this was a story about the fundamental struggle of acceptance. Excited this run is just beginning with the ongoing title set to kick off next month.
Writer: Ram V / Art: Mike Perkins / Colors: June Chung / Letters: Aditya Bidikar