Welcome to the Best Comic Panels of the week. The series where I pick out comic panels from this past week’s comics that are outstanding for one reason or another. For some reason each time I have done this article a theme has emerged each week. One time it was punches to the face and this week it is a use of silhouette. Obviously, this speaks to more of where my head at than comics. Still, it is fun to see how often something can occur throughout comics each week.
A reminder that I do try to shy away from major spoilers but for those concerned here are the books covered. Special note that the last choice does have a potentially major spoiler for the current Suicide Squad series.
Books covered: Transformers ’84: Secrets and Lies #4, Superman: Man of Tomorrow Chapter #18, Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #1, The Flash #764, Batgirl #50, X-Ray Man #3, X of Swords: Stasis #1, Wasted Space #16, John Constantine: Hellblazer #11, Killadelphia #9, Old Haunts #5, Spider-Man Noir #5, A Man Among Ye #3, Batman: Three Jokers #3, The One You Feed #1, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1, Suicide Squad #10
Transformers ’84: Secrets and Lies #4
Those who have been following Geekcast Radio will know many of its members are gigantic Transformers fans. I am one of the few that never really got into the franchise. By the time I was watching Saturday morning cartoons on the regular they were no longer a mainstay. Despite that even I got tinges of nostalgia with this issue. Artist Simon Furman melds the classic look with more modern execution. Transformers are hard to draw well. A lot of mediocre Transformer comics tell us this. To display both their power, speed, and general design in an effective way is a tricky problem to solve. The body language here is a big reason why all of those aspects are captured. John-Paul Bove colors are pitch-perfect as well. It is like you watching this comic through the screen of a Tube TV on an 80’s Saturday morning.
Speaking of Saturday morning cartoons, this panel captures that childlike spirit. That dialog is just the right amount of corny. When characters try to same something cool but do not quite get there. The motion lines help sell the speed in the first panel, while the sound effects showcase the impact. Other details like the visor cracking with pieces flying about added some fun as well. With how the hammer falls you would think Rocky in his prime was landing this blow. If you listen closely enough you can hear that villainous scream.
Writer: Simon Furman / Artist: Guido Cuidi / Colorist: John-Paul Rove / Letterer: Jake M. Wood
Superman: Man of Tomorrow Chapter #18
What was really fun about this issue of Superman: Man of Tomorrow was that it basically became Superman doing his best John McClane impression. After a surprise attack with a kryptonite ray leaves him powerless he uses his wits and will. Going back to basics to take out foes attempting to hijack his Fortress of Solitude. Being Superman he is not going to respond in a vulgar way as John McClane did. No, “Yippie Ki Ya Mother Russia!” for him. This line that is simple and straight to the point is what you get. Based on his weapons of choice Clark Kent has learned a thing or two from his Justice League friends on how to handle himself.
Writer: Brandon Thomas / Artist: Christian Duce / Letterer: Clayton Cowles /
Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #1
This panel takes the character and world design of a Jack Kirby and combines it with camera placement that is very Spielbergian. Director Steven Spielberg would often utilize angles like this for some of his most famous films. In fact, E.T. was shot entirely on the level of the kids so you were experiencing everything from a childlike point of view. A similar style is being utilized here as we peer up into madness as a child version of Colonel Weird looks on to a dimensional portal. What is showing is remarkable on its own but this does add a great deal to the wonderment of the scene.
Written By: Jeff Lemire / Art and Letters By: Tyler Cook
The Flash #764
It is one thing to have a great panel for an exciting action sequence. Moments, where the narrative takes a back seat, can lend room to the artist to display their creative spirit. Showing that same level of creativity with a massive exposition dump is another skill entirely. This is an example of how to take what could be quite boring and make it something far more enticing. A moment of Flash doing research on the computer turned into one of the standout panels of the entire issue.
Writer: Kevin Shinick / Artist: Will Conrad / Colorist: Hi-Fi / Letterer: Steve Wands
Every so often social media will become a buzz with how Batman is not really a great superhero. How Bruce Wayne could do a lot more to help Gotham than Batman ever could. Perhaps if he spent less money on Batplanes and more on investing in the community he would have fewer criminals to punch in the face. This panel speaks to those exact criticisms. What stands out is Batman’s reaction to Batgirl’s diatribe. He does not try to argue or make excuses. He listens and acts accordingly. That act was rather refreshing. Someone being accountable is such a novelty nowadays.
Story: Cecil Castellucci / Pencils: Emanuela Lupacchino / Inks: Wade Von Grawbadger, Mick Gray, Scott Hanna / Colors: Jordie Bellaire / Letters: Becca Carey
X-Ray Man #3
Even when you have endless time and space there is still no place to put your comic collection. Any comic collector could relate to this problem. Why this really stood out was the inclusion of the Madman comic. Michael and Laura Allred doing a shoutout to their own work may seem self-indulgent. To me, it was just a nice aside to the fandom they have grown over the last few decades. A fun throwaway gag that makes me realize I need to read more Madman.
Story and Art By: Michael Allred / Color Art By: Laura Allred / Lettering By: Nate Piekos of Blambot
X of Swords: Stasis #1
I really wish there was a tag on this page that said, “Choose Your Fighter!” as this swords tournament is set to begin. It is quite ironic that this storyline that is deep in lore is ultimately the type of plot you would get in a fighting video game. When you look at the characters involved this is a video game I would love to play. Somehow it all works. This is a fun look at what is to come as all of our competitors are finally in place. It is this nice take a breath moment. Once that breathe is over the realization sets in that we are only halfway there. Let them fight.
Writer: Johnathan Hickman, Tini Howard / Artist: Pepe Larraz & Mahmud Asrar / Color Artist: Marte Gracia / Letterer: VCs Clayton Cowles / Design: Tom Muller
Wasted Space #16
How do you display the plight of a literal god? Taking the concept of time and the act of creation and fitting it into a few comic book panels is not an easy task. Artist Hayden Sherman took on an approach I found rather effective. There is a 2001: A Space Oddesy vibe to everything. Legion is residing in the fetus stance to symbolize life’s journey. To further the point he is laying next to an endless sea of panels to represent the passage of time. Sherman was let loose on this issue and does some of his best work. Happy to see this series back on the shelves once again.
Written By: Michael Moreci / Art By: Hayden Sherman / Colored By: Jason Wordie / Letter By: Jim Campbell
John Constantine: Hellblazer #11
This is a moment you cannot do very often. John Constantine is a cynic who rarely shows real emotion like this. A man who has seen what he has seen does not fear much. That is why it works. You know things are ultra-serious when Constantine drops a lit cigarette like this and does not even bother to pick it up. He does not give those things up willingly. Now the kicker is the follow-up needs to live up. Those that read the issue will know the shock is well earned.
Written By: Simon Spurrier / Art By: Aaron Campbell / Colors By: Jordie Bellaire / Letters By: Aditya Bidikar
One of my favorite things about Killadelphia is how it will change styles within the book and even on the same page. Shifting to a silhouette shot like this to help punctuate an important discovery. I realize out of sequence this kind of seems like Vampire C.S.I: Philadephia. As if right after this like the detective would dawn some cool shades as a classic WHO song plays in the background. Personally, I would be for all of that. A small detail that stands out is the red blood covering the finger in the second panel. The constant shifting of colors and textures focuses your eye on very specific elements.
Story: Rodney Barnes / Art: Jason Shawn Alexander / Color: Luis NCT / Lettering: Marshall Dillon
Old Haunts #5
I guess I have a thing for the use of silhouette. It is a technique that can be overused or just an excuse to do a quick panel without having to do much detail. This panel stood out because it tells you everything you need to know without a real word said. Even if you have not read a panel of this comic you know this character is having a heart attack. How you demonstrate that with a comic is not easy. Unless you have the character literally saying, “I am having a heart attack”, you have to be creative.
Writers: Ollie Masters & Rob Williams / Artist: Laurence Campbell / Colorist: Lee Loughridge / Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Spider-Man Noir #5
This is not a panel I chose because it includes a lot of story. Sometimes things just look cool. Illuminating Spider-Man with this lighting gives him this old-school superhero feel. Those types of beats you would get in serials or movies like The Rocketeer. They make a point to make their heroes seem larger than life. If you remove the dialog bubbles this could easily become a poster or cover image.
Now let’s look at a panel that has a lot of things happening. Some could argue that maybe there is a bit too much. Artist Juan Ferreyra displays the unhuman level of Spider-Man’s flexibility. At a quick glance, it does not look right. A person’s body should not be able to move like that. Then you realize it is Spider-Man so it works. If a character gives you the ability to bend the laws a physics a bit indulge when you can.
Writer: Margaret Stohl / Artist: Juan Ferreyra / Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
A Man Among Ye #3
Yet again we have another silhouette shot. At least this one has a reason as to why this looks the way it does. A character jumping into the water as a massive lighting storm roars above is a great hero shot. That sound effect is fantastic as well. From the choice of coloring it like the lighting to how the ‘Thoom’ grows at the end makes the sound come at you.
Written By: Stephanie Phillips / Art By: Craig Cermak / Colors By: John Kalisz / Letters By: Troy Peteri
Batman: Three Jokers #3
When reading Batman: Three Jokers I never got the sense it needed to be nine panels. Now the art was always great. Easily the best thing about the entire series. Storytelling wise though I never saw a real reason they needed the classic style until this sequence. Batman, Batgirl, and Red Hood descend on the infamous theater at the same time. This is a type of shot you can only really get in comics. Three separate sequences all happening at the same time without a cut needed. Love that each door has its own sound effect to differentiate each person even more.
Writer: Geoff Johns / Illustrator: Jason Fabok / Color Artist: Brad Anderson / Letterer: Rob Leigh
The One You Feed #1
You have to love when one of the biggest comic creators at the moment drops a surprise comic. Seeing Dylan Burnett and Donny Cates join forces was a welcome surprise. Once again you have a silhouette effect although this time only the character is highlighted in that way. This shot established the start of the hero’s journey and does so much to set the stage for what is to come. How those monstrous walls warn you about what is awaiting our hero. If they need walls that big something dangerous is out there. Then you have the sword laying on his shoulder to symbolize the burden he is trying to carry. It is not often can you build an underdog story in only one shot. That’s exactly what happens here.
Story: Donny Cates / Art: Dylan Burnett / Color: Dean White / John J. Hill
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1
I made an arbitrary rule to myself that I would not use more than two panels for any book in a given week. In this article’s short history, I have not had trouble adhering to that guideline until this week. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1 had so many panels and sequences that deserved to be highlighted. I choose this one because of how it uses body language and sound effects to display force. How the ‘Bwoom” pushes the turtle forward as if he has been flung out of a catapult. The contrast of the orange and yellow compared to the grayed-out Turtle was a nice effect as well.
As mentioned this issue had a lot of great fight sequences and this was among my favorites. This starts with the left panel that is the wind up before the pitch. Then we get a sequence of panels that illustrate power, speed, ability, and sheer will. Every bit of it is easy to follow and most importantly and never overly indulges itself. Similar to the Transformers panels above this was like watching a more mature Saturday morning cartoon come to life.
Story: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, & Tom Waltz / Script: Tom Waltz & Kevin Eastman / Layouts: Kevin Eastman / Pencils/Inks: Esau & Isaac Escorza / Art: Ben Bishop / Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado / Letters: Shawn Lee
Suicide Squad #10
I saved this panel for last because this could be a major spoiler especially if you are not reading this series. Considering this is comics and this occurs just as the issue opens how much of a spoiler this really is remains to be seen. Simply looking at the craft of this panel there is a lot to appreciate. A character dying in the arms of a winged angel within the title frame of ‘Suicide Squad’ is as peak comic book as you can get. For those not reading this series, there have been these title sequences in each issue. I am actually surprised more people do not try to do things like this. It gives the book a major cinematic atmosphere.
Written By: Tom Taylor / Art By: Bruno Redondo / Colors By: Adriano Lucas / Letters By: Wes Abbott