This Week in Panels: Week 209

September 22nd, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hey! It’s you! I’m busy as hell this week, but I’m still going to be doing a bunch of ThWiP off-shoots over the next couple days. Tomorrow it’s This Year in Panels while this Friday I’ll be doing the return of This Character in Panels. Why? Because it’ll have been four years as of Friday, that’s why. Ah, the days of ThWiP Week 1 in 2009.

Back when people still remembered Skaar.

So anyway, this week brings us the end of Injustice: Gods Among Us for the time being. “Year One” just ended and there’ll be an Annual in November. Then it relaunches in January. In the meantime, I’ve written a retrospective/review of sorts for Den of Geek US the other day. Speaking of which, I’m going to be doing more hands-on stuff with that site, so that’s pretty exciting for me.

This week I have my fellow Injustice reader Matlock, who is still reading up on most of the DC villains comics. Gaijin Dan still has his manga and Was Taters makes her grand return. Let’s get to it.

Action Comics #23.3
Charles Soule and Raymund Bermudez

Batman #23.3
Frank Tieri and Christian Duce

Batman ’66 #12
Jeff Parker and Sandy Jarrell

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This Week in Panels: Week 192

May 26th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Welp. Time to retire that Miles pic.

Welcome to This Week in Panels, where me and some other guys take all the comics we’ve read this week and chop them up until we’re left with one panel that best acts as a teaser for the comic in question. We got some Marvel, some DC, some manga and some IDW.

To contrast the poor past couple weeks, I have a strong batch this time around. Joining me are Matlock, Gaijin Dan, Brobe, Space Jawa and Was Taters.

This week brings us to the end of Geoff Johns’ lengthy and successful run on Green Lantern. It’s a fantastic final issue as long as you ignore that Kyle Rayner has done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. 19 issues of setup in New Guardians and he’s relegated to the background while Hal Jordan saves the day.

It’s a moot point, though. The comic isn’t about Kyle or Hal anyway. It’s really just about Sinestro being completely awesome. Johns gets a lot of hate for his Hal worship, but damn was his Sinestro always on point.

All-Star Western #20
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Moritat and Staz Johnson

Aquaman #20
John Ostrander and Manuel Garcia

Avengers #12
Jonathan Hickman, Nick Spencer and Mike Deodato

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This Week in Panels: Week 183

March 24th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Hey. Panel time. Full house this week as I’m joined by Was Taters, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa, Brobe, Jody and Matlock. You want to be added to the list? Send me some panels next week. Gamble a stamp.

Action Comics was a pain to pick a panel from. There were like a hundred great choices at its disposal.

Action Comics #18
Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, Brad Walker, Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse

All-New X-Men #9 (Jody’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

All-New X-Men #9 (Gavin’s pick)
Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

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The Higher They Fly, the Harder They Fall

March 20th, 2013 Posted by Gavok

Yesterday, my badminton partner Chris Sims wrote a piece on the weekly comic tie-in Injustice: Gods Among Us, based on the upcoming game by Netherrealm Studios. For the most part, he and I disagree on it. I think it’s a fun series while he considers it one of the frontrunners for worst comic of 2013. The one thing we do agree on is the dire first three issues, though he certainly minds it a lot more.

The series tells the story of how Superman comes to take over the world in the name of the greater good, ultimately leading to a DC version of Civil War. Through the first three issues, we see the Joker devise a situation where after he shoots Jimmy Olsen in the head, he kidnaps Lois Lane and tricks Superman into killing her. He does this by dosing Superman with Scarecrow fear gas laced with kryptonite so that Superman thinks Lois is Doomsday and shoves her into orbit. And it turns out Lois is pregnant too. Then Joker blows up Metropolis. When in custody, Joker’s questioned by Batman and they argue over Superman’s integrity until the Man of Steel busts in and angrily puts his fist through Joker’s chest.

The whole “fridging of Lois” thing is what made me aware that the comic even existed, but I didn’t care to read it until seeing some panels from the fourth issue, where Green Arrow keeps Harley Quinn in custody himself so that Superman doesn’t execute her as well. Even Sims admits that that’s a well-written bit and has some positive things to say about the issues that follow. And yes, while I claim the series is worth checking out, I mainly mean AFTER the Joker plot.

That said, the discussion on the matter made me realize a state of comics that nobody really touches on. As unfun as Superman being tricked into killing his wife and unborn child is, I’m not all that offended by it because “fridging” or not, it’s a step that the writer kind of had to make based on years upon years of righteousness. It’s a fucked up thing, but it’s the double-edged sword that comes from the purity of comic book heroes. It definitely could have been pulled off better in this story, but it’s a necessary trope.

It makes me think about something Grant Morrison’s talked about during his Batman run. Over the decades, the way the Joker has been written has evolved into something nasty, both in the character’s context and in the writing context. He went from being a goofball obsessed with “boner crimes” to a man who’s killed more people than polio. He went from flying around in a clown-faced helicopter to cutting his face off and having it reattached like a Halloween mask. The explanation is that by figuring out the Joker and his crimes, Batman puts a cage over him. Joker has to think bigger and more twisted to escape the cage and Batman puts a bigger cage around that. It escalates and the next thing you know, Joker’s chopping his face up.

Every now and then, a writer will play with a superhero’s refusal to kill and see where that goes. Sometimes it leads to a hero deciding at the last second, “No, I can’t do that.” Sometimes they’ll be totally ready to do it until getting interrupted and realize later that it’s probably for the better. Then there are times when they really go through with it. Whether it’s a good story or a bad story, I don’t envy the writer who has to set up that plot development because you’re forced to go over the line.

When I think of superheroes who strictly don’t kill, the four who pop into my head are Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and Daredevil. Each and every one of them has had at least one story that shows just what it would take to make them kill. Most of the time it’s a non-canon story that can get away with it easily (ie. Injustice) while other times it’s a canon story meant to be part of the bigger picture of the serial storytelling.

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This Week in Panels: Week 152

August 19th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Ah, what a difference a year makes. Last year, I was scrambling to try and get the Summerslam Countdown done in time for the big show that I was so excited to see (I failed that deadline, natch). This year, I chose to watch 21 Jump Street with my brother instead of checking it out. From what I understand, I didn’t miss much other than Antonio Cesaro/Claudio Castagnoli winning the US title on the internet pre-show. At the same time, I don’t feel like DVRing tomorrow’s Raw and I paid money to watch last week’s TNA PPV. Crazy times.

This week my backup include Was Taters, Jody, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa and Nawid.

Amazing Spider-Man #691
Dan Slott, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Mario Del Pennino

Avengers Academy #35
Christos Gage and Andrea DiVito

Avengers vs. X-Men #10
Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert

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This Week in Panels: Week 150

August 5th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

ONE HUNDRED FIFTY! I need to get out more. This seems like as good a time as any to go over the mission statement:

This Week in Panels (ThWiP) is about taking every new comic my posse and I have read this week and sawing it down to its essence. If this was a commercial that was all, “This week in Age of Apocalypse!” this is the kind of thing you’d see. No final page images. No gigantic spoilers. No splash pages. Just the comics summed up in one panel. If there’s a series you like that isn’t covered on a regular basis, you’re more than welcome to email me. It’s on the sidebar.

This time I’m helped out by Was Taters, Gaijin Dan, Jody and Space Jawa. Many thanks to them and everyone else who made the past 150 weeks such a fun routine.

Action Comics #12
Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, CAFU and Brad Walker

Age of Apocalypse #6
David Lapham and Renato Arlem

Animal Man #12 (Gavin’s pick)
Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder and Steve Pugh

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This Week in Panels: Week 148

July 22nd, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Hey peoples. It’s time for another go at sanding down the stuff we’ve read this week into one representative panel. My helpers are Was Taters, Jody, Gaijin Dan, Space Jawa, Luis and Nawid. Remember, if there’s a series you’ve been reading that isn’t being represented, you can always send me some panels. Email’s over there on the right.

This update features Dracula the Unconquered #2 by Chris Sims and Steve Downer. It’s an incredibly fun series so far on both writing and art fronts and is super affordable at $1. You should probably go purchase a copy yourself and enjoy it with a nice bowl of Chocula. Think of it as a Kickstarter. The more of you buy this, the better the chance that Sims will fly over to Pennsylvania and join me for this year’s CHIKARA King of Trios. Do you really want to prevent that man from being able to see the Warlord, Barbarian and Meng team up as the Faces of Pain? If so, you’re a monster and you sicken me. Read the rest of my update and then get out of my face.

But then keep coming back on a regular basis to increase website traffic. And read David’s stuff on Comics Alliance. Just remember to get out of my face when you’re done with all of that.

Avengers Academy #33
Christos Gage and Timothy Green II

Avengers vs. X-Men #8
Jason Aaron, Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Jonathan Hickman and Adam Kubert

Barrage #7
Kouhei Horikoshi

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This Week in Panels: Week 136

April 29th, 2012 Posted by Gavok

Hey there, my Letterites. It was a pretty good week, giving us a fantastic Flash issue (I’m really loving the designs of these new rogues), Eric Powell alternating between funny and whiny as well as FF giving us the best final page in a long time.

The last page of Goon really had me scratching my head. The whole thing, like the issue, was Powell being annoyed at the hold of Marvel/DC superhero comics have over the industry. Nothing wrong with that. It’s just that his main point was how the comic industry needs its own Harry Potter.

If Harry Potter were a Dark Horse comic instead of a novel, it would be struggling to sell ten thousand, just because it’s not in a Marvel or DC superhero universe. Where’s our Harry Potter? Where’s our megahit that comes out of nowhere and draws people into comic shops? Why are we denying ourselves the possibility of that?

When reading this, I felt like meekly holding my hand up while saying, “…Walking Dead?”

Speaking of superhero tripe, I’m not going to be reading Avengers vs. X-Men, but I am reading Avengers vs. X-Men Versus. Why? Because I’m weird and I want to experience the Polly-O String Cheese of comic event tie-ins without any context for the sake of seeing how it comes off.

This week, Jody and Space Jawa have my back. Remember, you can help out too. If there’s a series you’re reading that you want represented, you can always toss me a couple panels. Email link’s on the right.

All-Star Western #8
Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Moritat and Patrick Scherberger

Aquaman #8
Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis

Avengers vs. X-Men Versus #1 (Gavin’s pick)
Jason Aaron, Adam Kubert, Kathryn Immonen and Stuart Immonen

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Ten Point Program: On Black Panther 513

October 18th, 2010 Posted by david brothers

Hey, let’s judge a comic that isn’t out yet!

Black Panther: Man Without Fear #513, Marvel’s latest attempt at breathing some life into a character, this time courtesy of novelist David Liss and artist Francesco Francavilla. I ran a preview on Comics Alliance last week. There’s also an interview with Liss where he talks about what he wants to do. Here’s the story summary:

The smoke has cleared from the ruins of Shadowland and a new protector of Hell’s Kitchen is on the prowl. His name is T’Challa, the Blank Panther! In a city without Daredevil and a dangerous knew foe called Vlad the Impaler consolidating power in the underworld, the Black Panther must learn to become a new type of hero. Without his riches, his technology, and his kingdom can T’Challa truly be the man without fear? Find out in Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #513!

This comic has an uphill battle for me to even want to read it. Here’s a list of some thoughts on the upcoming run.

Francesco Francavilla is a monster. The guy is an absolutely astounding artist, and I think that he’s going to be one of those guys that you absolutely have to pay attention to in a year or so. In any other situation, I’d be all over a Francavilla-drawn Panther book.

Been there, done that. We’ve seen Panther as a schoolteacher in Harlem as “Luke Charles.” Guess what? It blew. It removed Panther from where he works best and lowered a king to commoner status. Don McGregor and Billy Graham’s classic Panther’s Rage was a response to that story and restored T’Challa to where he belongs. Not to mention that he’s retired/been removed as Panther before, so you’d think he’d be used to it instead of running off like a crybaby.

T’Challa has to find himself? The Black Panther is the most well adjusted black man in the Marvel universe. He ran his own country, he married the love of his life, and he has been royalty since he was a child. What about that screams “Needs to come to terms with himself?” He isn’t Batman, but he is the closest Marvel has (or needs) to Batman.

He’s the most capable black dude in the Marvel universe. When Reed Richards has trouble, he hits T’Challa on the two-way like “Doom is causing trouble with sonic waves, you got a sonic wave disrupter?” And yes, T’Challa will have one, because he’s that dude. He was the smartest man in the world’s gadget guy. Black Panther with no tech is absurd. It’s in his DNA. It’s like Mister Miracle not being able to get out of traps. To strip him down to “basics,” where those basics are “is basically Daredevil,” is gonna bore me to tears. He outclasses everyone who ever lived and fought in Hell’s Kitchen. It’d be like Mike Tyson beating up a grade schooler. There is no “out of his element,” that’s his whole point.

He has to find himself in Hell’s Kitchen? He’s African, man. If T’Challa needs to find himself, he needs to do so among his people, not in New York City. I’ve spent a decent amount of time in New York and LA, and I love them both, but if I had a nervous breakdown and had to find myself? I’d take my depressed behind back to Georgia. You want to show him finding himself? Have him intern in the Techno-Jungle or one of those villages from Panther’s Rage. Hell’s Kitchen should be nothing to him.

Panther is African. Divorcing him from that context turns him into a generic superhero. Turning him into the protector of Hell’s Kitchen lowers his profile even further. It makes him sub-Spider-Man, in terms of beat (it ain’t like Spidey only protects Forest Hills) when he should really be global class. Just the very fact that he’s from an African country that has never been conquered (which apparently made them corrupt and lazy) is something that is rich with possibilities. Why avoid it? The best runs/the only runs worth reading (McGregor, then Priest, then Hudlin, full stop) embraced it and played with his global nature. You wouldn’t see Cap digging ditches in Liverpool after screwing up huge.

He’s fighting scrub gangsters. Black Panther versus gangsters is like Superman versus bank robbers.

This is a story perfectly suited for Kasper Kole. It’s boring with the Panther because he’s above it. It fits Kasper because it’s basically already his story, and you still get the bonus of being able to involve the Panther. It’s Batman, Inc.–the Panther is franchising, and Kasper gets Hell’s Kitchen.

The pitch is boring. It’s essentially an Iron Man story (“Oh no, I have lost access to my absurdly vast store of resources via an unlikely series of events!”) stitched onto a Daredevil story (“I am the protector of Hell’s Kitchen!”). Rather than organically saying something about the Panther, it sets up a situation where you can fit all kinds of things onto the character. David Uzumeri pointed out that it’s like JMS’s Superman: Grounded, another story where a hero strips himself of his prestige to find himself amongst the common man.

The first issue is called “Urban Jungle.” Really?

This book has an extraordinary uphill battle to convince me to pick it up. I love the art, but the story is making me real uncomfortable over here. I’m gonna have to get a guinea pig to read it for me, or flip through it in the store or something, because as-is, it sounds like exactly the kind of Panther story I don’t care to read.

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This Week in Panels: Week 47

August 15th, 2010 Posted by Gavok

This week we have a special collaborator Was Taters who didn’t want me to credit her, but I am anyway. So there.

I personally love the pick for Batgirl #13, because I’m imagining that Meatwad is nearby, off-panel.

B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth New World #1
Mike Mignola, John Arcudi and Guy Davis

Batgirl #13
Bryan Q. Miller and Pere Perez

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