03rd May2017

Panel Discussion #31 – The Reboot!

by Kieran Shiach

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Hi, welcome, my name’s Kieran and I’ve joined Nerdly for a new/rebooted weekly column talking about some of the best comics every week in quick-hit, bite-sized chunks to give you an idea of what to grab at your local comic shop/digital comics provider. This week is a massive week for number one issues, so what better way to celebrate the start of a new chapter of Panel Discussion than to highlight some of these awesome debut issues.

Marvel has a really strong week this week for #1s, the most impressive of which is Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s Black Bolt #1 which sees The Silent King trapped in a cosmic prison with his only ally being Crusher Creel AKA The Absorbing Man. I’ve been rather critical of Marvel’s recent trend of hiring novelists over comics writers, but Ahmed shows an immediate understanding of the medium that’s exciting to see. Black Bolt can be one of the trickiest characters to get right, especially in a solo setting where he’s the protagonist, but there elements at play in Black Bolt #1 that really lean into the notion of a silent protagonist in interesting ways.

Christian Ward has been a superstar artist in need of a superstar title for a while now, because as good as his gender-swapped Odyssey tale ODY-C with Matt Fraction is, it’s the definition of niche. His work on Black Bolt takes elements of cosmic storytelling he played with on Al Ewing’s Ultimates and builds them into the foundation of the book, and he’s only getting better as a sequentials storyteller. If JH Williams is the master of panel layouts in superhero comics, Christian Ward is quickly becoming the heir apparent to that throne and his work does a lot of the heavy lifting with regards to storytelling, considering the title’s mute protagonist.

This week also saw the release of All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #1 by Gerry Duggan and Aaron Kuder, which from all appearances seems to be a back-to-basics approach to the Guardians which marries what people love about them from the film with what people love about them from Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s fondly remembered run from just under a decade ago. The new #1 starts with a bit of a timeskip, so there’s some questions left to be answered like “Why is Groot a baby now?” and “Why is Drax a pacifist?” but as a debut issue it’s charming as all-get-out and a must-read for people excited for the new film.

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The third big #1 at Marvel this week is Dennis Hopeless and Victor Ibanez’s Jean Grey #1 which takes a character that has been begging for a solo slot for decades and finally gives her the attention she deserves. Hopeless did amazing work with Jean as the star in the original graphic novel X-Men: Season One and is coming off All-New X-Men which featured all of the time-displaced X-Men except Jean, so he’s deft hand when it comes to the troubles of teen mutants and the book continues the recent trend of Marvel’s X-Books remembering why people like the X-Men and leaning into it with captivating storytelling and relatable characters.

Outside of Marvel, there’s a few debut issues well worth talking about too, most excitingly is Catalyst Prime: Noble #1 from Brandon Thomas and Roger Robinson, which kicks off an entirely new superhero universe at Lion Forge. I’ve been anticipating the Catalyst Prime books for a while, and its debut does not disappoint. The issue crafts intriguing mystery about how the superheroes came to be with a riveting story somewhat reminiscent of The Bourne Identity, but with superpowers. If you’re tired of the endless confusion of The Big Two but love superheroes, Catalyst Prime is an imprint to check out.

Speaking of non-Big Two superheroes, everyone’s favorite 90s-as-heck heroes Youngblood returned this week in Youngblood #1 by Chad Bowers and Jim Towe which manages to capture everything appealing about the founding Image book and does away with a lot of the baggage the property has accrued over the past few decades. One of the smartest things Rob Liefeld ever did was trust new creators with his characters and we ended up getting titles like Prophet and Glory, and Youngblood is definitely in that tradition. All that, and it looks beautiful too. Jim Towe presents a sexy, streamlined, millennial Youngblood that is the furthest thing from what you expect the book to be, so if you’re at all hesitant, you should give it a shot because it might surprise you.

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Those are just some of the best comics of this week, but it’s a massive week in general with new issues of Batman, Secret Empire and more. I’ll be back next week to talk about the best comics of May 10th, but until then, happy reading!

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