02nd Aug2017

Panel Discussion #42

by Kieran Shiach

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Hello again, and welcome to the recently resurrected Panel Discussion. I’m Kieran, and every week I’m going to go through some of the best comics of the week to give you an idea what you should pick up that you might have missed. This is another stacked week with some fantastic first issues and great jumping on points for books you might be behind on, so let’s take a look at what’s on offer.

In terms of big debuts, this week’s runaway hit is Kyle Starks and Gabo’s Dead of Winter #1 from Oni Press. Now, I have absolutely no idea about the franchise this is based on, I believe it’s a board game? However, this debut issue gives you everything you need to know which is namely 1) There are zombies and 2) There’s a dog that really hates zombies. I think we all feel pretty worn out on zombie fiction after the last decade or so, but Stark and Gabo have found a new angle with this story that is the most invested I’ve been in a band of survivors versus the walking dead since the first few volumes of The Walking Dead. It’s funny, gory, violent and resonant and easily the best new comic of the week.

Another comic that’s licensed from a game and does things you wouldn’t expect with the property is Swordquest by Chris Sims, Chad Bowers and Ghostwriter X, which has its second issue today. I’ve been really wowed by Dynamite’s line of comics based on old Atari properties and how effortlessly they’ve transcended those thirty year old franchises, but Swordquest is honestly one of the best new series of the year for me. It’s just grounded enough that when the weird stuff starts happening it means something, and the relationships and dynamics between the characters are what really brings you back for more.

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One series that I didn’t really realise I was enjoying as much as I am until I noticed this is my third or fourth time including it in a Panel Discussion is All-New Guardians of the Galaxy. This week’s issue is another standalone which centers on my personal favorite Guardian, Drax The Destroyer. It’s not quite as clever as the Chris Samnee drawn Star-Lord spotlight, but it’s beautifully rendered by Greg Smallwood who is one big project away from becoming an outright superstar, and Gerry Duggan gets to the emotional core of Drax in a way that’s been forgotten for so many years.

Another Marvel series that’s consistently amazing is Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s Black Bolt and this week’s Black Bolt #4 might be their best yet. This issue doesn’t forget its lead character, but it does spend a lot of time developing Crusher Creel AKA The Absorbing Man, and the synthesis of Ahmed’s story and Ward’s visuals are the kind you find in the very best collaborations that lift the work up to another level. Black Bolt might just be the best looking book on the stands, but it’s the collaboration between its creators that really makes it sing and this issue is a perfect example of why it’s so great.

Lastly, it’s worth mentioning Generations: Banner Hulk & Totally Awesome Hulk #1 which is a pretty unwieldy title (Why not just Generations: Hulk?) but not a bad comic book. It wasn’t my favorite of the week by any means but it’s worth pointing out that Generations started this week and the first issue is worth a look if you’re curious. It still doesn’t give us a full idea of the shape of things or what Generations actually is but as a standalone team-up story between Bruce Banner and Amadeus Cho, it’s a fun romp with real heart.

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That’s it for me this week but there’s still a great number of awesome comics on the stands for you to check out. Happy reading everyone, and I’ll see you all next week!

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