Seven Comics That Will Sharpen Your Skills This Week If you're here in the Panel Discussion programming block, you might be a lapsed comics reader, trying to find a way back to the JLA Satellite. Or you might someone killing time until you pick up your weekly Wednesday pull list. Or maybe you've said goodbye to dozens of longboxes to embrace the promise of digital comics. Whichever it is, you're still interested in the good stuff.


Welcome, then, to the Panel Discussion Dozen Septet, where I pick out just-released or out-soon comics that I think are worth paying attention to. Ready? Then, let's meet the sequential art that'll be draining your wallet this week. Be sure to chime in with the books you'll be picking up or that you think everybody should be ready in the comments.


Seven Comics That Will Sharpen Your Skills This Week

47 Ronin #1
Stan Sakai's been crafting excellent samurai stories for decades now, most notably in his Usagi Yojimbo comics. This new series tells one of the most popular stories in Japanese folklore, where an assembly of swordsmen plot to get revenge for their disgraced master. Sakai draws action, its causes and its consequences amazingly well, so this classic should get a great handling from him.


Seven Comics That Will Sharpen Your Skills This Week

Mass Effect, Vol. 4: Homeworlds
This volume collects the miniseries that told solo stories centered on the cast members from Mass Effect 3. Readers get glimpses into the backstories of James Vega, Garrus Vakarian and others before the fateful mission with Commander Shepard. And Dark Horse marketers? Way to go with putting Tali on the cover.


Seven Comics That Will Sharpen Your Skills This Week

Action Comics #14
Usually, I loathe the appearances of real-world personalities in superhero comics. The rules have to bend to accommodate them and the results can feel stilted and awkward. But I love the idea of astrophysicist/ubernerd Neil Degrasse Tyson showing up to help Superman figure out where his long-ago-exploded homeworld was. Tyson has a flair for the cosmically dramatic that should mesh nicely with Grant Morrison's interpretation of Kal-El. And the art looks great, too.


Seven Comics That Will Sharpen Your Skills This Week

Spaceman Deluxe Edition
Like most people, I'm guilty of pigeonholing creators into certain boxes. The only upside to that practice is when the talent in question surprises you with a new project. That's what Brian Azzarello—noir stylist extraordinare—does with Spaceman, which focuses on a man denied the space-traveling existence he was genetically engineered for. Azzarello creates a sad, disconnected life for lead character Orson and the writer's longtime artist partner Eduardo Risso makes Spaceman's fractured near-future feel like a fascinating hollowed-out place.


Seven Comics That Will Sharpen Your Skills This Week

Storm Dogs #1
There need to be more science-fiction crime stories. After all, won't all the high-tech advances in future realities give people more ways to commit and solve crimes? But lead characters in the his new series from Image Comics won't have fancy toys to rely on when investifgation violent deaths on a mysterious planet. I'm hoping that Doug Braithwaite's moody art will bring a gritty edge to an intriguing premise.


Seven Comics That Will Sharpen Your Skills This Week

Defenders #12
Look, I tried to tell you how great and quirky this superhero team book from Marvel has been. Now all we can do is dream about what could have been as Matt Fraction rides this alt-universe headtrip into the sunset. Goodbye, really weirdo version of the Silver Surfer. You were enjoyed.


Seven Comics That Will Sharpen Your Skills This Week

Iron Man #1
Tony Stark may be great at inventing the impressive shininess of tomorrow but he is not at all good at keeping his powerful technology out of the wrong hands. Now, the Extremis tech that he used to power his armored superhero persona is out in the world where more malevolent types can harness its abilities. Rising comics star Kieron Gillen gets slick art from Greg Land as they bring Iron Man into Marvel's post-AvX framework. Should be worth watching.