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 Sextet, 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 reading in the comments.
Batman #15/Batgirl #15/Batman & Robin #15
Thanks to advance copies provided by DC Comics, I've had the chance to read the latest wave of Bat-books tied into the Death of the Family crossover. This event is architected by Scott Snyder and showcases something he excels at, which is the introduction of dark secrets into pre-established continuity. Snyder and his co-creators provide a believable potrait of angst for characters who we'd like to believe are beyond such foibles. This crossover is shaping up to be a real—and likely divisive—milestone in the Batman mythos.
Grendel Omnibus, Vol. 2
The best thing about Matt Wagner's psychological masterwork is the horror-tinged idea that the Grendel persona spreads virally from person to person. This collection of stories centers on the first instance of a person other than Hunter Rose getting overwhelmed by the Grendel personality. Christine Spar's story of vengeance brutally highlights how the obsession that necessitates a costumed identity can also destroy everything in a person's life. Excellent art by the Pander Bros., too.
What if the delivery people zipping along on scooters bringing you Chinese takeout also did other, dirtier jobs, too? That's the high concept behind Brian Wood's great, foulmouthed Couriers series, which are all collected in one place for the first time. There's a real sense of speed, threat and menace to the pages generated by Wood and artist Rob G., and the fast, loose stories told here are really enjoyable in a pulpy sort of way. You'll never look at a scooter—or the people driving them—the same way again.
Ultimate X-Men #20
Marvel's X-Men concept has won loads of fans over the years for being an extremely malleable cultural metaphor, commenting on everything from race, gay rights and adolescence. Brian Wood's been taking it to a dark, politically charged place since he's taken over the writing chores and this issue might continues that trend. Mutants in the Ultimate Universe find themselves on a segregated stretch of the American southwest and while it's the chance for a new homeland, it's also an unstable society waiting to explode. A great take on the tensions that outlier communities can harbor.