Four Comics Filled With Unlikely Parings This Week

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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.

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Welcome, then, to the Panel Discussion Dozen Quartet, 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.


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Before Watchmen: Minutemen #4
If you're going to pay attention to any of the cash-in bastard Before Watchmen series, this is the one. It doesn't try to over-explain the 1940s characters you first met in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' classic superhero deconstruction. Instead, it shows them grappling with the secrets and consequences that plague their double lives in psychologically believable fashion. Writer/artist Darwyn Cooke brings the best of his naturalistic approach to a book that exceeds expectations. And, hey, one of the variants has a lovely Steve Rude cover.


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DC Universe Presents #13
Here we get the New 52 re-interpretations of Black Lightning and Blue Devil, two b-level DC characters who've popped in and out of cult popularity over the years. You could say the same of writer Marc Andreyko, who turned out a nice mix of family drama and superheroics in the mid-1990s Manhunter book. I'm interested to see if this pairing elevates the characters and the talent to new levels. And anthology books always deserve love, if only for how you're guaranteed something new by virtue of turnover.


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Marvel Now! Point One #1
If you're not sure about sticking around to see the aftermath of the Avengers vs. X-Men crossover event, the table-setting that happens in this one. This one-shot serves a preview of the characters and concepts that will be in new Young Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and FF runs.


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Hawkeye #3
And if you want a book that blissfully disconnected from the churn of re-shuffling Marvel's editorial deck, then no book that the publisher is putting out is better than Hawkeye. So far, Matt Fraction and David Aja's run has been a string of infectious, tightly executed character studies of the Avengers' archer. Hawkeye doesn't need to be a superhero to make these stories work but what's better is how just enough of his costumed life sneaks into them to make the reading even more fun.

DISCUSSION

By
Erik Sofge

Serious question, Evan: I know you love Black Panther (anyone who doesn't is a bit of a fool), but when it comes to someone as B-list, as you put it, as Black Lightning...doesn't it seem like maybe we should leave those weirdly exploitative characters alone? Black Panther's name I always liked, because it's such a direct jab in the eye. Like, He's not just black, people, he's straight up named after some for-real Black Power shit!

But Black Lightning? What does that even mean? He's black, got it, but there's no such thing as black lightning. So it becomes a weirdly awkward, and, I think, old-timey in an offensive way, descriptor. Same goes for all those characters, Black Racer, Black Vulcan, etc.

So why not just leave these characters alone? It's certainly not worth dragging this unloved, unmissed dude out of the vault, just because of the uninspired Blue/Black wordplay.