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. Each instalment, I'll be picking out twelve just-released or out-soon comics that I think are worth paying attention to. Ready? Here are more comics to read than you have fingers to count with. Or something.
1. Batgirl #7 Our preview of this issue showed Barbara-freaking-Gordon holding her own against a super-strong psycho, but the rest of the issue promises to show at the unrevealed story of the heroine's miraculous recovery from being shot by the Joker. Gail Simone usually delivers stellar character portraits and I'm looking forward to seeing her sketch out Batgirl's psyche some more.
2. Batwoman #7
Gotham's other Bat-wearing redhead continues with a new look under artist Amy Reeder. What's great about this book is how Kate Kane and the other cast members have to face down both physical and psychological demons. The occult crime mix in Batwoman walks a fine line -- where weird quasi-mystical cultists mingle with real-world street crime -- but does so fantastically, all experienced through the eyes of one emotionally complicated ass-kicker. Keep reading this one.
3. Demon Knights #7 The motley-crew concept in superhero comics should feel like a hoary remnant at this point, but guys like Paul Cornell keep breathing fresh air into it. The assemblage of medieval warriors in this book really, really feel like they don't belong together yet you don't want to see them part ways. One element of this book that I really like is how Cornell makes the rough-hewn era of the Middle Ages feel alive. Things were dirty, smelly and melodramatic, then, especially with a fire-breathing hellspawn on the team. And yet you root for them.
4. Frankenstein: Agent of SHADE #7
There's a mutinous revolt in the organisation that history's most re-animated corpse works for and that just means more cold-blooded combat for Frankenstien. Jeff Lemire's work on this monsters-meets-military series reminds me of some of the Cohen Bros.' film work, where absurd yet dreadful situations are met as everyday occurrences. And sometimes there's screaming.
5. Saucer Country #1 Paul Cornell's got a particular talent for showcasing the sharks that fly when cultures clash, as seen in his work on Superman, Knight & Squire and Stormwatch. This new creator-owned book -- about a Mexican-American governor dealing with immigrants of the extraterrestrial variety and trying to run for President of the United States -- seems tailor-made for his proclivities and the sleek kinetic art of Ryan Kelly should help things moves along in interesting fashion.
6. Womanthology: Heroic This anthology of stories by women creators got its start as a Kickstarter project and deserves a look not just for its noble intent but also for the roster of killer talent attached. Ann Nocenti alone is worth the price of admission.
7. Thief of Thieves #2 Nick Spencer's comcs work has run the gamut from conspiracy/high school mash-up to political superhero adventures. But this great crime book shows another facet of his talent, with a great family drama at its heart. Shawn Martinborough's art is amazing, too.
8. Saga #1
All you need to know is that this book marks the return of Brian K. Vaughn to comics. The guy who created Y The Last Man and Ex Machina. Yeah, that guy. Go get this.
9. Mega Man #11 The Blue Bomber takes on Quick Man in this issue of the series that manages to capture the humour of the Capcom mascot's early adventures. Best place to see Maga Man right now, probably.
10. Dead Man's Run #2 From the guy who made the Hulk a hero on a faraway planet comes the story of Hell as a super-prison, ripe for a breakout. Great high concept that gets cracking dialogue to boot.
11. Adventure Time #2 The wacky cartoon series has a comics tie-in. Who knew? C'mon, grab yourself!
12. Peter Panzerfaust #2 This comic puts Peter Pan in World War II. I'd read that. Hell, I'd play that!