by Jarrod JonesBraving the gauntlet of Big Two events, prestige format risk-takers, off-the-radar indie releases and a non-stop avalanche of floppies is DoomRocket’s EDITOR’S CHOICE. 5 picks, 1 review, once a month. With so many comics out there screaming for your eyeballs, let DoomRocket be your guide.

Cover to ‘Suicide Squad’ #2. Art: Bruno Redondo/DC

Suicide Squad #2
DC / $3.99
Written by Tom Taylor.
Art by Bruno Redondo.
Colors by Adriano Lucas
Letters by Wes Abbott.

I was going to wait for the first arc to wrap up before I started hurling superlatives towards DC’s latest Suicide Squad relaunch, but good lord, what a comic. The big hook to this was Tom Taylor was about to introduce a host of new characters, toss them into the thresher alongside Squad stalwarts such as Harley Quinn and Deadshot, and off them in spectacular fashion. Fine. Then I saw Bruno Redondo’s character designs, read the first issue, fell in love, had my heart ripped out. That I developed an immediate affection for characters that are literally just grist for the mill is one reason why I already love this book. Another is its slick production design, its panel layouts, its character work. Redondo, Adriano Lucas and Wes Abbott’s contributions to Suicide Squad are about as “now” as mainstream comics can get. When I read it, I feel like I’m seconds away from the future.

Cover to ‘No Romance in Hell’. Art: Hyena Hell, Hannah Templer/Silver Sprocket

No Romance in Hell
Silver Sprocket / $5.00
Written and illustrated by Hyena Hell.
Cover colors by Hannah Templer.

Hyena Hell’s got a tale as old as time for you right here, bub. No Romance in Hell is a zine-sized stunner from Silver Sprocket made for the romantically listless, for the folks who often end up suffering 10 levels of personal hell for that one taste of sweet, sweet passion. Ever find yourself blithely swiping through a dating app, thinking this shit’s for the birds? Spare a thought for this book’s love-deprived demon who decides to transcend their eternal stay in the Lake of Fire for a jaunt through our contemporary dating scene. Hyena Hell’s No Romance in Hell is a rager of a comic, rendered with precision timing and a voice that will probably cut like a razor for those who’ve ever dared to love. Or *shudder* date. Go buy it right now.

Cover to ‘Undone by Blood, or The Shadow of a Wanted Man’ #1. Art: Sami Kivelä, Jason Wordie/AfterShock Comics

Undone by Blood, or The Shadow of a Wanted Man #1
AfterShock Comics / $4.99
Written by Lonnie Nadler, Zac Thompson.
Art by Sami Kivelä.
Colors by Jason Wordie.
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.

Comics need more Westerns. AfterShock agrees, obliges. Its latest release, Undone by Blood, I’m heartened to discover, likes its Westerns both old and new. It jumps in place between past and present, between rugged cowboys and a cowgirl really into Lou Reed and revenge. I’m in. Also, there’s the matter of Sami Kivelä’s artwork, never better than here. But it’s what Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou does with the lettering design that shifts this whole production into overdrive. Through Hassan, Nadler & Thompson’s words take on a dusty drawl; it’s neo-L’Amour scrawled across parchment, given a dry, rusty scratch.

Cover to ‘Tartarus’ #1. Art: Jack T. Cole/Image Comics

Tartarus #1
Image Comics / $4.99
Written by Johnnie Christmas.
Art by Jack T. Cole.
Colors by Jim Campbell.

Could Tartarus #1 be the best debut of 2020 so far? I think so. In terms of escalation, Tartarus knows precisely what it’s doing: Johnny Christmas, Jack T. Cole and Jim Campbell’s new series kicks off their opening sequence with a daring prison escape that snowballs into an avalanche of death, weirdo concepts, future disco balls, chaos, love and revolution. You can scarcely keep up as it goes along; your eyes want to soak up all of Cole’s Otomo-minded character designs and fluid action work, but the pace and energy compels you forward. Until it stops. For an over-sized debut, Tartarus #1 is painfully aware that you need to understand its wild new world as well as devour all of its pleasures and melodramas. So it gives you time to breathe. And then throws you overboard once more before the last page drops. Tartarus promises beauties and butchery, retribution and maybe, possibly, romance. It’s everything.

THIS MONTH’S EDITOR’S CHOICE

Cover to ‘Loud!’. Art: Maria Llovet/Black Mask Studios

Loud
Black Mask Studios/$16.99
Written and illustrated by Maria Llovet.

Loud! is propulsive, provocative, pulpy, perfect. It’s an out-of-body experience brought on by overwhelming euphoria, the best night in the lives of some, the worst for others, the last for a few. It’s Maria Llovet cracking her head open over the drawing board and letting everything she loves fall onto the parchment, bleed into the margins—almost come to life, I swear to God.

Set in a nightclub that houses both the beautiful damned and the damned beautiful, Loud! encourages reader exploration. It wants you to loiter over each exquisitely rendered page while moving the story along at a pace that just might make you feel breathless by the time it’s all over. Its omniscient panel work hovers over one sequence to the next and back again until you’re champagne dizzy, Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void with a Troma fetish.

It moves, a swift read that begs you to read it again, then again. (“Someday I’ll have to assume comics don’t move,” Llovet told me last year.) Largely devoid of dialogue, Loud! has you instead read images, urban heiroglyphics designed by Chanel and Crepax. The idea being that, when you’re at a club, even if you’re screaming into your friend’s ear, neither of you can hear a single goddamned word the entire night. There are infrequent hallway sequences and a storage room rendezvous that share little of what’s resting on the tips of these peoples’ tongues (aside from acid tabs ‘n’ such). That leaves us to soak in the details, put things together on our own. And Llovet hides those details in plain sight, between expertly-placed SFX, graffiti, club detritus, beautiful faces. There’s a story in there, somewhere. And vampires.

Yeah, Loud! is a horror story. More than just bloodsucking fiends, it’s about the horrors we often do to ourselves, to our bodies. It sometimes muses on consequences, the kind that could follow a night such as the one contained in Loud!, (at one point we discover a teenager has stashed herself in a bathroom stall after a fateful pregnancy test) though it does present a clear preference for wanton abandon. Knives slash flesh, an earring is ripped straight from an earlobe, heads pop wide open from pistol shots—and yet for all its violence, Loud! retains its immaculate aesthetic.

Loud! is a blast. If Tony Scott had produced a nightclub comic with assassin lovers and vampire fuckboys, this could have been it. Draped in filters of neon and clouds of cigarette smoke, Maria Llovet’s graphic novel is a storyboard to the gnarliest night ever. A kinky candy rush.

9 out of 10

Check out this 5-page preview of ‘Loud!’, courtesy of Black Mask Studios!

More Editor’s Choice:

‘Wonder Woman: Dead Earth’: Frenetic, prime-time action comics from DC’s Black Label

Would you like to submit your book for a potential spot on Editor’s Choice? Send all submissions to jarrod@doomrocket.com.

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