By Molly Jane Kremer, Stefania Rudd, Arpad Okay, and Jarrod Jones. Comics that challenge us, slay us, beguile us — the comics we simply can’t wait to devour. That’s DoomRocket’s Staff Picks. Here’s what has set our hearts ablaze this week.

BLACK CROWN QUARTERLY #1Black Crown Quarterly #1

Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$6.99

Written by Rob Davis, Cathi Unsworth, Will Potter, Shelly Bond, David Barnett, Jamie Coe, Tini Howard, Peter Milligan, and Cindy Whitehead.

Art by Cara McGee, Philip Bond, Martin Simmonds, Gilbert Hernandez, Tess Fowler, Nicole Goux.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar. 

JJ: Of course October would be the inaugural month for Black Crown. It seems almost obvious that IDW’s creator-owned imprint would rear its artfully fashionable head in the midst of Inktober, when artists the world ’round share their eclectic talents with their peers, colleagues, and heroes. When strangers dress like other strangers, or better, stranger things. The month where the weirdos come out to play with bold-faced impunity. As one of those weirdos, all I can say to Black Crown is, respect.

October would be the month when éditeur fantastique Shelly Bond unleashed her first sequential salvo into the comics world. The first, Kid Lobotomy, was a captivating and disorienting bit of business, but if that weren’t enough (and it wasn’t) here comes Black Crown Quarterly, an anthology featuring stories and artwork from the same kind of artists we all tend to admire just a bit more during Inktober.

Black Crown Quarterly has so much more than just comics to share with you. There are interviews, a pullout poster by Frank Quitely, thoughtful essays. Tini Howard writes about costumes, and it’s lovely. (Choice pull quote: “I’m not much of a conjurer. I prefer that more alchemical of phrases: to transmute.“) There are fake ads and trade dress that make the events of Canon City feel that much more real. CUD bassist Will Potter waxes nostalgic on Eclipse Comics’ Strange Days #1 and Beach Boys’ Can’t Wait Too Long from 1967. It’s said that music and comics converge in Black Crown Quarterly. I’m here to tell you that this is so.

It has comics too, obviously: check out Canonball Comics from writer/artist Jamie Coe, or Cud: Rich and Strange from Will Potter, Carl Puttnam and Philip Bond, the latter of whom provides rare sequentials that are one of the primary reasons this book should adorn your coffee table in the weeks to come. If you think you have attitude to burn, prepare to be dismayed by Black Crown Quarterly.

SAGASaga #48

Image Comics/$2.99

Written by Brian K. Vaughan.

Art by Fiona Staples.

Letters by Fonografiks.

AOK: Saga. Might not have understood the title a few years ago when it was starting out, but I get it now. Forty-eight issues in and Saga has almost as many characters. It kicked off with two kids — not children, but closer to that than adults — having a baby, set against a backdrop of war. The story progresses. Alliances change, friendships grow and break apart, the kids’ kids grow up and start driving their own stories, all the while under the threat of doom. Struggle between life and death. Biblical. Epic. Saga.

Here, now, we stand at the closing of the third act. Instead of a climax, tangents. All the pieces are in place from the chess game drama that has been unfolding for over a year, and we step further away from the big moves to check in on a Mervyn Peake pairing: unlikely heir and adorable neighbor-turned-guardian (because fate). Will Kid TV and War Harp’s adventure effect the score of other Saga characters spread across the galaxy? The answer is almost certainly an impossible yes.

Jughead The Hunger #1 Francavilla CoverJughead: The Hunger #1

Archie Comics/$3.99

Written by Frank Tieri.

Art by Pat and Tim Kennedy.

Colors by Matt Herms.

Letters by Jack Morelli.

SR: In the Archie universe and those beyond there is but one character trait for which Jughead Jones is famous: his insatiable appetite. Usually his desire is for something a bit more pedestrian, like, say, a hamburger. In Jughead: The Hunger #1, writer Frank Tieri takes that appetite and places it at the fore. Jughead, turned werewolf!

Tieri spices up the story a bit with an even more fascinating twist. Meet Betty Cooper, werewolf hunter. A piece of creative brilliance that runs parallel to the Afterlife with Archie series. I’m really looking forward to seeing what will happen as Jughead tries to survive and thrive with Betty hunting him down. But I’m also interested to see how the other characters will fare in this wild new series, especially Reggie with his mysterious eye patch. It should be a howlin’ good time.

The Damned #5The Damned #5

Oni Press/$3.99

Written by Cullen Bunn.

Art by Brian Hurtt.

Colors by Bill Crabtree.

Letters by Crank!

MJ: Oni Press doesn’t have the massive publishing roster of Image Comics or even Dark Horse Comics, and because of that they can cherry-pick the best of the best material to print monthly under their banner. Ten years after it originally debuted as a black and white miniseries, The Damned continues as an ongoing, with the finale to the first new arc on sale today.

Writer Cullen Bunn, artist Brian Hurtt, colorist Bill Crabtree, and letterer Crank all worked together on the monumental series The Sixth Gun, which ended last summer with its fiftieth issue. Bunn and Hurtt decided to return to The Damned — a prohibition-set tale of gangsters and demons originally begun back in ‘06-’07 — and to wisely bring Crabtree and Crank into the fold on colors and letters. We benefit greatly by this decision.

The Damned is moody, gritty, and spooky. All the best parts of a gangster drama and supernatural thriller are entwined and twisted into a gripping comic tale. Brian Hurtt excels at the details of the period setting, and at drawing creepy demonic entities that will linger long in your subconscious. Some demon and monster designs are reminiscent of Mignola’s, but Hurtt’s great talents in style and storytelling are all his own. A certain two-page rain sequence is an archetypically perfect gangster interaction (the angles, the expressions, the dialogue, the story flow is perfect) and much is due to Crabtree’s expertise in coloring shadowy, haunted eyes glaring from under fedoras. During the entire issue, his colors deftly communicate the cold dreariness of the city, and Crank’s letters are seamless throughout.

This is a full creative team at the peak of its powers. The Damned is an excellent series you do not want to miss.

What books are YOU looking forward to reading this week? Sound off in the comments below.