By Molly Jane Kremer, Arpad Okay, Don AlsafiClyde Hall, 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. From ‘Ice Cream Man’ to ‘Assassinistas’, here’s what has set our hearts ablaze this week.

Staff Picks: Ice Cream Man #1Ice Cream Man #1

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by W. Maxwell Prince.

Art by Martín Morazzo.

Colors by Chris O’Halloran.

Letters by Good Old Neon.

AOK: Ice Cream Man attempts every possible type of assault on its readers. It’s a horror title concerned with more than corpses and monsters. There’s eerie dread, mystery, and danger. Gross ways to die, and worse, gross ways to live. Doubt. Boredom. That weight on your shoulders isn’t a poltergeist. It’s normalcy that grinds you into dust.

And that titular ice cream man, oh boy. Does he have a role beyond the gleeful MC of a horror anthology. All these varying ghosts, from the monsters to their victims to their shared ennui, are seamlessly woven into the story, the multi-faceted writing I expect from W. Maxwell Prince after his Electric Sublime turned the art world on its ear. There is a postmodern structure, but beneath there are classic, Tales from the Crypt airs. Ice Cream Man is an ever-smiling, ghoulishly jolly thing.

Staff Picks: Gene Colan Tomb of Dracula Artist’s Edition HCGene Colan Tomb of Dracula Artist’s Edition HC

IDW Publishing/$125.00

Written by Marv Wolfman.

Pencils by Gene Colan.

Inks by Tom Palmer.

CH: How could it miss? An ongoing comic book series centering on Dracula, the immortal Prince of Darkness, as told by a Wolfman (Marv Wolfman) and penciled by a Master of Shadows named Gene Colan. Initially, I was not a Colan fan. His work on spandex heroes left me cold. Then came Tomb of Dracula, and I reveled in his brilliance. Who else could so perfectly confine to paper the moment when Dracula, still solidifying from mist, slashes a throat with those razor-cruel claws?

Tomb was the horror comic a young fan in 1972 longed for, arguably the best Marvel monster title of the era. The series lasted 70 issues, leaving the question of which stories and characters this edition would include. A short list of the latter: Vampire hunters Frank Drake and Rachel Van Helsing, descendants from characters in the Bram Stoker novel. Elderly, wheelchair-bound Quincy Harker, his conveyance tricked out with all sorts of anti-undead devices. And Blade in his debut appearance, racing alongside the rest for the honor of pinioning the slippery Transylvanian.

Colan takes his place alongside other legends like Steranko, Kubert, Wrightson, and Kirby in receiving IDW’s Eisner Award-winning Artist’s Edition treatment. The volume consists of five complete stories, along with a gallery section. Each page is printed in actual art board size, scanned from original art where possible. They’re also in color, allowing readers to view blue pencil directions, margin notes, and corrections. It’s a premium production, and commands a premium price. But for those with the means, it’s the next best thing to hopping aboard a TARDIS and perching on Gene’s shoulder while he composes his opus.

Staff Picks: Strangers in Paradise XXV #1Strangers in Paradise XXV #1

Abstract Studio/$3.99

Written and illustrated by Terry Moore.

DA: In the late 1990s, the burgeoning indie comics scene was trying to will itself into being, with desperate titles and beleaguered publishers struggling to stay afloat – though, of course, most of them folded with little fanfare. The beacon of hope for any creator with a dream seemed to stem from a trifecta of titles which had bucked the trend, and kept on chugging: Dave Sim’s Cerebus, Jeff Smith’s Bone, and Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise.

Today, we finally have the rich and vibrant indie landscape all those struggling creators dreamed of two decades ago. And while Sim & Smith have (mostly) left the stage, Terry Moore has continued crafting stories ever since the original SiP reached its conclusion ten years ago. This week, however, he returns to Francine and Katchoo and David (and the rest), to see what else life has in store for them. As a fan of the original series, I couldn’t be more excited!

Staff Picks: Champions #16Champions #16

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Mark Waid.

Art by Humberto Ramos.

Inks by Victor Olazaba.

Colors by Edgar Delgado.

Letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles.

MJ: Marvel’s Champions is one of the publisher’s most consistent series, and remains one of the most fun subsections of the whole universe. I just love seeing superheroes idealistically obsessed with the idea of doing good, and the young superheroes of Champions—essentially Marvel’s very own Teen Titans—are, well, just really, really, into the superhero gig.

I appreciate how well Mark Waid grasps all the characters’ voices, and how well their interplay reads. Humberto Ramos’s cartoony style complements the young cast well; the dynamic nature of his pencils adds to everyone’s youthful exuberance (and their various dramas).

Though continuity errors may pop up (like Ms. Marvel seemingly not believing in the existence of Spider-Gwen, despite meeting and interacting with her in the “Sitting in a Tree” crossover, between Spider-Gwen #17 and Spider-Man #14), other amazing bits make up for them. Mainly, this is the best spot to be if you want to see the fallout of the King/Walta/Bellaire Vision story. The continuing adventures of Marvel’s super-powered kiddo remains a fantastic comic series.

Staff Picks: Assassinistas #2Assassinistas #2

Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$3.99

Written by Tini Howard.

Art by Gilbert Hernandez.

Colors by Rob Davis.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar. 

JJ: Pistol-packing mommas and their between-futures youths. Assassinistas is less a family portrait than it is a family mug shot.

You read DoomRocket? Then you already know the drill: Black Crown title. The bee’s knees. Crossroads of comics and chaos. Legendary creators teamed with hungry new voices. In the case of Assassinistas, it’s Gilbert Hernandez and Tini Howard, respectively. Backed up by Rob Davis and Aditya Bidikar. Watched from on high by Shelly Bond herself, She Who Would be Queen.

Howard’s a ferocity of emotion, her characters brimming with history and pathos, regret and ambition. Hernandez? His reputation precedes him, but his work on Assassinistas fascinates me especially. With Hernandez, you think you know what to expect. Sensuality and peculiarity, right? Well, yes. But here — and especially with this issue — there’s mayhem, guerrilla warfare, and peanut butter. Yes, I said peanut butter. How does it all come together? Marvelously. Come and have some fun.

What books are YOU looking forward to reading this week? Sound off in the comments below. Best answer wins a free set of DoomRocket stickers!

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