By Molly Jane KremerStefania Rudd, Clyde Halland 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 ‘Young Monsters in Love’ to ‘Twisted Romance’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

Staff Picks: Twisted Romance #1Twisted Romance #1 (of 4)

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Alex de Campi, Sarah Horrocks, and Magen Cubed.

Art by Sarah Horrocks, Magen Cubed, and Katie Skelly.

JJ: “Love gone wrong, right, and everywhere in between.” That’s the language used in the official Image Comics press release for Twisted Romance. Sounds like the makings of a killer comics anthology. The feeling love gives you — goosepimples, anxiety, euphoria — presented by some of the more fascinating creators working in comics today.

First, Alex de Campi. She put this together. If there’s a writer who has a superior mastery of the short story, I haven’t read them. No one inspires confidence like de Campi. And the talent she’s brought to this intro issue — devastating. Katie Skelly. Nurse NurseMy Pretty Vampire. Eat your heart out. Sarah Horrocks. You’ve read her work on ComicsAlliance, Study Group. I know I have. Here her “Red Medusa”, a tale of forever taken away, literally turns the book on its axis. And in the center, a prose piece by Magen Cubed. What did we do right to deserve such an offering.

I love anthologies. I love romance comics. You can bet your ass I’m gonna love Twisted Romance. (Full disclosure: I wrote this while listening to “Love Songs On The Radio” by Mojave 3. Get yourself a copy and read it to this particular stunner.)

Staff Picks: Hawkeye #15Hawkeye #15

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Kelly Thompson.

Art by Leonardo Romero.

Colors by Jordie Bellaire.

Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino. 

MJ: Folks, there’s only one more issue left of Hawkeye.

I am truly devastated this phenomenal series is leaving my life in March. Though the third new Hawkeye series in as many years, this run is definitely the closest spiritual successor to the world-rocking Fraction/Aja/et al series from a few years ago. Writer Kelly Thompson perfectly balances Kate Bishop’s sass with vulnerability and kick-ass superheroics, and Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire display the same great breadth of artistry as Mr. Aja did, not so long ago.

This storyline gives you two Hawkeyes for the price of one: Clint has gone west to seek help from Kate, right when Kate needs some help with the biggest case of her life: finding out what happened to her mom. Of course the two problems have converged, building to what will no doubt be an intense (and intensely enjoyable) finale next month. Though it’s ending prematurely, this Hawkeye series promises to be a paperback mainstay for years to come. Spread the word.

Staff Picks: Young Monsters in Love #1Young Monsters in Love #1

DC Comics/$9.99

Written by Mark Russell, Steve Orlando, Jeff Lemire, James Robinson, Paul Dini, Phil Hester, Alisa Kwitney, and Kyle Higgins.

Art by Kelley Jones, Frazer Irving, and Guillem March.

Colors by Dave McCaig and others.

Letters by Sal Cipriano and others.

CH: Frankenstein’s Monster had his Bride, Beauty had the Beast, Buffy had Angel, Buffy also had Spike, Candyman had Helen, Oskar had Eli, and Carmilla had Laura. Why shouldn’t the monsters and horror characters of the DCU freely explore their romantic prospects?

They’ll get that chance in Young Monsters in Love #1, an 80-page prestige format special for Valentine’s Day. And the focus on the regular continuity alone (instead of being placed under a Vertigo standard) combines with the listed talents to get fandom ‘shipping en masse. Adrenalin may be the aphrodisiac of the Fight (superhero, horror) or Flight (horror) fictional world, but this falls outside purely carnal “Creatures of the Night” material.

Want to stoke my interest in a comic book? Adding Deadman into the mix will do that. The lonely, blue-collar mystical hero of the DCU has always been a favorite, and the preview features Boston Brand in a children’s tale written by Paul Dini. Peer pressure, bullying, rejection, and other too-often kidhood elements ironically part of the annual Day of Love forms the hub of this story. It indicates a depth beneath just vivisected hearts and flowers, though there will undoubtedly be plenty of that, too, if the Kelley Jones cover is a gauge. How can a reanimated flesh golem compete for the hand (or any other component) of his inconstant Bride against a plant elemental capable of growing exotic floral arrangements from his own hide? Maybe using his creator connections to score some authentic German chocolates would work, but I’m anxious to see how the DC talent pool settles this conundrum.

Staff Picks: Rogue & Gambit #2Rogue & Gambit #2

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Kelly Thompson.

Art by Pere Pérez.

Colors by Frank D’Armata.

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.

SR: At the end of the first issue of Rogue & Gambit, we see the not-so-happy former couple settling in to what is supposed to be a therapeutic retreat in an ideal romantic tropical paradise location. They have to “pretend” they’re there for therapy and healing, when really they’re there to investigate (and hopefully recover) some missing mutants. But the heart, as they say, will go on.

So, yes, better play along, right? People have feelings about the on again, off again Rogue and Gambit like they were our own friends. When I found out writer Kelly Thompson was going to take the helm with these two I knew they would be in good hands. Her gift of developing interpersonal relationships on the page is strong. (See what MJ had to say above.) In the second issue we get to see some of that therapy play out beautifully with artwork by Pere Pérez and Frank D’Armata. I look forward to not only having Rogue and Gambit move forward for themselves, but maybe get some good leads on where those mutants are…

Staff Picks: Swamp Thing Winter Special #1Swamp Thing Winter Special #1

DC Comics/$7.99

Written by Tom King and Len Wein.

Art by Jason Fabok and Kelley Jones.

Colors by Brad Anderson and Michelle Madsen. 

Letters by Deron Bennett.

MJ: We don’t see much of Swamp Thing lately; last he showed up was Batman #22, written by Tom King and drawn by Mitch Gerads, and it was a typically stellar outing for the critically-acclaimed duo. Now Tom King returns to Dr. Holland, this time teaming up with some of his Batman collaborators. (Namely, Jason Fabok colored by Brad Anderson.) And if a forty-page story by these guys wasn’t enough to drag you in, there’s also an additional twenty-two page Swamp Thing story by Len Wein with art by Kelley Jones and Michelle Madsen.

The first story is imbued with King’s (practically trademark at this point) winsome melancholy, and Fabok and Anderson communicate a pathos well beyond the typical superhero story. It’s a haunting tale, a meditation on “monsters”, a subject all too familiar to Swamp Thing readers. The second story is written by the late Len Wein, a co-creator of Swamp Thing, with art by Kelley Jones and Michelle Madsen. Wein didn’t get a chance to finish the lettering script—the script is reprinted here after the story—so it was left silent as a lovely testament to a titan of comic book sequentials.

The Swamp Thing Winter Special is a stellar memorial to Wein and to Bernie Wrightson (Swamp Thing’s other co-creator who also passed away last year), and a truly great set of Swamp Thing tales meant to linger long past their endings. Don’t be left out in the cold.

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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