Staff Picks: 'Exiles' #1 a multiverse-hopping adventure with thrills to burn

Staff Picks: ‘Exiles’ #1 a multiverse-hopping adventure with thrills to burn

By Molly Jane Kremer, Stefania Rudd, Don Alsafi, 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 ‘Domino’ #1 to ‘The Dead Hand’ #1, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

Exiles #1

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Saladin Ahmed.

Pencils by Javier Rodríguez.

Inks by Álvaro López.

and Javier Rodríguez.

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.

MJ: Exiles was a beloved ongoing series off and on throughout the Aughts, but has been noticeably missing from Marvel’s roster for the past nine years. Its focus on Marvel’s Multiverse makes it unique, and a welcome addition to a publishing schedule that looks to be filling up more and more with classic “sure bet” characters and titles.

Writer Saladin Ahmed just finished an astonishingly great run on Black Bolt with Christian Ward, (and Ahmed and Sami Kivela’s Abbott is also a can’t-miss) and though Black Bolt pushed boundaries with contemporary twists, Exiles feels like a throwback—only in the most enjoyable way possible.

A description like that might call to mind flourishes of the sentimental sort, but there’s no nostalgia-mining here — just compelling, character-driven adventure with a little mystery thrown in for good measure. The art by Javier Rodríguez, Álvaro López, and Jordie Bellaire is fun and engrossing, and I can’t wait to see where these Quantum Leap-esque thrills take us. It’s the Marvel Multiverse — here, there, and everywhere, in a blink of an eye.

Brothers Dracul #1

AfterShock Comics/$3.99

Written by Cullen Bunn.

Art by Mirko Colak.

Colors by Maria Santaolalla.

Letters by Simon Bowland.

SR: Writer Cullen Bunn has solidified himself as one of my favorite storytellers, espcically when it comes to the horror/noir genre. So I’m really looking forward to his new miniseries, The Brothers Dracul, where he will combine my nerdy love of history with the medium of comics.

It’s the 15th century and Vlad II Dracul and his sons, Vlad III and Radu, are taken hostage by the Ottoman Empire. Once Vlad II is released, his two boys remain behind as captives to ensure Vlad’s continued loyalty to a bloodthirsty sultan. This series follows the two teens as they live in captivity and learn what it takes to survive — to either assimilate or die as free men.

However, Vlad III and Radu take this new life in very different directions: Radu plays along more out of necessity, whereas Vlad denies it, thus giving us an entry point to the bloody, bloody origin story of the man history knows as Vlad the Impaler. Forgive me for saying so, but this is one story worth sinking your teeth into.

Domino #1

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Gail Simone.

Art by David Baldeón.

Inks by Jesus Aburtov.

Letters by Clayton Cowles.

DA: Domino is a character created by Rob Liefeld in the early ’90s, around the same time that The New Mutants turned into X-Force, and which also saw similar Liefeldian creations such as Cable and Deadpool. Unlike those other properties, however, Domino hasn’t seen nearly as much love over the years, and has rarely even had her own title. (The exceptions to date have been a 3-issue miniseries in 1997, then a 4-issue mini in 2003.)

But now she’s here with her own title for the first time in fifteen years, and there’s reason to be excited – because it’s coming from fan-favorite writer Gail Simone, who over the last decade or two has gained a reputation for writing absolutely kick-ass ladies, with acclaimed runs on Birds of Prey, Red Sonja and Wonder Woman. Joining her on art is David Baldeón, who recently impressed us with his illustrations on Marvel’s Spirits of Vengeance.

Will this outing be the one that finally gives the character her due? As ever, that’s an open question till we crack its pages – but with these creators at the helm, Domino’s time may be now!

The Dead Hand #1

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Kyle Higgins.

Art by Stephen Mooney.

Colors by Jordie Bellaire.

Letters by Clayton Cowles.

JJ: Imagine, if you will, a Captain America who grew up kinda like you did — on a steady diet of The Amazing Spider-Man and the Adam West Batman TV show. A Cap who understood the value of superheroes. Heck, a Cap who used to tie capes around his own neck when he was a kid.

Now imagine that kid growing up through the Sixties and Seventies. When the Cold War was at its apex. Who still believed in superheroes even though there are no serums that might make his daydreams come true in the real world. What kind of life would this person have?

I bet you have an answer. And I’m here to tell you that you’re wrong.

Because whatever ideas you had in mind, The Dead Hand is here to subvert them. It’s a Cold War thriller that doesn’t mind keeping secrets from you. Kyle Higgins is here to lurk in subterfuge — the story he tells in this debut issue plays it so close to the vest it may as well have “REDACTED” scrawled across most of its captions. Higgins wants you to guess. To try to get ahead of things. And while he sets us up, it’s Stephen Mooney who knocks us dead.

Mooney’s work here is sleek like the work of Joëlle Jones, hard-nosed like Sean Phillips’ stuff. And it dares to ride the same line between superhero iconography and super-spy decadence like Steranko before him. Jordie Bellaire lets red seep through almost every page, a blood-stained valentine for darker days. The Dead Hand #1 is a dossier of intrigue, one that comes with an unbelievable shock. Read this.

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!