By Stefania Rudd, Don AlsafiMickey RiveraKaitlin Beer, 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 ‘The Prisoner’ #1 to ‘The Pervert’ OGN, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

Staff PicksThe Pervert OGN

Image Comics/$17.99

Written by Michelle Perez.

Art by Remy Boydell.

MR: Comics anthology Island quietly imploded in the first half of 2017, ending not-quite two years of eclectic, experimental, but sadly unmarketable brilliance. The series dug deep into the indie comics scene, publishing largely unknown but extremely talented artists and writers. Among them were Remy Boydell and Michelle Perez with excerpts from The Pervert, a graphic novel the two were working on about a young transgender sex worker.

Two things will stand out to those who didn’t encounter The Pervert when it ran in Island. First is that all the characters are anthropomorphized cartoon animals, cleanly drawn by Boydell in soft watercolor tones. Second: the writing by Perez is as unabashedly open about sex and sex work as it can get without being porn. The stories shift in tone between meditative study and absurdist comedy, a mix that makes for some obscenely eloquent storytelling. Choice lines from the Island excerpts include “I want to fuck that burger. I want to fuck you.” and “I’m 62. And I’m not fuckin’ gay” (as uttered in earnest by a queer 62 year old anthropomorphic bulldog wearing a plaid button-up). Then there’s that scene where Jon Arbuckle shows up for a threesome. Yeah, the lonely pet owner from Garfield. No, not making it up.

Regardless of your opinions on sex work (as performed by consenting adults), there’s no denying that those in the trade have an exclusive vantage point from which to look at aspects of the human condition that are typically ignored or vilified. Sex workers make their living committing an act that societies, religions, parents, politicians, men, and pretty much any asshole with some clout has tried to control beyond reason since history began. That act isn’t prostitution but sex itself, a primal urge so powerful that it can barely even be discussed. Sex workers capitalize on that power and understand it better than most. It’s through them that submerged truths can come up for air. In The Pervert, Perez dredges up some of those truths in a funny, detached, heartbreaking way, and Boydell’s art makes them fly.

Staff PicksThe Prisoner #1

Titan Comics/$3.99

Written by Peter Milligan.

Art by Colin Lorimer.

Colors by Joana Lafuente.

Letters by Simon Bowland.

DA: The 1960s British television series The Prisoner was arguably one of the very first cult TV shows, having lasted a bare 17 episodes and portraying a disturbingly surreal premise: In the first episode, star Patrick McGoohan – fresh from having played an M9 intelligence agent on four seasons of Danger Man – portrayed an oddly similar spy who, in the opening credits, angrily resigns from his post for reasons undisclosed. After succumbing to knockout gas back at his flat, he wakes to find himself in an identically decorated home located in an idyllic seaside village where everyone else – from the shopkeepers to other residents – appear blissfully unconcerned with his questions and confusion, and everyone is known not by names but by numbers. (McGoohan himself is deemed Number Six.) It was one of the most conceptually unsettling things to hit the airwaves, either before or since. The psychedelic finale has to be seen to be believed.

This week a new Prisoner comic hits the stands courtesy of UK publisher, Titan. This is not the first time the property has come to comics though! DC released a 4-issue miniseries by Dean Motter and Mark Askwith in the late 1980s, and Marvel had two abortive attempts in the 70s: a first go by Steve Englehart and Gil Kane, and then another one by comics giant Jack Kirby, fresh off his trippy Treasury-sized adaptation of Stanley Kubick’s 2001. (The previously unpublished Englehart/Kane and Kirby issues are finally getting released in an Artist Edition hardcover later this summer, also from Titan.)

This newest adaptation is penned by Peter Milligan – himself no stranger to mindbending narratives – with art by Colin Lorimer. It’s initially planned as a 4-issue miniseries, but if the sales numbers are there, hopefully we might get even more! (It’s certainly a unique premise which deserved far more life than the relatively few episodes made.)

Whether you’ve seen the original television series, or have only heard of it through legend and word of mouth, definitely give this new iteration a look. If it’s even half as good as the show, it’s sure to be as richly disturbing!

Staff PicksHarrow County #30

Dark Horse Comics/$3.99

Written by Cullen Bunn.

Art by Tyler Crook and Cat Farris.

Colors and letters by Tyler Crook.

KB: We are now entering the final days of Harrow County. Will this final arc be the end for this delightful series, or will protagonist Emmy Crawford pull through and destroy the evil that besets her town one last time? Will Emmy’s evil, bourgeois twin, Kammi, get her wish from beyond the grave and see the return of the witch Hester Beck? It’s suspense like this that has made this comic one of the most captivating titles in my pull list.

Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook have managed the fine art of suspense without cliffhangers. Every issue of this series has left me satisfied, but like a character that might be found in the short tales of horror in this series’ back-pages, I never cease to want more. This comic has turned me into an insatiable monster in dork’s clothing, with an inconspicuous hunger for great story-telling and fairytale-esque art.

Staff PicksExiles #2

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Saladin Ahmed.

Art by Javier Rodriguez.

Inks by Álvaro López.

Colors by Chris O’Halloran.

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.

SR: In the first issue of Exiles, the latest incarnation of a Marvel Comics fan-favorite series, we got a pretty quick-paced re-introduction to Blink and a mission thrust upon her by the reality-hopping Tallus. However, in true Exiles fashion, she isn’t going at it alone.

As Blink travels through time and space to different worlds at the direction of the Tallus, she picks up people meant to form a team to defeat the Time-Eater–a menacing force destroying universe after universe by erasing them and the folks in it completely. Blink and her team are charged to stop it.

We’ve met an aged Kamala Khan and chrome-plated Iron Lad, both up for the job and rarin’ to go. In this second issue we pick up the last two additions to the Exiles, Wolverine of the X-Babies and a version of Valkyrie that should prove familiar to fans of that last Thor movie. It’ll be fun to see how these last two members are acquired (and, more tantalizingly, from where), and then see how they all move forward as a team, on a crash-course towards taking on the destructive Time-Eater. But it won’t be that straightforward, right? I’m expecting a few twists and turns along the way as long as long as the Tallus is calling the shots.

Staff Picks: 'The Pervert' funny, heartbreaking, and unabashedly openAbbott #4

BOOM! Studios/$3.99

Written by Saladin Ahmed.

Art by Sami Kivelä.

Colors by Jason Wordie.

Lettered by Jim Campbell.

JJ: Heavy drinking and chain-smoking. The power of the press up against the limitless powers of evil. Sounds like a Sidney Lumet film to me. Abbott‘s Seventies period setting in a rapidly diminishing Detroit feels like it’d fit the bill, too, only there’s more to it than that. In Abbott, the evil isn’t some unknowable quantity from the true nature of man. Here? Evil is demons. A conspiracy against our way of life. And on the case is one hell-bound newspaper reporter named Abbott, thwarting magic and crushing coney islands.

Saladin Ahmed, Sami Kivelä, Jason Wordie, and Jim Campbell’s sinister slice of supernatural noir is one atmospheric piece of work. It recalls David Walker and Bilquis Evely’s work on Dynamite’s Shaft mini from a few years back. It even has that cigarette scorch in films such as All the President’s Men, the oppressive paranoia of The French Connection, and even the savvy dialogue work found in Mr. Lumet’s Network. Like all of those films, Abbott doesn’t shy away from the societal problems that rip neighborhoods apart and turn neighbors into strangers. Its Detroit-at-dusk setting gets right into the social and racial strife that tore a community asunder.

Put more concisely, Abbott is here to bedevil you. Absorb you. It’s grown-up entertainment with a mean streak. Don’t miss it.

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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