By Stefania RuddClyde HallBrendan F. Hodgdon, 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 ‘Justice League: No Justice’ #1 to the latest debut of ‘Venom’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

Staff Picks: 'Justice League: No Justice' #1Justice League: No Justice #1

DC Comics/$3.99

Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Joshua Williamson.

Art by Francis Manapul.

Colors by Hi-Fi.

Letters by AndWorld Design.

BFH: It stands to reason that after the rollicking, world-changing events of Dark Nights: Metal, there would be some repercussions to the DC Universe at large. We’ve caught glimpses of that via the “New Age of DC Heroes” initiative, but it’s here with the debut of No Justice that we get our first look at what lies ahead for the Justice League. A killer team of collaborators, some of the most influential voices at DC, are steering the ship of this particular miniseries, and on their talent alone there is a ton of potential in this story.

Truth be told, I’ve never been a huge Justice League fan. Aside from occassional stories like “Darkseid War” or Steve Orlando’s JLA run I’ve kinda stayed at arms’ length from the post-Flashpoint iterations of the team. But seeing Scott Snyder and company chase after the momentum of Metal, working to set up the exciting collection of Justice League titles yet to come has finally won me over. No Justice feels like the first step of a long-term run of Justice League that will stand the test of time. I’m very excited to get in on the ground floor.

Punks Not Dead #4

Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$3.99

Written by David Barnett.

Art by Martin Simmonds.

Color flats by Dee Cunniffe.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar.

JJ: Puberty can be a real bitch, but for Feargal “Fergie” Ferguson, it’s a right calamity. Just as his face begins to really break out, Fergie’s “awkward phase” is made even more so by the sudden appearance by “Sid”, a rail-thin wraith who seems stuck to our boy no matter how fast his skinny legs can take him.

The thing about Fergie’s… let’s say “awakening,” is that it’s beginning to affect people in ways more profound than mere teenager mood swings. Issue #2 saw Fergie go properly mental, exploding with enough cerebral energy that he sent a small crew of aging carousers over in Wigan off to reclaim their Northern Soul bonafides at the now-defunct Wigan Casino. Y’see, Punks Not Dead should have enough in here to make even the most ardent music snobs swoon.

Then you strip away the hep veneer and see Punks Not Dead is an original stunner. David Barnett’s dialogue is at once a riot and an emotional trip. Characters square off and keep secrets in plain view. Heartache informs the story, the mad trajectory our man Feargal is put upon. And Martin Simmonds (teamed with Dee Cunniffe) is a wonder, playing with color as though they were musical notes — riffing, experimenting, executing. Character work that ranges from subtle to knock-your-teeth-in. Are you reading Punks Not Dead yet? Don’t you think you ought?

Staff Picks: 'Justice League: No Justice' #1Analog #2

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Gerry Duggan.

Art by David O’Sullivan.

Colors by Mike Spicer.

Letters by Joe Sabino.

CH: The first issue of this now-into-the-near-future neo-noir hooked me hard, especially the way Gerry Duggan established protagonist Jack McGinnis as the cause of his world’s woes, or at least its altered status quo. Also, as a perpetually rueful, violent, flawed man Duggan patinaed into an immediately likable anti-hero. He may be chafed with regret for what his pride and arrogance hath wrought, but he hasn’t lost his gift of wiseguy banter or a fatalistic sense of humor. Only the most resilient tough guys emerge with those intact.

His paper-pushing work is a dangerous trade with no end of opponents willing to drive tortured thoughts from his mind using a high caliber delivery system. As he sorts prospective clients and reunites with his estranged and equally reprobate father, Jack’s detractors come calling and that’s the cliffhanger leading to the second installment. We’ve yet to formally meet his combo sniper/significant other, whetting appetites as we consider what kind of person serves as both his backup and casual paramour. I’ll admit it: Duggan hammered out an opening narrative that’s had me pondering Jack and his world for the last month. Jack’s caustic-cool turns of phrase even found their way into recent conversations. I’m looking forward to more such quotable confab fodder.

Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock #1

Archaia/BOOM! Studios/$3.99

Written and illustrated by Jared Cullum.

Letters by Mike Fiorentino.

SR: To celebrate the 35th anniversary of Fraggle Rock, Archaia, an imprint of BOOM! Studios, is releasing a four issue mini-series written and illustrated (in watercolor!) by Jared Cullum.

The story includes our favorite Fraggles — Gobo, Mokey, Red, Wembley, and Boober — as they figure out what’s making Mokey feel blue and uninspired with her art. I’m hoping that along with this storyline we’ll unfold more plot points and off-shoot tales that will include other familiar character groups such as the Doozers, Gorgs, and of course, Silly Creatures.

Looking at the released preview pages, Cullum’s watercolor illustrations are gorgeous and add a layer of uniqueness to this recognizable world. Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock #1 is a great way to commemorate an anniversary, allowing those who loved the show to indulge in some fond nostalgia as it introduces new (and younger) readers to another beloved Jim Henson creation.

Venom #1

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Donny Cates.

Art by Ryan Stegman.

Inks by J.P. Mayer.

Colors by Frank Martin.

Letters by Clayton Cowles.

JJ: Marvel Comics was wise putting a ring on Donny Cates the second they had the opportunity. What Cates does is shake the dust off things, gets us riled up. His fictions are pulse-pounding pandemonium, set to a vicious soundtrack heard somewhere in the back of our minds, just off this plane of consciousness.

Look at what Donny did to ThanosLook, you cowards: The Mad Titan, stripped of pretension and left alone at the end of time with only a softer, older version of himself to keep company/beat his face in. (Oh, and don’t forget the Cosmic Ghost Rider — an instant favorite of mine, which was surprising considering how goddamned silly the concept of the character really was.) As a reader who used to often balk at “the lesser, purplier Darkseid,” Thanos made me a believer.

Cates’ instantly iconic run on Thanos is ended, but his villainous bonafides are far from over. Behold Venom, a book I generally wouldn’t read, right here on my own site’s Staff Picks. Why? Because Donny Cates’ ever-expanding vision of the Marvel Universe is exciting. Ryan Stegman’s gristly pencils and J.P. Mayer’s gloppy inks are exactly what a book featuring a slippery anti-hero with more teeth than sense should have. Support those creators whose imaginations make you swoon. Step outside your comfort zones. Maybe I’ll be a Venom fan now. Who can say. (Probably not, but I like 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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