By Molly Jane KremerBrandy Dykhuizen, Mickey RiveraJami Jones 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 Marvel’s ‘The Immortal Hulk’ #1 to the latest edition of ‘Paper Girls’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

The Immortal Hulk #1

Marvel Comics/$4.99

Written by Al Ewing.

Art by Joe Bennett and Ruy José

Colors by Paul Mounts.

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit.

JJ: Remember, if you can, the early days of the incredible Hulk, when he thundered out of the night to take his place among the most amazing characters of all time. Man, monster — both? Al Ewing remembers.

Marvel’s “Fresh Start” initiative is swapping creators and titles, looking to find that elusive “newness” to apply to characters that have seen all forms of change and renewal over the decades. It’s here that the union of Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, and the rest of the team on The Immortal Hulk stands apart from the rest of Marvel’s current line-up. This new series is a different kind of beast by leaning heavily into Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s classical “monster” stories they spun for the Hulk way back in 1962. The Immortal Hulk #1 is a monster saga that creeps as much as it crushes — it’s an EC book, a pulpy one-and-done, a Hammer movie fright-fest. Hulk has in effect become a horror title. It’s an incredibly good fit.

And this debut issue? It’s a monster story black as pitch, brimming with beasts from beyond and beneath. Ewing, Bennett, José, Mounts and Petit craft a tale most sinister — behold! As the night’s moon rises, the Hulk lumbers back to life from oblivion. That feeling in our hearts? Dread. Excitement. Exactly as it should be. The Immortal Hulk is macabre mayhem in the mighty Marvel manner.

Paper Girls #21

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Brian K. Vaughan.

Art by Cliff Chiang.

Colors by Matt Wilson.

Letters and design by Jared K. Fletcher.

JamiJ: Writer Brian K. Vaughan, artist Cliff Chiang, and colorist Matt Wilson have worked together to weave fantasy and technology in a rich tapestry of friendship, trust, and time travel. (And their efforts have won them multiple Eisner awards.) Vaughan has truly brought these news-slinging ladies to life; the reactions these characters have to the extraordinary circumstances in which they find themselves are never less than tangible, affirming. Vaughan makes poignant moments feel genuine, while still moving the characters through some pretty hair-raising experiences.

Chiang shapes these travelers as though they were real people. The heroines of Paper Girls are given an air of reality, of gravity. Wilson breathes life onto the pages with colors that are as much a part of the story as the protagonists. His masterful use of hues set the tone for the entire book, from the amazing covers to the very last page. Summer has taken hold in the South. Naturally, I’m ready to slip back into the amazingly cool world of Paper Girls.

Sword Daughter #1

Dark Horse Comics/$3.99

Written by Brian Wood.

Art by Mack Chater.

Colors by José Villarrubia.

Letters by Nate Piekos.

MR: Sword Daughter, which Dark Horse claims is a Viking revenge saga inspired by Samurai cinema, tells the story of young Elsbeth Dagsdottir and her father as they struggle to make their way in the world after a gang of marauders come in the night and murder their entire village, including Elsbeth’s mother. As Elsbeth comes of age she has to manage her distant, traumatized father and her thirst for revenge.

With Sword Daughter, Brian Wood returns to the ice and metal of the Viking Age which he so thoroughly explored in Northlanders (published by DC), and brings with him artist Mack Chater. Wood and Chater worked together on the rural crime drama Briggs Land, also from Dark Horse, which turned out to be a real slice of American genius. The two have reunited for a new world and a new story with the same synergetic talent.

X-Men Red #5

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Tom Taylor.

Art by Mahmud Asrar.

Colors by Rain Beredo.

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit.

MJ: X-Men Red is the only one of the main “team” X-Men books — y’know, they’re the color coded ones? — that I still read. Red is the youngest of the three series (and thankfully remains monthly next to Blue and Gold’s brutal twice-monthly schedule) and features newly-resurrected Jean Grey as its team leader, along with a cast that features most of my favorite mutants. But my faves notwithstanding, this is one of the X-family’s best and most thoughtful series, and issue #5 concludes the first arc in just as grand and epic a fashion as you’d expect.

Writer Tom Taylor manages to keep the series topical, almost painfully relevant — a grand tradition in the X-Men comics — while utilizing spot-on characterization even in the midst of an expanding line-up. Oh, and it has some of the funniest dialogue you’ll read in a superhero book.

Artist Mahmud Asrar and color artist Rain Beredo pair incredibly well with Taylor, and tell the story beautifully (Beredo’s great use of contrasts and shadow is especially notable). When they get to stretch those splash-page muscles — and they get a couple chances in this issue — the results are breathtaking.

There’s a veritable smorgasbord of X-Men comics being published nowadays. X-Men Red stirs, delights, and satisfies beyond the rest — and somehow still leaves you hungry for more.

Death or Glory #2

Image Comics/$4.99

Written by Rick Remender.

Illustrated by Bengal.

Letters by Rus Wooten.

BD: I don’t know about you, but I like to ring in the summer with a good rip-roaring adventure – something with loads of dizzying speed, death around every corner and maybe even a little violence (you know, the tasteful kind).

Death or Glory appears to be just the book to fit the bill. An all-American story of frantic, cross-country antics with a high-pressure deadline will take us every which way across these here United States, all with Johnny Law and some unsavory types in hot pursuit. Oh, and of course our main character is doing it all for her dying Pops. Bengal’s art adds some mellow vintage notes to what promises to be a super revved-up tale. It sure does look like a beauty.

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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