By Molly Jane Kremer, Arpad OkayBrandy Dykhuizen, Clyde Hall, 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 Image Comics’ ‘Bloodstrike: Brutalists’ #0 to the exciting debut of DC’s ‘Plastic Man’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

Bloodstrike: Brutalists #0

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Michel Fiffe.

Art by Michel Fiffe.

Lettered by Michel Fiffe.

AOK: Some would consider printing a special issue #25 of your series before it even makes it a year in print and then the title folding at issue #22 a gaffe. Michel Fiffe, who you should know from his insane Suicide Squad (on mushrooms) series, COPRA, saw an opportunity. And frankly I don’t think there’s a single person in the industry better suited to tackle the missing issues of Bloodstrike than a rules-be-damned ultraviolent intellectual Kirby-and-Hammett enthusiast like Fiffe. This is the guy you want to take on an undead squad of killers from the height of the giant-gun-facepaint-pouch-overload era and make something beautiful.

Beautiful and ghastly. Bloodstrike: Brutalists is going to satisfy all the kids out there who want some worthwhile philosophizing on violence wedged in to a metric shit-ton of violence. Arthouse or slaughterhouse? Now you can finally decide.

A Walk Through Hell #2

AfterShock Comics/$3.99

Written by Garth Ennis. 

Art by Goran Sudžuka.

Colors by Ive Svorcina.

Letters by Rob Steen.

JJ: A claustrophobic experience awaits you in A Walk Through Hell, but breathe easy. Garth Ennis knows his way around a tightly-wound yarn. Close-quartered storytelling with evocative character moments and disturbing displays of horror — that’s the makings of great comics. Ennis has the key.

He’s not alone. A Walk Through Hell is co-created by Goran Sudžuka, who visualizes the measured havoc in a tailored manner. The panels are clockwork, the frames closed-in. We need to feel something for these characters before we can fear for them, and Sudžuka didn’t forget. Ive Svorcina knows the drill, too. The colorist has maintained a singular palette — gun-metal gray, muted white and yellow, and so, so much black —  throughout the series thus far. It keeps things tight. Intimate, yet recognizably alien. Dread is the name of the game, and this issue delivers.

Read it. Try not to think about it. Read it again. And prepare for more.

Plastic Man #1

DC Comics/$3.99

Written by Gail Simone.

Art by Adriana Melo.

Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick.

Letters by Simon Bowland.

CH: Plastic Man is just so pliable. He’s lightened the mood of the Justice League, been conjured by a kid dialing H-E-R-O, has a crook-to-crimefighter backstory that lends itself to occasional journeys into pathos and recently, as a member of The Terrifics, he’s been, well, terrific. All the DC incarnations, from Arnold Drake’s 1960s run, to Phil Foglio’s take in 1988, to Kyle Baker’s cartoonish Plas in 2004 have been subsidiary versions of the zany and outrageous Quality Comics character pioneered by Jack Cole. Taking nothing away from those worthies, Cole’s genius was unique, and his Plastic Man adventures have never been equaled in style or humorous tone. (The closest may have been the 1976 collaboration between writer Steve Skeates and artist Ramona Fradon.)

But writer Gail Simone and artist Adriana Melo are now set to revisit the pliant protagonist with their new six-issue mini-series launching this week. I frankly can’t think of any better team to reboot Plas, or one that has a better chance of capturing the character’s original offbeat mojo for a modern age. Given how admirably Simone paired up Red Sonja and Tarzan over at Dynamite, it would be a personal dream-teaming if this series finally led to a true Plastic Man and The Spirit crossover.

The Dead Hand #3

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Kyle Higgins.

Art by Stephen Mooney.

Colors by Jordie Bellaire.

Letters by Clayton Cowles.

BD: The intrigue of spies and conspiracies, the thought that double agents could live among us and the desire to reconcile multiple versions of the same story as they appear over international media outlets with Rashomon-like differences, all fuel our collective undying interest in the Cold War.

Imagined secrets buried in the snow continue to bring countless villains to film with Russian accents and ludicrous master plans. Kyle Higgins has done a fantastic job of keeping The Dead Hand’s end game as shrouded in mystery as the best Cold War plot, real or imagined. Just when you think you’re getting the idea of where these folks are headed, a satisfying twist takes the story in a different direction. Stephen Mooney brings an ostentatious 007 swagger to his spies, including covers that wouldn’t look out of place in a propaganda exhibit. Between British 60s spy movies and Soviet propaganda, it’s hard to say which one was the more ridiculous, so the mix works well. Higgins and Mooney have hooked me. I can’t wait to see whose number is up in Mountain View.

Coda #2

BOOM! Studios/$3.99

Written by Simon Spurrier.

Art by Matías Bergara.

Color assists by Michael Doig.

Lettered by Jim Campbell.

MJ: A fantasy story that takes place after its version of the archetypical “malevolent dark lord antagonist” has won seems at first glance like it would be a cynical read. Simon Spurrier and Matías Bergara manage to avoid what would be an easy (and much less enjoyable) narrative take by focusing on life for the general populace and how it’s changed. Or has it?

Spurrier’s conversational dialogue is a definite treat, as are the subtle metaphors for living in a post-Trump-Brexit world. The story does have a lot of hope nestled in with (admittedly a solid amount of) despair, as we follow Hum in his possibly futile quest to save his wife within a darker world.

Bergara’s imaginative design work and massive amounts of detail reside within his dynamic layouts. The art is nothing short of phenomenal. Bergara had color assists by Michael Doig here; the pages start with lush Renzi-esque fluorescence then transition to a soft, pastel-infused glow. Sometimes there’s even both on the same page. Letterer Jim Campbell deserves a special shout-out as well, as the sfx—though a few choice examples look to be drawn in by Bergara—are excellent, and expertly colored in the various pages’ palettes.

Coda is engrossing, engaging, and enjoyable, and is one of BOOM! Studios’ strongest new series this year.

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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