By Molly Jane Kremer, Stefania Rudd, Clyde Hall, Brendan 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 yet another ‘Superman’ #1 to AfterShock’s latest debut, ‘Relay’ #1, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

Relay #1

AfterShock Comics/$3.99

Written by Zac Thompson.

Art by Andy Clarke.

Colors by Dan Brown.

Letters by Charles Pritchett.

CH: Relay #0 was one of the books I selected for Free Comic Book Day 2018, which serves as the starting block for this new series from writer Zac Thompson and artist Andy Clarke. The style and panel layout of #0 carries a heady element of 2000 AD, not surprising considering Clarke’s background and his work on Judge Dredd. For this type of science fiction feature, he’s an ideal choice.

As a Star Trek fan, I’ve long held the Prime Directive as a sci-fi concept worth making into a reality, moreso even than flip phone communicators and medical tricorder imaging tech. The Vulcan celebration of IDIC, Infinite Diversity from Infinite Combinations, is also one of the series’ most inspiring tenets.

Thompson (working off a concept by Donny Cates) presents a future where human advancement across a vast stellar landscape requires, in fact demands, that for all beings to align their goals and prosper, they must forego elements of culture and faith and belief. It’s an intriguing concept, considering much space fantasy fare focuses on Star Republics or Planetary Federations of divergent member races and worlds working in affiliation for the benefit of all, but with each retaining their individual society structures. The Galactic Relay system appears, conversely, to adhere to the philosophy of ICIP, or Infinite Conformity for Infinite Progress, all for the good of the whole.

In the #0 offering, we see how one such Relay conversion is accomplished, and it’s a patient, premeditated violation of the Prime Directive notion. The larger series, according to the solicitations, deals with Relay employee Jad Carter who becomes disillusioned with the system he’s helped propagate after an encounter with Relay’s legendary architect, Hank Donaldson. Based on #0’s deep exploration into the areas of faith, cultural implications, and expanding knowledge, I’m anxious to see where the series leads. And if the result of one man turning against the established, ruthless System he formerly served hearkens to a resolution of open rebellion, resulting chaos, or something more akin to Sam Lowry’s fate in Brazil.

Isola #4

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Brenden Fletcher.

Art by Karl Kerschl.

Colors by Msassyk.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar.

MJ: Isola is one of the most beautiful and visually exciting comics on the stands today, bar none. Karl Kerschl and Msassyk illustrate the most lush and inviting world you could imagine, plus—especially in this issue’s case—it’s suspenseful, scary, and thrilling. Writer Brenden Fletcher is a longtime collaborator with Kerschl (they’ve actually been friends since childhood!) and the story is credited to both. The seamless, gorgeous comics that have come from their partnership is testament to how well they work together.

This issue delves into flashbacks, clarifying a few story points that may have been confusing if you missed the introductory prelude pages that were published as back matter in issues of Motor Crush. There’s incredibly dynamic action sequences contained within, and a bit of heartbreak, too. Jumping in with this issue is certainly not recommended (go back and read issues one through three if you haven’t already, ya dummy!) but all-in-all, this series will take you on one of the most satisfying journeys a comic can possibly create.

Titans #23

DC/$3.99

Written by Dan Abnett.

Art by Brandon Peterson.

Colors by Ivan Plascencia.

Letters by Dave Sharpe.

BFH: One of the great under-recognized voices driving DC’s Rebirth has been the venerable Dan Abnett. He’s been writing not one, but two top-tier DC titles (Titans, Aquaman) since before Rebirth even started, not to mention one of the New Age of DC Heroes titles (The Silencer), and there’s no signs of him slowing down. This is particularly apparent with the release of Titans #23, which sees Abnett launching a new era of the titular team as part of the exciting Justice League reboot. While all of the other League-related books have completely new creative teams, Abnett is staying where he is, giving him the chance to keep building on what he’s already done.

Besides having Abnett’s steady talents on hand, he’s now joined by the capable Brandon Peterson on art. After spending most of his career thus far with Marvel, Peterson has recently moved back over to DC, providing guest stints on Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps and Harley Quinn. Given Peterson’s history with the X-Men in particular, it’s exciting to see him return to team book work, especially one with such a visually-entertaining roster. His polished style should match up quite nicely with Abnett’s writing. It’s a combination that I think will pay off handsomely.

There’s a lot of potential in the story that begins with this issue, one that spins directly out of No Justice and provides an opportunity to expand the DC Universe more on its own. And the new roster, which has echoes of the Young Justice cartoon while still feeling fresh, looks incredibly fun, too. Titans has been a solid series for DC throughout Abnett’s tenure, but this issue looks like the start of a particularly fun story, one that I can’t wait to read.

The Amazing Spider-Man #1 

Marvel/$5.99

Written by Nick Spencer.

Pencils by Ryan Ottley.

Inks by Cliff Rathburn.

Colors by Laura Martin.

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.

MJ: I’ve never been the biggest Spider-Man reader, but my interest was piqued for this new ongoing series—Dan Slott was leaving the title after ending his run with a story arc that got a lot of positive attention, and Ryan Ottley was taking over on art after completing a momentous run of his own with Invincible. I’ve read a few Nick Spencer books in the past that I enjoyed (notwithstanding Nazi Cap and Secret Empire), and knowing he did so well writing Superior Foes of Spider-Man gave me hope that Mr. Parker might be a better fit for him that Captain Rogers.

And surprise surprise, I found this debut issue more enjoyable than any Amazing Spider-Man I’ve read in a while. Ryan Ottley’s dynamic art certainly plays a big part in that (along with Cliff Rathburn’s crisp inks and Laura Martin’s bright colors), but Peter’s voice is one that Nick Spencer writes excellently. The main story is made up of thirty pages followed by a ten-page short with art by Humberto Ramos, Victor Olazaba and Edgar Delgado. Two more Ottley pages follow that, but that thirtieth page—the last of the first section—is gonna make a certain contingent of Spidey fans very, very happy.

If you were looking to jump back into reading ASM but found Slott’s massive run a bit too intimidating, or just wanted to finally check out this Spider-guy everyone seems to love, this is a refreshingly great introductory issue.

Superman #1

DC/$3.99

Written by Brian Michael Bendis.

Pencils by Ivan Reis.

Inks by Joe Prado.

Colors by Alex Sinclair.

Letters by Josh Reed.

JJ: I’ll admit that I did not enjoy The Man of Steel, the six-issue kick-off to Brian Michael Bendis’ much-ballyhooed Superman run. I felt it ran in place, committing to little, adding more questions to a series that had been plagued by more than enough already. Is Jor-El really who he says he is? Was Rogol Zaar really responsible for the destruction of Krypton? And what, for cryin’ out loud, what is the point of this arson subplot? To quote the Bard: Waugh.

And yet I remain a Superman devotee. There’s no way I’m not on board for this new run, despite how much I was already enjoying the Tomasi/Gleason/Jurgens era. These days creator arcs are limited things in superhero comics. Not so for Mr. Bendis, who has prospered under long commitments to characters such as the Ultimate Spider-Man and his own creation Jessica JonesAnd while on paper it certainly looks like Mr. Bendis is taking on quite a bit under his exclusive DC deal (he’ll be responsible for six ongoing series as of September), the prospect of an extended run for one of my all-time favorite characters is one too good to pass up. So I’m throwing my gripes out the window, thrilling to its new shipping schedule (no more twice-monthly!), and keeping my fingers crossed that I see Jon Kent and Lois Lane sooner than later.

But for real. Melody Moore flirting with Superman is a no-no, Brian. Take it easy with my heart.

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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