By Stefania Rudd, Brendan F. Hodgdon, Jami 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 the second genesis of ‘X-Men: Grand Design’ to the riotous first-act finale of ‘Punks Not Dead’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

X-Men: Grand Design Second Genesis #1


Written by Ed Piskor.

Art and letters by Ed Piskor: 

JamiJ: In December of last year cartoonist Ed Piskor released an ambitious project, one that promised to make sense out of nearly 60 years of tangled comic lore belonging to the X-Men. Piskor wrote, penciled, inked, colored, and lettered the groundbreaking X-Men: Grand Design, which was nominated for both a Ringo (Best Presentation in Design) and an Eisner (Best Limited Series). In two issues Piskor put into perspective an origin story which maintained the gravity of the source material without alienating readers unfamiliar with the complex plotlines.

Months have gone by since issue #2 dropped in January, leaving fans either lingering near Marvel shelves in expectation of the next chapter or poring through past collections and graphic novels, ravenous for all things X. Piskor offers relief in X-Men: Grand Design Second Genesis #1, out this week.

Building on Grand Design, Second Genesis continues to introduce new characters and beloved story arcs in chronological order, his respect and admiration evident on every page, as is his attention to detail and history. Second Genesis is a celebration of a beloved superhero saga, meant for the reader and the creator alike.

Punks Not Dead #6

Black Crown/$3.99

Written by David Barnett.

Art by Martin Simmonds.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar.

JJ: Unless IDW comes roaring out of October Solicits this week with news that #7 hits stores this fall (spoilers: they didn’t), issue #6 of Punks Not Dead marks the last issue of the series for the foreseeable future. The first arc, “Teenage Kicks”, has ended, but David Barnett and Martin Simmonds are encouraging us to keep the faith:

“This isn’t the end of the gig; it’s just the interval,” they tell us in the letters column of this ish. “Thanks for sticking with us so far, but be warned: we have a lot of story to tell, and we’re going to some frankly batshit crazy places.”

Readers/lovers of Black Crown already know what “batshit crazy” really means. It means the sensible and the sane need not apply. In Punks Not Dead, music makes our eyes explode. Magic has no master here. Certain characters are either ghosts or entities or something else entirely. Magpies torment, secrets roll out slowly—if at all. It’s the sleight-of-hand of Barnett & Simmonds that makes this book work, but it’s editor Shelly Bond’s “damn the torpedoes” adherence to storytelling diligence that makes it sing.

So yeah. Punks Not Dead is out for the time being. But the last six issues have offered some of the more affirming comics I’ve read this year—not just in skill, but in attitude. It’s the kind of stuff that would have been read by myself and the disaffected youths I called my friends back in the day. The kind of weird shit we needed to read. That we need to read still.

The New World #1

Image Comics/$4.99

Written by Aleš Kot.

Art by Tradd Moore.

Colors by Heather Moore.

Letters by Clayton Cowles.

Design by Tom Muller.

JJ: Aside from the glorious return of X-Men: Grand Design (see above), there’s no other book on the shelves this week that will offer more bang for your buck than The New World #1.

60 pages. 60 pages of post-nuclear Americana, a comic book future where authoritarianism is still a thing and so is reality TV; where we only just survived a Second Civil War but still have some fight left in us yet. Where role and function doesn’t preclude one to get laid once in a while. Love still works as it ought to, and in The New World, two people who shouldn’t want a damn thing to do with each other—one a militarized cop with their own TV show and the other a soyboy hacker anarchist—can’t seem to control their animal urges when the other is in the room. It’s a Shakespearean jaunt through a frightening reality, one that reminds you that when there’s a boot on your neck, you scrape underneath, break free, and live the way you want to—not the way others say you should.

And if that wasn’t enough The New World #1 even takes time to introduce two new creative voices in its final supplementary pages. “Work Nights” is the collaborative efforts of writer Aaron Stewart-Ahn and artist Sunando C, and while it doesn’t pertain to the narrative of Kot & Moore’s politically-charged insanity, it does adhere to its ethos, a B-side that provides a tease of A-list craft to come.

Editor’s Note: Don’t. Pass. This. By.

Mr. & Mrs. X #1

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Kelly Thompson.

Art by Oscar Bazaldua.

Colors by Frank D’Armata.

Letters by VC’s Joe Sabino.

BFH: After doing such a killer job with her Rogue & Gambit miniseries earlier this year, it is only fitting that Kelly Thompson be given the chance to chronicle their adventures as a married superhero couple. Given what will (hopefully) be a longer-form series, Thompson will have a lot more space to keep exploring this tortured couple’s relationship with all the emotional honesty that made her prelude miniseries such a success. It will also be exciting to see artist Oscar Bazaldua spread his wings and take full advantage of having a series of his own to illustrate, especially given the particular blend of emotionality and adventure that the leading couple represent.

The big question that Mr. & Mrs. X will hopefully answer is: will a Big Two superhero couple actually manage to live happily ever after? After the infuriating (but not totally surprising) events of recent marriage event stories, having a series built entirely around a married couple is more than a bit notable. One only hopes that this cosmic jaunt is only the beginning of Rogue and Gambit’s matrimonial bliss, and that Thompson and Bazaldua will get to tell many stories of the Merry Married Mutants in the months and years ahead.

The Long Con #1

Oni Press/$3.99

Written by Dylan Meconis.

Art by E.A. Denich.

Colors by M. Victoria Robado.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar.

SR: Each year the popularity of comic conventions seem to grow. They find ways to bring in new fandoms while catering to the familiar favorites. Often times being a part of these three or four day experiences feels like magic, and going back into the “real world” after being surrounded by cool, like-minded folk can be tough. But what if you never had to leave? Not because you wanted to, but because if you did it could possibly mean… your end?

That’s the premise of Oni Press’ new series, The Long Con. A catastrophic event destroyed everything around the Los Spinoza Convention Center, and the attendees of Long Con, the world’s biggest and longest comic convention, are still going… five years later. When the outside world finds out what’s happening on the convention floor, reporter Victor Lai, who was once at the con to cover it, is sent back in to discover what exactly has been going on over the past half-decade. I’m looking forward to seeing how Dylan Meconis will take the setting and weave in stories of humanity and survival, entertaining us as we snack on our overpriced pizza slices.

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!