By Molly Jane Kremer, Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, Mickey Rivera 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’ ‘Crowded’ #1 to the latest issue of ‘Batman’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.
Written by Christopher Sebela.
Art by Ro Stein, Ted Brandt.
Colours by Triona Farrell.
Letters by Cardinal Rae.
Edited by Juliette Capra.
MJ: It can be difficult to pull off high-concept comics, but this week’s Crowded #1 kicks off splendidly, toying with hilarious (but just this side of almost-believable) concepts. Crowd-funded assassination-attempts, foiled by bodyguards-for-hire? It’s a helluva read.
No stranger to crowdfunding himself (with a couple successful Kickstarter campaigns under his belt), writer Christopher Sebela takes these ideas and runs them headlong into one of the best comic debuts this year (and yeah, it’s just as good as the phenomenal Shanghai Red #1 by Sebela, Joshua Hixson and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou). Crowded hits all the right notes: relatable characters (or at times relatably hate-able), tense action, snappy dialogue, wry humor, and sly plot developments. Sebela is one of comics’ best writers and this entire issue is a perfect example of why.
Crowded’s art team deserves equal praise here too: Ro Stein and Ted Brandt on pencils and inks respectively are ridiculously good. Their work pairs wonderfully with Triona Farrell’s bright, emotive colors. Stein and Brandt go all-out in characters’ expressions, and somehow make multiple gunfights, car chases, flashbacks and explosions look effortlessly captivating. Cardinal Rae’s letters keep everything moving at an excitable clip (and Charlie’s perfectly-pink captions are a sublime touch).
The creative team on Crowded #1 (which also includes editor Juliette Capra) is a group of extremely talented people firing on all cylinders. It’s certainly shaping up to be one of the best of the year.
Written by Scott Snyder.
Art by Jorge Jiménez.
Colors by Alejandro Sánchez.
Letters by Tom Napolitano.
CH: “The Totality Saga” has been a complex and daunting affair, for members of the Justice League and for readers as well. There’s a lot going on, the stakes are über-high, and the forces of weal stand on shaky footing for much of what’s transpired. Just when the team gained a modicum of control, the reigns were yanked from their hands by the Legion of Doom. Then applied against them as a garotte.
Writing Justice League must be akin to trotting along a razor’s edge barefoot. The members are powerful and their abilities diverse, so care must be exercised not to dumb them down for the sake of a cohesive storyline. Poor or reserved use of their powers would be the comics equivalent to those superhero television series where powers are forgotten or toned down due to limited special effects budgets. Applying able and creative use of JL powers means the antagonists have taken lots and lots of possibilities into consideration and prepared effective counter measures.
Herein is the complexity issue; the stories can become so convoluted for the sake of keeping all those plates spinning that it numbs a reader’s mind. Scott Snyder hasn’t lost much dinnerware in that ongoing war, has maintained the right handle on villains able to challenge the JL, and has dodged the convolution bullets. Okay, maybe he’s been winged by a stray round or two, but it’s still quality work.
Taking one issue at regular intervals to frame the Supervillainous Response cranked up the peril factor in issue #5 and having a completely different creative team for it was a clever stroke. Now we head back to the front lines with Justice League #6 for what should be the beginning of the Totality Resolution. Snyder and artist Jorge Jiménez have painted the Leaguers into quite the corner, with these next few issues setting the heroes about the business of slamming evil into submission. The allegro of their superheroic symphony was followed by powerful orchestral textures, Herculean struggles versus maleficent schemes. Time to see if the coda surpasses, maintains, or diminishes the impressive opening timbre.
Written by W. Maxwell Prince.
Illustrated by Martín Morazzo.
Colored by Chris O’Halloran.
Lettered by Good Old Neon.
AOK: If Ice Cream Man is anything, it’s unpredictable, a nebulous, unsettling, ever-shifting beast. The wrapper is a promise of Tales From the Crypt fun, but Ice Cream Man’s real concern is with that which poisons the soul. Weakness. Defeat. The horror of being alive.
I am here for this sixth issue because I have been reading W. Maxwell Prince for a while now and he says that this is his most ambitious work to date. A silent triptych in strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate (Chris O’Halloran does some stunning heavy lifting on this front); three stories told at once without any words. I am here for Ice Cream Man because it is a book about suffering and Martín Morazzo’s only rival in the field of drawing anxiety-stricken faces is Junji Ito.
Ice Cream Man never fails to freak me the fuck out.
Written by Farel Dalrymple.
Art by Farel Dalrymple.
MR: Proxima Centauri, like It Will All Hurt (which shares the same universe) occurs in a world whose logic shifts on the whims and emotions of a lost boy’s escapist fantasies. Though it focuses on the plight of a kid trapped on a space station near the titular dwarf star, it does so in maximalist, surrealist fashion. A billion tiny details—orbs of energy floating about, sudden shifts through time, occasional smatterings of ultraviolence—all coalesce in a whirlwind.
Proxima Centauri is the kind of book seemingly conceived just so Dalrymple could unhinge the top of his skull and pour out the iridescent sparkling typhoon of circuitry and magic within. From beginning to end, every issue of has been a goddamn flood of amazing art and aggressively whimsical storytelling. It’s growing stronger every month.
Written by Tom King.
Art by Lee Weeks.
Colors by Elizabeth Breitweiser.
Letters by Clayton Cowles.
JJ: Batman has been a duet for a while, a shared stage for two daredevils in love. No more. “Cold Days”, a series-defining arc by Tom King, Lee Weeks, Elizabeth Breitweiser and Clayton Cowles, is changing Batman in front of our very eyes. With these past three issues, we’ve seen Bruce Wayne confront what he his in broad daylight, his audience a jury of his peers. Bruce let someone get close to him, and his heart got broke as a result. Time to… maybe not mend, but learn. Grow. Move on.
Moving on is rarely easy and often messy, but in Batman it’s beautiful. Weeks and Breitweiser part the clouds and let a little light fall into the depths of Gotham City, a moment of grace in a book that mires in the messier parts of the soul. It underscores this examination of Bruce Wayne and his damned creature of the night, with pathos—and since this is the King era of Batman, the subtlety of an armored boot to the face.
What’s next for Batman? It’s not going to be pretty. It’s not going to be sweet, passionate, or romantic… maybe not even hopeful. But it is going to be astounding. Commit to this series as I have. Let Tom King show you how far Bruce Wayne can fall so that Batman may soar. It might take your breath away.
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!