By Molly Jane Kremer, Stefania Rudd, Brendan F. Hodgdon, Sara Mitchell 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’ all-new debut for ‘The Punisher’ to the latest ’Beasts of Burden’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

The Punisher #1


Written by Matthew Rosenberg.

Art by Szymon Kudranski.

Colors by Antonio Fabela.

Letters by VC’s Cory Petit.

JJ: To what new vertigo-inspiring heights can Matt Rosenberg take Frank Castle? That’s the only question on my mind these days. During Rosenberg’s already-awesome Punisher run came a curious look for ol’ Frank: sealed inside unused War Machine technology, The Punisher soared through the air and took AI-guided aim at his latest adversary, Hydra. It was a concept so inspired I certainly hope there was a bonus involved.

And while sticking Frank in a ludicrously over-powered tin can wasn’t a new idea (don’t nobody go forgetting about that Punisher Exo-suit from the ’90s, now), what made Rosenberg’s “War Machine” saga stand out was that no matter how ludicrous things got for Frank, Frank was still Frank. Through and through. Rosenberg never forgot who he was messing with, and neither did we.

From “War Machine” to “War Criminal” Matt’s kept Marvel’s walking, stalking, Swiss watch-ticking time bomb wound tight. And now comes “World War Frank”, a storyarc that features a more recognizable Castle coping with the aftermath of “Criminal” and a newfound bloodlust for more dangerous game. Let that minimal cover by Greg Smallwood lure you in—just never mind Frank’s smoking gun pointed at your heart. This is The Punisher in his purest form. Realized by Szymon Kudranski and Antonio Fabela, all the pieces have fallen into place. And now here I am, pushing a Punisher book, of all things. Will wonders never cease.

Cold Spots #1

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Cullen Bunn.

Art by Mark Torres.

Letters by Simon Bowland.

SM: Are you holding onto the past, or is the past holding onto you?

In the new supernatural horror miniseries Cold Spots, Dan Kerr finds the past tightening its grip on him as he investigates the recent disappearances of the wife and daughter he abandoned ten years ago.

Put yourself in his shoes for a moment and imagine the chills down your spine, as cold, haunted hands from the depths of your past start reaching out for you. They’ve come for you from that dark place inside where your guilt, shame and pain live, and they’ve suddenly been given a direct route to the surface as the people you abandoned ten years ago have gone missing. Now they’ve become the people you’re responsible for finding. Imagine that those chills down your spine and those cold hands reaching out, they’re not just in your imagination. They’re real. They’re ghosts.

In the story that creators Cullen Bunn and Mark Torres have built for us, ghosts are appearing in the world and causing drastic drops in temperatures as they do. They’re beginning to accumulate for some reason, and our characters are learning to navigate these reappearances of their pasts.

Ghost stories have always been a way for us to externalize and personify the fears and struggles of our lives; a way to examine our dark, internal selves. When I think of what excites me about Cold Spots, it’s that, with Dan, we get to externalize, personify, and explore the fears of failing as a father, and the shame of abandoning a family, by tying it intrinsically to the fear of being haunted. The premise opens the door to seeing how other characters in this world relate to their ghosts. Do they long for the past? Are they in love with it? Did it hurt them? Despite however tightly Dan held onto his past, it’s got a fierce grip on him now, and I’m guessing it’ll get a grip on us, too.

Beasts of Burden: Wise Dogs and Eldritch Men #1

Dark Horse Comics/$3.99

Written by Evan Dorkin.

Art by Benjamin Dewey.

Letters by Nate Piekos. 

MJ: Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson’s Beasts of Burden has been making quick, periodic but beloved appearances on Dark Horse’s publication roster since 2003, when the short story “Stray” was included in the Dark Horse Book of Hauntings. The many incarnations of the series, and Thompson particularly, went on to win eight (!) Eisner Awards. Dorkin and Thompson have been the only creators to work on this critically-acclaimed creator-owned endeavor of theirs—until now, that is. The newest mini-series, Wise Dogs and Eldrich Men, features art by Benjamin Dewey of Autumnlands fame. It’s a match made in doggie (and kitty) heaven.

The Beasts put out a forest fire, battle goblins, and begin to delve into a new mystery in this first of four installments. Immediately Dorkin’s well-developed characters meld perfectly with Dewey’s painterly, emotive storytelling. Dewey’s work on Autumnlands has already proven his extraordinary talents in painting many different animal species and breeds, and in making them expressive and sympathetic characters. His art is gorgeous in and of itself, with vibrant colors and painstaking detail that lends itself well to this tale.

Dorkin has said on Twitter that Jill Thompson will be back on the series as soon as they can schedule it. Until then, this is yet another volume of Beasts of Burden that will likely accumulate similar critical acclaim (and probably bunches of that ol’ Eisner buzz too), really establishing Dewey as the master artist and storyteller we already know him to be.

West Coast Avengers #1


Written by Kelly Thompson.

Art by Stefano Caselli.

Colors by Triona Farrell.

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.

BFH: My favorite team books usually have what I call “grab-bag rosters.” They’re the books with a random, unexpected lineup of characters being thrown together to see what sparks fly. From the Carey/Bachalo/Ramos X-Men to the Orlando/Reis/MacDonald JLA, it’s the WTF-worthy teams that always get my attention the most. It looks like the new volume of West Coast Avengers is a team book made just for me.

Kelly Thompson has been on quite the roll lately dropping exciting projects left and right at Marvel, and it’s great to see her take the reigns of an Avengers title. This one feels particularly intriguing, as it sees her continuing the adventures of the Hawkeyes after her tremendous work on Kate Bishop’s solo title. Not to mention that characters like America Chavez, Gwenpool and Quentin Quire are all very much in her wheelhouse. And then there’s Stefano Casselli, who has a great creative history at Marvel, and has done very good work on team titles before. I have no doubt that this creative team will work beautifully together, and bring some real energy to these characters.

Additionally some of the details of their pitch, like the reality show confessionals and the return of Tigra as an antagonist, mark the creative team’s course for the title as a unique one. As befitting a West Coast Avengers book, they establish their own vibe; this book should have no trouble standing out on the shelves. I hope that Thompson and Casselli have a long and wild run on this series. I’ll gladly be there to read all of it.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour #2

BOOM! Studios/$3.99

Written by Ben Acker & Ben Blacker.

Art by M.J. Erickson.

Colors by Brittany Peer.

Letters by Mike Fiorentino.

SR: People familiar with Ben Acker and Ben Blacker’s live stage show and podcast The Thrilling Adventure Hour will be excited to have their favorite married couple mediums, Frank and Sadie Doyle, back in their lives. I know I am!

Ah, the Doyles. They who behave very much in the same in the vein as Nick and Nora Charles of The Thin Man movie series from the 1930s and 40s, brought to life by comedians Paul F. Tompkins and Paget Brewster. Their illustrated versions—realized by M.J. Erickson, Brittany Peer and Mike Fiorentino—you’d be happy to know, are just as witty, clever, and ridiculous. In this BOOM! Studios series, the Doyles are entertaining guests when they’re interrupted by a frazzled gentlemen claiming his home his haunted.

No need to let the party stop, however; cocktails can be made anywhere, my dear. I’m very much looking forward to leafing through this second issue, thrilling to the Doyles in their element, clinking glasses and communing with the dead. As you do.

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!