By Molly Jane Kremer, Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, 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 ‘House Amok’ #1, the latest rager from Black Crown, to the newest, truest issue of ‘The New World’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.
Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$3.99
Written by Christopher Sebela.
Art by Shawn McManus.
Colors by Lee Loughridge.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
CH: Christopher Sebela has more irons in the incinerator right now than a widespread Rowenta recall. For him, increased output doesn’t equal decreased quality, though. In fact, part of the reason for this Staff Pick is a burning yearning to see him pull an August hat trick following the top-marks premiere of Crowded #1 a couple weeks ago. The remaining rationale is to see a writer with Sebela’s chops handling the fright fiction premise teased so handsomely in our advance review by DoomRocket’s own Jarrod Jones.
House Amok is Black Crown/IDW Publishing’s full-on attempt to leave us horror-struck with a tale of 10-year-old Dylan, the only sane member of a clan suffering from folie à deux (or in this case, folie en famille, family madness), a shared psychosis complete with unifying delusional beliefs and even hallucinations. Imagine a pre-pubescent Marilyn swept up in the monstrous doings of her Munsters relatives, except that here Lily, Herman, Grandpa, and Eddie are murderhobos on a family vacay killing spree. Not that it requires a lot to get my household into the twisted spirit of Halloween, a nudge at best, but this book should fast-track the process.
Given the whip-smart dialogue and characterization of Crowded, the heinous heart of House Amok #1 should be the chilling, crazy-but-clever variety from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer rather than the crazy-and-too-mean-to-die Rob Zombie sort. The scare potential of a family unified in their own altered reality, and the resulting fatalities for anyone encountering them, carries a dread anchored in real life horror. With Sebela at the scripting helm and Shawn McManus’ art, it should inspire nervous nights of fitful sleep and imagined bumps of nocturnal things cloaked in purely human skin. We really do make the best monsters.
Written by Aleš Kot.
Illustrated by Tradd Moore.
Colored by Heather Moore.
Lettered by Clayton Cowles.
Designed by Tom Muller.
Production Art by Ryan Brewer.
AOK: The New World should not be so much fun. A corporate nation-state built glorious on the rubble of American apocalypse doesn’t sound like a comic that leaves you grinning ear to ear. The inevitable moment of the public letting you down and going full Roman coliseum, it’s in there.
But what a joy The New World is. The characters are as lively as they come. Courageous, countercultural, charismatic, clear. Fun. The word is fun. Smiles that are infectious. Star-crossed lovers, perhaps, but definitely storied lives of which I want to hear more.
And The New World is a joy to behold. The linework is as carefree as the rebels it depicts. Bendy and calculated with a plethora of crisp detail. It belongs on the short list of fantastic illustrations that made Nowhere Men blow minds and Locas burst hearts.
Issue two. The shit hits the fan. Don’t. Miss. This.
Written by Rainbow Rowell.
Art by Kris Anka.
Colors by Matthew Wilson.
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.
MJ: The newest Runaways run has been a delight, the best the series has been since in the hands of creators Messrs. Vaughan and Alphona (et al.) fifteen years ago. Writer Rainbow Rowell has been doing magical stuff with character development in these past twelve issues, and a few plotlines definitely come to a head (sorry, Victor) in this final installment of the “Best Friends Forever” arc.
Kris Anka and Matthew Wilson outdo themselves yet again on the spectacular art. Anka’s details in expressions and attire makes this tight-knit group of friends feel as familiar and beloved as your own. If life were fair, the rendering of Karolina and Niko’s formalwear would merit an Eisner of its very own. Ever felt like you saw stars when you kissed your crush for the first time? Anka and Wilson literally make it happen.
Featuring a second-to-last page that’s gonna make you yell, and then a final page that’ll make you holler even louder, Runaways somehow keeps getting better and better, month after month.
Written by Vita Ayala
Inks by Lisa Sterle
Colors by Stelladia
Letters by Rachel Deering
SM: As the older sister to a younger brother I was automatically drawn to the premise of Submerged. Elysia gets an alarming call from her brother that is suddenly cut off on the night of the biggest storm to ever hit Manhattan. She then has to traverse the abandoned subway in order to find him. Top that off with Vault’s own description of the piece as “dark fantasy realism” and I jumped right in.
Upon reading the first issue, however, you realize that it isn’t so much dark fantasy realism as it is a fresh take on classic mythology. You see the three men outside of the tunnel as Cerberus, and the ride on the train as a ride down the River Styx. If this is true, however, that means that we’re not watching Elysia just traverse the Underground, she’s traversing the Underworld.
And if that’s true, what does that say about her brother, who just so happens to be named Angel? Is Elysia unknowingly following a path to save him from the Underworld? Or, does she already know what lies at the end of this journey, and we’re following through her own delusion? I’m curious to find out what terrors lie ahead, and what truths Elysia will have to come face to face with.
Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$3.99
Written by Tini Howard.
Art by Nick Robles.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
JJ: Why should you read Euthanauts? For heart-stopping feels and an arresting mystery. A human touch that will send goosebumps screaming across your body.
“Death-positivity.” A fascinating concept. Is death our final doorway or simply the next one? Euthanauts wants to know, too. Tini Howard doesn’t pretend to have the keys to this question—she’s right there with us, wondering, asking, contemplating the beyond and giving us courage by shining a bit of life into it.
As for her creative partner-in-the-here-and-after, Nick Robles… well. This is where things get really crazy. His pencils and inks have the sophistication of Bilquis Evely, his panelwork the meticulous framework of Aco… the hues he applies to his characters and their environments have the comforting warmness I’ve often seen from Tamra Bonvillain. Where has Nick been all my life, that’s what I want to know. Together, they inspire in us the same wonder we felt years ago when Sandman was just warming up. Euthanauts is that good and I’m telling you so.
What’s more, Tini and Nick, they gave us Thalia. Terrified by what she’s seen, compromised by her own curiosity, Thalia finds her strength by finding answers, even when she didn’t ask. In a sea of uncertainty and doubt, Thalia dives, floats, survives. (Survives? Yes. For now. As for later… well, it’s complicated.) Thalia’s growth is why you should read Euthanauts; each step takes her closer to her ultimate self. It is a beautiful thing to behold. Encouraging. Because Thalia is us, ever on the cusp of understanding the truth of it all before the idea slips away, sent down a stream of reverie and consciousness, forever.
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!