By 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 the exciting writing debut of our own Molly Jane Kremer on Lion Forge’s ‘Mae’ to the all-new Azzarello/Bermejo Bat-joint, ‘Batman: Damned’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.
Lion Forge Comics/ROAR/$3.99
Written by Molly Jane Kremer.
Art by Gene Ha.
Colors by Wes Hartman.
Color assist by Summer Sparacin.
Letters by Zander Cannon.
AOK: Mae is just a fun playground to run your imagination around in. Gene Ha grabbed all of us by bringing a lost sibling back from the other side of the Looking Glass, and bringing monsters and high fantasy with her. Since then, Mae (and Mae herself) has grown, brought family troubles and general realness over to the Other World instead of vice versa, brought on new writers, and a new take on art.
Ha’s art has crystalized in this second season. Mae started soft, painterly, and has become crisp, clear, delicious. Mae’s run at Lion Forge’s Roar sees Ha pushing himself to create something more defined, something fuller, something new. Part of this is art, part of it is putting his creation into the hands of people he trusts.
Enter Molly Jane Kremer. Kremer lives breathes sweats dreams comics. She loves comics more than anyone I’ve ever met, and she understands them, how they work. I’m geeked to see her bring the drama, the fashion, the pure essence of good story to the panels for the first time, and you should be, too.
Written by Tini Howard.
Pencils by Chris Sprouse and Ron Lim.
Inks by Karl Story, Walden Wong and Scott Hanna.
Colors by Jesus Aburtov, Erick Arciniega and Israel Silva.
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.
JJ: We’re reaching an exciting tipping point in mainstream comics at the moment. The old guard is respectfully signal-blasting the incredible talents of the new, and major publishers are giving this next generation of cool kids an opportunity to show off what they can do. In the case of Marvel, they’ve heralded the coming of exciting new voices by putting creators such as Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler on Cable, Matthew Rosenberg on The Punisher, Jody Houser on Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, Ryan Cady on Old Man Logan, Leah Williams on X-Men Black: Emma Frost, Saladin Ahmed on Black Bolt and Exiles—and perhaps most thrillingly, Tini Howard on Captain America. Tini’s Marvel debut drops this week.
What’s so exciting about this annual isn’t just that Howard is the first woman to have a sole writing credit on Captain America in generations—though that alone is a primary selling point—it’s that she’s been tasked to write one of the most popular male American superheroes of all time by one of the largest comic book companies in the world. And she aced it. Because of course she did. As though were ever any doubt.
If you read DoomRocket with any sort of regularity, you already know that we’re fans of Tini Howard. I feel she’s one of the strongest voices comics has today. Reading her words come out from Steve Trevor and Bucky Barnes, who are caught in a sniper’s nest in WW2 alongside Soviet and German concentration camp escapees, sticks a lump right square in my throat. When Cap and Bucky fling themselves into the sky and towards imminent danger, blood on their knuckles and retribution in their hearts, I pause and think of how brilliant the future of comics will be knowing there are people like Tini in it. You will, too.
Written by Patrick Kindlon.
Art by Marco Ferrari.
Colors by Patrizia Comino.
Letters by Jim Campbell.
CH: A comedic cyberpunk tale of criminal revenge that’s as irreverent as it is twisted? It might be a dicey challenge for some writers, but recalling Patrick Kindlon’s work on There’s Nothing There, I’m convinced he’ll make Patience! Conviction! Revenge! memorable. In the former, he seeded a grisly tale of eldritch horror and serious bloodletting with not-so-serious dialogue delivered at Mach 1 speed by a protagonist long on attitude, short on couth. This creative combination will serve Kindlon’s new title well. Plus, they had me at ‘Elmore Leonard meets Blade Runner’.
While Kindlon is very capable of laying on a heavy stratum of smarm, he also defies trapping his characters beneath it. There are usually heartfelt moments in the midst of chaos and carnage, moments that aren’t forced and which pleasantly surprise. The preview pages for Patience! Conviction! Revenge! hint that at least some of the feels may be between a criminal genius and the robots he builds after his underworld partners abandon him in the desert. Those same pages showcase the art of Marco Ferrari, and his diverse layouts combined with an appealing vision of near-future cyberworld reality should add to the drawing power for the premiere issue.
Not all heroes are good guys, and some are just plain criminals, anti- or otherwise. But their predicaments and how they deal with them can win us over to their side. There’s satisfaction when over-reaching and impersonal cartels suffer, not at the hands of competitors nor law enforcement, but because they did someone dirty and thought they were dealt with. We love it when corporations, legal or illicit, underestimate the power of that one person they failed to bury deep enough, and get served a steaming platter of ruin for their oversight.
Berger Books/Dark Horse Comics/$3.99
Written by Darin Strauss and Adam Dalva.
Art by Emma Vieceli.
Colors by Lee Loughridge.
SM: “I wished to show, in little Oliver, the principle of good surviving through every adverse circumstance, and triumphing at last.” – Charles Dickens
Damn, that’s a nice sentiment. I want to wake up to that every morning. “Good triumphs over evil, honey. Here’s your waffles.”
Unfortunately, we know this isn’t true. There is no cosmic good waiting to kindly blanket a clearly-defined evil. This is why stories exist. This is why we read comics. You may very well ask yourself, as I asked myself, why should I be interested in an Oliver Twist remake? First, Darin Strauss. Strauss is a trustworthy, award-winning author gifted at adapting lives into literature. For him to take his first steps into the comic book world alongside Berger Books should be quite a thing to behold. Second, in reading Oliver Twist, an entirely new wave of socially-conscious readers were able to develop concern for the welfare of the poor, and the abuse of orphans and laboring children in London. Young Oliver remained steady in the face of cruelty in his corrupted, industrialized society. In other words, Dickens was trying to get people woke. He was a pioneer.
In Olivia Twist we get to step into the awareness of these issues, all whilst following a badass, dark-skinned female orphan refugee; a self-proclaimed leader of men. She represents everything you want to be championing. She’s the one who deserves those waffles in the morning. In true Dickensian fashion, though, we know we’ll watch her struggle. No one’s waking her up in the morning and making her breakfast. Olivia is here to wake us up.
DC Black Label/$6.99
Written by Brian Azzarello.
Art by Lee Bermejo.
Letters by Jared K. Fletcher.
Design by Steve Cook.
JJ: The Batman flirts with the flames of Hell in Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo’s Batman: Damned. DC’s first Black Label debut is a gorgeous one to behold, monstrous in size, in scope, in concept, in execution. It has an audacity to it that you don’t normally find in a Batman comic, not these days; when the Dark Knight is often seen swooping around with the Justice League or nursing a broken heart, where do you go when you want a DC book to sock you right in the gob? Right here. This is mean, dirty comics, the kind you hid from your mother and then later, when you got cool and comics did, too, you displayed it proudly on your grown-ass bookshelf.
The label is Black but its heart is strictly Vertigo. Check the credits: Will Dennis, former Vertigo editor. 100 Bullets, Scalped. Mark Doyle, Vertigo’s current rédacteur en chef. The mighty Lee Bermejo, of Hellblazer and his own sick, slick Suiciders. And then there’s Brian. Mr. Azzarello. Bringing his 100 Bullets tough-guy bullshit to the hardest brand DC has. This team has the ability to hit you hard, and what’s more, they really want to.
And under all this big, swinging posturing lies a book that might have some of the best interior artwork I’ve seen this year. Lee’s been holding out on us, getting it right, just so he could knock us dead just as the air outside gets colder and our tastes turn to the darker stuff. His broken Batman flutters above a forsaken city, wild, a savior to no one. He can’t even save himself. Ever at the mercy of charlatans, spirits, sorceresses and his own damnation. Batman’s fucked and it looks amazing.
So here it is. Batman: Damned. Sitting there on DC’s top shelf. Now put it on yours.
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!