by Stefania Rudd, Don Alsafi, Clyde Hall, Brendan Hodgdon and Sara Mitchell. Comics that challenge us, slay us, beguile us — the comics we simply can’t wait to devour. That’s DoomRocket’s Staff Picks. From Chip Zdarsky’s swansong issue of ‘Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man’ to the latest thrilling ish of ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #310
Written by Chip Zdarsky.
Art by Chip Zdarsky.
Letters by VCs Travis Lanham.
DA: When Marvel launched PPTSSM last fall, it was like a breath of fresh air. While the Peter Parker seen in Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man was a formula-breaking, globetrotting tech firm CEO, Spectacular gave us a more familiar Spidey, fighting street level foes and dealing with surprising relationships. (In this case, the confirmation of a yes-we’re-serious real life sister.)
Joined by such artistic talents as Adam Kubert, Joe Quinones, Michael Allred, Chris Bachalo and more, writer Chip Zdarsky’s run featured an alien invasion, time travel to both the past and an alternate dystopic present, and—most shockingly of all—the disclosure of Spidey’s secret identity to perennial thorn in his side, J. Jonah Jameson. That this week’s issue is the finale to Chip’s entirely stellar run is thus bittersweet—though mitigated by the fact that July’s Amazing relaunch absolutely knocked it out of the park.
But trust Zdarsky to go out on a high note! For the capper to his year-long Spider-adventure, Chip chose to give the art chores to the award-winning illustrator of Image Comics’ Sex Criminals: one Chip Zdarsky. And what he delivers here is nothing less than a standalone story summing up who Spidey is and what he means to the world (and perhaps ol’ Chip). It doesn’t matter if you’ve not read Zdarsky’s run before now—you still can, and should, pick this one up. It’s one of the most character-defining self-contained Spidey stories since 1984’s “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man”, and we’ll be surprised if it doesn’t end up with an Eisner nomination for “Best Single Issue”.
Aside from continuing to write Marvel Two-in-One, where Chip goes next remains to be seen. But make no mistake: We’ll be watching—and with great interest.
Heroes in Crisis #1
Written by Tom King.
Art by Clay Mann.
Colors by Tomeu Morey.
Letters by Clayton Cowles.
SR: When I quickly first read the premise of Heroes in Crisis I thought, “Whoa, that sounds cool.” Then I re-read it and thought, “Wait, no, this sounds reeeeally cool…” It’s moments like this where I genuinely get excited for a new series.
Sure, that’s easy to say when said series is being written by Tom King, one of the most popular writers working today, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the art comes from Clay Mann, who is able to take on the sheer iconography of the DCU and place it on the page so effortlessly. It was also announced last week that the series will be expanding from its original seven issues to nine, and artists Lee Weeks and Mitch Gerads will be joining the fracas for an A-list event like no other.
Heroes in Crisis seems to be set in Sanctuary Hospital (a locale introduced in King’s Batman), a place for superheroes to rest and work through the post-traumatic stress that often comes with their insane jobs. It’s an interesting enough concept on its own, but King ramps things up a notch by also including a murder mystery plot that involves the deaths of certain beloved characters. Oh, boy.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #31
Script by Marguerite Bennett and Ryan Ferrier.
Art by Simone Di Meo and Bachan.
Ink Assistance by Alessandro Cappuccio.
Colors by Walter Baiamonte with Francesco Segala, Jeremy Lawson.
Letters by Ed Dukeshire and Jim Campbell.
BFH: Unlike many of my generational peers, the Power Rangers did not leave a very long-lasting impression in my pop culture psyche. I enjoyed them as a kid, and then left them behind. But they’ve come roaring back into my consciousness of late, thanks to the stellar BOOM! Studios line of comics. For me, these comics have lived up to the potential of the Power Rangers premise in a way the low-budgeted television original never could. And now, with the release this week of issue #31 of the flagship title, they have gone full comic-book crazy.
The idea of assembling a team out of disparate Rangers from alternate universes is a very fun one (reminiscent of Marvel’s Exiles) while serving as a great launching pad from which us lapsed fans can learn about the myriad alternate Power Rangers series. It should be particularly fun to see writer Marguerite Bennett play with this colorful, charmingly-overwrought universe. And given BOOM!’s stellar track record with artists on this line, I’m sure that Simone Di Meo will work dynamic wonders with these wild-looking characters. All told, this sucker looks to be a surefire romp that I can’t wait to read. (Plus, a backup story written by the great Ryan Ferrier always makes for a lovely bonus.)
Bone Parish #3
Written by Cullen Bunn.
Art by Jonas Scharf.
Colors by Alex Giumarães.
Letters by Ed Dukeshire.
SM: There’s something endlessly compelling about family members keeping deep dark secrets from each other. In Bone Parish we follow the Winters family, creators and distributors of New Orleans’s hottest new drug, Ash. But Bone Parish isn’t just compelling because of the dark, lonely, secretive members of this family enterprise, it’s the Ash itself. The Winters harvest their product from the bones of the bodies they rob from cemeteries. From ashes to Ash, as the saying goes.
Consuming the dead opens a door the likes of which these characters may not be prepared for. In death there is their history; loved ones, lovers. But in death there is also darkness. Depths from which no one shall resurface. When people take Ash, one of the effects is that they hallucinate the person they’ve partaken. In this sense I look particularly to the Winters family matriarch and her daughter; in life they are lonely, but they dabble with the dead. And to dabble with the dead in Bone Parish leads to dependence, destabilization, and secrets.
So the question arises: when you’re hallucinating an experience with the dead, is it from your own imagination that they arise and by which they are restrained, or are they coming to you from a space outside of your mind? Are they resurfacing from the depths? Can they escape? Bone Parish invites these dangers along with the living, breathing consequences that follow a family uprooting the past and selling the ashes for profit.
Scooby-Doo Team-Up #42
Written by Sholly Fisch.
Art by Dario Brizuela.
Colors by Franco Riesco.
Letters by Saida Temofonte.
CH: Sholly Fisch is an unsung natural resource of pop culture creativity. Grant Morrison is also a fan, so it’s not just me. Check his creds and see if he hasn’t proven his writing chops powerful enough to rival anything in Hong Kong Phooey’s arsenal. Across different mediums, scripting every DC character major to obscure, connecting continuity not only between issues but between Hanna-Barbera, Looney Tunes, and DC comics history, and maintaining quality for his entire run on Scooby-Doo Team-Up. With issue #42 coming out this week, he’s proven himself a seemingly inexhaustible reservoir of imagination.
Alongside other creatives like his current team of artist Dario Brizuela, colorist Franco Riesco, and letterer Saida Temofonte, Fisch has produced Team-Up issues pairing the Scooby Gang with everyone from Jonny Quest to the Marvel Family, the Legion of Super-Heroes to Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles, and the Justice Society of America to Atom Ant. And he does it with amazing nuance. Having met Batman and Robin in previous adventures, when the Scoobies encounter the Teen Titans Go! version later on, Daphne comments that the Teen Wonder “sure seems different with the Titans than when he’s with Batman.” To which Freddie sagely replies, “I guess everybody acts differently with their friends than they do with a grown-up.”
Fisch and crew also do extensive research into the rich deposits of DC history and previous continuities for story details and connections, making Team-Up a source for readers of all ages to learn about characters found nowhere else in the company’s monthly titles. Which is why #42 should prove a goldmine of obscure references that I’m looking forward to. Also because gorillas. And because other simians, too.
Pleasantville turns decidedly unpleasant when evil swings into town in the form of such dang dirty DC apes as Monsieur Mallah, Pryemaul, Gorilla Grodd, Titano, and the Ultra-Humanite. Luckily, Mystery, Inc’s consultants on the case include PI Sam Simeon, Detective Chimp, and Congorilla. Never content with just the big names of any pantheon, Fisch will no doubt layer on lesser-known primates as well, in clever homage to the era when any DC cover was better for having a gorilla on it.
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!