by Molly Jane Kremer, Arpad Okay, Mickey Rivera, Rachel Acheampong 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 Scout Comics’ ‘The Mall’ to the latest issue of ‘Marvel Two-in-One’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.
Written by Don Handfield/James Haick III.
Art by Rafael Loureiro.
Colors by Dijjo Lima.
Letters by DC Hopkins.
RA: The Mall is far more than your basic nostalgia trip through time. In a dinky town somewhere in Florida, way back when shopping malls were supposedly the spot to hang, three children fathered by the head of the Cardini crime family inherit legal businesses at the local indoor mall after his untimely death in Scout Comics’ latest series. The legit businesses are fronts; the real “score” is about to be exploited by a new crime family moving in on their turf. It’s do or die time.
The Mall is crime noir with Jordache as its tailor. It’s populated by three common archetypes from 80s movies; the nerd, the jock, the rich girl. Each character is equipped with unique backstories and their archetypes make the social commentary smart and funny. Three teens, each with their own issues and demons, thrust into organized crime. That makes The Mall one of the most entertaining series out right now. It establishes a gritty tone and manages to balance that grit with bright characters who are expressive and authentic.
And with those expressive faces, Rafael Loureiro goes for strong features to compliment his detailed backgrounds. Dijjo Lima uses bold, era-appropriate coloring that maintains a light-hearted vibe even when the book takes on a darker tone. The 80s aesthetic isn’t just for nostalgia’s sake. This period piece has the range. With The Mall you get all of the clothing, all of the hairstyles, all of the references without sacrificing all of the crime melodrama. Can the Cardini kids keep their high school life and newly-acquired careers in organized crime separate? You’ll need to read to see how they keep what’s theirs.
Black Mask Studios/$3.99
Written by Magdalene Visaggio.
Art by Becca Farrow.
Colors by Harry Saxon.
Letters by Zakk Saam.
MJ: When Halloween falls on a Wednesday, I feel like there’s an obligation to lean into the more supernatural—one might even say “spoopy”—releases on that new comic day. And while at first glance, with its stunningly pink cover, Sex Death Revolution #1 may not seem like the the scariest of selections, it revolves around the witchy goings-on of a Manhattan sorceress and just a bit of related existential horror. So it is in fact a totally fitting read for All Hallows’ Eve.
This is Mags Visaggio’s third comic series with Black Mask Studios (if you lump all those fantastic Kim & Kims together) and she continues to write believable characters in compelling circumstances, peppering the goings-on with crisp, often funny dialogue. Becca Farrow, Harry Saxon, and Zakk Saam’s art is a perfect fit—and gorgeous to boot. This is the third comic series Farrow has contributed to (her work on BOOM! Studio’s Ladycastle was exceptional), and her already remarkable work keeps improving.
Black Mask’s output is consistently good, their publishing schedule full of compulsively readable comics that push boundaries and exceed expectations—and Sex Death Revolution is no different. By leaps and bounds, this is a series you need to check out.
Written by Cullen Bunn.
Art by Jonas Scharf.
Colors by Alex Giumarães.
Letters by Ed Dukeshire.
MR: If you haven’t been reading Bone Parish you need to get on that immediately. This dark, brooding voodoo noir about a family-owned drug operation that sells a potent white powder named “ash.” Brewed from the bones of the dead, this mystical substance allows users to live out the memories of the deceased. Every aspect of this book, from the jarring drug induced flashbacks to the solid interpersonal character dynamics, oozes with mystery and intrigue.
Writer Cullen Bunn speaks volumes about the history of this family and their complex relationships with only a few suggestive conversations, all the while slowly introducing the existential threats facing them from psychotic competitors hungry to steal their business. Jonas Scharf’s visuals are moody and terrifying in equal measure. They couldn’t have picked a better pairing for this haunted story. This is Sopranos-level drama, dressed in the garb of a horror-suspense comic.
Written by Chelsea Cain.
Illustrated by Kate Niemczyk.
Colored by Rachelle Rosenberg.
Lettered by Joe Caramagna.
AOK: What I appreciate most about Man-Eaters is it engages on many levels. If you want to get fired up over social parallels, it’s there for you. A nation where the government polices women’s bodies on a Bitch Planet/Handmaid’s Tale scale? Yes. But there are also personal dynamics that are as important to the story as the world it’s set in. Family. Identity. Womanhood. And if you want the mythic, Man-Eaters sure as hell brings it to that arena, as well. Having your period could turn you into a killer therianthrope. A cat person. A murderer.
The real genius of Man-Eaters is in how these all overlap. The military state’s effect on the life of a young woman, a girl last issue, a potential threat to the neighborhood in this one. Politics, personal life, and the inexplicable eternal, they are all a part of every human being’s experience. Man-Eaters provides a thought-provoking, liberating, grim, authentic spin on it that you should be reading.
Written by Chip Zdarsky.
Art by Ramon K. Perez.
Colors by Federico Blee.
Letters by Joe Caramagna.
JJ: Maybe you heard the news: The Fantastic Four have been reunited in the Marvel Universe. Reed, Sue, Ben, Johnny. Valeria & Franklin, too. And though we’re still waiting to see how this long-awaited reunion will unfold in the pages of FF, Chip Zdarsky and the Team Supreme at Marvel Two-in-One are making sure we’re not kept waiting on one particular team-up.
The Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing and Mr. Fantastic make up the Two- in this particular issue of -One, which touches on the raw feelings Ben Grimm still has for Reed’s extended disappearance. Sure, Reed and Sue are back, but why did they have to leave in the first place? It’s a question many of us have had (especially here at DoomRocket) since the last pages of Secret Wars #9 fell from our hands nearly three years ago. I won’t spoil whether or not ol’ Chip and Ramon and Federico and Joe crack that particular walnut in this installment, but I will say that the journey this question takes Ben and Reed—which spans from a delightful greasy spoon to Universe F-266 to beyond—is one well-worth taking.
It’s the heart, thrills, and drama that make Two-in-One such an essential title in the Marvel library. How Zdarsky and his various collaborators—all of them talented, all of them essential—can take these icons, remove all pretense and make them so incredibly vulnerable, all while billions of Kirby Krackle dots fly past with the speed of the Power Cosmic, I’ll never know. Perhaps it’s the closest thing superhero comics has to a bonafide miracle.
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!