by Molly Jane KremerDon Alsafi, Clyde HallMickey Rivera 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 IDW Publishing’s ‘Go-Bots’ #1 to the wildly emotional finale to ‘The New World’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.

Go-Bots #1

IDW Publishing/$3.99

Written and illustrated by Tom Scioli.

DA: Thank the heavens we have creators like Tom Scioli. It’s been a quarter century since we lost the great Jack Kirby, but Scioli’s heavily-inspired Kirbyesque artwork is always a pleasing reminder of the sometimes-shocking power to be had in The King’s outrageous and outsized creations.

But Scioli isn’t just a copycat stylist; he understands that one of the biggest lessons Kirby imparted to the following generations was to go one’s own way and do the unexpected. Ten years ago, Scioli was creating the mind-bending sci-fi comic Gødland with Joe Casey. And then, in 2014-2016, he threw himself into the improbable Transformers vs. G.I. Joe miniseries, taking what should have been a cheap and disposable Hasbro toy tie-in, and instead delivering something that looked and read like the climactic chapters of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World saga.

Well, Tom Scioli is back for more of the same – and this time is turning his funky talents toward Go-Bots. If you’ve never heard the name before, don’t be surprised; Go-Bots were a competing line of morphing robot toys in the 1980s similar to the Transformers, but which never quite approached the same level of sales or popularity. Of course, Hasbro later bought the rights to Go-Bots as well – which means that this is now the third Hasbro property that Tom Scioli is tackling in his idiosyncratic style.

It really bears repeating: Most toy tie-in comics are the most niche of the niche, and rarely contain anything of value for anyone not already a fan. But when you’ve got someone with Tom Scioli’s sensibilities on hand? All bets are off! And hey – props to Hasbro for authorizing these refreshingly new takes! While most corporations are notoriously twitchy about their IP being developed in ways that go “off-model”, their reaction to the shocking directions Scioli has now taken three of their franchises was seemingly met with nothing more than a “Sure, kid – go nuts!”

The Long Con #5

Oni Press/$3.99

Written by Dylan Meconis and Ben Coleman.

Art by EA Denich.

Colors by M. Victoria Robado.

Letters by Aditya Bidikar.

CH: Flix Bixby, Flix Bixby, Flix Bixby. It’s just fun to say the name of a C-list celeb guest who’s part of The Long Con cast. It’s been equally enjoyable watching Dylan Meconis, Ben Coleman, EA Denich, M. Victoria Robado, and Aditya Bidikar unleash their hella creative concept of post-apocalyptic fandom. Issue #5 debuts this week, and for those just tuning in, here’s the sitch: A major comic book and fantasy convention is the site of a cataclysmic Event, leaving the world to believe the location was vaporized, and the con-goers believing they are the only humans transplanted into a bizarre etherzone. Five years later, barriers between the realities weaken and an outsider from our world is thrust into the savage microcosm established by Long Con’s attendee castaways.

Fans can be a rabid lot. Confining a large concentration of them in a giant conference center for five years leads to cliques becoming tribes who claim territories and break into warring factions. Still, it’s not a grim tale, as apocalypses go. The creatives make gentle light of our fannish conceits, laboring overtime to flesh out the pop culture shows and books that once were beloved entertainment, now pillars of the survivor civilization. Nerdy, near-beer versions of Trek and Underworld are only part of the subculture represented. We don’t just get peeks at scenes from the original programs, readers can also indulge in snicker-deserving episode guides, fanfic, and character model sheets.

Con haute couture isn’t safe, either, with Guests forming a C.H.U.D. society where cannibalism is conducted according to your Celeb List Status. Hangers-on, agents, and assistants first, then the whittling of the C-list talent begins. Enter Flix Bixby, set to be the Special of the Day, but rescued by our heroes at the end of last issue. It remains to be seen if he should have remained the makings for high-protein Flix Snax, or if he can rise to survivor stardom while Vic and Dez continue seeking an escape from The Long Con.

Lightstep #1

Dark Horse Comics/$3.99

Written by Miloš Slavković and Mirko Topalski.

Art and Colors by Miloš Slavković.

Letters by Andrej Bunjac.

MJ: European science fiction comics can be weird and wild and fantastically great, and I always try to check them out when they get reprinted stateside. Lightstep is one that really caught my eye when it was solicited in September, which was apparently already a little late to the scene: originally titled the Lightstep Chronicles and Kickstarted in 2017, the Serbian comic series was successful enough to be picked up for publication by Dark Horse Comics back in August of this year. A tie-in game is even due for release next year. Creators Miloš Slavković and Mirko Topalski are certainly ambitious.

The premise of the book is a fascinating one: the privileged live on planets made to travel faster than light, and so age more slowly than the less fortunate who don’t live on those “lightstepped” planets. The book’s solicit text also touts the retro-futurist sci-fi appeal of Miloš Slavković’s beautiful art, but beneath the stunning visuals is a creepy, fascist, genocidal vision that’s purposefully unsettling.

As the protagonist tries to convince herself (via the comic’s narration) of the utopian nature of her surroundings, the reader is shown how truly horrific it is, despite the idyllic appearance. My main quibble with the book is its lack of diversity; science fiction should reflect and comment upon the world around us, and a completely white world makes that a difficult prospect. Should the worlds of Lightstep open towards these more progressive ideals, we just might have a classic on our hands. For now, it’s worthwhile to dream a little more into our entertainments.

The New World #5

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Aleš Kot.

Art by Tradd Moore.

Colors by Heather Moore.

Letters by Clayton Cowles.

Design by Tom Muller.

JJ: It’s been a trip. The New World comes to a kaleidoscopic close this week, and I’m all messed up about it. Stella Maris and Kirby Miyazaki fell in love and broke all the rules, tipping the scales of order and royally fucking up the day of Stella’s emperor grandfather by doing it. The journey that followed was filled to the brim with social commentary, acid-drenched visuals, thought-provoking metaphors, and a level of passion that would make Saga blush.

Now it’s over. Maybe it’s not, though? (Flash forward months from now to a forlorn Jarrod scanning the 2019 solicits for any signs of a second season of The New World.) Five issues was hardly enough to sate the enthusiasm with which I fully embraced this, one of the best comics of 2018. But five issues is what we have now, and lucky for me that’s everything I needed.

See it pop up in our YEAR IN REVIEW at the end of December. I promise you The New World will be all over the place there. It’s going to take several articles just to articulate DoomRocket’s feelings on this political valentine from Aleš Kot, the visual magnificence that is The Moore’s union, the technical prowess of Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller. I love this book so much. Boyz II Men had it right: It’s so hard to say goodbye. To yesterday? To The New World.

Our Wretched Town Hall

Retrofit Comics/$10.00

Drawn and written by Eric Kostiuk Williams.

MR: Toronto-based indie comic artist Eric Kostiuk Williams has an unmistakable visual fingerprint. Though his stories are often grounded in his personal experience of the Toronto queer scene, his artwork defies gravity and logic, flying off into sleek rubbery reveries that hold the narrative while illustrating it in a way only a fabulous gay surrealist can. This style, both playful and sincere, nabbed him an Eisner nomination for Babybel Wax Bodysuit, his 2016 one-shot published by Retrofit.

Our Wretched Town Hall, also from Retrofit, continues along the same style as Babybel, with Williams delving into the queer community and his own personal experience of it. It’s going to be an insane and creative exploration of queer culture, and I am here for it.

What books are you looking forward to reading this week? Sound off in the comments below.

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