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Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

Arbaz and Chris share their favorite covers from this week’s new comics.

Most comic book fans have a pretty good idea what they’re going to buy every week when they visit their local comic shop. With that said, there’s still a lot of fun to be had just glancing at the week’s new releases and taking a chance on a book that looks promising. That’s where covers come in. A fantastic image can make the difference between trying something new or saying, “Nah, not this week.”

In that spirit, here are the covers that captured our attention this week, with entries from writer Arbaz M Khan and comics editor Chris Coplan.

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Arbaz’s Picks

Undone by Blood or the Shadow of a Wanted Man #1

Cover by Sami Kivela

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

Undone by Blood or the Shadow of a Wanted Man holds one of the most metatextual covers I’ve had the pleasure of viewing in a long time. Sami Kivela does an excellent job of subconsciously telling his audience about the duel narrative of this story. Moreso, it’s kind of great that there are these dual narratives that appear to be bleeding into one another. Even better, it appears as though this is a tale of revenge, and about someone trying to fight to prove a point. Kivela does a masterful piece of art in this simple but deceptive book cover.

Chris’ Picks

The Amazing Spider-Man #39

Cover by Patrick Gleason

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

There’s tons of great rivalries in the Marvel Universe, like Red Skull and Captain America, or Punisher and literally everyone. But the dynamic between Spider-Man and J. Jonah Jameson is truly underrated, and has served as an essential pillar of Spidey titles for decades. Patrick Gleason’s cover encapsulates this “feud,” and how deeply complicated it is when you pit two men who just think they’re doing the right thing for their communities. Plus, the mere mention of a podcast is both wickedly funny and somehow even more compelling of an image.

Dr. Strange #3

Cover by Phil Noto

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

Sometimes comic titles are a little too on the nose. And then other times they’re this epic cover by Phil Noto. From the description of the issue — Strange treats a man with magical tattoos — the cover doesn’t seem to fit. (But, all the fingers crossed in the universe that it does.) Either way, it’s a killer image: the usually thoughtful and plotting Strange riding a snarling dragon, ready to chop foes down with an axe. It’s the sort of cover that gives you pause and lets you play with your assumptions of a beloved character.

House of Whispers #18

Cover by Marcio Takara

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

Despite some early promise with Dan Waters as co-writer, House of Whispers was just one of those titles that I let move on without me fairly early. That’s not indicative of the rich story, or even the visuals — especially with this Marcio Takara cover. Do I have any idea what’s going on? No sir. Do I think this is a deeply disturbing and yet absolutely gorgeous piece of art? You betcha. Do more comic books need to make use of body horror to poke and enrage readers? That’s a Texas-sized 10-4, y’all.

Nebula #1

Cover by Jen Bartel

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

Unless you’ve lived in a cave with your ears and eyes covered for the last few years, the cover for Nebula #1 should be familiar. You can’t blame artist Jen Bartel for referencing this essential MU scene, as it is such a powerful metaphor for Nebula’s treatment by Thanos and her “disposable” nature. But in this cover, there’s something slightly different, and Nebula is less gripped by supreme existential pain and more in a place of quiet determination. It’s subtle, but it’s a powerful start for a new series for a deeply deserving character.

Batman: Pennyworth R.I.P. #1

Cover by Lee Weeks

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

If you really want to mess with Batman in the most damaging way possible, there’s no better choice than shuffling Alfred Pennyworth off this mortal coil. It’s not only going to cause the most drama and tension, but then opens up this series from Peter J. Tomasi and James Tynion IV, in which King Badass Pennyworth is eulogized and celebrated like the hero he was. And this is a perfect first cover: not only does it show the specter of Alfred’s death over Batman, but it also mythologizes him in a way, casting him as the larger-than-life figure Batman continually strives to reach. R.I.P., indeed.

Tartarus #1

Cover by Jack T. Cole

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

If you’ve read our interview with the creators, you’ll likely be already uber stoked for Tartarus. Writer Johnnie Christmas and artist Jack T. Cole have assembled what’s effectively “Breaking Bad set in Mos Eisley,” a grand sci-fi epic that spins in all this dynamic influences (on top of a story with the potential to pull endless heart strings). If the cover for issue #1 is any indication, it’s going to be a weird and wonderful world, with bits of Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Labyrinth, and Transmetropolitan all spun in with love and care. Plus, spider tank things are always dope.

Excalibur #7

Cover by Mahmud Asrar

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

There’s a lot going on in Excalibur, which manages to balance the worlds of Marvel’s mutant and magic communities with sheer brilliance and heart. And while they’ve gone bigger or more referential with past covers, you have to applaud Mahmud Asrar’s cover for issue #7. A simple but effective action pose, with each character showing off their skills/powers as one fork of a much larger trident of goodness and justice. (Yes, I just wrote that.) Sure, it’s supes cool, but shows all the expert team- and world-building that’s happened in this series, and why it’s always a standout month after month.

Superman: Heroes #1

Cover by Bryan Hitch

Judging by the Cover – 02/12/20 new releases

Superman means something different to everyone. For some he’s a Boy Scout in blue PJs, and for others a slightly more complicated alien injecting himself into Earthly matters. Superman: Heroes, then, tries to show the many sides of ol’ Supes through an A-list cast of artists and writers, including Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Perkins, Matt Fraction, and Steve Lieber. But it’s Bryan Hitch’s cover that has me most excited: no matter the reaction, everyone looks up to Superman (literally and figuratively), and that not only colors his importance but how connected and revealing these different takes will prove to be. Love him or hate him, Superman is part of a story we all tell.

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