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Judging by the Cover – 02/26/20 new releases

Chris shares his 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.”

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

Detective Comics #1020

Cover by Andrew Hennessy

As a rule, on-the-nose metaphors are rather boring. As long as they’ve been good friends turned bitter rivals, Batman and Two-Face have always been a study in duality. Yet as they butt heads one more time, their dynamic and double-sided dichotomy is given fresh life in a mostly intriguing tale in Detective Comics. And as far as finales go, Andrew Hennessy’s cover captures something essential about their interplay, like Batman’s inability to accept his split life, and Harvey Dent’s power in playing both sides of the moral coin. What’s old is almost new again — ain’t that just neat-o?

Giant-Size X-Men: Jean Grey and Emma Frost #1

Variant Cover by Tyler Kirkham

And speaking of duality and characters with truly complicated relationships, it’s Emma Frost and Jean Grey! The former is a cold and calculating queen, while the other is the girl next door (with massive psychokinetic powers). And yet over the years, those roles have continuously shifted (as they do to this very day), and from that we’ve gained one of the more rich and essential “feuds” in comics. And while you could call Tyler Kirkham’s cover another on-the-nose instance, there’s a depth to this playful scenario that hints at years of history with the perfect blend of heart and emotional complexity.

Suicide Squad #3

Cover by Bruno Redondo

There’s perhaps nothing more comical than getting into a fist fight with a shark. Like, you’re not supposed to treat such a fierce predator with such “frivolity,” but then that’s what makes it so damn effective. That sort of speaks volumes about Tom Taylor’s work with Suicide Squad: there’s a chaos and violence to their hijinx, and when you’re busy trying to figure out how to feel or catalog this team, they’ve done their job in telling an entertaining story. It’s things that shouldn’t work together absolutely killing it, and that’s a beautiful thing.

Spider-Ham #3

Cover by Will Robson

I’ll admit it: in the past, the idea of of Spider-Ham drove me nuts. I’m no Spidey fanboy, but there’s enough humor and heart to that character that you don’t need to re-imagine him as a comical pig. But then I saw Will Robson’s cover, and maybe now I might actually get the character. It’s like they made 1920s Disney cartoons take copious amounts of acid, and then watched the sheer hilarity unfold. It’s supposed to be the sort of dumb and needlessly silly fare other titles can’t quite fully muster. As ol’ Uncle Ben said, with great stupid vibes, comes great responsibility.

Amethyst #1

Cover by Amy Reeder

I may not know much about Amethyst, but the cover for her solo debut has me curious. Writer/artist Amy Reeder has a some great influences, with a distinctly Jack Kirby-esque flair to these wacky magical constructs. There’s also a melding of anime meets indie video games, and that makes me think it’ll be something super fun but with emotional and narrative ample layers beneath. Whether I’m wrong on any or all counts, this cover does a hugely important job: blast through the endless buzz and industry noise and hype something based solely on artistic merit and pure creative scope.

Fantastic Four: Grimm Noir #1

Cover by Ron Garney

From Spider-Man to Luke Cage, Wolverine to Iron Man, plenty of Marvel characters have been given the noir treatment. But of all their choices, Ben Grimm seems the most unlikely. If you’re made of bright orange rock and weight several hundred pounds, it’s hard to achieve that everyman sense of heroics. Yet Ron Garney’s cover captures something essential about Grimm, like his passion and commitment, andhis unpolished manner. It’s those key elements that make Grimm a perfect noir character — just so long as he keeps the fedora on.

Finger Guns #1

Cover by Arjuna Susini

If you pay any attention to indie comics, you’ll have likely heard plenty of folks salivating over Finger Guns. The premise alone is pure gold, as a two teens use “finger guns” to manipulate people’s emotions and cause all sorts of resulting chaos and madness. And while the art hasn’t been a huge factor into the hype, Arjuna Susini’s cover hints at a vibe/aesthetic that feels both quaint and edgy, steeped in some truly wonderful ’90s tradition. If nothing else, all of that should work together for a genuinely entertaining book.

2020 Force Works #1

Cover by Carlos Gomez

Born in the ’90s, Force Works is basically Marvel’s version of a darker and edgier Avengers. It never took off like it should, but there’s a lot of promise in rebooting what mostly felt like Marvel’s version of The Outsiders. Matthew Rosenberg as a writer is a great start, and he’s got a way to balance heart, humor, and grit to make this book work. But mostly I’m jazzed about the cover from Carlos Gomez, who has managed to capture that cheesy ’90s vibe and update it for 2020, as if Wetworks had never been cancelled. This cover is a 6.5 on the “hell yeah!” meter.

Black Stars Above #4

Cover by Jenna Cha

If you’ve read any of this Vault series thus far, you’ll know how deeply terrifying it is on almost every page. But it’s not just scary — the book builds a sense of tension like few others, balancing the quietness of the snowy northern town with flourishes of beauty and outright dread. So much of that is based on Jenna Cha’s art, and this cover in particular exemplifies that expert mix of the gorgeous and the horrifying in such a thoughtful and effective manner. It’s horror that doesn’t illicit a scream, but a quiet mumble of anxiety and uncertainty.

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