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 comics editor Chris Coplan.
Detective Comics #1023
Cover by Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessy
By now, everyone knows that Joker is Batman’s greatest rival. (Sucks to suck, Killer Croc and Mr. Freeze.) Because it’s not just that he’s the ying to Bats’ yang, but also that he represents a level of depravity and intensity that few other baddies can deliver. Case in point: the cover to Detective Comics #1023, in which a particular vile looking Joker has Batman in a position of true vulnerability that’s almost physically uncomfortable. Joker doesn’t mind getting weird and extra bloody to boot, and when you set that amid the more stoic but equally destructive tendencies of Batman, it makes for a truly epic confrontation.
Dr. Strange #5
Cover by Phil Noto
So, on the whole, Stephen Strange is a rather stoic character (for a guy with a sentient cape). He’s a fella who takes his role as Sorcerer Supreme very seriously, and that kind of commitment is important when you’re dealing with something inherently whimsy like magical spells that all feature alliteration. So it’s deeply funny to see Strange at the Bizarre Bazaar, shopping for stolen magical artifacts like he was looking for the right kind of printer ink. It’s about juxtaposition, and finding the serious in the silly and the stupid in the stern. Oh, there I go with more alliteration.
Justice League #48
Cover by David Marquez
We’re in for a treat as Simon Spurrier jumps into Justice League for a three-issue story entitled “The Rule of War.” Apparently the whole thing is about the League meeting a gaggle of alien children and how they might be perceived (either as noble heroes or would-be dictators, perhaps?) The whole thing reminds me of the Justice Lords arc from the cartoons, which was a chance to show another, much darker side of the League. What David Marquez’s cover does best is capture that sleek uncertainty, and it’s up to the reader to reevaluate the role the League plays in the DCU. Also, I love how it looks like Barry is falling.
X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills Extended Cut #1
Variant Cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli
Unless you’ve never read a single comic before (how’d you end up here?!), you may be aware of just how iconic “God Loves, Man Kills” truly is to the medium. More than perhaps the most important X-Men story, it’s a case study in comic book writing, especially when it comes to perfectly recontextualizing characters and narratives to wring new truths from a franchise. More than the added pages of content, we also get this excellent variant cover by Giuseppe Camuncoli. It goes beyond just being a great encapsulation of the story — this adds a new, more menacing tinge to the story (which arrives at perfectly precarious point in history for just such a narrative). Talk about killing it, amirite?
Getting It Together #1
Cover by Jenny D. Fine
This new Image Comics “dramedy” features a collaboration between some especially promising names in comics (artist Jenny D. Fine, writer Omar Spahi, and artist-writer Sina Grace). And as far as influences are concerned, aping Friends for the debut cover of a series about hot young people and their hectic personal lives is hitting it squarely on the head. Is such a ploy just a teensy bit cheap? No way. It’s about providing a cultural short-hand to really draw in readers early on. Plus, if you’ve seen “The One With the Football” 100 times already, perhaps this series might scratch the same itch.
Sacred Six #1
Cover by Jae Lee
If you love Vampirella, but thought it needed four protagonists over one, then Sacred Six is the book for you. In the story by famed writer Christopher Priest (with art from Gabriel Ibarra), Draculina, Pantha, Nyx, and Chastity relocate to Georgia, fighting off nasty zealots bent on ruining a farming community. The characters and storyline alone should be enough to hook anyone, but then Jae Lee’s cover is like the cherry on the 10-tier sundae. It’s a little more simple and direct, but it hints at the kind of gritty realism we might expect from a deeply resonant tale. Also, you can never go wrong with panthers on the cover to just about anything.
Marvels X #4
Cover by Alex Ross
Any regular readers of this feature will know the singular place an Alex Ross cover holds. They’re like finding extra fries in your takeout bag: it happens commonly enough, but every single time it’s a thing worth celebrating. In the case of this latest cover for Marvels X, it seems like business as usual for Ross, with some stoic, super-muscled heroes preparing for battle. But there’s something more, a kind of intensity and anguish that pushes Ross’ work from its usual place of strength to something that feels chaotic and unhinged. It’s a nice shade to the artist’s already sizable canon. Or, to continue with the fry metaphor, it’s like having a lone onion mixed in with your curly fries.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow #1
Variant Cover by Valero O’Connell
I continue to hold the most controversial opinion that Angel the series is better than Buffy the series. (I will argue anyone, anywhere, anytime.) That said, even I can recognize that Willow Rosenberg is one of the finest characters on modern TV. (I won’t argue that.) Her entire arc over the series is interesting and emotionally resonant, and this new series (from writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Natacha Bustos) promises to be a grand continuation of that journey. Especially because we’re talking Willow out of Sunnydale for a little self-discovery, and this Valero O’Connell variant portrays the essence of Willow as she embarks on something massive and transformational. Bon voyage, Red.
The Flash #757
Cover by Jordi Tarragona
I don’t know why, but I like to see The Flash suffer. In the same way you want to see Superman save the day, the best comics/images put ol’ Barry Allen in a position of weakness, only for him to recover and excel with his speed and pure heart. That’s why the cover to issue #757 just feels so darn effective: it’s Flash at his most vulnerable, almost entirely neutralized, and we have to agonize over how he might get out. It’s not that I want Barry to be tortured — it’s just that he’s such a paragon that he flourishes when the world tests his (physical and emotional) mettle. Barry’s the best of us, and this cover (and the whole storyline to boot) are a chance to really delve into his crimson champion.