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.
Cover by Jim Cheung
It’s here at last: After weeks and weeks of discussion and analysis, Empyre #1 has arrived on shelves. Marvel’s big summer event promises to change that universe for good. (A united Kree/Skrull armada versus Earth’s best heroes = epic action galore.) Given how huge this whole event will be, Marvel brought out some big guns for the variants. That includes Michael Cho’s slick offering with The Thing, Tony S. Daniel’s totally killer Kree/Skrull hybrid, and Alexander Lorenzo’s rocking Thor piece. But as is generally the case, the main cover gets the nod, and Jim Cheung’s movie poster-esque offering manages to capture the tone and scope of this forthcoming space epic. It’s the sort of cover that tells the whole story without ever revealing a single detail.
Dark Nights: Death Metal #2
Variant Cover by Doug Mahnke
The thing about Death Metal is that subtlety is ttoes dumb. This is a comic meant to be a blatant exploration of the super nerdy things that rest at the very heart of comics. Because even with all the subtext and meta-references, this is whole story/series is a fireworks show during a Slayer concert. And what better what to encapsulate that very idea than to have Wonder Woman rock out on a demonic keytar (take that, the ’80s) with her chainsaw sword thang, as if she’s the most bad-ass avant garde composer of all time. Does it have much to do with the story? Maybe not. But more than anything, it’s wicked cool and gets you pumped for the madness to come. Keytar solo!
Cover by Ryan Stegman
From issue #1, the Venom team has been building toward something big. And while that path forward isn’t always clear, you can’t say they haven’t done some really brave and mostly impressive things with this occasionally one-dimensional character. Venom’s been through a lot of growth and self-discovery, and it’s expanded the character in ways few other creative teams ever had. As Eddie Brock enters a new storyline in “Venom Beyond,” we can’t help but wonder what sort of trials and tribulations he’ll experience as he develops a backstory and an emotional core worth latching onto. If the cover to #26 is any indicator, it may involve symbiote-mechs and possibly the future. Regardless, we’re beyond thrilled to see where this great book soars to next.
Strange Adventures #3
Cover by Mitch Gerads
If most people know anything about the duo of Tom King and Mitch Gerads, it’s that they wrote perhaps the best Mister Miracle story ever (and one of the most engaging and emotional comics in the last 20 years). To a certain extent, their work on Strange Adventures provides the same sort of treatment for Adam Strange, as we delve behind the space helmet to explore the hero and the stress and pressures that come with trying to save the universe. But it’s got something the Mister Miracle story didn’t have: a certain romance and elegance (where MM was more deliberately gritty and confrontational in its aesthetic). Case in point: this gorgeous cover to issue #3, which cuts through some of the book’s tensions for a truly compelling moment of pure human connection. Is this simply a dash of trickery or calm before the (emotional) storm? Likely, but it’s still so wonderful to get lost in this cover even momentarily.
Cover by Matteo Scalero
I mused a couple months back how, excited though I may be, I was still worried about Moon Knight’s portrayal in the ongoing Avengers series. As it turns out, though, the first issue of “The Age of Khonshu” saw Marc Spector treated like a straight OP OG, defeating his Avengers teammates to equip himself for some world-threatening scourge. This latest cover seems to continue the streak, with lots of Khonshu-masked bird-demons setting upon the Avengers in a really simple but hugely dynamic cover. Even if there’s more subtext to come as to why ol’ MK did what he did, as a Moon Knight fan it’s just so damn amazing to see him part of a really compelling and unexpected story. And as an Iron Man detractor, good job bringing a baby to battle, Tony.
Faithless II #2
Cover by Maria Llovet
The return of Faithless was so well received that it sold out its first run almost immediately. And with a story by Brian Azzarello, and art by Maria Llovet, it’s easy to see why Faithless II is so hugely popular. But what delights me so about issue #2 is that the pair didn’t double down on more uber sexual imagery; in fact, this one spins in far more subtlety that somehow blends an inherent sexuality with a violent-laden air of deep tension. Because this isn’t just some dope modern erotica (which it totally is): Faithless is about the life and energy behind these acts, and in that sense, the title plays with these motifs that way few series (indie darling or mainstream giant) ever could. Faithless? Nah, Faith-more.
Savage Dragon #250
Cover by Erik Larsen
Over the years, I’ve read plenty of Image series, and yet their arguable flagship (Savage Dragon) just never caught my eye. But even I can see the value of the series as it commemorates its 250th issue. That’s super rare in comics (unless you’re an Action or Detective Comics), and it just goes to show the massive appeal of a crime-fighting dragon-man with everything else occurring in comics. Given the momentous occasion, there’s plenty of great variant covers, including Skottie Young’s whimsical offering and Walter Simonson’s wacky and wonderful piece. But for my money, you can’t go wrong with Erik Larsen’s main cover, which strips everything else away to let Savage Dragon shine all on his own. Congratulations to that team, and to SD for keeping it so tight after all these years.
Justice League #49
Cover by Eddy Barrows
Last week, Simon Spurrier debuted in the pages of Justice League with part one of “Rule of War.” Here, the League lands on an alien world, and they’re thrown violently into this massive planetary war. What I love about Eddy Barrows’ cover is how it feels like one of the classic pieces from the ’60s. Which is to say, something purposefully misleading. Is the League actually fighting one another? Is there something more fiendish going on here? Could this be the King Kong of misunderstandings? The only way to know for sure is to read, which is sorta the point. Still, it does hit the gooey part of the brain that made comics such a weird and wonderful form of storytelling in the first place.
Year Zero #3
Cover by Kaare Andrews
Just before the first issue debuted, I noted that Year Zero was a mostly promising title that’d have to contend with a horde of other amazing zombie offerings. And through issue #2, it’s more than delivered. Benjamin Percy’s multi-faceted narrative is a breath of fresh air, Ramon Rosanas’ art is sleek but deeply human, and it’s just got a unique approach to the outbreak and the larger social and theological questions attached. But issue #3 gets the nod because of Kaare Andrews’ amazing cover, which manages both a Pink Floyd reference and some really deep social commentary on the endless obliviousness that permeates our time. It’s a deeply funny, hugely cutting cover that encapsulates and expands on the larger book with genuine efficiency.