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 Matteo Scalera
The ongoing “Age of Khonshu” story in Avengers has been pretty great. Especially if you’re a Moon Knight fan, as the whole saga has made the Fist of Khonshu into the A-list player he’s always deserved to be. Case in point: he gets to go toe-to-toe with Black Panther, which feels like a truly great moment of character development. Because, in a lot of ways, Moon Knight and Black Panther represent two sides of the same coin: one’s the scrappy weirdo who fights like he doesn’t care about himself, and the other’s a genuine king with abilities and skills like few others. But they’re united in their magical origins and commitment to something older and stranger than most other do-gooders. Plus, that white and black contrast just looks hella cool.
Batman/Superman Annual #1
Cover by Gabriel Rodriguez
Since time immemorial, one question has persisted across all comics: who’d win in a fight, Batman or Superman? Sure, they’ve fought elsewhere (most epically in The Dark Knight Returns), but the debate rages on. With the special annual issue of the latest Batman/Superman ongoing, we may get another answer to humanity’s most important question (other than why are we here and what is the deal with chicken McNuggets). Or, we may get a battle that’s actually between Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlk, which could be less ferocious and more a magical slice of hilarity. Either way, the cover nails what makes this debate so much fun: it’s not about the answer, but what their battle would say about us and our idea of heroics. Also, Batman always wins.
Fantastic Four #24
Cover by Nick Bradshaw and John Rauch
All of my real FF fans will have to actually speak up on this, but did Iceman ever really replace Human Torch in the planet’s most vigilant family? Or is this a bit of storytelling wonder from Dan Slott? Either way, the real takeaway here is this amazing Nick Bradshaw/John Rauch cover. Totally sweet ’60s/Jack Kirby feel? You know it. A bit of robust emotionality from the brilliant use of (what I assume to be) Johnny Storm? Oh yes. Totally cool Reed Richards hair? Yeah! Whatever story this is telling, I want to hang the cover over my bad and scream, “It’s clobberin’ time!” as I chase after my cats.
Batman: The Joker War Zone #1
Cover by Ben Oliver
This 48-page one shot pulls tales from the “war zone” surrounding the whole “Joker War” story. So, basically, expect stories of urban combat with Spoiler, Batwing, Clownhunter, etc. But if you’re trying to really lure people in for more, this Ben Oliver cover is a pretty great start. Yeah, the whole “Joker and Batman are two sides of the same coin” schtick is a little old, but the fact that they both look absolutely terrifying is somehow providing a new level of depth and emotionality to that tried-and-true plot device. Plus, it speaks to the violence and filth and insanity we can likely expect from the stories, and that’s all you really need to prime the pumps. At least they both still have fairly great smiles intact.
Department of Truth #1
Variant Cover by Alexis Ziritt
Here’s another instance of me choosing a comic less about the cover and more than I’ve already read the issue. And, boy oh boy, is Department of Truth quite a good one at that. I won’t spoil anything, but let’s say that while some comics about conspiracy theories feel a little hackneyed and cliché, DoT brings the intensity and menacing vibes in a big way. But as it turns out, there’s still some great covers for the debut issue. Like, this one from Alan Quah that’s uber disturbing. Or, Jenny Frison’s variant that feels unsettling in so many ways. But I have to go with the offering from Alexis Ziritt, which somehow checks all the boxes for spooky, menacing, cosmic, and utterly beautiful. Get ready to have your mind tinkered with in a big way.
Year Zero #5
Cover by Kaare Andrews
It seems like I say this almost every month, but the covers to Year Zero are always amazing. (Also, the story itself is pretty damn great to boot.) For whatever reason, Kaare Andrews always knows how to capture something essential about the story, this idea of life being violently uprooted by zombies and all the emotional fallout this new world elicits. But this cover to issue #5 feels like a step above the rest, like the mutant love-child of a ’60s surfer movie and a Lucio Fulci-directed horror. (The name of that film? Dead Beach.) It’s about smashing life and humanity and death and all the world’s scary things and seeing what happens when it all melts together. Oh, and does anyone else think the surfer looks like Al Pacino mixed with Dominic West?
X-Ray Robot #2
Cover by Michael Allred
Here’s a thing that happened in my head: “Hey, that looks like the guy who did Madman.” ::Googles name:: “Oh, it is — Michael Allred!” But now that I’m over being so very dumb, it’s apparent to me that Allred has found himself another gem of a series, in which a man and his robotic self have to battle some nasty villain called the Ultimate Nihilist. I think what I appreciate about the cover to issue #2 is that it reflects something about the Madman series that’s great (a lot of color and sci-fi weirdness). But also, there’s a kind of madness and anger here that really sets this series apart in terms of the art, aesthetic, and overall tone. Plus, I’m a huge sucker for big evil red skeletons.
Wonder Woman 1984 #1
Variant Cover by Robin Eisenberg
This may seem obvious, but a Wonder Woman comic is much different than the Wonder Woman 1984 comic. It’s less about one being a tie-in series and more that the film has a different take on Wonder Woman entirely. Namely, this version of the world’ most badass Amazon feels like a simpler, more resolute message of hope, openness, humanity, and personal responsibility. Which is why this variant cover feels so great. Is this the Wonder Woman we’re used to? No way. But is she nonetheless a hero of great beauty, wonder, and prowess? Sure. We’re not all Wonder Woman, but she certainly wants us all to try and be. So F the haters.
Stranger Things: Science Camp #1
Cover by Viktor Kalvachev
Here’s a fun fact about me: I’ve never see a single episode of Stranger Things. It started out as me just being too busy, but now I sort of wear that as a badge of pride. Like, it’s OK to not be in the loop for every single pop culture phenomenon. But if there’s anything that might make me travel to the town of Hawkins, it’s this spin-off series. Here, the young Dustin (whoever that is) travels to Camp Know Where (awesome!), where he quickly gets involved with your fairly standard summer/science camp supernatural menace. The whole cover screams Friday the 13th (like some prairie version of Camp Crystal Lake), and maybe that’s what’s missing from this series that’s meant as a massive homage to all the best pop culture. But let’s see what happens in the series propr before I get my Netflix binge on.