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.
Action Comics #1027
Cover by John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson
I’ve said it way too many times by now, but Superman is generally at his best when he’s on the ropes. If he’s meant to be this grand metaphor for the human spirit (or is that our own pursuit of excellence?), then seeing how he comes back from absolute defeat sure seems like a grand way to explore this idea further. And on the cover to Action Comics #1027, Supes is truly in a bad way, having been beaten down real bad by the Invisible Mafia. There’s something about the sheer damage done to Superman — the ripped suit, the strands of syrup-y like blood — that feels almost shocking. Yet amid his devastated state, he remains ready to fight. Is it brave? Sure. Is it also hella dumb? Duh. Voila, the true human experience.
Cover by Marco Checchetto and Matt Wilson
Every month (or so), we get a gift in the form of a new Daredevil cover (often by Marco Checchetto, who has done some insanely brilliant work). For issue #24, as DD is in the midst of a trial for his actions after saving Hell’s Kitchen, we get perhaps the most deliberate metaphor possible, as he’s quite literally about to be squashed by the firm hand of the American justice system. But forget heavy-handed metaphors; just look at Daredevil himself. There’s a kind of beautiful resiliency strewn across his face, as if he’s accepted whatever may come. That kind of strength isn’t just compelling, but speaks to this run’s real strength: Daredevil is on this massive journey of emotional transformation, and we all get to follow along.
John Constantine: Hellblazer #12
Cover by John Paul Leon
Finales still suck, but the Hellblazer one seems ready to go out with a bang. Here, John Constantine goes toe-to-toe with an older, more grizzled John Constantine, with the fate of England in the balance. Sure, a John Constantine is bound to win either way, but that’s not even the best or most important takeaway. No, it’s this simple but gorgeous cover depicting Mr. Constantine with blood on his hands — and that’s probably not even a metaphor, either. To see this character dealing with the consequences of his actions at this, the end of his latest run, feels like a hugely powerful moment and another instance of development for DC’s bastard wizard. The fact there’s going to be some Constantine on Constantine action is only a jolly good bonus.
Doctor Doom #9
Cover by Salvador Larroca
In issue #9 of this truly excellent series, Victor Von Doom is faced with a real challenge. Even as he’s read for a real change of heart, one that’s been building over the entire series, he must remain strong in the face of his many enemies as to never show weakness. As such, this cover feels like a great encapsulation of that dynamic, as the man called Doom must reconcile his two “selves.” Only problem is, both sides of Doom look hella terrifying, and it’s clear that whatever side “wins,” there’s going to be a lot of intense scowling and scary vibes going on. But then maybe that’s the best part of Doom: he’s a man perpetually possessed, and the war between his emotions and his instincts make for this deeply compelling characterization. So, basically, Doom gotta Doom.
The Witcher: Fading Memories #1
Cover by Evan Cagle
If you’re like me, your idea and understanding of The Witcher only stems from the games and the Netflix series. Which is to say, mostly gritty portrayals set in a weird, slightly dirty world. But then ol’ Geralt comes to the comics pages, and at least as far as this cover is concerned, he’s actually kind of beautiful. It looks like some 14th century oil painting (with very minor anime vibes), and casts the badass monster hunter in a slightly different light. Add in the fact the series finds Geralt in a new, more vulnerable place (destitute now that monster hunting has gone bust), and it’s really refreshing to see something new and kind of exciting from this character. So long as he still cusses and stuff, of course.
Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #2
Variant Cover by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer
Sometimes it’s easy to pick between the main cover and any variants. But this time around, it was a much harder choice. Tyler Crook’s offering captures the sheer isolation of Weird’s journey into himself and the larger universe, hinting at the madness of his travels with genuine depth and force. On the other hand, the Evan Dorkin/Sarah Dyer cover shows us a genuinely weird Weird, and all that intergalactic oddness and severed floating heads says just as much about this intriguing series (and it does so by screaming wildly into the ether). In the end, the nod goes to the Dorkin and Dyer cover as it blends the emotion and insanity with true gusto. Plus, it looks like a poster you’d hang in your freshman dorm room.
The Flash #766
Cover by Bernard Chang
Barry Allen is the Flash, and the Flash is Barry Allen. No, that’s not another “yeah, duh, Coplan” moment; it’s a declaration of their intrinsic connection, and how Mr. Allen sees himself as the world’s fastest man. So with issue #766, with Dr. Alchemy having all but beaten the Crimson Crusader (that’s a nickname, right?), seeing this simple but effective cover is actually a hugely poignant moment. We’re seeing Allen laid totally bare, and he feels a disconnect with the power and status he experiences at Flash; he’s no longer what he thinks he is, and that’s a massive instance for real self-reflection (not to mention overall narrative goodness). To see it captured so perfectly is a big moment for an already massive ongoing series.
Cover by Leinil Yu
We all should have known that something called “X of Swords” would feature a ton of actual swords. Yet as we near the end of this 22-part story, there’s just been so many dang swords it feels like we’re at the renaissance fair and not a mutant tournament with the very fate of the species in the balance. Still, if we’re going to get swords on swords on swords, at least this cover is hella dope. Sweet curved blade? Check. Annihilation looking especially contemplative and also deeply angry? Yup. Unknown source of blood to build up the mystery? Yup! Only one question remains: how do they all get their swords so amazingly shiny?
X-O Manowar #2
Cover by Christian Ward
If you read one of my recent editions of “Learning to Cope,” you may have witnessed as a I dumped hard on the ’90s. Was the aesthetic slightly whack? Sure. But I was more so commenting on how we should leave the very bad stuff (sexism, stupid hiring practices, etc.) in the the ’90s and only take the good stuff. Case in point: this excellent Christian Ward cover to the latest X-O Manowar series, which screams “Marvel cover circa 1994,” only not nearly as embarrassing. There’s a super muscular hero who still looks “natural,” a great cosmic backdrop, and a totes awesome fiery sword. The ’90s can be cool if we know how to respect the aesthetic. That, and never include more than a couple pouches.