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.
King in Black #1
Variant Cover by Mirka Andolfo
December is here at least, and with it comes one of Marvel’s most anticipated events, “King in Black.” The arrival of the Symbiote god Knull is a huge deal, and the resulting storyline should be a massive, company-spanning free-for-all of comic goodness. And as such, the publisher’s really rolled out the ol’ red carpet with some great cover options. There’s the cinematic badassery of Ryan Stegman’s main cover; Tyler Kirkham’s cover that feels reminiscent of a ’90s issue of Spawn; a dope tattoo from Ian Bederman (someone please get that); and even a rather impressive cover from series writer/mastermind Donny Cates. But if you’re really going to start things off on the right foot, the best bet is Mirka Andolfo’s variant, which captures a Knull-Venom interaction that feels deeply unsettling (super organic, with some genuine intimacy here) — in the absolute best way. All hail the king, baby.
Strange Adventures #7
Cover by Mitch Gerads
If there wasn’t ample evidence before, Mitch Gerads knows his way around covers. Yet there’s something about his work with Strange Adventures that feels especially important; like this massive step up in terms of capturing something essential about the character while still pushing him forward for this brave new adventure. Case in point: the cover to issue #7, which looks and feels like the movie poster to the most bad-ass James Bond movie ever committed to film. But under all that glamour and handsome superhero types and dope spaceship action, there’s an intensity that permeates, hinting at emotional threads and narrative tidbits that can only be discovered upon reading. Sure, all the best covers do that, but it’s Gerads’ work that does so with such grace and depth.
Cover by Marco Checchetto
And speaking of great cover artists, Marco Checchetto once again delivers with another amazing piece for the equally excellent Daredevil series. I commented last week that Checchetto’s piece, though truly exceptional, may have been a little too on the nose when it comes to grand metaphors. And the cover to #25 is somehow an even greater instance of this, depicting Matthew Murdock in a spoiler-riffic jail cell. Still, even if you aren’t up to date on this chapter of the Daredevil saga, this cover is actually way more effective of a metaphor for some larger ideas about the Man without Fear. Namely, his relationship with the criminal justice system, the contextual role of guilt in his daily life, and his own unshakable moral uncertainty. Plus, the man even looks cool in orange, and that’s the real crime.
Variant Cover by Jen Bartel
There’s a lot to be happy about with this newest Batman/Catwoman series (which marks the 40,536th such Bats-centric title from DC, if my math holds up). For one, it’s Tom King writing Batman again, and his run is perhaps one of the best in modern history. Not only that, but King is expanding one of his central victories, the Bats/Cats saga, and while some folks didn’t like the Dark Knight settling down, you can’t deny the sheer emotional potency and potential of their relationship. Finally, we get some really stellar variant covers for the first issue. That includes this sick John Giang piece, a snapshot of the Bats’ family vacation courtesy of Jeremy Roberts, and Francesco Mattina’s piece that’s basically an homage to Batman Returns. Yet the nod goes to Jen Bartel, who manages to capture the glory and sheer adorability of Bat and Cat in this gorgeous, era-spanning cover piece. So whose the real star of this book? Why, it’s love.
Cover by Stephen Segovia
Dating back to the X-Men animated series, I’ve always thought that Mister Sinister was a really effective villain. He was always played like a kind of Dr. Frankenstein-meets-Boogeyman, and his intellect and nefarious ways were just as scary as that weird tentacle cape. But with the ongoing Krakoa saga, Sinister’s been “softened” a bit, and writers like Jonathan Hickman and Zeb Wells have tried to show a more nuanced side of the mad mutant scientist through the lens of the Hellions squad. Now we see him actually mourning the team’s “death,” weeping openly over their grave. Does that diminish his past as a mega baddie? No. Is a more approachable Sinister somehow just as scary? You bet. More than anything, this cover proves that Sinister is bonkers no matter how he’s portrayed.
Batman: The Adventures Continue #7
Cover by Becky Cloonan
For those unaware (what, you don’t read the internet?), Batman: The Adventures Continue is basically a, um, continuation of the beloved Batman: The Animated Series. Yet it’s more than just milking a beloved franchise for a few more dollars — it’s a chance to make some important changes to that particular canon. Case in point: Becky Cloonan’s cover for issue #7, in which she makes some important changes to Bats’ ears. You might say, “But, Chris, is that really a pertinent detail?” And I’d say, yes, yes it is — the Bat ears speak volumes about his power and sense of authority. And you might then counter with, “But aren’t the ears in the series mostly good enough?” And then I’d begrudgingly agree, except that the shorter ears on this cover give Bats a more streamlined, menacing vibe. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to rethink my life choices that led me to this point.
Fantastic Four: Road Trip #1
Cover by Valerio Giangiordano
Writer Christopher Cantwell is on something of a roll as of late for Marvel. First, he presented a more nuanced take on the world’s maddest scientist with Doctor Doom. More recently, he tackled Iron Man, presenting a kind of back-to-basics story on the billionaire playboy philanthropist. Now, he tackles the Fantastic Four in a truly promising project called Road Trip. Without spoling too much, the gang head to a remote cabin in the Arizona wilderness and things go south pronto. Just how south? Why toward the realm of light body horror and a 1950s-esque cheesy sci-fi film. Cover artist Valerio Giangiordano has done a bang-up job at previewing what’s bound to be a great and possibly bloody exploration of the team’s larger family dynamic. But one thing is already clear: this is Reed Richards’ fault.
The Walking Dead Deluxe #4
Cover by Dave McCaig and David Finch
And speaking of great body horror, the deluxe version Walking Dead is already on its fourth issue. Is it a slightly cynical cash grab to re-release a 10-plus-year-old comic book that’s simply been colored? Sure. But is it also something that’s important to an indie publisher and their ability to remain competitive in an ever-shifting market? Sure sure. More than any of that, though, the end result is actually worth enough folks dropping down some cold hard cash. The cover to issue #4, for example, is a great encapsulation of this “rebirth,” showing an early, pivotal moment in this iconic series in a dynamic new light. And what exactly is that new light? Why a horrific, slightly stomach-churning cover that could have just as easily been the poster for a Lucio Fulci zombie flick. Not everything needs to be a cash grab, but this one totally can be.
Justice League: Endless Winter #1
Cover by Mikel Janin
In their long and sordid career together, the Justice League have fought everything from zombies to intergalactic dictators (and everything in between). But with Endless Winter, the team find themselves facing some profound threat at the “former site of the Fortress of Solitude.” What that is remains to be seen (somehow Black Adam and Queen Hippolyta are involved, FYI), but what this cover portrays is just as effective. No, it’s not just the threat of a nasty blizzard (but still, those are terrifying), but rather what this represents: the team facing the unseen odds amid a torrential downpour of things beyond their very control. They may be tackling this head-on as a unit, but they’re left exposed and vulnerable to what’s coming. That, dear readers, is far more scary than even a million Starros.
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