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Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

Chris shares his favorite covers from this week’s new comics.

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.

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The Amazing Spider-Man #61

Variant Cover by Mike Mayhew

Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

There’s a lot of new things coming in the world of Peter Parker. A new job plus a new suit feels like something exciting, a chance to pump some fresh life into the Spider-Man canon and thus play around with his always interesting, mostly tenuous work-life balance. What this frankly unnerving (but awesome) cover does so well is not only capture how jarring newness can be but hints at a few other things. Namely, is this suit-ripping just a metaphor, or is it part of an interesting unveiling of sorts? And is Spidey’s new suite somehow more weird than the old red and blue? Only one thing’s clear: change is going to be heckin’ interesting.

The Joker #1

Cover by Guillem March

Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

Huzzah, Joker has his very own book! As James Tynion IV continues to tinker with the Crown Price of Crime’s motivations and role as primary Bat nemesis, this first issue does a great job laying out what’ll be a truly fascinating journey. Yet the most interesting part is this actual cover. Because if you’re making Joker the star, what’s the first image you present to readers? Why it’s not only a Joker that’s sitting on the Big Boss chair but also one that is both comical and whimsical and also deeply physically unsettling (he makes real-life scarecrows looked more rip). What it says is pretty clear: things are about to get very dark and weird, and Joker’s the perfect guide.

Proctor Valley Road #1

Cover by Naomi Franquiz

Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

Prepare to have every box of “I should by this book ASAP!” checked off with gusto. A great creative team featuring the Grant Morrison and artist Naomi Franquiz (Tales from Harrow County)? Check. A great premise about teens fighting monsters? Double check. The promise of ’70s-style horror madness? Triple check. What I love about the cover, though, is that it nails that whole Stranger Things meets Scooby Doo vibe, and Franquiz’s work feels both appropriately creepy and also still endearing. Can’t wait for this trip to kick off down the road.

Karmen #1

Variant Cover by Milo Manara

Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

After building his name on books like Catwoman and Harley Quinn, writer-artist Guillem March (alongside writer Dan Christensen) is tackling a new project. Karmen is described as packed full of “surprises and metaphysics,” and explores the relationship between the angel Karmen and her human charge after a “case of heartbreak strikes hard.” Not sure what that means just yet, but Milo Manara’s variant cover is deeply striking. There’s no way to definitively tell who’s who (OK, even if it’s obvious, let me have this), and that kind of mystery and narrative interplay feel like it’ll make for a compelling story. On the upside, a six-foot drop ain’t so terrible.

Black Hammer: Visions #2

Cover by Scott Kolins

Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

Welcome back to issue #2 of “let’s tell more stories from the Black Hammer universe and sell copies hand over fist.” Am I inherently jazzed about Geoff Johns mucking around in this universe? Not so much — even if we’re getting both the Cabin of Horrors and Madame Dragonfly. I am, however, totes jacked about the work of Scott Kolins. Here, he’s perfectly captured some delightful blend of ’50s pulp and ’70s horror, a potent combination that never loses some sense of magic even as you can practically hear the blood dripping down the axe. Black Hammer really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Children of the Atom #1

Cover by R.B. Silva and Jesus Aburtov

Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

For those unaware (and that’s probably not a very big list), Children of the Atom is a new teenage super hero team comprised of all the A-list’s sidekicks. If you were previously ignorant to anyone actually having said sidekicks, fret not; all the answers will be provided inside — and I’m sure a few new mysteries to boot. What works about this cover, given the overarching mysteries here, is that it’s both wildly familiar and yet deeply alien. It’s sort of like returning to your childhood home to find your room’s become a den or a terrible man cave. There’s pops of familiarity across some very strange faces, and that dichotomy is exciting, compelling, and just a tad unsettling. Teen X-Men, go!

Batman: Urban Legends #1

Variant Cover by Kael Ngu

Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

As someone who grew up loving books like Legends of the Dark Knight, I’m all for more all-star monthly anthologies for Batman and company. Especially as this latest book promises to plug directly into the many horrors and wonders happening monthly in Gotham City. I could highlight the stories from Matthew Rosenberg and Chip Zdarsky, or the efforts of artists Ryan Benjamin and Laura Braga. But this is “Judging by the Cover,” and so we have to focus on Kael Ngu’s amazing variant that should totes be the main cover. It’s got a real Metal Gear Solid vibe, an amazing utility belt for Batman (that stuff matters!), and the thing all Bat titles need more of, Grifter. Legendary from the start, y’all.

Nottingham #1

Cover by Shane Connery Volk and Luca Romano

Judging by the Cover

If I’ve said anything ever, it’s “Forget history, it’s for dummies.” That’s why I love the idea of Notthingham, which flips the script to turn Robin Hood into a crazed serial killer of tax collectors and the Sheriff of Nottingham into heroic investigator (likely). What’s great about this tale is that it’s already morally nebulous, and by turning it into a “twisted medieval noir,” the creative team can really play around with ideas of heroism and the tenuousness of our societal structures. Plus, throw in the promise of some gore and body horror, and this could be bigger than Robin Hood: Men in Tights. Well, maybe.

Breathers #5

Cover by Justin Madson

Judging by the Cover – 03/10/21 new releases

In the sack of transparency, I’ve never heard of artist-writer Justin Madson, this book, or even It’s Alive! Press. But then I went ahead and saw this cover to issue #5, and I feel hugely compelled to share. Anyone who has literally been awake for the last year knows exactly what it’s like to be these folks, down to the detached, slightly dead look in their bemasked faces. For a book about a group of people living in a world where a deadly virus lives in the air, it’s hard to shake that overpowering sense of familiarity that quickly becomes both absurd and all-too real. It’s like all of this madness has existed long enough to make it into more and more pop culture, and maybe by reading this story things will make sense or somehow feel less bleak. Or they’ll just remind us of the horrors that abound. Either way, I’m glad this little book popped into frame.

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