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Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 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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Action Comics #1029

Cover by Phil Hester and Eric Gapstur

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

The Superman canon has always been obsessed with the theme of sons and fathers. (Also, great chins.) It’s ultimately a very large story about the ideals and energies passed on from one generation to another, and how the hope for basic goodness and decency is born out of just kind of showing up and being responsible. All of that is why the cover to issue #1029 just feels so dang powerful. Superboy isn’t just trying to figure out how to save Superman’s life, but his role in this massive dynasty. Can he live up to the mountain of expectations? Will he try and be like dear old dad or forge his own legacy? Without saying much, this piece speaks volumes about the parts of the Supes canon that mean the most.

Carnage: Black, White & Blood #1

Cover by Sara Pichelli

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

The thing about Carnage is that he sort of writes himself. Which is to say, he’s a psycho killer bonded to a monster alien, and what happens in his many, um, misadventures feels like it can mostly go anywhere from there. Which is a great feature, given that Carnage: Black, White & Blood is an all-star extravaganza, with the likes of Tini Howard, Ken Lashley, John McCrea, Al Ewing, and Sara Pichelli getting a chance to tell some cool stories about everyone’s favorite murderous Symbiote. Yet our first introduction comes via Pichelli’s cover, a simple but nonetheless dynamic portrait that speaks to something essential about the character. And that is, “Stuff is about to get super-duper crazy, y’all.”

Frank at Home on the Farm #3

Cover by Clark Bint

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

If you’ve been keeping up with Frank at Home on the Farm, you’ll know things have already gotten strange. More specifically, we’re learning more and more about what role the animals on said farm have to do with the mysterious disappearance of Frank’s family. And as we enter into issue #3, that plot point only strengthens, and we see the animals enjoying a meal that’s deeply unsettling — only slightly more so than thinking about how thumb-less animals did the cooking. But what works in this cover is the overall vibe: it feels like a mix of stellar body horror, the whimsy of some childhood fairytale, and some 16th century Italian painting. It’s both too real and far too bizarre to exist, and in that space some really amazing and weird things take root.

Teen Titans Academy #1

Cover by Rafa Sandoval

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

Woo-hoo, a new Teen Titans book! You know what that means: introduce some kooky new characters and then place them into a classroom setting! The big hook of this series, apparently, is that someone’s going to become the new Red X, which would (or could) feed into the Titans’ story from Future State. (Who knows though?) And if we’re going to get a little silly with the whole school shtick, this cover more than delivers. The idea that a “superhero academy” would require notepads and pencils is one thing, but Red X is the clear cover star here, somehow balancing all that silliness and yet remaining nonetheless a real and spooky threat. Who ever said school wasn’t totes cool?

Lady Baltimore #1

Cover by Abigail Larson

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

If you knew my reading habits, you’ll know I consumed about 90% of the Baltimore stories in a two-week span. Which is why I’m super excited for Lady Baltimore, aka Sofia Valk, the prodigy/mentee of the original Lord Baltimore who takes up his cutlass circa WWII. And if the re-pairing of Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden weren’t enough of a draw, there’s this first truly amazing cover from Abigail Larson. (Bridgit Connell handles the interiors, and they’re also gorgeous.) It doesn’t fit exactly with the rest of the Baltimore series, but it has the same balance of grit and regality, hitting that same sweet spot of horror and fantasy with a deeply human sheen. Whatever adventures and hellish fiends await, there’s good cause this series will be just as groovy as its predecessor.

Harley Quinn #1

Variant Cover by Natali Sanders

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

Everyone’s favorite shrink-turned-psycho-turned-hero-turned-pseudo-vigilante-turned-IDK is back with her very own series. Here, Dr. Quinzel returns to Gotham to “make up for the sins of my past” and assist during the post-Joker War cleanup. Given the prestige of just such a relaunch, DC enlisted quite a few different variant covers. Like, Warren Louw’s dope pin-up, Yoshitaka Amano’s daring portrait, and this cutesy cartoon-style piece from Nathan Szerdy. But for this writer’s money, you’d have to go with Natali Sanders’ excellent variant: not only does it capture the whole vibe of Harley perfectly, but there’s a great ’50s aesthetic without forgoing some truly modern edge. The end result is a great re-introduction of sorts to what should be an entertaining new chapter.

Cable #9

Cover by Phil Noto

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

I’ve spent a lot of this column/feature doling out praise to the cover arts for books like the new Iron Man and the ongoing Daredevil series. Yet there’s another series that’s been just as consistent with great covers: Cable. Yes, across nine issues thus far, series artist Phil Noto has captured our plucky young Cable in a number of scenes/scenarios, all of them a solid mix of funny, glamorous, and totally relevant to the story. Yet issue #9 feels like a true standout moment, as we see Cable and Esme Cuckoo sharing a drink as Emma Frost waits to bust things up. Is this some play on a Norman Rockwell piece? Yup. Is it an utterly perfect encapsulation of an essential story thread? Yessum. But could it also just be a cool piece even without said context? You know it!

Rabid World #1

Cover by Oleg Okunev

Judging by the Cover – 03/24/21 new releases

I imagine the pitch meeting for Rabid World was writer Todd Cinani and artist Oleg Okunev just saying, “It’s like Walking Dead meets Cujo.” At which point Scout Comics threw a little trash bag of money their way. Even if that’s not the case, it’s an especially promising series, and anything zombie-related always gets my vote. But if you’re not fully convinced like I am, just peep Okunev’s cover to issue #1. It’s the stark lines, the dash of rusty blood, the way the creature seems to bleed into the world; this piece speaks volumes about the tone, aesthetic, and larger motifs of the book without having to actually say anything. I’d say after this year I don’t want to watch the world get torn apart by a global pandemic, but I can make an exception for this series.

TMNT Best of Michelangelo #1

Cover by James Biggie

Judging by the Cover

I’ll let you in on a little secret: Michelangelo was always my least favorite of the TMNT. Donatello had the brains, Leonardo was a leader, and Raphael had attitude to spare, but Mikey’s jokester gimmick just always fell flat. But then I saw this cover to IDW’s 96-page, comics-career-spanning compilation, and my opinion softened. Somehow, James Biggie has managed to capture something dynamic about Mikey, this profound mix of his jokey stoner vibes but also a kind of grace and depth that I didn’t really see before. Add in the fact that it’s basically an all-orange cover, and it really places Mikey into a new light entirely. Even if nunchucks are the absolute worst TMNT weapon ever.

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