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Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 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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Beta Ray Bill #1

Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

After Wonder Woman: Dead Earth, I’d read Daniel Warren Johnson’s interpretation of an algebra textbook. Luckily, he’s been tapped for the always entertaining Beta Ray Bill, and this time around, Mr. Magic Space Horse Warrior ain’t playing second fiddle. Even without the mighty Strombreaker, ol’ Bill is going to go toe-to-toe with Thor in what should be an epic confrontation. In the meantime, though, Johnson has given us this nice preview cover, which catches Bill in the middle of what he does best: busting up monsters. Johnson’s art thus far seems to be the perfect balance of grit and kinetic energy to suite a truly dynamic character like Bill, expertly playing up parallels with Thor while having him still stand on his own. Things are going to get awesome.

Batman/Catwoman #4

Cover by Clay Mann

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

If you haven’t read Batman/Catwoman yet, shame on you. But at the same time, it’s totally understandable; as issue #4 demonstrates, Tom King is up to his usual narrative kookiness, and the resulting story has a lot to do with the long-term future of Bat and Cat as well as their, um, “extended family.” But if you still need a reason to jump on board by now, peep the cover to issue #4, which has a whole lot of great stuff. A thrilling action shot from the (real) Dynamic Duo? Yup. A mystery character (that isn’t really a mystery if you up to speed)? Yup. And a cool color scheme and tinge of noir goodness? Yup yup. Just grab this one if you want the Bat Family to stop being sad and disappointed.

Cult of Dracula #1

Cover by Gyula Nemeth

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

From its description, Cult of Dracula seems like the weirdo love-child of Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Once Upon A Time…In Hollywood. Which is to say, the same creepy tale of Count Dracula but all the characters are the most wondrous archetype from some sleazy ’70s thriller. But for now, just peep the main cover to issue #1, which has the look and feel of the very best kind of grindhouse move trailer. More than that, though, it screams Zombi 2 by Lucio Fulci — by way of some Mil Mascaras hyper-goofy murder thriller circa 1972. If you don’t know any of those references, you’ll nonetheless be able to pick up on the dark, sexual energy practically oozing from this cover. Halloween has come early, folks!

Witchblood #1

Cover by Lisa Sterle

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

If you pay close enough attention to the comics news bubble, you may have already heard of Witchblood. Basically, it’s about a witch who roams the countryside, trying to stay alive and steer clear of all sorts of kooky supernatural threats, including vampires. It’s a little cheesy and a little dweeby as a series, and those tendencies really add some emotion and a sense of energy to the same ol’ spooky supernatural baddies. Case in point: this cover does a damn fine job balancing both the dark threads and events of this book with a robust sense of energy that wouldn’t be out of place in some issue of Scott Pilgrim. It’s fun and silly and a little depraved, and that’s why you want to grab issue #1. That, and cool motorcycles.

Captain America #28

Cover by Alex Ross

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

Without making this officially official, it doesn’t feel right to not include an Alex Ross cover in every edition of JBTC. Just look at this one and revel in the scope and grandeur of a picture-perfect Ross cover. Larger than life heroes? Check. Especially demonic looking bad guy? Double check. A gorgeous color scheme and some amazing line work and detail? Triple check. You can practically hear and/or feel the cracked glass on this cover, and Ross knows how to create pieces that are so realistic you can’t help but want to reach out and grab each one. His work transcends a lot of our idea of comics and even our very own sensibilities — and plus, that red-pink is just so deeply comforting somehow.

Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #3

Cover by Yanick Paquette

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

Yes, Future State is over (please read our extensive coverage!), and yet we get at least one more issue of Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex. Issue #3, specifically, is all about the possible end of Lexor (Lex Luthor’s “home planet”) as well as Superman trying to do right and protect the innocent folks of said planetoid. What I love about this coverage — aside from Supes’ gray hair, of course — is how it sort of reminds me of other titles tangentially. It’s got some clear vibes of The Dark Knight Returns (that happens any time you have an old superhero involved) and even some older, 50s-leaning pulp-y comics (replace a giant robot with, like, a nuclear scorpion and you’re there). If we had to wait for this end, maybe it’s worth it in the long run?

Crossover #5

Cover by Dee Cunniffe, Geoff Shaw, and John J. Hill

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

On the surface, this piece isn’t exactly the most awe-inspiring; it instead feels almost incomplete somehow. Yet if you look at it from the context of the rest of the awesome story, it works exceedingly well. It plays expertly with the series’ regular motif of ellipsis, which could be a metaphor about the ongoing, hugely organic connection between stories and thoughts (or it just looks hella cool). Plus, the desert and the city in a bubble are mysterious enough to feel like another great thread in this story’s massive narrative. But ultimately, at least for this fella, it’s the choice to go vertical over horizontal, which speaks volumes about the series and its need to tell a specific story its very own way. You crazy for this one, Crossover!

Spawn #316

Variant Cover by Björn Barends

Judging by the Cover

The description for this issue is as follows


Gunslinger Spawn.
Medieval Spawn.
The Reaper.

And that’s basically all you need to sway anyone to pick this issue up. But in case you need a little more, just peep Björn Barends’ amazing variant cover. Pardon me for being uninitiated a tad bit, but that looks like Regular Spawn and maybe Hulk-Meets-Bane Spawn. (Yes, before you complain, that’s Monolith.) Either way, it’s quite the dynamic snapshot, the kind of intense, gritty action that has defined this series from day one. Are they falling or are they flying? Is this the best way for teammates to work together? Even if we don’t get any answers, this new chapter is going to be a big one for Spawn in general.

Dragon Age: Dark Fortress #1

Cover by Sachin Teng

Judging by the Cover – 03/31/21 new releases

If you’ve read this feature regularly in the past (please, my self esteem needs the boost), you may recall that I had nice things to say about the art from Dark Horse’s still ongoing The Witcher: Fading Memories series. As it turns out, though, there’s another alternative history, pseudo-medieval series from the long-standing publisher that’s got great art. Dragon Age: Dark Fortress builds off Dragon Age: Blue Wraith, and finds Fenris and a group of Inquisition agents ready to assault some evil castle-fortress. But forget all that and just spend a few minutes with this amazing cover, which expertly blurs the line between gritty realism and romantic fantasy, and also captures some essential about Dragon Age in lush detail while hinting at the horrors and adventure that lay ahead. Good job once again, Dark Horse team.

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