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Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 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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Thor #14

Cover by Olivier Coipel

Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 new releases

After several long months, the mostly great “Prey” storyline is about to reach its grand finale. With Donald Blake hoarding all the power of Asgard, and Thor busting out of prison for the final showdown, it’s bound to be a massive fight with some A-list action. Is Thor likely to win in the end somehow? Yeah, that’s sort of how most superhero comics work. But what this cover says — more than Blake actually winning — is that there’s going to be a lot of damage done even as Thor comes out the other side as the undisputed All-Father. That’s what’s always made this series special, even more than all the cool story bits or massive battle scenes: a chance to really muck around with Thor contextually. Still, sick battles sure do help.

Rorschach #7

Cover by Jorge Fornés

Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 new releases

In the sake of utmost transparency, I sort of fell out with Rorschach after the first issue. Is this a bad series? No way, it’s more weird and wonderful world-building and/or demolishing from Tom King. It’s more that his series are often best read after they’re fully collected, which offers the chance to consume and dissect the narrative at-large at one’s own leisure. Yet it’s worth shining a little spotlight on issue #7 for the cover alone. Jorge Fornés’ piece expertly reflects the story thread of artistry that’s been central to the story thus far, and it takes a kind of mixed media approach to depicting our titular “hero.” What exactly does that mean for the story itself? Well, some of us will have to wait till we read the TPB — but god, is this just a gorgeous and unsettling cover.

Batman: The Detective #1

Cover by Andy Kubert

Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 new releases

If Adam Kubert is perhaps the best Wolverine artist (or, at the very least, top 10), then Andy Kubert has to be a genuine favorite for high-ranking Batman artist. Case in point: this cover to Batman: The Detective #1, which is meant to be a “harrowing, action-packed European adventure” that focuses less on canon and all that and more on letting writer Tom Taylor tell a great Bat-centric story. Kubert is a more than savvy pick, as his art captures something really essential about Batman while also feeling like he’s referencing other stories and/or interpretations (without actually aping anything specifically). The end result is a great snapshot of Batman in action, a chance for the Dark Knight to show off as he was always meant to: looking cool and mysterious and ready to bring a little weirdness and wonder to readers.

Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow #1

Cover by Phil Noto

Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 new releases

If you’re too young, or maybe just a DC fan, Marvel’s excellent “What If?” series told alternate stories from across that rich fictional universe. And if we’re looking to really tackle that premise, there’s no better story than Peter Parker becoming Venom, and what sort of terror and existential and/or emotional exploration might then result from that simple tweak in MCU canon. If nothing else, that’s what the cover to issue #1 promises, with Parker himself depicted in the throws of utter agony as the symbiote takes over. Cover artist Phil Noto has done a bang-up job capturing an essential sentiment of this story, and if the rest of the story can expand on this picture and vibe, then this “What If?” will be wonderful after all.

Black Hammer: Visions #3

Cover by Chip Zdarsky

Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 new releases

There’s bound to be some upsides to being both the writer and artist of series. Upside: fewer people to work with and/or feel some disappointment toward. Downside: collaboration can actually be a good thing. But in the case of the latest issue of Black Hammer: Visions, writer-cover artist Chip Zdarsky exemplifies that single greatest upside: you understand the story and the art-narrative connection better than anyone, and that results in great pieces like this cover. In a story that’s meant to further explore the “protagonist” of Abraham Slam, Zdarsky’s cover expertly captures the anger, disappointment, and frustration Slam feels as he tries to be a hero and deals with the resulting fallout (all over his face!) It’s a singular encapsulation of a story and a hero, and few people could deliver this with such deft and grace as Zdarsky.

Home #1

Cover by Lisa Sterle

Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 new releases

Home is the story of a boy and his mother making the perilous journey from Central America to the U.S. to start a new life. Along the way there’s a neat little twist of sorts that brings this closer to more “traditional” comics fare. But let’s not focus on that and instead talk about this cover from Lisa Sterle. Like the aforementioned twist, this piece isn’t what it appears to be, and there’s a real dichotomy here of something heavy and emotional with the more playful vibe of the actual art. The end result feels like a powerful statement: about immigration, about the binds of family, and even about the nature of comics storytelling and visuals. Home is a powerful story, and this cover does an excellent job of previewing that without giving away any of the best bits.

Phantom on the Scan #1

Cover by Mark Torres

Judging by the Cover

Were you to look at the cover to Phantom on the Scan #1, you might have a few questions. For one, why does that fella look so deeply haunted? Or, what is up with that weird flaming skull thing? All of those would be rather fair about this intriguing new series, which is actually about a group of psychics trying to solve the mystery behind their terrible gifts… before it’s too late. So what does anything on this cover have to do with all of that? Well, it’s more that what makes this series so compelling so far is that it bucks all kinds of expectations, and focuses more on a narrative that feels generally exciting and compelling because it doesn’t follow the beats you’d otherwise expect. Basically, it kinds of zigs when you’d expect it to zag, and thus everything feels all the more intense, compelling, terrifying, etc. Leave your expectations behind and prepare for a true event story.

Jenny Zero #1

Cover by Magenta King

Judging by the Cover – 04/14/21 new releases

I don’t know if this is the actual tagline, but Jenny Zero is basically “Pacific Rim meets Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” Which is to say, the daughters of a famous tokusatsu hero would rather live the easy life away from the family business… until she’s dragged back into battling giant monsters. That’s why the cover to issue #1 is such a great piece: more than just being super cool to look at, it expertly encapsulates so many of the emotional and narrative threads presented in this exciting little tale. It feels like a great way to tease a much larger and more resonant story — while never letting you forget the overall tone of this book. Jenny Zero? Nah, Jenny 100.

Man Goat & the Bunny Man #1

Cover by Edgar Salazar

Judging by the Cover

Sometimes you’ve got to pick something just ’cause it looks 1,000% bonkers. Case in point: Man Goat & the Bunny Man, in which the titular heroes protect mankind from “deranged mutants, satanic cults, demons, [and] summer vacationers.” (It’s those dweeby tourists that you’ve got to watch out for, really.) There are just so many questions presented by this wacky cover. Like, why is one of them a giant animal-man and the other is a humanoid animal (we call that the Goofy-Pluto Conundrum). Or, do man-animal hybrids actually need to get a license to carry a firearm? If nothing else, there’s one answer we can discern from this cover: this ought to be totes interesting.

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