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Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 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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Batman #108

Cover by Jorge Jimenez

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

If you’re not up to date on Batman, the Caped Crusader is currently infiltrating’s the “transhumanist gang” called the Unsanity Collective. And as part of the detective work, Bats is likely to come into contact with a host of weirdos and semi-robot people, including the debuting, ever mysterious Miracle Molly. So, just who is this cast member ripped from a sequel to Cyberpunk 2077? Well, from what we can tell solely from the cover to issue #108, Molly’s a fan of the color green and seems like a formidable foe for Batman. Writer James Tynion IV previously introduced Punchline into the Bat canon, and love her or hate her, that character’s certainly a shot in the arm. Let’s hope Molly can do much of the same.

Strange Academy #10

Cover by Humberto Ramos

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

In its previous nine issues, Strange Academy has been a generally entertaining offering. Any time you take a bunch of super-powered kids, you run the risk of getting too wacky or immature; this series, though, has towed the line while still delivering the sillies one might associate with “weird magical super kids go to school and learn about life.” There’s no reason to believe that trend won’t continue as the school kids take a little road trip to Asgard via ye olde Bifrost as they further delve into the lives and backstory of twins Alvi and Iric. Is a school busy the weirdest thing to ever take the bridge? Probably not. It is, however, a great representation of the series — a blend of the quaint and the magical, the kooky and the transcendent? Certainly. Maybe if field trips had been this cool, our own school days wouldn’t have been such a drag.

Man-Bat #4

Cover by Kyle Hotz

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

Pop question: why is Man-Bat such a great foil for Batman? Is it because they’ve both found twisted inspiration in all things Chiroptera? Sure sure. Or maybe, as an extension of that, they’re a kind of inversion of the other, an intertwined struggle of maintaining one’s humanity or falling prey to darker, more base instincts? Also quite true. But it’s also that they’re both bats, and it gives the artist a chance to get weird and wild with scenes/stories together. Case in point: Kyle Hotz’s cover to issue #4, where it’s really hard to tell who’s more bat-like in this cover. You’d have to seemingly give it to Man-Bat, but then look at all those sick folds in Bats’ cape, like so many veins on a giant bat’s wing. (Not to mention, super pointy, totally curved ears like a blast from the ’90s). This cover should drive fans of either character quite… batty.

Whalesville #1

Cover by Adam Pollina

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

Matt Kindt’s already been killing it with one series from upstart publisher Bad Idea Comics, the totally excellent ENIAC. Now, joining forces with artist Adam Pollina and colorist Matt Hollingsworth, KIndt’s unveiled Whalesville. The series, described as being “in the tradition of Hayao Miyazaki and Pixar,” follows a father as he enters a whale to find his son — only to discover an actual town. (So, basically, the story of Jonah and the whale meets Moby Dick, with a side of Finding Nemo? Groovy.) While the magic will clearly be all about what happens inside said whale, the cover is actually a great start, mirroring both of those Miyazaki/Pixar vibes while also looking like it’s ripped from some 17th century scrimshaw. More than that, it captures both the magic and wonder of the series’ scope while hinting at something deeper and more complex just below the surface. A true whale of a time!

X-Men: Curse of the Man-Thing #1

Cover by Daniel Acuna

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

If you’re like some of us, maybe you’re not 1,000% keen on the X-Men playing dress up. That’s not to say it won’t be a mostly brilliant chapter in the ongoing Krakoa saga, but that the gala itself is very insular, and may only appeal to folks who’ve been following along for some time. Luckily, there’s more X stories to explore in X-Men: Curse of the Man-Thing. Basically, all you need to know is Man-Thing (Marvel’s Swamp Thing; fight me) is going to save the world with help from Magik and the “debuting Dark Riders” (a/k/a Marrow, Forearm, Shark-Girl, Wolf Cub, and Mammomax). It’s bound to be a weird and wild ride through the X canon, as perfectly evidenced by this great cover to issue #1. No larger subtext here (or, at least none that you really need to mind) — just some cool monstrous and magical heroes ready for an adventure.

Marjorie Finnegan Temporal Criminal #1

Cover by Andy Clarke

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

In describing the heroine to his latest series, writer Garth Ennis made some really great points about Marjorie Finnegan. Namely, she’s both a lot alike his other, more famous characters (Billy Butcher, Jesse Custer, etc.) and yet something more entirely. But if you really want some true insight into Ms. Finnegan’s true moral fiber, just peep the cover to issue #1. A fondness for stealing history’s antiquities? Check. The complete lack of awareness (or maybe concern?) for pissing off folks across the timeline? Double check. A deliberate, slightly hokey vibe that should make for a great addition to the already jam-packed canon of time travel fiction? Triple check! Sure, she may be a criminal, but she’s got enough style and grace to make robbing history a hugely fun adventure.

Nightmares Of Providence #1

Cover by Gabriel Andrade

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

Running from 2015 to 2017, Providence is Alan Moore’s ode to Lovecraftian horror, about a reporter who seeks inspiration to write the Great American Novel. Nightmares of Providence, then, explores the “world and terrors” of the series, of which there are more than plenty of the latter. That includes contributions from artists from Ivan Rodriguez, Christian Zanier, and Gabriel Andrade, the latter of which provided this excellent cover. Should you have read the series to get the most out of this “B&W saddle-stitched book?” Perhaps, it’s quite enjoyable. But can you also just enjoy this for the dark monsters and harrowing imagery? Sure thing. If anything, some of the work, as evidenced by the cover, captures that ’40s-esque Lovecraft vibe so perfectly that they tell their own stories completely narrative-free.

The Walking Dead Deluxe #14

Cover by Dave McCaig and David Finch

Judging by the Cover – 05/05/21 new releases

Most people love The Walking Dead; or, at the very least, most people can appreciate what the series has done for indie comics as a whole. But even with that sheer significance, some folks have questioned about the need for a “deluxe edition” of the story, which basically means it’s been fully colored and comes with some creator commentary. On the one hand, I can see this as a cash grab of sorts (to which I’d also say, what’s wrong with that if it further empowers great indie comics?) But then I’d also hold up Dave McCaig and David Finch’s awesome covers, especially #14, as real proof that these deluxe titles also add a new depth of terror and intensity to an already terrifying and intense series. It may not be some profound change, but even just a little extra magic goes a long way to giving new life to this beloved franchise.

Nocterra #3

Cover by Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey

Judging by the Cover

I have a theory about Nocterra: it’s a kind of revisionist history. Which is to say, writer Scott Snyder and artist Tony S. Daniel are clearly huge fans of ’90s comics, and they want to use this series in part to help modernize and re-contextualize some of that oversized, deeply unrealistic action from the ’90s. (And, at the same time, just tell a really great story about how we grow from our fears and the blinding power of community.) Case in point: the issue to #3 (from Daniel and Tomeu Morey) feels like an especially powerful encapsulation of ’90s comics, from the big, slightly muscular monsters to the sweet action poses and overall vibe and/or aesthetic of the piece. Yet it also reflects its creator’s own self-awareness, and thus takes all that kooky ’90s goodness and roots it into something deeper and seemingly more feasible. It’s just a theory, of course, but whatever’s going on here, it’s totes working.

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