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Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 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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Miles Morales: Spider-Man #26

Cover by Taurin Clarke

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

Sometimes, you don’t get what you want in comics. That much-lauded space battle, for instance, can be nothing more than brief conversation and a few oversized punches. But at least when it comes to Miles Morales: Spider-Man, the end result totally delivers on what’s actually been advertised. Specifically, “The Clone Saga” reaches its next chapter within issue #2, as Peter and Miles do battle with some nasty Spider clones. And wouldn’t you know it, that’s just what we see on the cover, a particularly nasty shuffle between these Spider-Men (Spider-Mans?) that promises to be as gritty and intense as it does hold some genuine odds for our web-slinging heroes. Whatever else happens, it’s safe to say the action is going to be A-1.

Detective Comics #1036

Cover by Dan Mora

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

The creative team behind Detective Comics has been killing it with the latest storyline. After a little bit of story building to ease up the tension, issue #1,036 promises to pit Batman versus Huntress in an epic clash above Gotham City. Obviously just such a battle would have huge ramifications for both the city and the Bat family as a whole, not to mention there’s some narrative tidbits that complicate this confrontation beyond some mere scuffle. But you can’t argue with the optics of the whole situation — literally, just peep your optic muscles at this excellent Dan Mora cover. The angles of the pair’s capes; the heavy presence of the rain; and even that reflected skull on the extra black rooftop — this has the intensity and emotional stakes you’d expect from a proper Bat family clashing. Let’s hope the pair get a chance to work out their differences — even if that means a little sparing action.

Beta Ray Bill #3

Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

If you haven’t paid attention to this latest series yet — it’s cool, I often make dumb decisions — it’s been a great dive into Beta Ray Bill. Traveling across the universe, Bill is seeking to repair his hammer, and along the way he’s met some old friends (Thor, Odin, etc.) and had some kooky adventures to boot. But ultimately, this is about a man trying to fix something about himself, if he even can, and regain something he thinks he’s lost. So, sure, the cover to #3 isn’t quite exciting as some huge laser rifle battle in the Horsehead Nebula, but it works brilliantly with the story itself. He’s trying to use glue to rebuild a weapon forged for gods, and while you hope it might work, it’s impossible to ignore the slightly tragic quality of such a desperate act. But that’s what makes this spin on Bill so compelling: we’re with him on this journey, and we can’t help but empathize and connect in some truly intimate ways.

Robin #2

Cover by Gleb Melnikov

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

OK, I usually try and avoid overt spoilers, but Damian Wayne straight up died in the first issue of his very own comic. That’s a bold move for sure, but given that this is mainstream comics, we know to expect a red herring or even space magic, and that Robin will be back kicking butt and annoying people in no time. No, that’s not what matters with the cover of issue #2; it’s actually because Flatline — the pale assassin who shuffled Damian lose this mortal coil — is sticking around in a big way. Is she going to be an antagonist? The love interest? Some kind of wonderful amalgamation of the two? Regardless, she’s a great foil for Master Damian, and since she holds something important over him (a victory in mortal combat), her presence is going to make for some interesting narrative options. See, death is a good thing, yeah?

Spawn #318

Cover by Tonton Revolver

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

After 300-plus issues, there’s still plenty of reasons to read the Spawn comic. The one that matters to me, though, are the covers, because whether you understand the current storyline or not, especially as things move into the promised “Spawn-Verse,” the covers always tell a story in and of themselves. In the cover to #318, for instance, Spawn is ripping through a team of soldiers, though it’s hard to tell what, if anything, these men did to deserve the Spa-wn treatment. (Get it?) Either way, these covers serve as a snapshot of action and weirdness as Spawn thrashes his way through the universe. It’s sort of like switching to Trevor in Grand Theft Auto V — you just never know which wacky (and possibly illegal) situation you’ll see next. A $1 million story idea: Trevor appears in the “Spawn-Verse” somehow.

The Blue Flame #1

Variant Cover by Richard Pace

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

Without bragging, I got to read The Blue Fame several weeks ago, and I’ve had a lot of time to sit with the story. It feels like a great next chapter for writer Christopher Cantwell amid his ongoing Iron Man series. Which is to say, as he’s delved deep into the essence of Tony Stark and why he is the man and hero he’s become, Blue Flame becomes another chance for Cantwell to explore the deeper, imperfect core at the heart of a great hero. (And protagonost/HVAC repairman named Sam Brausam seems like he’ll be a great such foil.) So, because of that, I opted not to go with the main cover but this totally badass piece from Richard Pace. Here, we see how hero-dom has impacted Sam, and the way he fights on with endlessly-grit teeth. It’s hard to watch but yet also deeply compelling and emotionally resonant, and in that way, it feels like a great start what could be a truly important new superhero title.

Made in Korea #1

Cover by George Schall

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

If you read my recent interview with writer Jeremy Holt and artist George Schall, you’ll know that Made in Korea has already proven to be hugely promising. In a story about an infertile society (think Children of Men) which now adopts robot children on the regular, there’s so much robust humanity abounding the narrative proper. And the cover manages to capture all of that in a really big way, with a really great visual metaphor about the state of America, the robots’ humanity (or lack thereof?), and even the power of individuality and identity. It’s a deeply gripping and compelling story that speaks to anyone who knows what it’s like to grow up feeling odd or different, and trying to find a space for yourself. Let this book in your life, and I promise it will open up some important things.

Star Wars Adventures: Weapon Of A Jedi #1

Cover by Ruairi Coleman

Judging by the Cover – 05/26/21 new releases

I’m not really a fan of many Star Wars comics. (Save for Greg Pak’s run on Darth Vader, which is excellent.) For me, and I’m happy to be wrong or living some half-full fan’s life, I just like the narrative as it exists in the films. But even I may have to give Weapon Of A Jedi a chance. Here, a still-young Luke Skywalker, fresh off the destruction of the Death Star, spends time battling the Imperial starfleet as an X-wing fighter in Red Squadron. It’s basically Luke’s adventures pre-Empire Strikes Back, and I for one can’t wait to see Luke in “not a total dummy but not yet a complete badass” mode. That’s what I love about the actual cover, as it captures something perfect about this stage in Luke’s development, with the early promise of his ascension to bona fide Jedi master at the same time he looks like a sleepy little farmboy. Is he going to fight the forces of space fascists, or will he decide to hang out with his friends instead? It’s a great spot for our favorite space orphan, and one that may win me over to even more Star Wars comics.

The Witcher: Witch’s Lament #1

Cover by Vanesa R. Del Rey

Judging by the Cover

And speaking of things I don’t really read in comics form, another great chapter in Dark Horses’ ongoing The Witcher comics. This time around, Geralt becomes entangled in a case involving a burned witch, likely a harrowing tale of bloody vengeance and the evils of humanity (or something along those lines). And, sure, I’d rather play The Witcher than read it, but there’s no denying the art across these various titles isn’t always compelling. Case in point: the cover to Witch’s Lament #1, which stars the aforementioned crispy magic user. But what works about this piece is that it doesn’t just capture something dark and sinister; no, just look at the witch’s pose and the sheer sense of “relaxation” even as she’s burned alive. It’s subtle, but it says that something even more unsettling and unnerving is happening here, and that makes this all the more intense and uncomfortable without having to do much else. Will I read more Witcher books? Maybe not, but I’ll always talk about the cover and the art inside.

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