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.
Variant Cover by Kael Ngu
After a long and genuinely beloved run, Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman are stepping away from Venom. And they’re doing so with a bang — jumping right into issue #200 for a story where “NOTHING WILL BE THE SAME!” (All caps courtesy of Marvel, duh.) So you know that part of this “celebration” inevitably means a slew of dope variant covers. There’s this cool, super life-like piece from Elizabeth Torque that screams ’90s Spider-Man cartoon. Or, Mico Suayan’s really unnerving piece. Even this collage of sorts from Mr. Garcin that somehow feels really earnest and sentimental (for a Venom comic, of course). But at the end of the day, the nod goes to Kael Ngu’s piece, which is both deeply hilarious, steeped in nostalgia, and feels like the best way to close this chapter of Venom. Godspeed, creative team, and thanks for all the laughs/terror/etc.
The Flash #771
Cover by Brandon Peterson
Maybe it’s just me, but The Flash always looks so damn svelte. I get it, though; the man who can run faster than the speed of light would be that perfect balance between ripped and toned. Which is why I like this cover to issue #771 so very much: it shows a slightly different side of Flash’s physicality. It may have everything to do with the journey to Sanctuary, but one Wally West looks especially beat up and bordering on the haggard. You can see less of the whimsical speedster presented here and more a man who is clearly tired of running but knows what he has to keep doing. It’s a great moment for us to appreciate something essential about Flash, and to recognize the sheer depth of layers always churning just below the bright red surface.
Cover by David Aja
I love X-Corp because it feels like the next best step for the saga of Krakoa. Which is to say, the considerations that rest at the heart of this book — mutants’ connections to the outside world, the presence of capitalism and commerce, etc. — take this massive story in new and slightly silly (but nonetheless serious) direction. And for issue #2, they’re leaning in on that, with David Aja effectively creating a cover that feels like a ’50s ad campaign from some creepy alternate universe. The whole aesthetic and general editorial vibe just fits so perfectly with this series, and I hope this is the start of more of this humor and design work. It’s subtle, but then so is the larger story, and it makes me really appreciate the many happenings in the X titles right now.
Cover by Robson Rocha
The question at the center of issue #32 is, “Who is Catwoman.” And I’d like to submit a possible answer that should cover all bases: “She’s whatever she’s needed to be to survive.” At least, that answer makes sense for this issue, as we use Father Valley to help dive into the rich and deeply complicated life of Selina Kyle. What I love about this cover isn’t just that it shows how vast her life experiences have been over the years; it’s also that these moments all capture something essential about Selina no matter what she’s actually doing. That proves she’s always been a fighter, only reaching new “identities” or missions or values as she’s clawed her way toward whatever she’s looking for. I get that there’s no one real answer, but what’s great about this book and this character in general is that you can’t help but want to understand her regardless.
Static: Season One #1
Cover by Kary Randolph
If you read our recent interview, you know that writer Vita Ayala and artist ChrisCross recognized just how huge it is to relaunch Static. There’s a clear sense that the duo understand the legacy of the character, and want to do something that honors that lineage and still captures something essential about this specific moment. And if we’re judging by the cover to issue #1 alone, then they’ve already accomplished that goal and then some. Whether it’s the inclusion of protestors, the reference to creators Dwayne McDuffie and Denys Cowan, or just Static’s new look (both old-school and yet some clear futuristic vibes at play), this already feels like a book that honors the past and blazes a new path forward. Welcome back, Static.
Project Patron #3
Cover by David Talaski
If you haven’t been keeping up with this new book from writer Steve Orlando, it’s still early enough to rectify that grave error. Without spoiling too much, a huge revelation is made about Earth’s mightiest hero, and it involves a whole team of support staff. That plot point may be more obvious after looking at the cover to issue #3, but even if it’s not entirely, this cover still works wonders. That’s because it still speaks to something essential about truly great superhero comics — these ideas about their connection to humanity, how we tend to build them up (metaphorically, usually) to help ourselves cope, and even the balance of intimacy and detachment that often surrounds these kinds of tales. Project Patron works because it says something about us and how we view our heroes, and it does so in the most subtle and charming ways.
Silver City #2
Cover by Roberta Ingranata
If your pull list also didn’t include issue #1 of Silver City, I’ll try and live knowing that our great interview wasn’t enough to sway you, dear reader. But maybe the cover to issue #2 can help push you over to the side of what’s actually a really promising, multi-faceted story. The cover itself actually speaks volumes about the scope, themes, and overall aesthetic of this story — which is to say, it’s totally weird and trippy but remains utterly beautiful regardless. Our heroine Ru is falling through a kind of metaphysical plane of experiences and memories, and this cover does wonders in capturing the mystery and wonders she’s encountering as she continues to sort through her life and her death. Plus, it’s just a gorgeous piece of work in and of itself.
The Mighty Valkyries #3
Cover by Mattia De Iulis
This month, Loki got his own show on Disney+. After WandaVision and The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, it promises to be both a deeply surreal, reality- and time-hopping adventure that should also give us fresh new insights into the God of Mischief (and his perpetually great hair). In the comics, meanwhile, Loki seems to be popping up in the pages of The Mighty Valkyries, including a really great cover that really bashes the readers with a metaphor about Loki’s brand of manipulation and chaos. At the same time, though, the heavy-handedness of this physical analogy works really well because it’s Loki after all, and few other characters could be this overt and still come off as weird, mysterious, and utterly charming. Maybe it’s just the character’s nature, or his cool golden horn crown. Who knows?
Legends of the Dark Knight #2
Variant Cover by Riley Rossmo
If you’ve read past editions of Judging by the Cover, you may already know I’m a massive fan of the original Legends of the Dark Knight. (And even the 2012 relaunch.) That’s because, among other reasons, it was a great spotlight for writers/artists to tell their best Batman stories and further add to the patchwork of this most magnificent canon. And it looks like issue #2 of this latest series will continue that tradition in earnest. Jacked as I may already be to read Darick Robertson’s story about saving Joker and facing off against Riddler, peep this cover from Riley Rossmo beforehand. It may exude a distinctly cartoon energy, but it also captures a lot of elements of Batman’s rich canon. Whether that’s the ’60s-leaning look, the distinct lack of a specific era/time, or the unshakable sense of intensity prevailing throughout, it’s a great cover for a series that celebrates the essence of Batman. That, and more Riddler stories are always a good thing.
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