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Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases
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Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 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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Daredevil #31

Cover by Marco Checchetto

Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases

In the official bylaws of Judging by the Cover, I can go no more than a few weeks at a time without mentioning a Daredevil cover. And since it’s been a month or so at least, what better way to return to internal compliance than with this amazing cover to issue #31. Here, a new story begins with “Lock Down,” which sees the creative team further redefining the life of Matt Murdock/Daredevil, going so far as to “UP THE ANTE!” (Again, Marvel loves the all caps in their promo material.) What’s so great about this cover isn’t that it just hypes a new storyline with some amazing imagery, but said imagery also feels like an encapsulation of the book’s larger themes, like the religious elements and the whole sense of duality. It’s the perfect snapshot to capture a book that’s been really exciting and undaunting as it breaks new ground for the Man Without Fear. Wherever this tale turns next, this cover is proof it’ll be a doozy.

Infinite Frontier: Secret Files #1

Cover by Bryan Hitch and Alex Sinclair

Judging by the Cover

If you’re unaware, Infinite Frontier is yet another reset, of sorts, from DC Comics. This time around, though, everything — and I mean all stories, characters, events, etc. — are now canon, and that presents just as many wonderful storytelling opportunities as it does sheer challenges/obstacles. Luckily, there’s Infinite Frontier: Secret Files, which presents six stories to A) help the reader understand what’s going on in the event proper and B) help them decide if this is something actually worth their time and money. I’d say based solely on the cover, that’s a firm “yes” to question the second. Because not only do I love most DC events (whether they’re deserving or not), but this piece somehow manages to provide a snapshot of what makes these outings special. Like, the chaos and sense of stakes; the mixed bag of heroes (both beloved and lesser known); and more hijinks in space. In this instance, a 1,000th reset may not be so bad.

The United States of Captain America #1

Variant Cover by Carmen Carnero

Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases

I think there’s plenty of reasons to be super jazzed about The United States of Captain America. For one, it’s written in part and co-organized by Christopher Cantwell. Two, it does a lot to maintain the momentum of the mostly great The Falcon and The Winter Soldier series, further pushing the questions about the nature of the Captain America role and what it says about the promise of our own country. And third, this variant cover to issue #1 sees that vision/dream being executed in some really interesting ways. Specifically, I love that Cap and Falcon/Sam Wilson remain front and center, and yet they never seem to outshine the regional Caps in the background. (The Caps who, by the way, let off some real late ’90s Real World housemates vibes.) All of this makes me think this series could be huge, a powerful message about inclusion and how openness and personal responsibility are the real pillars of America. That, and slimming stripes, of course.

Catwoman Annual 2021 #1

Variant Cover by Liam Sharp

Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases

If you’ve read this column enough (you should, while enjoying a nice, hearty midday snack), you’ll know my complicated relationship with ’90s comics. On the one hand, that’s part of the era I came up in, and thus it informs a lot of my preferences and sensibilities. On the other hand, the ’90s were also a wasteland of giant pectoral muscles and 10,000-pocket utility belts. But if Liam Sharp had drawn every single ’90s cover, maybe I’d have less vitriol for some of that decade’s more, um, unique artistic choices. Sharp has managed to capture everything great about that decade — the big, bold colors, the unique character and costume designs, and that sense of edginess and weirdness — without any of the actual downsides (a supreme lack of self awareness or a misunderstanding of basic human anatomy). It’s a great way to tell a very ’90s leaning story (prepare for the Order of St. Dumas!), and this cover is a truly brilliant introduction.

Made in Korea #2

Cover by George Schall

Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases

Did you love the first issue of Made in Korea? Because I sure did. It’s a story about growing up and trying to assimilate and figuring out relationships in real-time and even how our relationship with technology is developing. (Spoiler: kind of weirdly, yeah?) But it always does so in such subtle and powerful ways. Case in point: this cover to issue #2, in which series artist George Schall encapsulates the entire book/series in one super compelling image. Here, our heroine Jesse sits alone in the school bus, both the single focus of color and also the only one outside the group’s organic shade of grey. It’s one image that speaks on these themes of isolation and humanity and the need for belonging, doing so in a way that is both heartbreaking, emotionally fulfilling, and also just a teensy bit weird or unnerving. Read this book, or you’re the robot.

Barbaric #1

Cover by Nathan Gooden

Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases

I don’t want to say that Barbaric is just like a lot of other books out there. But, aside from some slightly novel details, and really great writing and pacing, it does sort of fall firmly in the category of “badass anti-hero tears through legions of idiots and/or bad guys while completing The Mission.” Yet this book does just that with as much wit, grace, and prowess as possible, telling a deeply violent story while also exploring some really interesting ground from an emotional and moral standpoint. That’s why this cover works so darn well: it doesn’t necessarily earn any points for freshness or originality, but it speaks to the core of the story in the best, most compelling way possible. It’s a book that will welcome you with the promise of weirdness and violence, and then actually keep you hooked with something much more intriguing under the surface. And if all that fails, rejoice in the giant axe!

Tales Told in Technihorror #1

Cover by Christian DiBari

Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases

If you’re going to do a biennial horror series, you can’t go wrong with the promise of Tales Told in Technihorror. Does it include “the best in horror sub genres (body shock to grindhouse and more)?” Check. Is it a platform for new and/or unsung talents? Double check. Does it also have a totally dope cover? Triple check! I love the blend of horror ideas, with a little dash of sci-fi space monsters and demonic possession wrapped up neatly together. But I just love all the colors here, and I think more and more horror books/series should readily embrace bright colors and their accompanying energy. It sure beats another dark black and/or grey palette, and all that color adds a bit of nuance and intensity to stories about monsters or skinless fiends. Plus, it makes me think of color TV from hotels, and that just makes me extra happy.

Spawn #319

Cover by Bjorn Barends

Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases

Outside of series mastermind Todd McFarlane, Bjorn Barends has done some really great Spawn covers as of late. Issue #319 is meant to be the final catalyst, of sorts, for the start of the forthcoming, eagerly anticipated Spawn’s Universe. While there’s a few thousand directions the creative team could have gone given portraying and/or perpetuating that essential mission statement, picturing a transforming Clown/Violator is a great choice. Mostly because it’s just cool as hell, and it sort of reminds me of the Animorphs series from the ’90s (only if that book was rated R, of course). But more than that, this cover tells you everything you really need to know about any great Spawn-centric story: prepare for gruesome monsters galore, with a dash of humor and pop culture shenanigans on the side. All hail the Spawn of a new day.

Serial #5

Cover by Terry Moore

Judging by the Cover – 06/30/21 new releases

I’ve mentioned Abstract Studio’s Serial a few different times in this feature. Here, Zoe, the supposed “precocious serial killer” from the Rachel Rising series, gets her own book, where she hunts down another killer in revenge for her friend’s murder. And while I’ve always meant to check this bad boy out, I just have never had time, and it seems like I may not ever do so given the sheer plethora of books coming out. But if absolutely nothing else, I can enjoy this book’s always excellent covers as a kind of standalone experience. In the case of the cover to issue #5, I love the kind of horror meets Mad magazine-esque vibe of Zoe traipsing through the mountains with the skulls of her fallen prey (which includes Frankenstein’s monster and what I think might be some kind of cartoon dog-person hybrid). I’ll endeavor to try and tackle this series someday, but if I never do, I think that the covers alone are a hugely compelling experience.

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