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Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 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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X-Men #1

Variant Cover by Doaly

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

Sound the alarms — a new X-Men book has launched! If you’re familiar with our rather, um, obsessive interest in all things X, then you’ll know a new X-Men #1 is basically like Christmas and Halloween all wrapped in one — with a little bit of Arbor Day thrown in for good measure. And like all big-time books like this, Marvel is celebrating with a slew of variant covers (on top of an otherwise dope cover from Marte Garcia). That list includes David Nakayama’s Rouge-starring pinup homage, Rob Liefeld’s totally weird, surprisingly cool cover, this absolutely stunning piece from Felipe Massafera, this Rian Gonzales piece that’s like a totally cutesy anime (or this actual cartoon from Skottie Young), and Kael Ngu’s slice of old-school goodness. But for this fella’s money, the real winner is the variant by Doaly. It could be the great use of that alluring green as the primary color, the balance of X heroes, the slick action poses, or just the overall vibe (mystery galore!) — regardless, it’s a hugely amazing piece that covers all the bases. Welcome to the future, X-heads.

The Next Batman: Second Son #4

Cover by Jorge Molina

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

I’ve spoken in the past (on at least a couple of occasions) about metaphors in comics covers. There’s a balance that needs to happen between what’s being said and what’s being implied; it’s in that space that we get great pieces that speak volumes. But sometimes, a little on-the-nose visual storytelling can be a good thing, and a powerful way to scream a message with the utmost power and clarity. Case in point: this cover to The Next Batman: Second Son #4, in which we see Jace Fox literally staring down the mantle of the Bat, grappling with the role he plays in this massive legacy of badass superheroism. Is this a really obvious message, almost to the point of being ineffective in exploring Fox’s “rise” as Batman? Maybe. But also, just take a gander at the stoic and determined look on his face — that’s a man who is ready to face down the legend of Batman and use it to make his world a better place. It’s subtle, but this cover screams something essential about Fox in a really interesting and effective way.

Skybound X #1

Cover by Ryan Ottley

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

For those unaware, Skybound is the entertainment arm/platform headed by Robert Kirkman. As the endeavor celebrates its 10-year anniversary, they’re the ones doling out the gifts with this 52-page collection of stories spanning their rich history. That includes big hits like The Walking Dead, of course, but also tales from Manifest Destiny and Ultramega. So, just how do you commemorate all of these stories, not to mention Skybound’s rich history, in one compelling image? Why, with this piece from Ryan Ottley, which serves as a kind of Skybound grab bag and perhaps the greatest instance of “this is why comics are dope” one could ever truly muster. But more than just being a totally bonkers image, I love this cover because it feels totally random and chaotic, a great image without a lot of context or nuance involved. You want answers? Better read on. And that’s why comics are cool — especially those from Skybound — it’s all a beautiful and bloody journey.

The Lot #1

Cover by Renato Guedes

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

For some reason, I enjoy horror less in the summertime. Something about the heat, and the lack of proximity to appropriate holidays like Halloween, and my interest just lessens (though never truly dies, of course). But then there’s something like The Lot, and I may have to rethink my “No horror while I’m hot and sticky” rule. For one, it’s got a great creative team in writer Marguerite Bennett (Red Sonja, Animosity) and artist Renato Guedes (DCeased: Hope at World’s End). Then there’s the story itself, which involves an abandoned movie, a supposedly “haunted” movie set, and some old evil that’s looking to “seize its chance to kill again.” And if all that weren’t enough, there’s this cover as the cherry on the bloody sundae. It screams old-school Hollywood film with a modern edge of horror, and that hand feels so life-like that it just might reach up and grab you by the nose. All of that together means this could be some prime horror; guess I’ll just have to crank the A/C while I’m reading.

Ordinary Gods #1

Cover by Felipe Watanabe

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

If a book says it’s for “fans of The Old Guard and God Country,” it’s a total given that I pay close attention. Ordinary Gods is the brain-child of writer Kyle Higgins (Radiant Black) and artist Felipe Watanabe (The Flash), and involves five gods who have been “locked up” in our world and must find a way to regain their deity status (or continue a cycle of endless rebirth and reincarnation as lowly mortals). It sort of feels like, in addition to those aforementioned titles, like a super slick hybrid of Black Hammer and The Almighty Johnsons, which only makes me 1,000% more interested. But the thing that seals the deal for me is the cover, which though deceptively simple, makes me think of this as some extra steamy daytime soap opera. And that, friends, is just the sort of unholy collision of pop culture that makes me want to pick this book up — all without even mentioning the inclusion of Stalin.

Godkiller: Tomorrow’s Ashes #1

Cover by Nen Chang

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

I’ll admit that I never read the original Godkiller went it came out circa 2015. Not that it didn’t sound interesting or anything — the story of two orphans roaming a post-nuclear wasteland in search of family/companions is right up my alley. Rather, I just sort of let it slip by unread, and based solely on this cover to the follow-up series, I just may have to rectify that mistake posthaste. Godkiller: Tomorrow’s Ashes follows “escaped slavegirl Halfpipe and grifter Soledad” further roaming the wasteland in search of an artifact that could help them “uncover a secret history of America’s destruction.” What, if anything, does the actual cover have to do with the story? I don’t know yet! But it sure is utterly compelling, a gorgeous encapsulation of what I assume to be the story’s larger scope and aesthetic. Those two things alone make me feel like Godkiller is going to be super duper sweet. Just don’t botch it this time, Coplan.

The Nice House On The Lake #2

Cover by Alvaro Martinez Bueno

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

OK, forgot for a second what I’d written earlier about horror; I couldn’t not read this eagerly-awaited title from writer James Tynion IV. It’s basically like The Real World — if it took place in some nightmare, end-of-the-world scenario (and was less scary for not having cast members like Puck involved). So, the cover to #2 is a great affirmation of this very notion, depicting our main “cast” in a really eerie setting. If you’ve read #1 already, you may have an idea of what’s happening. Even if you haven’t, however, this cover still strikes at some of the ideas central to this book, like how we collectively deal with tragedy and how these interpersonal relationships are a great device for exploring our connection to the larger world. It feels almost like a real photograph is depicted, and as you struggle to contextualize this as something “fictional,” you can’t help but feel some real sense of terror. Nice house? Nah. Nice book, y’all.

The Immortal Hulk #48

Cover by Alex Ross

Judging by the Cover

Over the last few years, a lot of weird things have been depicted across the many excellent covers (a lot coming from the iconic Alex Ross) of The Immortal Hulk. (And that’s just the covers — there’s been even more insanity in the actual issues.) That long list includes bird people (Betsy Banner), body horror galore, coffee dates with monsters, and much, much more. Yet somehow the cover to #48 somehow stands out, as we see Hulk involved in some kind of romantic triangle of sorts with Betty/Red Harpy and another gentleman caller. Obviously, this whole thing is part of a larger metaphor for the fertile ground being explored regarding the Bruce-Betty relationship. But if you just took this image at face value (which I totes am), it’s both bizarre, slightly trippy, and even totally heartbreaking. It may not “fit” with some of the other Hulk covers, but then it’s just another utterly naked display of what makes this character so complex and compelling.

Clans of Belari #1

Cover by Andy Clarke and Jose Villarrubia

Judging by the Cover – 07/07/21 new releases

I think there’s a lot working in this book’s favor as well as just actively working against it. For one, it’s written by Rob and Peter Blackie, who created Netflix’s Frontier, a generally entertaining historical action-adventure series. But at the same time, the book also features several things I actively dislike in most sci-fi, like a series of rules that will inevitably prove to be too restrictive, or the tried and true use of needless capitalization (i.e., talk of “Designated Work” and calling some folks “Outcasts.”) Luckily, there’s a tie-breaker of sorts thanks to this awesome cover by Andy Clarke/Jose Villarrubia. It makes me think of everything from Dune to Battlestar Galactica, and the piece just exudes that sense of weirdness and regality that a lot of great sci-fi offerings from year’s past always nailed so effectively. Will this be similarly groundbreaking as a those properties? Who’s to say. But if we’re going to keep pumping out sci-fi in this vein, you can at least color me interested and moderately hopeful.

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