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Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 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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Detective Comics #1040

Cover by Dan Mora

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

Some things you knew were always bound to happen. Dressing up like a bat and smashing criminals in the face is an effective if unsustainable way to clean up the city, and it was just a matter of time before Bruce Wayne got locked up. This isn’t the first time Batman’s had his run-ins with the law, of course, and those close calls and larger tension have always been an interesting part of the larger Bat canon. But add in the fact that Gotham’s been operating on a “no masks” rule in recent months, and it really does seem like Mr. Wayne will have to do the time (if only for a weekend, apparently). Regardless, it’s a great image, the ever-stoic Wayne locked in a box, and it also demonstrates that there’s some real stakes happening with the Detective Comics series. His “release” is inevitable, but this image clearly demonstrates that it’s a new, more complex world for Batman, and that only makes things all the more compelling.

Wolverine #14

Cover by Adam Kubert

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

When you look at any comics cover — be it Superman or Archie — there’s what’s actually happening and what you think might be happening. In the case of what’s actually happening, this awesome cover shows the sort of wicked mind games Solem is playing with Wolverine and the X-Men in general. But in what I think might be happening, I’d love if Solem were somehow actually in the brain of Wolverine. That could mean like he physically bursts out of said dome piece — obviously Logan would be fine — or he spends an actual issue traipsing through the cerebellum of the X-Men’s second hairiest member. There’d be little actual disappointment if my dream story doesn’t happen, because the whole Solem thing is still interesting (nothing beats a new-ish villain wreaking havoc). Because at the end of the day, this awesome visual does its job and then some.

BRZRKR #4

Cover by Rafael Grampa

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

All cards on the table: I’ve been a little suspect of BRZRKR since it was announced. Even with Matt Kindt writing, and the fact that Keanu Reeves is a genuine national treasure, I sort of saw this book for what it was: a genuine cash-grab. (Which explains why, right around when the book debuted, it was already being developed for a new Netflix series.) Still, it’s been an interesting enough book; it’s really hard to mess up “immortal badass beats people up.” But then this cover comes along and it really has me thinking. Most of the other covers for this series have been a bit more composed, nearly-perfect looking snapshots from some gritty new anime series. This one, though, you really get a greater sense of the pain and confusion Berzerker feels as he searches for answers. This is the first time that I see all the blood on his hands and really get a sense of just how utterly empty all this fighting’s made him feel. Cash-grab though though this may be, it’s instances like this that prove just how heart-wrenching these properties can be.

Shang-Chi #3

Cover by Sunny Gho

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

This is a Shang-Chi book. It follows Shang-Chi as he delves into his own life, including uncovering some new siblings along the way. But then there’s Wolverine on the cover, and that sort of changes everything in an instance. Because it’s hard to have the world’s most beloved mutant — suck it, literally everyone else — and not have him somehow become the star. Even if we only see his claws and a very tiny, slightly distorted view of his face, Logan kind of shines bright here. Still, it’s at least done in a way to genuinely serve the larger book, and to make Shang-Chi look like a million bucks for going toe-to-toe with Captain Finger Knives. If you’re willing to duke it out with Wolverine, you’ve got heart and grit, and that’s what makes great heroes. Plus, I doubt anyone else would face a screaming, snarling Wolverine with such rage and determination.

Checkmate #2

Cover by Alex Maleev

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

There’s lots of different parts of the DC Universe. There’s everything to do with the Bat Family. There’s all that adolescent malarkey with Teen Titans. And there’s, like, so much weirdness in space (New Gods, Lobo, etc.) I’m overgeneralizing to a mostly criminal degree, but the point remains: there’s something for everyone in DC. And that includes a “section” for super spies, as evidenced by the return of Checkmate. This latest saga involves the threat of Leviathan, who is working to steal bits of tech from across the DCU, and somehow the supervillain Daemon Rose is involved. What better way to spin this mystery than with this cover, which marries both sweet, highly gloss action comics with the high drama of some ’40s pulp novella. The color red is doing a lot of work, but it’s also the font itself that helps sell this gorgeous hybrid. Checkmate may not be for everyone, but it does wonders in telling (bot visually and in the story proper) something that feels wonderfully lost in the grand sea of art styles, genres, etc.

The Last Book You’ll Ever Read #1

Cover by Leila Leiz

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

For a guy who seemingly always has 322 books coming out, Cullen Bunn sure knows how to stay fresh and interesting. The Last Book, for instance, is hugely interesting in terms of its narrative scope. Basically, a woman writes a book that promises the truth of mankind and the 411 of our “coming collapse.” When that causes folks to go bonkers and start killing and maiming, she hires a bodyguard for her book tour. Whatever happens next is bound to be good — Bunn delivers when it’s regarding extra horrific circumstances — but what sells it for me is this cover from Leila Leiz. In what’s likely a really difficult concept to distill into one cover, Leiz manages to capture the big ticket items — demons/ghouls, lots of blood stains, and the role our aforementioned novelist plays — with lethal effectiveness and efficiency. This promises to be a slightly meta, totally bloody tale, and the cover alone is worth at least 2,000 words.

The Blue Flame #3

Cover by Adam Gorham

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

If you haven’t been reading The Blue Flame thus far, it’s early enough to hop on in. When you do, you’ll be totally glad — and maybe even a little depressed. The whole book is about the titular hero, who gets broken down and beaten up and is trying to recover. It’s a powerful and efficient exploration of the human behind the mask, and the sacrifices and emotional and physical pain one endures trying to do the right/decent thing. The cover to issue #3, then, does a damn fine job of laying out that larger narrative, but it goes beyond just encapsulating the story itself. Maybe it’s that the man (Sam Brausam) is at the center of the Blue Flame, which speaks to something essential and unavoidable. Or that they’re in space, except for some blank, star-less sections around Sam. Regardless, it’s a powerful image that speaks to the pain, isolation, and promise resting at the core of this book. Read on — if you can handle it.

Parasomnia #2

Cover by Andrea Mutti

Judging by the Cover

I missed issue #1 — I was likely reading one of writer Cullen Bunn’s other 321 books — but damn is Parasomnia interesting AF. Basically, it follows a “broken-down man” who enters “a nightmarish dreamscape” to find his lost son. (There’s also a cult and collapsing interdimensional barriers, but you get the jist of it, yeah?) So, if you’re going to try and depict a slightly hellish world of dreams, you can’t do much better than artist Andrea Mutti. Case in point: the cover to issue #2, which seems to capture everything you’d need to know about the series’ visual identity: 1) a hazy, smoky quality that screams “this is a dream!”; 2) the sense of minimalism that does wonders for building and connecting both worlds; and 3) the essential sense of duality and dichotomy between our world and this strange new place. If this is what dreams are actually made of, I’ll happily endure the one where my eyeballs melt out of my head.

Cinnamon #1

Cover by Victoria Douglas

Judging by the Cover – 07/28/21 new releases

I’ve only been a cat parent in the last couple years, and in that time, I’ve learned a few key lessons. The first is that cats have “the zoomies” and that’s hella annoying. But secondly, for an entire suite of reasons, they experience the world in ways we could never hope to. Tt’s that second lesson that informs Cinnamon, a book from writer-artist Victoria Douglas, in which we get “a glimpse of the world” through the eyes of the “perfectly ordinary, average housecat” named Cinnamon. Which means that rather than living in some normal suburban-esque home, Cinnamon fights cat toy robots atop giant buildings in order to secure more catnip (and maybe more face rubs?) Either way, I love the premise, and I doubly love how it’s presented via the cover to issue #1. My only hope is that Cinnamon isn’t human size, and those are instead tiny, cat-sized jeans and a spiked shoulderpad.

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