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Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 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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Nightwing #83

Cover by Bruno Redondo

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

Here’s something cool I learned only recently: there’s a name for this effect where a cover or interior page makes use of repetitive images and/or characters to demonstrate motion. It’s called the De Luca Effect, from famed Italian artist/illustrator Gianni De Luca, who used it quite often in his 40-plus-year career. Despite the fact that it pops up all over the place in comics, I think it should, based solely on this cover, be forever associated with Nightwing/Dick Grayson. Because what other character exudes the same kind of fluidic grace to maximize this effect’s potential? And who is just disorganized enough, in a sort of fun, aw-shuck sort of way, to make use of the inherent humor and slight awkwardness afforded by this effect. In short, Nightwing is both cool enough and earnest enough to really embrace what makes this effect so great: it’s both totally smooth and suave and yet open and available in a way that often be overwhelming. Also, he never once drops his bag, and that alone takes real skill.

Moon Knight #2

Cover by Steve McNiven

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

I love and adore Moon Knight for a whole suite of reasons, the most significant of which is his sheer diversity. You can play him up in a few different ways — thanks to his multiple personalities and whole status as an avatar to an Egyptian moon god — and said depiction will be mostly accurate. Writer Jed Mackay mostly proved just that with issue #1, as we see a Moon Knight that’s both earnest and thoughtful while also being sort of a violent fiend. This is like Mega Moon Knight, and his whole Midnight Mission thing is really about amping things up to 11. That’s why I like this cover to issue #2, because it really plays up those same qualities – violence, snarling spurts of rage, etc. — and adds a little dash of magic and/or mysticism to give us a powerful image for this “era” of Moon Knight. I’m still not 1,000% sold on the narrative direction of this series, but at least visually it seems to understand what it wants to do and accomplishes that with grace and heft. Plus, you can never go wrong with what looks like green, foamy saliva.

The Flash #773

Cover by Brandon Peterson

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

The thing about a rogues gallery is that not everyone has a great one. Batman, for instance, arguably has the most diverse and terrifying roster of baddies on the planet. Superman, meanwhile, has similar depth, but a lot of his best hits often involve Lex Luthor. The Flash, however, has a kind of mixed bag situation. Does he have real threats like a Captain Cold? Of course. But there’s also someone like Trickster, whose always felt like a bad homage to the Joker. Still, we can’t forget that Flash’s rogues gallery is generally interesting in that it’s like a fraternity of sorts, and that makes it sort of unique among heroes. But if we ever forget some of these villains are a genuine threat, there’s this cover to #773. He may have more defeats than the Phoenix Suns in championship games — shut up, I’m from Arizona — but Heat Wave still lights people on fire, including dudes who can run the speed of light. More than just being terrifying and painful, Heat Wave’s efforts demonstrate a return of Flash’s rogues, and that’s only going to make things all the more interesting, and menacing, as this story further unfolds.

Kang The Conqueror #1

Cover by Michael del Mundo

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

With an appearance in the MCU via Loki, the time-traveling trouble that is Kang the Conqueror is getting his own series. With the promise of an origins story, it’s going to be a wild ride for the man whose been (or will be?) everything from a pharaoh to Iron Lad himself. That’s why I like this cover to issue #1 so much — it perfectly encapsulates Kang’s weird, deeply meta existence as a time traveler, and how the threads of his life are tied up in themselves for some real drama and intrigue. But I think this cover also speaks a larger truth about Kang, one that’s reinforced by a storyline involving “an old and broken Kang sending his younger self down a dark path…” And that is that Kang is ultimately an allegory for self-hatred. All the decisions he’s ever made have come in a vacuum, where the only real constant is that time is meaningless and he’s always reacting or responding to something else he’s done, doing, or will do. It colors that cover with a slightly tragic quality, and makes this story seem all the more depressing and yet insightful. Kang can conquer time, but can he conquer his own doubts?

Eat the Rich #1

Variant Cover by Leila Del Luca

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

In terms of the title alone, Eat the Rich couldn’t come at a better time in history. Seriously, show enough people another penis-shaped rocket to “space” and they’ll consider serving up Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Richard Branson, etc. like a luau pig. Though, this story is slightly different, as it follows a girl named named Joey, who spends the summer before law school hanging in the quaint hometown of her boyfriend — before things get weird and Joey discovers “a dark, deadly rot.” It sort of sounds like Get Out mixed with Cabin Fever, and this kind of horror-meets-socio-political-allegory is always a bloody good time. The variant cover, especially, even mostly feels like a movie poster, and it expertly captures both the inherent horror vibes and evilness of the rich folks, plus the awkwardness and uncertainty of trying to tip-toe out of your social setting. My hope is that writer Sarah Gailey (The Echo Wife) reflects that back in the story proper, and that could mean we’re in for a hugely entertaining title. And I didn’t even mention the finger food pun on the cover — kablamo!

Second Chances #1

Cover by Max Bertolini

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

I tried to have a conversation recently about Second Chances, and I found myself unable to come up with a great elevator pitch. Because this weird and wild series is fa more difficult to break down into some direct comparison like “RoboCop meets Pride and Prejudice.” (Oh, someone make that story pronto.) Instead, as we uncovered in our interview with creators Ricky Mammone and Max Bertolini, you sort of have to slap a few things together — French New Wave, True Lies, a hotline for starting a new life, psychedelics, and Fallen Angels, among strands and tidbits — and hope that sheer insanity and genre-spanning madness somehow reflect the story the best you can. Or, just show someone this epic cover to issue #1, which mostly references the very diverse and multifaceted nature of this series — and it looks so cool and sexy to boot. Can you discern what the story is from based on this piece? Definitely not, unless you think it could be about a chain-smoking Frenchman being pursued by a demonic samurai. (Oh, someone make that story posthaste.) But it does prepare the brain for the onslaught of cool, slightly detached storytelling that’s about to happen, and that’s all you can ever truly ask for.

God Of Tremors #1

Cover by Piotr Kowalski

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

If you ever want to hook me in just a sentence, describe your new story as a “19th century gothic horror of exorcism, demonic worship and epilepsy.” (Oh, and it also helps to have writer Peter Milligan attached, but that’s maybe not always possible as he can’t write everything — yet.) This new Boom Studios! series follows a young boy who, upon having his first seizure, is sent to the English countryside by his father, a “high-ranking English priest,” where he grapples with “nightmarish terror and creeping enlightenment.” As the son of a lifelong epileptic person, I can tell you the cover to issue #1 is perfectly unsettling in regards to seizure-centric imagery. It’s in the persistence as much as the slow-crawling nature of the hands, and how it seems like all you can do is manage the distance before something inevitably takes hold. I can feel not only the horror that’s bound to define this one-shot, but also the robust humanity and exploration of our own suffering that will hopefully serve as vital pillars. Either way, this could be a memorable offering, and the cover more than does its job in setting the stage.

Heroes Union #1

Cover by Ron Frenz

Judging by the Cover

If you missed our interview, Heroes Union is kind of a big deal. (Big enough it’s now coming to physical comics shops and other retailers.) Here, comics giants Roger Stern and Ron Frenz, who have legendary careers and also created the iconic Amazing Spider-Man story “The Kid Who Collects Spider-Man,” reunite to tell a story about a different kind of superhero team. The Heroes Union are described as a “marvelous new generation of heroes” who do battle with the universe-threatening entity known as Naucrate the Auteur Cosmic. In terms of cover art, that translates into this rather old-school-leaning piece of comics madness, as we see the team, in all their weird and wonderful glory, fighting what is basically a giant space spider of sorts (and is that Earth exploding, maybe?) All of that together encapsulates what’s cool about this project: it’s clearly in the vein of older comics, but it also has some newer, not to mention more novel, influences and visual tidbits to make it something else. The end result is both a blast into the past and an exciting new offering, a way to tell a story about superheroes for all ages. Especially if cow-men are basically your Captain America.

Savage Hearts #2

Cover by Jed Dougherty

Judging by the Cover – 08/18/21 new releases

In press for issue #2, the creative team and editors of Savage Hearts would have you believe this is another entry in the great pantheon of comics duos/couples (i.e., Clark and Lois, Bronwyn and Graow). And, based on the first issue, in which a badass female warrior and “lonely beastman” team up to defeat an evil sorcerer, it’s hard to argue with that conclusion (even if it does feel a little premature at this point.) However, that whole M.O. also misses out on something else that’s wonderful about this series: it basically is a kind of super-charged mish-mash of ideas and influences. Peep the cover to issue #2, for instance, which seems to combine both Alice in Wonderland, Conan the Barbarian, Jurassic Park, and even a dash or two of Rick and Morty. It’s a potent blend of aesthetics and imagery that never feels lost or even overwhelming; instead, it just comes off as totally cool and unique while still clearly paying tribute/homage. Whatever reason you have for coming into this series, it’s off to a genuinely entertaining start.

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