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Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 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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Thor #16

Cover by Olivier Coipel

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

At its core, this latest Thor book is about a lot of things. Like, grappling with one’s own responsibilities and sense of fate, and how to maintain one’s self amid a growing level of power. But it’s also, to a lesser extent perhaps, been about these very ideas in the context of a father and son relationship. So, as Thor himself continues to wrestle with his new-ish status as King of Asgard, it’s inevitable that he and the former ruler, Odin, would come into conflict, especially given some of the revelations of this series (especially in the more recent, aptly-titled “Revelations” arc.) So to see father and son come face-to-dace in such a violent and bloody manner, it’s almost unsettling. Until, of course, you recognize that this is how gods like this work through their emotions and find ways to reconcile their problems. Catharsis and brutality can go hand-in-hand, and this cover is a powerful tease to some great relationship- and character-building going on. Also, shoutout out to Loki for either playing cards amid the fight or actively betting on its outcomes– some things fortunately never change.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #2

Cover by John Timms

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

And speaking of father and son relationships, that very dynamic is at the heart of Superman: Son of Kal-El. Only, instead of Clark and Jonathan Kent battling it out in some intergalactic bar — I’d pay to see that, y’all — a lot of this book is instead about Jonathan “taking over” his father’s mantle and trying to wrestle with his life as a regular teen and his responsibilities as the heir to the House of El. And if we base our assessment of the younger Kent’s progress thus far solely on this cover, he’s passing with flying colors. (See what I did there?) He’s looking pretty in charge of his emotions and his powers, and he strikes a pretty big presence to indicate just how ready he is to be the hero we all need him as. But at the same time, there’s a few subtle hints and tidbits — that boyish face, the way the cape just might overtake his frame — that demonstrates that his road to Earth’s Greatest Superhero isn’t quite so assured. Amid that back-and-forth comes the heart of the story, a tale about growing up that we can all recognize and sympathize with.

Ice Cream Man #25

Cover by Martin Morazzo

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

Over the last 24 previous issues, there’s been some deeply weird and/or disturbing covers from Ice Cream Man. Most of those, however, have featured a (possibly) demonic ice cream man in varying situations of creepiness and/or horror. But with #25, we get a slightly different image with a crashing plane. Is it the person (said Ice Cream Man) riding the plane like some kind of freaky rollercoaster that’s ultimately most disconcerting? Maybe. Is it also the graphic detail and precision of the image, as if we’re somehow watching the evening news? For sure. And is it this issue’s proximity to September 11, a massive moment of psychic trauma for the nation, that only enhances the overall impact of this specific piece? Definitely! Either way, it’s a powerful image, one that not only is disturbing and unsettling in and of itself but also proves the sheer versatility of this series as it further develops its overall aesthetic and identity for whatever’s to come next. Talk about one wild ride, yeah?

Wonder Woman: Black and Gold #3

Cover by Jae Lee

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

For most superheroes, there’s certain colors and/or color configurations attached with universal significance. For instance, a deep crimson-y red is the color of Daredevil, while I always think of a Green Lantern when I see that very specific shade of emerald. Sometimes these colors, though, can shift, as is the case with Wonder Woman. I used to assume she’d always be known for red and blue (and gold) that’s been her go-to costume for decades. But after I see this latest cover to Wonder Woman: Black and Gold (another star-studded, career-spanning homage/anthology), I’d certainly argue that Diana is just as legendary in the black and gold. It may be that perfect balance of power and grace that I feel upon looking at this combination, which speaks to the essence of Wonder Woman. Or, all that blank and/or white space that is just deeply gorgeous to look over again and again. Regardless, it’s a powerful way to explore Wonder Woman, and a way to prove that her legacy and narrative is forever developing and evolving. Also, maybe she’s just a Pittsburgh Steelers fan?

Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1

Cover by Jim Cheung

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

If you’re behind the times, the Voices title is a way to shine some much-needed spotlight on multi-cultural writers/artists as well characters. This time around, we delve into the many Asian superheroes that comprise the MCU. As such, there’s a ton of really great variant covers for this issue, and any one of them could have been my pick. Like, this uber adorable Jubilee cover by Rian Gonzales. Or, Philip Tan’s hyper colorful action snapshot. And even Peach Momoko got in on the action with this super slick shot Nico and the Staff of One. However, I just had to go with the main cover from Jim Cheung. For one, it features a great snapshot of Asian heroes. But more than that, I love the way that these diverse, sometimes disconnected heroes now look like they’re about to form the most badass super-squad this side of the Avengers. All of that together makes for a potentially great issue, and further proves the value of this initiative.

Dark Blood #2

Cover by Valentine De Landro

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

If you missed out on issue #1 – and I know I did! — Dark Blood is a comics series from writer LaToya Morgan (Shameless, Into The Badlands). It follows Avery Aldridge, a WWII vet living in 1955 Alabama who discovers “abilities” in a “country and society that never wanted him to have any power.” As issue #2 unfolds, Avery is involved in an encounter with some young boys that promises to spark the larger narrative at play. And just what is that narrative precisely (aside from being described akin in part to Department of Truth and Bitter Root)? Well, I think it’s spelled out right on the cover to issue #2, with Avery caught between his days on the front and trying to build a new life in a really strange time (made all the more strange thanks to superpowers, of course). But more than that, there’s a great mix of earnest romanticism combined with some strange, supernatural energies here, which both enhance and complicate the larger narrative. Whatever happens, it’s bound to be a massively intriguing tale.

Batman: Reptilian #3

Cover by Liam Sharp

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

For a lot of reasons, I thought a Batman book from Garth Ennis and Liam Sharp would be much bigger than it has been so far. Reptilian has certainly gotten some halfway great attention from fans and critics alike, and it’s performed well enough sales-wise to be deemed “successful.” But it’s just not been the massive explosion of geekery I’d originally imagined, especially considering it’s been great in its two issues so far. Hopefully, all of that changes with issue #3, which furthers the story of the monster hunting down Gotham’s most heinous bad guys. More specifically, I think this cover is a massive step forward, even among some pretty great earlier covers by Sharp. Who else could do such a bang up job depicting Joker both in the throes of pure horror/terror and still maintaining his own monstrous appearance and generally fiendish vibe? Plus, the way his smile seems to melt into the ether just makes me all the more afraid about whatever’s happening. Sure, Joker’s the victim here, but that doesn’t mean he’s not at all lessened somehow or even “innocent,” and that’s why this story is so dang great.

Spider-Man: Life Story Annual #1

Cover by Chip Zdarsky

Judging by the Cover

If you also missed out on Spider-Man: Life Story — still re-reading WildC.A.T.s, eh? — it’s a fascinating re-telling of the Spider-Man origin story in real-time. Which means we get a new spin on some of our favorite tidbits, all done in a way to provide new truths and perspectives about this truly classic comics tale. And with the annual, we get even more of that but with a clear focus on one J. Jonah Jameson. The world’s angriest journalist continues his campaign to bring down Spidey, and in this series that could either see the “obsession bear fruit for Jonah…or be his destruction.” The cover to the annual seems to spoil which way that little case breaks, but it may also be a metaphor about the downfalls of obsession and how we’re often our own worst enemies. And even if it’s not, it’s another gorgeous cover from a really interesting story, and isn’t that just more than enough?

King Spawn #1

Variant Cover by Greg Capullo

Judging by the Cover – 08/25/21 new releases

Spawn fans, prepare yourselves for madness! King Spawn is the first new ongoing series since 1992, and Todd McFarlane and company are looking to deliver in a big way. The story itself sees Spawn not only grappling with the return of a long-time enemy, but the “growing presence of Hell, Heaven, and heroes here on Earth.” So, what better way to celebrate a truly amazing new chapter in the Spawn universe than with a slew of cover options? There’s Sean Murphy’s super slick cover, which features my favorite thing in the Spawn universe (him using a gun despite being basically a god at this point). Or, McFarlane’s own main cover, which has a certain grace and elegance to it. I could even pick this cover from writer Donny Cates, which has a certain ’90 quality (thanks to McFarlane’s inking, of course). Still, the clear winner is Greg Capullo’s variant: not only does it combine a lot of those some qualities, it adds a sword and ups the drama by about 150%. All hail the king, baby.

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