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.
Batman: Fear State Alpha #1
Variant Cover by Megan Hutchison-Cates
If you’re a fan of Batman under James Tynion IV, don’t be afraid that he’s leaving the title later this year. Instead, be afraid at the massive, year-in-the-making event (Fear State) that will effectively serve as his swansong. If you’re not up to date, Gotham City is experiencing a multi-pronged attack in the form of Scarecrow and Peacekeeper-01 as well as a returning Poison Ivy and a “mysterious anti-Oracle.” For a guy whose had to save Gotham from a wide-scale contagion and a city-destroying earthquake, even Batman may be up to his pointy ears in trouble. So, how does one one fully capture the sense of terror, dread, and robust villainy that’s facing Batman? Well, this epic variant cover from Megan Hutchison-Cates, which does a few important things: 1) show just how in charge Scarecrow truly is 2) hint at the tension set to destroy Batman and 3) add a slightly otherworldly quality to play up the inherent emotionality. The end result is a great start for this event — and by great start, I mean totes unsettling.
Dark Ages #1
Cover by Iban Coello
And speaking of the end, Marvel is looking at its very own apocalypse of sorts with the Dark Ages event. Here, heroes across the entire Marvel universe come together to face a “danger older than the Earth,” only to find that their combined efforts may not be enough as “the lights are about to go out.” I’ll give you a moment to really wallow in that fear. Good? Great — now what’s the best way to capture the sheer terror of The End? Well, you could use giant monsters, or some sort of planet-consuming fireball. Instead, issue #1 shows us some of our most beloved heroes, cast not in some shining, all-healing light but in total darkness. Are they some kind of evil doppelgangers? Who knows! But what they are is nonetheless twisted versions of our most beloved characters, and that kind of “transformation” does a lot to play with our basic relationships with Black Panther, The Thing, Spider-Man, etc. and show what’s really scary: when it all comes tumbling down, what are our heroes going to do, and what’s really left to stand for? Boom, goosebumps city; population, you.
The Witcher: Witch’s Lament #4
Cover by Vanesa R. Del Rey
Any longtime readers — seriously, who are you people? — will know I’ve talked several times about Dark Horse Comics’ Witcher-related comics. Specifically, the Witch’s Lament series, which has resulted in some truly great covers over the last few months. However, I think issue #4 may be a genuine standout, not only for this book but for Witcher comics and other series in general. Is that likely Geralt’s severed head resting on a plate? Sure. Is that some kind of analogy for the story itself, which explores if Geralt is to be the purveyor of justice or serve as a sacrifice in order to achieve penance? Likely. But then could this also be an actual event from this issue? Oh, you know it! Basically, anything can happen in The Witcher — at least from my own limited experience — and this cover is less about anything to do with the story and more the depth and gore and inventiveness that defines this series across all mediums. Heads, you win.
Mullet Cop #1
Cover by Tom Lintern
Sometimes I pick a series based on just the cover art. And other times I may be interested in something for the title or some other similar detail. In the case of Mullet Cop, it was really all of the above. The book itself is described as a “cyberpunk comic with cyborg grandmas, power-walking mom gangs, and all-you-can-eat buffet food court employees.” And, really, that’s about all you should need to go running from your seat, tearing into the street, running full sprint toward your local comic shop, and demanding a copy with the fury of 1,000 suns. But don’t forget to spend your time waiting till Wednesday’s release date by enjoying the actual cover. It’s sort of like if Napoleon Dynamite fused with The Dark Knight Returns — and they asked Danny McBride to star in the resulting comic, movie, TV show, etc. It’s weird and beautiful and incredibly awkward, and that’s what makes this feel like such a standout series so far. Can his catchphrase be, “Mall’s closing, punk.”
Cover by Javier Garron
I can think of a lot of things that are scary. Like, a swarm of bees in the shape of my fourth grade gym teacher. Or, walking on a glass bridge late at night. Even just a really deep swimming pool. But few things offer as such horrifying potential as the ongoing “World War She-Hulk” event/story. As we enter into chapter three, She-Hulk is set to leave the Red Room (ya know, where they basically make/train Black Widows) as something entirely new and unseen in the MU. Black Widow Hulk? Hulk Widow? Whatever you call it, we get to see this “new” She-Hulk on the cover to issue #48, and there’s something about her stoicism amid the absolute destruction that’s just deeply unsettling to the point of being physically uncomfortable. War is hell, yeah, but this one is going to be extra hellacious for whoever gets in She-Hulk’s way.
Harley Quinn 2021 Annual #1
Cover by David Lafuente
Your standard annual issue in comics is meant to be a big deal. They’re a time to pivot into new storylines, or even just provide a chance to tell a new, cool storyline that may not “fit” with the rest of the book. Regardless of all that, we arrive at the annual for Harley Quinn, and boy oh boy, does it promise to be a big one. Basically, Quinn’s been captured by a new villain named Keepsake, and it’s up to her sidekick, Kevin, to team with Solomon Grundy, track her down by talking to other baddies, and save the day (or, not screw everything up entirely). And with that narrative we get Quinn chained up, done so in a way to actually speak about her story and larger narrative in a really fun and interesting way. Quinn’s not only bound by her old life and ways while trying to do better, but also a lot of this extends to the relationships she’s forged over the years and their continued influence. The end result is a great cover for what could be a solid entry in dope annual stories.
Locke & Key/The Sandman Universe: Hell & Gone #2
Cover by Gabriel Rodriguez
If you love epic fantasy crossovers, and hadn’t already heard of this story… well, then you’ve arrived awfully late to the party. Issue #2 is the grand finale of this super fantasy crossover, in which Mary Locke (of the Locke & Key universe) steals “the imprisoned Dream Lord’s artifacts of power and [crosses] into the Dreaming” to save her brother John’s mortal soul from Hell. But even if you’re a late comer, the cover to issue #2 is nonetheless great, and it highlights some real standout inclusions from both stories and the larger DC and IDW universes. Mary, in particular, looks especially bad-ass in her magical suite of interdimensional angel armor. And who can ever be sad when there’s an appearance by the demon Etrigan? What this cover promises rests at the very heart of this entire story/event: an explosion of beloved characters and universes to make fans squeal in delight about a new chapter in the ongoing madness, beauty, weirdness, etc. of these beloved canons. Hell bound? Nah, more like hell yeah!
Infinite Frontier #5
Cover by Mitch Gerads
Let’s say you haven’t been following along so far during the whole Infinite Frontier saga. You may be lost, given that this whole thing has A) been built up for some time and B) involves the already complex, slightly confusing concept of the Multiverse/multiple Earths. Regardless, push aside all of that confusion and uncertainty and just bask at the glory that is the cover to Infinite Frontier #5. Because you’re already likely familiar with most of these characters, even if you’re not 100% sure as to why they’re together and/or grappling. And the mere presence of multiple Earths may set off some kind of light in ye olde brain pan — again, even if you’re not sure about the chains and if everyone is somehow, possibly teeny tiny or extra large somehow. Because all of this madness together should tell you one thing: this is a story where a lot of wacky and wonderful things happen, and where characters and stories can smash together into something new and truly joyous. That, dear readers, is basically the promise of this “era,” and something anyone can get behind.
Demon Days: Cursed Web #1
Cover by Peach Momoko
If you haven’t followed the Demon Days saga, writer-artist Peach Momoko has been putting in work over the last few months. The series, which blends the Marvel Universe with Japanese folklore, kicked off with Demon Days: X-Men #1 in March followed by Demon Days: Mariko #1 in June. Now, we arrive at the third installment, Demon Days: Cursed Web #1, which follows Mariko Yashida as she seeks answers toward her past only to encounter “a mysterious, blue-skinned woman and a giant with super-strength and claws” in a dark and creepy forest. It’s likely quite clear who that pair is, and even if it isn’t, it’s always a thrill to see what Momoko does in this wild and highly dramatic world she’s forging with every new issue. In the meantime, though, just take a gander at this here cover, which feels both hugely familiar and yet wildly mysterious and unknowable. And that’s what makes this series so killer: it’s the rush of warm nostalgia and the onslaught of some unseen future, all made to tell stories that smash you in the face like the handle of a sword.
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