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.
Cover by Clay Mann
I’ll admit, I haven’t kept up with Batman/Catwoman as well as I should have. Especially because I consider Tom King’s run on Batman to be among the most important of all-time, as he effectively reinforced what’s great about the character while also redefining and reinventing some key aspects of the Dark Knight story/mythos. But if there’s anything that’ll have saying my “mea culpa,” it’s this cover to issue #7. Because much like King’s work on Batman, Clay Mann is using this cover to both exemplify Batman — the statuesque pose, the endless fear rolling of the page, etc. — while spinning in new ideas and perspectives, like how the light on part of his face and bloody hands seem to forge a new, more terrifying Batsuit. It’s a cover that feels both exciting and familiar and is never any less intense and foreboding, a perfect snapshot of what makes Batman great. Oh, and if you know me, got to dig the ear length, too.
Deadpool: Black, White & Blood #2
Cover by Declan Shalvey
By now, we mostly love Deadpool because he’s a walking joke. Whatever he’s doing — fighting zombies, making and consuming a chimichanga — it’s powered by his endless commitment to perpetuating a joke. And that’s why the character is so awesome: he sees the weirdness in the world, and reflects it back at the reader to help teach them valuable lessons about how they see and interact with the world themselves. But lest you forget, Mr. Pool is still a sword-swinging mutant badass, and there’s so many instances when he’s just plain cool. Case in point: this cover to issue #2 of Deadpool: Black, White & Blood, which strips away all the wacky shtick and fourth wall-smashing gags to reveal a more serious, focused Deadpool, which is somehow doubly terrifying than him covered in blood, cracking some awful dad joke. I mean, if this picture came to life, he’d likely say something dumb four seconds later. But there’s a multitude to Wade Wilson, and remembering that from time to time is a genuinely joyful experience.
Cover by Jeff Lemire
Jeff “Comics’ Busiest Man” Lemire returns for what may be his 127th project of 2021 (I’d have to check to be sure). Mazebook, which he both writes and draws, sees a “lonely building inspector” trying to solve a maze from his deceased “puzzle-loving daughter” in order to reunite with her. Cue a reality-hoping narrative, with plenty of raw human emotion, and it’s the sort of deeply human fare we all expect from Lemire by now (and what he delivers in spades). On the one hand, I do recognize that this picture is a little heavy-handed; as metaphors go, it’s sort of on the nose to the point it feels like a straight hook to the proboscis. On the other hand, though, Lemire is such a skilled artist and writer that such overtness is mostly OK, and he has the creativity and prowess to make this more than just “dad uses puzzles to find dead daughter.” But no matter how insightful or effective the actual visual metaphor is, the fact that it may be direct is a good thing. After the last 18 months or so, my emotions are so worn out I could you something simple to weep openly about.
Black Manta #1
Cover by Valentine De Landro
I’ll admit, I’ve never really paid much attention to Black Manta. Even in his recent, genuinely scary/badass appearances in the Justice League series, I didn’t think he was all that special in the “crazy scary villain” category. Then I saw this TikTok and realize Black Manta straight murdered Aquababy in especially sociopathic fashion back in the ’70s. (Seriously, read more about it here — if you dare.) So that alone made me excited for his very own solo series — and luckily there’s more reasons to be stoked to the Nth degree. Have I already read the issue? Yes. Do writer Chuck Brown and artist Valentine De Landro deliver a gripping tale of villainy on the high seas with a splash or two of high drama? You know it. But if I ignore all that goodness, I could likely tell good things were coming based solely on De Landro’s cover. Because like Manta himself, it may seem rather “basic” or understated, but there’s some real darkness and intensity swelling just under the surface. And when it crashes ashore, things are going to get hella scary.
Extreme Carnage: Toxin #1
Cover by Skan
In reading through Absolute Carnage and King in Black in recent years, I realized just how much symbiote-related malarkey there is in the Marvel Universe. Seriously, heavy-hitters Venom and Carnage have had, like, 40 offspring each, and just about everyone you can think of has worn a symbiote, or known someone who has. While that makes for a gripping story that spans the MU, it also complicates something that’s so effective. Which is why I dig this cover to Extreme Carnage: Toxin. Don’t know who Toxin is? Doesn’t matter, you’ll find out here! But what does matter is that this cover captures something elemental about the symbiotes: they’re big, scary monsters who are generally unstoppable and want to rip your head off and/or eat your bone marrow. And that kind of monstrous presence is great in the MU — it’s a way to cut through all the gods and alternate dimensions and show something that’s immediate and scary. Now, let’s get extreme and show us some true symbiote madness.
Last Flight Out #1
Cover by Eduardo Ferigato
Written by Marc Guggenheim, the story is about “family, fatherhood, and the hunt for forgiveness” as a father looks for his estranged/lost daughters before the last rescue ship leaves a dying Earth. That premise alone is more than enough to make me want to read, and it feels like a take on The Road mixed with a (hopefully not awful version of) After Earth. But if you needed any further motivation, just peep the cover to issue #1. Whether it’s the excellent use of text (love that sci-fi-style regality), the young girl clutching her stuffed toy, or the way the city seems to be in the process of actively melting, it checks all the boxes for an appealing tale about the world’s final moments/days. But I also love that there’s a kind of joy here, like the perfect, almost serene quality of the purple, or how the young girl is looking in an almost hopeful pose. That dichotomy is really effective, and hopefully it translates into something depressing and still uplifting. Lord knows we could use more of that these days, amirite?!
Cover by Ben Tiesma
If you follow me on Twitter — please don’t, it gives me anxiety — you’ll know I took a moment to shine a little light on Deadbox. Written by Mark Russell, and with art by Benjamin Tiesma, it’s about a possessed Redbox in some extra small town that “seems to know more about the fate of its citizens than they do.” If you can’t guess, that’s the perfect premise for some truly weird, unsettling horror goodness (and some really great character portraits to boot.) Sure, you might not be able to discern all of this epic storytelling and world-building from the cover alone. But even if you can’t, the cover alone tells you everything you need to know about this series. Namely, it involves a scary Redbox, there’s some clear connections back to great horror (in this case, The Exorcist), and there’s no shying away from the blood and weirdness to come. Seriously, read this book — even if you just have to take my word for it.
Bountiful Garden #1
Cover by Kelly Williams
And speaking of great horror, another such harrowing property emerges from Mad Cave Studios. Here, a group of teenage scientists are sent on a terraforming mission — only to wake up a decade early above a strange planet that they have to explore (and, if horror rules hold up in deep space, possibly die on). It’s a slightly “traditional” premise for great horror and/or space flicks, but luckily I know this could be good based on the cover to issue #1 alone. That’s because it wears its inspirations firmly on the front page: the scope and colors scream Alien; the kids themselves are clearly understudies from Children of the Corn; and for some reason their uniforms make me thing of the excellent Sunshine. If I’m even only remotely close regarding this benchmarks, this could be a great little series. Oh, and the kids also look like they front a Kraftwerk-style band, and that bit of head canon is simply for my own amusement.
Cover by Ario Anindito
I read the first issue of Eve back in May, and I recall liking it. The creative team had the pedigree — Victor LaValle penned Victor LaValle’s Destroyer, and artist Jo Mi-Gyeong contributed to Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal — plus the premise of “young girl awakes from VR to travel through a flooded America” seemed compelling enough. But I just sort of fell off for no discernible reason, and I’ve missed so much action from Eve and (if I recall correctly) her animatronic bear friend. Does the cover to issue #5 make me want to rejoin their harrowing adventure? Maybe. It certainly checks a lot of boxes I want for a great cover: a plucky young hero, preferably wearing some dope armor/gear, dives headfirst into unknown, possibly alien danger. Plus, the water and bubbles depicted here almost had me thinking I was going for a swim. But even if I don’t pick up the other issues, it’s clear everyone who is reading this has been having fun for months by now.
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