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.
Fantastic Four #35
Cover by Mark Brooks
I’ve remarked in the past that DC knows how to do big-time anniversary special issues, often employing a buttload of great variant covers. As it turns out, Marvel is no slouch either, and as we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Fantastic Four, issue #35 of the latest series promises some proper party guests. Namely, contributions from writers Dan Slott and Mark Waid as well as the ever-awesome John Romita, Jr. And what better way to kick off any celebration than with this amazing cover from Mark Brooks. Here, you have a snapshot of the core and extended members of Marvel’s First Family, captured in gorgeous detail and in a way that reflects their current appearances while paying homage to some aesthetic odds and ends of yesteryear. While the issue itself promises some big changes for the family, the cover captures something essential about the team — that overt cheesiness and delightfully bizarre qualities that have made them so important for 60 decades. Here’s to many more, FF!
I Am Batman #1
Variant Cover by Kael Ngu
In terms of a new Batman book, fans couldn’t have lucked out any better. Written by the iconic John Ridley, and with art from the equally amazing Olivier Coipel, this book about Jace Fox promises to be a great addition to the Bat canon. That’s because it moves us toward the mostly great Future State, and we see the young Mr. Fox trying to be a different kind of Batman as the city changes and the threat of the Magistrate becomes increasingly real. And everything you need to know about this new Batman and new Gotham is right here on this excellent cover from Kael Ngu. A dope new Batsuit that feels both futuristic and yet also slightly militaristic (with a real homegrown spin to boot)? Check. Batman moving on the ground level once more, serving less as a myth (but still mythical) and trying to make himself more of a concrete player in this strange new Gotham? Double check. A sense of fear and anxiety abounding every line of this excellent piece? Triple check. All you need is the cover, yeah, but you definitely want to read the book if you can.
Eternals: Thanos Rises #1
Cover by Esad Ribic
Even if you haven’t seen any of the Avengers flicks, you likely know who Thanos is by now. He’s become a kind of intergalactic boogeyman, and his purple skin and larger-than-life presence (literally and figuratively) transcend comics into the larger culture (even bordering on true meme-dom, another true sign of a character’s significance). But before he was trying to bring order to the universe via mass genocide, Thanos was an Eternal, and his earliest, um, misadventures (?) are chronicled in Eternals: Thanos Rises #1. Described by writer Kieron Gillen as “the nativity of Thanos,” it follows the Mad Titan even pre-Thanos Rising, and as such will likely be our earliest look at his relationship and subsequent split with the Eternals. And like Gillen and artist Esad Ribic’s ongoing Eternals book, we can expect plenty of high drama and gorgeous visuals. And more than that, an extra-young Thanos, whose appearance isn’t quite “giant-sized crusher of life” and more “lean, mean brooding machine.” But in case the mound of skulls wasn’t a clue, he’s still pretty much a scourge, but it’ll be interesting to see a different version of Thanos as we delve into the deepest part of his rich and terrifying backstory. Sick abs, bro.
Cover by Andrea Sorrentino
In his 478th book of 2021 alone, writer Jeff Lemire reunites with artist Andrea Sorrentino — you may know the pair from little books like Green Arrow and Gideon Falls — for Primordial. As we detailed in our recent interview, the book asks the question, “What if the animals the Americans and Russians sent into space didn’t die” before immediately answering its own questions with a weird and wonderful story of space aliens and sentient animals. But the real take away from this series — among the many that are already quite apparent — is the artistic contributions of Sorrentino. Between his covers and the interiors, he’s done something to both capture the aesthetic of the late ’50s/early ’60s brilliantly while also infusing in some more grit and slightly darker elements. The best encapsulation of that is the cover to issue #1, which shows the intrigue of scientific advancement while also focusing on the bizarre choice of monkeys as pioneers. Like the book itself, it makes for a truly wild ride you’re likely not fully prepared for.
Cover by Ariela Kristantina and Sarah Stern
Maw, a new entry from BOOM Studios, had me hooked by poising just one question: “What happens when one woman becomes the real monster society has always made her out to be?” The horror series follows a woman’s monstrous transformation after something goes awry at a feminist retreat, and promises to delve into the “anger of women trapped by society’s expectations.” And to help launch the series, BOOM enlisted a few different variant covers that nail this concept/premise pretty well. Like, Megan Hutchinson-Cates’ creepy rehash of a Midsommar cover. Or, Tiffany Turrill’s hyper-realistic, doubly unsettling piece. But it’s the main cover from Ariela Kristantina (and colors by Sarah Stern) that ultimately gets the nod. That’s because it is somehow both deeply scary in an existential sense and yet also deeply enthralling. Maybe it’s the tentacles, or the uncertainty of the mouth and its intentions. Or maybe it’s the slightly cracked tooth that’s doing it for me (I have a, um, tooth thing). Either way, the answer to “Should I read this” is a sold “Heck yes.”
Nobody’s Child #1
Cover by Ramiro Borrallo
If you really want to win my heart — and you don’t have any banana pudding available — you can always do what the creators of Nobody’s Child accomplished with the cover to issue #1. The story itself is about one boy’s attempts to save the last existing albino rhino after it’s discovered the species “holds the properties to regenerate man.” The premise alone could have most of my attention, but it’s really the cover that cinches it in the end. You’ve got near-future vibes (peep the quasi-futuristic artificial leg); a large and lovable animal in our rhino “hero,” Sabium; shady agents creeping in the background; animal bones galore; and a black and white motif to really play up the moral/ethical conundrum that could be at the center of this book. All of that together makes for a really promising bit of sci-fi magic, and the kind of harrowing and heartwarming tale that always gets me right in the old ticker. If there’s a wisecracking robot owl or something, you can take all of my money now.
Batman ’89 #2
Cover by Joe Quinones
Comics do things that other mediums cannot hope to ever accomplish. For the most part, I mean that in the sense that the structure, pacing, and scope of comics allows for certain stories and visuals told in a way that you can’t get in TV, movies, books, video games, etc. But I also mean that in the sense that comics will be able to make decisions from a storytelling perspective that other medium failed to capture. Case in point: Billy Dee Williams starred in the 1989 film as Harvey Dent, doing a pretty slick job of playing Gotham’s most capable attorney. The original plan, though, was to have Williams return in the sequel to transform into Two-Face, only that was eventually cut for a number of reasons both silly and slightly important. But forget history because, as this cover so wonderfully hints at, we may finally get to see some version of Williams irrevocably scarred into his fiendish, duplicitous alter ego. And I’ve got to say, whether it’s the wild hair or just that sweet pinstripe suite, I really love the energy and madness of this version of Two-Face. Thanks, comics, for having the chutzpah to make some cool decisions.
Kang the Conqueror #2
Cover by Michael del Mundo
I remarked in yet another edition of this mostly great feature that Kang the Conqueror’s story is basically an allegory for self-hatred. As we’ve seen thus far in this series, he’s fighting himself in the past, and his actions have some real ramifications for Marvel’s most notable time-hopper. But in case my theory doesn’t hold quite enough weight, I’d also submit the cover to issue #2. Kang is literally buried, to the point of being imprisoned by, the physical personification of dates/years he’s spent countless centuries hopping between. All of his actions have led him to being consumed by his obsessions and this need to be the master of time, and you can tell from that sullen look on his face he knows the only person to blame is his own damn self. At the same time, it’s slightly funny, and you know that he’ll find a way to get past his current predicament — probably by using more time travel shenanigans. That’s sort of the core of this story and Kang himself, and it’s great to see it play out as it has while providing some true insight into this slightly hokey, weirdly diluted character. It’s Kang time, y’all!
Hellboy and the B.P.R.D.: 1957—Family Ties #1
Cover by Laurence Campbell and Dave Stewart
Creator Mike Mignola is so synonymous with all things Hellboy that it’s hard to realize he doesn’t always provide the art. And while some folks may find that a slight bummer — his work is never better when he’s playing with this dynamic universe — other folks can still do a great job in telling Hellboy stories. For instance, artist Laurence Campbell (joined by Dave Stewart) has already done a pretty smashing job just based on the cover to issue #1 of Family Ties, which follows Hellboy and B.P.R.D. agent Susan Xiang as they try and help a housewife with a possibly demonic houseguest. This piece does an amazing job of capturing something essential and doubly quaint about the ’50s — only to then make it all creepy and dark by playing around with shadows and lighting. The end result feels both comforting and sinister, and you can’t help but want to walk into the abode for milk and cookies (the milk and cookies are actually supernatural madness and demon’s blood, probably). It just shows that the more Mignola opens up his little universe, the more greatness that inevitably takes hold.
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