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Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 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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Action Comics #1035

Cover by Daniel Sampere

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

Everything happening in the Superman books is basically leading toward a brave (and maybe scary?) new era. Supes has left the Justice League, and he’s ready to fly off Earth to explore his lineage and greater place in the cosmos, and the lucky sod left to pick up his mantle is his inexperienced but nonetheless dedicated son, Jon. And while there’s a lot to get worked up about — who ever likes change?! — it’s an interesting and intriguing way to further develop the larger Superman mythos. That’s why I love the cover to Action Comics #1035, because it encapsulates so much of these stories and events. You have the hope of Superman flying toward a new future — right there with a young man grappling with his new role and the exit of his father. It’s also in the little details, like the newspaper headline and the way the blades of grass fly up as Supes hits the air. All of it together makes for this dazzling image that is both inspiring and deeply earnest while also being kind of depressing. All things change, my dear boy, for the infinitely better and the maddeningly worse.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #30

Cover by Taurin Clarke

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

Prepare to feel old: Miles Morales has been Spider-Man for 10 years. Yup, 10 whole years with Mr. Morales grappling with the red-and-blue legacy while trying to stand on his own two (webbed?) feet as a superhero. And given this anniversary, Marvel has gone all out by tapping a veritable cornucopia of variant covers for this special issue which also serves as a proper introduction of his new, extra slick costume. I could have chosen this awesome Mike Mayhew cover, which feels like a great homage to Todd McFarlane’s work. Or even this dope suit breakdown piece done by Chase Conley. I was even tempted to do this variant from main cover artist/Miles’ co-creator Sara Pichelli just cause I also love sweet skateboard tricks. Instead, I went with Taurin Clarke’s main cover because of the statement it says. Which is, even after 10 years, a ton of amazing stories, and even a slick new costume, Miles is still very much the dude trying to work it all out and stay true to himself. That’s why I love him now and 10 more years into the future.

Echolands #2

Cover by J.H. Williams III

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

You may recall Echolands from our feature back in July, in which we spoke with creators J.H. Williams III and W. Haden Blackman about this “genre mashup adventure.” Well, issue #1 dropped back in August, and it served as an interesting introduction to this deep, multifaceted tale about “Earth’s last war” and the story of Hope Redhood and her battle against the nasty Wizard. But it’s still early enough to jump on the Echolands train, and if you need a bit of incentive, just peep this cover to issue #2. Even if you don’t know anything about the story so far, or the sick wrap-up we did in the aforementioned interview, it’s still a beaut of a piece. We get a great look at Hope, we see some really sick plant-type monster thing, and there’s a sword, which is a way to nab anyone’s eyeballs regardless of the intent or medium. It’s a powerful and compelling image made all the more effective once you understand some context and recognize the mega narrative that’s unfurling here. So, make a choice: read it now or weep, y’all.

Human Remains #1

Cover by Sally Cantirino

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

And speaking of cool interviews we did, writer Peter Milligan and artist Sally Cantirino both gave us the deep dive into Human Remains. In a world where people can’t express emotions — there’s a reason they describe it as “A Quiet Place meets Doctor Who” — we get a deeply human story with some characters that really shine and resonant even before issue #1 is complete. We also get some pretty great cover selections to boot. I love John Gallagher’s variant because, even if it doesn’t really fit the vibe or even the look and feel of the other covers, I will always be a sucker for zombie gore. Meanwhile, Joshua Hixson’s variant is the first piece of art I saw from the series, and it’s mix of the tranquil and the bloody spoke volumes. And, of course, a special shoutout to Ben Harvey’s variant for some extra amazing body horror meets Aliens vibes. But ultimately, the winner is Cantirino’s own cover, because it keeps the humanity front and center and spins in the gore and the weirdness on the side. That’s how I love my monster-centric properties, and this one delivers so much more than an amazing cover.

These Damn Kids #1

Cover by Helmut Racho

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

At the same time that I want humanity and emotionality front and center in horror-centric stories, I’m a sucker for other things. That’s why I love this cover to These Damn Kids, a new comic from Second Sight Publishing about kiddies gone bloody mad in small-town Vicksburg, Mississippi. Children in horror movies are more important and interesting than all the clawed burn victims or mute axe murderers in the world. (See Children of the Corn, Pet Sematary, Poltergeist, etc.) But more than that, these kids are both doubly adorable and wearing masks like Us meets Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Add in the bloody writing on the billboard, not to mention the dead bodies of parents, and you’ve got just about all the ingredients for a little dish I call “amazing horror gumbo.” Plus, how can you go wrong if the artist’s name is Helmut Racho? Brilliant!

Ninjas & Robots #11

Cover by Erik Klaus

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

I have never read nor even heard of Ninjas & Robots before today. According to some press, it’s about a “ninja princess Yuki Tachibana” who lands on an island of “killer robots,” whereupon she’s forced to utilize her extensive training in the deadly arts to both eventually escape and find out why she was stuck here in the first place. All of that’s well and fine, and I’m sure it’s been a great story so far, especially since creator Erik Klaus is a graduate of The Kubert School (sorta kinda the Harvard for cartooning). No, I only chose this because the cover to #11 is a recreation of Blink-182’s seminal third album, Enema of the State (albeit with some extra, story-centric add-ons and whatnot). And if that weren’t enough, the nurse is reportedly named Ja’Nine, sort like the album’s cover model, Janine Lindemulder. And… well, that’s it; I have no other reason to feature this beyond my Millennial-centric nostalgia demanded it. I hope the book is good, and maybe you’ll buy it, but sometimes appeasing myself is all I really need. Now read the next entry.

Crossover #8

Cover by Geoff Shaw

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

The big hook regarding Crossover is that it’s an explosion of comics insanity and this deeply meta delve into the medium so beloved by its creators. Thus far, that’s resulted in some pretty crazy — and pardon the directness — “crossovers” of Big 2 and indie comics alike, all of which seem to try and be more nerdy and more appealing than whatever instance happened just before. But even amid all that insanity, it’s managed to still cultivate its own vibe and sense of identity. Case in point: the cover to issue #8, in which we’re clearly treated to an homage of sorts to the mostly great Usual Suspects. I could have also gone with Alan Quah’s epic variant cover, which is like the cover of Abbey Road meets the most bonkers, Crisis-level event of the last 30 years. Yet I chose the main cover because it has something even better than cool giant robots: a representation of the openness and accessibility that this book has managed to foster despite the crazy layered story it’s developed in just seven preceding issues. Will you get lost if you read this? Maybe. But it’s a journey that you’ll want to fall into for its heart, depth, and sense of grace.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #121

Cover by Jodi Nishijima

Judging by the Cover

I’ll admit it, I walked away from most TMNT-centric stories/properties right around the mid-90s. (Even if I’ve ever featured any covers in this feature, it’s usually been another chance to indulge my own nostalgia.) So I’m a little lost about the sexy, brooding lion (?), the really concerned weasels/ferrets, the Nick Fury-esque cat, and whatever man-creatures are plotting trouble in the very back. And, if I’m being honest, I’m glad to be left behind. When I called this series mine, it was about four brothers, their unbreakable bond in the face of villainy, and tasty pizza. Now, as the property continues to build its place in comics publishing, the story has taken on a new and compelling life as something so much more while also clearly holding on to the heart and humanity (animalty?) that rests at the core of TMNT. I’d like to think I’m in the black/dark spaces, watching a whole new generation enjoy the turtles and company as this amazing story and universe unfolds. Being left behind in the refuse bin of pop culture can sometimes be a real good thing, folks.

The Golem Walks Among Us #2

Cover by Peter Bergting

Judging by the Cover – 09/29/21 new releases

I love the whole idea and mythos of the golem as the kind of mystical protector of the Jewish people. Which is why I’m surprised I didn’t pick up the first issue of The Golem Walks Among Us. It’s got everything you’d need from a comic: a story by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, great art from Peter Bergting, and a golem named Josef protecting a small town in rural Europe from demons, witches, etc. Still, if anything is going to make me pick up this book, it’s the cover to issue #2. Because it immediately makes me think of Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song,” and that is perhaps the most beautiful and compelling song ever recorded. (Even if I have a, um, complicated history with the beloved English experimental rockers.) That song is both deeply hopeful and painfully gorgeous while also somehow being deeply foreboding and slightly confrontational. And if the book itself can muster even 1/10th of those same kinds of feelings, then it’ll be a glowing success.

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