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.
The Amazing Spider-Man #76
Cover by Arthur Adams
Among the many threads I’ve laid bare throughout this weekly feature, it’s a particular theory about Spider-Man. More specifically, he’s often at his most effective, as a purveyor of truly great character building, when he’s getting trounced on. And, based on the cover to The Amazing Spider-Man #76, it seems Marvel and the creative team certainly agree. After issue #75 brought back Ben Parker as Spidey, and promised “a Spider-story that will shake up Spider-Man’s 59th year,” we see Lord Webslinger himself laid up in a hospital bed, looking more damaged and destroyed than I can recall in recent years. (And, based on my love of hurt/underdog Spidey, I’d know such a thing.) Is it Ben or is this Peter Parker? You’d have to have read to know. But what matters, though, is that seeing (a) Spidey like this is a great way to recognize just how severe his beating is, and that if that lovable, previously mentioned underdog is this bad off, then you know he’s up for a massive challenge. And, again, the more you challenge Spidey, the more of a chance you have to explore the rich humanity connected with the character. Whatever happens next, this is an effective way to raise the odds with lethal efficiency.
Batman: The Imposter #1
Cover by Andrea Sorrentino
There’s a lot working in favor of Batman: The Imposter from the word go. For one, it’s written by Mattson Tomlin, who handled the mostly entertaining Project Power. It’s also got an interesting premise, as a year-one-adjacent Batman has to deal with an imposter Dark Knight killing Gotham’s worst criminals (and, as the press so expertly asks, “how can you prove your innocence from behind a mask?”) But more than anything else, it’s got covers and internal art from Andrea Sorrentino, who offers up a first look of sorts with the excellent cover to issue #1. Of course, you’ve got to love the visual metaphor for the imposter that takes center stage; the cracked mirror shtick is great, and the contrast of their colors really adds a certain quality of intensity and foreboding. But I’d also like to shoutout the Batsuit design for this book. It sort of looks like riot armor a cop might wear, which fits nicely given how “early” this store takes place in Bats’ career. All of that together indicates a lot of potential for this intriguing look at the larger Bat canon.
Cover by Joshua Cassara and Dean White
I’ll admit that I’m a few issues behind in X-Force, and thus I’m not 100% up-to-date with the storyline. But what I do know, however, is that throughout its larger run, writer Benjamin Percy has a done a great job in building a compelling story thread with Colossus. The whole time we’ve seen a kind of hesitancy to the giant Russian, and he’s trying to build a quiet, peaceful life even amid all the combat and espionage that comes in being associated with X-Force and even the larger Krakoa saga. So, for him to be at this point, with actual blood on his hands, it means he’s finally had to make a hard choice, and that’s going to be an amazing direction for the character’s continued arc and ongoing presence as a voice for dissent in the X-Men’s ongoing “Let’s protect the mutant homeland however we can” shtick. But as effective as the blood is, I also need to mention that sick beard, Piotr. I don’t know if there’s a storyline explanation, but there’s got to be something going on if he can grow it over his metal skin. Regardless, said sweet facial hair gives us a lot of directions for where Colossus goes from here, serving as a kind of roadmap and barometer of his emotional status in a pivotal moment in his greater development. Oh, you thought it was just chin whiskers? Silly.
Black Hammer: Reborn #4
Cover by Caitlin Yarsky
If you’re not up-to-date on Black Hammer: Reborn, it basically follows an older Lucy Weber, the new Black Hammer, as she deals not with supervillains and monsters but the slow decay of her marriage and the rigors of parenthood. (I think most of us would choose the 200-foot tall fire lizard at this point.) This story has been a way, like similar entries and titles in the larger canon, to continually revisit this weird, wonderful universe in new and interesting ways — and that includes the covers. For issue #4, then, we get a visit from Colonel Weird, who is sort of like the weird meta uncle in Black Hammer, and his presence means a dichotomous mix of character insight and clarity wrapped in a sticky candy shell of weirdness and indecipherable mystery/babble. But maybe this time, in this “new” take on Black Hammer, it can all be different, and Randall Weird may have a different role to play in “rebirth” of Lucy Weber/Black Hammer. Not to go all conspiracy theorist, but Weird’s post reminds me of Uncle Sam, and that’s got to mean something. Or he’s pointing at us to read this book. (Both are 100% possible, even both simultaneously). Plus, if all of this is just from one cover, imagine what lays ahead in this next chapter.
Cover by Benjamin Tiesma
When I read issue #1 of Deadbox, I instantly felt a sense of robust fear at the mere thought of living within a mile of an actual Redbox. That’s because the book is some truly great horror, the kind of slow, methodical build (courtesy of writer Mark Russell) that makes for the most terrifying and intrusive stories. The fact that the whole premise is about a town with a “cursed DVD machine that seems to know more about the fate of its citizens than they do” only adds new levels of silliness and intensity, highlighting that dichotomous blend that seems to make this such a deeply effective title so early on. Now, we get even more of that on the cover to issue #2, which somehow features a monkey choosing either a movie about a banana and other foods or the actual food items. (Huh, thanks cursed DVD machine!) Either way, it’s both hilarious — because monkeys, duh — but also somehow foreboding. Like, why can the monkey use this machine, and why did the options change? What else can this machine do, and what other weird requests or residents can we expect from the town of Lost Turkey? The more we look to get some answers, the more terrifying it all becomes — thanks, Deadbox.
Rick and Morty: Mr. Nimbus #1
Cover by Ryan Lee
Of all the great things to come out of Rick and Morty — Mr. Meeseeks, that Jerry made out of wood, the Planetina episode, etc. — a lot of people instantly latched on to Mr. Nimbus. Tightfully so: no one else proved to be nearly the equal of Rick as this sexy alternate universe Namor. Plus, he just had so much grace and swagger, and to be that weirdly sensual and still be able to counter the cerebral Rick is a huge accomplishment. Now, though, we get to dive even deeper into Mr. Nimbus — ew — with his origin story of sorts. The book promises that “love, war, fish, and friendship undergo the battering sea of time and tide,” but I’m more interested in the cover specifically. Namely, after seeing some threads of it in the actual show, there’s something deeply weird and intense about Mr. Nimbus depicted here. (As if that didn’t make sense given literally everything about him.) Is he the cool, collected customer he was kind of made out to be, or is he the genuine monster that was briefly hinted at in his interactions with Rick within the episode? I assume the giant tentacle would indicate the proper answer, but with this comic and show, you just never know.
No One Left To Fight II #1
Cover by Fico Ossio
We recently got a chance to talk to writer Aubrey Sitterson and artist Fico Ossio about No One Left To Fight II, their bonkers, emotionally rich homage to manga and action movies. During the Q&A, Ossio mentioned how creating the series as a whole was a “joyful experience,” which is something you wouldn’t always equate with a series about a washed-up fighter looking to prove his mettle one last time. Yet if you want a real sense of that joy, you only need to look at the first issue to this latest “chapter.” Yes, it’s sort of like watching an episode of Dragon Ball Z if it were intercut with Naruto — and you were also tripping on mushrooms. And, yes, it’s weirdly intense and adult-leaning even amid all those bright colors and sheer visual madness, and that dichotomy could be seen as joyful. Plus, what’s not innately joyous about a baby octopus monster?! But, truly, the joy is apparent in that all of these ideas and sentiments at least properly compliment each other, and it’s clear there’s ample love and passion being poured into this book, no matter the directions it might take. Plus, it’s always a good time with that choice of text.
Cover by Francis Manapul
Recently, when Scott Snyder announced that huge deal with ComiXology, a lot of people had some unique takes. But amid all the celebration and even lamenting about his continued move away from DC, was this notion that working on eight, mostly simultaneous titles may be even too much for a pro like Snyder. Well, if we’re basing things on just one book, and said title is Clear, then let me be the first to tell you, everything is gravy, baby. Here, Snyder — alongside artist Francis Manapul and lettering from AndWorld Design — have created a really profound sci-fi world, one where a “neurological internet connection is transforming reality.” (Basically, super computers let people see the kind of world they want to, like a rap video or The Sound of Music. Or both?) Without spoiling too much more — there’s a mystery here, not to mention a hardboiled detective as our protagonist — the cover to issue #1 is a great introduction of sorts. It nails the dystopian vibes; hints brilliantly at the altered reality story thread; and generally just lets Manapul show off his gorgeous work. Plus, there’s a hint at some really important part about said hero and his connection to this reality. Not bad for just the first part of the very first book, yeah?
Iron Head #1
Cover by Stefano Cardoselli
I like one-off stories because, after dealing with so many titles with huge canons and ongoing stories, it’s like slamming down a refreshing lemonade. (Let that terrible metaphor help demonstrate how much effort goes into this column, and how I’m clearly at the end of my weekly reserves.) As far as one-shots go, I’m especially excited about Iron Head. Here, we meet Duke Higher, who is basically moving across a massive battlefield, methodically slaughtering his enemies. However, there’s something more about this man with a “face full of scars,” and there’s some real questions and/or concerns about whether Duke can be killed. I’m sure whatever the answer is will be compelling enough, but just peep this gorgeous cover from artist-writer Stefano Cardoselli. The many lines and images tell the story of Duke’s campaign of war more effectively than all the facial scars in the world. There’s a kind of beauty and depth as images of saints intersect with grim and filth, telling the story of a long and bloody life with real heart. The sword, especially, is so amazing, and it’s hard to believe this mural is a weapon of destruction. Maybe that’s a larger theme of this book, or how we find meaning in endless bloodshed. Or it’s just a cool piece of work — at this point, both are just about the same kind of intriguing.
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