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Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 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.

Wonder Woman: Evolution #1

Variant Cover by Riley Rossmo

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

On Tuesday morning, we’ll be running an interview with writer Stephanie Phillips and artist Mike Hawthorne, the duo behind the genuinely great Wonder Woman: Evolution miniseries. But since I think waiting is a game for chumps, let me share one little tidbit: they spoke of a very specific Diana here, one who is both aggressive and leans into her ancestry as Greek warrior goddess. If you want a taste of what that might actually look like, just peep this excellent variant cover from Riley Rossmo (who is also Phillips’ collaborator on Harley Quinn). Here, Diana battles Silver Swan, and it’s a profoundly physical encounter that has them both straining to smash the other into pieces. Diana, especially, looks like she just might split her old archrival into molten feathers. Have we seen a violent Diana before? Sure, but this time is a little different. As Evolution looks to explore Diana as a kind of stand-in for humanity, having her at her most battle-hungry and aggro is a great way to test her true mettle and the larger sense of humanity she represents. Get ready for the next step, folks.

Dark Ages #3

Cover by Iban Coello

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

If you pay attention to this column, you’ll know I have two “enemies.” The first is Cyclops, because boy oh boy, where do I even begin. The second, though, is Reed “Mister Fantastic” Richards. (More like Reed “Not So Fantastic” Richards — burn!) Because I’m really tired of the awkward, aw-shucks genius type, and based on the many variations of Richards out there (just see The Maker), it’s clear the guy’s a real and true fiend. And so it fills my heart with joy to see some version of him in Dark Ages, where he’s clearly aligned with Apocalypse to destroy both the Avengers and the X-Men. It makes for a stunning image, especially considering the inherent Tony Stark-Richards connection based on their shared intellect and robust personality flaws. (Love ya, Tony!) It feels like a very specific betrayal, even in the twisted universe that Dark Ages takes place in, and seems like the kind of thing that will turn the tide in the favor of the dark forces trying to control this planet. Also, the fact that Richards isn’t actually ripping Stark’s suit up, and just holding him in place, is more proof positive of why I hate that man.

Maw #3

Cover by Ariela Kristantina

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

Maw came to my attention a few months back based on the premise and description alone. Basically, this woman is slowly transforming into a hideous monster, and that sets into play this big hunting party with a bunch of dudes. The whole thing plays really nicely into some of the more basic themes, like how women are treated in society, and how we really view “angry” women. (Spoilers: it’s all pretty bad and we should do infinitely better, gents.) But by the third issue, we’re reaching a kind of “breaking point” in Marion’s, um, journey, and as the solicitation hints, she’s actually found use for her monster-fication by “turning the tables on the predators harassing women in local bars.” What I love about the cover is that it feels like Marion really could go both ways, and it’s a time when she could accept her monster status or rebel and maintain that humanity. From there, we have to ask what is the right choice, and is this kind of moral-ethical conundrum even something we can ask of another person? And depending on what you think is the best call, what’s that ultimately say about you and your view of women and power and status? It’s a great series that asks big questions — and still gives us dope monsters as a treat.

Radio Apocalypse #1

Variant Cover by Megan Hutchison-Cates

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

If I’ve learned anything in my time doing this feature, it’s that the best covers tend to align quite nicely with the story/series at large. (Also, that I’m a huge sucker for lots of vibrant colors.) At the same time, though, great covers can still instantly smash that rule apart and still be both hugely relevant and awesome to consume. That’s certainly the case for this Megan Hutchison-Cates variant cover to the first issue of Radio Apocalypse, a story about the last remaining radio station in the End Times and how it affects the fates of people around it, especially a young lad named Rion. So, while Hutchison-Cates’ piece doesn’t exactly cover proper radio technology (even amid the apocalypse, y’all, they’re rocking proper infrastructure) this spin on an old RCA phonograph ad feels like we’re all on a bad trip at the end of the world. It’s less about whether the bon-o-graph and the snarling pink mutant dog fit with the story/series proper, and more that they speak to certain energies and emotions that may connect back with this series instead. And so in that case, this cover’s a success. A terrible, nightmare-inducing success.

Nightwing #86

Cover by Bruno Redondo

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

Once more, regular readers will know I had a special soft spot in (what remains of my mortal) heart for Nightwing #85. That cover, also by Bruno Redondo, told a very specific story: Nightwing will never truly escape his sidekick origins, and in the best possible way, that makes him an all the more effective and entertaining superhero to watch. Issue #86, it turns out, is not only a continuation of the story proper (“Fear State” part three) but also in terms of his action and place on the cover. So, after playing the good sidekick on #85’s cover, Nightwing gets a chance to regain some cool points by flying into action against the Magistrate. But if you peep his fellow Bat family members, you may see that Dick Grayson is the only being extra and flipping around like he was back at Haly’s Circus (too soon?) But that’s just who Nightwing is, and that attention to showing off and keeping things light (even amid such huge stakes) is ultimately what makes him such a great paladin of justice. Without looking to spoil, I hope issue #87 at least features some thumbs up smile pose or something akin.

Kang the Conqueror #4

Cover by Michael del Mundo

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

As I mentioned some time ago, the entire Kang the Conqueror story has been about redemption. Specifically, can a man (Nathaniel Richards), who moves through time like you and I move through our daily lives, find a way to get the girl and the happy ending. Or, will he be forced to repeat his endless time-hopping, and keep making the same reality-bashing mistakes. As we enter into issue #4, we’re at a pivotal point, and it’s hard to tell if Kang/Nathaniel can in fact save his true love, Ravonna Renslayer, and not allow some massive catastrophe to once more befall him and the rest of the timeline. As such, the cover really says a lot, and it sets the stage brilliantly for that perilous balance and the massive stakes that are slowly reaching a head. However, what I love most about this cover (aside from inferring he’s a the stupid bird in a cuckoo clock) is the parallels to walking the plank. Is Kang being pushed into making certain decisions that will irrevocably alter the course of his already weird life? Or, is he waiting atop a diving board of his own making, ready to jump into the fray and really muck up the timeline some more? Either way, it’s going to be a heck of a good time — so long as your good times always involve crazy time science.

Clear #2

Cover by Francis Manapul

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

I loved the debut issue of Clear. For one, writer Scott Snyder managed to not only launch this book, but a few other big titles from his ongoing ComiXology deal: the spooky Night of the Ghoul and the spooky-meets-swashbuckling vibes of We Have Demons. But Clear stood out not only in quality and such but that it feels like Snyder’s best kind of work: familiar and approachable and yet utterly groundbreaking. (A feat that’s not so easy to accomplish when you’re telling a futuristic murder mystery in a world where people can augment how they actually view reality.) It helps that for the story, Snyder is joined by artist Francis Manapul, who has done a bang up job in building this unique and gripping world. Case in point: the cover to issue #2, which seems like it’s pretty straightforward but mostly certain could not be further from the truth. Because in a story where it’s hard to tell what’s actually happening, this cover speaks volumes about the nature of reality, truth, and the role we play in sorting all of this out. And if you can’t trust what you’re seeing, how could you ever see what’s actually coming? On the upside, if you’re going to mess with folks’ heads/sense of perception, at least make it this hugely stylish.

Moon Knight #5

Cover by Steve McNiven

Judging by the Cover

And speaking of making the reader question reality, we land at issue #5 of Moon Knight. I may or may not have commented around the first issue that I’m not sure if this lives up to my expectations, or even where it ranks in terms of my favorite MK stories. That said, after going back and re-reading the first few issues, I generally like what writer Jed MacKay is doing here. Which is to say, he’s really trying to rip off the mask of Marc Spector (and there’s quite a few atop that rugged face of his) and let the audience get a deeper, more nuanced understanding of his inner workings. By issue #5, then, he’s got to deal with not only some enemies, which may or may not include the Hunter’s Moon, but another session with Dr. Andrea Sterman, which will have plenty of things in Spector’s head laid to bare. So, what’s that have to do with eschewing reality? Well, the cover to #5 has Spector holding up some serious baggage in the form of heavy ship chains. The question begs, is he actually doing this (it would be totally on brand of him, FYI), or is this all about the metaphorical weight he’s contending with? Or is it somehow both at the same dang time? That’s why I love MK, and why I appreciate this series so far: it’s less about the truth, and more what your understanding says about how you relate with this dynamic character. Now, prepare for choppy waters, ladies and germs.

Robins #1

Cover by Baldemar Rivas

Judging by the Cover – 11/17/21 new releases

Robins already has some pretty great momentum behind it. Mostly because it won DC’s Round Robin tournament, and that kind of groundswell support from the audience — no matter how slightly removed it may be — is really huge. Plus, it’s got some great talent attached, including writer Tim Seeley, who had a mostly great run on Nightwing circa 2016-2017. And, having read the first issue a couple weeks ago and having time to mediate on it a bit, it’s mostly a good book. Did it blow my brain out the back of my head? No. Could it do just that with subsequent issues? Sure, I suppose anything is possible. But what makes this book so important is that it’s wish fulfillment. It’s like the DC-Webtoon collabo from earlier this year by providing that thing all Batman fans want the most: longer ears. Just kidding — a chance for the Bat family to engage in really fun ways and explore their large, multifaceted dynamic. And the cover to issue #1 plays that up nicely, looking like a Saturday morning cartoon before they all either drop into action or share pizza on a Gotham rooftop. Either way, it’s fun enough, and we’ll see if this champion can really flourish down the road.

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