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 Ryan Ottley
As I’ve likely mentioned several times already, I don’t envy Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley. As they assume the mantle of Hulk this month, they face the gargantuan task of trying to even compare after Al Ewing’s massive run (alongside artist Joe Bennett) on the amazing Immortal Hulk. There’s no way to tell for sure if they’ll make the grade, but there’s a few things already working in their favor. For one, the first arc, “Mad Scientist,” explores Hulk in a new way, focusing on the greater depths of rage the big guy’s been grappling with as of late. However, the real evidence thus far is the actual cover to #1, which seems to be the perfect entry point. Not only does it sort of capture that new focus on a deeply angry Hulk, but it does so in such a deeply beautiful and vibrant way. And there’s little hints here, like the Hulk-Bruce Banner dynamic, that could be huge if they pay off in the story proper. It’s a great cover to a promising new era — only slightly beating out this amazing Gabriele Dell’Otto variant.
DC vs. Vampires #2
Cover by Otto Schmidt
There’s no denying the raw power of the first cover to DC vs. Vampires. If you want to start out on a high, then always put Batman and Green Arrow together slaying vamps. But it’s worth noting that the cover to issue #2 is perhaps just as effective. Again, any time you can have Otto Schmidt drawing Batman and/or Green Arrow, you’re in a very good place. But while this latest cover may be more “simple,” it feels like the perfect creative decision. For one, it puts the emphasis on Batman as the kind of last man standing, and that’s always great for the potential of the story at-large. From there, you just slap an extra solemn look on his face, give him a sick axe of some sort, and let it all just ride like a moment of simple badassery. In a story that’s so over-the-top in terms of scope and the story’s general approach, simple images like this have a lot of power in terms of expressing emotion and nuance. Always bet on black and yellow when the stakes are high.
Hawkeye: Kate Bishop #1
Cover by Jahnoy Lindsay
Sometimes you’ve got to love perfect timing. As the Hawkeye series is set to debut later this month via Disney+, it’s a wise move indeed to seize upon the momentum with a new comic series. But rather than put the focus on Hawkeye himself, this new series (from writer Marieke Nijkamp and artist Enid Balam) gives Kate Bishop her own vehicle. (Get it, ’cause the cab on the cover?) And since the show itself will also be Bishop’s introduction into the MCU, it’s perhaps doubly important that this title really lets Bishop shine. So how do you get folks excited for the story of Ms. Bishop’s return to NYC? With so many cover options! You could pick this totes adorable piece from Tony Fleecs; the cute-meets-cool vibes from Balam; or this hugely relatable piece by Phil Noto. However, you’ve ultimately got to give the nod to the main cover from Jahnoy Lindsay. It checks all the boxes for a true Hawkeye book — which is to say, a little adventure, some sweet archery shots, and a dope dog. Talk about nailing a bullseye right out of the gate.
Wonder Woman: Black and Gold #6
Variant Cover by Stephanie Hans
If you’ll allow me a brief inside baseball moment, I’d love to talk about how I put this feature together. (Beyond that it’s usually a Saturday morning and I’ve stuffed some configuration of egg in my mouth mid-sentence.) Specifically, the battle I have in sometimes choosing the main cover with any number of variants. Wonder Woman: Black and Gold #6 is a perfect example of this “struggle” — because Lee Bermejo’s cover is utterly gorgeous, as is this striking piece from David Nakayama, but why did I eventually opt for the Stephanie Hans variant? Well, the truth is that it’s kind of a nebulous process, but sometimes it comes down to “how much did this make me thing or just go ‘wowie wowzers.’ And in the case of Hans’ cover, it had the prerequisites — Wonder Woman, the colors black and gold — but also so much more. It’s Diana’s appearance and that unplaceable gaze she’s mustered; the way the rope lays and its shiny hue; and the mix of tranquility and mystery the whole piece nails. It’s often something subtle, or maybe something I’ve invented entirely, but great covers speak volumes if you just let them. Now, sit down with this one for a few.
Good Boy #1
Cover by Nick Bradshaw
And speaking of covers with dope dogs, a new series from writers Christina Blanch and Garrett Gunn and artist Kit Wallis. Good Boy takes place in a world where “humans and dogs are equals,” and the story proper follows a dog (Flint Sparks) avenging his human Jon’s death while re-entering a life of high-stakes violence. (So, basically, like a reverse John Wick, yeah?) And as far as debut covers go, this one from Nick Bradshaw is bloody amazing. It expertly captures the sleek style and robust violence of these “Wick-ian” properties, even if I do get a little sad that this damn good boy has been shot. But more than that, I love the noir-ish vibes, the clean line work, and the small tinge of anime-adjacent inspirations. I’ll buy into almost any story involving a dog, but this one could be a genuinely interesting popcorn flick in comic form. Oh, and a special shoutout to two variant covers: this sick Wolverine homage and Tyler Kirkham’s homage to another Keanu Reeves film.
Cover by John Grund
If you’ve read this feature enough — who are you and can you please email me?! — you’ll have noticed that I tend toward covers that involve big colors, ample blood, and sick poses. But I love a great minimalist cover to, and the front of West #1 instantly caught my eyes (despite its clear lack of zombies and/or marauding robots). Here, writer-artist John Grund is telling a rather robust story, and while I don’t want to get into all of the deets, it does involve a couple living off-grid, a world where magic is dying from too much technology, and a good old fashioned heist. (Also, a secret twist perhaps?!) But under all that razzle dazzle, it’s clearly a story about two people, and the cover strips all of that away to leave us to ponder their connection. There’s this real sense of both romance and foreboding on the cover, and the simple but effective line work does a lot to facilitate that perilous balance. The way the cover also seems to hum (thanks, metallic silver ink!) is compelling, and just proves that every facet of this story could make for something deeply compelling and hugely engaging.
Iron Man #14
Variant Cover by Marco Checchetto
As we come into issue #14 of the excellent Iron Man series, writer Christopher Cantwell continues to deliver on the promise of “reintroducing” Tony Stark. After stripping how down to the bare essentials — dashing good looks, a suit of power armor, etc. — this issue promises the birth of “Cosmic Iron Man.” And cover artist Alex Ross has done a bang up job in depicting basically what happens as Stark basically becomes a god, which looks both hugely painful and like the most profound experience ever. (I can somehow almost feel that slick techno-organic metal on my fingertips). Yet despite how awesome this cover is, I ended up giving the nod to the variant from Marco Checchetto — even if it is called “Iron Man Infinity Saga.” Because it shows ups where Stark/Iron has been, and just how much change and evolution have always been apart of the character and his story. That, and the more “power” Stark has access to, the more complicated his life inevitably becomes. It’s not as “cool” as Ross’ cover, but this piece tells us everything we need to know about this dynamic new chapter of Iron Man.
Deathstroke Inc. #3
Cover by Howard Porter
Admittedly, I’ve only read the first issue, but I’m doubly surprised at how we ended up here in just a couple more issues. Because #1 promised to be a slick action film, with Slade Wilson teaming with T.R.U.S.T. to smash some big baddies. And here we are, with the baddest man on the planet (in a two-toned mask) riding into “Che-terra, a storybook fantasy of Cheetah’s creation.” It’s not so much that he’s riding a unicorn, but that he had enough time and/or forethought to perhaps deck out said mystical, magical beast in armor of his own color/style. That, and does said unicorn perhaps have some kind of connection to the Speed Force? All of it together has me feeling a little out of sorts, but in the very best way — it’s super promising for a series to get this kind of weird and wild so quickly and efficiently. I wonder what happens if I check in on the cover to issue #5? Oh, I shouldn’t have done that…
Joy Operations #1
Variant Cover by David Mack
In our recent interview with artist Stephen Byrne, he delved into the development of Joy Operations, his co-creation alongside writer Brian Michael Bendis. (ICYMI: the story involves folks called EN•VOIs, which protect these things called trusts, which are basically futuristic super-cities.) In said interview, Byrne said he focused a lot of design efforts on Joy, the lead EN•VOI, which perhaps might be a way to both prop her up and help build the world around her. That’s clearly evident in Byrne’s main cover, which looks like the best shimmery Æon Flux remake you could ever imagine. But I’m more interested in this world as depicted in David Mack’s variant cover. Because even if things are somehow more nebulous, I somehow have a greater idea of Joy’s work as a kind of warrior-peacekeeper. Not to mention, some the larger motifs (like, just how much faith to put into said trusts) appear on this cover in a really deliberate but nonetheless graceful manner. It also feels like a slice of vintage sci-fi fiction circa the ’70s, and all of that works together to further boost the prospects of this little book.
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