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Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 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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Dune: House Atreides #12

Cover by Evan Cagle

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

It’s funny that I come to Dune: House Atreides at the 12th issue, because much like the book and the beloved first movie, I’ve long missed out on this entire franchise/story. I don’t really have a proper answer — maybe it’s because I can’t watch/read everything, or that I saw some random clip from the original film and just recognized it wasn’t for me. But I recently saw the remake from Denis Villeneuve, and while I don’t know if it stands up to the book or whatnot, I do know that it was hugely engaging and entertaining. That’s especially true of Timothée Chalamet, who plays the part of Paul with a robust sense of mystery and endless charm to boot. He’s the kind of young, mostly dumb hero who proved that he’s not utterly helpless or unaware, and that kind of mix served him nicely as a guide into the universe and the larger story themes and motifs. So, my appreciation of Paul is enough to choose the cover to issue #12 because 1) I’m certain that’s Paul and 2) he looks like an even better version of the movie, and that’s maybe enough to make me want to jump aboard. If any of this has upset or annoyed true Dune fans, I’m only partially sorry.

Nightwing 2021 Annual #1

Cover by Nicola Scott

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

I get there’s a lot of nuance to the whole idea of parasocial relationships, but a lot of that is hard to reconcile with regarding the Bat family. Because — and this just may be this writer’s opinion — but it’s easy to feel hugely connected with the many Robins given that we’ve seen them grow up and build this really important, emotionally poignant family that most of them lacked so dearly. So that’s why the Nightwing annual generated such a significant pause. Because here we see Dick Grayson and Jason Todd as two heroes standing entirely on their own. There’s nary a hint of the massive Robin shadow to be felt or experienced here on this cover, and they’ve each reached a place that you can engage and connect with these characters as they are in terms of their own story and individual mythos. Not only that, but they look dope as hell — mostly because there’s just so much of their respective personalities on display here. There’s some weird Robin-centric history in the Bat family, especially as it relates to these two. But what we see is a bright future for this rich canon, and something to celebrate regarding these deeply beloved fictional characters.

The Amazing Spider-Man #80

Cover by Arthur Adams

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

Welcome to another edition of Judging by the Cover where I remind you, the dear reader, of my unique take on Spider-Man. Namely, that he’s at his absolute best when he’s being super vulnerable and/or in danger — it’s a place of great emotionality and storytelling potential when dealing with a character who is, essentially and perpetually, a nerdy teenager with all the accompanying, hugely awkward baggage. (And, yes, that extends to any Ben Reilly stories and/or character arcs.) And if you’re a fan like me with this rather specific character wish, you can’t find a better cover than this Arthur Adams piece. As Spidey grapples with Kraven for the 1,472nd time, the addition of hallucinatory agents apparently results in one of the biggest tests of the hero’s mettle in some time. And, sure, this cover looks like the worst kind of bad trips, but it also feels very tailored to Spidey. It’s the way his limbs are not only spider-like, but what that says about the perception. That, and the way Kraven’s teeth look like concrete blocks, which (again, maybe it’s just me?) somehow makes it feel all the more real. All that together plays up just how dire the situation is for Spidey, and that’s always made for amazing stories.

Wonder Woman 2021 Annual #1

Cover by Mitch Gerads

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

It’s easy to feel cynical and jaded these days. We’re two-ish years into a global pandemic, and the news media continues to play a game of “how can we continue to scare the bejesus out of the average public.” But that’s why we need comics more than ever, if only because they provide the smallest semblance of hope in the face of seemingly endless isolation and global chaos. Case in point: the cover to this year’s Wonder Woman annual by Mitch Gerads. As far as hopeful messages go, you can’t get any more succinct and effective than a young girl looking up to the mighty image of Diana, a powerful meta-commentary on imagery a la Rosie the Riveter. That connection is especially appropriate given that this piece feels like an actual snapshot of our reality (or something adjacent enough to genuinely matter). That sense of reality and larger connection takes what could be a slightly cheesy Norman Rockwell-esque moment and makes it feel real in the best kinds of ways. It’s not going to make our world any better, but it does prove that having something to look up to in the worst of times is how we all make it through another day. Thanks, Wonder Woman.

New Mutants #23

Cover by Martin Simmonds

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

The last time I really paid attention to New Mutants, the team were gallivanting around space. Now, after some time away, I see they ::checks the cover to #23:: have been turned into demonic dolls?! Per the solicitations, the so-called “Fall of the Shadow Children” storyline has seen the team grappling with Shadow King himself, rendering the New Mutants as “only shadows.” There’s a lot of great ideas and energies swirling around this cover that makes it so hauntingly effective. For one, it’s that these dolls look like my mother’s old Precious Moments figures, and those things already seared themselves into my brain before their demon-ification. And speaking of childhood memories, they also invoke images of Puppet Master, and while they’re not quite as scary as, say, Leech Woman or Blade, they’re close enough to trigger the same kind of sentiments. Then it’s other things not related to my weird childhood, like the coloring that makes the dolls feel like antiques, or the mix of both evil and general vacancy in their glowing red eyes. It makes for one hugely effective cover, and one that leaves only one question: how is Doug/Warlock somehow the least scary demon doll?!

Inkblot #14

Cover by Emma Kubert and Rusty Gladd

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

With all due respect, I’m not going to be talking much about the actual cover. I only know a little about Inkblot, but from what I’ve seen online, it’s generally good and you should read it (especially if you’re otherwise an Image Comics faithful). But I want to talk about it because co-writers/artists Emma Kubert and Rusty Gladd have seemingly nailed the exact, otherwise mercurial nature of cats. It’s the large green eyes, a mix of childlike wonder, gem-lick beauty, and a heaping helping of insanity. Or, the way the cat engages with the man hanging perilously, as if the cat has yet to decide to help the man somehow, let him fall on his own, or assist gravity with one errant paw swipe. It’s also the fact that of all the people yelling and freaking out on the cover, the cat remains the star attraction (and perpetrator of heinous acts, of course). I’ve been fascinated over the last three years since, as a lifelong dog person, I now co-own two cats, and this cover feels like an encapsulation of all the things I’ve been grappling with since then. The adoration and outright fear that cats seem to foster, and how they are both of this world and something entirely alien. The piece doesn’t make me feel better about cat ownership, but it does provide some much-needed perspective. Dogs still rule, though.

Lunar Room #1

Variant Cover by Maria the Wolf

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

Sometimes a series grabs your attention because of the creative team, or it’s got a particularly cool/clever hook. But in the case of Lunar Room, it’s the sheer badassery levels of this new Vault Comics series. For one, it’s about a character named Cynthia “Sin” Breaker, and as far as things to call your protagonist, you can’t get much more badass. (Except for maybe Dave “Big Buster” Boulder or something.) And if Ms. Breaker’s name wasn’t already enough, she’s a former werewolf and bodyguard who worked for a mage (and may come out of her “forced retirement” to protect another mage that will be pivotal to the larger story). Still, all of that is only the sneak peek of sorts when you consider this variant cover from Maria the Wolf. How do you choose something to focus on in this veritable cornucopia of badass-ness? Is it Breaker’s sweet two-toned mullet? Yup! Is it the slick mix of a leather jacket and also blood? Yessir! Is it the tinges of werewolf? No — just kidding, heck yes it is! It’s one of those covers that just blasts through any expectations and beliefs and leaves you to drink this all in amid a true state of slack-jawed stupor. Even if the story proper can’t live up to this cover, you can always enjoy this deeply amazing slice of extra nerdy badassery.

Marauders #26

Cover by Russell Dauterman

Judging by the Cover

You know what’s weird about the Marvel Comics Universe? I mean aside from literally everything. It’s Fin Fang Foom. Despite the fact that he’s an actual dragon, I’ve never really taken him seriously, and the massive beast has always felt like either a hokey throwback from a bygone era or just a bad joke that’s been improperly repurposed. But for the first time I can truly remember, I feel like he’s the sort of badass threat maybe he could have always been (and not, like, the way he’s forever etched in my mind on the cover of 1961’s Strange Tales #89). I think, maybe more than anything, it’s his design here — something that feels more in line with dragons in popular culture and also with a dash of real animal energies/influences. But it’s also the fact that he’s actually going toe-to-toe with Bobby “Iceman” Drake, and even if Foom’s likely losing, going against the X-Men’s coolest character (literally and figuratively) gives Foom some much-needed points in the “elite villain” category. If nothing else, though, it’s a chance to make Iceman look further cool, and if that’s not the role of a truly great baddie, then what is? Maybe, like, kidnapping some president or a diplomat.

Justice League Dark 2021 Annual #1

Cover by Sebástian Fiumara

Judging by the Cover – 12/01/21 new releases

For all the feelings I’ve ever had about Fin Fang Foom (and there’s a lot given it’s a make-believe dragon), I’ve got similar notions/ideas about John Constantine. More specifically, he’s always been the best kind of balance between unlikely antihero and super jerk ready to springboard into true villain status. And this cover to the Justice League Dark annual really proves that Constantine can bound easily between these sentiments with lethal effectiveness. While the story proper deals with some combination of stolen memories and battling the dark wizard Merlin, the cover depicts Constantine in all his darkly heroic glory. Is he going to save his frightened screaming teammates? Or is he the cause of their robust terror? Perhaps it’s somehow all of the above?! (That’s where my money would go.) Either way, it just proves that Constantine is the perfect, emotionally nebulous figure to play an intriguing role like this (which is to say, a facilitator of good and evil at the same dang time). He’s got the look, the motivations, and the rich, weird past to save the world as much as he’ll damn everyone on the planet. Take that, Fin Fang Foom.

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