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Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 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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Batman #118

Cover by Jorge Molina

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

After the onslaught of “A-Day” and “The Joker War,” a new day arrives in Gotham City with Batman #118. The new creative team — writer Joshua Williamson and artist Jorge Molina — hit the ground running with the “Abyss” event. The whole story arc centers around Batman leaving Gotham behind to tangle with a mystery surrounding a new character, the titular Abyss. It’s also a chance to give Bats a breather of sorts after the last two-plus years, and to let him see what happens after he wins and what’s still left to fight. As such, DC Comics rolled out the veritable red carpet for this book by commissioning a slew of great covers. That list includes this gripping (get it?!) cover from Bjorn Barends; Mico Suayan’s extra slick, movie poster-adjacent piece; and the sheer badassery of this Kael Ngu cover. Yet you’ve got to give the nod to the cover from Molina — if you’re trying to start a new chapter for Batman, you can’t do much better than this cover that shows both a hallmark Bat moment captured in time while showing off his fresh design. Now, let’s see how long till those duds get ruined by the next big catastrophe.

Captain America/Iron Man #1

Variant Cover by Dan Jurgens

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

Judging by the Cover

The Iron Man-Captain America relationship is unique in the MCU (and perhaps comics at large). Because for as much as they’ve been BFFs and partners in various iterations of the Avengers, their subsequent, um, disagreements have also cause book-spanning kerfuffles. (It’s called Civil War, kids.) Now, though, writer Derek Landy and artist Angel Unzueta brings this Dynamic Duo back together for a brand-new adventure. Per the solicitations, the story follows what happens when a “government agent turned Hydra provocateur stages a daring breakout on her way to prison, attracting the attention of both Iron Man and Captain America.” And what’s likely to happen afterward is a rip-roaring adventure that will likely see some great set pieces, plenty of dope action, and a quip or two (or 237). So there’s no better encapsulation of this likely trajectory than the cover from Dan Jurgens, which manages to capture both ’90s comic energy as well as clear vibes from some Saturday morning cartoon. The only thing missing is more explosions — or some kind of sassy, robotic dog sidekick.

One-Star Squadron #1

Cover by Steve Lieber

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

If you’re this writer (and you can’t be, right?), then superheroes and joke comics don’t always mix. It’s cool if Batman quips every once in a while, but I prefer the capes crowd to be a lens to explore socio-cultural topics and personal politics. Even Deadpool sometimes tows the line too much for my liking. But if anything has softened my view, it’s One-Star Squadron. Here, two joke comics kingpins — Snagglepuss writer Mark Russell and artist Steve Lieber (of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen) — unite to tell the story of DC superheroes who are just trying to get by as lovable D-list heroes. If you need some definitive proof that the jokes land as hard as the action (and the robust emotionality, of course), simply peep Lieber’s cover to #1. It’s a bland of cheeky humor — just look at Red Tornado’s face! — plus the undertones of capitalist-centric commentary that runs through the story proper (without feeling overwhelming). It’s a gorgeous book that’s also sad, and it feels like a great piece of powerful superhero storytelling that just might earn a hardy chuckle.

Marvel’s Voices: Community #1

Variant Cover by Nabetse Zitro and Jesus Aburtov

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

I love any time that Marvel busts out one of its Voices projects. Not just because diversity and inclusion are great ideas that we still need to better contribute toward, but it’s a huge deal for artists/writers and fans alike. With so many contributors — including Karla Pacheco, Adriana Melo, Enid Balam, Daniel Jose Older, and many, many more — it’s a chance for creators to tell dope stories and perhaps fans/readers to find some new favorites and future classics. But if you’re really trying to capture that core essence of this latest Voices project — which, if you hadn’t guessed already, focuses on Latinx creators and characters — you can’t go wrong with this variant cover from Nabetse Zitro and Jesus Aburtov. It’s more than a great spotlight on characters like Ms. America and White Tiger, but a bright and shimmery slice of life that shows both a melding of rich cultural backgrounds and how much comics both transcend and unite people of various backgrounds. Putting these creators and characters in the sun for a bit shouldn’t need special outings like this, but they do now, and so having this perfect moment displayed on the cover does a ton for putting the emphasis on what matters: the rich artistry inside and the lives of all these intriguing characters.

Buckhead #1

Cover by George Kambadais

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

I mostly missed the bus on Stranger Things. Not because I don’t like gangs of scrappy youth battling supernatural foes, but because I was trying to be a contrarian and then it sort of exploded in my face. But luckily I don’t have to miss a similar train as the pair of writer Shobo Coker (Outcasts of Jupiter) and artist George Kambadais (The Black Ghost) have teamed up for Buckhead. Set in the titular town near the Pacific Northwest, the series follows young kids, including Toba, as they discover a video that’s a “a perfect replica of the town and its people,” which results in brainwashing, an appearance by the Men in Black, and likely hijinks galore. The cover tells me that not only will this be a fun little book, but there’s some real depth and darkness here. It’s likely going to get just silly and weird, which are pillars of this “genre,” but there’s genuinely some sinister elements and a real emphasis on some big stakes for these youths. The chains and the school building aren’t just great props, but speak to ideas about belonging, forced integration, and the power of friendship as a might counteragent. I hope I laugh and cry in equal parts, and even if this isn’t Stranger Things, it is a powerful reminder that there’s something great about these kinds of stories.

Buffy: The Last Vampire Slayer #1

Variant Cover by Jakub Rebelka

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

If we’ve ever spoken, I may have told you some variation of “Angel > Buffy.” And it’s simply true — the story of the angel who gains, loses, and re-gains a soul (there’s maybe more instances in there?) always proved to be more charming, hilarious, and resonant than that of Buffy and the rest of the Scooby Gang. That’s not to say Buffy isn’t a truly perfect show, and there’s proof of that in just how great the subsequent comic stories and “seasons” have always proven to be. Let’s hope that streak continues with Buffy: The Last Vampire Slayer, which follows a 50-year-old Buffy as she “wages a one woman fight against the forces of darkness” that have brought a permanent night to the Earth. I chose this epic variant especially because it not only is hella cool, but I think it speaks to something that’s great about the larger Buffy character and story. Namely, her inability to stop fighting, her unshakable sense of loyalty (still in the library after all these damn years!), and how she manages to keep her head up above unrelenting odds. Maybe Buffy never had a dope puppet episode, but she’s got heart galore, and that seems to be alive and well in the realm of comics.

Devil’s Reign #1

Cover by Marco Checchetto

Judging by the Cover

He may not look like much a planner (more the silly uncle type), but Chip Zdarsky has been plotting toward Devil’s Reign event for much of his Daredevil run. Now, the whole shebang kicks off at last, as Mayor Wilson Fisk and his cronies (like Shocker, Rhino, and Kraven) aim their sights on destroying all NYC-based heroes: Iron Man, Jessica Jones, Spider-Man, Luke Cage, etc. It’s going to be a great battle, and the whole thing may be like some weird spin on Civil War, with heaps of great analysis an an exploration of the vigilante nature of heroes and why that may or may not actually be a good thing. (Again, Zdarsky has done a masterful job with this entire motif/story idea). In the meantime, however, we only have the art to go off, and there’s some genuinely great cover selections. Like, Skottie Young’s totes adorbs portrait of DarElektra (or is that Elextra-devil)? Or Gerald Parel’s super slick action shot. Plus, there’s always the goodness of a Peach Momoko cover. But for this fella’s bottom dollar, the best bet is Marco Checchetto’s cover — as someone who’s captured and defined much of this saga, he once more shows us everything we need in vibrant, beautiful detail. Good luck, Big Apple.

Superman: Son of Kal-El 2021 Annual #1

Cover by John Timms

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

The Superman-Lex Luthor relationship is essential comics lore. They’re like PB&J — if these two condiments were always locked in moralistic combat or something. But we’re in a new age, and with it comes a new Superman in Jonathan Kent. And, as he’s show in the first five or so issues of his own series, the young Mr. Kent is building his own mythos, trying to be a better example for a more just, open, and equitable world. So far, the young superhero’s blasted through most of the challenges or obstacles placed in his way, but Luthor is a different beast entirely. I really hope that this John Timms cover exemplifies their relationship and interactions within the book itself, because it’s all bloody brilliant so far. Rather than taking more of the high road like dear old dad, Jonathan isn’t opposed to a little light B&E in order to match wits with Luthor and try and beat him at his own game (that is, a weird mix of grandstanding and passive-aggressive chess). This could be a great way to hone an exciting new hero, not to mention enhance the existing Superman-Luthor relationship. And for once, Luthor chose to wore a genuinely cool suit to the confrontation.

The Crimson Cage #1

Cover by Alex Cormack

Judging by the Cover – 12/08/21 new releases

A lot of wrestling comics treat and/or approach the sport as some silly little thing — which, of course, is 1,000% true. But there’s so much more to this dynamic mix of sports and entertainment, and if we’re really trying to elevate the artform, I think Crimson Cage deserves points for simply having the gusto to do something new. The brain-child of artist John Lees and artist Alex Cormack (of the book SINK), the book is described as a “no-nolds-nard (get it?!) reimagining of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth,” with a grappler named Chuck Frenzy willing to go to some extreme levels in order to achieve championship glory. And as far as hitting the gate running, Cormack’s cover to issue #1 more than delivers, playing up that most essential piece of Macbeth imagery with both gritty ’80s energy and an actual measure of drama (even if it’s as subtle as a superkick to the back of the head). The whole story is ultimately about the depths of ambition, and so wrestling feels like an intriguing way to recontextualize these idea and motifs for a modern audience. In the words of the legendary “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Oooh yeah!”

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