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Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 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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Batgirls #1

Variant Cover by Rian Gonzales

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

Last week was dominated by the start of the Joshua Williamson era of Batman. But don’t think that DC is done rolling out the big-name, Bat Family-centric titles just yet. Case in point: Batgirls, written by Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad with art from Jorge Corona. This new series pairs together the duo Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown as they try to lead their own lives and still help make Gotham City a (marginally) better place. The whole thing is a different side of the Bat canon, with a greater emphasis on fun and playfulness than some other titles. (And that’s even with some of the genuinely great humor coming out of books like Nightwing and even DC vs. Vampires.) So, while Corona’s main cover is a great snapshot of these sentiments, the real nod goes to this variant from Rian Gonzales. This sleek, anime-style portrait may be too cutesy for some — look at that little sleeping Haley/Bitewing! — but it feels like the best way to honor this duo and still have them connected to the larger Batman story/universe. Only one question remains: y’all gonna finish that pizza?

Demon Days: Rising Storm #1

Cover by Peach Momoko

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

Say what you will about Marvel’s Stormbreakers: for some, the campaign has been a half-hearted way to provide a much-needed spotlight for new and diverse artists. But there’s no denying that of this entire effort, artist/writer Peach Momoko has clearly emerged as a genuine star, especially as it comes to her Demon Days story/project. The last three issues have been a great way to recontextualize the Marvel Universe in a new and interesting way, and Momoko’s art has been both compelling, informative (to the larger process), and hugely exciting. With this fourth part, we follow Mariko Yashida (aka Scarlet Samurai and a long-time member of Wolverine’s supporting gallery) as she meets literal gods — aka Storm and Thor. And there’s so much to love here just given the cover: the depiction of the aforementioned deities; the badass “armor”/powers of Mariko; and the overall color scheme. This whole series is a perfect venue for Momoko, and with every cover she shows us just why she’s such a massive talent in terms of telling unique stories and building dynamic worlds.

Tis The Season To Be Freezin #1

Cover by David Nakayama

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

Even if you’re a hardcore Marvel fanatic, you’ve got to give it up to DC as of late. Their holiday coverage, especially Halloween, has been fantastic, and it’s led to books like Task Force Z and Soul Plumber. But as it turns, the company’s just as focused on releasing some great books for Christmas, and that includes the star-studded Tis The Season To Be Freezin. The yuletide compilation features 10 stories from talent like Paul Dini, Norm Rapmund, Eric Battle, Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, and many, many more. But until everyone gets their hands on this 80-page wonder, we can all celebrate the cover from David Nakayama. It’s hard to pick the best part between the Big Three eating frogurt, a line of superhero candy/mix-ins, and the many wonderful penguins (also a festive Harley Quinn). It all feels like the perfect marriage of DC goodness with actual Christmas/holiday goodies. These books are always hugely playful, and while some people think they’re disposable beyond the actual holidays, great covers like this prove that these specials transcend those notions. Ho-ho-ho-holy shnikes, this cover is cooler than the North Pole.

X-Force #26

Cover by Joshua Cassara and Dean White

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

I’ve mentioned a few times this weird, um, preference I have with heroes like Spider-Man and even Flash. Namely, that they’re at their very best when they’re being beaten to a pulp. As it turns out, I’m not alone in this kind of tendency, and the Benjamin Percy-penned run of X-Force has taken this lesson to heart (and then some). Blame it on the Resurrection Protocols, but Percy has used this series to really trounce on members like Wolverine and Kid Omega, and the cover to issue #26 is certainly no different. Here, the team continues to try and track down some stolen cargo, and they come face to face with “volcanic eruptions and stormy seas.” Wolverine, especially, is taking some heavy damage as he tries to complete the task at hand, and while his suffering is so cliched at this point it’s almost meaningless, this cover does something truly impressive. It shows the value of these injuries, death, and carnage amid this era — specifically, it’s less about the stakes and trying to see how all of it affects readers in the long-term. And unless you’re slightly bloodthirsty like myself, there’s a solid chance that your feelings may be complicated by now. And that’s when you know something great is really happening — to you, of course, and not the hairy man about to be melted and/or smothered.

Cloaked #1

Cover by Jordi Armengol

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

You may know Mike Richardson either as the founder/head of Dark Horse Comics or his work on titles like 47 Ronin and The Mask. But he’s still making comics today, and he’s teamed up with artist Jordi Armengol (Rogues!) for a new book entitled Cloaked. This combination superhero story and hard-boiled noir follows a P.I. as he investigates the 25-year disappearance of a former gun-toting vigilante hero. What this cover does (besides straight looking cool, duh) is prove that the best books/titles come when the story and visuals are married perfectly. Because — and you’ll clearly have to take my word for it — but Armengol’s cover of issue #1 is the perfect encapsulation of what you can expect from the story proper — grit, style, badass vibes, and a heavy dose of reality. It’s a deeply powerful tale of heroism and violence that never feels ungrounded, as if it could happen somewhere in our own news cycle. And that’s the thing that’s made Richardson such an effective name in comics, and why Cloaked could be an effective dark horse title. And, yeah, pun most definitely intended, folks.

No Holds Bard #1

Cover by Logan Faerber

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

Maybe some of us were over William Shakespeare as soon as they read Hamlet in high school. (I was done with ol’ Bill after I wasn’t cast as Puck in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but that’s a tale for another day.) Still, there’s plenty to pull from that mythos, and that’s why we have a new series like No Holds Bard from Behemoth Comics. Written by Eric Gladstone and with art from Gabrielle Kari, the book posits Shakespeare and William Page as real-life superheroes (aka The Bard and Page) as they attempt to rescue a kidnapped Queen Elizabeth I. If you’re going to muck with already slightly mucky history, then you’ve got a pretty great start in the covers to issue #1. I was originally going to go with the piece from Joe Quinones because of its clear Adam West-era Batman vibes. However, the nod ultimately goes to the cover from Logan Faerber, because it A) feels somehow apropos to the era and B) plays up those superhero vibes with a great sense of melodrama, which the Bard would hopefully appreciate. Whatever happens in the story proper, this cover already proves that Shakespeare’s a true hero for great, slightly weird storytelling.

Mega #1

Cover by Salvador Sanz

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

I may have remarked in another recent piece that we’re living in a kind of golden age for kaiju comics. Between appearances in Marauders and Action Comics, not to mention books like Kaiju Score, Leviathan, Ultraman, and Ultramega (among several others), big monster battles are all the rage these days. This week, we get another entry into the over-sized canon with Mega from artist-writer Salvador Sanz. Here, a massive monster (called The Salamander) somehow awakens from its slumber in Antarctica, where it comes into direct conflict with the sleeping ocean giant called Mega. So far, it’s not exactly breaking new ground in terms of plot or overall scope, but you have to give credit to Sanz based solely on the cover to #1. While I can’t tell which creature is depicted here, the overall design is gorgeous, and it provides a new spin on kaiju monsters thanks to than unique design. It sort of feels like H.R. Giger came up with this bad boy after a bad fever dream, and it adds a depth of newfound terror and intensity to the genre. Even if all of this just breaks down to more giant monster battles (those are still dope!), it will at least be visually disarming.

Wonder Woman #782

Cover by Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson

Judging by the Cover

If you’re unaware, there’s a major story in the DCU in which Batman has protocols to defeat his fellow members of the Justice League. (If they ever go rogue, of course, and not, like, if someone drinks all the coffee in the communal Watchtower fridge.) While his plans for Red Tornado and Martian Manhunter involve an EMP and magnesium carbonate, respectively, he’s got something else in mind for Wonder Woman. Namely, she’d be “trapped in a virtual reality battle against an opponent whom she cannot defeat and is her equal in every way,” eventually resulting in death from exhaustion. Sometimes said foe is depicted as Cheetah or a “phantom opponent,” but maybe it could be herself as we can speculate from the cover to Wonder Woman #782. Sure, these are described as “deadly reflections of herself,” but maybe it’s all a great way to bring about the protocols into the current storyline and maybe bring in Batman somehow. Or, I’m simply over-speculating, and this is just what I want to happen. Either way, it beats one of your best friends trying to beat you with hypnosis.

Hulk #2

Variant Cover by Pete Woods

Judging by the Cover – 12/15/21 new releases

And if I’m going to engage in some rampant, super nerdy speculation, then I might as well go all the way with it then as I talk about the second issue of Hulk. Specifically, this variant cover from Pete Woods, which depicts Hulk dressed as The Kingpin as part of a Villains’ Reign homage/tie-in. And that’s all there is to it… or is there?! Because the whole suit thing reminds me of another element of the Hulk/Bruce Banner dynamic, the Joe Fixit persona. Do I think we’re already going to get Fixit this early in the run of Donny Cates and Ryan Ottley? Maybe not. But Fixit does represent some of Banner’s more base or self-involved tendencies, and that would play nicely into the current storyline, which involves Banner taking control by physically piloting Hulk (see issue #1) as a means of trying to regain some semblance of self control of his life and destiny as well as address his clear desperation in being locked in this cycle of powerlessness even as he has the skills and resources to “make it right.” Plus, any time you can put someone in a dope suit, you should always take that opportunity pronto.

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