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Judging by the Cover – 12/22/21 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 12/22/21 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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The Amazing Spider-Man #82

Cover by Arthur Adams

Judging by the Cover – 12/22/21 new releases

In a (not so) recent edition of this very feature, I talked about the most exciting art of Nightwing. Namely, that series’ ongoing use (thanks to artist Bruno Redondo) of the De Luca Effect, or (and I’m quoting myself here — pardon the ego) “where a cover or interior page makes use of repetitive images and/or characters to demonstrate motion.” However, the Grown-Up Boy Wonder isn’t the only one with the kind of speed and acrobatic skills needed to make proper use of the effect. Case in point: Spider-Man, who uses it to deeply amazing success on the cover to The Amazing Spider-Man #82. As the “Beyond” story continues into chapter eight, there’s a mystery at the McCarthy Medical Center, and Peter has to use the peak of his skill and cunning to crack the case. What makes this cover especially effective is the minimal use of the effect itself, which makes it much more streamlined and leads to some slightly humorous “leaps” in the narrative/action. Also, watching Spidey wall-crawl in his tighty-whities automatically makes this top tier.

Batman: One Dark Knight #1

Variant Cover by Mike Mayhew

Judging by the Cover – 12/22/21 new releases

If you’re a DC fan, or really just a lover of great comics in general, then Batman: One Dark Knight is a hugely anticipated new story. Written and drawn by the singular Jock, it’s about what happens when a “simple GCPD escort goes sideways,” and Batman’s got to make his way through Gotham while dealing with an unruly convict (E.M.P.), a nasty heatwave, and surprises galore. As far as trying to tease things out, Jock’s main cover is mostly cool, show a burning Gotham as Batman emits his own heat signature with some extra dramatic fist-clutching. But it’s mostly just OK, and doesn’t really capture the larger energy and spirit of the story. And since that’s the case, why don’t we just pick Mike Mayhew’s awesome variant cover anyways? Because even though it also has even less to do with this extra gritty tale, it’s just really flippin’ cool, and it also says something about the larger impact and imagery around Batman in a kind of meta, fourth wall-smashing way. Does this help me want to read the story? No, mostly because I would consume it regardless. But does this make me want to pay upwards of $200 for Bat Nikes? For sure.

Avengers: Tech-On #5

Cover by Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi

Judging by the Cover – 12/22/21 new releases

In assembling this series over the last several months, Avengers: Tech-On has caught my eye a few times. Sure, it’s cool looking, but I guess I have a problem with the premise, which is basically, “The Avengers lose their powers, get dope mech suits/technology from Tony Stark, and fight giant, kaiju-esque monsters.” That’s dope and all, but it feels like the Saturday morning cartoon-ification of these characters — a clear ploy to maybe sell more books with shiny colors and a slightly silly storyline. But since making money is the point of comics publishing, I can mostly excuse that, and the cover to issue #5 makes it even easier to forego my silly hesitations and embrace this series head on. Because if anyone deserves dope power armor or whatnot, it’s clearly Wolverine, who somehow looks both extra ferocious and yet just as wonderfully hokey. (Sorry, Logan, your costumes have always been silly, but you wear them with both gravitas and charm.) It’s the sick line work, the emphasis on blue while balancing out the yellow, and even the suit’s mouth that’s both a smirk and snarling teeth. Also, does anyone else think that hose is pumping beer directly to Wolverine? ‘Cause it is.

Nightwing #87

Variant Cover by Jamal Campbell

Judging by the Cover

And speaking of Nightwing in this very edition, we reach another great issue of the Tom Taylor-penned series. In perhaps the crowning achievement of the series thus far (aside from being emotionally resonant and super charming in every other issue), #87 is one continuous image. That’s right, it’s sort of like the love child of 1917 and the De Luca Effect, and it makes for a generally great bit of visual storytelling as well as just a genuinely charming narrative. But since we can’t really enjoy that proper without reading the issue in full, maybe it’s just best to celebrate another cover (especially since the issue is kind of a “standalone” story as we come out of “Fear State” and all that). And since Haley the dog takes center stage in the story, artist Jamal Campbell opted to choose the most perfect moment between a dynamic pup and her beloved owner. It’s a deeply adorable and heartwarming moment — to the point it makes me wonder if this is a deliberate moment of pause before things get crazy in the issue #88 and onward. But let’s not think about that right now, and instead just enjoy this moment of pure wholesomeness. God bless this home, this man, and this dog.

Porcelain #5

Cover by Maria Llovet

Judging by the Cover – 12/22/21 new releases

I only picked Porcelain because of another book. Specifically, Terminal Boredom, a collection of stories from Japanese sci-fi writer Izumi Suzuki. Throughout her short but brilliant career, Suzuki wrote stories that were some beguiling mixture of deeply charming, hugely earnest, genuinely romantic, and deeply, deeply unsettling. (Just seek out the story “You May Dream” to really understand Suzuki.) And I instantly thought of Suzuki when I saw this issue, and it certainly captures the same emotional gamut in such a precise and beguiling manner. But there’s also so much more to this book: it’s written and drawn by the wonderful Maria Llovet (Faithless, Luna); it’s about a threat of some otherworldly dollhouse and also someone possibly becoming a “doll for eternity”; and the whole thing leans way more into horror, which makes it all the more compelling. I think that’s how great art should work, weaving its way toward other great things and pieces, creating shared connections within readers to guide them toward things that truly matter. That, and the flowers sure are pretty.

Wastelanders: Hawkeye #1

Cover by Josemaria Casanovas

Judging by the Cover – 12/22/21 new releases

You may have already heard of Wastelanders: Hawkeye if you’re an avid podcast fan. That story focused on Hawkeye as the last remaining Avenger, moving through a dystopian hellscape to help his estranged daughter (Ash) and complete some secret mission. This latest “chapter” of Geriatric Hawkeye is in the very same vein, but pushes the scope down a bit as the story covers the archer’s training with the new Stick — aka Matt Murdock (Daredevil) himself. And if you’re trying to capture a “showdown” between these two Marvel heavyweights, you can’t go wrong with this ’70s kung fu movie-style shot from artist Josemaria Casanovas. Even if Hawkeye looks like a pure badass fighting off a gang of nasty ninjas, Murdock also captures the eye simply by standing there doing his best bit of shaolin monk magic. It’s amazing how this also captures the larger “feel” of the Wastelands, and yet it shows us that some elements or tendencies of this universe (mostly the endless in-fighting and reliance on mortal combat for solving problems) remain the same even as things drastically change. This is going to be a true thrill ride, and it all starts at 1,000% power on the cover.

Catwoman: Lonely City #2

Variant Cover by Cliff Chiang

Judging by the Cover – 12/22/21 new releases

If you’re not up to date on Catwoman: Lonely City, it’s truly interesting. It’s sort of like Dark Knight Returns or an Old Man Logan, with Selina Kyle/Catwoman released after a ten-year prison sentence into a Gotham City without Batman, Joker, Commissioner Gordon, and Nightwing — and thus no actual need for all that “childish” superheroes vs. villains stuff. Writer-artist Cliff Chiang’s main covers for issues #1 and #2 do an excellent job of encapsulating the overall feel and aesthetic of this story in such a clean and precise manner. But as we move further into the story proper, and we’re really getting into the meat of it (a heist into the Batcave!), issue #2 really needs a cover that captures the kind of “silly Ocean’s Eleven” vibes the book’s putting down — and that’s where Chiang’s variant cover comes in, which feels like his own version of the Birds of Prey film but with a bit more shady vibes and down-home weirdness. All the little details here are amazing, and they speak volumes about this larger, hugely inventive story. Can’t wait to see what happens when the big heist actually goes down.

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