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Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 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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Detective Comics #1048

Cover by Irvin Rodriguez

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

Another week, and another chapter of “The Tower” plays out in the pages of Detective Comics. After debuting in issue #1,047, the story builds as the Bat Family tries to break into the “mysterious” new Arkham Tower, only to come face-to-face with a familiar former adversary: Condiment King! Just kidding, it’s Harley Quinn; who else would have already infiltrated the new Arkham and begun to either crack the case or complicate things for the Bat Family (or, more likely, both things). And they couldn’t have gone for a more fitting cover, as we see Dr. Quinzel back in her, um, natural habitat, with a look on her face as if she’s once more drinking the Kool-Aid or possibly about to bust this whole thang wide open. It’s a cover made all the more effective as I can almost smell the paint, or place my fingers around the holes of the cell door. It’s also a piece that speaks to a level of mystery and a tinge of horror, and that’s going to be a great way to further build this saga.

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop #3

Cover by Jaahnoy Lindsay

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

I spent about 15 to 20 minutes trying to find the inspiration behind this cover. Because once I saw it, I instantly had a flashback to the Hawkeye run from Matt Fraction and David Aja. (If you can help me out, or even confirm that I’m crazy, I’ll owe you a six-foot sub sandwich.) But even if it’s not a direct reference or whatnot, it’s got the same kind of vibe of that iconic run, that mix of humor, vivid artwork and colors, and heavy on the hero with endless moxy. Even the overall story feels like it’s in that same sort of vein, dealing with a kidnapped girl and a horde of mind-controlled tourists/resort guests. But this cover from Jahnoy Lindsay isn’t entirely emulating that iconic series (unlike the Hawkeye show — burn!), and it also adds a new sheen of madness and intensity that makes everything feel wholly fresh and exciting. Regardless, it’s just nice to see what sort of weird adventures the Hawkeye clan always seems to stumble upon.

Joe Hill’s Rain #1

Cover by Zoe Thorogood

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

There’s a lot of stuff hyping up Rain before most of us have even seen a single panel. For one, it’s the first book from Syzygy Publishing, a new imprint of Image Comics headed up by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood — and that’s certainly a big enough deal in and of itself. Still, in case those names weren’t enough, the book itself is created by quite a few all-stars, including David M. Booher (Canto) and Zoe Thorogood (The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott). And if all of that still weren’t enough, the whole shebang is a “five-issue presentation” of the mostly good Joe Hill novella of the same name. But don’t just trust all of that regarding the book’s potential, and instead peep Thorogood’s cover for issue #1. It brilliantly captures not only the apocalyptical vibes (skin-destroying magic rain?!) but the sheer heart of romance and interpersonal connection that exists at the book’s core. Plus, the balance of colors and negative space just adds to the sheer drama and humanistic focus. Come for the endless hype and name-dropping, stay for a genuinely gripping tale of love at the end of the world.

Distorted #1

Cover by Gabriele Falzone

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

Sometimes you can look at an image and know from the first second what emotion is wants to portray. In the case of Distorted, that emotion seems to be, “Teenage angst!!!” (Yes, those three exclamation points are quite essential.) There’s plenty of angst to be found in the story proper, as three people with superheroes wish to cast off their abilities and live a live free of their accompanying burdens. It’s not exactly a “new” storyline — flying is cool, but you’d always have to take people places — and it seems the focus is less on breaking the narrative mold and instead exploring the humanity of people who don’t want to save the world. Because it’s not just that pure anger that’s displayed on this cover to issue #1, but a kind of hopelessness that comes with having all the power in the world and not feeling like you can do anything with or about it. There’s just some real tension and depth on this cover, and beyond that first spike of rage, there’s a clear sense of isolation and disconnect that extends the imagery. Hopefully the story will deliver, but the cover alone makes Distorted already feel quite compelling.

New Men #1

Cover by Dotun Akande

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

A cover can sometimes be one thing and then another thing entirely. Based on my first look at New Men #1, I get some real cyberpunk vibes, including the “futuristic” cereal (or is that Soylent Soup?!) and the gun seemingly powered by (?) some small woodland creature. If that alone weren’t enough to already hook me, it turns out there’s more to the story proper. More specifically, people risking their lives to gain superpowers, and the “badass bounty hunter” who tracks them down in in this slice of “bio-punk superhuman action.” So, does one element enhance the other? For sure, and I love the idea of superhero madness injected directly into some dystopian cyberpunk story. At the same time, though, I like the idea of both “stories” existing slightly misaligned, and it makes me feel like I can see so many great layers and then also focus on the most essential tidbits as I deem necessary. Maybe that’s my own wacky way of reading, but potentially great stories — like this one — offer that up in spades. That, and dope future guns.

Batgirls #2

Cover by Jorge Corona

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

I may be dead wrong about the Hawkeye: Kate Bishop cover, but I know for sure I’ve seen this Batgirls cover vibes elsewhere. Specifically, Catwoman #27, in which yet another badass lady of Gotham City is either destroying a car and/or using it in the name of justice. Sure, on the surface, there’s few things more satisfying than a couple of crimefighters using a villains’ car like a surfboard in order to ruin their nefarious plans (and make them look hella dumb, of course). But there’s something more to this cover, and what it says about the “new” duo of Cassandra and Stephanie. Are they riding a demonic looking muscle car while bashing baddies? Yeah, but they’re also slightly disorganized, as if they’re still figuring it all out (both their long-term efforts and literally the very next second). It’s a kind of messiness that speaks volumes about the emotion and charm of this book, and we’re getting to see the pair elevate their game in near-real-time. However this case pans out, the real wild ride is seeing The Batgirls grow and learn through it all.

Wastelanders: Black Widow #1

Cover by Josemaria Casanovas

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

We’ve already had Old Man Logan, and more recently Wastelanders: Hawkeye. Now, Natasha Romanoff gets the old age/dystopian treatment with Wastelanders: Black Widow. Only, we assume it’s Romanoff, as the solicitation for the book begs the question of “who is she, and how has she survived this many decades in the Wastelands undetected.” The OG Black Widow would certainly be able to pull off such a feat, and based on the cover alone, the whole vibe of “fighting a giant lizard with chutzpah and handguns” would certainly be on brand. But maybe this is a different Black Widow entirely, perhaps someone we know already or someone who merely wants to keep the ideals and image of the Black Widow alive and well at the end of the world. Either way, it’s basically mission accomplished, and this chapter of Wastelanders really feels like it could be about what’s worth maintaining in this hellscape and why people fight on, even after decades upon decades of battling giant-sized foes. Also, I love she’s doing it all in what looks like the comfiest robe ever.

I Am Batman #5

Variant Cover by Nikola Cizmesija

Judging by the Cover

If you haven’t been reading I Am Batman, for shame on you. It’s been a great story, one that both spins out the Batman-centric stuff from Future State while also just telling a damn fine story about what it really means to be a superhero. (Read: dope combat boots and plenty of gumption.) As we reach issue #5, Tim Fox is continuing his battle with the Peacekeepers — as well as assorted Gotham ne’er-do-wells — while also contending with a gap in technology that could impact his mission and force a kind of “confrontation” with his father, Lucius Fox. So given all of that, this cover feels especially powerful, as we see the young Fox doing what he does best: jump right into the fray and fight, no matter the odds. Is he as deliberate or even gifted as Bruce Wayne? Maybe not, but that kind of uneven, DIY-esque approach to even something like throwing a flying kick just makes this Batman all the more compelling and important as an expansion to the larger canon. Take that, bad guys.

The Death of Doctor Strange: Bloodstone #1

Variant Cover by Maria Wolf

Judging by the Cover – 01/12/22 new releases

Speaking as a whole, The Death of Doctor Strange has been a mostly entertaining story/event. Even if it’s a slight fake-out, it’s been a chance to tell a great magic-centric story, and now that includes a tie-in with the one and only Elsa Bloodstone. Here, Ms. Bloodstone teams with her brother Cullen (also a genuine genius at monster-fighting), battling both gross fiends and family drama, with the promise of a big reveal that’ll only add to her reasons to skip the Bloodstone Family Christmas Extravaganza. What I like about this variant cover from Maria Wolf is that it both addresses Elsa’s issues and also avoids them entirely. Yes, she’s fighting all sorts of terrible monsters, but that smile on her face says she may be picturing them as her various family members instead. (Or she just loves smashing giant mutant dragons and the like — no judgement either way.) Ultimately, this event is about working through big issues like death and grief and the like, and adding in this dimension of family drama certainly feels like a great extension of that narrative. Also, does anyone else think one of those monsters looks like Slimer from Ghostbusters or is it just me?

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