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Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 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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The Amazing Spider-Man #86

Cover by Arthur Adams

Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

By now, you already know my Spider-Man formula (regardless of whether it’s Ben Reilly or Peter Parker) is as follows: suffering + selfless hero = damn fine storytelling. But even I’m confused at the cover to issue #86, which promises to show us Reilly “shaken to the core,” and that this is “one of those comics that you will remember for years to come.” (Which, if you’ve been reading the whole “Beyond” saga, seems like a slam dunk.) Because based on the cover alone — and that is what we do here, after all — being covered in spiders isn’t exactly a horror show for Spider-Man, whereas you or I would have likely died of shock by now. If anything, this feels like Spidey is gathering an army for some big fight, and that he’s about to sock it to someone on the real. But if this story has taught us anything, it’s that there’s plenty of suffering to go around, and Spider-Man is really in a pickle here in more ways than just being temporarily heavier on the Spider and not the Man. That, dear readers, is why this has been such a great tale for truly exploring the Spidey canon.

Robins #3

Cover by Baldemar Rivas


Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

Truth be told, I gave up on Robins after the first issue. I mostly like the efforts of writer Tim Seeley, and artist Baldemar Rivas has done some great work. But in a kind of dream series — get all the Robins together and make them fight and solve a mystery — it all just felt a bit too crowded and overthought. But based on the cover to issue #3, I may actually have to rethink that position. By now, we’re dealing with some fairly interesting odds in the form of copycat villains terrorizing the Robins while they also still contend whichever person is truly behind this most heinous master plan. But what this cover does is finally boil everything down what I wanted from this series since day one: put the Robins together, give them some truly huge obstacles, and see how this singular family works together. Even all the great banter is shadowed by this one moment, which emphasizes their weird connection and makeshift family vibes in such a really interesting and impactful way. Who knows what happens in the story proper, but this cover really delivers the emotional goodness in the way the initial story failed to do out of the gates.

King Spawn #6

Cover by Jonathan Glapion

Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

I haven’t been keeping up with King Spawn much beyond the actual covers. Maybe that’s a mistake on my end, especially as issue #6 promises to build off a huge reveal (the Disruptor’s true identity!) before continuing on with promise of more battle in Botswana and “Spawn’s rage [intensifying].” Really, though, I’ve just liked tracking this series for the covers, as the iconic Todd McFarlane lets even more people play with his most beloved and celebrated creation. For instance, issue #6’s cover artist, Jonathan Glapion, has a great style, and it feels like a decidedly more minimalist take on the “lush” work of McFarlane. It’s clearly Spawn here, but a different kind of demonic beast, one that feels in line with the violence and intensity of the accompanying storyline. Yet at the same time, Glapion’s work feels connected to McFarlane’s in that the focus is always on our hellish hero, and through that we can learn new things or better understand Spawn and his ongoing development. That, and the whole thing screams, “Don’t sleep alone ever again!”

Bolero #1

Cover by Luana Vecchio

Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

Any book that’s described as being by “two bright-eyed and bushy-tailed little scamps” instantly has my attention. (Especially if it’s Image Comics making said promise.) But there’s so much more to Bolero than its core creators. For one, it’s about parallel universes, and that’s another (albeit cliched) storyline hook that will always get me. And if that weren’t enough, there’s a nice twist with the story, as a young woman gains access to parallel universes albeit with hefty rules/caveats attached. (Without spoiling too much, those include the number of universes she can visit, and what happens if you visit too many universes in the first place.) The cover itself is also a nice little perk, and it feels like it speaks volumes about the story. What those volumes could be, or what happens in the actual story, is a little beyond me, but it’s a piece that definitely presents a certain set of imagery, an overall vibe, and hints at some genuine magical weirdness to follow. Got to love a little intergalactic, physics-smashing artsy coolness.

Cloaked #2

Cover by Jordi Armengol

Judging by the Cover

The debut issue of Cloaked was a truly wild ride. It set up the story — the case of a missing vigilante hero — and the vibe — part action film, part noir — with lethal efficiency. Now, as we enter into issue #2, the story gets deeper as P.I. Jake Stevens tracks down the hero known as the Sentinel/the Reaper — only to find himself also being tracked/hunted by some unknown agent. Now, as far as “teases” are concerned, the cover to issue #2 is interesting for a few reasons. Of course it’s a good idea to show the hero in action, and that slice of badassery will always hook the ol’ eyeballs. However, it’s an interesting choice to have him fighting a clown, especially given that it can go either way for a rogue hero story to lean into or reference anything Batman related. But this book’s smart to do so, and it makes me think that whatever actually happens (clown-related or not), we’re not likely to see it coming from this smart, super sharp series. Or will we?! Dun dun dun!

Nightwing #88

Variant Cover by Bruno Redondo

Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

Dick Grayson’s in trouble. As he tries to make the world a better place by giving away the fortune bestowed upon him by (one of) his deceased father figure(s), he must battle a series of assassins who want him dead. And at the same time, a new enemy locks horns with an old adversary, further complicating Nightwing’s plans to bring peace to his adopted home of Bludhaven. Only one thing can make it right: a new suit! OK, giving Dick’s suit back its iconic (yeah?) blue stripes might seem small given the amazing story that’s unfolding in this title, but it’s still important. (Mostly.) Because really, this return of a more familiar suit is just another way this story is both innovating and expanding Nightwing’s own universe while recalling some of the great emotions and story tidbits from yesteryear (namely, Chuck Dixon’s amazing run). So, consider the stripes as shorthand for a new beginning of sorts, and a way to make Nightwing more of the leading man that he’s always been. Plus, as this cover indicates, those stripes really set it all off.

Venom #4

Cover by Bryan Hitch

Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

Thanks to creators like Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman, Ram V., and Bryan Hitch, Venom has undergone a kind of renaissance as of late. (I’m sure the mostly great movies help, but let’s ignore those for the sake of focusing solely on the comics, shall we?) Through the two ongoing series, not to mention events like “King in Black,” Venom has become a top-tier character. Sure, he’s always going to be slightly hokey (Eddie Brock is a washed up journalist, there’s always that whole Anti-Venom shtick, etc.), but we can accept those given the awesomeness that continues to be this story of power and redemption that’s since become focused on the next generation in one Dylan Brock. But for a moment, we can travel back in time to the ’90s thanks to this cover of issue #4 from the aforementioned Hitch. Did they mean to make it as weird and wild as some of that era’s imagery? Maybe not, but this cover still screams free-wheeling, slightly gooey Venom, and that vibe really does wonders for the book and character. It’s like a reminder of the past before the story proper dropkicks us into a daring new future/present. Wherever Venom goes, his history is sure to follow, and that makes for some great moments of pure artistry.

Angel #1

Variant Cover by Jahnoy Lindsay

Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

There’s a reason this one made our list of this year’s most anticipated comics. For one, it’s from writer Christopher Cantwell, and his recent books (Iron Man, Blue Flame, etc.) prove that he knows how to handle dynamic protagonists in a very thoughtful and compelling manner. Plus, it’s Angel (!), and that series and brooding hero continues to be among my favorites, a great character study as well as a specific snapshot of 2000s-ish TV. And based on solicitations, it looks like Cantwell (alongside artist Daniel Bayliss) will continue that rich tradition, pairing Angel and Cordelia Chase as both the stars of Detective TV and real-life monster hunters. Not only is that whole gimmick perfect for this franchise, but we get our very first taste thanks to a variant cover by Jahnoy Lindsay. We get to see a very specific side of Angel, and Cordy proves to be a capable camera operator. Did I think the fella next to her was Wesley for a hot second, and did that make me very happy? For sure. But even if fiction’s greatest redemption arc — I said what I said — isn’t a focus of the book itself (but Wesley will be there!), the rest of it’s going to be something perfectly suited for true Angel fans. Let’s do this!

The Crimson Cage #2

Cover by Ashley Cormack

Judging by the Cover – 01/19/22 new releases

You may recall I mentioned The Crimson Cage way back in December, and how this series was an ultra bloody retelling of Macbeth through the lens of pro wrestling. That first cover really piqued my interest given the robust connection and recontextualization of the Scottish play’s greatest imagery. (The bloody hands, yo.) This cover, meanwhile, has me excited for an entirely different set of reasons: pro wrestling championships. Sure, I’m intrigued by this chapter, which furthers the story of Chuck Frenzy trying to overtake his predecessor, world champion Van Emerald. But more than anything, this cover has me thinking about some of my favorite belts. Perhaps it’s not the same quality and overall coolness of the WWE Intercontinental Championship (circa 1998 to 2011) or even the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship (the greatest belt design of all time, IMHO). It does give me clear vibes of, say, the WCW World Television Championship, and that kick of nostalgia is compelling enough to make me want to pick this issue up posthaste. Is any of this at all valid in the scope of a comics story? No, but now you know a little more about me, and that’s the greatest prize I could hope to offer.

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