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Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 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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Saga #55

Cover by Fiona Staples

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

After a very long wait — basically since July 2018, which is an eternity in modern comics — Saga returns. The heartfelt, triply weird space saga has promised quite the return, with 44 massive pages and zero “variant covers or gimmicky renumbering.” If you didn’t use the last 36-plus months to read this series, or even make sure you’re totally up-to-date, shame on you. Lucky, the team of artist Fiona Staples and writer Brian K. Vaughn seem to as merciful as they are talented, as we start a new arc and “the most epic chapter yet.” Should there have been some more pomp and circumstance given the importance of this series? Sure, there’s a lot that could have been done with some strategic teasers via a nice variant cover (or 60). But instead, the duo put the emphasis right on Hazel and her bizarre little family, demonstrating what’s always mattered in this series: that robust emotionality and interpersonal connection. That, and things will always get more weird and wonderful as we traipse across their galaxy.

X Deaths of Wolverine #1

Variant Cover by Mr. Garcin

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

No one at Marvel seems to subscribe to the same anti-variant cover as the staff behind Saga. Instead, with X Deaths of Wolverine, the publisher has rolled out all of the stops (All. Of. Them.) by releasing a dozen or so such covers. And rightly so: Serving as the “reciprocal series” to X Lives of Wolverine (which debuted last week), this book explores the present as its sibling book delves into the past, promising all sorts of news and happenings about the “the fate of mutantkind.” So, just which cover spoke the loudest, and is the best instance to help ring in this thrilling new book? Could it be the cover from Mahmud Asrar, which nails the book’s title to a dang tee? Or maybe this charming and also unsettling cover from Juann Cabal? Could it even be this piece from Rickie Yagawa, which screams Love and Rockets (just with Wolverine)? They’re all great, but the nod goes to Mr. Garcin’s piece, which nails the whole idea of both exploring Wolverine’s life and place in the MU while also showing just how pivotal his story is to that of X-Men and mutantkind at large. It’s an image both comforting and nostalgic and also deeply terrifying; that’s Mr. Metal Claws’ whole M.O./vibe, FYI.

DC vs. Vampires #4

Cover by Otto Schmidt

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

The mystery around the vampir-i-zation of the DCU continues. As we reach chapter the fourth of DC vs. Vampires, Batman’s mostly got it all figured out, and his only real work is to spring his plan into action before the rest of the Justice League (of Bloodsucking Ghouls) turns Batman into Bat-Man. (Or is that Man-Bat? IDK.) It’s been a great story so far, and having Batman as the odd man out has been a truly effective way to explore his outsider tendencies in a way that feels routed in something more significant. At the same time, though, there’s no denying the humanity at the heart of this book, and the cover to issue #4 best encapsulates those very sentiments. Because it’s not just demonic vampires Bats is facing, but some of the most important people in his life — friends who now seek to render him either bloodless or turn him into another damned creature of the night (as opposed to whatever Batman was before). Some betrayals bite the deepest, and we’re finding that out in gory, glorious fashion.

Black Panther #3

Cover by Alex Ross

Judging by the Cover

If you think have 1,258 variant covers is the only way Marvel knows how to celebrate things, you’d be sorely mistaken. Take, for instance, Black Panther #3, which is actually the 200th issue for the King of Wakanda. And while there’s some mostly respectable variants — love this totally epic piece from Taurin Clarke — the bulk of the celebration is elsewhere in the book. That includes “stories celebrating the past and [that] foreshadow the future of the Black Panther and the world of Wakanda!” But more so, it’s this totally sweet cover from the Alex Ross. Because as T’Challa heads to Mars, where he’ll not only find himself deep in mutant territory but he’ll have to link up with his former queen Storm, Ross captures that moment with true elegance. There’s fear and hesitation brewing across the cover, but also the stubborn strength that is T’Challa’s trademark by now. Few people could enter this scenario so confidently, and that image speaks volumes about Black Panther’s past, present, and future. Happy 200 issues, y’all!

Peacemaker: Disturbing the Peace #1

Variant Cover by Amanda Conner

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

With the Peacemaker show on HBO performing pretty damn well, it’s only natural DC would jump on that opportunity and momentum and roll out a new one-shot starring peace’s most vocal proponent. And what a story it promises to be, as writer Garth Ennis and artist Garry Brown join forces for an epic Peacemaker story — where he goes to therapy. That doesn’t sound totally riveting from the pitch, but given the creative team, it’s ultimately about exploring how the character works and what his efforts mean outside of the slightly gimmicky nature of a guy who loves peace so much he’ll murder to achieve it. As such, the cover that makes most sense is this excellent variant from Amanda Conner. Sure, it leans into the overt jokiness of Peacemaker as a whole, but it does so in a way to subvert that humor and also hint at just what kind of story just might actually unfold across this book. (Read: something fishy with his shrink.) This is no mere cash grab, folks, but a chance to explore a character with real potential — and maybe even make John Cena a true A-lister.

Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser – Halcyon Legacy #1

Cover by E. M. Gist

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

I don’t read many Star Wars comics, no matter how great they all may seem. For one, it limits the amount of books I already read — which is a lot given my work — and I sort of prefer to have this canon exist only as one medium (film). But even I had to give a giant, extra nerdy shoutout out this book. Apparently, it’s chronicling the biggest and best starcruisers in the entire series, starting with the story of the “legendary” Halcyon and its star-shaking confrontation with the fleet of The First Order. I don’t know whether or not that’ll be good, but even the promise of this cover is accurate, we can expect a Wookie Jedi, and that’s somehow all I’ve ever wanted in life. Maybe this isn’t news to other series fans, those who more readily go beyond the films, but even writing “Wookie Jedi” set my brain on fire with pure, unadulterated joy. The fact that his lightsaber is the best color, and that it also looks like He-Man’s sword (!) are only cherries on this ice cream mountain of nerd goodness. Will this change my mind about Star Wars comics? Maybe, but they may also have to thrown in a breakdancing Rancor to boot.

All Guts No Glory #1

Cover by Guillermo Fajardo

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

I instantly looked at this cover and thought, “Oh, they’re rebooting that god-awful live-action Super Mario Bros movie (and adding a dash of Stranger Things to make it more palatable.”) Turns out, I’m not entirely off the mark, as the series follows the clean-up crew of some military-sanctioned monster hunters. But I do miss the mark, though, as the series spins in an unlikely love interest to complicate the lives of our two heroes, Craig and Jimmy. The plot alone is enough to get me interested, but I can’t help but enjoying the cover some more, like I’m loitering way too long around a museum art piece. Because I love the mix of the mundane and the super gory, and the art feels like that perfect balance between serious body horror and a funny, sitcom-esque story about two working stiffs. (Hey, a zombie reference!) I don’t know why their suits are so pristine, or if Sunset Cleaning is a real company or some government shell, but all of it works to speak volumes about this story. It may trigger all sorts of pop culture nostalgia (or whatever the inverse of that is), but it’s original and engaging enough to clean up all on its own.

Until My Knuckles Bleed #1

Variant Cover by Victor Santos

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

Here’s another series with the right pedigree. For one, it’s from artist-writer Victor Santos, the brain behind the excellent Polar (and the mostly “meh” adaptation from Netflix). Beyond that, Santos is referencing some big-names in this latest series, including Sin City, The Boys, and Watchmen. (All perfect choices for a story about a down-and-out ex-superhero working as a bouncer.) And not that most of us would need it after those tidbits , but then there’s also this excellent variant cover from Santos. Does it perhaps capture the story’s larger vibe and thematic/storyline tidbits in quite the same way as the main cover? Maybe not, but it does scream those aforementioned references in vivid ’90s glory. And that’s got to be worth something, as this whole thing is seemingly about celebrating and subverting superhero stories and ideals, and this variant does that with equal parts humor, satire, and a dash of grit. This cover almost feels like the good old days, and whatever happens to our protagonist will only be the more entertaining as we chart his downfall (and possible return?) Also, anything with Jack Kirby vibes always wins my tiny, damaged heart.

Firefly #36

Cover by Bengal

Judging by the Cover – 01/26/22 new releases

I may have featured some other Firefly cover months ago. And I’m sure when I did, I also mentioned how I don’t really read the comic, despite the fact that the series was always funny and far ahead of its time (while still being warmly nostalgic with regards certain TV tropes). So, blame a mile-high reading pile, or the fact that I’m hesitant to join a series after 36-ish issues. But I do enjoy peeping the covers from time to time, and even if they don’t always garner a spot on this feature, they’re mostly great. This one, however, went above and beyond, and it feels like the perfect image to help show people what Firefly is truly all about. Which is to say, ample human drama, a dash of sci-fi goodness, and the knowledge that things are mostly hopeless (but we’ve got to endeavor on regardless). Even if I don’t know what’s going on here — and I truly don’t — it’s covers like this that demonstrate that the spirit of a genuinely important TV show lives on in the comic pages. So don’t be like me and read this book already — or the Reavers will eat your dreams.

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