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Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 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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X-Cellent #1

Cover by Michael Allred

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

Comics nerds, your patience has finally paid off. After a two-ish year delay amid COVID, the beloved X-Statix returns as creators Peter Milligan and Michael Allred reunite for another chapter of comics’ weirdest heroes. The titular X-Cellent is described as an “antagonist” superhero team, and first popped up in 2019’s Giant-Size X-Statix #1. Solicitations for this latest book describe how this new team collectively “live harder, love harder, fight harder, and die a whole lot harder” than the beloved X-Statix, and that sense of conflict is front and center on Allred’s amazing cover to #1. If you’ve seen X-Statix before, this piece should tickle the same blend of nostalgia, humor, and pureness of comic magic. As much as fans might fear that a new chapter could “tarnish” the team’s original run, the way this X-Cellent group mirrors X-Statix proves that we’re likely in for a weird and funny story about modern heroism. Xcelsior!

One-Star Squadron #3

Cover by Steve Lieber

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

If you haven’t listened to me about any other title in the last two years or so, please heed my words now: One-Star Squadron is all that and a stack of Pringles, gals and ghouls. The last two issues have been a genuine achievement in marrying humor and super hijinks with a deep look at our disposable gig economy, the nature of superheroes in the 21st century, and how we all are always looking for our big moment to shine. And not only has the story pretty much been killing it, but series artist Steve Lieber delivers with the covers. Issue #3 focuses more on the team’s “leader,” Red Tornado, as he faces a crisis with the board of directors and Power Girl over the direction of this mighty unit of C- and D-list superheroes. So what better way to encapsulate that than by placing him metaphorically adrift — or I assume metaphorically. Because who can tell with this wacky lil’ book, and that’s what makes it so swell: things may get super strange at a moment’s notice, but the creative team retains the pure heart and emotional center at all times. You go, One-Star Squadron, you go all day and all night.

Echolands #6

Cover by J.H. Williams III

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

I was pretty high on Echolands when it debuted back in August 2021. And how could you not when you’re dealing with a “mythic fiction epic where anything is possible” from the team behind the excellent Batwoman series. But then life happens, and I’ve fallen off since issue #2. But now…. I still likely won’t pick up issue #6 as it’s the end of the first arc and I’d be totally lost. But I’m definitely going to hit this series up with issue #7 based solely on the cover to #6. Because I think for the first time in seeing the various covers to this series, I not only continue to see J.H. Williams’ continued mastery, but the genre-bending madness this series promised from day one. It’s like every poster of my childhood melted together with all my nightmares, and the end result is both ultra compelling and unsettling — like one of those Magic Eye posters you try to decipher. (But this one will only show you more unfettered insanity, of course.)  There’s so much going on here, but one thing remains clear: Echolands has a lot to say about stories and myths and our place in them. What you got, issue #7?

Monkey Prince #1

Cover by Bernard Chang

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

My esteemed colleague David Brooke told me about Monkey Prince some weeks ago, and that alone makes me want to read it already. But it turns out that the book, headed up my writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Bernard Chang, has ample reasons for tickling the pleasure centers of Dave’s brain. Like this cover to issue #1, for instance, which shows everything you need to know about the sheer madness and hilarity that comes with the rise of the Monkey Prince. Does the cover tell you that said Prince is actually some weird, magical hodgepodge of ideas/powers? Or that he’s actually Marcus Sun, the child of “freelance henchpeople,” who finds himself moving to Gotham City before his destiny begins to fold? Heck no, but all you need to really know is there’s some goofy stuff about to pop off in the DCU’s worst city, and that kind of whimsy is always a good thing coming from the publishers of Detective Comics. Any time there’s the promise of a magic-oriented pig-man, you just pick up the dang book, FYI.

Sabretooth #1

Cover by Ryan Stegman

Judging by the Cover

Sabretooth was one of the select titles we featured in our list of 2022’s most anticipated comics. And rightfully so, as it checks a few important boxes: 1) a crack creative team (writer Victor LaValle, artist Leonard Kirk, letterer Cory Petit, and colorist Rain Beredo); 2) a great storyline (the whole thing involves Hell!); and 3) more chance to develop a truly unsung character in Marvel, Sabretooth. Plus, if all that weren’t enough, it’s got this great first cover from Ryan Stegman, who doesn’t really get inventive with things so much as he just absolutely nails the whole idea of Sabretooth in Hell and the robust character study that this situation will inevitably entail. The best part about this cover, though, is given Stegman’s top-notch depiction of Sabretooth, it’s hard to tell if he was the victim in the so-called Pit or if he was doling out just as much suffering. And that’s sort of why this multifaceted character is so great, and why this book could really elevate him in a way he deserves.

Heavy Metal Drummer #1

Cover by Luca Vassallo

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

Once upon a time, I was a drummer. I played briefly in high school in a terrible nu metal band (that never actually played a gig) before I got bored with my ineptitude and moved on. (I also briefly tried the bass, but that turned out just as terribly.) So, while I don’t share the prowess or even the sense of rhythm of your average drummer, I still identify with the backbone of your average band. But it’s not just that appreciation that drew me to Heavy Metal Drummer. Nor is it the promise of a horror story about a “junkie” drummer battling the forces of some “interdimensional conflict between order and chaos.” No, it’s the cover to #1 from series artist Luca Vassallo, who totally nails the focus and fury of a great drummer as well as the whole mid-80s metal vibe of L.A. at the time. Somehow this one outshines the great variant covers, like this one with some real Twin Peaks vibes. It just goes to show there’s nothing more epic than a drummer at their kit, going totally bonkers. Oh, what could have been…

New Masters #1

Variant Cover by Shof Coker

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

I’ve been on something of a sci-fi kick as of late. (My suggestions, you ask? Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan, almost anything from Lauren Beukes, and Jeff Noon’s Vurt; you’re welcome.) So I was pleased as punch that Image Comics is launching a new sci-fi series, especially one that that blends “science fiction, adventure, drama, and vibrant Afrofuturism.” But even more than that, the book is the work of two Nigerian brothers, Shobo and Shof Coker, who were the recipients of the Creators for Creators Grant back in 2019. Because if we’re going to put more sci-fi into the world, maybe it should also help reach that potential for openness that’s always been central to the genre. I opted for the variant cover from Shof Coker because it perfectly encapsulates the whole vibe and appeal of this book, and does so with equal parts romanticism, depth, and a certain intensity. I may be a sucker for any book with a cute robot friend, but this one seems like it’ll be something truly special.

Primos #1

Cover by Dave Johnson

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

By this point, I’m mostly an expert at “making sure I have the right cover” for each of the books featured within this feature. But there was a tiny bit of confusion regarding Primos, a new project from Al Madrigal, Brian Reber, and Carlo Barberi. Because this cover is also featured, but the one I’ve posted above, from Dave Johnson, is just too damn great to ignore. Mostly because, in a book about two Mayan brothers who return from space (in a craft they built 200 years ago), only to find “their culture and civilization destroyed,” this simple piece speaks volumes. It shows everything you need (Mayans, space travel, a dope action move tagline, etc.) in such a brilliant and minimalist manner. It allows the viewer to both speculate to their own desires while also pretty much driving home what you can expect (brotherly love, tragedy, dope space stuff, etc.) Regardless of what cover is the proper one, this little sneak peak has me eagerly awaiting the return of these bros from outer space.

Savage Spider-Man #1

Cover by Nick Bradshaw

Judging by the Cover – 02/02/22 new releases

I know most of my opinions about Spider-Man involve some variation of, “But make him suffer!” But there’s another element of the Spidey mythos I’ve always loved: the horror aspects. I mean, it’s obvious, really, that you’ve got some great horror potential when dealing with a guy who was bitten by a radioactive spider. And the long-running Man-Spider, which has popped up across various mediums, surely plays up that potential to a mostly effective degree. But Savage Spider-Man promises to toss all the “rules and regulations… out the door,” and the series will present a truly savage take on Peter Parker/his giant spider mutation. Based solely on Nick Bradshaw’s main cover, they’ve mostly delivered. This is less like the hokey Man-Spider of, say, the ’90s animated TV show and more like some Cronenberg-esque body horror fiend. I can practically hear this creature crawling around, and the red hair really plays up the man-and-spider connection while enhancing the horror. Still, some special shout-outs to a couple great variants: this ’90s-esque piece from Kyle Hotz and this blend of horror, nostalgia, and comedy from Pere Perez. Anyway you slice it, Spidey’s about to get super creepy.

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