Most comic book fans have a solid idea about what they’re going to buy every week as they descend upon 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, funny, scary, etc. 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. This is Judging by the Cover.
Justice League 2022 Annual #1
Cover by Sanford Greene
We all know that, in just a few months time, things are about to get extra harrowing for the Justice League. But for now, since this is an annual, none of that matters and we can have a mostly uplifting and/or entertaining tale. And what better way to push everyone’s spirits toward the heavens (before they’re inevitably smashed back down to Earth, of course) is with the returns of OMAC and Wonder Woman (!) And if that weren’t enough, artist Sanford Greene is said to be bring the “legacy of the League to life leading into Justice League vs. the Legion of Super-Heroes!” And if all of that weren’t enough still (when will you be satisfied, dear reader?), Greene’s cover is absolutely bonkers. He manages to capture the elegance, history, and power of League while also demonstrating his own unique style that feels more grounded. The end result is a great snapshot of a great team, and something that feels both celebratory while also further hyping everyone for what’s to come in the next several months. Forget assembling — Justice League, Gather Mightily!
New Mutants #24
Cover by Martin Simmonds
Chutes and Ladders is already terrifying in and of itself. Like, why are there so many children playing unsupervised with these potential death traps? But if anyone can up the scare quotient, it’s the team behind New Mutants, as they reference and/or repurpose the beloved children’s game for the cover of issue #24. Cover artist Martin Simmonds has a done a bang-up job in using the game to add a bit of playfulness — which is in and of itself an accomplishment given the series’ rather, um, unique history of covers. He then adds onto that playfulness a sense of psychedelia, and the end result is something playful and equally as unnerving. Is this a larger metaphor of sorts as the team deals with the continued threat of the Shadow King? Maybe. Is it also just more madness to play up this weird and wonderful book? Likely. Either way, we’d hate to see if they referenced Operation instead.
Suicide Squad: Blaze #1
Cover by Aaron Campbell
In recent weeks, writer Si Spurrier has gained added attention for Step By Bloody Step, his absolutely gorgeous book alongside Matheus Lopes and Matias Bergara. (That’s due out February 23 via Image Comics.) But Spurrier’s also got another powerful book, as he re-teams with his Hellblazer cohort Aaron Campbell for the three-part Suicide Squad: Blaze. Without spoiling too much, it follows the Squad — Peacekeeper, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang, and King Shark — as they train new recruits to take down what is basically a unstoppable cannibal. There’s way more to the story, and you’ll have to read it for yourself to really get it all, but it’s a dynamite story that brings new heft and humanity to the canon. And it’s aided in part by Campbell’s amazing art, including this cover that may not be groundbreaking in its scope but does 1) nail the look and feel of the book, 2) exemplify the many relationships and personalities at the book’s core, and 3) demonstrate a level of intensity and violence that is especially gripping for a book called Suicide Squad. This one’s a barn burner — pun 1,000% intended.
The Secret X-Men #1
Cover by Leinil Francis Yu
Oh no, there’s controversy in the pages of X-Men. OK, that’s sort of par for the course, but Secret X-Men especially is compelling for a few reasons. For one, how can you be a secret team when everyone already knows about you. (We’re sure to find out, right?) Also, this team is supposedly unique in that they weren’t exactly chosen by fate — this is that each member is, according to the solicitations, “those…mutants who lost the election…” But don’t feel like you have to focus too much on all of that — it’s another X-Men book to read, and it’s got Marrow and Banshee on board as the squad tries to save Shi’ar Empress Xandra. Based solely on the cover to issue #1 (from artist Leinil Francis Yu), these “rejects” have nailed the proper superhero group shot, with a keen focus on proper spacing, great action poses, and a hint of danger and sex appeal combined. Maybe they’re not actual winners, but they sure know how to look the part, and maybe that’s all you really need to flourish as superheroes. That, and Banshee, guys and ghouls!
Broken Eye #1
Cover by Victor Santos
I love Broken Eye because everything you need to know is on the cover already. Seriously, just take a peep and you’ll have all your answers. Need some help? It’s a pulp-tastic tale of man in the ’70s who falls into a situation with the IRA — the kind of gritty, hard-boiled noir goodness that you might read in a great pulp novel. Oh, but wait, this is comics, and there should be a twist, right? How about our hero (his name is Seamus) has a titular broken eye, which can see into the past! OK, so maybe you wouldn’t have guessed that just from scanning the cover, and maybe that reveal might spoil things for some folks. But knowing what you do now, isn’t the cover just 100 times better now? It screams its references/inspirations with pride, and the magical/sci-fi elements just add a depth and intensity to an already pretty gritty scene. I’m a sucker for books like this, and I hope the cover nails the look and feel of it all. I’m also a sucker for any covers with cute dogs, but that’s neither here nor there.
Bylines in Blood #2
Cover by Aneke Murillenem
I almost covered Bylines in Blood #1 back in early January. It’s got a deeply interesting premise, as we follow Satya (aka Lady Dick) as she hunts down truths in a world where that concept no longer exists. (So kind of like our own world, except that independent newspapers exist and politicians don’t have total carte blanch to like — but close enough.) The only thing that really stopped me was the cover from issue #1, which was both familiar with our own world — all those masks — and yet too heavy with the near future dystopian vibes to feel nearly as resonant. Then I saw the cover to issue #2, and it sort of forced me to include this book. Because given the premise, I rather like the fact that they opted for a more “abstract” approach, playing up more nebulous sci-fi vibes and marrying it perfectly with some real noir-y/pulp-y vibes. I get more humanity with this cover, and I feel connected to what’s about to happen to Satya as she’s trying to do the one decent thing in a futuristic hellscape. Also, the fact that this feels like a violent video game version of a Love and Rockets cover only makes it all the more entertaining and compelling.
Strange Love Adventures #1
Variant Cover by Amanda Conner
I get a lot of people are always jazzed about the Halloween and Christmas specials from DC. And why not — they’re always a great blast of fun, overt cheesiness, and a dash of nostalgia. But while most of us have plans on Valentine’s Day that leave little room for reading comics (or is that just my household?), you should always pay special attention to the V-Day editions. After last year’s totally great Love Is A Battlefield issue, we’re grace this year with Strange Love Adventures #1, which features contributions from writers and artists like Devin Grayson, Phil Hester, Ran V, Stephanie Phillips, Hi-Fi, and many, many more. And everything gets started with some truly great covers. Sure, I could have gone with the great main cover from Yanick Paquette, which is so cute and deeply self-aware that it makes me swoon endlessly. But I’ve got to give the nod to this variant from Amanda Conner, which is the best version of The Dating Game perhaps ever. Whether that’s because Ambush Bug’s the host, all three contestants are thinking both right and wrong answers, or I could actually see Black Adam making an appearance here, it screams everything that’s right with DC’s Valentine’s coverage. Even if we all know this is a sham and Harley Quinn is toes going home with Poison Ivy.
Moon Knight #8
Cover by Cory Smith
If you’re a fan of Moon Knight, there’s a few important runs that always capture what’s so great about this book. Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood provided new understandings of the Fist of Khonshu in volume eight. Meanwhile, Max Bemis, Jacen Burrows, Ty Templeton, and Paul Davidson brought new levels of insanity and badassery with the Legacy story. Even Jed MacKay, Alessandro Cappuccio, and Federico Sabbatini are killing it with this latest run (despite my initial doubts). But I always have to give it up to volume five, from the team of Doug Moench, Charlie Huston, Mike Benson, David Finch, Mark Texeira, Mico Suayan, Javier Saltares, and Jefte Palo — they not only did cool things with the character but the look was so perfect. It’s a feel and aesthetic captured in the cover to this latest run’s eighth issue, with the Hunter’s Moon (the other Fist of Khonshu) looking extra ripped and swole. There’s something about a buff MK, especially when standing in the pouring rain, that just makes the image of the character feel all the more intense and foreboding. It’s as if he’s mad at the very world around him, and that’s always a great place to start with Moon Knight.
Puke Banter Gnartoons #1
Cover by James the Stanton
With so many weekly books from the Big Two, not to mention “indies” like BOOM! and Image Comics, it’s easy to forget the work of smaller presses. Sometimes those are quaint and charming, and other titles and outfits promise to be more emotionally resonant. But with their apparent series called Gnartoons, Silver Sprocket look to shake things up by being totally weird, deeply punk, and perpetually irreverent. Case in point: the Puke Banter Gnartoons, which stars “someone whose name rhymes with ‘Pink Panther'” as they puke on a bus stop and then… leave it for someone else to handle? That’s about it, and while I don’t think this will be winning any Eisners, at least the art is profoundly cool. It’s got a Garbage Pail Kids-style version of everyone’s favorite pink cat, and it could be the coolest album cover ever or a really great ad for why you shouldn’t drink alcohol before you’re at least 35. Either way, there’s a lot to love about this weird, extra quirky project — even if I feel sweaty and sticky just looking at the cover.
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