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Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

Chris shares his favorite covers from this week’s new comics.

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.

Nightwing #89

Cover by Bruno Redondo

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

We arrive at another entry from our own most anticipated comics of 2022. And, boy oh boy, is it a veritable powerhouse of DC talent as Nightwing teams up with the new Superman, Jon Kent. The story goes that many years ago, as Nightwing was getting his start as a solo hero, Superman (the O.G. Supes, obvi) mentored him and/or helped him figure out who he was (beyond just giving him that oh-so dope name). And now Dick Grayson is returning the favor, and we can expect perhaps lots of adventure, hijinks, and perpetually great hair. Is this going to be the usual Batman/Superman collabos we’re used to? Probably not, and that’s a good thing. Because, as this cover so brilliantly demonstrates, these are two entirely different heroes; Nightwing’s a bit more “playful” than Batman, and even if he’s pretty young, Jon seems more intense and brooding than even his dear old dad. The end result feels like a new kind of relationship to explore, and a way to further differentiate these heroes as singular icons. Plus, as long as Bitewing shows up, it should be all gravy.

X Lives of Wolverine #3

Cover by Adam Kubert

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

I’ve said a few things several times across this column. Like, Spider-Man is at his best when he suffers, or Cyclops is a massive dweeb. But I’ve also said that the best foil or adversary for Wolverine is Omega Red — and that’s say a lot with his, um, rich rogue’s gallery? So it only makes sense Omega would make an appearance in X Lives of Wolverine. (Which, for those still confused, is a weekly event that takes place across this title and it’s “sibling,” X Deaths of Wolverine.) In this “chapter,” Wolverine falls further down the time travel hole, including a jaunt to the early 1900s, but mostly he has to contend with Omega Red, who may or may not pose a threat to the timeline. And cue the best part of any Wolverine comic as the two juggernauts (not Juggernauts) do battle. Who wins and who loses doesn’t matter (especially because, even with this cover’s overt message, nothing is ever that certain). But what does matter is that Wolverine does all this while wearing his best Clint Eastwood cosplay. Oh, and a special shoutout to Jen Bartel’s variant, which does the most wondrous and dynamic job with this whole TimeWolverine shtick.

Rad Wraith #1

Cover by Christian Dibari

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

There were a lot of movies in the ’80s and early ’90s predicated on “cursed land” (usually something to do with the burial site of a local Native American population). And, sure, it’s kind of hokey and unrealistic that there’s this much land in America that is cursed (except our infrastructure — zing!), but the gimmick works. Mostly because it’s just an excuse to cut out the pretense and get right to the horror madness. Case in point: Rad Wraith, from Scout Comics’ Black Caravan Imprint, in which a skateboarder dies in a halfpipe and comes back to enact his ghoulish revenge and/or learn to bust out a 900. Either way, the cover hints at the kind of cheesy horror of a Tales From The Crypt or Mystery Tales, with also just a hint of some ’80s Swamp Thing title. I also assume that the board itself his living and/or haunted, and that makes me think of some cheesy punk rock Knight Rider (but in the absolute best possible way). Maybe it’s a little early for Halloween, but it’s never too early to get all kinds of weird and horrific.

Quad #1

Cover by Eduardo Schaal

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

I love this cover because it sort of encompasses everything I could want in a comic book. (Except for Batman with adequate ear length, or a Cyclops book where he’s getting a wedgie.) Each issue of this anthology features “a full story, with different characters, in the same post apocalyptic universe.” In issue #4, a mechanic and her cat assume a seemingly simple job in a world where a solar storm has destroyed all technology. Luckily, the creators are kind enough to spell it all that out in one stark but simple image. Yet there’s still so much more to this. Like, how the cat looks as if it may actually be the big bad — and that’s something I feel about all actual cats. Or, that the truck looks like a great Mad Max prop while feeling like it might actually be a feasible mode of transpiration in this hellscape. There’s also the huge pillar of fire, which screams “Conflict!” as well as the look and feel of something between a movie poster for either a Michael Bay film or some forgotten grindhouse flick. All of that together makes me want to read this seemingly novel take on a near-future dystopian. It also makes me want to keep an extra eye on my own cat, but that’s neither here nor there.

Angel #2

Cover by Nimit Malavia

Judging by the Cover

I’ll come out and say it: Angel #1 was one of my fave issues of early 2022. Writer Christopher Cantwell did a great job in giving people what they wanted (Fred and Wesley, duh) while also doing an exceptional job in making this series his own with unique look and feel as well as primary narrative objectives. And the same goes for the art from Daniel Bayliss: it feels very much like it fits with the vibe and overt weirdness of the original series, but Bayliss also manages to inject his own sense of depth and intensity. That also extends to the cover of issue #2, by Nimit Malavia, an issue where things already start to get super weird for the team, including the promise of dangers within the Spirit House and someone struggling with their recent zombification. But what I love about Malavia’s cover is that it focuses less on the specifics and does a damn fine job building on how this book is going to look and feel in the long run, with a focus on playing up some level of mystery. Angel #2, I am not ready!

Regarding the Matter of Oswald’s Body #4

Cover by Luca Casalanguida

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

Oh, another book written by Christopher Cantwell! And, really, the writing here has been the biggest hook of this entire story (even if I may have featured an early cover in this very feature). Because Cantwell has done a great job of further humanizing this massive, almost mythic story, turning it into this very intimate tale of a group of people working at the center of this history-defining event. Yet artist Luca Casalanguida has done a similarly great job with the interiors and whatnot, and this cover is just another profound example of that. It’s one great image that both focuses on the story and yet hints how the larger narrative moves far beyond what you normally get in stories about Oswald and the assassination. It also touches on some of the conspiracy theories and the general, sometimes overwhelming “weirdness” that swirls all around this massive world event. This photo may be mostly black and white, but it helps prove there’s so many wild and wonderful shades to this singular series.

Batman: The Knight #2

Variant Cover by Riccardo Federici

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

I feel a little dumb telling the entire internet this, but I didn’t care for issue #1 of Batman: The Knight. Even with a story from Chip Zdarsky, and great art from Carmine Di Giandomenico, it just felt sort of underwhelming. There’s some potential here for sure — a new angle to explore an especially young and extra angry Bruce Wayne — but it needs more if it’s going to ever expand beyond yet another rehashed origin story (again, for me). What’s keeping me locked in through at least issue #2, however, is this great variant cover from Riccardo Federici. Because even if it’s not groundbreaking — a young Bruce had to train to get good, duh — it does capture something important. Maybe it’s the mix of a proper uniform with some scarf that Alfred probably just washed, or that he’s likely just diving off Wayne Manor, but it all feels so immediate. There’s both a youthful exuberance at work here and something more deep and intense — and those energies playing off one another may not be novel to this story but they’re done in such a brilliant and captivating way. Let’s hope the series proper takes this energy and runs with it as they launch the rest of this story.

X-Men #8

Cover by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

I know what’s happening here and also what I think is happening. For the former, I know this is an issue in which the X-Men tangle with M.O.D.O.K., as evidenced by the fact that he’s both there on the cover and he’s somehow attained Jean Grey’s mask. As for the latter, however, my brain saw this cover and thought for a half-second that we’re revisiting the Hellfire Gala and that M.O.D.O.K. was invited somehow. And, sure, I want the story of M.O.D.O.K. as a threat to the team, but I also just want to see him meeting famous people and awkwardly eating tiny shrimp off some hors d’oeuvres plate. Does that second story have nearly as much impact and overt potential? No, but it does open up some interesting possibilities for a “sequel” to the Gala, and maybe that’s enough. Enjoy your book about M.O.D.O.K. dominating the X-Men; in my head he’ll be hanging out with Seth Meyers eating crostinis.

The Crimson Cage #3

Cover by Alex Cormack

Judging by the Cover – 02/16/22 new releases

If you read this feature about a month ago (and I assume you will, for the sake of my ego), you may have noticed I gushed about the cover to The Crimson Cage #2. And by gushed, I mean I spent 150-ish words talking about my favorite pro wrestling titles. (That is, at least as of publication, the WCW United States Heavyweight Championship.) And while it seems like the series is that perfect mix of silliness and seriousness where one could express just that kind of view, the cover to #3 makes one thing clear of this rasslin-based retelling of Macbeth: s--t is about the get serious. Especially since The Abominable Grudd may be ready to screw over his BFF, world champion Chuck Frenzy, in order to get the glory he believes he so rightly deserves. It’s a simple image, one that plays up the prominence of blood across both stories, but that also feels more ethereal and otherworldly at the same time. The end is result is a rush of ideas and influences, and it makes this book seem all the more compelling. You’d be wise to grapple with this one before the final two issues drop.

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