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Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 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.

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Nightwing #90

Variant Cover by Cully Hamner

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

The one consistent thread of this latest Nightwing series is an overwhelming sense of dichotomy. Namely, things are funny and sweet but also dark and terrible. And you see that in everything from Dick Grayson serving as Superman’s mentor… while being the target of assassins. Or, how Dick and Barbara are re-exploring their relationship… at the same time Dick uncovers some really intense family drama. Heck, even sweet, wonderful Bitewing is missing a leg. (Which also happens to enhance her sheer adorable-ness.) That same trend continues in issue #90, as we continue the “Dick Grayson tries to save Blüdhaven and is still the target of a bloody hit” by delving into the friendship of Dick and  Wally West (Flash), in what should be a powerful exploration of dude bonds (again, in the face of certain death). All of that’s why I chose this variant cover: it’s sweet and charming, for sure, but there’s also the red sky and the weird angle (is he Spider-Man Running on the glass?!) that makes this whole image something else entirely. Here’s to a more chapters of rich, multi-faceted tale!

Carnage #1

Variant Cover by Bryan Hitch

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

Writer Ram V. has done some great things (alongside Al Ewing) the Venom series as a of late, and so it only makes sense he’d get to tackle his most precocious, bloodthirsty child. Carnage is set to take place in the aftermath of Carnage Forever, and promises to be a “celebration of all things Carnage.” So, what better way to kick things off than a slew of variant covers? There’s this semi-photorealistic piece from Simone Bianchi, which exudes a certain edgy ’90s energy. Or, the Mico Suayan variant, which perfectly captures the sheer existential horror in Spider-Man’s eyes. I even like this simple, more straightforward cover from Ron Lim, which captures something essentially Carnage. Still, the clear winner is this variant from Bryan Hitch, which sort of says everything you need to know about this book and one image. Which is to say, “Prepare for a veritable deluge of violence and intensity.” Sure, Carnage won’t actually be smashing all these A-listers (right?!), but that fear always exists, and that’s why Carnage is the world’s most beloved alien-powered psychopath.

Catwoman #41

Cover by Jeff Dekal

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

The solicitation for Catwoman #41 promises a monumental return: Onyx! The assassin-turned-hero was, at one time, the only other vigilante that Batman would allow to operate in Gotham City. (That’s like if Lebron James said you could play a pick-up game with him — I think.) But with Bats gone, the solicit adds, that silly no kill rule has been tossed out the window, and that little twist will set Onyx and Catwoman up for quite the confrontation of sorts. And the cover tells us just what to expect when they butt heads. Will it be a little sexually charged? Sure, but in a proper, totally non-pandering way. Could it also be a little weird and silly? Sure, that’s not out of the question in this book/series. But more so, it’ll likely be bloody and brutal, and just the sort of thing to really play up both this series and the inherent chaos in Gotham right now. Welcome back, Onyx!

Slumber #1

Cover by Nathan Fox

Judging by the Cover

Without jinxing myself, I don’t really have “bad” dreams. I get a lot of weird dreams (flying around a technicolor indoor swimming pool, for instance) that might go a little sour (like my skin falls off), but nothing that forces me to wake up screaming bloody murder. So that makes me doubly intrigued for Slumber, a new series from writer Tyler Burton Smith and artist Vanessa Cardinali about a for-hire “nightmare hunter” who helps clients and eventually runs into a “literal living nightmare.” And as far as debut covers go, this one from Nathan Fox is top-notch. It expertly captures the surreal, reality-bashing story, the promise of overt violence, and just a dash of whimsy that comes with effectively playing cops and robbers with someone’s dreams. Plus, it looks a lot like a dream anyone might have, and that just makes it all the more effective. Don’t sleep on this one, folks.

Heavy Metal Drummer #2

Cover by Luca Vassallo

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

You may remember (or not, who am I to say?) that I fawned heavily over the cover to issue #1 of Heavy Metal Drummer. And rightfully so: in a story about a junkie drummer battling interdimensional evils, that first cover really nailed the look and feel of being a bonkers drummer in the ’80s Los Angeles music scene. And, as it turns out, there’s more cover goodness to come from a relatively young series as artist Luca Vassallo rolls out yet another big-time hit. On the one hand, I’m not sure what this has to do with the events within issue #2, as it sees our drummer, Dave, hunting down “parasitic agents” while an “elderly women continue[s] to seduce and capture unsuspecting johns.” Still, with a clear reference to Terminator — if it were directed by David Cronenberg, of course — that’s more than enough to make me want to get this without asking nary another question. Unless that one question would be, “Is that woman covered in sewer vapors somehow?”

The Last Book You’ll Ever Read #6

Cover by Leila Leiz

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

I read the very first issue of The Last Book You’ll Ever Read, and I was instantly blown away by how profoundly weird and dark and funny it proved to be. (All of which made sense given in it was written by Cullen Bunn.) But, in the sake of utmost honesty, I haven’t paid much to it even with that profound experience in mind, and I’d attribute that to the busyness of life and that, in my own defense, I’d likely want to read a story like this (about a twisted novel and its perhaps unsuspecting writer) when its collected down the road. And if there’s anything that’s going to keep this book at a prime spot on my to-read list, it’s the cover to #6. Sure, we all know how much I love body horror by know, but this adds in a bit of “religious” imagery and something more real and depressing to make this less “aw heck yeah!” and more “oh noooo.” And if you can achieve that in regards to this dear writer, than you’ve truly accomplished something both compelling and nonetheless unsettling.

Fantastic Four: Reckoning War – Trial of the Watcher #1

Cover by Javier Rodriguez

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

Even if you have no idea what’s going on with the Fantastic Four and/or the whole Reckoning War, you definitely need to check out this issue. Because it’s all about Marvel’s famed What If… series — specifically, the one world “Uatu has avoided watching…and never wished to see.” We can clearly see from the cover that he’s feeling some heady mix of shame, guilt, and anxiety, but just what kind of world could it be? Based on the rest of the cover, it looks to be the F4 getting straight trounced by Galactus — which, in and of itself, doesn’t seem all that bad considering the sheer number of times some version of this has happened. But maybe this is the world where Galactus finally wins in the end. Or, maybe the outcome of said battle is just far too terrible to ever glimpse. Either way, it’s some great hype for what could be a great story in this always intriguing segment of the MU.

Batman: The Knight #3

Variant Cover by Riccardo Federici

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

I may have mentioned, with issue #1, that I wasn’t really feeling Batman: The Knight. And, yeah, I know what you’ll already be saying: “It’s an early Batman story, written by thee Chip Zdarsky (and art from the equally great Carmine Di Giandomenico) — you, Mr. Coplan, must be a mad man.” And to that I say, sure I welcome that possibility, but I also think that maybe it’s a story I’ll need to read the entirety of to really appreciate what Zdarsky and company are trying to accomplish. That said, though, I think issue #3 is a standout if only because the promise of a young Bruce Wayne training to be a cat burglar in Paris when he comes face-to-face with the serial killer dubbed the Foundling. And perhaps that is just the spark to make the story itself reach the potential that abounds with this Riccardo Federici variant, which is sort of the perfect encapsulation of the rage and psychic horror I always imagined a young Bruce would suffer through. That the bat is both an icon and a kind of devil, and it feels like the sort of “revelation” this series should be shooting for with every page. I remain cautiously hopeful, gang!

King Spawn #8

Cover by Kevin Keane

Judging by the Cover – 03/16/22 new releases

I get that not everyone has read Spawn — even after nearly 30 full years of the world’s most jacked revenant. But more than that, even if people have read any of this series, they may not have even liked it. Still, even with all of that in mind, I think we can all agree with one thing: Spawn is among the most visually appealing and diverse characters in all of modern comics. Case in point: this mostly random cover to King Spawn #8, which shows a perfect encapsulation of Spawn — posted up on some random fire escape, that totally amazing cape and chains floating in the wind in front of some possibly awful, nonetheless beautiful cityscape. Everything that happens in the story — more on the Exodus Foundation, the God Throne (!), etc. — isn’t any less important but it does seem to fade momentarily when you spend a little time just enjoying the richness of the cover. It’s a snapshot among a million others in this canon, and proof that Spawn’s whole look and aesthetic is truly timeless, right up there with Batman floating around Gotham City or Superman posing in front of an American flag. Things change all the time, but the power of this character has seared its way onto our collective frontal lobe.

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