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Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 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.

Task Force Z #6

Cover by Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

Task Force Z is already a pretty innately weird series. I mean, it’s zombies and superheroes…in an inherently political story about American overreach and extrajudicial shenanigans. (And that’s not even saying anything about what’s actually happened in the story, as things got super-duper intense in issue #5). So, how does one step up the weird-o factor? Well, spin in, no matter how temporarily or to what extent, the Fast and the Furious franchise! The way this book is, this could all be a clever joke or an actual story development — either way, it’ll likely be a great little “vacation” as we explore the team’s origins prior to more story madness in issue #7. I know he does a lot of weird things, but Batman looking especially stoic amid all these hijinks just feels extra funny and bizarre, the perfect wheelhouse for this series. Get it, like the wheels on the Batmobile!

Wolverine: Patch #1

Variant Cover by John Romita, Jr.

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

There’s a lot to be jazzed about this new Wolverine miniseries. Chief among those reasons is that it’s written by Larry Hama, and looks to take place just before his iconic run on Wolverine. Beyond that, it’s a about a lesser celebrate aspect of the Wolverine canon — his “alter ego” Patch, who is basically like a slightly evil James Bond type that operates out of the bad guy mecca that is Madripoor. And as far as nailing the whole gimmick to a tee, you can’t do much better than this variant cover from John Romita, Jr. You’ve not only got a display of badassery (aside from the blood, that perfectly tailored suit is looking immaculate), but the dash of humor and absurdity that serves as a follow-through across all of Wolverine’s many (mis)adventures. I can practically here the collective moans of all those baddies (they’re just resting, we promise), and it feels like a perfect snapshot of why the Patch saga is worth telling.

Robin #12

Cover by Viktor Bogdanovic

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

If you’ve read this feature a few times, you may know about my penchant for Spider-Man suffering. Or that I really, really like it when Cyclops is made to look very foolish. But as it turns out, I now have another, previously unrealized preference: Scared Damian. Because for his run, and this is speaking in very broad terms, young Master Wayne has always come off as stoic. And if the creative have have tired to explore him a bit more in-depth, it’s been to show his humanity and sense of vulnerability. But with Damian forever changed post-Lazarus Tournament, it seems like this could be a great time to see him like we almost never do: deeply terrified and uncertain of what comes next. (Which seems extra likely as he faces the threat of death and the dawn of the “Shadow War” event.) It’s an important development of sorts, and a way to further humanize Damian as he continues to evolve from bratty sidekick into a real, more well-rounded hero. And if it takes pure terror to get him there, then so be it.

Devil’s Reign: Villains for Hire #3

Cover by Skan

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

If you’re not up to date on Devil’s Reign, it’s basically about what happens when Wilson Fisk (aka the Kingpin) declares war on his beloved city, and the carnage and destruction that follows as heroes try to hold the line. There’s been a few great such crossover titles, but the one starring the Thunderbolts feels like the best sort of creative choice for this very specific, very bloody situation. Because as bad guys trying to be good, I can’t think of a better situation to play around with all that rich morality and whatnot. And we get the first bit of payout from the cover to issue #3, in which U.S. Agent gets to experience firsthand the annoyance and physical pain that comes in trying to do the very best in a very awful situation. This single moment seems to capture something essential about this story, and does so in a way that’s funny and poignant. Go Thunderbolts go!

Ghost Cage #1

Cover by Nick Dragotta

Judging by the Cover

Here’s another instance where I’ve read the dang book instead of just reacting to the cover as promised. But in my defense it’s from artist/cowriter Nick Dragotta, and his work on East of West is utterly amazing. And, as it turns out, this book is very much a kind of predecessor to that. At least in the sense that both stories are quite weird and dense — this one’s about a robot working with an IT professional to thwart the, let’s call them monstrous mistakes, of their boss, a wacky mad scientist type. There’s so, so much more to the story proper, but it feels similar in tone and vibe to East of West. And that’s especially true on the cover itself, as Dragotta blends the same utterly weird, deeply human elements to both hype this utterly bonkers series and display everything you’d need to know, at least in terms of overall look and feel. Sure, maybe you don’t know how all these pieces “fit” together, but half the fun is figuring it all out with a genuinely great cover.

A King’s Vengeance #2

Cover by Peter Ricq

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

I missed the first issue of King’s Vengeance, which may be about some avenging warrior type getting his, um, vengeance. Issue #2, meanwhile, promises something different about a dead king coming back to reclaim his throne as the ruler of this bloody world. Are they the same? Maybe! Do I really care all that much? No! Because I love the damn art of both covers, but especially #2 as we see some more details. And by details, I mean a cover that checks all the most important comics boxes: grizzled warrior with a giant sword; stark color choice and general aesthetic; and a motherflippin’ velociraptor. Seriously, whatever happens in the story proper, this screams cyberpunk-meets-Jurassic Park vibes, and I didn’t know I needed that in my life. Is this some kind of alternate history deal? Maybe a little wacky anachronism instead? Again, all of that’s fine and well, but try not to smile wildly when you read “velociraptor mount.”

Armorclads #1

Cover by Manuel Garcia

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

If you put the word “mech” somewhere in your solicitation, there’s a very good chance I’m going to want to at least read it — if not get outwardly stoked and fall in love. And Armorclads promises lots of sweet mech action, including soldier mechs (the aforementioned Armorclads) and “construction-class mechs known as Ironclads.” There’s also the promise of murder, betrayal, and a “mystery dating back centuries that could change the world forever…” But the cover focuses instead on the proverbial money shot with lots of sweet mech action! (And not just that, but even more variation in the kind of robot badassery being displayed here.) The whole thing feels like a slightly grimier Warhammer (if that’s possible), with just a dash of Starship Troopers for good measure. With a mix that potent, you better believe your mech suit that this is something worth keeping an eye on.

Beyond the Beyond #1

Cover by Gian Fernando

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

I said a while ago (or maybe it was years, who can tell anymore?) that I’ve been on a sci-fi kick for some time. It’s mostly been more near-future stuff; I like being afraid of, say, a malevolent A.I. because I know that its reign of terror could happen within the next calendar year. But that’s not to say there’s not something great about old-school, space-faring sci-fi stories. Especially if they’re like Beyond the Beyond, which follows a girl (Nova Vega — awesome name!) in outer space who is looking to find her own path and not work as some glorified miner for the “oppressive Omni corporation.” And this cover image captures that rather specific wide-eyed yearning, a kind of magic and pure possibility that comes especially easy in the realm of sci-fi. There’s something slightly dark, bordering on the intense at play here — but it’s rounded out with a really simple but effective image that screams the story’s larger ideas and themes in such colorful brilliance. Space is scary, y’all, but it’s also so deeply beautiful and promising.

Pentagram of Horror #1

Cover by Marco Fontanili

Judging by the Cover – 03/23/22 new releases

Through their Black Caravan imprint, Scout Comics has some great horror titles on shelves (and sci-fi to boot). That includes We Don’t Kill Spiders, Cherry Blackbird, Black Friday, and Broken Souls. Now, they’re adding to that list with the wonderfully-titled Pentagram of Horror, an anthology series with standalone tales in every issue. Marco Fontanili nabs issue #1 with “My Own Hell,” which looks to explore “the anxiety, self-doubts, and profound desire for recognition endured by every creative.” Based on the cover, we can likely expect plenty of blood, perhaps some religious imagery (or demons maybe?!), and a cabin that’s likely just as haunted as the one from Evil Dead. Is it the most terrifying image possible? No way, but it does nail a very perfect, grindhouse-inspired aesthetic. But like any great Black Caravan title, the cover proves the horror displayed here is only the start of something truly unsettling and maddening.

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