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.
Shadow War: Alpha #1
Cover by Jonboy Meyers
If you haven’t been paying attention to the Batman properties as of late — and who can blame you what with the many stories (like The Tower) and even The Batman film — here’s a quick roundup. Ra’s al Ghul is dead, it’s Deathstroke’s fault (well, his but also Deathstroke, Inc.), and now Batman and Robin have to ” track down Deathstroke and bring him to justice…but do they?” It’s not exactly the most groundbreaking storyline ever, but it does promise “over-the-top fights, action, mystery, and betrayal” from another Joshua Williamson-led crossover event that’s likely to have big ripples across the DCU. I mean, the cover art to Alpha #1 alone feels like a brilliant movie poster, and it gives everyone a little spotlight as to demonstrate that this could be big and the stakes could be really real. Toss in a little ’90s-style heat, and Shadow War could be a dark horse of 2022’s string of comics events — at least if you’re civilized enough to adore Deathstroke.
Step by Bloody Step #2
Cover by Matias Bergara
You may have been here last month when I totally gushed about Step by Bloody Step. Seriously, it was among the most magical comics reads of the last year, a truly dazzling story that all but re-wired the basic hardwiring in my brain. It combined and referenced everything I loved about great storytelling and coming-of-age tales, and did so in such a deeply gorgeous way. And that continues even with the cover to issue #2, which promises (as menacingly and vaguely as possible) the promise of war and civilization — two things that are pretty high on the “ugh, way to ruin a whimsical adventure” list. Yet cover artist/penciller Matias Bergara can make even a young child running from a Cthulian death machine still seem deeply whimsical (and also still profoundly horrifying), distilling the essence of the book in glorious detail. No matter how things turn — and it’s likely to take a big step toward awful for our characters — this book shines as a light of beauty in a weird, dark world. Come back next month as a gush even harder, folks.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man #36
Cover by Taurin Clarke
If you put “Spider-Man” and “multiverse” somewhere in the same sentence together, enough folks will instantly think of Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. And that’s a genuinely good thing, as that movie was a great way to respect the character and his canon and still make it fun and accessible for a whole new audience. Hopefully some of that magic carries over to Miles Morales: Spider-Man #36, which throws Miles and Shift into the multiverse as part of the “Beyond” storyline. And based on some fragments, we can expect Ghost-Spider (a great sign if we’re talking about recreating the movie’s magic) as well as possibly alternate versions of Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America. But wherever the duo land in the wide open multiverse, Miles at the center of this madness (hehe) is always bound to be a fun (and also a little harrowing). When in doubt, though, lean heavy into Spider-Ham.
Cities of Magick #1
Cover by Will Tempest
And speaking of
magic magick, Cities of Magick (from writer Jakob Free and artist Will Tempest) looks to be some alt-history spin on New York. The solicitation has lots of references to the “Age of Magick,” and “Magick Gangs and the Post-Post Apocalypse.” Plus, a story about a young cowboy called Lev that gets stuck in the middle of a nasty ground war between “Hyper-Priestess Isimar Rothschild, the Queen of the Chicago Conglomerate” and “Gregor Steiner, leader of the Red Double Xs.” So, is it like Gangs of New York with, like, a Harry Potter spin? Or maybe West Side Story, The Magicians, and a dash of Avalon? Either way, the cover to issue #1 promises the best kind of alternate history goodness, with a heavy emphasis on weird organic magic while still capturing some turn-of-the-century New York vibes. (Or, maybe based on all that greenery, is this somehow an end-of-the-world tale?) Again, doesn’t really matter, as the whole aesthetic here is top-notch, and a great way to tell a familiar story in a dynamic new light.
ZVRC: Zombies vs. Robots Classic #1
Cover by Ashley Wood
If you didn’t read the original Zombies vs. Robots then you missed out on a truly thrilling series exploring the moral and metaphysical ramifications in the ceaseless battle between… walking toasters and corpses. OK, it’s much better than I could ever describe it to be, and the whole genius of the series was in how its creators (Ashley Wood and Chris Ryall) told a very weird and manic story that felt aligned in its visual and storytelling identities. For this return, the pair promise a new story every issue, and things begin in earnest with a 26-page origin tale called “Which Came First?” And just what can we expect from these stories? Well, peep the cover to #1: it’s weird, unsettling, and it makes you think (in the best way possible, of course) that you’re on amphetamines while reading this whole thing. That’s sort of a close enough approximation, as these little story nuggets mess with the brain in the most deliberate and undeniably fun ways utterly imaginable. Don’t get caught up on the premise or the narrative complexity; just get ready to have fun and your mind lightly squeezed.
Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Death #6
Cover by Richard Williams
What could I ever write about this series that could ever even come close to this image? (Nothing without 100 monkeys on typewriters, I’m sure.) If you’re unaware, Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Death is a monthly analogy from a wide array of creators, with each issue tackling different “Poe-inspired tales of mystery and inebriation.” For the final issue, they’re going out with a bang — not only with the cover but the theme itself (“Complaining and Whining About How Terribly Public Life is Going!”) Perhaps no one other image, aside from being just generally amazing, could ever sum up that theme so delightfully or succinctly — not even death or a bunny suit can stop Poe from living his best life as loud as possible. That’s a pretty great life lesson overall, which surprisingly has been the norm of this wonderfully wacky title. You may be gone, but you’re not forgotten — seriously, this image wrote over all of third grade.
DC vs. Vampires #6
Cover by Otto Schmidt
Despite it’s seemingly straightforward narrative potential (the action’s right there in the title, folks), DC vs. Vampires has been anything but so deliberate. There’s been plenty of twists and turns galore, and as we head into issue #6, we reach the big reveal of the Vampire King, in what promises to be “the most jaw-dropping moment of 2022.” While that’s maybe a bit of hyperbole — I mean, have you been alive for any part of this year so far? — there’s a good chance this series can deliver something genuinely startling and/or shocking. Like, just look at the cover to #6 for instance — it’s practically jam-packed with mystery, foreboding, and ample suspense in one simple image. Not only that, but threatening Batgirl is a way to drive DC diehards bonkers with righteous indignation, and that’s likely to sell more books. This book has been a real treasure from a visual storytelling standpoint, and we’re only at the dang halfway point.
Cover by Michael Allred
After some years away, the most beloved comics book team (this side of the Justice League and the Avengers) returned recently with an all-new story. X-Statix instantly locked horns — and other weird appendages and whatnot — with X-Cellent, and the result was a great continuation of the genre-blurring, hugely meta storytelling that made the core of X-Statix so popular (or, at the very least, so very singular and unique). So, as we roll into issue #2, it looks like all of that will continue as the members of X-Cellent grapple with adding a new member and what it might do for their mission to
save the world become super-duper famous. Based on this extra bonkers cover from artist Michael Allred, the squad is taking it in stride. The great thing about this series is that it’s always the perfect amount of weird and relatable, and that sweet spot does a lot for things like character development, world-building, and driving the larger narrative. That, and misfit superhero fights in an unidentified void are always a big hit.
The Head Set Binge Book #1
Cover by Blair Shedd
Even as a kid, I didn’t really get into comics for children. (I blame seeing The Toxic Avenger far too early, and it just ruined my brain and my base sensibilities.) But even jaded ol’ me is stoked about getting this one — and maybe even finding a child in my life to read it to. It’s got a great creative team in writer Darin Henry (Seinfeld) and artist Blair Shedd (Doctor Who). Plus, the whole story — three totally different kids gain telepathy and come together to “avoid becoming totally telepathic” — seems like 20 different shades of charming. But more than anything, it’s the cover that has me intrigued. It’s clearly got a kid-friendly aesthetic, but like it’s from some Wes Anderson film to make it all the more cool and palatable for adults. Plus, I love the sheer sense of fantasy that permeates the piece, and even in a book where kids get psychokinetic powers, that quality seems really important and unique from a storytelling perspective. Add all of that up, and the Head Set seems like a proper kids comic book.
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