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.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #2
Cover by Dan Mora
Sure, there’s a little intended cockiness in calling this “World’s Finest.” Batman and Superman may be two of the most skilled and beloved of superheroes, but there’s a whole universe of equally great paladins out there. But if nothing else, the series’ covers are a chance to highlight B&S in their most glorious and majestic. And for issue #2, they proves especially complicated given the storyline inclusion of the Doom Patrol, those lovable superpower misfits who scream less “stoic world-savers” and more “overly moody mutants” (but in the best way possible, of course). The end result presents a nice sort of balance between the duo’s leading-man good looks and the endless emotion of the Doom Patrol, resulting in a dynamic piece that feels like an old-school comic and a movie poster for a really weird drama. They ain’t among the best around just cause they look good in spandex.
Captain America #0
Cover by Alex Ross
Unless you’ve been living under a rock (and no one could blame you), there’s some big things coming to the world of Captain America. Namely, there’s going be two Caps in operation: Steve Rogers (in Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty, from Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and Carmen Carnero) and Sam Wilson (in Captain America: Symbol of Truth, from Tochi Onyebuchi and R.B. Silva). In the lead up, issue #0 sees the two Caps work together to take on Arnim Zola. Now, I could have highlighted some of the variant covers that depict both caps, including this extra-sharp piece from Jim Cheung. But I chose the Alex Ross main cover because it’s absolutely gorgeous — even if that’s not saying much from the always-on-point Ross. But more than that, it feels like a perfect encapsulation of the very essence of Cap (whoever is rocking the shield) — this courage and intensity against even the most bonkers of odds. That bravery (and maybe a dash of stupidity?) is why you can have two Caps and their respective books: there’s not nearly enough of this pure heroism to go around.
Transformers: Beast Wars Annual #1
Cover by Ryan Miller
I don’t always spend my time obsessing about the state of Spider-Man, or dunking on Cyclops (especially since it never gets old). But I’ve got other, equally niche opinions, including how Beast Wars is an understated and genius aspect of the rich Transformers canon. And the IDW series is a great kind of follow-up, especially as they publish a multi-creator annual that promises a “glimpse into the Cybertronian’s lives outside of their main series adventures.” Could we see Rattrap’s collection of decorative teacups? Or maybe Dinobot’s love of interpretive jazz ballet? Regardless, we get this excellent cover that encapsulates everything I love about this franchise as a whole: the weirdness of animal-robot hybrids; the power of collaboration and teamwork as the story’s beating heart; and a kind of weird bio-punk thing that just works. Transformers,
turn into wild animals roll out!
Secret History of War on Weed #1
Cover by Scott Koblish
It’s 4/20 this week. As a rule, comics don’t really engage with weed-centric culture/humor as much as, say, songs or movies. But you can’t blow such a perfect opportunity as NCBD falling on actual 4/20, and Image Comics is seizing that dank chance for storytelling magic with Secret History of War on Weed #1. Written by Gerry Dugan and Brian Posehn, with art from Scott Koblish, the duo tell a “true story and lost chapter from our nation’s sad and failed war on drugs,” with appearances from Nancy Reagan, an “activity page” and the best-named soldier ever, Scotch McTiernan. The end result should be a blazing good time, combining an especially weird and rich segment of history with some overt hijinks and a steady dose of zaniness. And that combo is especially clear on the cover, which would be ridiculous if it weren’t based pretty solidly on actual history. Don’t (puff puff) pass a chance to get your hands on a great standalone title — happy 4/20, one and all!
Cover by Bruno Redondo
I know Batman and Superman are already the World’s Finest, but here’s another example of some steady competition. Wally West and Dick Grayson are a true DC dream team, and their friendship and superhero partnership is the stuff of deeply compelling highlights across the publisher’s entire catalog. So, when they teamed up in issue #90 to keep Grayson alive from a series of assassination attempts, we knew that their storied partnership would continue in earnest. And that’s more than true in issue #91, including the excellent cover. Without showing their faces — or letting the two, like, do a jumping high-five — artist Bruno Redondo has managed to capture 1) what makes both hero so very unique, 2) their overall connection), and 3) the kind of power and influence their friendship has. The story proper has some great moments, but since this is Judging by the Cover, spend some time consuming this excellent art piece — and then go call your BFF pronto.
Doctor Strange: Nexus of Nightmares #1
Cover by Rachelle Rosenberg and Todd Nauck
The selling point alone for this one-shot should be its really great creative team: Marvel legend Ralph Macchio and up-and-coming artist Ibrahim Moustafa. But in case you need more, there’s plenty to come. Like, an appearance from Nightmare, who transforms Doctor Strange’s dreams into nightmares for a story that threatens all of reality. Need even more? Well, peep this cover from Rachelle Rosenberg and Todd Nauck. It also checks a lot of the boxes for a powerful cover. Badass monster imagery like it was ripped from an Iron Maiden album cover? Check. A fiery, extra resilient Strange battling fiends and ghouls? Double check. And.. well, that’s sort of all of it — this is clearly one of those covers where the awesomeness is in the sheer madness of the image and not any subtext or nuance. Good luck sleeping after you read this bad boy.
Black Hammer Reborn #11
Cover by Caitlin Yarsky
If you haven’t been paying attention for the last year, Jeff Lemire — already one of comics’ busiest creators — has been revisiting arguably his most beloved title with Black Hammer Reborn. As its title suggests, it follows the residents of that world some 20 years later, with a keen focus on Lucy and her life out in the suburbs. By the time we get to issue #11, though, the whole team’s in on the action, and they’re trapped (yet again) in some bonkers limbo dimension. Clearly that’s a reality where kids have access to trebuchets and rather, um, willing felines, but fans of the series will know that no image or idea is ever really as it seems. That said, though, this is one of the first covers from Reborn that really sticks out beyond the otherwise wild wonderful weirdness of the book. Here’s hoping you don’t need a cat-a-pult to get you into the book, but it’d be worth if you simply did.
The Vampire Slayer #1
Cover by Goni Montes
The Buffy canon has been something of a gem for BOOM! Studios. But after titles like Buffy the Last Vampire Slayer, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and even Angel, it’s time to keep things moving toward the future, and that means a new slayer. The aptly-titled The Vampire Slayer (from writer Sarah Gailey and artist Irene Flores) follows an as-yet-unrevealed new Slayer who steps as Buffy deals with magic-induced memory lose. So, just who gets to become the most bad-ass vampire hunter in existence? Well, the cover certainly doesn’t tell us, but it does do something just as effective: hype things up like a mofo. More specifically, not seeing the actual heroine plays with the “Featureless Protagonist”/“Audience Surrogate” tropes, and not only does that let the mind wonder over the sheer possibilities but maybe let some readers pretend for a bit (if only through the actual cover). That’s always been the appeal of this series at-large: that all of us can be good and powerful, and you only need the heart and spirit to make it happen. (Also, demon powers sure do help.)
The Crimson Cage #5
Cover by Alex Cormack
I’ve featured the last few covers of this five-part miniseries because I love pro wrestling only slightly more than I love comics — and that’s saying plenty. Has it be an excuse to talk about my second favorite part of ‘rasslin, the championship belts? Yes. (My first favorite topic is the names of/actual finishing moves.) But it’s also been a great way to hype a genuinely compelling series that marries the drama of Macbeth with the low-brow goodness of ’80s-esque pro wrestling. That trend takes another unexpected turn as the cover to the final issue let’s me vent about cage matches. Is the idea of putting wrestlers in cages innately cool? Yeah, duh. But does it often come off as silly and hokey, especially when the cages feel like little more than their old-school, chicken wire counterparts? Yeah. Now, give me a cage match as depicted here, and I’d watch these kinds of brawls any day. Heck, I’d even bump “last man standing” from my list of favorite match types if things always got this dark and intense. But don’t listen to me: pin down this book for a sturdy reading now that it’s gone and relinquished the belt.
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