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.
Justice League #75
Variant Cover by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund
It’s here at last. After what’s felt like months of waiting, the next big DC event kicks off with the “Death of the Justice League.” And, with nary a strand of hyperbole, they do actually die, and there’s just one lone survivor before we kick off the story proper in the battle against the nefarious Dark Army. So, how do you actively capture what could be a genuinely interesting story, if not an entirely daring event in comics. (Knowing full well, of course, the tendency among comics and DC specifically to, how we say, tarnish the spectacle of this events with retcons and the like.) Daniel Sampere’s cover does a solid job of capturing the pain and uncertainty of the moment. As does the Tony Harris variant, albeit with a bit more cartoon “playfulness.” Still, the nod has to go to the Dan Jurgens-Norm Rapmund piece — it may have been out already for a while, but it already feels like the defining image of the entire lead-up and the story itself. And, no matter what happens next, I have a feeling this cover will be indelibly connected to JL for some time. Pay your respects now, folks.
Cover by Jesus Saiz
Say what you will about all the hullabaloo around the new logo, but the Jason Aaron-Jesus Saiz era of Punisher did kick off in earnest with March’s debut issue. If you’re trying to find a new place for Frank Castle in the Marvel Universe, you can’t do a more intriguing job than pairing him up with the Hand. It kicks the door open to a whole slew of new questions, like what will Frank do with resources he’s never had access to, especially given the Hand’s, um, unsavory history. But more so, is this new path going to change the shape of Castle’s character, and perhaps help him find new footing beyond his role as an overly violent, easily appropriated icon of a bygone era? If the cover to issue #2 is any indication, Frank’s life choices continue to pay a rather high cost, and the change of setting hasn’t done much to help his single life goal of “maintain the mission by not dying painfully.” Perhaps this image is the clearest encapsulation of Frank’s fate — no matter what happens, he’s bound to suffer, and real change comes when he leaves the mission entirely. Only that’s not likely to happen, and thus Frank fulfills a greater purpose: a case study for the dangers of unceasing stoicism. That, and why you never scrimp on body armor.
Detective Comics #1059
Cover by Ivan Reis and Danny Miki
There was a lot of buzz recently about the forthcoming “Gotham Nocturne” storyline coming in Detective Comics #1062. But for now, the current creative team — Mariko Tamaki and David Lapham — have more thrills and chills in-store. For #1059, they add in guest writer Nadia Shammas and artist Ivan Reis for a story about…
Condiment King Crazy Quilt The Riddler. (Plus, the return of Claire Clover in a back-up story.) This cover feels like a pretty powerful encapsulation feels why I think Riddler is a great character. Do I think the green jacket-wearing citizens as a clue is, perhaps, some kind of visual metaphor? No, because Edward Nigma seems just wacky and brazen enough to bust out just such a move. I also like that it doesn’t necessarily enrage Batman but make him clearly annoyed and irritate. All of that together makes for a compelling foe, and one that routinely pops up to vex Batman in the most absurd, intensive way possible. Keep up the good work, Team Detective Comics.
Knights of X #1
Cover by Yanick Paquette
There’s a lot of extremely good stuff that’s helped define the Era of Krakoa. And one that maybe doesn’t get nearly enough praise is the work of writer Tini Howard with Excalibur and Betsy “Captain Britain” Braddock more specifically. Now, Howard, alongside artist Bob Quinn, letterer Ariana Maher, and colorist Erick Arciniega, get to play around with more magic with Knights of X. If you hadn’t figured it out by the cover — which screams the same kind of energy as all those Night at the Museum flicks (in a good way for sure) — the series follows Braddock as the lone hero of the Otherworld, working with the Knights of X to “restore the rightful order and rescue desperate mutants.” The cover itself pretty much is a bona fide lay-up, with ample swords, mystical-looking heroes, a giant dragon, and feats of colorful sorcery. It worked so well in other stories/titles, you really don’t need all that much else. Although bonus points for once more featuring Gambit.
Blood-Stained Teeth #1
Cover by Christian Ward
It would be enough to call this new Image Comics series a “100 Bullets-style crime saga with fangs.” But Blood-Stained Teeth has plenty more to offer: a story from Christian Ward (otherwise builder of total mind-smashers like Invisible Kingdom); art from genuine hotshot Patric Reynolds (The Mask); and the story of a misanthropic vampire who makes money by turning others (you know what they say about a fool and his money…) But for me, the initial huge draw of this series is Ward’s own cover. In an industry where covers are often made before stories are written and/or completed, Ward’s dual roles mean we get a cover that actually feels much more aligned with the book’s general vibe (at the vert least). And from that alone, it’s not just more psychedelic intensity, but something that drips with real grit and humanity, as if you can feel the heat of hatred pouring off those fangs. And all of that leads me to believe this will be more John Carpenter’s Vampires as opposed to True Blood –– and even if I’m wrong, we’re bound for something truly compelling.
Ghost Cage #2
Cover by Nick Dragotta and Frank Martin
Back in March, you may have seen me gush about Ghost Cage. Given that it’s co-written and drawn by Nick “I drew the heck out of East of West” Dragotta, it seemed liked fate that I’d also fall for this quirky, anime-meets-Cormac McCarthy dystopian about two employees saving the backside of their super-scientist employer. (There’s so much more, with megacorps and super-powered robot avatars, but “Clerks meets One Punch Man meets Erin Brockovich” feels like a truly apt descriptor.) And things maintain a kinetic pace as issue #2 promises more “elemental nightmares” and “secrets revealed.” But it also gives us this cover, which brilliantly shows the whole vibe/aesthetic of the series; the sense of weird humor; and the overtly weird and wonderful nature of these elemental bots. Maybe you don’t have an idea of what’s happening (especially if you skipped #1), but this feels like the best kind of statement for this very singular series.
Variant Cover by Jorge Fornés
When he hasn’t been busy murdering the Justice League, writer Joshua Williamson (alongside artist Massimiliano Leomacs) has been hard at work Rogues. What’s basically “Old Man Logan for the Flash’s Rogues gallery,” the first issue did a great job in setting up a story that felt dark enough, a tale of second chances and final victories for a group that are both great foils and generally deserving of a “redemption” arc. But just in case you forgot this is DC after all, and we are talking about the Rogues, this Jorge Fornés variant cover gives us a much-needed dash of color and, um, brevity. Whether it’s the gorilla-version of the Rogues, the era-accurate text on the cover, or the brilliant aging spots in the corners, it’s a truly absurd reminder of what we’re dealing with. Luckily, because it’s a variant, it doesn’t distract from the series proper — it’s like candy before dinner, only without spoiling your appetite.
Cover by Marc Aspinall
The downside of this feature is that, if the cover to, say, issue #12 of any random title suddenly pulls at the old eyeballs, I may not know enough to gauge that particular series in a larger context. The upside of this feature, then, is I only care about that one singular, brain-scrambling image, and this Alien cover is among the most amazingly liquefying piece I’ve seen in some time. Why is a Xenomorph seemingly on our world? What happened to the truck driver? Are arrows an effective choice of weapon? (The answer to that one seems a little obvious.) And just what city is this supposed to be so I can avoid it entirely? I’d have to read the whole series so far to likely get all the answers (and more), and so I’ll likely just enjoy this image for the one thing it does need to tell me: this series is bonkers and we should all spend more of our lives concerned about the ever-encroaching Xenomorph threat.
The Fourth Man #4
Cover by Mike Deodato
If you missed it (and there’s a chance you did), The Fourth Man debuted way back in March. That first cover, with a blood-soaked “Wacky Waving Inflatable Tube Guy,” struck that perfect balance between the morose and hilarious for this comedic thriller about rural murders and “dueling car dealerships.” Well, I looked away for a bit only to be absolutely flabbergasted by the cover to issue #4. I have some pretty profound questions, like who’s in the grave, what did they do to get there, and are those dogs somehow possessed? Reading the story proper would be a good way to crack those nuts, but from a visual standpoint, I enjoy this specific moment for its own inherent intensity and imagery as well as what it could mean for the overall development of the story and its larger aesthetic and/or “vibes.” It’s an image that captures that same darkness of issue #1, but is ramped up in a way that now feels all the more compelling. It’s a shame this is the end; who knows what fresh hell could’ve landed across issue #5 or beyond.
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