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Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 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.

Flashpoint Beyond #1

Cover by Mitch Gerads

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

I know this is a comics site, but I want to talk about the Flashpoint DCU animated film. Because, perhaps in a way the comics just couldn’t muster, that flick really put a great spotlight on the sheer power and uniqueness of the Thomas Wayne Batman. He was edgier and darker than any Bats we’d really seen before, and you could feel the anger and nihilism just radiating off of him. (And yet he was still savvy enough to choose a really sweet looking holster piece to offset that dope Batsuit.) Mitch Gerads has really done a damn fine job of capturing those same movie-esque energies/vibes with this cover — which should set the tone visually for a story about BaThomas hunting the Clockwork Killer (and running into Aquaman, of course). I thought it would be impossible to really one-up the Flashpoint film’s depiction, but this one shows how a few changes can have a profound effect on our understanding and relationship with Batman.

Iron Man #19

Variant Cover by Juann Cabal

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

You have to give it up to the Iron Man team (including writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Cafu). After almost two years, we’ve finally reached the end of the “Books of Korvac story.” And what a wild ride its been for Tony Stark, Hellcat, and the rest of his supporting cast. Mr. Stark’s been at his very lowest — broken neck held together by his helmet — to all-new, all-the-more confusing heights (godhood, folks). But now it’s all come to a head, and the Stark-Korvac battle will end in a good old fashioned brawl (albeit with some twists). And given that dynamic, this Juann Cabal variant cover seems like the perfect way to end this chapter: this whole story has been about understanding the Tony Stark-Iron Man dynamic in new and revealing ways, and this simple but effective piece speaks volumes about where Stark has been, where he’s going, and the things that can never change. Until we get the next arc, of course…

Metal Society #1

Cover by Guilherme Balbi and Marco Lesko

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

Image Comics describes this series as “Blade Runner meets Rocky.” And that makes enough sense, as it’s about robots “resurrecting” humans as a new working class, which eventually leads to a human-robot MMA fight to “determine once and for all who reigns supreme.” (No offense, fellow humans, but my money is on the creature made of industrial steel and/or titanium.) But it sort of feels like that Hugh Jackman flick Real Steel, in which the aforementioned hunky thespian fights robots. The main cover art, from Guilherme Balbi and Marco Lesko, only supports my thesis, as evidenced by the futuristic-but-not-so design of the robot; the overly dramatic vibes our human fighter (yeah, I get it, fighting for the survival of her species); and just the idea of settling something so important to mere fisticuffs. Whatever the influences, this one could be a huge KO… to your sense of boredom.

Nubia: Coronation Special #1

Cover by David Mack

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

I could see why you’d hear “Themyscira” and always think of a stoic, unmoving society of ancient warriors. But as “Trial of the Amazons” proved, change can happen to even the most unmoving of societies, as Nubia is tapped to take the throne and lead the island nation into its next era. That celebration comes with a star-studded coronation issue, with contributions from Vita Ayala, Stephanie Williams, Darryl Banks, Alitha Martinez, and many more. And it’s the David Mack-penned cover that does a rather profound job in giving us a focal point of sorts in commemorating Nubia. Whether it’s the utterly beguiling covers (from some combo of Sauvage, Doran, Hi-Fi, Thompson, and/or Alex Guimàres); the sheer glory and power radiating off every line; or that this could actually be ripped from some ancient cave painting, it’s a true thing of beauty. And as the issue promises to explore both Nubia’s origins and her future as the head of Themyscira, this single image bridges together so many ideas and influences and messages in true succinctness. All hail the queen, baby.

Frontiersman: Lock-Up Special #1

Cover by Nicolo Assirelli

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

If you never read Frontiersman, you missed out. Written by Patrick Kindlon (of the excellent band Drug Church), it followed a retired hero-environmental activist (the titular Frontiersman) as he grappled with a return to saving the day and what role he played in a new, more complicated world. The series’ first arc wrapped up earlier this year, and while we await arc No. 2 with bated breath, Kindlon, alongside guest artist Nicolo Assirelli, gives us a double-length standalone that follows Frontiersman in county jail as he awaits trial (and perhaps a surprise, unwanted escape?!) And the cover nails that inherent tension, as we see Frontiersman fighting tooth and nail to stay alive in a cover with some heavy pulp-y energy. But there’s more here — the idea of getting jumped by a zombie, a gangster, and what appears to be an ape-man is super hilarious, and the series played up that humor without ever taking away from the really intense, super-important moments of character development or thematic exploration. It makes for a great sense of overt tension, and this standalone could be a great way to expand that ability while mitigating all that waiting around.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #128

Cover by Pablo Tunica

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

I commented some time ago that, despite being a huge TMNT fan as a kid, I’ve never read a comic and I’m hopelessly and maddeningly lost every time I try to read and/or understand the lengths of this long-running, deeply-beloved series. That proves doubly true for issue #128, in which Donatello and Alopex have to confront Dr. Jasper Barlow to stop the next attack of the Punk Frogs. I could ask all sorts of questions, like who is Alopex; are the Punk Frogs exactly what I think they are; and are we talking pop-punk or post-punk frogs? But I’ll instead focus on the cover, which does a thing that all TMNT-related stories/products have always elicited: a sense of holy-cows-level amazement. I see that it’s a turtle, but presenting it like some freak from a pond in Holiday World gets my brain spinning posthaste. Forget metaphors or analogies (although they’re certainly there, especially about our relationship with animals and a futuristic relationship with life itself) — it’s just the sort of ’90s-esque body horror madness that has always repulsed and fascinated me about the entire TMNT canon. Thanks, comic books, one day I’ll actually have to read you.

Star Wars: Obi-Wan #1

Variant Cover by Ario Anindito

Judging by the Cover

Between books like the ongoing Iron Man and Blue Flame, writer Christopher Cantwell has proven he knows a thing or two about deeply complicated heroes. And he’s sure got a hefty challenge as he tackles a solo series from the one-and-only Obi-Wan Kenobi. The book follows an older Ben as he lives out his final days on Tatooine “reflecting on — and recording — key moments of a heroic life long-lived.” Given that one-man anthology approach, the folks at Marvel have launched a slew of great variant covers. There’s a bit of Episode III elegance from Phil Noto’s main cover. Or, this dash of sass and ‘tude from Mike Mayhew’s cover. And you could even indulge in some painful nostalgia with the Peach Momoko variant, or some middle-age hunk vibes with the piece from Ken Lashley. But for my money, the best cover is the one from Ario Anindito: not only does it have a bit of sass, but it shows a more “ramshackle” side of Ben, as if he’s struggling to really make it (but also doing a damn fine job as some kind of junkyard desert samurai). However this story unfolds, I can’t wait to track his beard over time.

Twig #1

Cover by Kyle Strahm

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

Here’s another comics title promising some rather hefty strands of nostalgia. More specifically, the Skottie Young-Kyle Strahm miniseries Twig is described as being about “a journeyer on a Bone-esque quest to save a The Dark Crystal/Labyrinth-style world.” But having read issue #1 already, I can promise it’s so much more than that (but also exactly what Image Comics promises it to be). It sort of feels like Spyro the Dragon mixed with a dash of Adventure Time — which is to say, playful and bright and deeply whimsical while also being a little dark and brooding (without being so dang loud about the latter). The cover is a great snapshot of the whole vibe, and plays up that joy with the more unassuming weirdness, which makes it the perfect thing for kids and adults alike. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you may want to go on an adventure of your own — just not in this freaky-deaky dimension, of course.

Dogs of London #1

Cover by Andy Clarke

Judging by the Cover – 05/04/22 new releases

I love Peter Milligan-penned stories because they’re multifaceted. Is X-Force a bunch of weirdoes doing equally weird stuff? Yeah, but it’s also about modern storytelling, celebrities, and capitalism. And the same goes for his latest book (alongside artist Artecida), Dogs of London. The solicitations describe it as a story of two men, Frank and Terry, as they grapple with their past in a ’60s London gang, hopping across “time and classes” for a “bloody tale of violence, love, and revenge.” And the cover — from artist Andy Clarke — takes that to the ultra-mega extreme with a bloody image that would perhaps be better served in a werewolf comic or one where alternate reality dog-men act as assassins. Regardless, it’s a powerful image that proves this story won’t spare you from some pretty emotionally damaging tidbits, and may in fact wish you only had to contend with Scruffles the Murder Pup over here.

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