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.
Cover by Geoff Shaw, John J. Hill, and Dee Cunniffe
Crossover is a funny series. (If you find general existential unease and unending mindfuckery at all amusing.) Because it’s spent the last year being generally amazing, with a powerful story that both celebrates and dissects comics at-large, and yet I don’t think it gets nearly enough hype among conversations of fans — unless I’m on the wrong end of comics Twitter. But then they go ahead and bust out a slick cover like this, and a larger segment of readers are reminded of what they’re likely missing out on. On paper, the whole referential, hugely meta shtick should be old hat by now, but Geoff Shaw, John J. Hill, and Dee Cunniffe manage to keep things fresh. Maybe it’s what kind of history they’ve referenced here; the injection of new ideas and boundless emotion; and even the over tension with all that deep, dark red — either way, it speaks volumes about the cleverness and intensity of this book. Now, go read it before they have to get super crazy with the next cover.
Suicide Squad: Get Joker! #3
Cover by Alex Maleev
Speaking of books that people aren’t reading as much, it’s the brain-child of comics smarties Brian Azzarello and Alex Maleev. In the sake of transparency, there’s a solid reason this one hasn’t been flying off the shelf: issue #2 came out all the way in September 2021. Luckily, after some unclear delays, the team roars back with the third and final issue, and boy howdy, is it a real doozy. (If you forgot what happened in the previous two issues, the Suicide Squad of Red Hood, Harley Quinn, Firefly, and others have to track down the Joker — and the end result is a thrill-ride of spills, abrupt turns, and chills galore.) Issue #3’s cover speaks volumes about how things appear to be going for our “heroes,” but there’s something more here. The fact that it’s Jason Todd-Joker yet again makes this an all the more powerful example of not only great storytelling but also a truly effective way to foster a head rush of nostalgia. What a way to stick the landing in terms of a final dash of hype — no matter how much time it took.
Hulk vs. Thor: Banner of War Alpha #1
Cover by Gary Frank
The aforementioned Crossover is Donny Cates’ opportunity to play with all his most favorite toys in the grand scheme of comics. But now he gets to do the same over at Marvel, as he (alongside artist Martín Cóccolo) launch the five-part crossover event Banner of War. Despite some “massive changes” undergone by both heroes, we get to revisit the core of their relationship: their “heated rivalry” that’s resulted in some pretty gnarly brawls over their shared 60-year histories. As far as trying to tackle the seemingly impossible task of presenting an oh-so important debut cover, artist Gary Frank has done a powerful job by keeping it very simple. And by simple, I mean presenting an image that cuts to the core of both characters both aesthetically and in terms of their approaches to life and battle. (Yes, it’s subtle, but you can tell a lot about both heroes based on this one “interaction.”) If you don’t see this cover and instantly feel a head rush of retro-leaning goodness, recalibrate your imagination engine pronto.
Eight Billion Genies #1
Cover by Ryan Browne
If you see a story — be it comics or a novel — with Charles Soule’s name, you’d be wise to pick it up. And this one on paper seems like it could be a real winner: at one instance, all 8 billion people on Planet Earth receive a genie and one wish — and we get to watch as things get ultra crazy shortly thereafter. But what I love about artist Ryan Browne’s cover is that it manages not necessarily to capture that narrative moment but what I imagine is the overall feel and dynamic of this book. Which is to say, a robust sense of playful, child-like energy — just peep that happy cartoon mascot/probable genie on the cover! — and that unshakable sense of reality and profound emotionality, as if something truly awful has happened and you just can’t place your finger on it. It’s hard to tell if the series can truly capture all of the angles of insanity its premise brags about, but at least the cover feels like a subtly powerful start.
Blood Syndicate: Season One #1
Variant Cover by ChrisCross
The return of Milestone Comics continues as writer Geoffrey Thorne and artists Juan Castro and ChrisCross resurrect tje Blood Syndicate. Unlike the more superpower-centric tales of Icon and Rocket, the story of Wise Son and Tech-9 (and the rest of the gang) operating within Paris Island lends itself to more relatable tales of simply making it through everyday life. And as Thorne told us in an interview — check that out early Tuesday morning — he’s trying to “remix” the story in a way that’s both approachable to new fans and still celebratory of the series’ roots. He’s helped in that mission thanks to the inclusion of original artist ChrisCross, who nails it with this excellent variant cover. Don’t read it into too much, but use it as a way to understand the Blood Syndicate story and aesthetic in one image. It’s like a reminder of the past and a simple yet effective demonstration of the Syndicate — a genuinely great teaser for the next wild chapter.
Transformers: Last Bot Standing #1
Cover by Nick Roche
If it’s not Beast Wars, I don’t put much stock into much else of the Transformers franchise. (Great toys all around, though.) But this new series from writer-cover artist Nick Roche, artist E.J. Su, colorist Rebecca Nalty, and colorist Josh Burcham grabbed my attention pretty viscerally. In a story supposedly about the last Cybertronian, we get to visit the far-off plant of Donnokt, meet the mysterious “Visitor,” and touch on perhaps the final chapter of the war for Cybertron (or is it?) And the cover from Roche expertly captures a heart-breaking sense of isolation and loneliness, deeply human ideas that are often attached to the series at-large but don’t routinely land in the same way as those other titles/stories. I get some real zombie-movie-meets-samurai-flick vibes here, and if we can even hint at that scope in the story proper, then this could be a great addition to Transformers in general. What exactly do you transform into if you’re the loneliest robot in the universe?
Jenny Zero II #1
Cover by Magenta King and DAM
The first arc/volume of Jenny Zero remains criminally underrated. The black sheep daughter of the world’s most bad-ass, kaiju-battling mega hero is forced to put her own shortcomings and issues aside and take up the family business. It was a profound story about being a loser and forging your own path, with dope fights and great character development alike. And with volume No. 2, we’re likely to get more of the same, plus a “Kaiju Death Cult…and a giant burger mascot.” But it’s the cover that has me most excited, a brilliant snapshot of not only the powerful look and feel of this book but what makes it such a joy to read. As Jenny returns to Japan, she’s made to feel like a monster and a criminal, and that single image captures and builds on a lot of the story threads and other tidbits that grew across volume No. 1. Jenny looks not only to be in some really dire straits, but also ready to expand her narrative in some weird and wild ways. Bring on the giant monsters (and even bigger human drama)!
The Ocean Will Take Us #2
Cover by Carlos Olivares and Manuel Puppo
I don’t do the deep ocean very well. There’s demons and monsters down there that we were never meant to contend with. (Like this fella, for instance.) So if you’re going to make a horror series about fiends of the sea, The Ocean Will Take Us seems like a pretty solid choice. The brain-child of writer Rich Douek and artist Carlos Olivares, it’s about a group of teens who find some weirdness in the waters around their home (the awesomely-named Almanzar Bay) and must “band together to fight a growing evil in their school and town.” The cover to issue #2 checks the boxes for a proper horror story: Stranger Things vibes (for sure); a great cross-section of teens (I can hardly tell who may die and/or be eaten); and, of course, an extra ferocious denizen of the deep to scare and/or entice. It might be a little hokey in terms of its aquatic premise, but the cover shows a bit of fun and playfulness that should help offset some of that. I can’t wait to dive into this one — just not too deep, of course.
Jurassic League #1
Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer
I remember, some years ago, talking comics with someone. They loved Marvel, and thought my adoration of DC was silly given their deliberately hokey tendencies in storytelling. Well, if only we knew what was coming. Sure, in theory, the very notion of Jurassic League would make me keenly aware of just how bizarre some of DC’s editorial tendencies can often skew. But just peep this cover from writer-artist Daniel Warren Johnson and colorist Mike Spicer, and just try to contain your pure joy and tenuous grasp on reality. Because it’s not just dinosaur Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman (which is plenty) — it’s a Dark Knight allosaurus with bone weapons; blue brachiosaurus Supes (feel free to correct that species, experts) rocking a fuzzy cape; and triceratops Diana with what I hope isn’t a turtle shell shield. And if anyone can nail that mix of silliness and still provide something of substance, it’s Johnson. Sure, maybe DC is “less serious” than Marvel (although I’d point to Savage Avengers as being equally silly and ridiculous), but if it gets us more covers like this, I say let’s get even weirder,
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