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.
Variant Cover by David Talaski
Since Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo jumped on Nightwing with issue #78, a lot has happened to one Dick Grayson. That includes losing friends and family, becoming a billionaire, res-sparking some romances, mentoring a superpowered half-alien, and the usual deluge of other, unclassifiable superhero shenanigans. And the creative team have made the story not only intriguing and fun (not to mention well structured), but they always manage to have heaps of fun with Grayson — even as he’s facing a certain demise. That continues into the this variant cover for issue #92, which shows Nightwing finding a little time for some personal meditation/yoga while playing with DC’s best pupper (sorry, Ace!) Does this have anything to do with the story in issue #92? Not really, no. But it shows that Dick is, above anything else, a human being, and one who tries to have some kind of proper work-life balance. That little dash of joy speaks volumes about the heart of this book, and why it’s been such a powerful series of development for the character. Also, a fresh reminder to stretch before any kind of physical exertion is always a good thing.
Cover by Esad Ribic
In his long career as a galactic menace, Thanos’ treatment has sometimes been uneven. But even if he’s not always some unstoppable, god-like monster, it’s genuinely accepted that he’s one bad mofo, and stepping up to him is likely going to end in trauma (of the physical and emotional variety). But of all the displays of his purple-hued prowess, the moment on the cover of Eternals #12 feels especially important. That could have something to do with the fact that this is the Eternals’ end (at least as we’re leading into Judgment Day). Or that he’s in a literal pile of his fellow celestial heavyweights — although that sort of image isn’t exactly new in Thanos’ rich canon. No, I think it has everything to do with his face, and that new level of savagery and intensity. For a guy who basically always wants to commit genocide on a universal scale, his face here does away with the distance he invokes and his, um, cool-headed approach to mass murder. And when that visage crumbles, we really see just how ungodly Thanos is as a big bad.
Shadow War Zone #1
Variant Cover by Howard Porter
Had enough of Shadow War yet? Well, if the answer is a mostly resounding “No,” then you’re in luck. The one-shot special promises to showcase the “spread and impact of the Shadow War on the DCU,” with tales about Black Canary, Luke Fox, a new villain named Angle Breaker, and more goodness from the always entertaining Ghost-Maker. But more than all the thrills, chills, and spills (?) packed within this issue, the real takeaway here is this amazing Howard Porter variant cover. If you’re unaware or otherwise out of the know, it’s a sleek homage to the cover of 1981’s Uncanny X-Men #141, which just so happens to be a chapter in the famed “‘Days of Future Past” storyline. Is Porter trying to draw clear connotations to that iconic story? Maybe. Is it just a cool image to try and reference regardless of context? Yeah, that seems the most likely case. And could it possibly generate some heat and/or backlash? Yeah, but then that’s still mostly worth it. Any way you cut it, there’s really no way that this isn’t a really interesting choice for this mostly novel story.
Savage Avengers #1
Variant Cover by Kaare Andrews
Forget everything you know about Savage Avengers. OK, maybe not all of it — this is still a continuation on that weird and wonderful team/larger story, albeit with the promise of a new, “all-dangerous” lineup. That starts with Conan the Barbarian, who recruits a team as he deals with the futuristic threat of Deathlok. So, how does one commemorate the dawn of a new chapter for Savage Avengers? Well, some really great variant covers might do the trick. Mico Suayan has a real dope entry, with the spotlight on Weapon H and Anti-Venom for a simple, but effective bit of savagery. Or, this one from Rafael Albuquerque, which keeps the action right on Conan (and that’s always a great idea). Yet the clear winner is this variant from Kaare Andrews — not only does it show the whole team, but this simple image nonetheless gives us ample insight into their individual vibes as well as the larger team dynamic. That, and there’s a kind of playful energy throughout, and that weirdness is what makes this team work. Savage Avengers, assemble!
Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to Be Kin #1
Cover by Geof Darrow
Shaolin Cowboy is a rather unique series. And not just for the premise itself — rather, that whether you’ve read the book or not, you clearly have some kind of strong-ish reaction to the look and feel of the book (courtesy of mastermind Geof Darrow). It’s the sort of highly, detailed extremely otherworld mix of ideas and inspirations that invites the reader to consume every nook and cranny and vivid detail. Now, we’re going to have even more vivid art to consume as we enter “phase four of the SCU” with Shaolin Cowboy: Cruel to Be Kin, wherein our titular hero must test his parental Kung Fu by homeschooling. (Yes, as the series promises, this story of a “pandemic of unparalleled violence” is actually “torn from yesterday’s viral Twitter feeds.”) So where most parents deal with endless Zoom calls and bored, screaming kiddies, SC has to contend with monsters of the human and not-so-human variety, as evidenced by this especially vivid cover that feels especially gripping and confrontational (even for this series). The fact that it’s COVID-related really adds a new sheen of emotionality to the cover — not that it needed that to really leap off the page and smack you with a giant lizard’s tale. If this is just a preview, imagine what happens in the story proper?
The Wrong Earth: Purple #1
Cover by Jamal Igle
If you’re unaware, The Wrong Earth follows Dragonflyman, as he deals with the Freaky Friday-esque, dimension-swapping life event when he (a good-natured adventurer) switches places with a version of himself that “hunts criminal parasites like a lethal exterminator.” The series has been interesting enough, as its been a rather on-brand effort for AHOY Comics to explore the context of superheroism in its own funny, slightly irreverent way. The story expands further with a series of one shots, the latest of which posits a world perpetually trapped in the 1980s. (Like, the ’80s in American Psycho or the ’80s in a John Hughes movie?) The cover to issue #1, from co-creator Jamal Igle, raises some similarly pressing questions. Is that purple sax paladin a good guy or a big bad? Can we expect jokes about “Where’s the beef?” And what kind of hero is this Dragonflyman (aside from someone who will likely never have to replace his cassettes with CDs).
I Hate This Place #1
Cover by Artyom Topilin and Lee Loughridge
If you promise to appeal to fans of both Home Sick Pilots and Gideon Falls, you’ve got to be able to bring the editorial fire. And, so far at least, I Hate This Place seems to have the very elemental spark to possibly live up to its properly profound predecessors. The story — from Kyle Starks (Assassination Nation) and Artyom Topilin (Ice Cream Man) — follows Trudy and Gabby as they move into a house that’s basically a magnet for all kinds of supernatural horrors. And, based on the debut cover, there’s real promise to the starting lineup of monstrous talent. I love the tinge of body horror with what basically looks like intestine vines covering the house; the real folklore tinge of the house-sized horned monster approaching from the tree line; and even that soft waft of other weird properties a la Twin Peaks. All of that together could make for a great story — even if it can’t live up to the giant-sized hype.
Marvel’s Voices: Identity #1
Cover by Creees Hyunsung Lee
May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and that means we can expect more comic goodness honoring this community from the folks at Marvel. These Voices titles are usually a smorgasbord of talent, and this latest issue promises contributions from Jeremy Holt, Kei Zama, Pornsak Pichetshote, Emily Kim, Rickie Yagawa, and many more. The same goes for the actual roster of AAPI heroes, and we get perhaps the most dynamic screenshot with the Creees Hyunsung Lee. (I would not be mad if this team came together somehow, no matter how much story magic needed to be implemented.) These books are about cultural representation and opening much-needed doors in comics. But they’re done in a way to always honor comics and present them for what they really are: a place we can all come and play together in the name of transcendent art. But, seriously, let me know about ideas for Marvel’s hottest new team.
Cover by Jeff Dekal
Sometimes I can look at a cover and know instantly what I love (or even hate) about it. And then there’s covers like Catwoman #43, where I spend a few minutes going back and forth deciding what’s best about this cover (from the super talented Jeff Dekal). At first it was the vibes of grindhouse grit meets disco glamour permeating this entire piece. Then, it was the idea that for both Selina and Harley to matched their skates this perfectly, they 1,000% had to bring their own to the rink. Then, I got obsessed with the pearls, and the rich subtext that offers in the mighty Bat/Bat-Cat Canon. And, if only for a second, I even started to wonder what the two cats meant. But at the end of the day, all of this makes this a powerful cover — the comics equivalent of a Magic Eye poster where the true meaning is revealed the longer you stare intently. Covers like this make this feature a real treat to write, and why the best pieces aren’t always the most obvious.
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