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.
DC vs. Vampires: Hunters #1
Cover by Jonboy Meyers
I think, perhaps like a lot of people, Damian Wayne rubbed me the wrong way upon his introduction some 15 years ago. He was pompous and overbearing — just like daddy dearest in the absolute worst possible ways. But, as so many have discovered over the years, Damian is so much more complicated then that, and he’s undergone a kind of evolution-transformation to come off as someone who’s genuinely good and caring (but also still pompous and overbearing). The latest chance to see this more well-rounded Robin comes with this one-shoot from the ongoing, totes excellent DC vs. Vampires. Without spoiling too much, the series has been a way to not only further humanize Damian in some interesting ways but also to give him some motivation to become the hero-leading badass he’s always fancied himself as. And that truth is front and center on the cover, with the story and context informing a truly great image of Damian as a stoic badass ready to render vamp flesh and posit himself as a genuine savior type. It’s been a journey, but this cover feels like a genuine “he’s arrived” moment for The Son of The Bat.
Blood-Stained Teeth #2
Cover by Christian Ward
I’ve talked a lot in the past about the perspective and prowess of Christian Ward. Whether it’s on projects like Black Bolt or Invisible Kingdom, he’s always managed to create utterly bizarre, otherworldly landscapes that still permeate a sense of intense, almost gritty emotionality. And that’s been true even with just one issue of Blood-Stained Teeth, a story of an enterprising vampire who runs afoul of some powerful folks. (There’s a reason it’s been described as a “100 Bullets-style crime saga with fangs.”) Even Ward’s covers, like that for issue #2, are brimming with depth in color, tone, intent, etc. Few other artists can do something as simple — albeit a vampire boxer/cage fighter named Duke Ellis — and yet create something that’s so deeply visceral and yet all-together sort of magical. I’m both afraid and sort of delighted, and Ward’s work really excels in fostering this kind of awe-inspiring dissonance. Read this book or receive a haymaker from an immortal monster.
Pearl III #1
Cover by Michael Gaydos
We get the chance to preview a lot of great covers here, but the one for Pearl III #1 has felt like an extra cool “accomplishment.” On the one hand, it’s got a lot to do with the story, as we get another chapter of the “tattoo artist, Yakuza assassin romantic odyssey.” But it’s mostly the deeply amazing, entirely hand-painted art from Michael Gaydos. It’s the way that Gaydos creates the human form — something that feels as much indebted to the grit and glamour of modern comics as it does to, say, some kind of Renaissance painting. Or maybe it’s the composition, which screams ’40s-style pulp but with so much more depth and magic involved. Maybe it’s just that deeply gorgeous choice of pink that’s so dang appealing. Either way, this cover should pull you in and have you wasting precious working hours enjoying its many gorgeous layers. If your boss has a problem, tell them to talk to us.
Cover by Jesus Saiz
You don’t expect a ton of metaphors or symbolism when dealing with Punisher. No, Frank Castle tends to deal in realities and truths more harsh and blunt than a baton used to beat up some ne’er-do-well. But that’s what makes this cover to Punisher #3 so damn compelling. As we build this latest chapter of Castle — in which he’s transforming The Hand into his personal peacekeeping-style army — we delve back into the story of Frank’s first kill as a kind of deeper insight into the so-called “Way of the Punisher.” This child is clearly Frank (right?!), and seeing such rage and emotional isolation at such a young age is both hugely on brand and yet still nonetheless disheartening. But to see a dash of child-like wonder with the Captain America mask just makes this tale all the more upsetting and informative. Writer Jason Aaron will likely bring it home with the narrative proper, but this cover (from series artist Jesus Saiz) is a snapshot that speaks literal volumes about Punisher’s weird and multifaceted canon.
Land Of The Living Gods #4
Cover by Santtos
The first issue of Land Of The Living Gods caught my eye way back in February. That first cover was exciting enough, and once I actually read this emotional, spiritually-poignant dystopian tale (that’s as uplifting as it is utterly depressing), I saw that this could be a standout for sure. Until I made a big ol’ idiot’s mistake and forgot to read issues #2 and #3. But thankfully the cover to #4 is here to remind me what’s up, and it feels like such a perfect spot to hop back into the fold. Because this one image demonstrates so much about what’s great about this book. Whether that’s the DIY cyberpunk aesthetic of the machines; the mystery and intense imagery at the series’ beating heart; or just how alive it all feels with the color and line work, this cover burrows into your heart. Once it’s there, you could ignore it, but it probably makes more sense to read the story proper (and not be an giant-sized dum-dum like yours truly).
Cover by Juan Doe
I get that a company like Vault is known for innovating in the horror comics space. But you can’t forget the contributions of AfterShock Comics, which includes titles like God of Tremors, Bunny Mask, and I Breathed A Body. Now that spooky list includes Spectro, a one-shot collection of four tales from artist-writer Juan Doe. Somehow, in an issue with stories about sentient technology, a cabal of planets, and madness at the International Space Station, I am most excited about Doe’s own cover. Could it apply to almost all of these stories? Sure, it’s that brilliant and spooky. Does it give me real vibes of The Twilight Zone (if you watched while on mescaline?) Oh yeah. Am I afraid for my life and yet also once again deeply invested in what this image ultimately means? You know it! Call whichever publisher you want the new-ish lords of horror; I’ll be over here shaking and shimmering in terror amid 100-degree days.
Batman: Beyond the White Knight #3
Variant Cover by Sean Murphy
I can’t speak for everyone, but so far I’ve enjoyed Batman: Beyond the White Knight. The first series, from 2017-2018, was a great twist on the usual Bat Family story/dynamic. And even Batman: Curse of the White Knight was entertaining, and another powerful way to recontextualize familiar characters. Much of those same ideas have carried into the first two issues of Beyond, and by the time we get to issue #3, we’re looking for some big payoff, especially as it pertains to Terry McGinnis and his hunt for the truth. But while the story gets a lot of attention (both good and bad), I think it’s easy to agree that Sean Murphy’s art is usually top-notch. That includes this variant cover starring Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon — where else can you get such a powerful bit of character development (as well as a reminder of the essential goodness of Babs) in one singular image? Plus, it says so much about the look and feel of the book in general, and how humor and heart are at the middle of the entire “Murphyverse.”
Spider-Man 2099: Exodus #1
Cover by Ryan Stegman
I’m old enough to recall the sort of headrush of goodness that came with the entire 2099 line. Was it meant as a way to explore the essence of these characters outside of their standard narrative framework and cultural backdrop? Sure sure. Did it also wind up just being a super dope way to scratch an itch for really ’90s sci-fi? Oh heck yes. So I’m glad we’re expanding the roster with the introduction of The Winter Soldier of 2099. Do I think he looks like the love-child of Jonothon “Chamber” Starsmore, a gimp, a clown, and the OG Winter Solider? Sure, but I mean that in the absolute best way possible. Because these stories are all about getting a little weird and wild with characters’ designs, stories, general motivations, etc. — and just the mere look of WS2099 checks all those boxes. And if you really need a hit of standard 2099 goodness, just look at the extra sharp Spider-Man 2099, complete with a more balanced color design. The future is here, folks, and it’s bonkers.
Ice Cream Man #30
Cover by Martin Morazzo
The last 29 issues of Ice Cream Man have been deeply terrifying. But hear me loud and clear: this is perhaps the most terrifying cover of them all. Yes, there have been covers featuring human-cockroach hybrids; demonic advent calendars; a ghost instructional guide (?); psychedelic monsters; and, yes, the perpetually unsettling smile of the titular foodservice worker. But this one has none of the obvious sources of pure terror, and we’re left to basically fill in the blanks all on our own. Does the shape of the maze mean something at all? Is that white mouse actually the Ice Cream Man? What exactly is the “prize” for solving the maze (if said feat is possible, that is)? And does that logo mean Image Comics actually organizes animal testing somehow? There are no answers, of course, and all there is to be had is a giant cheese wheel of terror, anxiety, and general unease. Enjoy.
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