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.
The Amazing Spider-Man #3
Cover by John Romita Jr.
Sometimes solicitations slap you in the face with teaser materials and the promise of something grand. In the case of The Amazing Spider-Man #3, the team thought less is clearly more as they promised that, since it’s actually LGY #897, we should start expecting something significant “RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER!” But what if such wondrous things are already here?!?!? (See, even if I don’t use all caps, I can also be overly dramatic.) Case in point: the actual cover to issue #3, in which Tombstone renders Spidey’s mask in a way that has me feeling both wildly uncomfortable and hugely intrigued. Sure, I’ve made no secret my penchant for beating up Spidey as a form of character development, but this cover still feels really novel. Maybe it’s the way the mask tears, or the unassuming posing of Tombstone’s gorilla mitts (or likely a wonderful combination bashing my subconscious). Either way, all of this together proves that you don’t need much to build toward something — just a bit of blood, a cloth mask, and a shark-toothed gangster.
DC Pride 2022 #1
Variant Cover by Joshua Sway
DC’s holiday-centric variant covers are some of my favorite things of the year. Now, Pride may not provide the same kind of effervescent mix of joy and strangeness as the publisher’s offerings for Halloween and Christmas, but it’s still an opportunity for fun. If anything, the sheer name of queer DC characters/heroes means the creators have some great material to work with in showcasing Pride in an organic and exciting way. Only problem is, whereas there’s heaps of amazing Pride-themed variants across the line, the actual DC Pride 2022 #1 anthology is pretty barren (aside from this adorable and amazing Jen Bartel cover). Luckily, it has this dope wraparound cover that showcases just some of DC’s queer characters. More than that, they each get their own chance to pose and show off while maintaining some sense of unity and cohesion, like a movie poster where every A-lister gets to be in front. It’s a little thing, but having something that is both compelling to consume and also still representative of Pride feels like a great thing all around. My only complaint is only Nubia and Jo Mullein opted to that classic Charlie’s Angels pose.
Cover by Gary Frank and Brad Anderson
If you haven’t been paying attention (and why wouldn’t you?), there’s a big crossover battle royal happening across both Thor and Hulk. The amazingly-titled “Banner of War” isn’t just a grand old celebration for the titans’ shared 60th anniversary (or a way for writer Donny Cates to streamline his writing duties); it’s thus far been an effective way to explore the fundamental similarities between the two juggernauts. The whole event is about delving not only into how they’ve always been rivals (one might say frenemies?) but how that dynamic has shifted as both have undergone some pretty radical changes that align in more ways that you’d might expect. And so this cover to Thor #26 feels like an especially powerful declaration and not just a “wow, how dope” moment. Is that a Hulk becoming more Thor-esque, or vice versa? And that’s a mostly silly distinction, but it also speaks to how alike they are, and how that resulting tension makes for a really powerful story that lets us understand these heroes in new and interesting ways. And, for what it’s worth, long hair looks amazing on Hulk.
Dark Crisis #1
Variant Cover by Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and Dave McCaig
Perhaps I’ve overhyped this a few times, but it’s finally, actually, truly here: Dark Crisis. The latest in DC’s history of universe-altering events, this new catastrophe finds a world without a Justice League as a primordial evil threats to consume the entire universe. And what better way to truly commemorate a genuine blockbuster summer event than with a slew of variant covers? (And, of course, the mostly great, albeit straightforward cover from Daniel Sampere.) There’s this majestic, Bat Family-centric cover from Bruno Redondo; a dash of retro goodness from this Jim Lee “homage” cover; the always reliable threat of Darkseid from Gabriele Dell’Otto; and Tyler Kirkham’s poignant, impactful tribute to George Perez. But for this writer’s money, you can’t go wrong with the variant from Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion, and Dave McCaig. If this whole event is about the looming threat of the Great Darkness, there’s something extra powerful about Superman himself being swallowed by infinite sadness. It feels like both past and future being consumed, and it makes for an image that unfolds slowly in terms of how much it may unsettle the reader/viewer.
Star Wars Tales: Krrsantan #1
Cover by Salvador Larroca
I’ll admit that I’m not the best Star Wars fan. I love the original trilogy; appreciate the prequels; and genuinely enjoyed all the “modern” films. (I also played 1,000 hours of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire on N64). So, even if The Book of Boba Fett is relatively recent, I still have no idea about Krrsantan — but I already love him dearly. Luckily, there’s a comic series about the Wookiee bounty hunter (didn’t know that was ever a thing but it makes total sense), and along the way he meets up and has adventures with legends like Obi-Wan Kenobi, Darth Vader, and Doctor Aphra (even I know who that is). Will this make me want to do a thing I hardly do — read a Star Wars comic? Yeah. Will it make me care more about this universe beyond the movies and maybe the possibility of binging the new Kenobi series? Maybe not. But I think this cover alone does something that all Star Wars titles should: look cool as heck, get you pumped AF, and let you decide just just how much you want to engage with this massive franchise. Because if there’s more “golden armor-wearing war bears” in a galaxy far, far away, I’m totes in.
Aquaman: Andromeda #1
Cover by Christian Ward
From book with shiny covers to something I’m earnestly excited for, Aquaman: Andromeda already feels like a highlight of the mostly-great (but occasionally weird and bloated) DC Black Label line. For one, it pairs two comics dynamos in Ram V and Christian Ward. And if that tag team wasn’t talented enough, the story itself is straight bonkers — a cosmic horror story (that takes place underwater!) about the famed Point Nemo, a possibly demonic artifact, and another epic clash between Aquaman and Black Manta. And if that’s all we had till now, it would be enough insanity and pure comics magic to appeal to even the most stoic reader. But we also have this Ward-penned cover, and it’s mix of biopunk aesthetic and otherworldly psychedelia already affirms that this book understood the assignment and then some. It’s not the most explosive cover, but then that’s the point: it wears its hallmarks with confidence, and if you’re willing to sit with this cover for a few minutes, you’ll know everything you’ll need to beforehand. Surf’s up, dweebs.
The Ward #1
Cover by Andres Ponce and Franco Riesco
I recall watching a lot of ER when I was a kid. There’s a lot of reasons one might want to watch a medical procedure at the age of 8-9: an interest in the family business (my mom and aunts were all in the medical sector); a curiosity about the intricacies of human drama (and blood loss); and George Clooney. But mostly I liked the series because it was both dreadfully series and also stupid and silly, and I’m getting the same vibes from The Ward. It’s basically a high-fantasy take on medical shows — like Chicago Med meets Lord of the Rings (or Bright but with doctors/nurses and not being absolute trash). I love the cover of #1, and how it seems to feel both perfectly melodramatic and also funny in a way — like why is an orc a security guard and not, like, just an orc? It seems somewhat intense and serious without forgetting how asinine the premise is, and that dichotomy is something I wish more series could nail just in one piece of art. I’ll be reading this one stat.
Justice Warriors #1
Cover by Ben Clarkson
Dark, utterly absurd satire is mostly the M.O. of AHOY Comics by now. But Justice Warriors feels like a real step up, and in a slightly unexpected way to boot. Could I tell you all about the story itself, which involves a city-in-a-bubble and a police force that “protects” against the threat of mutants? Sure, but mostly cause I already did. Or what about how it’s not only a powerful commentary on our modern times but also ideas of inclusion, humanity, and acceptance in general? Yeah, but again, I mostly did that already. What I really want to tell you, though, is everything you need to know is right there on the cover to issue #1. That includes the confrontational tone (that’s still AHOY-approved levels of silly); the balance of violence and genuinely compelling aesthetics (intended to mess with the reader’s mind and sensibilities); and the ceaseless admission of toilet humor (in this case, seemingly literal instances of toilet-related humor). The end result is both captivating and unsettling, weird and all too familiar. In other words, what AHOY does better than most other publishers.
Astronaut Down #1
Cover by Rubine
Like most nerd-adjacent folks, the idea of space intrigues me. But as someone who was born 13 days after the Challenger explosion, I feel like I’ve always been somewhat aware of the dangers of leaving our planet for the icy, indifference of literally the rest of the universe. Which is why I’m really intrigued by the cover for issue #1 of Astronaut Down. In the book, Douglas Sptizer, a brave and just astronaut in the mold of Buzz Aldrin, wants to be a member of Mission Politzer, where he and a crew will be “launched into alternate realities on a desperate mission to save Earth from a horrific crisis that has our world on the brink of extinction.” Just such a mission makes sense why there’d be so much physics-based weirdness and robust emotional and physical suffering. But it’s also so deeply beautiful, and whether it’s that perfect purple color or the sheer look of determination of Sptizer’s face, you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the sheer magic of the (mostly dire) situation. It feels honest and yet hopeful about our overarching relationship with space and the promise of new horizons, and more series should find that razor-sharp balance (and use of whatever purple that is, too).
Variant Cover by Filya Bratukhin
As a rule, I always stick with nine entries. Eight isn’t wide enough of a net to cast each week, and 10 just feels derivative of other list-centric features. (The fact that I care about this stuff hopefully means something to you, dear reader.) But I had to make an exception for perhaps the greatest cover I’ve ever seen, and I mean that quite literally. Filya Bratukhin’s work is nothing short of breathtaking, as if he’s packed all of Batman’s story and canon and history in one dynamic instance. I am both astounded at the sheer attention to detail and the sheer scope of the image — it’s very nature commenting on Batman’s own obsessions. I love the way that Bats feels small and very human amid the monster he’s built; the little touches of humanity and the way nature maintains a firm presence; and even just all the amazing robots, as if a child made this (or someone with comparable whimsy). In short, I could — and will — spend hours looking this over, and it’s both affirmed my love of Batman and shown me all sorts of new ideas and insights into the character. Bravo.
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