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 Kael Ngu
OK, I think it’s official: Chip Zdarsky is comics’ official coolest boy. Not only did he recently take the reins of Batman (with the truly great issue #125), but he, alongside artist Marco Checchetto, are now set to return to Daredevil. And what better way to celebrate another chapter of their excellent story — with Matt Murdock sorting things out in the aftermath of Devil’s Reign — than with a boatload of cover options. There’s, of course, Checchetto’s own highly dramatic entry. There’s also old-school action from Eric M. Gist; this extra slice of brooding darkness from Gabriele Dell’Otto; a little on-the-nose artistry from Kyle Hotz; and, what is likely a crowning achievement in Daredevil comics, this undeniably adorable slice of pure goodness. Yet the nod goes to the variant from Kael Ngu, who places the emphasis firmly on DD and Elektra with this simple but hugely effective action shot that captures what’s been great about this run. Enjoy your time on top, Zdarsky.
Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League – Superman #1
Cover by Chris Burnham
Without spoiling too much of the ongoing Dark Crisis event, things aren’t going so hot for most of our beloved DC heroes. That said, there’s a small sliver of hope with Dark Crisis: Worlds Without a Justice League, a series of character-centric stories that look at “a world of dreams he [in this case, Superman] would never have thought possible while alive.” (So, it’s like getting to watch the last thing that crosses our heroes’ minds before the lights shut off forever — aren’t comics just neat?!) And what better way to prove he’s truly Super, Man, then as Clark Kent gets to imagine having those years back with his son Jon, as the two spend their time saving the day — and not even pretending like their foes would have ever stood a chance. Knowing what we know, it makes this cover all the more intense and depressing. But without all that context, it feels like a somehow touching moment between father and son and a display of the purity at the heart of the Superman Family. Trying to have it both ways, then, is the kind of personal hell that this whole event is trying to foster — and what a feeling it is indeed.
Impact Winter #1
Cover by Matt Hollingsworth and Stephen Green
I’m not one for podcasts — if I’m going to listen to anything, it’s post-punk playlists and this song 1,000 times in a row. Luckily, Image Comics mostly has my back, as they’re launching a 40-page prequel comic to Impact Winter, a reportedly beloved Audible Original series about a world plagued by vampires and a perpetual winter (caused by an errant comet and not our own idiocy, FYI). And, sure, some folks might like not having to read in order to experience a good story, but I’d argue that comics have been doing that longer and better than podcasts ever have. Plus, where else will you get a sweet collabo like the one from Matt Hollingsworth and Stephen Green, which includes this epic cover. It’s got that vaguely indie, vaguely manga vibe that only Image can do well. Plus, all the monsters feel like they’re the sires of some hellacious beasts from a lost Mike Mignola project. And, of course, how can you ever go wrong with a big sword? Listening is cool, but it’s not nearly as good as stoking both your sense of fear and excitement as this A-1 cover.
Justice Warriors #2
Cover by Ben Clarkson
I spoke last month about the early promise showed by Justice Warriors. Creators Matt Bors and Ben Clarkson found a perfect place in AHOY, and they’ve been able to set up a story that’s silly and irreverent while also smacking you in the jaw with some great social commentary. It’s a book that, thus far, is happy to approach issues like human justice and immigration while also portraying one of its important characters as a sentient dookie — the sort of bravery all books could use more of. It appears as if that’s going to continue on at least into the cover of issue #2, which doubles down on both the big-time action movie influences, the absurdist humor, and the clear undertone of poignant social commentary. But it’s all quite subtle, and it’s easy to think this is either a dumb book taking itself too seriously or a serious book trying to be more playful. And in that space, this book really flourishes. Seriously, though, Dookie Cop.
The Brother of All Men #1
Cover by Eoin Marron and Mark Englert
(Editor’s Note for 7/11: Issue #1 has been bumped back to 7/20)
There’s clearly been a mega horror revival in comics over the last few years. And you can likely make the same argument for gritty noir (although it feels like that genre/trope has been a bigger presence for some time longer). But it’s also worth nothing that the combination horror-noir title has also been a thing for a minute — there’s just something about spooky vibes and mystery tales that work so brilliantly together. I would say that The Brother of All Men, from Zac Thompson and Eoin Marron, is another entry into that aforementioned canon, but looking at the cover to #1, it feels more special than its core plot of “troubled guy rescues his brother from a cult.” It’s in that slightly timeless quality; the stark use of colors that are both depressive and compelling; the imagery that feels terrifying without feeling entirely horror-adjacent; and even that sharp choice of text. It’s giving me a sense of unease while stripping away a basic sense of geography, and that combination feels utterly enthralling.
Flavor Girls #1
Cover by Loic Locatelli-Kournwsky
As someone who came of age in the early to mid-90s, superhero teams are an essential part of how I view the world. So I was more than delighted to see the artist-writer Loic Locatelli-Kournwsky (alongside colorist Eros de Santiago) had chosen to create their own such super squad with Flavor Girls. But this story, about the “Sacred Fruit Guardians of Earth” fending off alien foes, doesn’t just feel like it could be Captain Planet meets Sailor Moon (though that feat would certainly be enough to draw our attention). I love that there’s other influences here, with a heavy feel of Adventure Time and a random Hayao Miyazaki film. Or the subtle influences of some slightly nebulous ancient mythologies, which lends both a timelessness as well as some heftier subtext. It’s even in just how every one of the girls’ costumes feels different and reflective of who they likely are while uniting around certain themes/decisions. You go, girls.
Cover by Sam Wolfe Connelly
Joshua Williamson may be the mastermind behind Dark Crisis, but he’s also been putting in work with the recent Rogues title. This neo-noir Dark Label offering turns the Flash’s Rogues gallery into a more menacing Ocean’s Eleven, as they try to steal from Gorilla Grodd and the denizens of Gorilla City. It’s been an interesting way thus far to help reevaluate and recontextualize the Rogues, especially in terms of Captain Cold and the role he plays as a kind of unfortunate figurehead for these sad sacks. But if the book has done nothing else across its three issues, it’s certainly remade Grodd in this writer’s mind. Because, while “telepathic terrorist gorilla: should be a slam dunk, Grodd’s treatment has always felt mostly uneven. Here, though, he’s like a gnarly Tony Montana, and he looks and feels like a true and proper threat in this sleek, sexy golden-yellow cover. Has he always been a threat? Sure, but here it just feels genuine while also being all the more appealing. The clothes make the man, and the pinstripe suit and slick gold chains also clearly make the monkey.
X-Men: Hellfire Gala #1
Variant Cover by Nick Dragotta
I have a confession: I don’t really know how to feel about the Hellfire Gala. Is the whole shtick cool? Yes, it brought in celebs, which does provide a sense of legitimacy and an air of hipness. Plus, it’s a new way to examine these characters and also invite in some new readers who don’t come from a “traditional” superhero comics background. At the same time, though, I don’t always see how this whole Krakoa era would lead to “high-end fashion/dinner party,” while still welcoming the idea that I’m totally out of touch. Still, it’s variant covers like this one from Nick Dragotta that make me glad they’re throwing a party. Does it capture all the playfulness and allure that Hellfire is meant to? Heck yes. But it also feels really in line with the comics proper, including the perfectly-sized Wolverine depiction to the endless romance rolling off his dance number with Jean Grey. It feels like the best of both worlds here, and something that could only be possible in the Krakoan era. Plus, any excuse to put Wolvey in a suit, yeah?
7174 Presents #1
Cover by Ashley Wood
If you’re a regular reader of this column/feature, you know I try and provide an expansive look at comics. It’s not all superhero space battles or hilarious indie titles here; it’s all about celebrating great art however it may be featured. And so 7174 Presents #1 feels like a proper inclusion into our coverage, as the book features art from Ashley Wood that’s intended to “captivate, titillate, and motivate.” I’m not sure what sort of offerings will actually be inside the 48-page showcase, but Wood’s cover is still pretty interesting in its own eight. A simple doodle of flowers still feels decidedly sensuous, and his line work is really powerful in what it both presents and what it instead opts to de-emphasize. The end result has both a rich familiarity and an otherworldly quality — not so much alien or supernatural, but this unshakable sense there’s more here than just gorgeous flowers. If this ain’t great art, then I don’t know what is.
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