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 Bruno Redondo
Issue #94 feels like it’s going to be a landmark entry in an already excellent series that’s done some great things for the character of Nightwing and comics storytelling in general. (And it’s a high point that Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo have been working toward this whole time.) There’s the promise of a new police commissioner, more shenanigans from Blockbuster, added family drama with Dick’s half-sister, Melinda Zucco, and an ever-rising confrontation with the Bludhaven P.D. Given all of that rising action and tension, you couldn’t do much better than this cover by Redondo. Nightwing’s whole shtick, way back to his first solo run from Chuck Dixon, has been one man against the madness of the ‘Haven. Here, we get to see a more literal representation of that dynamic, and rather than be rightly afraid of a city-sized human ready to consume any earth-bound, extra noble heroes, Nightwing leaps into action as sure of himself as ever. No matter what happens in the pages (and it’s pretty great), the cover alone assures you that big things are a happenin’.
Do a Powerbomb #2
Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson
The fact that issue #1 of Do a Powerbomb was a big success (especially in this writer’s heart) was based on the simple fact that comics + wrestling will always be a winning formula — like free + tacos. But artist-writer Daniel Warren Johnson didn’t rest on those, um, lofty laurels, and the book has already set up a powerful and poignant story that used the drama of pro rasslin’ to explore the powerful tentpoles of family and legacy. And it appears that this will continue on in a big way as we make our way into issue #2, in which our hero, Lona Steelrose, is set for a little interdimensional grappling. Is the mere idea of a wrestling match in some weird magical volcano-scape appealing? Yes. Yet somehow, the humanity is the biggest draw here, and we can feel Steelrose fighting with every ounce of heart in a moment that speaks volumes about the scope and skill of this still burgeoning series. Forget the powerbomb; this book has already given my mere sensibilities a Death Rider through a glass table.
Rogues’ Gallery #1
Cover by Declan Shalvey
There’s a lot of little hooks to this new Image Comics series. (And none of them are that mostly catchy title). Like how it’s written by rising actress Hannah Rose May (Ballers). Or, that it features art from Justin Mason and covers from Declan Shalvey and Tula Lotay. And, of course, the plot itself, in which a “disenfranchised TV superhero” is “terrorized by an unhinged group of intruders cosplaying her day job’s archvillains” (aka “The Purge meets Scream“). But perhaps the biggest hook thus far is the cover from Shalvey. Here, we get a proper balance of gritty indie comics with a heaping helping of robust superhero playfulness. The end result is both compelling and unsettling, as it expertly dissects our hero-worshipping culture and shared penchant for societal violence in one pretty stark image. (Plus, is anyone else getting some subtle Mad Max-ian vibes with that costume?!) it should be a bloody good time no matter what gets you on board.
A.X.E.: Judgment Day #1
Cover Mark Brooks
When I was a wee boy (and even not so wee), I’d pit all my toys (Batman, Spider-Man, Swat Kats, etc.) against one another in an epic battle. That’s sort of what’s set to happen in the upcoming Judgment Day event, as the revelation of the mutant resurrection protocols whips up the Avengers, the X-Men, and the Eternals in a battle that will irrevocably alter the Marvel Universe. Sure, that kind of event isn’t exactly new or novel, but the way it’s all been set up in various titles/stories thus far means that this could be a genuine barn-burner. And this cover to issue #1 only further supports that thesis. Yes, it’s got the big budget, MCU-style pomp and circumstance. But I’d also like to point out the selection of representatives (including a little love for Makkari); a stellar choice of fonts; and even a solid mix of designs that seemingly reflect a little of the old- and new-school. I can’t wait till these toys get unleashed and wreck all sorts of joyous havoc.
The Lonesome Hunters #2
Cover by Tyler Crook
I mused for a bit on last month’s debut issue of The Lonesome Hunters. Even before an interesting little book about two lost souls fighting ancient evils, writer-artist Tyler Crook’s first cover was compelling with its minimalism and overt sense of mystery. But as we enter into issue #2, things clearly aren’t quite as nuanced and/or deliberately nebulous, as our not-so-valiant monster hunter is getting a beatdown from the magical monster magpie from the last issue. In a way, I’m a little torn. I loved that the debut cover hinted at a lot of subtle story bits and influences in a really smart way. At the same time, though, the narrative has to get going at some point, and this cover really does show that things are about to get pretty harrowing for Lupe and her brand-new mentor. I think if absolutely nothing else, all this just proves that Crook is a skilled storyteller, and even his covers can help facilitate a lot of the rich magic and emotion in this tale.
She Bites #1
Cover by Alberto Hernandez Jr.
Dating back to Kirsten Dunst in Interview with the Vampire (and likely earlier, yeah?), kiddie vampires have been A Thing. And why shouldn’t it be?! Kids are already pretty intense on their own, and then you add in vampire lore and sharp fangs and it’s going to be all the more emotionally scarring and psychically addling. Still, She Bites does add a nice little spin, as a 134-year-old kid-pire hires a “babysitter” to let her finally do all the adult stuff that society simply won’t allow. So, expect a lot of humor and horror alike, even if this debut cover basically only shows a whole boatload of the latter. But even still, it isn’t just effective for the fanged logo or the absolutely dead eyes of aforementioned kid-pire. Yes, her shadow is terrifying, but it’s also very much adult-shaped, and that persistent notion (one of escaping her own confines for a simple life) feels like it could resonant huge with most audiences. Also, on the topic of Dunst, Little Women is a slam dunk of a film.
DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #1
Variant Cover by James Stokoe
And speaking of those nasty bloodsuckers, DC vs. Vampires continues to prove its immortal status as the “event” continues to build with yet another new entry. DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War follows the last human encampment in a vampire-ruled world, where John Constantine of all people leads a team that includes Mary Marvel, Deathstroke, and Booster Gold on a suicide mission to knock off an extra nasty mucky-muck in the vampire empire (vam-pire?) And I get that all this bloody vamp action may be enough already for some — even if this whole thing has been pretty satisfying and a solid demonstration that wacky horror is a strength of DC. (See their Halloween titles, for instance.) But if it gets us more covers like this James Stokoe variant, then I am all on board. Because it shouldn’t be all about blood-sucking, but great moments where parts of the DCU bash against each other in new and interesting ways. And a Constantine-Vampire Nightwing session screams all sorts of tense and compelling, especially if they actually end up playing chess.
Alien Annual #1
Cover by Salvador Larroca
I’ve remarked — often with jaw still on the floor — that Alien covers have been pretty impressive thus far. As someone who is meant to spend a lot of time blindly reacting to pretty pictures, the series has been a continued standout for its realistic, ultra gritty covers. But the annual seems to be a noticeable step up, as we delve into the story of Gabriel Cruz (a Weyland-Yutani security chief) as he goes toe-to-toe — these aliens have toes, yeah? — with a big bad Xenomorph. The action movie-centric cover works especially well, cutting through any narrative tidbits to really emphasize what has made this entire franchise so important (screaming muscular solider types battling demonic creatures from the depths of space). But it’s also worth noting that another standout part of this cover is that cover star Cruz (I assume) looks like a young William Shatner, and whether intended or not, it adds a whole new layer of storytelling awesomeness to this issue. And you thought Kirk had it rough with those Tribbles.
Cover by Nimit Malavia
I trust Christopher Cantwell. In the things I’ve read in interviews, and the actual issues themselves thus far, he’s clearly a big fan of Angel (and the whole Buffy-verse to boot). So, when I see this cover for the penultimate issue of Angel, I know that Cantwell (and artist Daniel Bayliss and cover artist Nimit Malavia) recognize one of the very best parts about this entire story: Angel vs. Spike. Across all the shows and comics, these friends-turned-foes-turned-pseudo-BFFs-turned-who-knows-what have always been a great way to explore ideas and emotions central to the entire franchise. So, seeing them duke it out here, even divorced from the context of this BOOM! title (Spike is still seemingly dealing with living up to Angel’s role as urban paladin), is always a thrilling event. It’s a singular image that cuts to the core of a lot of this beloved Angel/Buffy canon, and shows that a little friendly (or not so friendly) competition can speak a lot about ideas of humanity, redemption, and how we live in the world with others. Also, for the record, go Team Spike.
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