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.
Moon Knight #14
Cover by Rachelle Rosenberg and Stephen Segovia
After a while of being behind (and feeling a little guilty about it), I’ve since caught up with this latest Moon Knight series. And just in time, too, as we get to one of my favorite parts of the whole MK canon: the Meeting of the Minds. That’s where we get all of Marc Spector’s personalities together in one “room,” and they work out whatever issue is on the table. (This time around, it’s more issues with those nasty vampires of the Structure.) And, sure, there’s been heaps of representation of the Meeting of the Minds already, but I love this depiction in a very special way. It not only shows the many nuanced personalities of Spector’s alters, but does so in a way that maintains some connection in a decidedly understated manner. Is the inclusion of the therapist’s couch a little too on the nose? No way — it feels like a very deliberate choice to play up Spector’s past, address the tone of the whole discussion, and even show some of the “significance” of the Mr. Knight alter. It’s simple, but it works damn well with MK — just like a lot of this series.
Batman: White Knight Presents – Red Hood #1
Cover by Sean Murphy
I get that maybe some folks haven’t really fallen in love with the whole White Knight story thus far. I’m not one of those — I’ve said before that, while each of the three or so titles aren’t equal in terms of worldbuilding and character development, it’s been a shot in the arm for the Bat Family. And that’s sort of double true for Jason Todd/Red Hood, who has become all the more sympathetic in some of his portrayals here — something that extends as Todd stars in this latest spin-off. Here, Mr. Todd gets the chance to play the Bruce Wayne role, taking on a young girl named Gan as they battle super-criminals terrorizing East Backport. Writer-artist-co-creator Sean Murphy’s always done a great job in teasing the core elements with his various covers, and this one especially feels like a real highlight. Movie poster vibe? Check. Dash of old-school magic with the vintage Batman and Robin? Double check. A recontextualization of the core narrative itself? Ah, triple check. (Not to mention a little Joker tease.) Maybe this ain’t your daddy’s Batman, but this cover proves that interesting things are happening across this daring new “universe.”
Survival Street #1
Variant Cover by Benjamin Dewey
In early June, we told you all about Survival Street. The series, from writer James Asmus and Jim Festante and artist Abylay Kussainov, is the love-child of Sesame Street, The A-Team, and whatever word you’d like to describe America’s current political, um, situation. And given that mix of childhood puppets, overt violence, and robust socio-political commentary, there were a few different directions for the series’ debut cover. Kussainov’s entry, for instance, captures most of the vital elements, creating this silly and unslightly collage of ideas and influences that nails the book’s core lesson: shit’s done gotten weird. But for this fella’s money, you have to give the nod to the variant from Benjamin Dewey. From a narrative standpoint, the split effect makes some sense, and shows a world before and after we’ve all collectively lost the plot. At the same time, though, there’s both an overt violence and robust whimsy across the whole piece, and it sends a clear message that everything is perhaps more complicated than we’d imagine, and thus a tad more interesting. Also, violet puppets are just “lolz” every time.
Transformers: Best of the Rarities #1
Cover by James Biggie
Anyone who has read this column with any regularity will know I’m a massive fan of Beast Wars. I think that specific saga is when the series really embraced how weird it can be (and that’s saying a lot), with things like Silverbolt and Inferno. But before things got crazy with the Fuzors, there was Soundwave, who turned not into a muscle car or a fighter jet but a micro cassette recorder. Do I think he’s the most obvious cover star for this anthology of hard-to-find Transformers stories curated by James Roberts? No, not particularly. Do I think it looks cool, with a real retro sheen? Yes, of course. But mostly I like the idea that, after having existed since G1, this feels like the singular moment when Soundwave gets to be both cool and decidedly useful. Maybe that’s a tad harsh, but in a series of robot gorillas and robot Lamborghinis, you only like Soundwave because he’s decidedly not hip, and that’s totally your prerogative.
X-Men: Red #5
Cover by Matt Wilson and Russell Dauterman
I get there’s a lot going on in the X-Men right now. As if the Krakoa saga wasn’t enough, now we’re getting into the whole A.X.E.: Judgement Day ordeal — and we haven’t even really mentioned the madness of Mars/Arrako that’s been going on X-Men: Red. But this is Judging by the Cover, after all, and I want to provide you a moment to, ya know, really appreciate the cover. The only thing you need to know for this one is that Cable is back as of issue #3, and he’s got a pretty dope new upgrade to his techno-organic arm. And, sure, a tertiary glance of this cover would indicate that Cable’s already been shuffled off this mortal coil, but that’s not what you need to focus on. Appreicate the starkness and detail of this piece from Matt Wilson and Russell Dauterman; the vivid colors and even more vivid message being transmitted; and even all that deeply goregous background work. This piece says one important thing about all X-centric titles: things are weird and dark, for sure, but they’re also as compelling and deliberate as they’ve ever been.
Harley Quinn #18
Cover by Jonboy Meyers
Over the years, Harley Quinn has been placed in a lot of weird situations. But for every misadventure with Task Force X, or kooky run in with Batman, the one throughline is been that she’s just weird enough herself to roll with the universe’s many unseen haymakers. But even with that in mind, “Harley in space” feels like a minor stretch. Does she look cool as hell in her customized spacesuit? For sure. And do I hope her trademark mallet has some pseudo-sci-fi adaptation to work in the vaccumm of space? You know it. But as she prepares to head into the wild blue yonder and clean up a mess at the JLA’s moon base, I’m struck more and more by the idea that Astronaut Harley isn’t all that weird after all. Because, as this cover proves more than anything else, it doesn’t take long for Harley to be in a situation before we, the readers, become acclimated to whatever insanity Dr. Quinn will face next. The only thing that might shock me now is if she encountered a Xenomorph, and even then it might feel normal before she could even get her mallet overhead.
Edge of Spider-Verse #1
Cover by Josemaria Casanovas
If you say anything that even sounds even remotely to “Spider-Verse,” you’re going to stir up a lot of feelings and nerdy energy among the young and old alike. But while we’re still a year or so away from a sequel to the beloved film, Marvel is satiating everyone’s need for family-friendly, deeply thoughtful Spider stories with Edge of Spider-Verse. Here, we get to meet “some of the most important characters in the future of the Spider-Verse,” and that includes Spider-Rex (that’s exactly what it sounds like), Arana, Spider-Laird (not sure what that sounds like and/or is — please enlighten!), and an old pal in Spider-Man Noir. Will this be the same as the film? Probably not. But based on this cover, the star-studded book — which features contributions from Dan Slott, Karla Pacheco, and Mark Bagley, among others — will achieve the same level of silliness and unabashed weirdness as said flick. It’s very clearly tailored to a more “regular” comics audience, but even a dash more seriousness is both in line with the canon and a nice little addition for this medium. One question remains: is Spider-Rex wearing a suit or is he colored red and blue like that?
DC vs. Vampires #8
Cover by Guillem March
When you’re talking about DC couples, you alway have to mention Batman and Catwoman. But you know what love affair doesn’t get nearly enough respect? Black Canary and Green Arrow. They’ve consistently been together for a real long time, and their playful back-and-forth has been the emotional core across a slew of projects/books. So, it only makes sense that the two would be paired together again in the extra bloody DC vs. Vampires. I won’t spoil where they’ve landed in the great superhero-vamp war , but based on this cover, and solcitations describing an all-too-horrifying mission for Mr. Arrow, you can maybe guess that this relationship is about to get rocky. And that’s not only going to be a great way to rip at the old heart strings, but given what we know about the duo (and supported by their faces on said cover), this could be a complicated and nuanced battle of two strong individuals who also happen to be in love. Or maybe it all works out a-ok in the end and Green Canary remain DC’s second best lovebirds. Either way, you’re gonna have to suffer until you read the issue, and that’s baiscally the whole point of this sublime series.
The Dead Lucky #1
Variant Cover by Eleonora Carlini
If you thought Image Comics was all about giant cop lizards or endless zombies, you’d be totally right. But in recent months, they’ve also been building the so-called “Massive-verse,” based around the characters of Radiant Black (and company). The latest entry in the superhero-centric saga is The Dead Lucky, in which a young soldier — Bibiana Lopez-Yang — returns from Afghanistan only to find herself in the middle of an urban battle between peacekeeping robots and a local gang. Luckily, as we can tell from this excellent variant cover by Eleonora Carlini, she’s been given the power to control electricity, which she uses to fight for good (and maybe cause a little unintended property damage). I get some true, understated connections back to Radiant Black and whatnot, but Lopez-Yang also has her own identity (and a sick luchador-meets-race-car-driver costume). That shift in tone and aesthetic means this title likely gets to be a real contibution and not just a universal add-on. It’s the little things that make all the difference, and this cover alone shows that Dead Lucky could be something novel by injecting the Massive-verse with new characters (and new problems) as well as an intriguing storyline and mega colors galore.
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