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 Martín Cóccolo and Jesus Aburtov
You might think that I’ve featured this cover first to gloat. That, as the internet’s most consistent Cyclops detractor, I’d generally enjoy seeing Scott Summers suffer. And I don’t. It’s not because I’ve grown a conscience or anything, or that I somehow don’t think that he’s actually comics’ least convincing hero — it’s the overt quality of the ongoing “Day of Judgment” storyline. As we get down to the nitty gritty, delving into the very heart of the X-Men as they are now amid the whole sordid Krakoa era, there’s lots of stakes for some really profound storytelling and character development. So, seeing Cyclops in the position — angry and resilient amid a position of pure bondage and humiliation — and all I can think about is how impactful the story’s been, and how there’s still so much more to explore. (Yeah, it’s that good, and this cover encapsulates that with ruthless efficiency.) Do I think this is going to ever shift my lifelong ideas about Cyclops? No, but if things continue this way across the event, he may end up with my pity, and that’s a victory in and of itself.
Superman: Warworld Apocalypse #1
Variant Cover by Mario Fox Foccillo
And from one big event’s semi-beginning to the end of another, we land at Superman: Warworld Apocalypse. After months of the Warworld Saga, writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and company have one more story to tell before we pivot into other events, including Kal-El’s grand return to Earth later this fall. So, as a kind of swansong, as it were, Warworld Apocalypse is fairly promising, as we get to see the triumphant final battle between the the Man of Steel and the nasty Mongul (and the Unmade Champions). And, sure, there’s something especially appropriate about the main cover from Steve Beach — like the Flash Gordon-esque glory and the general overall improvement in Superman’s attire. But for my money, the way to go is the variant from Mario Fox Foccillo. Sure, it’s without some of that ’80s prog rock album cover sweetness, but here we get to see the stakes and overt emotionality that defines this chapter and the story at-large. You can practically feel the tension surging across this cover, and it’s hard to see just where it all might land with so many, very interesting moving parts. That, dear reader, is the power of a story like this.
Mega Centurions #2
Cover by Dexter Wee
I saw the first cover of Mega Cenutrions and opted to pass on any coverage. In hindsight, it was a slightly dumb move, as it’s just such a deeply beautiful and depressing (in the very best way, of course) piece of dynamic comics art. (It made me feel like if Love and Rockets was an indie superhero title instead of, like, about more human stuff.) But while I could spend ample time dissecting my initial mistake, we instead rocket into the future with the second cover of this story, which is about washed-up superheroes trying to “scrap by in dead-end jobs.” And from the saddest lunch ever we now get to the most depressing office job ever, or maybe some harrowing call center gig. I think most superheroes would actually be good in this environment; they like helping people and what better way than, like, fixing a broken router or whatever. But here we see another deeply lost soul, trying to sort through the sheer pain of how they went from a true superhuman to level II support analyst (no offense to real-life support analysts or whatever). The real world is a scary and complicated place, and this cover (and its predecessor) captures that mental anguish in a way that feels both grounded and somehow still superhero-esque in their scope.
The Joneses #5
Cover by John Gallagher
In the name of true honesty, I wrote about the first cover of The Joneses because it both appealed and terrified me deeply. There’s just something about that semi-photo-realistic photo of a super family still trying to balance everyday life that just bonked me over the head with ideas and emotions. That, or it sort of felt like someone fed Fantastic Four back issues to one of those A.I. generator things for some real nightmare fuel. But regardless, it did what a comic cover should — engage all the different parts of my brain in a real thrill ride of emotions — and so I’ve kept up with all the covers if not actually reading the issues proper. But I feel like issue #5’s cover is a marked departure of sorts. It’s perhaps the least “realistic” one, and instead feels like a bright and shiny version of your average Frank Miller fight scene. As someone who doesn’t do teeth stuff well, I’m still captivated by the utter detail and the overall sense of impact this cover generates. It still feels a little like A.I.-centric nightmare fuel, but in a way that’s more gritty and evocative, and that whole dynamic works to really up the violence and my continued discomfort-interest struggle.
Cover by David Nakayama
Sometimes, I say I have a hard time picking a cover between the many options/variants. And that’s true; there’s always small details that sets one cover only slightly “above” some others. But this time around, I’m generally stumped about the cover to the new Thunderbolts series from writer Jim Zub and artist Sean Izaakse. Is at least some of that struggle a deep and abiding love for this team? Yes, because like the Suicide Squad, I adore me some baddies/lovable losers trying to do good. But it’s actually the covers themselves. Do I choose this Paulo Siqueira cover, which expertly plays up the sense of rebellious playfulness that exemplifies the team? Or maybe the Stefano Caselli or Todd Nauck variants, both of which give us what we really want in this “Hawkeye-starring” series. Or maybe just this variant from Izaakse, which has heaps of personality and does that thing where covers have a little fun with history. Ultimately — and you can probably already tell from the pic above — I had to go with the main cover from David Nakayama. It’s not any better, per say, but it does make me think of a ’90s Saturday morning cartoon, and that’s always a good thing.
The Flash 2022 Annual
Cover by Marguerite Sauvage
I’m sort of disappointed that there’s not more variant covers for this Flash annual. For one, the Scarlet Speedster always provides great material for these pieces; I’m thinking of all of these (but maybe not so much this). And that’s doubly true as we get a really solid story exploring the ins and outs of the mostly idyllic marriage of Wally West and Linda Park-West. And if all that weren’t enough, it’s all sort of filtered through a narrative lens of Iris writing her latest book. But here we are, with the lone, albeit excellent cover from Marguerite Sauvage. There’s still heaps of upsides to this piece: the way it focuses on the West couple in a way that feels real and organic to their actual lives; that goofy lil’ grin on Wally’s face that just speaks volumes about him and their marriage; and that purple/pink-ish hue to the Speed Force that just warms the heart. Maybe a variant — like Wally writing a vapor heart on the ocean — would’ve been a distraction, and here we just get to see something true and pure. Ain’t love grand?
Agent of W.O.R.L.D.E. #2
Cover by Filya Bratukhin and Jason Wordie
It doesn’t take being a guy who writes weekly about comics covers to know their secrets. They’re fun little previews of what’s to come, and they often don’t even have the same artists as the interiors. But what if the cover itself is maybe all you really need? That’s sort of how I feel about Agent of W.O.R.L.D.E. Yes, the story itself, about a sci-fi super-spy going through a kind of crisis of confidence rgearding his violent career path, is utterly gorgeous. (Just peep a few interiors from earlier this week if you don’t believe me.) But the covers, especially that for #2, tells you everything you need (detached protagonist; cyberpunk aesthetic; hyper-violence; etc.) But more than that, it feels like a kind of micro-story, a moment when our agent feels as detached as ever and must continue on with his, um, very wet work, and the psychic dissonance and sense of upheaval that he must experience. It’s not so much a preview but a kind of second story, and a chance to explore the rich canon and story of this universe in profound snapshot. That, and more instances of giant sci-fi laser cannons are always appreciated.
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