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.
Batman: Dear Detective #1
Cover by Lee Bermejo
Recently, you may have seen me absolutely gushing about this excellent new book from artist-writer Lee Bermejo. Over the last few years, exclusively by his own choosing, Bermejo has used his many Batman and Detective Comics covers to tell an intriguing story about a day/night in the life of the Caped Crusader. What that story is, exactly, can only be found by browsing the book itself, and even then you may not crack the narrative nut that Bermejo has laid in front of us. But here’s another kind of story you can solve: the tale of why Bermejo may be one of the best Batman artists working today. This seemingly innocuous cover exemplifies what makes him a true Bat master. Whether it’s the robust sense of grit; his very specific design choices; the overall attention to detail (you can practically smell his costume, folks); and just the energy radiating off every inch of this piece, it’s clear Bermejo has a magical connection to the Dark Knight. How’s this for a story title, “Badass artist makes Batman even more of a gritty neo-noir monster.”
The Dead Lucky #2
Cover by French Carlomagno
Speaking of things I got excited about recently, another great new Image Comics series. The book, about a solider who returns home from the Middle East with electric-based superpowers to fight the rising tide of gangs and what’s basically group of basically techno-fascists, debuted with a pretty great cover. It was a compelling little piece that gave us a solid intro to one Bibiana Lopez-Yang — not to mention setting the stage for the book’s whole neon-colored, pseudo-cyberpunk aesthetic. But this cover to issue #2 absolutely wipes the floor with the first one. We get futuristic gang members (or are those revolutionaries?!); giant dope mechs that look almost like a rejected RoboCop villain; what I can only describe as the love-child of a Dinozord and a bulldozer; and the overall sense that things are about to pop off as if the smell of revolution and burning tires are already in the air. I love when covers can tell you so much about the book’s larger world, and do so in a way that doesn’t take away from the larger storyline and thematic tidbits. If this is only after two covers, who knows what #3 just might hold?
Ghost Rider #6
Cover by Kael Ngu
Wolverine and Ghost Rider have a lot in common. They’ve both been through hell (literally and figuratively, yeah?). They’re both nasty-looking badasses with a distinct moral code (more often than not). And they often like to be solitary even if they’ve always got a lot of love and compassion for the people closest to them (to the point they’re willing to do nasty things to help and/or protect ’em). And so it makes sense that writer Benjamin Percy might pair two of his seemingly favorite antiheroes into Ghost Rider’s new-ish series — even if we’re left to guess just what kind of pairing they’ll have this time around. Sure, this excellent Kael Ngu cover indicates things might go sour pretty quickly — but knowing these too, this could be part of some intricate greeting ritual or extended handshake. But what matters is that, aside from this cover simply looking really good, it feels like a powerful encapsulation of the Ghost Rider-Wolvering dynamic, and a snapshot of the profound context between these two. Like the cover itself already explained, ’nuff said indeed.
Shock Shop #1
Cover by Danny Luckert
Has Cullen Bunn done horror before? (That’s like asking if Guy Fieri knows anything about hot wings and/or blonde hair dye.) But just because he’s done it before — and done it quite well, at that — doesn’t mean he’s without room or a general desire to further innovate. There’s a lot of cool and novel things about Shock Shop to enjoy even before flipping over to page one. Like, that it’s a horror anthology from one writer (but multiple artists). Or, the fact that it takes places thematically in a kind of “haunted” comic shop, and that little meta bit is always fun. But all you really need to care about is the cover of the first issue, from series artist Danny Luckert. Sure, skeletons are as old hat to horror as, say, cop movies and retiring veterans with one last day on the force. But Luckert shows both the deeply horrible — look at all that bloody gristle or whatever is dangling at the base of their skulls — with the truly beautiful (you can’t tell me your heart doesn’t swoon a little at this poignant display). Maybe it doesn’t have too much to do with the stories inside, but it shows in a snapshot the kind of book you have in your mitts and why Bunn is a master at continually exploring the confines of true horror.
Mind MGMT: Bootleg #3
Cover by David Rubin
In the sake of further transparency, I don’t know how to feel about this latest chapter of Matt Kindt’s book? Is it a generally great story about a returning MIND MGMT for a “new” generation? Sure, even if I don’t think there’s any way you can touch the original’s subtle genius and its overall pontifications about memory and reality. But the one thing this book has that the original series doesn’t is more hands involved, as Kindt opened up the work to several artists (including great work so far from Bill Crabtree and even variant covers from Dan Brereton). And perhaps the best example of this is the cover to issue #3 from David Rubin, who you may know from another excellent Kindt-written series, Ether. Much like that reality-bending series, Rubin’s cover plays with your perceptions, doing so in a way that feels very on brand for this specific series. More than that, Rubin manages to blend the same kind of absurdity and psychedelic quality of the original MGMT series, ensuring a profound connection back to that singular narrative energy while still honoring the individual goals of this follow-up title. It’s the sort of cover you can spend quite a bit of time exploring, and it continually opens up new layers and ideas.
Cyberpunk 2077: Blackout #4
Cover by Roberto Ricci
I’d mentioned an earlier cover from the Blackout series, and how it made me think of, among other things, the genius of William Gibson. Not even that connection has since made me catch up with this new title, though, but I do still enjoy all the new covers, and this one especially caught my eye. Do I have an idea what’s going on, even from a metaphorical standpoint? Probably not. But I still get what might be happening. Big, giant techno-city of yesteryear swallows everyone up, and people would rather drive into infinity to escape the overt bleakness and reclaim existence for their own. Or, the hubris of man will always ruin a good thing because he cannot accept the future for themselves given our tiny ape brains. Maybe it’s even just, “Don’t speed in your 2077 laser wagon.” Either way, I love this stark image so much, and how it feels aligned with (what little I know of) the actual video game while still doing something entirely novel and different. It’s a rare feat for these spin-off titles to accomplish, but the Dark Horse stuff for Cyberpunk has always felt more compelling and thoughtful than anything the actual game could muster. Except, maybe, that dope talking gun.
The Ninjettes #1
Cover by Leirix Li
I only read some of Jennifer Blood, but this spin-off follows the titular Ninjettes, three college-aged girls who became “deadly and expendable assassins.” The book promises to really hone in on the, um, unconventional nature of sorority contract killers, as it questions who they’ll kill first, “their targets, or each other?” (Unless this is a truly weird one-shot, I know where I have my money.) I’m a little torn on the whole project to be frank, especially since what I recall from Jennifer Blood felt not nearly enough like satire. Sure, I’m not super comfy with this level of hyper-sexuality, especially because, again, I don’t see that wink of knowing that would make discerning this as a joke all that much easier. But I still enjoy the whole look — mostly the masks because they make me think of the band/political activists Pussy Riot and that’s a good development. Ultimately, it’s a pretty good cover if only because I get that uneasy tension of the team, and that they’ll either bash the reader in the face or tear each other apart — or maybe both. Go Ninjettes go!
Dark Knights of Steel: Tales From the Three Kingdoms #1
Cover by Neil Googe
I love what Tom Taylor and company have done with the whole Dark Knights of Steel story and universe. While the whole idea of “Medieval Times meets the DCU” doesn’t hold up on paper beyond a quick laugh, the actual execution has been a fun and left-of-center way to explore big- and small-time heroes and villains alike in new light. But I’m worried now about the prequel, which explores the “three heirs and the challenges they will face” amid the grapple for control of the El Kingdom. It could be like that one Justice League Unlimited episode where the JL is turned into kids and battles Mordred (son of Morgaine Le Fay) in what’s basically a nightmare amusement park. But there’s at least a few things helping this book avoid that slightly hokey fate. For instance, they’re super cute — especially wee little Bat Baby. Beyond that, I think this focus on young heroes works better for the story itself; there’s more adventure and drama and what like to play around with and explore. (Plus, and I can’t explain it, but it just feels like a better pairing on paper.) For now, I’m genuinely hopeful this will be another solid chapter before the proper story picks back up in November.
Cover by Jen Bartel
Speaking of more things I love, She-Hulk on Disney+ has been great so far. Have I read a lot of the criticisms about it? Oh sure. Do I think most of that’s unfounded and likely from people who’ve never known the sweet embrace of love or the gentle power of true laughter? Absolutely. What makes it even better is the excellent ongoing from the creative team of Rainbow Rowell and Luca Maresca. In fact, both titles have a lot of the same kinds of things going on — a general shared aesthetic, plenty of guest stars, etc. — while also work to standalone in their respective mediums. What hooked me about this cover — aside from the fact that it’s Jen Bartel, who always does amazing work — is the little story bits this pieces offers up entirely removed from the narrative itself. Are they on a date? (And is their new couple name She-Crawler or Night-Hulk?) Did they teleport to Paris or just some quaint café in Brooklyn? Why does Nightcrawler have a perfectly tailored suit but also not some cool shoes to match somehow? Sure, the issue promises a continuation of “one of the greatest traditions in Marvel Comics history continues here,” but all I can think about is if they’re also going for a sunset walk after tea time.
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