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 Marco Checchetto
If you’re familiar with this here column, then you know the “first” run of Daredevil comics in the Chip Zdarsky era were a regular feature. And how could we deny the talent of regular covers artist Marco Checchetto, whose very style seem tailored to the deeply Catholic, occasionally overwrought sensibilities and aesthetic of Daredevil himself. Now, as the Zdarsky era rolls on in its “second wave,” Checchetto once more makes an appearance with a truly epic cover. And what a time to try and encapsulate what’s going on with DD, as he and Elektra work to forge their own not-so-traditional superhero time while moving in stark contrast with the rest of their superpowered companions/collaborators. As such, Checchetto’s choice of imagery — a bit of Gothic imagery meets Puppet Master with a dash of Christian iconography — feels like a great way to both encapsulate this singular moment and explore what’s going on in the heart and mind of Matt Murdock. In a series where the covers speak volumes, this one says so much more than you’d ever think possible.
Batman vs. Robin #1
Variant Cover by Bryan Hitch
It’s not been an easy time for Batman — and that extends to his entire, extra deep Bat Family. As we reel from the continued one-two punch of both Shadow War and the events within Batman / Superman: World’s Finest, it seems father and son are set for a collision course of epic proportions. Although it’s not exactly a standard kind of beef — young Damian is currently in the thrall of the nefarious Nezha and her demonic magic — there’s no denying that anything even hinting at “Batman battling Robin” is going to be a big deal. And this Bryan Hitch cover delivers on that promise even before we’ve read word one. You’ve not only got the prerequisite pose-off between Batman and Robin, but a little dramatic action from some of the more, let’s say, substantial members of the Bat Family. Whose side is everyone going to take (it’s not as obvious as you might think, folks)? Could this little beef turn into something much grander that could have huge ramifications for the family as a whole? And can we expect some of that A+ Bat Family humor and hijinks even with the stakes so high? This cover doesn’t have any answers, but it more than sets the mood for what’s sure to be a pretty poignant and impactful event.
Cover by John Sprengelmeyer
Say what you will about his filmography, but the verdict on Kevin Smith’s comics output isn’t always so stellar. Sure, there’s no denying the man’s love and deep knowledge of the genre, but then it’s resulted in moments like these gems. Still, with Smith now launching his own imprint (the awesomely-named Secret Stash Press), he’s once again picking up the pencil to co-write (alongside Andy McElfresh) the new series Maskerade. Here, the creative team asks the question, “How do you get bloody revenge on the men who killed your family when you’re massively famous and/or well known?” To which series and cover artist John Sprengelmeyer responds, “I think it would be pretty badass, and might look like if Kick Ass took place in the Archer-verse.” There’s so much chaos and palpable energy within this cover, and it expertly captures the range of emotions you might expect from this story while also maintaining that somehow mischievous energy that you’d also expect from a Smith-penned story. And that’s not even saying anything about the design of our “heroine,” who is both creepy and compelling in her full-body murder suit. Let the extra bloody games begin.
Sgt. Werewolf #1
Cover by Rich Woodall
There’s a lot to say about this new Scout Comics series from artist-writer Rich Woodall (The Electric Black). On the one hand, the story itself feels a little, without overt disrespect, bloated. Because, “Army sergeant who dies and comes back to life to fight Nazis in a castle” is more than enough in and of itself, but then the solicitations also talk about Golems and Norse mythology. But on the other hand, a cover like this does cut through all that potential hesitation about the story itself with its sheer, almost radioactive levels of badassery. It’s a simple but hugely effective image, and Woodall’s depiction of Army Werewolf screams bloody pulp humor and intensity. And that kind of artistic decision will hopefully reflect in the story itself and once more cut through a lot of those narrative layers and tidbits to make everything as light and playful as possible (or, at least as possible with this specific tale). If nothing else, the thought that keeps me going is, “Maybe you’ll get to see a werewolf use hand grenades,” and sometimes that’s all you need.
Cover by Leinil Francis Yu
Launching last month, there’s no denying that the new Predator series (from writer Ed Brisson and artist Kev Walker) was meant to tie in with the excellent Prey film. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t any less cool, and Brisson and Walker more than laid the solid ground for a tale of intergalactic revenge involving a young woman and the nasty Predator that killed her family. In fact, we already get to see at least one of their, um, interactions as we reach only the cover of issue #2. Does it have the kind of emotional profoundness and intensity you’d hope for in such a deeply personal story of blood-soaked comeuppance? Oh, for sure; I can almost smell the neon green Predator blood here. But, and this reflects a thread I’ve seen a few different times since Prey‘s release, it’s also just a dope image that the series like this fosters all the time. Seriously, post a Predator battling a human in any scenario (1500s Rome, a 1940s Newark grocery store, etc.) and you’ve already got a really hard-hitting tale of humanity and violence. Does that lessen the efforts of this series? No way, it just proves that there’s so much to explore here, and this cover demonstrates the story’s already off to a bloody great start.
Castle Full of Blackbirds #1
Cover by Wylie Beckert
If you didn’t catch our recent interview, the universe of Mike Mignola and Hellboy is about to get a little bigger. Sure, I can understand any hesitation or sense of doubt; there’s so many dang layers and moving parts to the so-called Mignola-verse, and one more story does seem like a lot. (Especially when said story isn’t about Hellboy directly, but the lesser known Sara May Blackburn from The Return of Effie Kolb.) But if the work of super author Angela Slatter isn’t enough to sway you, then just peep this cover from Wylie Beckert, which adds a few, slightly novel elements to the giant-sized world of Hellboy. Like, a slightly more dreamy or ethereal quality — which has a distinct (but not overt) homage to the Sandman franchise. Or, the greater sense of pure fantasy vibes (where the rest of Hellboy often feels like a hodge-podge of inspirations and influences). Even just the choice of colors feels more subtle and understated than this canon normally delivers. All of those little odds and ends together demonstrate that this isn’t just another story but something slightly daring (without feeling overwhelming) to weave into Hellboy and his weird and wild adventures.
Do a Powerbomb #4
Variant Cover by Ryan Lee
Another month, and you know I have to mention Do a Powerbomb. Do I love the story? Of course, a young girl tries to resurrect her mother by winning a interdimensional wrestling tournament. Do I love the art? Of course — it’s been a real master class of sorts for creator Daniel Warren Johnson. But more than anything, I adore the overwhelming sense of love and passion that Johnson has brought to the series, and how you can tell how excited and overjoyed he is with every panel and all-new cover. He’s so enthused, in fact, that it’s even spread to the variant covers — in this case, Ryan Lee and his excellent offering for issue #4. Sure, he’s got a different approach than Johnson (although the pair do share a certain tone and an overall intensity to their work). But Lee’s work also feels right at home, and this cover especially really plays up the Ultimate Muscle references and inspirations perhaps more than any time before in this book. More than that, though, we get to feel, in the purest sense of the word, the tension and hope that comes as we cheer our heroes onto that pinfall victory. If you’re not covered in goosebumps already, I don’t know what to tell ‘ya.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #15
Cover by Travis Moore
In what’s been a rather long time coming, Superman and his cohorts of The Truth are finally going to settle the score against “Bendix and his monstrous machinations.” And even if you knew nothing about what’s been going on across the last 14/15 or so issues, it’s a pretty sweet action scene that shows some inspiring young people standing up to people that are clearly meant as stand-ins for, let’s say, more aggressive ideologies about how the world should work. In fact, I enjoy this cover so much that I’d show it to anyone who has doubted the scope and impact of this series from day one. Those folks who think Superman can’t be young and progressive, and that his ideas and values are only ever centered around some hackneyed ideas of how things used to work. This cover feels like an achievement for a series which, from issue #1, has been all about crafting a Superman for a new and different world, a place where change can happen if you work together with your friends. The fact that there’s also lots of punching involved just feels like a little bonus gift.
X-Men: Red #6
Cover by Russell Dauterman and Matt Hollingsworth
If you recall last month’s cover of X-Men: Red #5, we saw an especially shocking portrayal of Cable. And, sure, there’s no way to know if that cover would come to pass (I’m not spoiling this mega Marvel event, after all), but the point remained: it’s a damn effective way to sell comics by fostering a sense of nerd rage and/or worry. Now, as the battle for Planet Arakko reaches new heights of tension, we get a kind of two-fer with a damaged Magneto helmet and a clearly distressed Storm. Again, no telling what’s going to happen, and the whole A.X.E: Judgment Day affair has been a great new add-on to the Krakoa saga as we’re seeing characters really deal with some big-time consequences. And this cover really represents that idea, demonstrating in one especially powerful image that things are uncertain and even the most beloved or favored characters just may end up suffering some extra harrowing fates. Whether or not they do isn’t the actual point; it’s that this is comics storytelling with a sense of stakes, even if those stakes might someday be erased and/or retconned. For now, though, just enjoy that overt sense of dread and anxiety.
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