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Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

Chris shares his favorite covers from this week’s new comics.

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.

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Nightwing #98

Variant cover by Brian Stelfreeze

Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

I don’t want to oversell this at all, but Nightwing #98 could be a huge issue. Maybe the biggest in the entire career of one Dick Grayson: Nightwing meets Nite-Mite! OK, maybe, like his final death, or (inevitable?) marriage to Barbara Gordon might be bigger in terms of impact, but a Nite-Mite issue is still vital for a few reasons. The biggest of those, of course, is that having a fifth dimensional imp means he’s really established himself as a true top-tier hero among Batman and Superman (if Nightwing wasn’t already there, of course). So, given all of that, why didn’t I choose Bruno Redondo’s main cover, which joyously depicts a dancing Nite-Mite? Because Brian Stelfreeze’s ’90s-inspired cover captures the energy and attitude that should really be home to this monumental issue. I can easily imagine, during the lauded Chuck Dixon run, Nite-Mite appearing and causing all sorts of havoc, and having this super ’90s Dick respond in kind. Does any of that make sense? Sure, I hope so. But if it doesn’t, it’s just more Nite-Mite magic and that’s all you ever need to know.

Immortal X-Men #8

Cover by Mark Brooks

Judging by the Cover

Does anyone else recall a time when the Victorian ethos and/or imagery made a resurgence of sorts? Maybe it was spurred on by the uptick in Renaissance fairs across the country, and people somehow confusing any sort of historical accuracy for an unshakable desire to wear corsets and flowy gowns? At least when it comes to this latest issue of Immortal X-Men it sort of makes sense, as we’re effectively transported (at least the readers are) to the year 1895 as Destiny and Mystique team up with the Sherlock Holmes to track the case of a murder that’s “significantly more sinister…” And, sure, the core of this mystery may seem obvious, but the even bigger mystery to crack is how these two have taken to the era so quickly and splendidly. I mean, if I didn’t know better, I swear these two were practically royalty or high-society — how else do you explain the costume skull buttons on Mystique’s blouse? And it’s that kind of depth and ease that makes the whole turning back the clock/rewind gimmick feel all the more real and organic as the book further unfolds its rich, nuanced narrative. Just watch out for that nasty turn of the century, ladies.

I Hate Fairyland #1

Variant cover by Vincenzo Riccardi

Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

If you recalled, I Hate Fairyland was already a big hit for Image Comics as well as its core creators, writer Skottie Young and artist Brett Bean. So, then, it only made sense to bring Gert back for a so-called revival series in which, now all grown up, she can live a normal life in the real world as a well-adjusted adult. Just kidding, she’s got to make her way back to the land of make-believe and continue her work as “everyone’s favorite green-haired, axe-crazed maniac.” And given that return, Image has tapped a slew or creators for some epic variant covers. That includes Young’s own creepy-meets-cute cover; this bit of monster madness from Joe Madureira; and a little dash of adorable body horror from Kyle Strahm. But the final, extra excited nod does have to go to Vincenzo Riccardi, who perfectly nails the emotional core and larger aesthetic of this book with one image. It’s cute but also utterly violent; sweet and pristine and yet somehow like a psychotic break; and humorous without ever being less horrendous. In short, the sort of shot to the face to remind you of this book’s true promise: to bash you in the face with a magical axe of insanity and emotion.

Trve Kvlt #4

Cover by Liana Kangas

Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

Last month, I gushed about Trve Kvlt, and welcomed more of you to do the same by likening it to being like Clerks but with “a dash or two of Reservoir Dogs and a sprinkling of Stranger Things.” And not only do I stand by that sentiment, but it seems the series’ creators — writer Scott Bryan Wilson and artist Liana Kangas — are really doubling down on that with the cover to issue #4. With the heavy emphasis on the satanic imagery and general demon/monster vibes (it’s much more of the latter than the former right now), there’s a certain detached coolness and sense of cinematic oomph that makes the cover really flourihs. If anything, this image just proves that the book is taking on bigger and bolder life beyond its inspirations, especially as the solicitation promises buzzwords like “subterranean skyscraper” and a truly perfect chapter title, “There’s No One Else I’d Rather Be Incinerated and Sent to Hell with Than You.” All of that together exemplifies why this series is so cool and creative, and why it’s doing something unique and weird and nonetheless profound. Plus, it’s the penultimate episode, so you still have time to get on board, ya silly goose.

Flash #788

Cover by Taurin Clarke

Judging by the Cover

Also last month, we were treated to one of the most epic Flash covers in some time (and that’s saying plenty) as Taurin Clarke gave us this ’80s-esque goodness ripped from the best episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. And this month Clarke follows up with another slice of scarlet-tinged awesomeness with the cover to issue #788. Is this as initially exciting as if a giant alien badass is about to elbow drop the Flash into the ground? No. But with Gregory Wolfe — former warden of Iron Heights Penitentiary — as Central City’s newly-elected mayor, he can do something far more damaging by deputizing the Rogues. So Heatwave’s pyromania is now state sanctioned, and Captain Cold’s little tearing gesture is part of some larger police media campaign. And not only is all of that terrifying in the most subtle of ways, but it echoes some real-life issues with police agencies/forces across the U.S. and some real, slightly more horrifying abuses of power. All of that together proves that you don’t need much to be truly upsetting as well as to create real odds and drama. That, and a crisp blue suit is just as much the trademark of pure evil as a green spandex leotard.

Gold Goblin #1

Variant cover by Alan Quah

Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

In his life and career, Norman Osborn has seen his fair share of ups and downs. From his nefarious efforts as the Green Goblin to running/serving on the Thunderbolts, Osborn’s moral development has more twists and turns and ups and downs than The Smiler. But, after some recent happenings in the Amazing Spider-Man series, he’s trying his hand at being a superhero, and the media’s already taken to calling him the Golden Goblin. This new book, from Christopher Cantwell and Lan Medina, will explore whether Osborn can truly embrace his inner good guy, or if he’s bound to be the baddie forever. Based on this variant cover from Alan Quah, it would seem like his ready to blow up his old life in the name of goodness. But there’s still something about this cover — from the smile on the Green Goblin’s suit face to its paper-like quality and even the Gold Goblin’s own forceful stance — that has me thinking that it’s not so cut and dry (and, in fact, may be more complex and terrifying that we can imagine). If the book can deliver 1/10th of this, than all hail the Gold Goblin.

Rick and Morty: Crisis on C-137 #3

Cover by Ryan Lee

Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

There’s lots of things to love about Rick and Morty. All the portal stuff; the Snowball storyline; Mr. Nimbus. But the thing that I don’t always love — despite knowing how vital it is to the story and the series in general — is that serious moments are routinely undercut by the silly or absurd. Sure, it’s the reason things like the aforementioned Mr. Nimbus episode work but it also means that we get moments like this the just miss the mark. So it’s nice to see, on the cover of Rick and Morty: Crisis on C-137 #3, a decidedly serious moment. And by that I mean, things look very bleak and morose, and I can’t really see the silly side of it (even as I know, for instance, how mostly weird both Kiara and Supernova ended up being). And that’s even as the comics art retains the series proper’s off-beat aesthetic and overall vibes. Those ideas coalesce together to lend a very powerful sentiment to the piece, and it makes it all the more dire and foreboding, which is just a nice quality to attach to this otherwise, um, whimsical franchise. The only thing wrong here is a clear lack of Morty being totes terrified.

Darkland #1

Cover by Serg Acuña

Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

Here’s the long and short of Darkland: a young girl named Rose navigates a dystopian 24th century America while being chased by a “notorious bounty hunter.” Admittedly, it’s not the most intriguing or even compelling storyline right off the bat, but if the cover to issue #1 by series artist Serg Acuña is any indication, the visual components seem to be wildly interesting so early on. Maybe it’s the man in the full body bandages that’s throwing off clear Negative Man vibes; the woman with both the robot hand and the sci-fi gun; and/or the young girl — who I assume is Rose — with the adorable cat (anyone else getting “knows magic, is from a manga vibes” from said cat?), it all just clicks. It feels like the sort of end-of-the-world tale that’s going to be as gritty as it is heartfelt, violent as it is evocative. And that’s the sort of sweet spot more of these kinds of stories need to achieve — something that terrifies and uplifts as we, the readers, face more and more days of such pain and culture shock. Seriously, I’ll bet $10 that cat knows a spell or two.

Breathers #8

Cover by Justin Madson

Judging by the Cover – 11/16/22 new releases

You may have seen, a few months back, me once more gush about Breathers from artist-writer Justin Madson. It’s about a group of Americans that are trying to make it through a post-apocalyptic where the air is basically poison. (It’s also got a very Walking Dead-esque tagline in, “They are all ‘breathers’.”) And each cover has so far has clearly put the emphasis on these survivors, including a truly terrifying standout in issue #5’s cover. Yet I think that, at least as far as covers go, the series has reached an apex with issue #8. It makes me think of the most depressing Love and Rockets cover ever, or a really gnarly spin-off off that most unsung ’90s cartoon Mission Hill. It’s in the eyes, which feel deeply human despite being totally unrealistic in every way. Or, the imperfections on the gas masks that just somehow break my heart in the quietest of ways. It’s even in the very tiny shard of hope that exists with the closed eyes of our bandana-wearing survivor (as if such a luxury could still be a thing). It’s little gestures/additions like this that maintain the humanity, in all its beauty and grit, and makes this book feel so profoundly special.

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