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.
Action Comics #1049
Cover by Steve Beach
If you’re anything like me, you’re probably still thinking about DC’s big announcement from this week. Maybe it’s just ’cause I’ve been indoctrinated as a long-time devotee, but the whole Dawn of DC event has me feeling extra optimistic about more great stories with possibly a lighter tone (a true strength of the publisher). And I think one of the things helping foster the large potential of this year-long event are books like Action Comics. As we round out the “Return of Kal-El” story, this book (and mostly its gorgeous covers) do a ton to set the move. The cover for #1,049 especially is one that sets some clear emotional stakes and yet gives us this deeply pristine and profound moment of reflection. It instills this sense that, whatever comes next, there’s something to believe in, and that feels very much like what they’re building to with Dawn of DC. Krypto being on the cover is, somehow, just an added bonus.
Cover by Dean White and Joshua Cassara
Let’s do a quick mental exercise. Forget everything you know about the last three-ish years of X-Force. You have no idea about flowers and gates, and certainly even less about planet Arakko and Sevyr Blackmore. With your mind totally blank, just peep this cover, and then try and tell me that it doesn’t have just as much of an oversized, brain-meltingly-epic impact. Yes, all great comics covers should transcend story and canon and whatnot to tickle your sensibilities with nerdy joy and emotional heft. But this one especially is just a profound snapshot of that idea, and things like “Wolverine in space” or “Deadpool with a laser katana” are the sort of fantasy fuel that speaks to something primal and innate for anyone who’d ever associate with even the very concept nerd-dom. And, as a bonus, when you bring all that story stuff back into the ol’ brain pan, it’s even better picture of a truly bonkers moment in a bonkers book.
Cover by Valentina Napolitano
Last month, I gushed oh-so briefly about the cover for issue #1 of Hitomi. In said piece, I’d mentioned that, not only did the series seem to be leaning heavily into its various inspirations, but that there was this profound humanity demonstrated solely on the cover. And while the cover for #2 doesn’t feel quite as intimate and personal (and there’s a giant wolf spirit taking up 75% of the page), it never loses that rich human core. Maybe it’s the wilting sunflowers that make me think of death; the heroic but also vulnerable pose of our human subject; or just the way the wolf seemingly stares back at you, but it feels so deeply striking. It’s meant to be evocative but in a coy sort of way, and it’s less about smacking you over the head with big ideas and emotions and more about sliding that blade gently between the ribs. In that sense, it hits the heart in the best way, and makes you really think about how you’ve just been shattered into a million tiny pieces.
G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero #300
Cover by Jamie Sullivan
You may have read about the “record-breaking” efforts of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. As the epic, long-running series reaches its final issue, the creative team (lead here by cover artist Jamie Sullivan) opted to spotlight 313 distinct G.I. Joe characters on the cover. From a logistical standpoint alone, this cover is a masterpiece, and a snapshot of the great work that a cover artist can achieve with the proper time, support, and space. But it’s also just a dang cool piece. It’s sort of like Where’s Waldo, but with things from your childhood that actually felt important. I can’t tell you how many minutes I’ve spent scanning this page, and experiencing some pop of memory about a character from the TV show or whose action figure I’d actually owned. Yet this is more than just a sweet rush of nostalgia — I get a sense of singular humanity from each of these characters. Each one feels so alive that it makes this cover feel all the more uplifting even as we mourn an ending. Go Joe, indeed.
Kamen Rider: Zero-One #1
Cover by In-Hyuk Lee
I’d mentioned in the X-Force write-up this idea about essential elements of the comics “language.” Which is a fancy way of saying those visuals tools and elements that connect all stories and titles and foster some kind of shared understanding. That’s certainly the case for this cover of Kamen Rider: Zero-One. Because I know absolutely nothing about this entire franchise, except for it’s Japanese and there’s like 1,578 books/shows/movies/etc. involved. And yet I can stare at the cover and know exactly what I need to know. Because big, bold characters, dudes in robot/power suits, and bug-themed everything are part of that language I just mentioned, and the clearest and most direct way to tell me the scope, sentiments, energies, and ideas at the heart of this book. (And spoiler, I’ve loved them all for most of my life.) It’s done well enough, in fact, that I think I need to cure myself of my Kamen Rider ignorance — and this issue feels like a mighty fine start.
Action Journalism #3
Cover by Miklós Felvidéki
Maybe I’m bias, but despite learning about this series by the debut of its third issue, Action Journalism could be the greatest thing ever. OK, that’s a teeny tiny bit of hyperbole, but as someone who graduated with a journalism degree in 2008 (aka, when the field entered its slow crawl to the grave), I appreciate the romanticizing of this most noble profession. We don’t have a lot of comics-centric love — aside from Lois Lane (who’d be badass regardless of her profession), Transmetropolitan (which leans way to heavy into Gonzo journalism/Hunter S. Thompson), and some other stuff I’m likely forgetting. But this series — at least issue #3’s cover — has the kind of weirdness and stoicism that I’d always hoped to find post-graduation. The fact that I didn’t, and that this series seems to involve fighting monsters in a weird, slightly ironic take on Adventure Time, somehow still feels really relevant and familiar. Maybe if the profession had pivoted to monster fighting and not video, things would be better off in the long run.
DC vs. Vampires #11
Cover by Guillem March
It’s both hard to believe and seemingly inevitable that we’ve reached issue #11 of the 12-part DC vs. Vampires. Sure, the year-long schedule, not to mention various spin-off/tie-in titles, has made this already epic tale of superheroes and vampires all the more robust. Yet it’s the quality of this “event,” and all the many layers to this seemingly direct story, that’s ultimately made time fly far too fast for this fella’s liking. But even as we reach the very, very end, the book still delivers in terms of its ability to manipulate your emotions as much as the greater DC canon. Case in point: the cover to #11 shows a very brutal interaction between Hawkman and Green Lantern. Is it a perfect image for this bloody good series? You betcha. But it also makes you think — about what this moment means, and the GL-Hawkman relationship beforehand — and that just adds so much subtext and depth to what could’ve just been a sweet image. I can’t wait to see what the true end will do in ripping out our collective heart.
Avengers Forever #11
Cover by Alex Sinclair and Aaron Kuder
In his long, prolific career, writer Jason Aaron has proven himself to a skilled storyteller. But more than just wrenching every last of emotion in his stories, he knows how to craft these huge, doubly weird scenarios that will make nerds everywhere salivate. (Please see the “The Age of Khonshu.”) But he’s really hit a high point with “The Pillars,” assembling a Multiverse-spanning version of the Avengers as “the core pillars of the group’s infinite incarnations.” And the last piece of that puzzle is Ghost Rider (aka Robbie Reyes), who previously had no other incarnations until Aaron and company let loose the All-Rider. And cover artists Alex Sinclair and Aaron Kuder are equally as deft as Aaron in bringing this version to life, looking like the most bad-ass GR ever conceived (with huge influences/energies of Thanos and Galactus). It’s a seemingly simple image that expertly captures what Aaron and the team have done with this book: maintain impactful stories but bring the nerd savagery like few others.
Cover by Andrea Mutti
I’m a tad embarrassed. As part of its ongoing 30th anniversary celebration, Image Comics has released seven issues of this titular comic series, where creators tell genre-spanning stories to celebrate one of the indie world’s greatest publishers. And here I am only paying attention to the eighth issue, which in my own defense, could’ve only been the result of paying attention to the rest of Image’s bonkers release schedule. But issue #8 is still a big moment to finally board this train, as it features, among other things, a Hack/Slash story from Tim Seeley and Stefano Caselli, a story by Jose Casey and Nathan and Fox, and a brand-new (!) Casanova story from Matt Fraction, Gabriel Ba, and Fabio Moon. Even the dang cover (from Andrea Mutti) is top-notch, the sort of weird, horrifying, engaging, thrilling, etc. piece that has defined Image for 30-plus years. That, and even though the piece is from a specific story (“The Blizzard” from Mutti and writer Geoff Johns), it still feels like it snags something essential about the specific stories within this issue. Happy birthday, Image!
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