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Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 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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Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #7

Cover by Daniel Sampere

Judging by the Cover

After many months (that have sometimes felt like years), we’ve finally reached the conclusion of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths. Issue #7 is meant as that final note following the defeat of the Great Darkness, as there’s still some scores to settle with Deathstroke and the Dark Army. And, sure, we have a solid enough idea about how things might turn out given that 2023 is going to see the Dawn of DC, but that doesn’t mean there’s still not plenty of extra intense moments to come. That’s especially true if we believe some of #7’s variant covers, like this slice of multiverse majesty from Kyle Hotz; this potentially cursed moment from Viktor Bogdanovic; and whatever is evil enough to piss of Jon Kent in this Clay Mann piece. Yet we’ve got to give the nod to the main cover from Daniel Sampere, who expertly captures not only the themes of hope and light but also a sense of transformation and ascension that really plays with the grander scope of Dawn of DC. When things finally settle, and we’re staring down the future, let’s hope it represents even a fraction of this glowing glory.

Spider-Man: The Lost Hunt #2

Cover by Ryan Brown

Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 new releases

It’s been a hot second since I’ve discussed my obsession with Spider-Man’s endless suffering and general overarching chaos and disarray. Because I’m clearly not alone in this belief, as writer J. M. DeMatteis has taken several important steps to letting Spidery hang even as we’re just two issues into Spider-Man: The Lost Hunt. Here, Peter Parker’s experiencing as spot of trouble, as he battles the man who’s hunting him (likely related to Kraven the Hunter, yeah?) as he also tries to protect the city and his loved ones. The cover from Ryan Brown would indicate he’s not doing so well, but more so it accomplishes a lot if you’re a fan of Spidey (and a bigger fan of his perpetual struggles). It rips all the humanity from the life of Parker, leaving him as just a trophy (and a solid reminder of his own innate vulnerabilities). Even his teeth are a little janky, which just shows how imperfect Parker truly is as he struggles as both a person and hero. And yet amid all that, there’s something still stoic about this, as if Spider-Man fights the good fight no matter how dire things may get. It’s why we love him, and why we root him on against the worst of the worst.

Kroma #2

Cover by Lorenzo De Felici

Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 new releases

Image Comics is already hyping Kroma as “the most visually stunning comic of the year.” And, sure, they’ve got a lot to gain from blasting this book to the moon, but that doesn’t mean they’re not also mostly right. I mean, just look at the cover to issue #2 — even if you know nothing about the events of issue #1 (it ended on something of a big reveal/cliffhanger, and you should certainly check it out), it’s still a maddeningly gorgeous piece. Writer/artist Lorenzo De Felici has crafted a powerful aesthetic and a stunning feat of visual magic. Whether it’s the subtle nuance and depth of the colors; the dash of mystery; the sheer humanity on the face of Kroma; or even the blank and/or negative space that speaks volumes, there’s just so much to love about and get lost consuming/appreciating when it comes to this cover. I’d say it speaks volumes about the story proper, but then it’s mostly just a snapshot of the some the profound beauty and gut-wrenching imagery that lay ahead. So if you’re this spellbindingly gorgeous cover is the least impressive thing, you know you must be onto something.

The Vampire Slayer #9

Cover by Sebástian Fiumara

Judging by the Cover

What can we say about Xander Harris? He was, in many ways, the heart of the whole Scooby Gang — that lovable rapscallion that wasn’t a gifted warrior or witch/wizard, and yet he was never one to back down from the most demonic of foes. And, sure, that attitude lost him an eye in the series proper, but more people should try and live their loves with that mix of commitment and abandon (just watch your eyes, of course). And that whole dynamic is what makes this cover to The Vampire Slayer #9 so dang great. Do I have any idea about what’s happening in the story proper? Not really — and artist Sebástian Fiumara has made it so none of that really matters. Because he’s showed us something essential at the heart of Xander: his dedication to the fight despite any lingering fears or general self-doubt. Accepting your fate doesn’t make it any less terrifying, and this cover demonstrates that with both grace and an overarching sense of power. It’s hard to tell who might cry first: Xander for the carnage to come or us as we hope Scrappy-Doo himself can survive yet another day.

Ninja Funk #2

Cover by David Mack

Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 new releases

Ninja Funk, a new series from Whatnot Publishing, teases some rather tantalizing story elements: “Frequency-Bending Warrior DJs. Cyborg Housecats. The Broken Rhythm of the Universe.” And that alone should pretty much get this on pull lists everywhere — and yet we also get some solid covers to help really seal the deal. Artist David Mack killed it with a pretty cat-heavy homage in issue #1, and issue #2 is somehow a massive step up (without any hate to that aforementioned cover, of course). It’s sort of like post-apocalyptic poster for a grindhouse movie. Or the most brutal cave art we’ve ever discovered in some random hole in rural France. It could even be the logo to the most intense steakhouse this side of the 5th Dimension. Whatever it is, though, it’s the sort of brain-scrambling level of awesomeness that hypes the series without every daring to spoil (or even hint at) a single line of the story. The fact that I haven’t even mentioned the book’s actual title — seriously, Ninja Funk is somehow cooler than Country Funk — proves just how much butt the art kicks.

Groo: Gods Against Groo #1

Cover by Sergio Aragonés

Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 new releases

The character of Groo dates backs all the way to 1982, across a suite of different stories/titles and some big-time publishers. Now, series writer-artist Sergio Aragonés has made his way to Dark Horse comics for a new story (alongside regular collaborator and writer Mark Evanier). This time around, we get a tale of two Groos, as “Earthbound Groo” has to contend with “Divine Groo” after the former’s rising profile as a fearless warrior has caused the “deity to arise in the heavens.” If any of that proves to be a little confusing, console yourself by simply enjoying the cover to issue #1 from Aragonés. Not only is it pretty trademark Groo — he’s always been like a mix of Ziggy, Calvin and Hobbes, and Mr. Magoo — this gods-centric cover is new levels of silly and bizarre. Whether it’s the strange seating chart among the gods, the fact that they all look like they’re waiting online at the MVD, or that Groo once again has no clue despite the overwhelming evidence, it feels like the best version of a comics classic. That, and you’ve always got to love a crocodile god or whatever.

DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War #6

Cover by Alan Quah

Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 new releases

This entire storyline/event hasn’t exactly been subtle, but that’s doubly true of DC vs. Vampires: All-Out War. I mean, just look at the cover to the grand finale: even if you knew almost everything about the long and winding journey that got us here just for this specific title/part of the grander narrative, you may still think, “Huh, that’s a little too bonkers even for me.” And while that’s mostly the point — this is vampires battling the DCU — you can’t help but appreciate the Alan Quah cover. Not only because it’s just a great image — the sight alone should inspire equal parts fear and bravery — but there’s little bits here that enhance the whole experience. Like, that Superman’s wearing his old-school shorts, which really plays up this sense of timelessness. Or, the way the kryptonite sword seems to hum, adding a kind of magic to such a hugely violent artifact. And even the way it seems Slade isn’t so much on his last leg but in position for something truly epic. All of it shows what this event’s all about and why such overtly bonkers stakes just makes the most sense.

Vanish #4

Variant cover by Daniel Warren Johnson

Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 new releases

Sure, Do A Powerbomb did already end — and it made me weep giant-sized tears of joy and sorrow. But if you thought I wouldn’t find a way to push another mention for another week, then I’ve got a bridge to sell you. And so that means I’m more than happy to talk about this Vanish variant cover from Daniel Warren Johnson — and not just because it makes me think about DAP’s ending one more time. Because despite everything this blurb has told you thus far, this is an insanely great cover for the final issue of the book’s debut arc. As the last few big battles of this story work their way out, and we prepare ourselves for some big twists and/or revelations leading up to March 2023’s second arc, a singular and extra bloody image like this speaks volumes. And not only that, but it feels like it really enhances the ’90s vibes of this entire book; tell me that doesn’t scream some forgotten hero/villain from, say, The Maxx. (That, and I’m also getting some real Dark Knight Returns vibes for sure.) If things do have to end (and not just my fave book, mind you), they should always be as big and brash as this here cover.

Alien #4

Cover by Björn Barends

Judging by the Cover – 12/21/22 new releases

I have a lot of thoughts about some weird and slightly niche topics. And that’s especially true when we’re talking about the Alien franchise and their depiction of the Xenomorphs. Because perhaps unlike any other alien-starring franchise in pop culture, so much of the power of this story/canon is based on nailing the Xenomorph’s vibes every single time they rear their giant, ugly heads enter the page/screen. And when it comes to the comics, Alien has done a damn fine job of this in just four short issues. Case in point: the cover to issue #4 itself. As the team comes face to face with the menacing Xenomorph Queen, this cover from Björn Barends exemplifies the criteria for a perfect appearance. That includes the proper size scale (the queen especially should be a towering beast of alien savagery); the right amount of viscera and general chaos/damage; a bit of mist/atmosphere for added effect; and a human hero/survivor that we can believe in (more like, believe in as the next person to be torn apart, amirite?!) When you get all those parts together, it makes for a cover that’s both utterly shocking and yet you can’t seem to take your eyes off — because that’s when the Xenomorphs always strike.

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