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Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 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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Flash #792

Cover by Taurin Clarke

Judging by the Cover

If you thought I had a lot of needlessly strong opinions about Spider-Man having a vehicle, wait till I unload about the cover to Flash #792. My inner most grumpy geek is instantly mad at the idea of Impulse and Kid Flash riding around in some space cruiser, even as it’s all about amping up the “good so far” events of “The One-Minute War.” Yet my nerdy rage is quickly satiated once I spend more than a few seconds with this Taurin Clarke cover. It doesn’t take long for it to settle that this is a deeply fun cover, and one that expertly shows the individual and collective energies of both Kid Flash and Impulse. More than that, though, it’s another important moment in showing the same sort of energies and dynamics that help inform this event, and as serious as it is, some lighthearted vibes go along way in maximizing its overall potential. Comics are about being dumb and having fun as much as they are about larger-than-life heroes, and this cover shows us if we pump our brakes a bit, there’s heaps of joy to be had.

Black Panther #14

Cover by Alex Ross

Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 new releases

If you’ve seen the new Black Panther: Wakanda Forever flick, you already know what a proper Namor feud/battle looks like. (Or, at the very least, that’s at least fresh in your mind.) Now, we get to see it again on the pages of the John Ridley-penned series — brought to us in extra glorious manner thanks to this amazing Alex Ross cover. Sure, the film’s depiction of Namor, and his interactions with the whole of Wakanda, are pretty top-notch. (The influence of ancient, Mayan-leaning history is such a brilliant move.) But there’s just something about seeing the comics version getting ready to tussle with Black Panther that feels a little more profound. Maybe it’s the slightly mean, slightly smirking face; the fact that he’s draped in a flag/banner of Wakanda; and/or the slow creep of water across the city, it all just works. Even the orange sky just feels so powerfully telling! Whatever happens in their latest battle, this cover strikes a tone for the chaos to come.

Alien #6

Cover by Björn Barends

Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 new releases

I’ve written a bit in the past about the awesomeness across recent Alien covers. Usually about those from Marc Aspinall, who in the last “run” did some truly amazing working in showing the larger depth and intensity to this grand universe. Only now we’ve gotten a different set of covers from Björn Barends, who for the last few months has pushed the levels grit and outright terror in new directions. (Which makes sense as the entire “Icarus” storyline so far has been pretty gnarly.) For what it’s worth, I think Barends has stepped it up considerably with the cover to #6. It usually only takes one Xenomorph to be utterly terrifying, but having an entire brood pushes the terror to a level that’ll leave you practically quivering in your shoes. But there’s also something oddly serene about this, too — a moment of unknowable quiet before the madness and the teeth mashing begins. It’s as beautiful as it is brain-meltingly horrific, and few series can do that as well as this. Maybe even the actual Alien film franchise?!

Time Before Time #20

Cover by Declan Shalvey

Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 new releases

It’s a little bizarre to me that Time Before Time is already at its groundbreaking 20th issue. Not that it’s a bad book, of course; from day one, the creative team have told a truly compelling series about time travel and human drama that feels unmatched in a lot of key ways. No, what’s a little surprising is that the book has found some new ways to push the story forward without getting too far away from its core interests and tendencies. Mind you, I’m a few issues away from being up-to-date, but even I have a sense that this cover feels pretty spot on to what’s happened in the past (the covers are powerful snapshots of the weird places/times this book ends up) and a dash of something new (more robot stuff is always great, and it just makes the universe feel even grander). I’d love to see what happens if this book gets to 40 or 50 issues (totally possible given Image’s track record) and what madness that might entail. Ninja Abe Lincoln maybe?

Space Job #1

Cover by Álvaro Sarraseca

Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 new releases

A lot of sci-fi is meant to be sleek and sexy, yeah? Even something as depressive as Blade Runner felt deeply attractive (aside from the dystopian vibes and robot murder). But I think a series like Star Trek, especially the original series (whether by choice or not), tried to ground some of those sexy tendencies. And from the look of its debut cover, it would appear that Space Job is trying to double down on that. The book — about a guy who becomes a first mate on a star cruiser only to find “nothing seems right, the crew is subpar…” — captures that dynamic in one perfect image. Whether it’s the Star Trek-aping vibes; the depressingly minimalist overall aesthetic; and/or just every one’s uncertain facial expressions, this takes all the intrigue and romance out of space travel in one confident move. I for one look forward to more, bland generic sci-fi; it’s bound to be a way to explore not only our future but who we are right now as a species in fostering a markedly less sexy future.

TMNT: Best of – Krang #1

Cover by James Biggie

Judging by the Cover

I get that Krang’s maybe not the most beloved character. (I think if you’re an evil goo brain riding in a schlumpy robot, that’s maybe the point, yeah?) But he’s been a part of some big storylines over the years, and so it only made sense to give him a best-of issue among the turtle brothers and their various companions. And before we even get to the action itself, we get a pretty epic cover from James Biggie. Now, I don’t mean “epic” in the sense that Krang is battling mutant lobsters in 1970s France. Rather, I just mean there’s something about this version that’s both menacing — it’s the teeth and the weird brain folds — but also somehow cute (it’s the ceaseless pink, right?) Those energies together maybe don’t say much about Krang, but instead the depth and value of his role in the entire TMNT canon. In that sense, he feels like a proper mascot for the whole media-spanning franchise, and a perfect example of the ideas and energies that have made it so vital and relevant after all these years. That, and he’s an evil brain monster.

Poison Ivy #9

Cover by Jessica Fong

Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 new releases

The ongoing Poison Ivy series has been great so far — a powerful portrait about a character trying to maneuver the struggle between who they are and who they think they have to be. But one thing has been missing — a little romantic courtesy of a Harley Quinn appearance. Luckily, issue #9 address that and then some, as the issue promises some “wildly lascivious and lavishly ludicrous madcap mayhem” from arguably the greatest couple in comics. (Sorry not sorry, Wiccan and Hulkling). And in honor of Ivy Quinn Poison Harley, DC has rolled out a few great cover issues for this most monumental issue. There’s this slice of domestic bliss from Sweeney Boo; this impractical but awesome display of love from Terry Dodson; and this generally aww-tastic piece from Dan Mora. Yet the nod ultimately goes to the main cover from Jessica Fong, because it 1) is undeniably earnest and romantic; 2) has a dash of magic (those mushrooms look simply whimsical); and 3) it sort of fits with the firm environmentalist angle of the book. (Plus, all those dang leaves look like they’re about to grow off the page.) Happy V-Day (part two), everyone!

Daredevil #8

Cover by Marco Checchetto

Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 new releases

Great covers should clearly stand on their own in terms of scope, message, colors, motifs, etc. And yet this week there’s two big Marvel titles — Daredevil #8 and The Amazing Spider-Man #19 — each basically feature the same idea: “a long-standing goodie battles with his on-again/off-again love interest amid a pile of bodies/ominous mound.” Did I think the creators (that’s Marco Checchetto on the former, and Scott Hanna, John Romita Jr., and Marcio Menyz on the latter) somehow rip each other off? No way — sometimes stories coalesce in such a way that grandiose images, especially if they’re tried and true, just get repeated. I will say, however, that I do have a slightly more robust appreciation for the Daredevil cover. It’s likely the stakes — a big war amid Daredevil and the Punisher (!) — but also the expert use of shadows/coloring; the intensity between the two clans; and the, um, interesting fighting style of whom I assume to be Maria Castle. It sends a more dramatic message and plays with this “trope” in ways that feel really interesting. But with this much mound-based fighting in just one week, we’re all winners!

Monarch #1

Cover by Alex Lins

Judging by the Cover – 02/08/23 new releases

Oh boy, is there a decent amount of buzz around Monarch. For one, you’ve got a story from Rodney Barnes, who hit the ball out of the stratosphere with Killadelphia. Then, pair him with an up-and-coming artist like Alex Lins, who killed it on issues of New Mutants and Immortal Hulk (among others). And if that weren’t enough, we’ve got a story about aliens making first contact with a group of kids growing up in Compton. So, what’s the real proof, beyond my undeniable hype, that this series has the proper makings of a big stinky winner? Why Lins’ cover for issue #1. I think it captures not only the things you’d expect it to — the fear and uncertainty from the kids, the urban setting with vivid realness, and the interesting spin on alien aesthetics — but some other things, too. Namely, this slightly timeless quality and a playful take on cartoonish styles/vibes that really plays up some of the rich emotional layers here. Monarch? Certainly with this much potential the “great comic” crown isn’t unheard of.

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