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Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 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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Justice Society of America #3

Cover by Mikel Janín

Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 new releases

There’s a simple answer to what’s going on in Justice Society of America and a more complicated answer. The simple answer is that there’s time travel afoot, as Huntress goes back to the 1940s in a giant mystery that only the old and new JSA can fully crack. The more complicated answer, then, is that time travel is perhaps a larger message about what’s going on in the DCU. With Dawn of DC all about moving from the old guard into a bright and shiny new era, there’s lots of interest in ideas of legacies and the future at-large. So, what’s any of that have to do with the cover for issue #3? Well, I think artist Mikel Janín has expertly captured all of these ideas — time travel, dangerous mysteries, legacies, etc. — into one powerful image. This snapshot of how chaotic and unpredictable change can be, but also its importance. An image, I might add, that makes a lot of these concepts/ideas feel vividly alive and brimming with energy. You can almost hear the clock ticking, and that immersion is why this series and its story feel so doubly important right now.

Hulk #13

Variant cover by Peach Momoko

Judging by the Cover

If you’ve seen a Peach Momoko cover before, you may have been utterly dazzled. Her work is this perfectly balanced amalgamation of something sort of quaint, bordering on the adorable, and with deep human intensity and passion. But Momoko’s variant for Hulk #13 feels like a different creature entirely. Here, after several issues of lead-up, Bruce Banner is delving into the mystery of Titan and the monsters’ true origins. And I think this cover does a damn fine job of encapsulating that story without feeling overwhelmingly direct. It instead captures something elemental about this entire Hulk run: Bruce trying to sort of compartmentalize things, but also finding that there’s still so many surprises left to be found. And that dynamic is made both cute — look at that little Starship Hulk — and also deeply unsettling (that background feels so subtly menacing). The end result is a battle royale of ideas and energies, and something that adds to the larger storyline with depth and grace. (If this cover happens to be a more specific reference, please holler in the comments.)

No/One #1

Cover by Geraldo Borges

Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 new releases

If you didn’t know the name Geraldo Borges, you likely will now. He’s been at it for years, most recently with some work on Nightwing, and he’s slowly established himself with a style that intriguingly blends levels of grit and beauty. And now Borges gets to show off more of his skills in the realm of creator-owned titles with No/One, a new Massive-verse series with Kyle Higgins and Brian Buccellato about the titlar masked vigilante. Borges’ own cover for issue #1 feels like a solid debut and even more reason he’s making a little more noise these days. It’s the action movie poster vibes; the way you can almost feel the heat of the explosion; the clash of the deeply human and the inorganic across No/One’s character design — all of it just screams something that feels perpetually novel and yet still familiar. And it’s that mix that ultimately makes this feel like a success already (on top of the whole Massive-verse stuff) — we’re seeing a new side of the world develop in real-time, and it’s truly amazing stuff.

Superman: Lost #1

Variant cover by Joe Quesada

Judging by the Cover

There’s lots of reasons to be excited by Superman: Lost. (And, yes, it’s weird to even say that as a recent “convert.”) It’s the fact that it’s written by Christopher Priest; his run on Deathstroke will always be important. Or, that we get to see Priest’s own Deathstroke collaborator, artist Carlo Pagulayan, tackle the Man of Steel. Even the narrative– a love story about Superman actually being lost in space — is a compelling framework for the Man of Steel. But the thing that has me most excited is this Joe Quesada variant cover. Is it the fact that having Mr. Marvel Comics himself attached still feels a little taboo? Sure. But it’s also the actual cover — the perfect encapsulation of the Clark-Lois relationship; the sense of overwhelming beauty as well as the near-terrifying scope; and how the focus remains on the super couple without ignoring the rest of the story and the world. It’s an image that feels quintessential to the Superman canon while expertly capturing the energies and moods of this specific story. You’d be lost if you don’t give this one a shot.

The Forged #1

Cover by Mike Henderson

Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 new releases

I tell you there’s a new series from Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and Mike Henderson, what’s your first move? If it’s not instantly running to your local comic shop, maybe this will help: in the book, a “squad of planet-smashing super soldiers” embark on a crazy new mission in an “over-the-top pulp adventure of sex, violence, and sci-fi.” (Oh, and did I mention it borrows from Heavy Metal and Conan? ‘Cause it does.) If all that still weren’t enough, I’d just show you Henderson’s own cover for issue #1. What’s more compelling, the promise of “imperial vixens” and a “hell-world,” or the giant space marine-looking badass tearing through bugs in a world that’s equal part Doom and Gundam? The answer is both at the same damn time, and it’s ample proof that this series has all the right parts to be truly dazzling (in the way a kick to the solar plexus can be dazzling, of course). Time will tell if the book delivers, but it’ll be interesting to see how all this truly comes together.

The X-Cellent #1

Cover by Michael Allred

Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 new releases

I’ll be the first to admit that, on paper (get it?!), this cover for The X-Cellent #1 isn’t exactly the most excellent. Heck, I could’ve gone with this Leonardo Romero variant if only because it feels super dramatic and also contains the Book of Vishanti. Yet I had to go with Michael Allred’s main cover because… well, I’m g-d excited about what comes next after 2022’s “Hereditary” storyline. (Even if, like some folks, I’m a little puzzled about a new #1, and what that might mean, if anything.) Because Allred might just be checking the most basic of boxes — super powerful, heavily detailed-style mixed with an endlessly weird aesthetic — but those are still damn fine boxes. Plus, it makes me feel like we’re looking at a kind of cliffhanger moment of sorts, and if this book truly is “Season 2,” then that seems like the best path forward. I think all of that’s more than enough reasons as to why we can get excited about an image that’s maybe not groundbreaking, but does its job in hyping the book in a mostly realistic way.

Multiversity: Harley Screws Up the DCU #1

Variant cover by Logan Faerber

Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 new releases

If you’re anything like me, time travel stories are a little old hat by this point. Yet if it’s one that stars Harley Quinn — and really leans into it with this truly excellent title — than maybe you’re willing to open your jaded heart up one more time. I won’t bother talking about the plot — because it’s right there — but I will at least comment briefly about the idiocy of giving Harley Quinn anything beyond, like, a car to operate if you don’t want people and property to be harmed. But even if it all feels a little predictable, I think there’s still something novel about this Logan Faerber variant. Like, what series of events lead to this specific, extra hilarious configuration. (I’d totally use Aquaman’s seemingly magic trident to bring down the invisible jet.) And also, what, if anything, did those pigeons have to do with it all? Sometimes a thing might be a tad predictable, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less silly or effective — especially when that specific Batmobile’s involved.

Hellcat #1

Variant cover by In-Hyuk Lee

Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 new releases

One of the best things to come out of Christopher Cantwell’s Iron Man run — and there were a few things — is Hellcat. A true “deep cut” of the Marvel Universe, Patsy Walker was a shot in the arm for Tony Stark and a source for great emotionality and wisdom. Now, she gets her own series, where she’s moved to the West Coast to (::checks notes::) live in a house haunted by her own mother and fend off the police, the Sleepwalkers, and Daimon Hellstrom. If you’re going to try and make a proper cover for just such a book, this In-Hyuk Lee variant is a strong start. Here we see Walker’s own strength and power (there’s a quiet grace and prowess across her masked face); a little bit of the supernatural (whose blood is that?); and even just some true cat-like energy. (Plus, her helmet here feels very Batman-esque, and that does wonders for my continued interest.) If the least interesting thing about your debut cover is that super sweet logo, then you know you’re in for a great little solo outing.

Grammaton Punch #1

Cover by Briane Andan

Judging by the Cover – 03/15/23 new releases

I don’t cover too many ComiXology books for whatever reason. But Grammaton Punch feels sort of special. If the title weren’t badass enough, the book itself is compelling, like Scott Pilgrim meets The Frighteners (the aesthetic, not the con-man stuff) in a story about a boy who can see ghosts. If the cover from series artist Briane Andan is any indication, said boy, who is named Van, may be doing more than just peeping the ghosts, but that’s largely besides the point. I think what works about this cover is that it leans into all of that — the influences/inspirations, the implied energies and aesthetics, etc. — and yet does so in a way that still feels singular and still fresh. It’s a book that wears its influences with pride, but does so with the kind of playfulness and intent that cultivates a new space in the grand “canon” of these books (read: semi-fantastical human dramas with a slightly irreverent quality). This Punch knows how to land — and then some.

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