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Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 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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Wonder Woman #8

Cover by Daniel Sampere, Belen Ortega, and Tomeu Morey

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

After a truly solid run so far, Wonder Woman reaches a rather essential issue with its eighth installment. Diana is meant to come face-to-face with The Sovereign, the veritable force of nature that’s been shaping this story and antagonizing the princess this entire time. Now, most any other artist might go for some big, explosive action scene to hype this most compelling of confrontations, but the trio of Daniel Sampere, Belen Ortega, and Tomeu Morey have opted for something far more subtle and insidious. It only makes sense that not only do we not get to see The Sovereign here — that sense of shadowy intrigue is really a key element of their continued power whether we see them or not. Then, of course, you’ve got the Lasso of Lies, and that corruption of Diana’s own lore doesn’t just cut deep emotionally but it also extends that larger theme of unseen manipulation and how quickly and effectively goodness and decency can be corrupted by the world. Then, as a kind of piece de resistance, we get an office with some real Americana vibes, and that powerful addition does wonders for the sheer intimacy and subtle but effective violence that’s helped define this story so far. Like Diana herself, I find myself all tangled up in this cover.

Fall of the House of X #4

Cover by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

I may have commented on this already, but we’re in the midst of a Cyclops renaissance. (Or, I am, at least, after all these years of overt hating.) Blame and/or praise the X-Men ’97 cartoon — it’s been a powerful reminder of what Scott Summers is really capable of both as a hero and a semi-tortured Boy Scout. And I think a big part of that has been his powers, as we’ve gotten dope scenes like this that have shown the world that shooting concussive red beams from your face has some solid applications. I think this Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia cover to Fall of the House of X #4 is right up there with that aforementioned scene. With the right approach and what has to be the equivalent 100 red pens worth of ink, we get a powerful display of Scott’s powers. There’s a heft and force here, a sense of power and influence that consumes the entire page. You can practically feel the spike of rage that would’ve resulted in a mighty blast such as this one. And so when you connect the power more with the various nuances and textures of the man, that’s when we see the real scope and shape of Mr. Summers. Not every artist can capture it with such depth and power, but then maybe that’s OK — if you’re going to nail Cyclops, then you’ve really got to let loose in a major way. Who’d have thought I’d somehow be a Cyclops fan a less vocal Cyclops detractor.

Blow Away #1

Cover by Annie Wu

Judging by the Cover

Meant to be “in the tradition of Fargo and Rear Window,” Blow Away sees a wildlife photographer possibly witness a murder out on the barren frozen wasteland that is Baffin Island. The premise alone is great — a novel way to play around with a semi-familiar noir story in a new and compelling environment. And I can’t think of a more interesting or effective way to set the tone than with this great cover to issue #1 from Annie Wu. Our hero, Brynne Brautigan, is instantly cast as a solitary figure, and that’s going to be essential to understanding the psychic and emotional tone of this story. We get a real sense of how both beautiful and beguiling and also noticeably terrifying this place can be, and that mix is decidedly appealing even as you can’t shake that tinge of discomfort. Also, I love the way that the cracks in the ice look almost like a road — I think it speaks to some combination of authorial intent and the larger mystery that’s at the heart of this book. If absolutely nothing else, I need more reminders of the power of winter as spring/summer once again rears its ugly head. So thanks, Blow Away team, for a cover that excites, unsettles, and proves almost physically effective.

Beyond Real #3

Variant cover by Vincenzo Riccardi

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

I feel like not enough people have been talking about Beyond Real. Sure, our staff here at AIPT have been especially passionate aficionados, but Zack Kaplan, Vincenzo Riccardi, and the rest of the team have been doing some really thoughtful, massively gorgeous work in a book as much about the nature of reality as how far we’ll go for love. And I think both of those sentiments and more are captured in Riccardi’s own amazing variant cover to issue #3. It’s clear that June and her team clearly aren’t in our world, even as there’s a very familiar kind of warmth and magic to all that plant life. (If anything, I think the way this actual place is centered and our connotations of “home” are a really important motif across this story.) There’s bits of sci-fi interplaying with some real fantasy elements — they are on a spectrum, after all — and I love what that interplay does to help create textures within the larger story and to give us something that really uses genre in a wholly meaningful way. I mean, heck, even the dang colors and swirls of “clouds” just makes me feel both whimsical and off-balance, and that mix is both effective and a sure sign that this book’s doing great work. Now, hop aboard this ride before it takes off even further.

Golgotha Motor Mountain #2

Cover by Robbi Rodriguez

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

And speaking of books on a rocket ship to the outer reaches of fantastical storytelling, we arrived at issue #2 of Golgotha Motor Mountain. I’ve made it painfully and awkwardly clear that I simply adore this book — it’s been a strange and intense trip to the heart of America itself. And in issue #2, that profoundly wild tale cements itself in some really important and interesting ways. I dare not spoil what that looks like exactly, but I think this cover from series artist Robbi Rodriguez does a damn fine job in hinting at some of the bigger threads. We  begin, of course, with brothers Elwood and Vernon, and they continue to traipse into increasingly bonkers territory with an absent-mindedness that’s more endearing than it is ill advised. But then we have the large animal and the brooding cowboy figure, and those players aren’t just an interesting new dynamic, but they come in total opposition to the energies and ideas of the brothers. I think this cover nails this book’s larger story bent as well as its increasingly poignant exploration of things like authority, our history of violence, and what’s life really like for those on the edges of society. But rather than screaming all of that, we get this absolute head trip of a cover that messes with your senses and a sense of perspective in the very best ways.

7174AD #1

Variant cover by Ashley Wood

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

You may know T. P. Lousie and Ashley Wood from books like Lore and Tales of Syzpense. Those books have defined the duo’s shared interest in telling minimalist but hugely effective comics tales that blur the lines between horror and sci-fi (among other genres and ideas). Now, they’ve reunited for 7174AD, which is likened to 2000 AD and reportedly collects “bits and bobs from” Wood’s own career. But before we get to some of that goodness, we get this really great variant cover from Wood. I think the image really speaks to a couple of important things: 1) the bare-bones but hugely lively aesthetic that Wood has cultivated over his long career and 2) the 2000 AD-inspired mix of grit and playfulness that is going to be central to this books’ overarching appeal. But I also love that this cover feels unfinished, or that it’s several ideas pieced together. It fits perfectly with the whole “bits and bobs” angle as we feel as if it was plucked from some dusty cabinet and/or it’s somehow being tweaked/finished in real time. That core dynamic is the most exciting of all — it adds a deeply personal element to this title that makes me want to pay closer attention as it also adds to the rich patchwork of the Louise-Wood collaboration. Plus, rocket bikes are always, always dope.

Nightwing #113

Cover by Bruno Redondo

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

Issue #113 is a massive moment in the story of Nightwing. The highly impressive 300th legacy issue, it hints at the very big, very broad history of Dick Grayson before basically telling us to pick up the issue to see what it’s really trying to accomplish. But since we’re all operating in the spirit of celebrating both this book and Nightwing’s story/life at-large, I thought I’d spend a few minutes gushing on yet another solid cover from series artist Bruno Redondo. We’ve had some really cool/silly/fun covers in the past, but this one’s clearly up there. What I love the most is that it continues the theme of movement that’s defined this book, and using that “device” as much as a story element as plot or conflict. It’s also a really great chance to see the deliberate and methodical approach Redondo has taken with this book, and how he clearly understands the way Nightwing moves and operates in the world in a way that not every other artist can match/achieve. And, of course, all of that great artistry and work ends with a really amazing sight gag, which is another essential element of this book. Maybe this one ain’t the most dazzling, but it tells a story of a man, a hero, and a book. Happy #300, team!

Avengers: Twilight #5

Variant cover by Benjamin Su

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

Let’s just get this out of the way right now: of course this cover from Benjamin Su is a pretty overt and deliberate homage to that oh-so classic cover to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. I mean, it’s right there in all its celebratory, unabashedly direct manner, and I think that’s just really, really swell. For one, I think comics is at its best when artists reference each other like this — it’s the way they often celebrate one another’s accomplishments, explore their own influences and inspirations, and even portray comics as one grand, boundary-free storytelling experience. Also, I love this kind of “bootlegging” approach; it’s very punk rock and metal to me, and that just reminds of the underdog spirit that drew me into comics in the first place. And, again if it achieves nothing else, at least the cover feels relevant given the way this story explores a new chapter for the Avengers in a slightly dystopian (and hugely relevant) world. Comics should be about these unabashed displays, and it’s about coming together as both fans and creators to celebrate comics. (That’s doubly true when we forget about some hackneyed “Marvel vs. DC” faux battle that only harms fans over helping anyone.) Oh, and just so it’s also mentioned: at least there’s no “backward or forward” controversy with this cover.

Love Me: A Romance Story #1

Cover by Stefano Cardoselli

Judging by the Cover – 04/17/24 new releases

If you keep up with my hijinks here at Judging by the Cover, you’ll know artist Stefano Cardoselli is a proper favorite of mine. With books like the great Sweet Downfall, Cardoselli has made a name with a wonderfully janky, adorably complex pieces that capture some strange but exciting version of the near-future. And that proves doubly true as he teams with writer Francesca Perillo and colorist Lorenzo Scaramella for Love Me: A Romance Story, in which a taxi-driving robot named JoJo falls in love with a girl named Gilda and begins a whirlwind adventure through future New York City. The cover to #1 exemplifies all of Cardoselli’s most essential trademarks. There’s the cutesy-meets-DIY aesthetic of the future; the sheer detail mixed with that playful cartoonish vibe; the expert use of color to feel both familiar and still a touch alien; technology that feels approachable and yet still very much not of our own world; and just the sheer sense of joy that intensifies almost every corner of this scene. It’s a great snapshot of what I know will be weird but deeply human story, and Cardoselli’s work does so much to create a very specific experience and interpretation of our ever-shifting world/reality. Maybe I don’t love this already, but there’s everything we need for our own whirlwind of comics-centric romance.

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