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Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 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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Poison Ivy #22

Cover by Jessica Fong

Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 new releases

It’s been a minute since we’ve featured a Poison Ivy cover here at everyone’s favorite AIPT feature. What’s ol’ Pamela Isley up to? Turns out, it’s the “beginning of the end” as the “rotten seeds she has sown across America have come home to roost, and her greatest enemy has torn himself from her flesh.” Hey we’ve all been there, amirite?! But as this book continues to do (in addition to just telling a really poignant, deeply human story) is capture these ideas/sentiments with a totally bonkers cover. And yet again it’s Jessica Fong on the pen/inks, showcasing an especially horrific take on the Floronic Man. Sure, it looks like his skin is covered in a sticky puss, and that he’s perhaps ripped apart either a deer and/or a small truck. But don’t let all that profound horror take away from the care and attention put into this piece, and how we can feel all that robust pain and suffering. It’s a cover that makes us confront some rather human ideas among the savage vibes, placing us into a space between the terrifying and the familiar in an aim to make us both uncomfortable and wholly forced to examine some of our deepest held beliefs about ourselves. And that’s this book to a tee: a study not in mayhem and destruction, but what drives us across the trajectory of our lives.

Wolverine #49

Cover by Leinil Francis Yu and Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 new releases

I’m a grown adult who cares more about character development than dope armor. I’m a grown adult who cares more about character development than dope…No, I’m a weakling for the shiniest, most outlandish battle armor any comics artist can muster. And in terms of the penultimate Wolverine issue, cover artists Leinil Francis Yu and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. have given us the sweetest armor this side of an Iron Man cover. But what makes this armor cool — aside from how it’s all adamantium and thus has to be worth, like, $200 million (someone else do that math) — is how deeply functional it is as Logan battles Sabretooth and company. For one, it looks just like his regular suit, and I’d like to think that isn’t just about practicality but reminding Logan about who he is, what he’s done, and what he’s still totally capable of on the field of battle. Plus, it leaves his face totally uncovered, and while that should go against Armor Making 101, there’s no denying that Logan’s screaming, snarling face is one of his most effective and underrated weapons. And if nothing else, it all proves that Logan is such a style icon that he can make gun-metal gray seem hella cool. Nobody is ready for this onslaught, bub.

Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees #6

Cover by Patrick Horvath

Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 new releases

In our recent interview about Free For All, writer-artist Patrick Horvath admitted that he “wasn’t prepared for people to be so enthusiastic” about Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees. And while I totally appreciate that level of modesty in comics creators, it seems fairly obvious given the scope and look of this book that it would be such a big hit. Case in point: Horvath’s own cover to the sixth and final issue. As the solicitation promises that “someone will die,” and that “unspeakable actions will give quite a scare,” we get a rather “peaceful” moment with Sam. Sure,it looks like she’s vibrating from feeding a body into a giant table saw, but I love how this suggests that she’s somehow “merging” or “re-aligning” with the wild bear that she’s encountered throughout the book. That’s not just a case of detailed, results-oriented storytelling, but a really great tease for her final fate as well as a continuation of this book’s core themes (i.e., home/family, the natural state of things, balance, etc.) That, and it shows how powerful and visceral Sam really is, and that this story may not end the way we might have assumed if this is what she’s capable of when backed into a corner. Either way, covers like this prove why this book’s gutted us at each and every new turn.

Crocodile Black #1

Cover by Andrea Sorrentino

Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 new releases

Admittedly, the tag line for Crocodile Black isn’t the coolest: “What makes someone turn to crime—especially in a modern, pandemic-riddled dystopia?” But what said tag lacks in grace and coolness, it more than makes up for in just being painfully, painfully relevant to our utterly wacky times. Because the book follows Danny as he’s forever changed by an event that turns his life as “dark as the black, crocodile skin boots that he can’t take his eyes off of…” And the cover to the debut, from artist Andrea Sorrentino, does a damn fine job in capturing some of these key elements. We begin, of course, with a black crocodile, which is either wholly scary or a nice little touch of metaphysics. We see Danny, who is clearly tumbling into a dark life even as he still seems distant and disconnected from the events. And, of course, there’s the way blood is treated here — almost over-stylized to the point of being cartoonish, and that once more speaks to our character’s immersion into a world that’s as unfamiliar as it is increasingly unsettling. So, no, tag lines aren’t everything, but what does matter is how story and art align in such a thoughtful, compelling way to help preview and encapsulate the book in such a truly great cover. Two snaps from the mouth of a giant croc.

Night People #3

Variant cover by Jacob Phillips

Judging by the Cover

Artist Jacob Phillips can draw a lot of things really well. That list includes gritty, grounded noir (Newburn) and equally gritty, grounded westerns (The Enfield Gang Massacre). As it turns out, Phillips can also do horror exceedingly well. Now, mind you, the actual book is Night People, which in and of itself is fairly gritty and grounded fare. But as we move into issue #3, things shift a little here. Namely, Easy Earl Blakey, with the most shakey of memories, finds himself “wanted for shooting a New Orleans cop — and the only thing he can think to do is drive.” So while I don’t think there’s going to be skull monsters, I love what Phillips has done regardless. Because it’s not just about the obvious message here — “we’re all monsters inside and have to face that truth in our darkest, quietest moments” — but something altogether more insidious and weird. Specifically, it doesn’t take much for our true natures to emerge, and they’re not so much scary as a kind of comforting revelation (as seen by Earl’s face of understated peace). Once we get a real look at who we are and what we’re capable of, then the world opens itself into something altogether more wild and fantastical. It’s a really neat way to add something “magical” and dark without diminishing its groundedness, and I love how this book grows and develops with each new chapter and contributing creator.

Washed in the Blood #2

Cover by Romina Moranelli

Judging by the Cover

Washed in the Blood did two things to hook me right away. First was that premise: In a story that’s basically “Black Mirror with a post-apocalyptic twist,” what if you were somehow “called upon by the worst god of all time?” The second achievement was issue #1’s totes excellent cover from Jorge Corona, which took that premise and made something equally uplifting and powerful as much as it was the worst confirmation that we’re not alone in the universe. The second issue’s cover, from artist Romina Moranelli, feels like a really important evolution for the book’s core storyline and overarching look/aesthetic. Without speaking to the story proper, I get the sense that the god and they person they’ve called upon are getting a little more one-on-one time (after some much-needed suffering and chaos from our deity, it would seem). And while we don’t get as much eyeball-melting insanity as the debut cover, this one extends and grounds the story, giving us something to terrify and unsettle as intended but in a way that moves the process along toward something affective and all-consuming in wholly new/different ways. It’s the “and then” of the story that’s being told across the covers, and it grows the emotional experience in some really effective ways while still leaving ample room for the book itself to really mess with our heads. I could go and see how that process continues with issue #3, but then I’m just too scared to see our future.

The Avengers #14

Variant cover by Chris Bachalo

Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 new releases

The 14th issue of the latest Avengers serie is going to be a big one as a whole new lineup makes its debut. This time, ol’ reliable himself, Steve Rogers, has assembled Quicksilver, Hawkeye, Hercules, and Hazmat to “take on the hordes of vampires attacking all over the world.” And the Hawkeye in question just so happens to be one Kate Bishop, who is featured in her element likely as the newly-minted team “encounter an organized army of vampires in uniform led by a surprise villain.” Now, is this image just inherently cool? You better believe it — there’s something especially stoic about facing down the odds like this that speaks to the core of the entire Hawkeye person and why Kate Bishop flocked to it as she did. But I’d be lying that, upon my very first viewing of this Chris Bachalo cover, that I thought she was launching all 30 or so arrows at once, in a feat of master archery like we’ve never seen before. Does the fact that she’s not actually volleying that much ammunition someone’s way somehow diminish this cover? No, but I would still very much like to see a Hawkeye pull that off sometime. In the meantime, however, I’ll totally settle for this standout moment amid an already great roll-out of the Blood Hunt event.

The Boy Wonder #1

Cover by Juni Ba and Chris O’Halloran

Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 new releases

There’s a lot to be excited for regarding The Boy Wonder. For one, we get Juni Ba on writing and art duty, and that’s some overtime we should be happy to pay out ourselves. But we also get a fairytale by way of DC’s Black Label imprint, and while I love the whole adult-oriented bent these books usually have, I’m fully OK with opening it up to the youngsters. Plus, it’s a Damian Wayne-starring story about his relationships with his many brothers/siblings. But if you really need proof of why The Boy Wonder could be a proper A-1 title, look no further than the Ba-Chris O’Halloran-penned cover to issue #1. We get some real Court of Owls vibes, and that’s always going to be a highlight of the Bat Canon for me. And that’s in addition to the overt fairytale energies being demonstrated — it’s a little twist of a gimmick, but I totally believe that it’s a really great filter/lens for further exploring the true Damian. Plus, there’s a kind of regality and ambiance that’s been imbued into the other heroes, and that’s not only contextually appropriate but also just a nice way to further demonstrate how Damian views himself and his world. With a careful and inventive approach like this, brimming with intent and emotion, it’s a no wonder this one’s already making heaps of noise.

The Deviant #5

Cover by Joshua Hixson

Judging by the Cover – 05/08/24 new releases

For whatever reason, I just haven’t been paying attention to The Deviant. Which is weird, because we get a James Tynion IV-penned story, with art from Joshua Hixson, that’s all about a Santa-themed serial killer told over a half century time frame. Maybe it was that issue #1 launched in November 2023, and I’m such a stickler for the rules that it ruins any fund I can truly have with comics. But if there’s one thing that’s got me paying attention, and could get me rounding up the back issues, it’s Hixson’s own cover the the fifth of nine issues. For one, I love the lack of emphasis this cover exudes — it’s just a moment in a small town that’s not regarded with overt drama, and that feels like such a deeply interesting choice. (It’s about making it our own discovery rather than broadcasting why we should care/read.) I also love that it’s portrayed through the eyes of a young kid, and we’re not sure if what we see is real or a trick of the eyes from someone who’s brain hasn’t yet fully formed. (Really, that could be a Santa-themed killer as much as it could be a weird pile of rags.) And the fact that the condemned sign feels new/new enough just adds a whole new layer of terror to this moment. The best horror books scare in a thoughtful, deliberate manner, and this one seems dedicated to scaring us like they’re building a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

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