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Judging by the Cover – 05/15/24 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 05/15/24 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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Doom #1

Variant cover by Maria Wolf

Judging by the Cover – 05/15/24 new releases

Doom has me especially excited for a whole slew of reasons. First and foremost, a Doom solo book is always good (even if it’s just a one shot). But then we get the combined forces of Jonathan Hickman and Sanford Greene, who go all Voltron on with a mighty tale about Doom “[harnessing] more power than any human has ever wielded before in order to try to stop Galactus from bringing about the death of the universe.” And if I weren’t already vibrating with ample joy and excitement, we get this totally amazing Maria Wolf variant cover to boot. Anyone who knows me knows I will feature a Wolf cover whenever possible, and this one stands out as any especially profound example of Wolf’s skills. We get the overt intensity we expect from Doom, and his power is little pouring off his body like so much magical steam. I also love that more robot/mechanical look without impacting his humanity — it’s a balance that’s essential to a really solid Doom depiction. And, of course, the sheer detail and just the presence of that fur collar/coat — it just adds to the sheer charisma and presence that we think of anytime Doom saunters ito our thoughts. I don’t care if this Doom has anything to do with the story proper — I’d watch this version cook ramen just to see him in action.

Action Comics #1065

Variant cover by Jorge Jiménez

Judging by the Cover – 05/15/24 new releases

While it was cut out of the final interview, Joshua Williamson actually hinted at this Jorge Jiménez during that recent roundtable for “House of Brainiac.” Does it have anything to do with the story proper? Maybe, it is all about Lobo and Superman having to work together, and what better way to pick up on that overt tension and sense of unease than with a “friendly” bike race. But even if it didn’t align with the event itself, it speaks volumes about Lobo and Supes. Like, how despite having a whole zoo of intergalactic treasures and wildlife, Superman doesn’t have access to a motorcycle. (Like, what’s the point of SuperCorp then?!) Not that he needs some space hog anyway, as he’s somehow able to keep up with Lobo — or the Main Man is getting his rocks off by toying with the Man of Steel before leaving him in his space dirt. Next, based off the speed lines and general sense of momentum, it seems like the pair are doing about 200 mph, which almost makes me feel bad for the people of Metropolis (but then that’s sort of what you get for those great views and art deco architecture). Yes, this whole event is very serious, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and do a little character development while you’re at it. If they didn’t, that’s how Brainiac wins.

Ice Cream Man #39

Cover by Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran

Judging by the Cover – 05/15/24 new releases

And speaking of high octane vehicular action, we make our way to the 39th issue of Ice Cream Man. Fans of this column will regularly know I feature this book as both an exploration of Martin Morazzo’s increasingly awesome art and how true horror can take on a few different looks to really scare and unsettle. I get that a car crash like this doesn’t seem like horror per say, but then this book has always been about making the “ordinary” anything but. For one, it’s the nonchalance of it all — the book places something firmly in front of our eyes as a way to shock and disturb with such unrelenting deliberateness. Similarly, we’re invited to scan this image, and as our disgust and unease grow and grow, we can’t help but fill in the gaps or make wild assumptions based on this growing sense of terror. Even if nothing seems out of place (amid total devastation, mind you), that whole process is nonetheless deeply thrilling as much as it is emotionally and psychologically exhausting. Even the titular Ice Cream Man makes an appearance (sorta), and that speaks to this idea of his Michael Myers-esque presence in this book and how this very unique story plugs into the horror of this larger universe. It’s the opposite of a cheap scare, and based on the cover, it’s going to be another evolution in this book’s master class on truly terrifying horror.

Briar #5

Cover by Alex Lins

Judging by the Cover

Briar, if you’re unaware, debuted in fall 2022. It dropped a few issues over a slightly delayed release schedule, and has pretty much gone quiet since issue #4 in April 2023. But after some rumblings, the book returns with issue #5. While you should absolutely catch up with the first four issues (or maybe re-read them just in case), all you really need to know is that “Briar and her companions have become quite the band of bounty hunters, with a reputation for murder and mayhem that belies their chivalrous intentions.” Based on the cover from series artist Alex Lins, things are about to get especially heavy for Briar and the gang. There’s something about stripping out the color and larger detail that captures the overt darkness and struggle of Briar, and how she’s very much alone in the wilderness of life. You can almost feel and taste the blood and rust on her sword, and the crack of her leather clothing/armor — it’s a deeply visceral experience that captures 1/10th of the hell she and her companions have been through. Even the white space is interesting: is her story unwritten, or is this when Briar’s fate finally reaches its conclusion? Forget waiting and delays — Briar is a beast that demands your whole attention regardless.

Monolith #1

Cover by Valerio Giangiordano

Judging by the Cover

Debuting in Spawn #312, Monolith is a “servant of Omega Spawn” that will “soon turn on him and become a member of the Scorched” (per the Spawn wiki, of course). But what happens before all that succinct travesty and betrayal? Well, Monolith gets his own solo miniseries from writer Sean Lewis and artist Valerio Giangiordano that explores both his connection to Omega Spawn and his life leading up to that first “encounter” with Al Simmons. Based on the cover to issue #1 from Giangiordano, Monolith has quite the bit of struggle to contend with in his journey toward destiny. That, or all the green blood/vomit is that of his many, many foes — in which case maybe it’s better that he’s all locked up. Beyond that, I just love the general vibes and aesthetic here; it feels very much like an extra grimy take on 2000 AD, and that feels like a really great move for this corner of the Spawn-verse. At the same time, though, it’s clear that this book aligns nicely with the other Spawn titles from an aesthetic standpoint, and it adds even more layers and emotionality and general heft as this mighty canon evolves and extends even further. And if all else fails, just peep Violator in all his ugly, horrid glory.

Uncanny Valley #2

Variant cover by Flaviano Armentaro

Judging by the Cover

In my review of issue #1 of Uncanny Valley, I spoke about the “formulaic” approach of writer Tony Fleecs. Now, I never meant that as an insult or even a criticism; just that Fleecs was clearly working out some big ideas and energies in this book and similar titles (i.e., Feral). However, if you needed further proof that Uncanny Valley is anything but formulaic in any regard, we have this totes great variant cover to issue #2 from artist Flaviano Armentaro. What I love about this piece is that we get everything we need to know about the story — namely, the melding of the cartoonish with our own world and the role (whatever that may be) of the crows. And while Armentaro’s take on the cartoon world is just as bright and vivid, and his version of reality decidedly firm and gritty, he pushes both “sides” to their natural extreme. The end result is something that drives the book’s premise into more intense and compelling territory, and shows us that there’s some real power to this “gimmick.” That, and it still feels very much aligned with what the book proper is doing, and that shows that there’s heaps of texture and nuance packed into this book. Plus, even if something is formulaic, if it’s this totally compelling and powerful, who really cares either way?

Carnage #7

Cover by Juan Ferreyra

Judging by the Cover – 05/15/24 new releases

Yes, I did just cover Carnage #5 in April. And, no, I won’t apologize — your boy needs more body horror in his life, and he’s going to share it with you no matter what your complaints. Because while there’s some pretty steep competition in the comics biz, artist Juan Ferreyra once again proves why he’s a true master. (And also why we may want to check in on him and/or search his backyard every now and again.) It begins, oddly enough, with the uneven angle of Cletus — it’s that not-so-natural angle or layout that instantly tells us something is wrong (even if we can’t wholly place our finger on it). From there, it becomes pretty obvious that all is not right at all as Carnage consumes its beloved host in a way that you’d be consumed by fire or devoured by crocodiles — in a massively painful manner that almost strips away every shred of your humanity. I especially like that we’ve caught him mid-transformation; it further plays up the lack of humanity (that’s a proper theme of Carnage in general) as well as trying to invite us into scarng and shocking ourselves by trying to understand just what’s going on with this piece. And if all that subtle, more thoughtful stuff doesn’t appeal to you somehow, spend a few minutes enjoying bloody tissue claws ripping up a human body.

Green Lantern #11

Cover by Xermánico

Judging by the Cover – 05/15/24 new releases

Throughout this ongoing Green Lantern series, writer Jeremy Adams has gotten a lot of time to shine. He clearly loves/respects Hal Jordan, and this whole story has been a really novel way to grow and extend his story and mythos in some really interesting ways. But Adams’ story wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the work of Xermánico — the artist’s interiors have been clean, compelling, and sharp as a tack to really let us see just what makes Jordan so vital and interesting. Yet I’d point to Xermánico’s own cover to issue #11 as a proper standout among this run. I mean, just look at the sheer detail and overarching sense of power — it’s nearing Alex Ross levels of glory and majesty (albeit with a little more dirt and chaos that makes for a more well-rounded experience perfect for the kind of heroics Jordan usually leans into). I also just love the message behind this cover: no matter what he’s been through, it doesn’t take much to depower or cripple Jordan, and having that powerful reminder of his limitations is exactly the kind of unflinching honesty and depth this book has exuded/emphasized every step of the way. I’ve got to give him a real hand: Xermánico has outdone himself yet again.

Sanction #1

Variant cover by Ray Fawkes

Judging by the Cover – 05/15/24 new releases

I was already on board with Sanction after I read through its solicitation. It’s a detective story in 1987 Leningrad, which to me says, “death of the Soviet Union,” which is a genre I could eat like daily porridge. Then, there’s talk of an “old, unsolved crime” that risks the lives of its two main detectives, and I need to inject this squarely into my brainpan. But then I found out that this variant cover was done by series writer Ray Fawkes, and somehow I want this book even more than I already did. That’s because if you know covers by writers, they always provide some keen insight into the story itself. (Heck, even Tom King’s work felt revelatory. Somehow.) In the case of Fawkes and Sanction, I get the way the past feels a little blurry, and what that might say about memory and our own perceptions of time. I love the very stoic, deliberate style — maybe that speaks to the feel and tone of this particular story somehow? If I understood Russian, I might even know if that document has some larger value or neat little hint/secret to share. And none of that’s even touching on the giant man-monster, which in my defense seems pretty obvious enough. Regardless, this cover feels like a perfect preview even if it doesn’t actually answer any questions, and that whole dynamic is just another reason I must have it posthaste.

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