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Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 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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Green Lantern #12

Variant cover by Keron Grant

Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 new releases

Yes, there’s heaps and heaps of lore about the Green Lantern ring and the whole dang emotional spectrum. A veritable encyclopedia about where the energy comes from and what it’s capable and all of that wonderfully nerdy trivia. But do you ever wonder how it might feel? Like, is it cold to the touch? Does it crackle like electricity? What’s it actually do to the human/alien body upon contact. (If you really know the answers, feel free to nerd out below.) But all of those slightly dumb queries are exactly why I love this Keron Grant variant to Green Lantern #12. Because it’s a really solid example (but perhaps not the only one) of what I think the GL energy would look/behave like. The way it might feel overwhelming visually, or pull in light and matter around it. The sense of heat and overarching intensity on a near-physical level. Even the sense that it would be a really big accomplishment almost every time it was “turned on” beyond, saying, flying around or making a flashlight in the dark. In short, the kind of heft I’d really associate with a personification of willpower in the known universe, and the sort of significance the whole spectrum really and truly deserves. It’s so great, in fact, that I’ve even somehow been distracted by the hyper-kawaii spin on Hal Jordan.

Crocodile Black #2

Variant cover by Anand Radhakrishnan

Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 new releases

As he tells it, artist Anand Radhakrishnan is just about done with covers for 2024. As such, we’re all luckier than a four leaf clover to be able to peep this utterly bonkers variant cover to Crocodile Black #2. There’s just so much to love about this cover, and that of course begins with the actual art. I make a lot of “this is like X on drugs or whatever,” but I generally thought that I was on the worst shrooms trip ever when I saw this. It’s the kind of in-your-face (get it?) and unwavering piece that makes you deeply upset but also makes it physically impossible to turn away from such a robust accomplishment. And not only is it brain-meltingly appealing, but I love the counter it presents to the more streamlined, wholly sleek art from this book (including Andrea Sorrentino’s own main cover) — it just adds a whole new set of layers and dimensions to this book. That’s especially true as the book begins to take shape in issue #2 — as the solicitation talks about Leo “[taking] a liking to Danny’s violent tendencies…,” the overt edginess and heft of this variant cover really starts to resonate even deeper than it has thus far. Sometimes you want a piece that doesn’t make sense because it just works so damn well, and this one cuts to the core of this still-young book to tell us everything we need to know — which is mostly, things are getting bad and we aren’t ready whatsoever.

Transformers #9

Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer

Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 new releases

In Man of Tomorrow #12, Superman does Atlas a favor by holding the heavens so the Titan can attend a wedding. And it’s such a hokey but deeply effective little ditty, and one that just speaks to how Superman is such a good guy that he’ll do anything for someone else (even if it feels like for a second he’ll be replacing Atlas permanently). It turns out that the same kind of basic imagery works really well with Optimus Prime. As this latest Daniel Warren Johnson-penned story continues to build its take on the Autobots-Decepticons ceaseless battle, we get a moment to see the exact kind of hero Prime is and the overwhelming love and respect he has for humanity and life in general. The world here is practically about so split in two, and he’s doing his best to keep it up and all together even as his robot body is about to give out. There’s this deep dignity and power to that imperfection, and Prime is worthy of our love and praise not cause he’s the strongest but because he carries the burden regardless. His mere actions speak volumes, and he’s someone to look up to for doing what needs to be done even when it very well might kill you. Sure, I’ve always adored Prime over the Man of Steel, but this one cover just encapsulates why there is no greater robot hero in fiction.

Deadpool #3

Cover by Taurin Clarke

Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 new releases

And from one hero who can’t be beat to one who just won’t shut up, we come to Deadpool #3. I can’t say that, in theory, a Deadpool/Crossbones showdown would’ve had me psyched to the max. But then to see it play our courtesy of the uber talented Taurin Clarke, and I’m actually really and truly jazzed. I love the added sense of brutality by Crossbones — he feels like a much bigger player than he ever has before, and there’s a kind of quiet fury on display here that makes him a proper threat. But, of course, the star of the show is Wade Wilson, who we see beaten and broken for ::checks notes:: the 1,763,854th time in comics. Yet this time is just a little bit different, perhaps. Maybe it’s the shaky lettering (he may still be yapping on, but he’s clearly affected). The tinge of brown to the blood and explosive marks, and how that makes me feel really uncomfortable. Even the weight that yellow background is pulling to help execute every element here. Maybe Wade’s not in a new position, but all the feelings and energies surrounding it feel extra heightened and robust. If you’re going to beat a dead horse, make it look like this, please.

Into the Unbeing (Part One) #1

Cover by Hayden Sherman

Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 new releases

Between Blow Away and Cemetery Kids Don’t Die, writer Zac Thompson has been killing it. Then, you pair him with Hayden Sherman (of Dark Spaces: Dungeon), and I can’t think of a book I’ve been more hyped about in quite some time. Sure, some of that’s with the fact that it’s another book I’ve seen pushed for months via social media. Or that the premise sees “climate scientists working in a remote base camp on the Australian outback discover an impossible landform” (that they have to enter, of course). But it’s also very much the art I’ve seen, and that includes Sherman’s own cover to issue #1. First off, anyone who knows me should be well aware that body horror like this always grabs my attention. Yet Sherman’s inventiveness and technical skill add something new, and this “giant skull spewing bloody spaghetti” is also deeply moving to the point of being beautiful. I also really like the scale of the people here; it makes the blood stuff feel all the more powerful as well as maybe hinting at some important thematic ideas (especially as this book explores/touches on climate change). It feels like such an iconic image, like something ripped from a (good) Ridley Scott movie, and it’s clearly the thing that blows the top of our skulls off the prepare us for a generally poignant and impactful kind of horror story. Let it shower blood all day, folks.

Godzilla: Skate or Die #1

Variant cover by Juni Ba

Judging by the Cover

I have done, said, supported, and consumed some pretty overly silly, borderline dumb ideas in my life. And yet not even I think I’d be on board for Godzilla: Skate or Die. The brainchild (or hellspawn) of writer-artist Louie Joyce, it’s basically described as “Australian skater punks versus Varan and the King of the Monsters,” which is an idea so weird and dumb that it’s actually brilliant — or I’ve lost my marbles at last. While I quite liked Joyce’s own main cover — it has some real “edgy reboot of the Burger King Kids Club” vibes — the thing that cinched it for me was this great Juni Ba variant cover. To begin, it’s the bold red, the perfect color choice if we’re going to get all “xtreme” with it. From there, it’s the ’70s/’80s-leaning vibes of the skater, which makes me think of Lords of Dogtown (and not the BK Kids Club). And, of course, it’s that Godzilla’s sound effects are basically used as the dopest ramp/rail in the world, and that’s the kind of genius gimmickry that I can get behind more than Godzilla versus than Johnny Kapahala here. Do I hope that the story somehow involves Godzilla using, like, a train as a skateboard or something? Sure, but barring that, I’ll accept this dope cover as proof of this book being a truly good idea.

Ain’t No Grave #2

Cover by Jorge Corona

Judging by the Cover

I’ll admit that issue #1 of Ain’t No Grave didn’t exactly blow me away (even as it intrigued me near-endlessly). But where the narrative had some bugs to work, series artist Jorge Corona totally dazzled with his artwork. That extends with this cover of issue #2, as Ryder “seeks out Death in the city of Cypress” (only to then also recognize that “Death is on the hunt for her as well”). I love the unique take on wild west and cowboy yarns — it all feels very dark and moody and yet nonetheless playful and maybe even a tad bit folksy, and that dynamic feels like such an inventive but familiar spin on the genre. We also get some neat (what I assume) are zombies, and even if they’re not of the undead, that kind of device — which promises chaos and fury galore — feels like a neat little spin to this story and a way to nail the supernatural stuff without overwhelming Ryder’s personal journey. And speaking of Ryder once more, her depiction continues to be great; those oversized gloves make me think she’s out of her depth, and yet she’s clearly a scrapper, and together it just makes for a more compelling and dynamic lead. I’m a fan of mayhem like this in general, but the fact that it’s so layered and thoughtful just makes this more of a scrap that I’d love to be in the midst of (metaphorically, of course).

Scarlet Witch #1

Variant cover by P. Craig Russell

Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 new releases

No, you’re not experiencing deja vu. Steve Orlando (as joined by artist Jacopo Camagni) is launching another Scarlet Witch series. In the “reginite” — that’s a word, yeah? — Wanda has “carved out a haven for herself in upstate New York, but it’s all about to go up in flames.” The book also asks “what happens when an unstoppable force meets the end of all things,” and my only real answer so far is this truly excellent variant/incentive cover from P. Craig Russell. And, sure, it’s actually just a poster from circa 1987 (when I was just 1 years old), but time is a flat circle and everything old is new again. Because regardless of age, this cover captures the melancholy and rage that Wanda is likely experiencing as her tranquility is once more ripped from her hands. There’s just as much a sense of grief and isolation as there is something deeply violent and unsettling here, and those ideas and energies play off one another in a way that feels deeply, deeply moving on a near existential level. Yes, the poster happened decades before the story was birthed, but the best storytelling can transcend such limits and notions to smack us squarely in the jaw with something that captures a power and essence of a character. If this truly is just the beginning, then this latest chapter is going to be an absolute barn-burner.

Outsiders #8

Variant cover by Christian Ward

Judging by the Cover – 06/12/24 new releases

And speaking of pissed off female heroes soldering on their own, we arrive at Outsiders #8. Without spoiling too much of the rather significant issue #7, Batwoman has “departed the Outsiders on a solo quest of her own design,” where she’s wound up in the American southwest to face a “dangerous specter [stalking] the innocent.” If we’re rally going to tell a superhero-starring western with some deep emotionality, I can’t think of a better choice of cover artists than Christian Ward. Because what could’ve been a rather straightforward variant cover feels intensely compelling. Maybe it’s the fact that Batwoman is underdressed for the situation, which speaks some essential truth about her. Or, that the specter here matches the sky but yet not exactly, and that somehow feels really important for this issue at-large. Even the swirl of the sand here makes it feel like this place won’t be the desert even yours truly is used to as proud Arizona resident. All of it together makes me think we’re going to see some version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — only we’re all on drugs and not the characters/actors. Welcome to Bat Country, indeed.

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