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Judging by the Cover – 06/26/24 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 06/26/24 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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Harley Quinn #41

Cover by Sweeney Boo

Judging by the Cover – 06/26/24 new releases

At first glance, there’s nothing initially eye-grabbingly robust about this cover. But then you might have a reaction like I did where you think, even for a second, that you’ve fallen into a time hole and it’s now 1997. Don’t worry, though, as you’re still very much in our absolute nightmare of a timeline, and we can thank Sweeney Boo for giving us a small trip back to a really great period in DC Comics. I talk a lot about nostalgia in this column, both as a force for good (we have to connect with and engage our shared history) as much as a force for bad (too much reverence for the past denies the creation of all that’s new and exciting). But Boo has really nailed that thin line between those “ideals” in a novel way. We get all the proper hallmarks of that era, like the old-school Harley costume, the font (the Harley logo is just immaculate), and even the era-appropriate issue number box. But Boo’s style is far more vivid and playful than what you would’ve seen back then, and we recognize what that dichotomy means and how it feels like a way to play with and remix the past without getting bogged down in it entirely. There’s a joy and silliness here that is distinctly 2024, and I love how this book maintains its singular identity enough to do something like this with grace and intent. The only thing I truly miss about this mid-90s-ish period? Doritos 3Ds.

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #6

Cover by Davide Paratore

Judging by the Cover – 06/26/24 new releases

If you weren’t aware for some reason, the ongoing Blood Hunt event basically began in Moon Knight circa July 2021. Yes, writer Jed MacKay started courting vampires (albeit the MLM-launching kind) as a solid preview of the bloody violence and sharp betrayal that’s defined Marvel’s latest summer event. As such, you’d really expect any MacKay-penned Moon Knight stories to really be at the top of the pile when it comes for sweet, sweet vamp action. And I certainly think that’s the case for Vengeance of the Moon Knight #6, which follows the Midnight Mission — sans its leadership — confronting the nasty bloodsuckers that have overtaken New York City. Artist Davide Paratore has done a bang up job capturing the animalistic nature of the vamps; that choice of blue does a lot to stoke fear and something primal. Meanwhile, Reese and Soldier manage to look both crisp AF and perpetually badass as they tear their way through vamps. (Soldier’s whole vibe here feels especially in line with his boss’ frenetic fighting style.) And, of course, the piece de resistance of this whole cover, 8-Ball seemingly ripping apart a vamp with his bare hands in a visual that’s doubly silly and nonetheless massively unsettling (in the best way, of course). There’s lots of blood and gore in the event, but this piece just shows us how you do it with style and the right  emotionality.

Universal Monsters: Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives! #3

Cover by Dave Stewart and Matthew Roberts

Judging by the Cover – 06/26/24 new releases

Whether I mentioned it enough in my own reviews, the ongoing Creature from the Black Lagoon Lives! series really focuses on dichotomy. For one thing, there’s two writers (Dan Watters and Ram V) and often a couple artists (including Dave Stewart and Matthew Roberts) on this issue and cover. More importantly, the book itself is interested in idea of humanity versus our baser interests as well as the line we cross from good and decent people to outright killers. And it’s that very consistent interest that has informed this cover to issue #3, which explores the “surprising connection” that both Collier and Kate Marsden share with the Creature. This piece does a damn good job of showing the kind of “imperfect” dichotomy at play in this book — it’s not an even split between man and minster. One finger alone, for instance, rides the line between regular old phalange and a transformation into something more monstrous. And that says a lot: the lines between things and ideals aren’t so clear cut, and we can often ebb and flow between these “pillars” on a spectrum that’s infuriating to experience but a joy to watch play out across a story. That, and it can be hard to tell just which “side” is winning, which is another valuable point about how we force ourselves into these binary choices and how the world’s more ugly, brilliant, and entirely complicated. It’s just one function of this generally great book, and how it continues to do interesting things with a large fish man.

Grommets #2

Variant cover by Alex Riegel

Judging by the Cover

I already spoke about nostalgia’s ups and downs with the Harley Quinn cover, but who says a little more would be a bad idea? Because retromania is the name of the game for Grommets — it’s all about the joys of being young and dumb and how much punk music and skateboarding could make you feel less stupid and alone. But like the Quinn cover, the book here does a really great job of balancing that endlessly shiny nostalgia with context galore and some pocket sand to give us a more thoughtful and grounded take on our sunny memories. Yes, artist Alex Riegel has basically crafted a kind of MAD magazine meets Norman Rockwell piece for issue #2; it’s all pretty girls and endless beaches and the freedom and magic of discovering the world as a smelly teenage boy. But I also think there’s touches here that really complicate this form of nostalgia. The sun, for instance, makes me think I’m really staring at a painting, and that’s a good thing as it grounds and contextualizes this nostalgia. Or, the fact that things don’t feel overtly exaggerated or needlessly stylized — it’s just sort of how things felt, and that’s an honesty that’s really important. Grommets has the heart and courage to both look longingly at the past and still be utterly real and dedicated to truth. The cover facilitates the same experience, and its’ one of the reasons this book is so magical so early on. Also, people did go to the beach in actual Chuck Taylors.

Godzilla: Here There Be Dragons II – Sons of Giants #1

Cover by Inaki Miranda

Judging by the Cover

If you missed last summer’s Godzilla: Here There Be Dragons, it basically dealt with Sir Francis Drake “hiding his treasure on Monster Island.” (If Godzilla can skateboard, he can tussle with Drake, folks.) This latest book, then, explores that “conspiracy” and addresses big questions about the Sons of Giants and “their connection to Godzilla and the other monsters.” But I have just as many questions about this really solid cover from series artist Inaki Miranda. Like, what are those little charm things, and do they have anything to do with the Talismans as featured in that unsung ’90s gem Jackie Chan Adventures? Are we seeing Godzilla eating or spitting out these magic little rock-lets, and does that matter? Similarly, is this Godzilla in some kind of fetal position prep mode before he breaks through the ocean, or is he somehow being beaten down by the Sons of Giants or some other force? And what is this exact shade of red so that I can paint my living room with it right away? There’s other queries that abound, but at least one answer is already clear by now: this latest Godzilla book is bound to be packed with high seas adventures, a healthy dose of magic, and maybe some conspiracies to boot. Oh, one last Q: how do you get Godzilla’s back spikes looking extra sharp?

Gatchaman #1

Variant cover by Sanford Greene

Judging by the Cover

You may know Gatchaman as Battle of the Planets, but don’t be confused: it’s basically Power Rangers but with bird-themed costumes. But none of that matters too much given that this book’s meant to stand on its own as much as it also spins out of the OG anime series, and the end result is a book that’s going to help encapsulate what made Gatchaman popular for so many years and also open it up to an audience that’s increasingly hungry for these kids of properties. I think they’re going to do that in a way that’s reflected by this totally excellent variant cover from Sanford Greene. Given that this is a Cullen Bunn-penned story, I think an appropriate level of grit and intensity are to be expected. And I love that for this book — it makes it feel almost like Dark Knight Returns or something, and that’s a neat little counter to the sleek energy that I’d associate with Gatchaman. At the same time, the series’ prevailing sense of whimsy and adventure are still very much a part of this cover — all of the henchmen are clearly dressed like owls or whatever and that’s such a generally solid design choice. There’s joy and there’s action, fun but also darkness, and the book will likely try its best to appeal to all those ideas and more as it balances its longstanding and soon-to-be passionate newbies. Just as long as we get the team’s super cool vehicles.

Zatanna: Bring Down The House #1

Variant cover by Álvaro Martínez Bueno

Judging by the Cover – 06/26/24 new releases

In terms of general excitement, Zatanna: Bring Down The House is right up there with Christmas and when Dolly Parton got her own Krispy Kreme donuts. How could you not be overjoyed: it’s a Black Label book from Mariko Tamaki and Javier Rodríguez about a Zatanna who is happy to make her money as a terrible Las Vegas magician until “an interdimensional vortex cracks open during [her] act, and a terrifying demon crawls out to kill her.” (If that doesn’t snap you of your long-running apathy streak, then nothing will.) It’s going to be a chance to explore the deeply human side of one of DC’s most powerful magic users, and a story about overcoming your past even when you can’t or don’t want to. It’s with all of that in mind that I really enjoy this variant cover from Álvaro Martínez Bueno. For one, it’s seemingly a POV of Zatanna, and that’s a neat little device to get us into her magical top hat. At the same time, we’re seeing her experience the layers upon layers of terrible magic shows she’s put on over the years, and how the rips and tears and interplay between each poster must feel like this deeply cutting reminder of her own inability to face her demons and personal shortcomings. As if the entirety of her life in this story can be boiled down to a few fleeting sheets of poster board, and what that might do to someone who knows that they can do so, so much more. I don’t know what will happen with that demon, but I am pretty sure this story is going to be the best kind of scary, depressive, and whimsical.

Daredevil #10

Cover by John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, and Marcio Menyz

Judging by the Cover – 06/26/24 new releases

A beaten down, wholly broken Daredevil isn’t exactly new at this point. Heck, I think I’ve seen Matt Murdock closer to death’s door more than I’ve seen him healthy and not bleeding from several major arteries/with a smashed nose. And yet iconic artist John Romita, Jr. (alongside inker Scott Hanna and colorist Marcio Menyz) are clearly onto something novel enough with this cover to Daredevil #10. For one, after the events of the previous nine issues, it only makes sense Murdock would be this absolutely battered. Perhaps even more so as he’s set to face off with a shocking return of someone described only as “Daredevil’s greatest foe.” But it’s so much more still that makes this cover a standout. The tears feel more strategic, and the fact that it’s a fabric costume (and not body armor like Daredevil sometimes wears) just makes the damage feel all the more effective. I like that one glove is only damaged — it speaks to something specific happening, and I badly want to know what that is pronto. Similarly, his face is puffy and swollen in all the right ways, and that little touch makes this feel like a more organic beating. Heck, even Murdock’s posture here is that perfect balance between never say die and “Help, I think all of my ribs are cracked.” All in all, it’s more of what we’ve seen from Daredevil but done with a new kind of depth, passion, and sincerity. Not that I’m complaining: nobody takes a beating like the Man with No Fear (but evidently great health insurance).

Anansi Boys #1

Variant cover by Shawn Martinbrough

Judging by the Cover – 06/26/24 new releases

Anansi Boys, if you’re unaware, is a kind of spin-off to Neil Gaiman’s beloved, award-gobbling American Gods series. In it, the titular trickster god kicks the bucket, leaving his twin sons (who were separated at birth) to sort out their godly lineage and their relationship with one another. The comics adaptation promises to remain rather close to the source material, as we focus on “Fat” Charlie Nancy moving from a life as a “borning Londoner” to the heir to the trickster god. And Charlie seemingly makes for a great cover star in this variant cover from series artist Shawn Martinbrough. We see the kind of “mundanity” that defines Charlie’s existence; he’s just a guy trying to make it through the day, and that kind of connection is what makes him (and Gods‘ Shadow Moon) a really compelling lead. At the same time, he’s clearly dealing with the machinations of an overbearing father — Anansi here is both weaving a web for his son to contend with as much as he’s like “ta da, here’s my boy,” and that kind of emotional complexity is really compelling. (Whether or not you’ve got your own daddy issues or not.) Heck, even the font here makes it feel like a sitcom of sorts, and I love that added layer of irony and just general silly joy (in a book that often cuts a little close for comfort). So, whether you’ve read the book or not, this comics version should tell you everything you’ll need and still be a great story. That, and we get to see Anansi’s swagger in vivid detail.

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