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Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 new releases

Comic Books

Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 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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Symbiote Spider-Man 2099 #5

Cover by Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho

Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 new releases

Everyone should know by now what I think about body horror. But what if it’s cyberpunk-themed body horror? Well, than it’s like getting to have birthday cake on Christmas day or something, and I can practically feast as wild and  ravenously on this cover for Symbiote Spider-Man 2099 #5. If you haven’t been keeping up, Miguel O’Hara is the titular future Spider-Man, and his brother (Kron Stone — great name, BTW) is Venom 2099. And like all great brothers since Cain and Abel, they’re going to duke it out with the very fate of Nueva York on the line. Sure, you can feel the palpable sibling rivalry and overt tension in this piece, but it somehow goes even deeper and nastier thanks to the really solid work of Leinil Francis Yu and Sunny Gho. Can anyone else hear the nano fiber of Spidey’s suit tearing, or feel the heavy breath of Venom? It’s raw, savage, and deeply, deeply intimate (for all parties), and while brother fighting brother ain’t new, this piece proves that no one can get under your skin so quickly and painfully then family. There’s strong and then there’s ripping apart the Spider suit like so much string, and I can’t wait to see how this bro battle actually unfolds if this is just a mere teaser.

Monolith #3

Cover by Valerio Giangiordano

Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 new releases

I really enjoyed the debut cover of Monolith because it told a really solid story. If this whole enterprise was about peeling back the layers to understand the inner workings of “hulking Hellspawn,” that simple but direct cover gave us some very important and powerful clues. But then I went ahead and looked away for a month or so, and we’ve come to the especially dramatic third and final cover. I’ll admit that, while I’m beyond lost as to how Monolith went from model prisoner to ::checks notes:: dual-wielding chainsaw swords in the mouth of the Sarlacc, I can’t really say I’m all that upset or flabbergasted. I mean, it had to lead to this moment eventually, right, and while the lead up was maybe a tad short, you really can’t deny the power and intensity of this deeply effective piece from series artist Valerio Giangiordano. Even still, I do have a few questions. Do you have to jump-start those chainsaw swords beforehand, or does the kinetic motion of your swings get them going? Also, is that creature’s mouth housing some kind of collapsing star, and if so, is this now some kind of celestial horror story? I sure hope answers lie ahead, even if I’m mostly OK with just basking in the brutality of this piece. Seriously, though, chainsaw swords.

Batman: Gotham by Gaslight – The Kryptonian Age #2

Variant cover by Riley Rossmo

Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 new releases

When I interviewed him last month, Andy Diggle made a really great point about Batman: Gotham by Gaslight – The Kryptonian Age. Namely, Batman has a certain sense of universality to him, and if you respect some core pillars or groundwork to the character, then the Dark Knight really can take on almost any role in almost any kind of genre-centric story. And as it turns out, the same is very much true for the Bat’s visual depictions (sorta makes sense, yeah?) Case in point: while The Kryptonian Age is meant to be this mostly serious slice of gothic storytelling, I genuinely and love Riley Rossmo’s variant cover for issue #2. Does Rossmo have a more cartoonish, almost hyperactive sheen to his art that might counter Very Serious Goth Batman? Sure. Except in practice, Rossmo nails exactly what’s needed — the gorgeous era-appropriate architecture, the overt darkness and sense of crushing pressure to this Gotham, and that super sharp costume — which frees him to do other things. Like, seemingly infuse bits of the Batman: The Animated Series to extend this world’s vibes, or give us a more playful bit of pulpy-energy. The end result is a perfect fit for the Gaslight-verse, and another reason this story is killing it already.

Kill All Immortals #1

Cover by Oliver Barrett

Judging by the Cover

And speaking of interviews I’ve done with cool creators, I also got the chance to speak with both Zack Kaplan and Fico Ossio not too long ago. If you read the rather extended chat, both creators make tons of great points about Kill All Immortals, which is basically Succession with magic viking warriors. But it’s not just a great premise, but something with lots of power and oomph baked into every crevice. Take, for example, the cover to issue #1 from Oliver Barrett. This story is very much about the development and general arc of our hero, Frey Asvald, and here we get to learn everything we need going in. Namely, Frey is connected to both sides of herself as a savvy resident of modern times and a warrior who knows her way around the blade. She’s endlessly cool and stylish but never afraid to get dirty, and that’s the kind of charisma and power we need from any good protagonist. And based on the balancing act of the whole Asvald clan, we know that this world is both very much our own and also much older, and that dynamic permeates this piece and prepares us for a really novel and lively universe that we can occupy with gusto. Even the dang splashed blood here feels rich and exciting, and it’s small proof of how alive with energy and intent the whole book is from page zero. Vikings? More like vik-winning!

Cult of the Lamb #2

Cover by Carles Dalmau

Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 new releases

You can read my full thoughts about Cult of the Lamb with a review on Tuesday morning. But here’s an obvious enough teaser: the dang book isn’t just cool looking, it’s really interesting from a visual standpoint. And that begins, of course, with the cover to issue #2 from Carles Dalmau. Because the entire team have worked really hard to try and stay true and honor the Cult of the Lamb game, and to rework and reference and spin into new ideas while maintaining the specific kind of cute-meets-creepy vibe. The rub, then, has been to make little decisions that the game couldn’t do for several very valid reasons. So while I’m almost certain there’s not a button combo to let you lounge with corpses being reabsorbed by the very Earth, this small but mighty moment tells us a few vital things about this adaptation. Like, how our Lamb is maybe a little different, and how he’s trying to find another way to do things beyond endless slashing and building stuff for the cult. Or, that there’s more variation to this world, and while it’s still dark and sweet all at once, this book needs that more textured identity to do the things it wants from a storytelling perspective. It’s subtle enough, yeah, but it’s just solid proof that this book’s the dark lord of thoughtful adaptations.

From the World of Minor Threats: Barfly #1

Variant cover by Ryan Browne

Judging by the Cover

And speaking even further on things that are as endearing as they are stomach-churning and awful, we arrive at Barfly. The latest spin-off from the Minor Threats series follows “a low-level henchman without a leader to serve,” who seeks to find his joy and life’s direction in embracing punk rock. And, sure, the main cover from series mainstay Scott Hepburn is really important in grounding and contextualizing our fly protagonist (not a protagonist who is fly but is a fly) in the grander “Minor-verse,” but I just love what series artist Ryan Browne does with his variant cover. Because, sure, it’s that cute-meets-creepy that I’d mentioned earlier, but in the unnerving, slightly subversive way that only a really great MAD magazine cover could ever fully achieve. There’s something hugely endearing about our hero even as he’s flipping us the bird — can actual flies not already sort of do that? — and the charm and magic is that he’s both approachable and surly. Because if you eat cheeseburgers and enjoy X-Ray Spex, can you really be that much of a true hardass? It’s ultimately about leaning into both sides and their corresponding ideas and emotions to give us a character with proper depth and humanity. Even as he’s only, like, 50% human at most.

Daredevil #11

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

Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 new releases

Last month, the trio of John Romita Jr., Scott Hanna, and Marcio Menyz got major props for their stellar work on the cover to Daredevil #10. Because while I’d seen Matt Murdock beaten up more times than I’ve seen a sunrise, the way this triad of comics talent assembled the cover, it felt like we’d seen a side of Murdock for the very first time (and not just, like, what his face muscles look like). And now in July we get the same kind of treatment for Bullseye, as this issue promises a “brutal and barbaric finish” to all of the hard fought plans of our tag team Daredevils (Murdock and Elektra). While I’d normally find a beaten Bullseye rather satisfying, this time around I’m a little creeped out and even a touch worried. Because there’s something massively expressive about those pale, seemingly dead eyes — as if he can actually see us and what’s to hop off the page and rip our heads off. I’m also quite interested in the specific tear under his right eye, and what made that very distinct pattern (and that just adds to the larger narrative of this piece and its texture and intensity) Even his seemingly missing tooth just makes me feel uncomfortable (and not just ’cause I’m weird about teeth). At this rate, issue #12 may be a bona fide masterpiece.

Absolute Power: Task Force VII #1

Variant cover by Stephen Platt

Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 new releases

If you had shown me this cover maybe two to three years ago, I would have LOLed right in your face. But I’m a different man now (sorta), and I have a certain respect and reverence for the Man of Steel. Now, I’d only be able to muster a solid enough chuckle, which still feels like I’m missing the point. But I promise you I most certainly am not missing the point! Because I totally understand the very dire and serious nature of Absolute Power — the heroes have been stripped of their powers and are facing the trio of Amanda Waller, Failsafe, and Brainiac Queen, who have already brought the whole world to its knee. This Stephen Platt variant cover, then, is the manifestation of the worst conceivable outcome for the DCU (and features neato history to boot) — a broken and battered Superman being arrested for doing the thing he was born to do. And yet there’s something about this cover — the look of confused but stoic determination on Supes’ face, that specific way his hair has been tussled — that makes me feel a sense of joy. It’s sort of like that slightly hokey violence we’d seen on DC covers circa 1962 or something, and that infusion of energy does a lot to ground and contextualize this cover and the larger event in proper DC canon. It’s about embracing the joy inherent to comics no matter how dire the story, and to give us something to believe in and understand no matter how much the villains seem to be winning. That is the true absolute power of great DC event storytelling.

Transformers #10

Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer

Judging by the Cover – 07/10/24 new releases

At this point, I’d enjoy a cover from Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer even if they depicted my elementary school bully burning down my apartment. (Sounds like a commission idea to me…) Luckily, the duo are instead depicting more sweet robots in disguise with the cover to Transformers #10. While the solicitation talks about the Autobots trying to cope following a recent loss, the cover couldn’t be anymore carefree and joyous, like it was ripped from a random summer day in this universe. I love the way that Arcee is scaled here — it keeps the Autobot feeling really big and powerful but still relatable and even connected to the humans of this story. Or, how there’s so much grandeur and beauty to sky, and how it reminds us that this universe has so much magic and power to offer and share with us. Even the tiny details — the smudges on the window, the way the grass feels cragilly — just add so much to this piece. And, of course, we can’t forget how the wrestling-loving Johnson had to pay homage to the finest heel working today. All of it together just gets at the sheer wonder and life infused in this story — it’s not just something hypothetical but this very real thing that we all come to in order to uplift ourselves and to celebrate those things in life worth a damn (like friendship and quiet moments of reflection). They ain’t just cool robot-cars; they’re our friends and family.

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