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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Jurassic League # 4
Cover by Daniel Warren Johnson
I’ve mentioned this before, but you’ll have to excuse me for the still-rare opportunity to discuss the holy triad of wrestling, comics, and dinosaurs. Across his other titles (including Beta Ray Bill), artist-writer Daniel Warren Johnson routinely features the German Suplex. It’s sort of like his signature by now, in the same way an artist might feature the same character or repeat color patterns. But after mulling this over for sometime, I’ve come to see why Johnson seems to adore this particular suplex. For one, it looks weird enough, especially to any non-wrestling devotees, and that “hook” matters. Plus, if done right, it’s a chance to show off how ripped and / or flexible your particular hero is. And, at least in the scope of his “superhero dinosaur” tale, including the German Suplex is just a way to farther blend diverse ideas and influences into this extra wacky tale. So, I applaud Johnson for his use of a seemingly innocuous wrestling hold as a powerful literary device. Oh, and did I mention it’s (maybe) a total shoutout to Ultimate Muscle?!
Ms. Marvel & Wolverine # 1
Variant Cover by Peach Momoko
Whatever your thoughts on the actual series, having an excuse to do more Ms. Marvel-centric tales is always a good thing. And what better way to let Ms. Marvel be a hero than with an upcoming dual-sized tale, Ms. Marvel & Wolverine and Ms. Marvel & Moon Knight. (It’s sort of like X Lives / Deaths of Wolverineonly maybe a little less bloody and without time travel shenanigans.) In the first part – that’d be Ms. Marvel & Wolverine # 1 – Marvel and Wolvey have to come together for a threat that seems to effect both New York City and Krakoa. So, given that things will get just as silly as they are outright serious, I couldn’t think of a better choice than this Peach Momoko variant cover. Making everyone look like an ’80s manga hero maintains both a kind of childlike joy and romantic view of the world while also maintaining that sense of tension – likely’ cause anything with Venom just always feels automatically tense. But also, there’s just a lot of quirkiness and charisma permeating this piece, and that’s always a good place for Marvel stories to emanate from.
Astronaut Down # 3
Cover by Rubine
If you remember way back in early June, I wrote about the debut cover for Astronaut Down. At the time, series artist Rubine came up with something decidedly gorgeous while still balancing the inherent “violence” that comes with rocketing out into the great unknown blackness of the entire universe. This time around, though, he pulls back the scope by displaying the titular astronaut in a position that removes the ethereal majesty for what looks like a deleted scene from either Night of the Living Dead or The Shining. Either way, our astronaut friend is clearly in a kind of Interstellar-esque situation, as he’s either being pushed away or pulled into the arms of a seemingly bloody mob, and either direction is perhaps just as terrifying as the other. (Also sort of terrifying? Why is he just wearing what are basically black leather boots ?!) I think this cover accomplishes more of that serene-terrifying dynamic, and it does so with some real grace and prowess.
Samurai Doggy # 1
Cover by Santtos
If you thought I was a little bonkers about wrestling and dinos, then you don’t know how my heart sings at the mere mention of dogs. Just one glimpse of even the worst drawn dog, and I’d likely still put my money down and / or read it. Luckily, Samurai Doggy has the work of Santtos attached, and based on the debut cover alone, this one is already a dog-gone victor. The story, written by Chris Tex (who worked with Santtos on Blackout), follows the titular Doggy as he tries to avenge his mother and rescue his siblings. I love the way they’ve updated the whole samurai aesthetic while still making it feel really direct and organic. Or, the prerequisite wacky animal sidekick (you can just tell that said robo-bird is named, like, Sqwako or something). All that, and just the color choices here really make everything pop, like some kind of less overwhelming version of Jet Set Radio. If anything happens to Doggy, though, and you’ll have to deal with me wielding a broken office chair.
Ghost Rider: Vengeance Forever # 1
Cover by Björn Barends
Even if you ignore the pretty badass name, Ghost Rider is among the most metal character in all of comics. (And that includes a suite of heroes and villains who are, like, some version of actual Satan.) Sure, that’s kind of a slam dunk if you’re a flaming skeleton who rides a motorcycle forged in Hades, but there’s so much more to Ghost Rider’s credibility as a true badass. And I think it’s perhaps displayed on this cover. Because, sure, tons of characters have tattoos, but none seem to have the kind of epic, seemingly alive tattoos as GR on this cover to a special issue celebrating 50 years of “vengeance.” Artist Björn Barends – who really perfected his craft of drawing demonic covers via Spawn – really lets loose for what feels like a genuinely inventive way to tell a story involving someone named Necro the Tattooist while actually playing around with the whole trope to enhance and extend the character’s overall framework. The scariest tattoo here, though? That totally has to be the demonic elephant above all else.
Batgirls # 9
Cover by Jorge Corona
Thus far, Batgirls has been a great series for its overall sense of dichotomy. Is it about finding your place in the world and building a community in the high stakes world of superheroics? Yes. But is it also about, like, which roommate has to make dinner or making sure you have a sweet robe to wear? Also yes. And no where is this dynamic more apparent in this series’ run this far than this cover right here. As Team Batgirl comes down from their extended run in with Seer, they seem to finally tackle another vital thread, the persistent case of the bloody Hill Ripper. But even as they have to thrown on their best detective hats, it would seem they’re still trying to have a great summer by making time to hit the local pool (even if wearing a full-length leather costume seems like an ill-advised idea). Because in this book, the silly never takes away from the serious (or vice versa) – if anything, both things work really well to tell a powerful and playful tale about real heroes and their messy lives. Enjoy your dip, team!
Cover the Dead with Lime # 1
Cover by Hernan Gonzalez
As I’ve said before, sometimes I pick a book based on the title. (That’s on the cover, duh.) And I don’t think I’ve seen a better title than Cover the Dead with Lime in quite some time. But as much as a I think this could be, like, a badass metal version or a gritty western-style take on the Great Plague, it seems, based on those ever-handy solicitations, that this could mostly be a pretty straightforward tale ( of blood and death and suffering, of course). Could I be wrong and the hooded doctor type may be some kind of demon? A boy can hope. But even if it’s not, the debut cover is still cool. Whether it’s the folks coughing up blood, the darkened skies and nail-like rain, or the aforementioned hooded demon-bird-looking man, realism doesn’t have to mean that things aren’t any less scary or intense. If anything, not having the crutch of some supernatural element means we have to engage with the material in the most direct way, and few things are as unsettling as the entire sordid history of the Plague. Here’s hoping a demon pops up to lighten the mood, yeah?
Punisher # 5
Cover by Jesus Saiz
I get that we’re not supposed to like the Punisher. And if you do, there’s a damn good chance that you’ve misread the character entirely. But I can still appreciate him for being a kind of “living” analogy for man’s innate tendency to take a good thing (like a commitment to family and justice) and warp it so much that you’re awash in sea of moral and philosophical failings . And so when you think about him like this, I think it makes the current series all the more compelling. Because, as Frank Castle is running around as the Hand’s so-called Fist of the Beast, he’s doing so for his recently-resurrected wife. And having that deeply human element doesn’t so much, um, humanize Frank as it complicates our relationship with him, and how we view this deeply imperfect character that we’re not to have any sympathy for – ever. This cover, then, is a great encapsulation of that: this very quiet, extra tender moment makes you further reevaluate the character, and we constantly learn about ourselves and our values in doing so.
Superman: Son of Kal-El # 14
Variant Cover by Rafael Sarmento
And from a character you’re not supposed to like to one that’s very easy to love and adore, we get an extra important issue of Superman: Son of Kal-El. Among the many bright spots of this series, a clear cut winner is the relationship between Jon Kent and his boyfriend, Jay Nakamura. After some 13 issues of the pair connecting, and their dynamic exploring a lot of the series’ core ideas about relationships, committing to big things, etc., comes a huge test. Just as Jay tries to grapple with his powers, he’s got to help Jon and the rest of the Revolutionaries in their battle with the nefarious Henry Bendix. So, what does this variant cover have to do with any of that? Well, nothing, yeah. But I think it speaks about a few different things about Jon and the kind of hero and partner he’s been (and how that will develop over time). Because even the alien child living in some picturesque rural heaven still wants to play Mr. Normal and Well-Adjusted, and I think that nougat of real humanity is both why Jon is a great character and also why he’s such a great resource for his friend and lover as they develop together into helpful, well-rounded individuals. You see a super-kid and a kite; I see the kind of superhumanly good person who helps make a great story into something truly meaningful.
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