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Judging by the Cover – 12/18/19 new releases

Nathan and Chris share their favorite covers from this week’s new comics.

Most comic book fans have a pretty good idea what they’re going to buy every week when they visit 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. That’s where covers come in. A fantastic image can make the difference between trying something new or saying, “Nah, not this week.”

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In that spirit, here are the covers that captured our attention this week, with entries from writer Nathan Simmons and comics editor Chris Coplan.

Nathan’s Picks

Batman: Last Knight on Earth #3

Variant cover by Rafael Albuquerque

There’s not much to my choice here beyond the fact that it just looks so cool. The determination in Batman’s face and the gleeful abandon in the Joker’s tell us everything we need to know about where they’re at in this point of the story. So much is communicated here, even without the aid of body language.

John Constantine: Hellblazer #2

Cover by John Paul Leon

I loved both of last month’s Hellblazer covers, but there’s just something about this one that really evokes the feel of the classic Vertigo series. The framing gives it the look of an aged tarot card, but its John’s almost spectral appearance here that almost brings to mind the composition of a Dave McKean cover.

Blade Runner 2019 #5

Cover by Paul Pope

This is a deceptively simple cover, but there’s so much for folks who have been reading this book to latch onto. Ash, the protagonist of the book, has been through hell and back in the previous four issues, but here she is standing tall and walking defiantly from her former life. The sort of worn look to the tech on the cover is a welcome touch, reminding us that this is science fiction for the working class.

Chris’ Picks

Daredevil #15

Cover by Julian Totino Tedesco

There’s a lot of great pillars in the larger Daredevil mythos. His endless guilt as a Catholic. His constant moral back and forth. And none of that’s even mentioning all that stuff with Stick. Yet there’s perhaps no better element to Matt Murdock then his relationship with Elektra, which isn’t so much on-again, off-again as “are they trying to kill each other this month?” This cover captures something essential about the pair, their connection in combat but also that sense of tension and minor one-upmanship. It’s the dynamic that often keeps Daredevil so deeply interesting.

Excalibur #4

Cover by Mahmud Asrar

If you’re like me, you jumped into Excalibur because A) it was a new series launch and B) you like Tini Howard (go read Euthanauts, you cowards). Even if I didn’t understand everything about the events leading up to issue #1, it didn’t take long to get caught up. The cover to issue #4 does a damn fine job of summing up a huge chunk of this book, namely the epic return of Betsy Braddock as Captain Britain. She’s a grand champion willing to fight the odds to save her family, balance the universe, and provide an example to others. Plus, dragons are always super dope.

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #6

Cover by Steve Lieber

I haven’t read any of the Jimmy Olsen series, nor do I even care much about our intrepid boy reporter. He’s sort of like Superman’s version of Alfred, only without the depth or nuance and way more lame superpowers attached. If Olsen’s good for anything, it’s a solid laugh, and this version of him cowering inside over-sized Bat Armor speaks volumes about who he is and the merits of the character. The best kind of satire is really subtle, and in this instance, ol’ Jimmy’s a dang 12th-level ninja master.

Family Tree #2

Cover by Phil Hester

If I haven’t made this joke before, I’d read a manual for a 1974 Ford Pinto if Jeff Lemire happened to write it. Luckily, Family Tree is far more of an interesting offering, this deeply touching and effective tale of a family amid the end of the world (and where a little girl grows a tree). If you knew nothing about the series, the cover alone might be the kind of body horror to get you to slap down cash in an instant. But if you know Lemire and artist Phil Hester, and feel any attachment to this series thus far, all that bloody madness just might move you to tears.

Revenge of the Cosmic Ghost Rider #1

Cover by Scott Hepburn

Say what you will about the Cosmic Ghost Rider character, but it feels like the most novel character creation of the last 5-10 years. The whole convoluted journey that turned Frank Castle into this space demon also created this unique space for CGR, making him both a wildly serious and threatening character but one ripe with so much humor. The cover reflects that: it feels like some wacky sci-fi version of the Rat Race movie poster, a scummy version of some Jacky Kirby masterpiece (in all the best ways, of course). Optional tag line: “This space ghost is off the chains!”

Skulldigger + Skeleton Boy #1

Variant Cover by Mike Deodato

More wonders from the mind of Jeff Lemire! If you’ve read anything Black Hammer related, it’s been amazing to see Lemire and his collaborators weave a tale that’s both a heartfelt homage and cutting satire of the superhero genre. But with Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy, we get to see a different side of the shared universe, something dark and more intense (a la, Lemire penning a Batman book, which is the gift our planet needs badly). It’s also a chance for Lemire to play on one of his best tropes: old person mentors youngster (see Sweet Tooth, Animal Man). Also, here’s hoping the “Fastball Special” appears somehow in this series.

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