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May 01 2013

Cover Story: Best Comic Book Covers of April 2013

Hawkeye #10 (Marvel) - Artist: Francesco Francavilla

Each month, hundreds of comics are released to stores for the hungry masses of fans around the world. To stand out on the shelves, you have to put the great art up front. You can judge a book by its cover.

Welcome back to our continuing monthly column, where the covers tell a story of their own. It’s all the way from Amala’s Blade to Wolverine and the X-Men this month, with 22 stunning covers from April releases. DC made a comeback with their WTF gimmick, one that paid off with some innovative fold-out covers. Indeed, all major publishers pulled out the stops this month, for…let’s just take a look.

Click images to enlarge

Abe Sapien: Dark And Terrible #1 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Sebastián Fiumara

Abe Sapien: Dark And Terrible #1 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Sebastián Fiumara

Artist Fiumara has said in past interviews that he has been influenced by Leonardo Manco and Dave McKean, and a little of that influence can be seen in this great bit of portraiture. It’s a curious mix of styles that manage to tell a story in a single imagine.

Amala's Blade #1 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Michael Dialynas

Amala’s Blade #1 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Michael Dialynas

Fans of Dark Horse Presents wouldn’t have been disappointed by this debut issue of a new mini-series, and the cover sets the scene for what’s inside. Dialynas’s art is the perfect compliment to Horton’s high adventure, a distinctive mix that sits somewhere between Steve Purcell and Riley Rossmo. Full review for issue here.

Batman and Robin #19 (DC Comics) - Artist: Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray

Batman and Red Robin #19 (DC Comics) – Artist: Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray

As mentioned, April was DC’s “WTF?” month, with a series of fold-out covers that were designed to make readers gasp in surprise, and then scoff in anger as the cover let them down harder than similar gimmicks from the 1960s.This one actually intrigued with the appearance of a character from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Full review for issue here.

Batwoman #19 (DC Comics) - Artist: Trevor McCarthy

Batwoman #19 (DC Comics) – Artist: Trevor McCarthy

Another WTF cover, Trevor McCarthy has the unenviable task of sharing the title with the very talented J.H. Williams III. Taking a long break from comics, and returning in 2010, the artist really shines in his own right on this magnificent cover that takes ‘character deconstruction’ to a new level.

Captain Marvel #12 (Marvel) - Artist: Joe Quinones

Captain Marvel #12 (Marvel) – Artist: Joe Quinones

This Quinones cover is classic stuff, and he has been largely responsible for giving this excellent Kelly Sue Deconnick title it’s iconic status. That, and the top-notch writing and art inside the book. Stars and stripes forever! It makes us want to move to the US and fight for truth, justice and the Kree way.

Daredevil: End of Days #7 (Marvel) - Artist: Alex Maleev

Daredevil: End of Days #7 (Marvel) – Artist: Alex Maleev

We are very lucky. We live in an age when we get a Daredevil book that has covers by Alex Maleev and David Mack, and interior art by Klaus Janson and Bill Sienkiewicz. David Mack’s cover have all been terrific as well, but the interplay of sex and death on this run of Maleev covers shows us why he is a master.

Dark Horse Presents #23 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Dave Johnson

Dark Horse Presents #23 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Dave Johnson

Johnson’s cover reflects the art he does for the Bloodshot story inside, and we like to think this is a brass knuckle awareness campaign poster. Striking for its minimal use of colour, it is also intriguing for its smaller details, including the small faces in the aforementioned knuckles, and a rich variety of veins ready to burst more of the blood evident on the cover. It’s a message of peace, we feel.

Deadpool Killustrated #4 (Marvel) - Artist: Mike Del Mundo

Deadpool Killustrated #4 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Del Mundo

The greats of the literary world have clearly inspired Mike Del Mundo these last few months, here turning the tables on the World’s (Second) Greatest Detective (after Batman, naturally) by using his greatest weapon against him: an oversized magnifying glass. We love how this gets meta showcasing other Deadpool covers and comics, including a prominent version of Skottie Young‘s cutest Deadpool ever.

Dial H for Hero #11 (DC Comics) - Artist: Brian Bolland

Dial H #11 (DC Comics) – Artist: Brian Bolland

Another WTF, this one comes from the legendary British artist Brian Bolland, perhaps best known for his detailed work on 2000 AD’s Judge Dredd. Apart from being an amazing cover to look at, there’s something comforting about an overweight, middle-aged Flash.

East of West #2 (Image Comics) - Artist: Nick Dragotta

East of West #2 (Image Comics) – Artist: Nick Dragotta

The book itself is a complex and original creation from Jonathan Hickman, and Dragotta’s artwork is breathtaking. The whole design of the book is great, literally from this front cover to the back. What’s especially striking is how minimalist the cover designs are, along with the interstitials/chapter headings, and how effective this is in aiding to build this bold new world. Full review for issue 

Fairest #14 (DC Comics) - Artist: Adam HughesFairest #14 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Adam Hughes

We’ve carved out this spot permanently for Adam Hughes each month, but this time we think that even he has outdone himself. The cover emphasises the leaves that run from top to bottom, before we notice the almost blinding light that shines through them. Only then do we notice that all of this forms the figure of a woman, a beautiful one at that, and notching up another mark on Hughes’s celebration of the female form.

FF #6 (Marvel) - Artist: Mike Allred

FF #6 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Allred

Thing ring, do your thing! Oh, Mike Allred. Will you ever stop creating pop art masterpieces for us mere mortals to enjoy?

Hawkeye #10 (Marvel) - Artist: Francesco Francavilla

Hawkeye #10 (Marvel) – Artist: Francesco Francavilla

Unquestionably the most striking cover of the month, it takes a lot to stand out in a run of David Aja covers that have lit it up almost every issue for the last year. This cover stares into your soul and asks you “If you aren’t reading Hawkeye, what’s wrong with you?” Editor Steve Wacker said about the start of this run: “Though he’s only on the series for issues #10 and #12, Francesco is going to leave his mark on Clint with some of the most beautiful art you’ll see all year!” Obvious archery puns aside, he really hits the bullseye with this magnificent cover.

Jupiters Legacy #1 (Image Comics) - Artist: Phil Noto

Jupiter’s Legacy #1 (Image Comics) – Artist: Phil Noto

Jupiter’s Legacy burst onto the April slate with all of the bluster of a blockbuster, and rightfully so. From the all-star team of Mark Millar and Frank Quitely, this book has echoes of Watchmen in its ambition and themes. There were a variety of covers this month, but we had to pick the one by Phil Noto. Why? Mostly because it’s by Phil Noto, and has a classic poster design that compels you to know more about this trio. Full review for issue here.

Miniature Jesus #1 (Image Comics) - Artist: Ted McKeever

Miniature Jesus #1 (Image Comics) – Artist: Ted McKeever

There is nothing about this book that doesn’t get 5 stars in our opinion, and this cover is no exception. McKeever’s interior art is achingly beautiful, the black and white sketches looking as though they have been carved into the page. This take on classic religious imagery, from a cover concept and production by Ted McKeever and Dana Moreshead, is iconic. However, the few beats that look just difference enough from the paintings it is based on – such as the impossibly fragmented arm hovering in mid-air – are a nod to the surrealist imagery the book contains inside. Full review for issue here.

Miss Fury #1 (Dynamite) - Artist: Alex Ross

Miss Fury #1 (Dynamite) – Artist: Alex Ross

The pulp heroine returns this month with a variety of stunning covers from the likes of J. Scott Campbell, Alex Ross, Paul Renaud and Will Conrad, all of whom are well-versed in the female form in true Dynamite fashion. We’ve picked this Alex Ross cover not simply because he’s a master cover artist, but the minimalist design allows the viewer to appreciate the full sexiness and kick-assery of this classic character.

Ningen's Nightmares (Dark Horse) - Artist: JP Kalonji

Ningen’s Nightmares (Dark Horse) – Artist: J.P. Kalonji

Full disclosure: we’ve known J.P. for a few years now, but that doesn’t make this cover any less awesome. The follow-up to 365 Samurai and a Few Bowls of Rice, J.P. takes his inspiration from the likes of Mike Mignola, Jeff Smith and classical Japanese art to create something entire unique here. The interior art is black and white, so the cover colours here (by Dan Jackson), allow us to see the soon-to-be-classic character of Ningen in a whole new light. Check out our interview with J.P. right here.

Polarity #1 (Boom Studios) - Artist: Frazer Irving

Polarity #1 (Boom Studios) – Artist: Frazer Irving

Another 2000 AD alumni, this phenomenal piece of art will make your head explode. There are so many small details to draw upon for this piece, from the crucifixion to the happy pills that segue into dogs and celestial objects with faces. Right on.  For an alternative and slightly emptier head space, check out Irving’s tumblr for a variant teaser version of this same image.

Sledgehammer 44 #2 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Mike Mignola

Sledgehammer 44 #2 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Mike Mignola

Sledgehammer 44 is part of the Hellboy universe, but not part of any particular series. The distinctive Mignola instantly grounds it in the worlds he has spend the last 20 years creating. ‘Nuff said.

Wolverine and the X-Men #28 (Marvel) - Artist: Alex MaleevWolverine and the X-Men #28 (Marvel) – Artist: Alex Maleev

It’s that lovely Alex Maleev again! Although this is a Wolverine and the X-Men cover, it’s also part of the Many Armours of Iron Man variant editions to tie in with the release of Iron Man 3. You’ve probably heard of it. Spoilers: the film does not contain a version of Iron Man on horseback.

Wolverine MAX (Marvel) - Artist: Jock

Wolverine MAX #6 (Marvel) – Artist: Jock

Jock is another artist who has a permanent place in our hearts and in this column, so it’s no surprise that Wolverine MAX turns up yet again. The image is classic Jock stuff: elongated buildings and long shadows emphasising the lone figure standing against the world. Indeed, the only ‘non-manufactured” things on the cover are some incongruous palm  trees, noticeably the only things that havebeen drained of colour.

X-Men Legacy #9 (Marvel) - Artist:

X-Men Legacy #9 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Del Mundo

‘Deadly’ Del Mundo turns up for a second time this month, and was a shoe-in with this mutant take on a phrenology diagram, the discredited pseudo-science that was popular in the 19th century. Of course we’d say that, we have the brainpan of stage coach tilter.