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. This month, we take you all the way through from a Bat in a Hat to a cacophony of X-noise.
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Batman: The Dark Knight #17 (DC Comics) – Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
It’s an old-fashioned freak-out! PLUS: Batman in a hat. ‘Nuff said.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow – Wonderland #4 (Dark Horse) – Artist: David Mack
David Mack follows last month‘s wonderful work with another intertextual mosaic that strikes a interesting contrast between the various sides of Willow: the feminine, the warrior and the intellectual. The ripped pages and the centrepiece imagery suggests which might be winning.
Deadpool Killustrated #2 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Del Mundo
As with last month, Mike Del Mundo enhances rather than butchers classics in this mash-up fanservice. Many of us would have liked to see Tom Sawyer in this position after putting up with his tales as kids, but few would have suspected it would be (k)illustrated so well.
Elephantmen #47 (Image Comics) – Artist: Camilla d’Errico
Canadian artist d’Errico’s influences in manga, along with her history with Disney, seem to inform at least some of this cover for one of Image’s more intriguing covers. It is a cover of contrasts: mechanical and human, nature and nurture, feminine and masculine. It also features a woman with an elephant thing on her head.
Fairest #12 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Adam Hughes
Yes, it’s another Fairest cover. Yes, it once again by Adam Hughes. Yet its inclusion this month is more about what it isn’t. Hughes, certainly in this series, has been proficient in painting beautiful and semi-erotic portraits of some of Fables‘ most stunning women. This cover is a twisted and decaying vision of what is presumably Rapunzel, yet Hughes still manages to make it gorgeous.
Green Arrow #17 (DC Comics) – Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
It was entirely possible that Green Arrow was never going to make it back onto any kind of “best of” list ever again. Then Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino took over the flailing title and the striking urban hunter was born once again unto the DCU. Sorrentino’s Arrow is a neo-classic vision, matched only by the original colouring of his artwork inside.
Hellboy In Hell #3 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Mike Mignola
If Mike Mignola writing and illustrating Hellboy isn’t exciting enough for you, sports fans, then you aren’t worthy of covers like this. An iconic version of Hellboy, who has now been drawn by dozens of different artists, crafted by the man who created him. What is so striking about it is the simplicity and simple framing, hallmarks of the MM’s work.
Morbius: The Living Vampire #2 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Deodato
Drawing inspiration from pop art of the 20th century, this striking cover aims to put some bite back into the character of Morbius, by giving the often overlooked character some teeth. Puns aside, the framing of the title between the teeth and blood is genius.
Nova #1 (Marvel) Variant – Artist: Marcos Martin
This limited 1 for 50 Variant Cover by Marcos Martin may not be the cutest (that goes to Skottie Young) or the most masculine (that goes to Joe Quesada), but Martin’s cover is the most iconic. With the new book feeling a lot like Ultimate Spider-man in space, the simple imagery says everything you need to know about this new cornerstone in Marvel’s Cosmic Universe.
The Phantom Stranger #5 (DC Comics) – Artist: Jae Lee
We could care less about what is happening inside the book, but the Spectre wrapped inside a face is just rad.
Red She-Hulk #62 (Marvel) – Artist: Steve Lightle
Decades ago, Will Eisner’s epic “3D” covers and title art of The Spirit redefined sequential art. While Steve Lightle might not be breaking any new ground here, his interplay between character, environment and titles is certainly in that…erm…spirit.
The Savage Wolverine #2 (Marvel) – Artist: Frank Cho
Frank Cho’s cover for this month draws on many influences, but we like to think of it as having a little something for everyone.
Snapshot #1 (Image Comics) – Artist: Jock
The powerhouse team of Andy Diggle and artist Jock (Green Arrow: Year One) are back together again, and here Jock’s art is given an extra punch by being devoid of colour. It’s not exactly black and white either. Yes, it is technically, but it feels like the noir has desaturated what was once there, Jock somehow conveying the myriad of colours of the city in this stark depiction of reality.
Spawn #228 (Image Comics) – Artist: Todd McFarlane
Series creator McFarlane gives us his own take on the classic Action Comics #1, although the blood splattered windshields suggest that the citizens weren’t as happy to see this particular caped marvel.
The Unwritten #46 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Yuko Shimizu
New York based Japanese artist Yuko Shimizu has a book called The Beautiful and the Grotesque, and this cover certainly falls in the former category.
X-Men: Legacy #6 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Del Mundo
The second Del Mundo appearance on this month’s list, following the Killustrated one above, is an amazing depiction of a mental breakdown. See how many of the phrases you can catch from films and literature in the mix.