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, or at least it would be if we didn’t got a give Behind the Panels a dedicated site and take a break from The Reel Bits, the original home for this column. The first new column for this brand new site, this month we cover everything from The Black Beetle to Wolverine.
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This mini-series starts with a wonderfully pulpy bang, going so far as to state as much right there on its retro cover. The other thing you’ll notice on this cover is that the artist also won the prestigious Will Eisner award for cover art in 2012, for his work on Black Panther (Marvel); Lone Ranger, Lone Ranger/Zorro, Dark Shadows, Warlord of Mars (Dynamite); Archie Meets Kiss (Archie). He’ll be doing covers for Hawkeye (Marvel) from April this year, so we look forward to a terrific book getting even better.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow – Wonderland #3 (Dark Horse) – Artist: David Mack
Mack’s second appearance on this list, and is reminiscent of his work earlier last decade. It follows his theme of combining mixed media, text and image to create a iconic and angelic vision of Willow, who looks less like Alyson Hannigan and more a creation of Mack’s own reckoning. See also: Megan Lara’s beautiful variant cover for the month.
Captain Marvel #9 (Marvel) – Artist: Jamie McKelvie
This simple, clean and iconic cover is everything that is great about this book at the moment.
Comeback #3 (Image Comics) – Artist: Michael Walsh
From the artist’s tumblr account: “KILLED it on this. Probably my favourite of the covers for this series”. We couldn’t agree more in this tritone wonder that conjures up a retro slice of cool. Don’t call it a comeback, it’s been here for years.
Daredevil: End of Days #4 (Marvel) – Artist: David Mack
If the main Daredevil book wasn’t the best thing that’s happened to the title in years, then this would be. Indeed, 2012 and 2013 have been the years of DD, and this series has pulled together its best and brightest writers and artists. Mack has been killing off various characters on these covers for months, and the iconic imagery of Bullseye’s bloody glove showing his last hand is chilling.
Deadpool: Killustrated #1 (Marvel) – Artist: Michael Del Mundo
The premise of this series might be “butchering stories from literatures finest authors”, but Del Mundo does the opposite with his set of covers designed to enhance the flavour of these classics. Indeed, as Deadpool rides the mighty white whale, holding aloft a bomb aimed at a target, one can’t help but think “Dick”.
Emily And The Strangers #1 (Dark Horse) – Artist: R. Black
A whole generation of disenfranchised hipsters embraced Emily the Strange as the anti-emo mascot in the early days of the 21st century, despite actually being a mascot for Rob Reger’s company Cosmic Debris Etc. Inc. For this new comic series, Dark Horse have grabbed a series of rock poster icons for some of the covers, including this one by the legendary R. Black.
Fables #125 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Mark Buckingham
Fables has an almost permanent home here at Cover Story, but this time out it is long-serving series artist Mark Buckingham who replaces Joao Ruas to delightful effect. Here is light touch gives a scene that would not be out of place on the cover of a New Yorker magazine.
Fairest #11 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Adam Hughes
Feels like it is going to be DC/Vertigo month, doesn’t it? Adam Hughes is another column favourite, and this portrait of a bloodied Rapunzel leaves no doubt as to why. According to his official site, the cover was created “using mixed media on drawing paper, then scanning and coloring it in Photoshop”.
Hawkeye #7 (Marvel) – Artist: David Aja
Another month, another classic Aja Hawkeye? Yes, but here he has shifted away from the simple purples, blacks and…other shades of purple, and framed our femme fatale against a pulpy red background, giving us a strong whiff of sex and gunpowder.
Lot 13 #4 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Glenn Fabry
When Fabry’s artwork was first released for the covers of this spooky series, he celebrated the subversion of the traditional. Now he seems to be embracing the grotesque, and this cover is the stuff that nightmares are made of. That said, why does it feel like all of our dreams are coming true?
Morbius the Living Vampire #1 (Marvel) – Artist: Skottie Young
Is anybody sick of these ubiquitous Skottie Young variant covers yet? We hope not, because we think they are always too cute for words. Take this one for Morbius the Living Vampire, one of the more strangely enduring characters of the Marvel 616. Vampires are so hot right now, but one drinking blood from a baby bottle hovering above a tombstone that reads “Nap in Peace” makes a certain teen vamp’s appeal less shiny. It also confirms the moon is made of cheese.\
Revival #6 (Image Comics) – Artist: Jenny Frison
One of the best series of 2012, Frison creates a truly unique combination of sexy, sinister and surreal in this almost monochromatic cover. Except for the splashes of red which leave no doubt as to what the artist is trying to highlight. This one is fit to frame.
Road to Oz #4 (Marvel) – Artist: Skottie Young
It’s another Young cover, but he is never better than his Oz work. Two furry animals for the price of one. Bonus, Jonas!
Silver Surfer by Stan Lee and Moebius #1 (Marvel) – Artist: Moebius
Reprinting Silver Surfer: Parable, it’s a cover by the late master Moebius. ‘Nuff said.
Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Alex Ross
What’s the only thing better than Alex Ross art? Alex Ross art for Star Wars, that’s what. ‘Nuff said.
Threshold #1 (DC Comics) – Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
DC went cosmic as well this month, with the new series that spins out of Green Lantern: New Guardians. This particular alternate cover, highlighting the backup stories of Larfleeze, is brimming with life. It kind of reminds us of the late, great Seth Fisher’s artwork, especially his wonderful Green Lantern: Willworld graphic novel.
Ultimate Comics Ultimates #20 (Marvel) – Artist: David Yardin
It makes you want to salute the flag, doesn’t it? Sydney-based artist David Yardin has recently stated that he wants to cut back on his cover art and focus on “doing more interior, sequential work”. This is music to the ears of people who think this calibre of art should not just be confined to the outside of a book.
Wolverine and the X-Men #24 (Marvel) – Artist: Ramón K. Pérez
We could go into a lengthy explanation about the overt sexualisation of two fan favourite characters, fanservice or even how the background colour accentuates the passion on display in the foreground. The simple fact of the matter is that this is an epic cover.
Wolverine: MAX (Marvel) – Artist: Jock
It’s Wolverine again, but he seems to be on every other team these days anyways (right next to Spider-man). Another familiar face is Jock, the professional name of East Kilbride’s Mark Simpson, who has strapped the best there is to the front of a speeding plane. Using the object itself for the title of the book, Jock owns this cover – at least before the logos and barcodes are added.
Wonder Woman #16 (DC Comics) – Artist: Cliff Chiang
“OH, NO! NOT THE BEES! NOT THE BEES! AAAAAHHHHH!” Actually, these look more like flies, none of which are on Cliff Chiang, who keeps turning out classic covers for a somewhat anguished Wonder Woman this month. Why so serious, lady?