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. From the final appearance of Akaneiro to Wonder Woman and a giant red head, there’s a certain retro-inspired charm this month. Whether it is Matthew Waite’s 8-bit Avengers A.I, Kris Anka’s Deadpool, Matt Kindt mixing up some Molotov Cocktails, Howard Chaykin’s sex, death and live TV, Paolo’s Riveria ticking clock back to the 1940s or Norem’s actual retro cover, many of the covers this month were inspired by a bygone era. At least it was bygone, and it came back.
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Based on the American McGee online game of the same name, this stunning take on the Red Riding Hood story – set in feudal Japan, no less – is once again a thing of beauty. Yan also designed much of the armour worn in the game, which makes us want to play it even more.
Amala’s Blade is one of our favourite books every month, and the art of Michael Dialynas accounts for at least 50% of the reason why. This final cover for the series teases the epic finale that awaits inside.
Part of us wants to get inside Jae Lee’s head and examine his dreams, for we suspect we are getting only a fraction of his world view in the latest of many spectacular covers. The rest of us is hiding behind the couch after dreaming about Jae Lee’s covers.
Avengers Assemble #17 (Marvel) – Artist: Amanda Conner
Nobody draws female superheroes like Amanda Conner, and Captain Marvel is front and centre in this variant cover for ‘The Enemy Within’ tie-in issue of Avengers Assemble. It’s so great, even Hawkeye has cleavage!
Avengers A.I. #1 (Marvel) – Artist: Matthew Waite
A brand new series debuted this month, and despite spinning out of Age of Ultron, was actually a pretty good start to a new direction for Hank Pym. The interior art from Andre Araujo is one of the big selling points of the book, but this variant 8-Bit cover from Matthew Waite was a delightful bit of retro fun when the entire cast is made up of robots. We want to play this game. Now. We don’t care if it doesn’t actually exist.
Batman Annual #2 (DC Comics) – Artist: Jock
When this cover was announced back in April, when innocently commented that “we think we might already have one our favourites lined up for July’s Cover Story“. So here it is, casting the long, dark shadows of an early German horror film and a few splashes of awesome for good measure. If this isn’t a poster on our wall soon, we may just have to make one ourselves.
Daredevil #28 (Marvel) – Artist: Chris Samnee
Coming after a few hardships for Matt Murdoch, this issue almost delivered on a more light-hearted story…before pulling the rug out from under us. The cover looks like something out of an old-fashioned boys’ own adventure comic, and that’s perhaps because the comic has delivered month after month of perfection.
Deadpool #13 (Marvel) – Artist: Kris Anka
Dinosaurs Attack #1 (IDW) – Artist: Norem
A bit of a cheat, as this series is a reprint and 89 year-old artist Earl Norem has been retired since 2005. Still, this style is so frequently parodied that it is terrific to see a master at work.
Fairest #17 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Adam Hughes
Yup, another typically beautiful cover from Adam Hughes, featuring a beautiful naked woman, with flowing hair that turns into crocodiles. Light cascading in, it amplifies the…hang about. Crocodiles? We think we will be taking refuge in Jae Lee’s dreams from Adam Hughes’s nightmares now.
Guardians of the Galaxy #5 (Marvel) – Artist: Milo Manara
There’s been a great deal of hullabaloo around the appearance of Angela in the Guardians of the Galaxy series, but really: any excuse for a Milo Manara cover is justification enough for an inter-company crossover.
Captain Midnight #1 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Paolo Rivera
Can Paolo Rivera do no wrong? For the launch of this new series, set in the 1940s, Rivera is influenced by advertising of the era here. Or maybe some kind of propaganda. Same thing really.
Mind MGMT #13 (Image Comics) – Artist: Matt Kindt
Speaking of retro inspiration, this beautiful watercolour is not only gorgeous to look at, it forms part of the overall story that Kindt is telling in this highly acclaimed series.
Red Sonja #1 (Dynamite) – Artist: Fiona Staples
We could have chosen any of this covers, because it is really important to note what they represent as a showcase for the best female comics creators in the industry. In an issue written by Gail Simon, it is also one of those rare instances where its worth checking out the variant covers, as there are some beautiful takes from all-star women artists Colleen Doran, Jenny Frison, Fiona Staples, Amanda Conner and regular collaborator Nicola Scott worth investing in.
Revival #12 (Image Comics) – Artist: Skottie Young
Skottie Young is traditionally known for his chibi versions of Marvel characters, or the Wizard of Oz covers seen monthly. So what makes this cover work is that it is a title often known for its scary adult imagery, and the scene is reminiscent of an equally disturbing shot in Con Air with Steve Buscemi and a little girl.
Satellite Sam #1 (Image Comics) – Artist: Howard Chaykin
Chaykin captures the mood of the era, wisely choosing to present his pages in glorious black and white. Richly detailed, the characters might border on caricature if the expressiveness wasn’t perfectly apt for the 1950s TV industry. Here we get the sizzle, the sex, death and live TV of the tagline, oozing with a few dashes of red that are just as much about the sex as they are about the other thing.
Supergirl #22 (DC Comics) – Artist: Mahmud Asrar
This one is included here as we have never seen Supergirl, in all of her many incarnations, quite presented like this. While we will miss seeing Asrar’s interiors on the title, these last few cover pieces will certainly stand the test of time.
Ten Grand #3 (Image Comics) – Artist: Ben Templesmith
Templesmith’s cover isn’t simple a reflection of the dark content within the book: it’s a living, breathing monster that shifts the scaly concrete that it uses to camouflage its movements. Filled with busy chaos on one glance, it is also simplicity itself on a second look.
Trinity War (DC Comics) – Covers to Justice League #22, Justice League Dark #22 and Justice League Of America #6 – Artists: Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
Released as three separate covers, this is included here in its single magnificent form, where Pandora kneels amidst the chaos she has inadvertently created. This is actually shaping up to be one of the better events of the year.
Wolverine and the X-Men #33 (Marvel) – Artist: Nick Bradshaw
We just don’t know which dreams to take refuge in now.
Wonder Woman #22 (DC Comics) – Artist: Cliff Chiang
We bless this giant head and all who dwell within the giant head, so help us Wonder Woman. Shazam.