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May 31 2012

Cover Story: Best Comic Book Covers of May 2012

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 aimed at finding some of our favourite covers for the month. In May, there were some fairly major events running at both DC and Marvel, but we didn’t find anything more than generic about the Avengers Vs. X-Men covers. Similarly, there were lots of new DC titles as part of the New 52 Second Wave, but only a handful of these really stood out on the racks. From American Vampire to Wolverine, our list seems to be growing a little bit every month, and that can only be a good thing.

Click images to enlarge

American Vampire #27 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

American Vampire is one of those series that might be easy to ignore as another of Vertigo endless stream of supernatural books coming out the moment, but it is a consistent slow-burner, build two worlds simultaneously. Albuquerque is the Eisner and Harvey Award winner co-creator of Crimeland (Image Comics, 2007), he is currently working exclusively with DC Comics. Every one of the 27 issues of this series have been beautiful, and this one takes on a noir feel.

American Vampire #27 (DC/Vertigo) - Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

Batman #9 (DC) – Artist: Greg Capullo

The quality of Scott Snyder’s run on Batman (and American Vampire for that matter) doesn’t need to be restated, and as the Night of Owls storyline reaches its epic apex, so too do Greg Capullo’s covers. Showcasing the Bat Armour that was introduced at the end of Batman #8, in spectacular fashion, Capullo has managed to keep a minimalism that is also busy with meaning. The reflection of the Talon’s in Batman’s gaze and the house that drips blood says more than all of the spin-offs in this series combine.

Batman #9 (DC) - Artist: Greg Capullo

Batwoman #9 (DC) – Artist: Ben Oliver

It’s only fair that Batwoman gets a cool cover to go with Batman’s, and this one has eels. Ben Oliver’s work defined the early issues of Batwoman under the New 52, and while his interiors are now sorely missed in the series, it is great that he is still on the covers. It doesn’t really matter that the cover has little to do with the story, it looks damn good. Oliver draws Batwoman with a sexual femininity without sensationalising her. Batwoman has rapidly become a integral part of the Bat-universe since her reintroduction in 2006, and it is easy to see the love for the character in covers like this one.

Batwoman #9 (DC) - Artist: Ben Oliver

Daredevil #12 – Artist: Paolo Rivera

Fan favorite artist Chris Samnee came about the always terrific Daredevil with #12, but this cover by Paolo Rivera keeps the book on our favourites list every month. Rivera talks at length over on his blog. He writes that he “had originally submitted this concept for issue 3 of the series, but there wasn’t room for the scene. My editor, Steve Wacker, also rightfully pointed out that we hadn’t yet established the radar sense by that point—covers are submitted a couple months in advance…This was a relatively simple cover, so I just inked over the blue-line print of my digital sketch. Once I got into coloring, however, I ended up making the whole shirt flat black. It was a happy accident, but I liked the resultant tone”.

Daredevil (2012) #12 - Artist: Paolo Rivera

Dark Horse Presents #12 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Dean Motter

The 3-part Mister X: Hard Cardy begins in Dark Horse Presents this month, and the cover art by Dean Motter is superb. Noir is the word of the day, as X marks the spot.

Dark Horse Presents #12 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Dean Motter

Exiled #1 (Marvel) Cover – Artist: Stephanie Hans

This one is a bit of a cheat. It’s actually five interlocking covers, but it was solicited as Exiled #1, so we have an excuse to show it in its entirety here. Ongoing Journey Into Mystery cover artist, Stephanie Hans has designed five covers for a crossover between Journey Into Mystery and New Mutants for Marvel that is nothing short of feature-length. Any single piece of this would make the cover of the month, so all five might just certify it until the end of the year.

Exiled #1 (Marvel) Cover - Artist: Stephanie Hans

Dorothy & The Wizard in Oz #7 (Marvel) – Artist: Skottie Young

It was all getting a bit heavy there for a minute, so let’s lighten things up with a cat dragging the Scarecrow’s head across panel. The Eisner Award winning cartoonist on the New York Times Best Selling Graphic Novel, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, has continued the excellent work with this series. Cat lovers everywhere will purchase this issue for the image up front, but we also love the detail of the headless Scarecrow fumbling about for his head at the back. If he only had a brain.

Dorothy of Oz #7 (Marvel) - Artist: Skottie Young

Fairest #3 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Adam Hughes

We keep a permanent spot warm for Hughes’ Fairest covers, although he frosts things up this month with this cover featuring Lumi, the Snow Queen. Putting her best assets forward, part of us wants to reach out and check to see if that reflective surface is for real. The detail on this cover is amazing, and while the book itself focuses on three other women from the Fables universe, Hughes knows where the best art is inspired from.

Fairest #3 (DC/Vertigo) - Artist: Adam Hughes

Fatale #5 (Image) – Sean Phillips

In case we haven’t had enough noir this month, Sean Phillips ensures that ours comes with a cool cover. After creeping us out last month, he intrigues us this week. Classic pulp-inspired art taken to lofty heights, and the promise of murderous dames and fiery developments within.

Fatale #5 (Image) - Sean Phillips

Fury MAX #1 and #2 (Marvel) – Cover: Dave Johnson

The pair of covers for Marvel’s Fury MAX, by the hardworking Garth Ennis, give us an indication of why the MAX line is something that Marvel needs to push harder. The second cover in particular is bucking for cover of the month, taking what is essentially a white silhouette on a red background – a provocative image by itself – and fill it up with the kind of boys’ own adventure that is guaranteed to please fans and make Archie and Veronica blush.

Fury MAX #1 (Marvel) - Cover: Dave Johnson

Fury MAX #2 (Marvel) - Cover: Dave Johnson

Glory #26 (Image) – Artist: Ulises Farinas

The great thing about this column is finding artists and titles that we’d not really been following up until now. In the words of the artist, “I got the great opportunity to do the cover for one of the best new comics on the market. Glory #26 by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell, where the female superhero  is built like a truck, and can do major damage. I really love Ross’ character design, and was super cool drawing her after a one woman monster holocaust”. Do we see just a tiny bit of Geof Darrow going on in there?

Glory #26 (Image) - Ulises Farinas

Incredible Hulk 7.1 (Marvel) – Artist: Michael Komarck

The symbiotic dynamic between the Hulk and Bruce Banner has never been so beautifully depicted as in this essential piece of art by Michael Komarck.The question is whether the two are trying to rip themselves apart or one is trying to break free of the other. If so, which one is the escapee?

Incredible Hulk 7.1 (Marvel) - Artist: Michael Komarck

Mystery in Space #1 (DC)  – Artist: Mike Allred

Mike Allred is a fan favourite for any number of reasons, and maybe it’s just that this cover reminds us of Madman mixed with Red Rocket 7. There are few artists who can do awesome and cool in the same pop art style that Allred does. Similarly, few other artists could depict a guy floating through space and throw in an assortment of retro toys without the reader batting an eyelid.

Mystery in Space #1 (DC) - Artist: Mike Allred

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #10 (Marvel) – Artist: Kaare Andrews

We’re not quite sure we understand the point of Ultimate Comics in the modern Marvel manifesto, but as long as Kaare Andrews is doing some of the art, we’re down with it. When the line first came out back in 2000, the distinctive bars down the side of the cover were a bit constrictive. However, here the art breaks free of its borders and becomes something more than the front bit of a comic book. Apart from the clear Japanese influence on the art style, there’s something cool about a guy with a flaming skull standing on a precipice.

Ultimate Comics Ultimates #10 (Marvel) - Artist: Kaare Andrews

Vampirella #19 (Dynamite) – Artist: Lucio Parrillo

Boobs. Blood. ‘Nuff said.

Vampirella #19 (Dynamite) - Artist: Lucio Parrillo

Wolverine #306 (Marvel) – Artist: Chris Samnee

Wolverine might just be the most overexposed character in the history of comics, so it takes a special piece of art to make you take a second look at the character. Chris Samnee is doing the interiors over at Daredevil, but this particular cover story is one that could take some figuring out. We have no idea what is going on inside the pages of Mr. Snickety at the moment, but his cabin in the mind woods deal is a trip. One can assume this is what happens after regenerating from a microbe one too mant times.

Wolverine #306 (Marvel) - Artist: Chris Samnee