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Jun 01 2013

Cover Story: Best Comic Book Covers of May 2013

Last of Us: American Dream #2 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Julian Totino Tedesco

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 Akaneiro to X-Men: Legacy, it was another bumper crop of covers this month. The 19 covers were so good, we almost didn’t want to look inside. Which would have made time management considerably easier, but reviews so much harder. Enjoy!

Click images to enlarge

Akaneiro #1 - Artist: Shu Yan

Akaneiro #1 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Shu Yan

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 made all the more inviting by this cover. It’s a stark contrast to the equally wonderful interiors from Vasilis Lolos. Fact: Yan designed much of the armour worn in the game. (See also: Review)

Animal Man #20 (DC Comics) - Artist: Jae Lee

Animal Man #20 (DC Comics) – Artist: Jae Lee

Well, Jeff Lemire’s Animal Man has been known to bring the crazy, and if the shoe fits! As a cover artist, Jae Lee’s work has been featured several times in this column, and this reminds us of the work he did for Before Watchmen: Ozymandias the most. Any cover with a pug is a big bucket of win in our books.

Batman Incorporated #11 (DC Comics) - Artist: Guillem March

Batman Incorporated #11 (DC Comics) – Artist: Guillem March 

Gasp! It’s the first jaw-dropping thought that comes to mind when viewing this variant cover from March. The Chris Burnham standard cover is of the Batman of Japan. We think we know who we’d prefer to look at, even if she is holding a skull. (See also: Review)

Batman: The Dark Knight Annual #1 (DC Comics) - Artist: Alex Maleev

Batman: The Dark Knight Annual #1 (DC Comics) – Artist: Alex Maleev

This would be a far more traditional Bat-cover than the one that preceded it, except that it’s master Alex Maleev on board. Maleev is probably better known for his Marvel and creator-owned work, but this special foreshadows the run of Batman: The Dark Knight interiors about to commence in July. We can’t wait.

Batwoman #20 (DC Comics) - Artist: J.H. Williams III

Batwoman #20 (DC Comics) – Artist: J.H. Williams III

Amongst Batwoman’s many talents is the abilty to cloak ancient Egypt within Gotham City. You never know when that will come in handy.

Conan The Barbarian #16 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Massimo Carnevale

Conan The Barbarian #16 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Massimo Carnevale

An obvious pick, if for no other reason than a gorgeous palette. We particularly like the way Carnevale has separated colours between light and dark, and the sinister undercurrent that implies beneath a loving foreground.

Daredevil #26 (Marvel) - Artist: Chris Samnee

Daredevil #26 (Marvel) – Artist: Chris Samnee

It’s a spectacular anniversary issue (of sorts), and despite all the awesomeness and darkness that happens within, there is something hopeful about this classic piece of Daredevil on the rooftops.

Dia de Los Muertos #3 (Image Comics) - Artist: Riley Rossmo

Dia de Los Muertos #3 (Image Comics) – Artist: Riley Rossmo

Rossmo is one of our favourite artists here at Behind the Panels, and while this three-issue experiment hasn’t hit home with all audiences, the art is undeniably strong. It’s hard to miss with the Mexican iconography, but there’s something about those skulls at the bottom that seem to be staring into our souls…

Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher #1 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Richard Corben

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher #1 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Richard Corben

Just when you thought it wasn’t possible for Poe to offer us anything new, along comes the master of Poe in comics, Richard Corben. This twisted construct suggests the foundations upon which the titular house is built, and the figure on top is Corben’s ugly-beautiful trademark. There is, of course, a raven thrown in for good measure.

The Fearless Defenders #4 (Marvel) - Artist:  Mark Brooks

The Fearless Defenders #4 (Marvel) – Artist: Mark Brooks

Comics often take themselves far too seriously, and this mix-and-match cover is the antidote. Speculators will be loathe to cut up their cover, but we say go for it. If you’re too chicken, print this one out and play dress-up.

FF #7 (Marvel) - Artist: Mike Allred

FF #7 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Allred

Allred is another person we have a permanent place for here in Cover Story. It’s also one of those covers that demands a second look, as the double face of Doctor Doom and letters ‘FF’ becomes visible in the rocks behind the falling heroes.

Last of Us: American Dream #2 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Julian Totino Tedesco

Last of Us: American Dream #2 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Julian Totino Tedesco

Argentine artist Tedesco wraps the covers of this prequel series. Not only is this beautiful to look at on the surface, the imagery speaks so much about the “American Dream” of the title. The two figures stare at the figure that they are meant to be aspiring to, but it is their reflection that is prominent. The ultimate tragedy is that the dream has been literally shattered and exposed before they even got there.

Miniature Jesus #2 (Image Comics) - Artist: Ted McKeever

Miniature Jesus #2 (Image Comics) – Artist: Ted McKeever

Ted McKeever’s insane creation comfortably enters its second month, the writer/artist ups the insanity. As some kind of crab-clawed homunculus grips a tiny Jesus, we’re surprised the conservative groups haven’t latched onto this and started protesting out front of comic stores. Note to conservative groups: please don’t do this. It’s a ripper of a read. (See also: Review)

Mr X: Eviction #1 (Dark Horse) - Artist: Dean Motter

Mr X: Eviction #1 (Dark Horse) – Artist: Dean Motter

Just sit back and get lost in this Escheresque cityscape, following each line down to its epic infinity. Then notice the tiny figure in red and go quietly mad. We said quietly.

Red She-Hulk #65 (Marvel) - Artist: Francesco Francavilla

Red She-Hulk #65 (Marvel) – Artist: Francesco Francavilla

Francavilla is best known for his pulp-inspired art for The Black Beetle, and this one seems almost Hitchcockian (North By Northwest) in its inspiration. Of course, Cary Grant didn’t look as good in a crop top and bike shorts.

Superior Spider-man #9 (Marvel) - Artist: Marcos Martin

Superior Spider-man #9 (Marvel) – Artist: Marcos Martin

Now this is a stroke of genius, and if you have tiny figures running across your brain, it’s entirely possible that you may suffer a stroke. The war for Peter Parker’s noggin is waged literally in this chase across Spidey’s pinkish-grey matter, and we love anything in the Will Eisner tradition of spelling out titles with objects on page.

Unwritten #49 (DC/Vertigo) - Artist: Yuko Shimizu

The Unwritten #49 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Yuko Shimizu

Not to be confused with the designer of Hello Kitty, the New York based Japanese artist is known around the world, but to comics lovers she has been a staple monthly presence on Unwritten. Impossible constructs seem to be a theme this month. Shimizu says she doesn’t like to talk about influences, “because I have lived long enough to the point things that have influenced me at some point in my life often have no relevance to who I am now”. However, in the same post she talks about artists that have stuck with her. From Katsushika Hokusai to Miyata Masayuki, to her myriad of advertising and marketing influences in between, it is hard to pin Shimizu to a single style. We’d rightly say her style is “Yuko Shimizu”.

Wonder Woman #20 (DC Comics) - Artist: Cliff Chiang

Wonder Woman #20 (DC Comics) – Artist: Cliff Chiang

Volumes could be written about what this images represents in terms of female superheroes and protective maternal instincts, but we simply love the contrast between the attacking limbs and the black and white actions of Wonder Woman. We’re going to avoid the religious imagery here as well, because we’ve already given a nod to Miniature Jesus this month. There’s also something very Saul Bass about those hands.

X-Men: Legacy #10 (Marvel) - Artist: Mike Del Mundo

X-Men: Legacy #10 (Marvel) – Artist: Mike Del Mundo

De Mundo has previously played with phrenology charts, pop art and generally big hair for these covers, and this take on a pharmaceutical ads speaks volumes about the history of the struggle at the centre of the X-franchise and the America that it now finds itself in.


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