Best Comic Book Covers Ever (This Month): April 2014
The return of the real (fictional) Spider-Man to comics brings with it one of the best Spider-Man images ever to grace a comic cover, courtesy of Marcos Martin. A lot of the other comics on shelves in April might feel a little performance anxiety as a consequence, but never fear; the Best Comic Book Covers Ever (This Month) also brought forth amazing covers from Nathan Fox, David Nakayama, Declan Shalvey and others!
All-New Ultimates #1
The second-best Spider-Man cover in April was this beautiful piece from David Nakayama, which uses dramatic silhouettes to create depth and dynamism and to serve character. "Meet the team" covers are often predictable and safe. This one stands apart.
Great use of a single image to tell a story, here. The known, familiar world above the surface; outright horror below the surface - and it's a horror that plays on the familiar fear of something unseen brushing against your leg. Excellent execution from Julián Totino Tedesco.
FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics #9
This cover immediately reminded me of the ad with the bouncing balls released down a San Francisco street - except maybe this is an out-take from when it all went wrong, because Nathan Fox takes the joy of that visual and turns it into something discomfiting. Brightly colored kinetic chaos.
Flash Gordon #1
"Dude standing against background" is not normally the sort of composition that lands with me, but I love the balance of this cover by Declan Shalvey. It's cleanly eye-catching with just enough detail to set out its store, and the echo of the shirt design makes it immediately appealing.
All-New Ghost Rider #2
Ghost Rider writer Felipe Smith is a talented artist in his own right, and it's great to see his take on the character. The composition of the blades, the chain, the body language and the blazing car all give this cover the depth it needs, but what really wowed me was the color. This cover makes impressive use of the new Ghost Rider's palette.
Cover by Paolo Rivera (artist website)
Published by Marvel
Available: Marvel (digital) / Comics shops (print)
Color is also used to great effect on this Paolo Rivera cover, which uses a very limited palette to suspend its star in the moment. There's movement here - the angle sells it - but we're really catching a single graceful second of the blood-red assassin in the cold night sky.
Speaking of moments; here's a great character study for Kate, the lead character in Leila del Luca and Joe Keatinge's Shutter. Kate was an adventurer, so the cover is styled like a Franco-Belgian adventure comic - except Kate can't be bothered to get off the couch to have her adventures. (I'm not sure the cover needed the additional overlay of the camera elements, but cameras are clearly a big part of a book called "Shutter", and it is lovely design by Brandon Graham.)
Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight #7
The finished cover is overlaid with grindhouse cinema poster details to really sell the idea of the series, but trust Francesco Francavilla to come up with a memorable composition that works with or without the cover furniture.
Detective Comics #30
This cover is a matryoshka doll of in-laid images; four of them set inside a yellow field. Francis Manapul has done an exemplary job of placing these elements together without overwhelming the page, and it's his choice of colors and textures that makes it so effective.
Amazing Spider-Man #1
Finally, the cover of the month. This is a cover that made me stop and catch my breath the first time I saw it. It's also that rare cover where I don't want to take the book's title away; this image was built not just to accommodate it, but to use it. Marcos Martin offers a palpable sense of the exhilaration of being Spider-Man, and it's dramatic, beautiful, and perfect. This is a cover I want to hang on my wall.