Best Comic Book Covers Ever (This Month): December 2014
A great comic book cover is an advertisement, a work of art, a statement, and an invitation. A great comic book cover is a glimpse of another world through a canvas no bigger than a window pane. In Best Comic Book Covers Ever (This Month), we look back over some of the most eye-catching, original and exceptional covers of the past month.
For the final covers of 2014, we showcase excellent work by some of the year's most reliable talents, including Kris Anka, Michael Del Mundo, and Riley Rossmo; some truly standout work by R.M. Guera and Jay Shaw; and the very best 'theme month' of the year.
Rarely does any theme month achieve the heights of Darwyn Cooke's "widescreen" variants for DC this past month. As we noted in our coverage back in September, Cooke's thrilling tableaux present a portrait of a DC Universe that we wish we could really read about, filled with excitement, spectacle and joy. In picking the best covers for December, I could very easily have picked nothing but Cooke covers. Instead I've picked out a couple of favorites, from Grayson and Teen Titans, but you can check out our gallery to see the rest.
Cliff Chiang's variant for the Shazam Family-centric installment of Multiversity aptly taps into similar territory to Darwyn Cooke's widescreen covers. This space-age JLA embraces that same spirit of invention and eccentricity that lies at the heart of what makes superheroes delightful. I hope we'll see much more of this sort of thing in 2015.
An exercise in restraint and under-statement that delivers on impact and tension. The decisions to frame this image in a way that shows the glowing lanterns, and to drop the background into a hazy fog, create a perfect and palpable sense of a time, a place, and a danger.
The influence of the masterful Sergio Toppi on R.M. Guera is impossible to miss, and this layered, complex, narrative image has many Toppian elements in place, with its excellent use of white space, its monolithic figure work, and even its color palette of old world blues, browns and reds. Sergio Toppi was a genius, and we'll never see his like again; but we're very fortunate to have R.M. Guera as one of his worthy successors.
Del Mundo remains one of the best conceptual artists in the cover business -- his ideas are original and inventive, and his execution is exceptional. There are a lot of ways to visualize Elektra at the heart of a bullseye, but these delicately shaded spectral ninjas are an inspired device -- and Elektra's trademark red pops beautifully against the blues.
Some iconic images are used so often in graphic design and cover work that the pastiches struggle to retain their charm, from Evening Post-style covers to Mucha tribute girls. This Evil Empire cover is a welcome change, recreating a vintage Woodstock poster and giving it a smart, subversive spin by replacing a guitar with a gun, but keeping that peace-loving dove. A great and original use of an evocative icon.
Energy. That's what lies at the heart of Ms. Marvel; an effervescent kineticism that embraces and celebrates heroism. And that's what's captured so beautifully here, via the lunacy of that giant dog Lockjaw; the symbols of cyclical youth-in-revolt in the graffiti logo and the looming presence of a police car; and the elastic exaggeration of Kamala Khan's stretched-out legs, which both showcase her power and serve as a commentary of sorts on the standard treatment of superheroic women. This is a cover that does a lot of work in a simple snapshot.
As one of the artists behind Aspen, Peter Steigerwald is perhaps most obviously linked to a certain style of swimsuit cheesecake art, which definitely has an audience, and that audience definitely isn't me. This variant cover for his own Zoohunters showcases a different talent for adorably quirky beasties that I find much more compelling, and highlights Steigerwald's skill as a color artist.
The skull motif, flipped and distorted in the spilled wine on the floor, is almost an incidental note on this cover, which evokes death just as effectively through the decadence of sex and sleep and the black tide of the bed sheets.
This might be the most Tommy Lee Edwards cover that Tommy Lee Edwards has ever produced, and that's worth a moment of appreciation. The textures and layers are exquisite; the hissing cat on Selina's chest helps tell the story in the moment; and the threat is an actual shadow. The inky blackness of Tommy Lee Edwards covers is so rich that it's actually come alive and started attacking his subjects!