Mutants, monsters and warriors adorn our pick of the best covers of January 2014 as Best Comic Book Covers Ever returns. Check out amazing work from Kris Anka and Jared K. Fletcher, Darwyn Cooke, Wes Craig, Rafael Albuequerque and more. We'll even throw in an explosion. Boom! (That wasn't the explosion. We're just excited.)

  • 'All-New X-Factor' #2

    Cover by Kris Anka and Jared K. Fletcher

    Published by Marvel

    Available: Comics shops (print) / Marvel (Apple + Android + Web)

    All-New X-Factor's corporate theme requires a strong brand identity. It would be easy to take that too far. Anka and Fletcher have struck a great balance here, with a distinctive and versatile design that still leaves plenty of room for dynamic action. The figure work and the painterly motion splashes also deserve praise!

  • 'B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth' #115

     

    Cover by Rafael Albuquerque

    Published by Dark Horse

    Available: Comics shops (print) / Dark Horse (Apple + Android + Web)

    There's something dependable about a B.P.R.D. cover. The aesthetic is well established by now -- thick Mignola shadows splashed with violence and horror. Every artist's challenge is to honor the look while bringing something of themself, and Abluquerque can be relied on to do exactly that. This cover feels both wholly Albuequerque and wholly B.P.R.D.

  • 'Monsters! And Other Stories'

     

    Cover by Gustavo Duarte

    Published by Dark Horse

    Available: Comics shops (print) / Amazon (print + Kindle) Dark Horse (Apple + Android + Web)

    On the one hand, this is an image of a hideous giant monster eating a boat. On the other hand, it's charming and whimsical, and it's credit to the humor in Gustavo Duarte's heavy cartoon line that he can instil charm and whimsy into an image of a hideous giant monster eating a boat.

  • 'Rat Queens' #4

     

    Cover by John Upchurch

    Published by Image Comics

    Available: Comics shops (print) / Image (DRM-free download) / ComiXology (Apple + Android + Web)

    Upchurch chose an incredibly tricky -- and dynamic -  angle for this image of Rat Queens besieged on the ramparts. He gets it all in there: the vertiginous height, the action, and the  revealing body language of the characters. Challenging concept; superb execution.

  • 'Raven Nevermore' #1

     

    Cover by Samuel Casal

    Published by XEI Books

    Available: Comics shops (print) / ComiXology (Apple + Android + Web)

    Brazilian illustrator Samuel Casal brings sumptuous color and lavish design to this cover; it's a strong and memorable aesthetic. I recommend checking out Casal's blog for more of his work.

  • 'Ultranova' #1

     

    Cover by Chris Peterson

    Published by Challenger Comics

    Available: Challenger Comics (print + digital)

    Boom! Didn't I promise an explosion? This is a beautifully textured image, overexposed in a way that captures the fleeting, liminal nature of the moment, and the figure is well placed to provide the appearance of movement.

  • 'Batwing' #27

     

    Cover by Darwyn Cooke

    Published by DC Comics

    Available: Comics shops (print) / DC Entertainment (Apple + Android + Web)

    Neither the color scheme nor the line of this cover could have told me that this is Darwyn Cooke -- in fact the cut-out approach to the architecture immediately evokes Dean Motter -- but I wasn't surprised to find Cooke's signature. Great cover artists stand out, even when they move beyond familiar styles.

  • 'Wonder Woman' #27

     

    Cover by Cliff Chiang

    Published by DC Comics

    Available: Comics shops (print) / DC Entertainment (Apple + Android + Web) 

    A very effective juxtaposition of Wonder Woman's mythological roots and her current idiom. This cover creates an instantly memorable and resonant image.

  • 'Three' #4

     

    Cover by Ryan Kelly and Jordie Bellaire

    Published by Image Comics

    Available: Comics shops (print) / Image (DRM-free download) / ComiXology (Apple + Android + Web)

    The covers for Three have all been very striking, and impressive in their ability to evoke the style and colors of ancient Greek pottery while presenting a more visceral modern aesthetic.

  • 'Deadly Class' #1

     

    Cover by Wes Craig

    Published by Image Comics

    Available: Comics shops (print) / Image (DRM-free download) / ComiXology (Apple + Android + Web)

    I love a good "meet the cast" cover. It's a convention of team and ensemble books to establish and re-establish the cast on the cover every few issues, both to remind readers who's in the book and to provide an obvious cover choice for the eventual trade paperback. That means "meet the cast" covers can tend to be cliché, as there's only so many approaches an artist can take. Wes Craig has departed from all the obvious choices, and provided not just an overview of the cast, but a sense of their relationships. Oh, and there's a corpse. That always makes it interesting!