As a general rule, I'm not a huge fan of variant covers, but let me tell you straight up: I love me a theme month. Any time that comics go with a unified cover layout for a month, I'm in, if only to see how nice they look when they're laid out next to each other on a shelf. Of course, it helps if both the theme and the covers themselves are awesome. Which, in the case of DC's variants for May of 2015, is exactly what they are.
The theme is movie posters, and the covers have taken inspiration from all over the world of cinema, and the results are genuinely amazing. I'm particularly fond of Cliff Chiang finally getting to use his Batgirl-themed Purple Rain homage on the cover of a comic, and that Superman x Super Fly mashup is something I've wanted for years, but whoever thought up that Catwoman x Bullitt cover deserves a raise and a paid vacation.
So it turns out that, defying any expectations that we may have had five years ago, Rocket Raccoon and Groot are the most popular characters in the most popular movie of the summer. In other words, get used to seeing them literally everywhere -- starting with 20 of Marvel's comics for November, where the talking tree and his surly procyonid pal are taking over with a series of variant covers.
Even better, the variants are homages to classic Marvel covers, ranging from classics like Captain America's reappearance in the Marvel Universe back in Avengers #4 to one of the most obscure and self-referential homages that I've ever seen. It's actually pretty amazing.
If you are a jaded, bitter superhero reader like we are here at ComicsAlliance, America's Grumpiest Comic Book News Site™, then you probably respond with announcements of variant covers with an eyeroll and a noncommittal grunt, and may even go as far as to say "Variants! Bah!" out loud to an empty room full of action figures. That's what we usually do, but not today, friends and neighbors. Not today.
Because today, DC Comics announced that most of the cape (and one He-Man) comic they publish in December is going to have a "widescreen" variant by Darwyn Cooke, and holy cats, they are some of the most beautiful DC superhero pictures we have ever seen.
Superhero comics have always come down pretty hard against bullying, whether it's Superman sticking up for the little guy in 1938 or Marvel's more direct approach to having nerdy weaklings suddenly turn into super-strong crime-fighters who turn the tables and beat the living crap out of the bad guys. Captain America, Spider-Man and the Hulk all follow that classic formula, and heck, the X-Men are an entire school made up of an oppressed minority that spends most of their time fighting robots made of racism.
So yeah, Marvel is, historically speaking, pretty dead set against bullying. That's why it's no surprise that they're teaming up with the STOMP Out Bullying organization next month for a series of variant covers designed to raise awareness of bullying and help prevent it. The results are some pretty great covers that range from charming to genuinely hilarious.
I go back and forth on how I feel about variant covers, in terms of whether or not they're good for comics in general. But I'll say this much: the inclusion of variants can sometimes lead to great art we'd otherwise never see. Case in point, Ronald Wimberly's variant cover for Mighty Avengers #3, which is probably my favorite cover of 2013 so far.
Under normal circumstances, one imagines that the announcement of a new Justice League of America series by the creative team of Geoff Johns and David Finch would be pretty huge on its own, but as of today, DC has added an even bigger push to the new series...
Comic books have a history of attempting to tie-in with US Presidential Elections; in 2008, remember, Image Comics' Savage Dragon endorsed Barack Obama before the election, and Marvel Comics' Amazing Spider-Man hung out with him following his inauguration...
May's a big month for Marvel, what with the release of Thor and the continuation of Fear Itself, but it's ultimately Chris Yost, Paco Medina and Dalibor Talajic's X-Men: First to Last that's claiming 14 (with 13 images released thus far) of the publisher's titles for maximum variant coverage from artists Khoi Pham, Chris Stevens, Brandon Peterson, Lee Weeks, David Yardin, Michael Ryan, Patrick Zircher, Greg Tocchini, John Tyler Christopher, David Lopez, Todd Renaud, Mario Alberti and Larry Strohman...
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