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.

July's comic book covers bring some gorgeous high contrast images and striking character portraits. There's a moment of grief; a moment of action; a moment of reflection; and a moment of revelation. Check out amazing work from Christian Ward, Eleanor Davis, Tommy Lee Edwards, and Lucy Knisley.

  • Doctor Spektor #2

    Cover by Christian Ward (artist site)
    Published by Dynamite
    Available: Comics shops (print) / ComiXology (digital)

    Here's a cover that really makes use of the page (to hide the horrors that lurk in the world underneath). The posture, the flow of beasties, and the visualisation of magic are all superb here, and the cover concept concisely sells what kind of book this is. Ward has established himself as one of the most exciting cover artists of 2014.

  • How To Be Happy

    Cover by Eleanor Davis (artist site)
    Published by Fantagraphics
    Available: Comics shops (print) / ComiXology (digital)

    At first glimpse I only saw the flowers; then I saw figures among the flowers; then I saw more figures tumbling from the sky. I can't tell you what story this represents, but it is a story, unfolding through the layers of a single beautiful image. It's a fascinating and inspiring piece of work by Eleanor Davis.

  • Spider-Man 2099 #1

    Variant cover by Rick Leonardi and Dan Green
    Published by Marvel
    Available: Comics shops (print) / Marvel (digital)

    Part of my affection for this cover may be nostalgia -- it's great to see Leonardi and Green drawing Spider-Man 2099 again. But actually, this is more than just a greatest hits piece. I suspect this is a digital image, and some of Leonardi's fluidity is lost, but what we gain is impact and definition, and the result is a powerful 'poster' image.

  • Grayson #1

    Cover by Mikel Janin (artist site)
    Published by DC Comics
    Available: Comics shops (print) / DC Entertainment (digital)

    One thing I really appreciate about the covers for Grayson is that the creators remember that he's handsome. I don't mean that they give him "superhero face", which, yes, is blankly handsome; this cover by Mikel Janin gives us lip curl, picks out the baby-blue of Dick's eyes, and emphasises the shape and muscularity of his body in ways that feel deliberate rather than formulaic. This is a conspicuously sexy cover -- and it didn't need to be cheesecake to get there.

  • Harbinger #25

    Variant cover by Lucy Knisley (artist site)
    Published by Valiant
    Available: Comics shops (print) / ComiXology (digital)

    I feel like this is a poster for a comic festival that I want to go to, rather than a cover for Harbinger -- and that makes this a lovely surprise. It's great to see Valiant invite an artist of Lucy Knisley's caliber to come do her thing, and the result is tremendous.

  • Samurai Jack #10

    Variant cover by Andy Kuhn (artist site)
    Published by IDW
    Available: Comics shops (print) / IDW Publishing (digital)

    Is this Aku's final victory -- reaching in to Samurai Jack's head and stealing a piece of his mind? A really simple and charming treatment of a hero/villain conflict -- and witty too. It's the expression on Jack's face that sells it.

  • Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #5

    Cover by Andrew Robinson (artist site)
    Published by Marvel
    Available: Comics shops (print) / Marvel (digital)

    A comic book cover that's also a comic of sorts, with a layout that perhaps intentionally evokes the trigger of a gun. This Andrew Robinson cover is an excellent evocation of spy noir that tips its hat towards cinema and poster design, but is ultimately, emphatically, a comic book concept.

  • Angel & Faith #4

    Variant cover by Chris Samnee (artist site) and Jordie Bellaire (artist site)
    Published by Dark Horse
    Available: Comics shops (print) / Dark Horse (digital)

    Comics that feature likenesses of real people -- like Angel actor David Boreanaz -- often fall a little short, as if getting the likeness to click drains some of the energy from an image. Samnee does a great job here of simplifying the likeness down and building a composition that isn't hindered by it, and Bellaire's colors make the cover eye-catching and memorable.

  • Life With Archie #37

    Variant cover by Tommy Lee Edwards (artist site)
    Published by Archie Comics
    Available: Comics shops (print) / ComiXology (digital)

    Of all the many mournful covers to mark the death of Archie Andrews -- and there were many -- I like this one by Tommy Lee Edwards the best. The weight of grief is palpable here, and the characters are well realized through their body language and their individual styles. Note that both women are wearing their wedding ring. That's a great detail.

  • Batwoman #33

    Cover by Rafael Albuquerque (artist site)
    Published by DC Comics
    Available: Comics shops (print) / Comixology (digital)

    The use of Batwoman's red-lined cape to frame her opponent on this cover is inspired design, and the composition ensures that Batwoman herself isn't lost in the image, even as she recedes into the darkness. (I don't know if it's deliberate, but I love the way the slashes on Batwoman's costume give the cover just a touch of Frank Miller.)