Our judges have adjudicated; our readers have voted. We’re proud to present to you the best cover of 2015 — and four great runners up.
Runner Up: Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur #1, by Amy Reeder
Amy Reeder’s cover is a study in contrasts, starting with size. Moon Girl’s entire body fits within the lower left quarter of the image. Devil Dinosaur is so big in comparison that all we see of him is his face, leaning down in the frame from the top right. He stares down at her, and she leans forward, eyes closed, like she’s about to kiss him on the nose. This is a book about a huge monster and a little girl being friends, and the cover gives us that immediately.
This issue is Moon Girl’s first appearance, but the visual cues on the cover tell us a bit about her. Big glasses, big backpack, khaki shorts, gym socks pulled up — Moon Girl is, to put it bluntly, a nerd. Devil Dinosaur, on the other hand, is a Tyrannosaurus Rex. In fact, to those of us who’ve been around comics for a while, he’s recognizably the same red T-Rex who Jack Kirby created.
New character and Kirby creation. Nerd and dinosaur. Little girl and giant monster. And they’re friends. Who wouldn’t want to read what’s behind this cover? [Elle Collins]
Runner Up: Descender #1, by Dustin Nguyen
Dustin Nguyen is known for his expressive art, notable for its stylized cartooning and dark watercolour shades. In 2015, he and Jeff Lemire launched Descender at Image Comics, the story of Tim-21, a companion robot in a world where an unspecified shift in society has resulted in robots being mistrusted and hunted. In addition to doing the art for the series, Nguyen also does the covers, and he came out strong right from the start.
The cover for Descender #1 is an exercise in restraint. Inside the book itself, the world of Descender is chaotic, with explosions, bloody violence and tumult. But in the middle of all that is Tim-21, and he’s not any of those things. He might be a robot in a world that hates them, but he’s also a lonely kid, and Nguyen’s cover captures all that perfectly. Contrasted against a deep, isolating black is Tim, plaintively looking out into the stars. Descender never loses the focus on Tim’s confusion and loneliness, and the cover captures it evocatively and perfectly. Looking at Descender #1, it’s hard not to feel for the little guy even before you actually meet him. [James Leask]
Runner Up: Ant-Man #4, by Mark Brooks
Neon-lit palm trees. A sweet Ferrari. A man wearing a suit over a Hawaiian shirt over a bear costume. It's Miami Vice, except one guy can control ants and the other is dressed as a bear. If that doesn't sell you on Mark Brooks' excellent cover, then we probably aren't going to get along.
We see a whole lot of comics covers parodying or homaging other bits of pop culture, but Ant-Man #4 stands out because it manages to simultaneously match the content inside — the humour of Nick Spencer and Ramon Rosanas' West-Coast romp — and also suggest a completely different version of the comic. One that was released in an alternate universe where pastel-coloured suits never went out of fashion, where all the best comics logos are picked out in neon pinks and blues, and where stories about men dressed as bears fly off shelves. God, I want to live there. [Alex Spencer]
Runner Up: Amazing X-Men #19, by Jorge Fornes
Colossus facing off against the Juggernaut doesn’t sound all that spectacular. It’s something we’ve seen before. But Jorge Fornés makes this cover into something unique and special.
Colossus has his back to us; his face isn’t visible. His teammates are sprawled on the ground at his feet, defeated. Northstar’s eyes stare out at us lifelessly, adding to the sense of hopelessness. Piotr’s arms are back, his weight on one foot, he’s ready to fight, even though his opponent is much bigger than him. The Juggernaut appears only in silhouette — a huge, page-dominating silhouette. He’s bigger than he's ever been, but he’s recognizable by his distinctive dome helmet. This isn’t just Cain Marko, this is the very idea of the Juggernaut.
Because that’s the thing about this story: Piotr Rasputin isn’t just fighting the Juggernaut. Piotr’s been the Juggernaut himself. He’s facing the temptation of vast amoral power — the power to be unstoppable. It’s bigger than him, but he has to resist it, and he’s all alone in doing so. Fornés’ technical skill is impressive, but what makes this cover amazing is the symbolic level at which it gets at the story within. [Elle Collins]
Winner: Ninjak #1 variant, by Marguerite Sauvage
There’s poise in Marguerite Sauvage’s variant cover for issue #1 of Valiant’s Ninjak series. Without showing the character beyond a silhouetted profile, it manages to convey more sense of who he is than any of the other covers released — perhaps because of that limitation, and not despite it.
A ninja-spy (for want of a better term), Ninjak operates out of sight wherever possible anyway, and Sauvage’s cover plays on that to use him as a spotlight into the other fascinating character that debuts in the issue: Roku, the assassin he comes up against briefly. The side turn is partially used for sexual effect, of course, but it also allows Sauvage to emphasize an aspect of the character that proves important to the issue; her hair.
The straight, sharp lines that define Roku’s hair in the image — sweeping from the top of the silhouette and out of sight — reflect the fact that this is a character whose hair is actually made of razor blades. We see nothing of Ninjak in the cover, but we know everything we need to; we see so much of Roku without ever learning what she’s really about. [Steve Morris]