In what is officially my first fanboy thrill of 2013, the Vertigo blog released today a variant cover for Django Unchained #2 by Mark Chiarello. Part of the publisher's comic book adaptation of Quentin Tarantino's new film, this illustration is to the best of my knowledge the first new piece we've seen from the incredibly gifted Chiarello in several years.Recently promoted by DC Entertainment to Vice President - Art Direction and Design, Chiarello has been a longtime hero to serious comic book art fans for editing such aesthetically impeccable comics including DC: The New Frontier, Batman: Black & White and Wednesday Comics. Arguably Chiarello's magnum opus as an editor, the groundbreaking Solo series was the subject of a 12-part ComicsAlliance feature by Matt Seneca and Sean Witzke. Most recently, Chiarello has been the guiding force behind the most acclaimed of the controversial Before Watchmen series and variant cover artist selections, which, if nothing else, are very pretty.

A fantastic painter, designer, colorist and comic book artist in his own right, Chiarello's Terminal City and Terminal City: Aerial Graffiti covers are in my view among the best comic book covers of the 1990s. Sadly Chiarello has not released any new comic book work that I'm aware of since an Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide cover in 2010. In terms of sequential art, Chiarello's last work I can find is a Two-Face backup story for an issue of Countdown in 2007 and a Samurai Jack short story in 2006's Cartoon Network Action Pack #1. However, the artist has been at work on projects outside of comics, such as illustrations for Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology, and his amazing portraits of the earliest African American baseball players have been compiled in Heroes of the Negro Leagues.

Chiarello's Django Unchained cover invokes the style of classic Saul Bass movie posters but with a few extra layers of grimness and grit to convey very accurately the bloody but curiously kitschy tone of the Tarantino revenge film about a freed slave turned bounty hunter. Adapted for comics by RM Guerra and Jason Latour, this issue is on sale now in finer comics shops.

More From ComicsAlliance