iFanboy’s Best of 2011: The Best Covers

2011 was a tremendous year for comic covers, and each Friday I had the pleasure of chronicling my favorites in a weekly roundup. Tasked with showcasing the very best of those, I found it impossible to limit the list to just ten. Even 25 was too limiting a number. Today I offer what I hope is a diverse assortment of 26 27 terrific comic covers, some of them painterly and others meticulously inked. Some are astonishing in the depth of their narrative while others are just damn fine pinups. A few are heightened by thoughtful typography and logo design while many were all but devastated by bar codes and event banners between the artist’s table and final publication. In the case of the latter I’ve opted to include the original illustration sans publication clutter. As is my purview as an all-powerful and benevolent commentator.

Even after all is said and done, I’m certain I’ve missed some true gems. So I leave it up to you to fill in some blanks. Let’s celebrate the best and the brightest today. Let’s cover the bases.


26. The Amazing Spider-Man #665

by Paolo Rivera

25. Jonah Hex #68

by Raffa Garres


24. iZombie #19

by Mike Allred


23. The Avengers #9

by John Romita Jr.


22. Annihilators #1 (Variant)

by Mike Mignola


21. Fear Agent #32

by Tony Moore



20. Uncanny X-Force #15

by Esad Ribic


19. American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest #5

by Sean Murphy

18. DC Universe Presents #1

by Ryan Sook


17. The Spirit #13

by Ladronn

16. X-Factor #228

by David Yardin


15. The Unwritten #27

by Yuko Shimizu



14. Fables #101

by Joao Ruas


13. Locke & Key: Clockworks #3

by Gabriel Rodriguez


12. DMZ #61

by John Paul Leon


11. Scalped #53

by Jock


10. Red Skull #2

by David Aja

9. Optic Nerve #12

by Adrian Tomine


Daredevil #7 Cover

8. Daredevil #7

by Paolo Rivera

7. Zatanna #15

by Adam Hughes


6. Northlanders #45

by Massimo Carnevale

5.  Fables #112

by Joao Ruas

4. The Batman covers of Chris Burnham

3. Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths #1

by Geof Darrow


2.  Detective Comics #880

by Jock


1. Archie #627 (Archie Meets KISS #1) (Variant)

by Francesco Francavilla


  1. Kmanifesto says:

    Jock’s cover is fantastic. What a striking visual!

  2. An embarrassment of riches to choose from. Lots of good stuff in there.

    Jock’s covers for Detective were really an impressive body of work. They never felt like expected comic covers. The Joker one is probably my favorite.

    I’m going to miss seeing DMZ covers out there. Those have been some of the most consistently well designed comic book covers on the market. Its amazing how as a system they work together well across 72 issues and never look like typical comics covers…they do their own thing. Being able to shed all the kitschy conventions of typical cover design they really prove there is another way to do things. They always felt more like book covers than comic covers.

    Its too bad you couldn’t always show the covers in their full form with the logos and design elements. Those have as much an impact on the cover design as the illustration.

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      Featured covers from Zatanna, Fables, Northlanders and Red Skull were definitely heightened by masterful typography and design elements. But take the included Jonah Hex cover. I had to do it justice and use the original image. On the shelf, it’s sullied by a hideous Green Lantern movie banner and all sorts of visual junk.

    • oh yeah i remember those GL banners. I’m a big picture guy and think whatever is for sale its the final product y’know? I gotta tell you though…all those required things that “clients” make the designer ruin the covers with…bane of our existence.

      I love when stuff like Zatanna, Fables, Norhtlanders, Red Skull, DMZ etc etc prove you don’t need all the extra junk.

  3. mattstev2000 mattstev2000 says:

    Don’t get the love for the Archie cover personally – messy horrible thing it is. Jock’s Detective Comics cover on the other hand is beautiful and striking… I would have put it as the winner by a country mile.

    • sitara119 sitara119 says:

      i am inclined to agree with you. quite horrible. or at the very least, not very impressive by my standards.

    • Archie is rocking a Flying V with the eyes of Gene Simmons looming . ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED!?!?! haha

      i love it..plus its Francavilla…..

      what is “messy” about it? Its a masterful layout, and great execution.

    • diebenny diebenny says:

      Archie with a flying V is all it took for me. Now all he needs is a jean jacket with the sleeves cut off and some high tops. I also want a young James Hetfield’s eyes looming instead of Simmons, but you can’t win em all.

    • CaeuZokul CaeuZokul says:

      @diebenny – Now you know what to have commissioned this year. If we’re lucky, some pro will offer it as a weekly sketch here.

  4. I LOVE that X-Factor #228 cover…looks like something out of Ghost In The Shell.

  5. The Fear Agent cover really kicks me in the guts. My personal fave of the bunch. The Joker by Jock a close second.w

  6. rocknrolla says:

    Yeah I hate the look of barcodes! I wish they could be moved to page 1 of the comic or anywhere other than the front cover really.

  7. sitara119 sitara119 says:

    for me it would have come down to the batman and robin or the joker

  8. ctrosejr ctrosejr says:

    Great choices.

    My honorable mentions: Unwritten 29, Daredevil 1 & 4, Detective 872.

  9. Walter Walter says:

    I would not have chosen Archie as number one but other than that pretty good list.

  10. Kelly Kelly (@annaluna) says:

    I think i would have added batwoman #1 to the list. probably somewhere in the 9-12 range. I know that style is well represented on this list, but it’s my favorite.

  11. rocknrolla says:

    I don’t understand #9 on the list. Clearly there’s something going on there, but what?

  12. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    That Optic Nerve cover is crazy good.

  13. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    Regarding Archie, I’m not sure if I would have chosen that as the #1 best cover, but I can tell you that every single time I go into my shop and see that on the shelf, I notice it, and remark on how friggin cool that is, for reasons I cannot put my finger on. It’s been happening for weeks. On the other hand, I guess they’re just not gonna sell that copy.

  14. thehangman thehangman says:

    that joker cover is stunning. as many may know, i’m not the biggest dick grayson (as batman) fan, but that cover alone made me need that issue. or at least a poster of it.

    and really? no batman and robin new 52 covers? the whole first 4 issues were all contenders, especially 2-4.

    aaaaaaaand no manapul? OUCH.

    kinda alone in this, but i’m not exactly digging about 70% of these.

  15. Blargo Blargo says:

    I personally would have included Animal Man #1 in there somewhere.

  16. Josh Flanagan Josh Flanagan (@jaflanagan) says:

    The shoulder strap on #19 is sexiness defined.

  17. mikegraham6 mikegraham6 says:

    Great choices Paul! Man i really wish Geof Darrow and Jean Paul Leon would do more comic work. They are such phenomenal talents and I always get excited whenever I see their names (which is, sadly, very rare)

  18. USPUNX USPUNX says:

    How is Amazing Spider Man #671 not on this list?!? Not only one of the best covers of the year, it is one of the best Spider-Man covers of all time.

    Seriously, this is a great list though. That Northlanders cover is one of my personal favorites of the year.

    • USPUNX USPUNX says:

      Also a big fan of the most recent Fables cover with Santa on the front. But lets be honest, you could do a top 10 of just Fables covers each year…

  19. I don’t see some of them.

  20. This definitely includes many of my covers of the year. I’d also add Schism #5, it was such a dramatic composition and having the scene lit by the sentinel about to fire was a wonderful choice.

  21. Maty. Maty. says:

    These are great- but no Jo Chen Buffy Season Nine #1 cover? That was a fantastic pose. Her covers and those of Steve Morris (on this book) have been amazingly painterly and wonderfully goodly.

  22. Batman #3 should’ve been on the list and high.

  23. MacAoidh MacAoidh says:

    No JH Williams?! I loved his Batman Inc covers, and the Batwoman covers have been all fantastic so far (2 & 4 being my favourites). I think he did a couple other good guest covers in 2011, cant put my finger on them though.

  24. balsalm balsalm says:

    Northlanders and Fear Agent for me, their faces say it all.

  25. bcoop704 bcoop704 says:

    In my opinion, the cover to Detective #880 should have been listed at #1, but that’s probably just me. I also love seeing Chris Burnham’s Batman covers listed in here, and the Zatanna cover by Adam Hughes is definitely worthy of this list. Truth be told, most of the covers to that Zatanna series are among my personal favorites in my collection.

    I think honorable mention for 2011 should go to Birds of Prey #11 and Power Girl #26.

  26. mickmac59 mickmac59 says:

    It’s features like this that remind me why I love this medium so much. Thanks Paul.