Conor’s Cover Critique: The Week That Was

We talk a lot about comic books here, obviously. We talk about story. We talk about art. We talk about continuity and character motivations. But one thing we hardly ever dwell on are comic book covers, which is funny because when you think about it the comic book cover is one of its most important elements. Or at least it was, before the age of the internet, the advanced solicitations, Previews, and every other tool the modern comic book reader has at their disposal used to figure out what they are going to buy before they go into the store. Before all this stuff all you had to go on was the cover on the racks – was it eye catching? Was it exciting? Was it dynamic? These days I’ll still let a good comic book cover sway me. Sometimes if it’s a light week (ha!) or if I’m just itching for something new, I’ll let a new cover catch my eye like a pretty girl at a bar, and I’ll saunter on over to investigate.

Not only was this a great week of comics, but it was a really great week for comic book covers. There were a few that garnered oohs and aahs and maybe a swoon or too.

Here were the four best covers from this week’s books:

Jonah Hex #42
Cover by Jordi Bernet

If there was ever a single image that captured everything about a character, this would be it.

Jonah Hex is a hard scrabble son of a bitch. He’s one of the toughest men in the West, and he’s also one of the most feared. He’s a target in every town he rides into and people are rarely foolish enough to go at him with just one gun.

Jordi Bernet’s cover of a man who is in chains, with blood on his uniform, and on the wrong end of a whole gang of firearms perfectly captures Jonah Hex. Look at his face. Look at his eyes. There is no fear. There is no apprehension. There is no resignation. There is only determination.

Determination and anger.

Jonah Hex is going to not only get out of this situation alive, but he is going to shoot every one of those other men dead. And he’s going to ride out of town (probably with his bounty) and onto his next target where he will probably find himself, once again, up against the world. And then Jonah Hex will sneer and spit and cock his pistols and face the world, guns blazing.

This is Jonah Hex — an angry man with the world against him — perfectly summed up in one image.

 

Dark Reign: Fantastic Four #2
Cover by Pasqual Ferry

Like the Jonah Hex cover above, this one perfectly captures its subject. In this case, Dr. Reed Richards A.K.A. Mr. Fantastic.

In the Marvel Universe, Reed Richards is the patriarch and its most famous family man. But he is also its biggest brain and that overshadows everything. He might love his family, but he can’t stop thinking. He can’t stop the new ideas from coming. And like most people whose brains are constantly firing on new creative ideas (artistic or scientific) he just can’t ignore them, no matter what’s going on around him. Sometimes this is to the detriment of those around him and sometimes it’s to the detriment of himself, but no matter what, he can’t stop his brain from working the way it does.

His family might be in danger behind him (danger he had a hand in putting them in), but he has a problem in front of him that needs solving and he is going to solve it. Everything else behind him is just white noise.

That is Reed Richards in a nutshell, and that’s what this cover nails.

 

The Flash: Rebirth #1
Cover by Ethan Van Sciver

This book has already been talked about all over the place, it’s the highest pulled book of the week, and it is this week’s Pick of the Week. And at the risk of turning this into The Flash: Rebirth Week, this one can’t be ignored.

Because it’s just a fantastic cover.

One of the great things about Ethan Van Sciver is that he puts a lot of practical thought into what he’s drawing. And while that might result in his work taking a long time to come out, you really can’t argue with the results.

Here we have a Barry Allen that is just crackling with Speed Force energy. The Flashes have always had the Speed Force around them, but as someone who has spend the last 25 years (of real time) inside the Speed Force, this is a great way to represent his return.

Barry’s eyes are sparking and he’s pulling on his boots. Barry’s back and it’s time to clean up Central City once again. If I were a Rogue and I saw this cover I’d seriously consider retirement.

 

Captain America Comics 70th Anniversary Special
Cover by Marcos Martin

And now we get to my favorite cover of the week. The cover that made me swoon.

It’s Captain America and Bucky punching hordes of Nazis!

Generally speaking, not much more is needed to get the o’ blood pumping than seeing Cap and Buck fighting Nazis. I mean, there isn’t much in this world that’s better than that. But then you add Marcos Martin into the mix and we move into divine territory.

The collective iFanboy man crush on Marcos Martin is well known. We are big fans of the retro art style that is personified by the Darwyn Cookes and the Marcos Martins of the comic book world, and to me those are the two best guys drawing in that style right now.  I will buy anything that they draw.

As a result, the equation is not that difficult:

Captain America + Bucky + Punching Nazis + Marcos Martin = Comic Book Cover Nirvana

 

Comments

  1. The coloring on the FF Dark Reign and on the Cap issue are excellent. Ferry’s cover is a cartoony with a realist edge and the colors enhance the mood. Martin’s Cap glistens brightly. This could be a Morale poster in the Marvel U – pitch perfect. Cover artists usually color their own work, yes?

     

    Also, the lettering on Rebirth is kinetic and the lettering on Cap is  typeface evocate of the 40’s. Well done. Love these featuretts. 

  2. All nice covers — I especially like your analysis of the Fantastic Four cover, because that captures it exactly.

  3. I bought FLASH because I liked the cover.  The crap inside of it definitely wasn’t worth my $3.99 (plus tax).  I guess I just ain’t a FLASH guy.  I tried to get into his stuff a couple times, just ain’t for me.  Sorry

     FF #2 (of 5) was a delightful little read though…

  4. i loved the Jonah Hex issue so much. It was so good and i loved he art. it made the issue that much more enjoyable

    The dark reign: fantastic four issue was amazing as well. i loved the cover art and the storyline.

    the flash rebirth was also amazing. i love ethan van scrivers work. he is the perfect artist to do the rebirth of the flash. 

     as for the amazing marcos martin cap issue. i want him on this from now on. i love ed brubaker but martin should do all amazing past steve rogers issues because the art totally fit the storyline. 

  5. I love the Flash cover- it’s reminiscent of the old Infantino covers from the 60’s and 70’s where the title was as much of the art as the scene depicted on it, a number of which were for the Flash.  I once found one of these (a Batman book) in a box of old comics at a yard sale and bought it just for the cover.  I might buy Flash for the same reason

  6. Great feature Conor!  Do this again!

  7. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @Superyan – You know he’s done cover critiques before, right?  One of my favorite ongoing articles.  

  8. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Great week for bar codes!

    I love the diagonal red bar code on the Flash cover.  And incorporating the bar code into the title banner on the FF cover was a cool design choice too.  

  9. For me the Flash and Cap covers take the cake.  There is so much energy in those imagies that it would be impossible not to open them up.

  10. Oooo, very nice!  Please make this a somewhat regular thing!

  11. @Paul-The red barcod freaked me out.  I don’t know why, it was just so…unusual.

  12. Nice pick Conor. I have to admit that I was also sucker punched by Marcos as I had not intentions of straying from my pull list this week but I couldn’t pass this one up. What I like most about this cover is the composition and the fact that it looks as if Cap is about to punch Hitler on the nose.

  13. Personally I think out of the bunch the Captain America 70th anniversary issue is the best out of the bunch. I mean Johan Hex looks like any other cover of that series, FF: Dark Reign looks too muddled and confusing, and maybe it’s just me….but I’ve seen too much of that Flash cover to be really excited about it anymore.

    The Captain America cover has it all: A reference to Timely Comics, front design from the original Cap covers, and more importantly everything that represents Rogers/Bucky as a whole….Beating the shit out of Nazi’s.

    I did like the cover for Destroyer #1 too….Although it bugs me cause it looks too much like a Skrull and/or Green Goblin.

  14. The Flash cover is also amazing in that it gives a huge impression of speed even though he’s only pulling on his boot.   The colors of the FF cover are also well chosen.  The reds and greens are direct complementary colors that pop against each other.  While reversing the colors would make story sense -red for those in danger, greens for Reeds cool detachment (and fluorescent lights), red seems to jump to the foreground when the two are together so it helps give the image depth.  Plus there’s a fishbowl feeling on Sue, Ben and Johnny.

  15. Past Conor’s Cover Critiques – part one, part two.

  16. It’s an ongoing article which conor does every 6 months 😉

  17. Yes, that’s correct.

  18. the unexpected tilted title really pushes that cover further up into awesome territory. Its unfortunate that the following probably won’t follow suit. That would make a very nice collection!

  19. I wish they put that Cap cover on a poster.  I would so buy like 4000 of them.  I heart Marcos Martin.

    I’ve had that Flash image on my desktop for a few months now.  I simply love that image, and I think it will be one of the more iconic pictures of the Flash for years to come.  Labor commented on the forums about how awesome the cover to issue 2 is going to be, and I have to agree that it’s going to be awesome.

  20. Wow, until that cap cover I hadn’t really noticed how much I miss Steve’s costume.  I miss steve too. 🙁

  21. Y’know, I’ve never liked The Flash as a character but because of that really nice cover and this neato Jay Garrick action figure I found lying on the street about an hour ago (It’s quite neat: about 4 inches tall but with 10 separate points of articulation; 12 if you count the way the shoulders move) I think I’ll go pick Rebirth up.

    And Cap = Awesome. I’m 40 next month and I’d buy a poster of that cover. That’s how awesome it is. 

  22. Yeah, I’m gone on record a few times saying that Flash Rebirth was just "average" to me, but yeah that cover is AMAZING.

  23. Maybe if DC didnt show this cover a billion times (dont quote me on the actual figures) inside their books for over 2 months….That cover would be more exciting.

    But yes the cover for #2 looks amazing!

  24. The Flash: Rebirth cover is one of the best covers i have seen in a long time. Normally, i glance at a cover and get to the story. but this one, i just stared at it for about two minutes before I opened the book. Great, great cover.

  25. no love for Scalped? you changed, Conor, you changed.

     and guys check out the covers for Astonishing Tales 3 and New Avengers: the reunion 2. Marvel is so lame sometimes, there’s nothing like a nice big arse shot

  26. I agree with everyone saying this should be a weekly feature.  I definitely want to see this regularly!

  27. Yup, I would love to see this more often as well.  Covers are a big part of my reading experience. 

  28. No love for KITTENS??

  29. @JJJENNNNN: Nope.  They make me sneeze.

  30. what the hell do kittens have to do with anything?

  31. I liked the FF Cover alot, but didn’t find it all that special, but good analysis Conor. I loved the Flash Cover so much I have the free Flash: Rebirth poster from NYCC hanging in my room.

    While I liked Marcos Martin’s art on the interiors, I wasn’t really blown away by the cover. I actually thought the all-blue alternate cover was better looking over all, but I wasn’t paying $25 for it. I will say, I like that Martin was able to sneak in an homage to Captain America #1 by having Steve’s fist intersect with Hitler’s portrait. "Captain America: Still punching Hitlers after all these years!"

    I did really like the cover to Invincible Iron Man #12. Showcased the interior content as well as looking really good. It was simple, but worked really well.

    My most despised cover this week? War of Kings #2, not only did the cover have nothing to do with the interior (Not even metaphorically!) the two characters it showcases barely appear outside of the opening and closing pages. It wasn’t enough to detract from my enjoyment of the issue (limited as that was). 

  32. "Cover Critique"? More like "Cover Gushing"

    That said, I totally agree with you on all counts. Especially the MM Cap cover.

  33. @Acualbutt Of course these are cover critiques, Conor is evaluating them. ‘Critical’ doesn’t actually equal ‘negative’.

    The Jonah cover is iconic, but not terribly striking. It looks like the artist was going for a Kubert finish, but to me the result looks like a quick sketch,

    The FF cover is too murkily coloured for me taste and while I realise Reed is being foregrounded, the others might have been given a tad more presence.

    Rebirth is certainly sparky, but that’s a post-Speed Force Wally, not Barry, and the pose is plain peculiar. Call me old fashioned but I like my Flashes running on their dubut issues.

    The Cap is pretty good – I love Martin too – but I think Hitler would have looked better drawn less realistically, more Forties.

    Anyway, great piece, Conor.