Each month, hundreds of comics are released to stores for the hungry masses of fans around the world. To stand out on the shelves, you have to put the great art up front. You can judge a book by its cover.
Welcome back to our continuing monthly column, or at least it would be if DC hadn’t released 52 almost identical covers last month. It’s a comparatively bumper crop this month, and we have to give props to Adam Hughes, who appears twice in this month’s list. Let’s get covering.
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All-Star Western #13 (DC Comics) – Artist: Moritat
The only thing more terrifying than Jonah Hex is a clown. With a really big knife. Actually, Hex looks terrified in this shot, perhaps revealing a hitherto unknown coulrophobia in the character. Moritat continues a striking series of covers for this book.
American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #5 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Dustin Ngyuen
Ngyuen’s ink wash cover is distinctive for what it lacks: details on the figures, a minimal background and a simplicity of colour schemes. All these things combine to make the real threat of the shapeless vampiric figures in the background as attracted as we are to the splash of red up front.
Astonishing X-Men #55 (Marvel) – Artist: Phil Noto
We thought that the X-Men were being used as cannon fodder lately, but this is ridiculous. The X-Men are not the actual weapon here, but they are powerful ammunition to have in one’s arsenal. The bigger question is: who is pulling the trigger?
Batman #13 (DC Comics) – Artist: Greg Capullo
So many amazing things to say about Batman #13, and we did in Graphic Bits. This was one of several covers, including a mask cover featuring Batman and Joker. This cover is as terrifying as the issue itself, depicting a greatly changed Joker glimpsed through a mirror. In the issue itself, we only get a small look at Mr. J as well.
Before Watchmen: Dr Manhattan #2 – Artist: Adam Hughes
This isn’t new! It’s from the 1950s! Or is it? It’s not. It’s from a forgettable set of comics, but it is still a very cool Adam Hughes piece of retro-inspired art that features a cute girl where a giant blue cock should be. It’s win-win, really.
Captain Marvel #5 (Marvel) – Artist: Terry Dodson
You can always tell a Dodson cover from a mile off, but thankfully you don’t have to as it’s right here. Unless you are viewing this screen from over a mile away, in which case we need to talk. Dodson’s Marvel is classic and strong, showing her femininity without making it exploitative.
Daredevil #19 (Marvel) – Artist: Paolo Rivera
It’s not a good month for Daredevil. He’s headless in this shot, and dead in the cover following. Using little more than red, black and white, Rivera presents us with an infinitely textured and intriguing cover. This might just be the Year of the DD Cover.
Daredevil: End of Days #1 (Marvel) – Artist: David Mack
David Mack + DD is always a winning combination. Unless, in this case, you are actually Daredevil, and you will probably end up under a police ‘do not cross’ line. The comic that claims to show the death of DD is a bold move, and this is the bold cover to draw in the reader to a Daredevil dream team.
Dark Horse Presents #17 – Artist: Carla Speed McNeil
This beautiful cover looks like so many cherry blossoms. It’s a highly appropriate cover, as the anthology book contains a treasure trove of detail within.
Fables #122 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Joao Ruas
Ruas offers a modern twist on a classic villain. The threat of the wolf is offset by the indifferent confidence of the woman who is paying him no mind. That blood does seem to be in the middle of the wolf’s paw, after all.
Fairest #8 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Adam Hughes
There are many reasons we could say this cover was picked for the month, but Adam Hughes just really knows how to draw the feminine. The excessive amount of hair would imply Rapunzel, and it may be a slightly exploitative shot, but it is an undeniable celebration of the female form. Compare this with the Hughes cover for Captain Marvel above.
Ghostbusters #14 (IDW) – Artist: Tristan Jones
It is an undeniable love of Ghostbusters that saw this variant cover included in the list, with Jones choosing one of the more obscure fan favourites from the 1984 film to highlight in this ongoing series. Combining it with the classic poster for Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver is genius, making this a double geekgasm all ’round.
Hawkeye #3 (Marvel) – Artist: David Aja
All hail to the Aja! Like the book that it covers, these images are simple and iconic, stripping the character back to the barest essentials and giving us recognisable shapes to associate with them.
Joe Kubert Presents #1 (DC Comics) – Artist: Joe Kubert
Hawk fights elephant sounds like the premise of a new reality show, but it’s just the master Kubert showing us how old-school pencil sketches kick the elphantine arse of everything else on this page.
Lot 13 #1 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Glenn Fabry
Fabry’s covers were always the defining feature of Vertigo’s long-running Preacher, and for all the gore he depicted, very few of them were as creepy as this awkward family photo from hell. Didn’t notice that face in the lower right corner? Check again, then check your pants.
The Road to Oz #2 (Marvel) – Artist: Skottie Young
Young’s Oz covers are always so bright and vibrant and full of life, so it is terrific to see that devoid of those things, the simple effectiveness of his iconic style shines through.
Transfusion #1 (IDW) – Artist: menton3
How could we not include any cover that claims “Vampires versus robots”? menton3′s art is a nightmarish vision of the future that finds a depth of colour within its greys, browns, blacks and naturally, some splashes of red.
Thun’da #3 (Dynamite) – Artist: Jae Lee
Jae Lee is pretty hot right now, and so is this cover. Taking a “less is more approach”, Lee distinguishes himself from the other Dynamite covers of the month, almost all of which feature women in various stages of undress. His is a classical beauty, rather than the stuff of dime store novels.
The Unwritten #42 (DC/Vertigo) – Artist: Yuko Shimizu
Not to be confused with the creator of Hello Kitty, this Shimizu may not have started her career as a graphic artist, but she certainly has the talent for it. We love this cover, contrasting the chaos of the fire with the delicacy of the butterflies. We particularly like how the colours move from dark to like as you travel up the page, with the titles intended to land on the bottom third of the sheet.
Wolverine: MAX #1 (Marvel MAX) – Artist: Jock
Jock has been doing some amazing things in both the film and comics world over the last few years, and this cover is no exception. Like many of the great covers this month, the real joy is in how simple and iconic it is. Inspired by Japanese influences, it is interesting to contrast this with the style used in The Wolverine teaser poster for the film.