14th Jun2019

Panel Discussion #55: Top Covers for the week of 6/12/2019

by Dan Clark

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What makes a great comic cover? For me, a comic cover is part of the storytelling process. It can set expectations, provide foreshadowing to what is to come, and possibly even set wrong expectations for the purpose of subverting them. Thinking back to my youth when you would have those covers with, “Only one will survive” but then everyone ends up making it. If a cover looks great but has little to nothing to do with the comic it is in front of that makes it a great image not necessarily a great cover. So if you are reading this article and wondering where some of those infamous variant covers are I typically won’t include them if they are not a reflection of the story at hand.

Star Wars: Vader – Dark Visions

Cover Artist: Greg Smallwood

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One of the biggest reasons this cover caught my eye was due to how different it is compared to most Star Wars comic covers. Often they just take on movie posters or character images and lack any real imagination. Considering how infamous Star Wars characters are that’s all you need to catch the eye of the fandom. Here Greg Smallwood does not rest on the popularity of this franchise. Combining the skull imagery and the Darth Vader helmet just works especially when it is designed like this. There is a horror vibe that tells me this is a series that is different than your typical Star Wars tale. By daring to be different it is inherently more interesting.

Sonata #1

Cover Artist: Brian Haberlin, Geirrod Van Dyke

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When it comes to number one issues the importance of a cover surges as a healthy start is key to the success of a comic. You need to do something that catches the eye enough to separate yourself from a very crowded field. This variant cover for Sonata #1 does just that. For one the design of the creatures is unlike anything I have seen. You have what are clearly giant beings going and a lone individual in a winged creature clearly trying to survive. Artist Brian Haberlin and Geirrod Van Dyke use the simple act of scale to establish major stakes before the book even opens. What is this world and what exactly is going on here? Answers we can only get by opening up the book.

Archie #705

Cover Artist: Tyler Boss

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One thing I am going to try to do with these articles is to include different types of styles and tone. The beauty of comics is the variety they provide so I want to ensure my work reflects that diversity. With that in mind, that is why I chose Archie #705 or Archie and Sabrina #1. Again a cover should provide insight into what you are about to read and this does just that. I love the take on classic romantic movie posters combined with the postcard aesthetic. The softer tones set a mood that this is going to be a down to earth relationship based story that is much different than the darker Archie horror stories. A successful cover should appeal to its desired audience and this does just that

James Bond: Origin #10

Cover Artist: Cian Tormey

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James Bond: Origin has quietly been putting out some of my favorite covers since its debut. Much of that is due to my love of classic WWII propaganda art and how it has used it to shape this James Bond-centric story. This cover follows the same principle although this is not necessarily the type of image that is trying to rally the Allies to fight for a noble cause but places James Bond in the reality of life during the height of the German bombardment. It’s a striking image to see all of the population hidden behind gas masks including children, except for Bond who stands exposed with a gun to his side. For a character that is bravado in human form, it is a humbling image as the face of Bond has no hint of a celebration of his own heroism. Instead, he looks position to take on the inevitable as it is the only thing that can be done.

Hawkman #13

Cover Artist: In-Hyuk Lee

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At the start of this article, I mentioned not including variant covers that look great but do little to set expectations for the story you are about to read. Some could argue this choice goes against that very stance, however, I do feel this gives some insight into the adventures about to unfold. This begins a new arc that goes back into the history of Carter Hall and a previous life where he was a soldier in a galactic army. So fighting a beast of this nature is not out of the realm of possibilities. Everything is coming at you to grab your attention. Love how the blurry aspect of the creature provides a sense of motion. It is as if you look at it long enough you will eventually since Hawkman fly away to safety.

John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Surviving Nuclear Attack #1

Cover Artist: Cat Staggs

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There are many different ways to tell a story with a cover. With Cat Staggs’s work for the cover of John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction: Surviving Nuclear Attack #1 he does it by creating something that looks like it would exist inside the world of the story you are about to read. As mentioned with the James Bond cover I am a big fan of repurposing past propaganda posters and this fits into a similar category. The key is the little details, like the ‘Paid for by Archanite’ messaging that is innocuous to the point that it has to mean something. Everything comes together to elicit that all-important question, “What is this” that makes me interested in a comic I would have otherwise past by.

Silver Surfer Black #1

Cover Artist: Gerard Parel

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Yes I know it looks like I am breaking my rules again by choosing a random variant cover for a Marvel new series that has nothing to do with the actual comic, and Marvel does like to have a trillion covers forever new major title. At least with this one, there is somewhat of a story here, but more so it is not as obnoxious as some of the other variants. Many of which look great but their base design comes from the imagery we have seen time and time again. Here the situation is a tad bit mundane without being boring. We see how a simple reflection can recontextualize a scene to be more. Makes you wonder why are the fantastic four looking prepped for battle while Surfer seems apathetic to their presence. Perhaps they are not really there and instead he is lost in thought about who he is and how he got to his present location. Maybe he is about to do to something he has no desire to do but must for reasons unknown so the presence of his longtime friends only makes things more complicated in the worst way. There’s a good chance the Fantastic Four never show up in this series but at least this gives you questions to ask instead of just seeing Galactus and Silver Surfer together again.

She Could Fly: The Lost Pilot #3

Cover Artist: Miroslav Mrva

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When looking at this cover the one word that fills my head struggle. The struggle to find peace, the struggle to overcome addiction, the struggle to defeat personal demons that seem impossible to beat. Considering the state of addiction our world faces this is the type of imagery many can relate to or at least empathize with. Love the placement of the title as well as it slightly overlooks our main character.How these drugs appear bight and full of life while Luna appears in the shadow of her own story. The irony of the ‘She Could Fly’ verbiage is not lost as well. You have an island of despair in a sea of lost hope. It does not do much to lift the spirit but the story it is telling is an important one that needs to be heard.

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