Undercover, or: Five covers from this week that we won’t live without
By Molly Jane Kremer, Stefania Rudd, Arpad Okay, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. Each week, we single out the most striking covers that grace comic book stands and gush all over them.
Batgirl #15, by Joshua Middleton. (DC Comics)
MJ: Between variants for Batgirl and Aquaman, Joshua Middleton’s gorgeous art makes one yearn for the day he might return to comic book interiors. But until that day we’ll have be to satiated by his covers, and thankfully they are indeed satisfying. Have you seen his variant for October’s Aquaman #29? Go ahead, ogle. I’ll wait here.
Middleton’s variant for Batgirl #15 is the most expressive he’s produced since he started cover duties on the series two months ago. The deep, bold reds aptly coloring Batgirl and Nightwing as they go in for a blush-inducing liplock are painterly, evocative, and passionate. And then you notice the deranged grin on the face of the Mad Hatter, staring out at the reader from behind them.
Desire and danger, passion imperiled. What’s a Batgirl to do?
Arya #1, by Crisalys. (Antarctic Press)
AOK: What’s the word for a future that’s already old? It might be Arya. Crisalys’ cover is a delightful array of retro details served on a sci-fi robo platter. This girl is living her best life. Check the kicks. Drinks in the mini-fridge. Nintendo DS. Succulents and other houseplants to keep it grounded, the influence of time spent at grandma’s house. Tube TV with rabbit ears. What kind of stations do you think it picks up?
Arya isn’t telling. An expression of annoyance implies the countdown has already begun. The cam in the platform she chills upon has locked its satellites on to you and the airstrike has been initiated.
Expect robots. Expect slice-of-life. Expect unique ideas with established roots. A post-everything a e s t h e t i c that loves its youth. Crisalys gives you huge imagination fodder with a few well-chosen pieces. I love it.
Steven Universe #8, by Missy Peña. (BOOM! Studios/kaboom!)
SR: There’s Amethyst, sitting regally upon a Cookie Cat ice cream sandwich, as you do. Floating in a purple-hued galaxy with constellations floating blithely around her. Her lovely lavender locks flow, providing a cushion to her seating. In her left hand, a Cookie Cat ice cream sandwich sits on a plate as though she were tempting you to have it. What would happen if you take it?
With Amethyst you just never know. The look on her face reminds you of that. Artist Missy Peña is no stranger to Steven Universe. Last year her art nouveau variants for the series caught my eye and had me swooning. Here, Peña gives a nod to a very familiar art nouveau pose and utilizes celestial motifs while doing it. Gorgeous!
Batman Beyond #12, by Dave Johnson. (DC Comics)
JJ: Dave Johnson’s variant to Batman Beyond #12 is a vertigo-inducing whirlwind of danger, grace, and fun. It’s the smile that sells it. Look at this daredevil, perched atop a Neo-Gotham spire like a leather and kevlar-padded gargoyle, grinning down on the wickedness and vice likely erupting in the metropolitan caverns below. And there, a dove, sitting peacefully on this urban warrior’s lap, mere seconds away from joining its friends in a slow motion burst of white feathers as the vigilante dives headlong into a Hard Boiled-esque fracas. It’s superhero noir worthy of the Warner Bros. golden age. I can see the mile-high letters splashed across the poster now: “Beware the Batgirl of Neo-Gotham!” Magnificent.
Mother Panic #11, by Tommy Lee Edwards. (DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal)
AOK: Tommy Lee Edwards’ eleventh cover for Mother Panic is all details and colors. It’s layered. The main focus is two versions of old friends. An album-worthy casual pic of two women done in a wash of faded blues. On top of that, the same folks fencing in white, tangerine, blood orange.
Behind the pair of pairs, a room with cathedral arches and cluttered stairs, a walk from faint lavender and white distance into the inky blue room the fencers occupy. Between past and present is a middle layer of schematics. Circuitry and equipment in magenta.
Edwards’ smashes it with his coded storytelling. Colors and layers making visual connections (and distinctions). Beyond that, there’s avant-garde design. Beneath the stage is a glitchy Mother Panic logo in snow white over a cloud of purple and red spatters. The whole thing adds up to a multifaceted, nuanced, busy and perfect sum total.
And that’s it! Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below.