Undercover, or: Five covers from this week that we won’t live without
By Molly Jane Kremer, Brandy Dykhuizen, 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.
Cyborg #17, by Eric Canete. (DC Comics)
AOK: What strikes me about Eric Canete’s cover for the new issue of Cyborg is the vulnerability. Vic Stone closes his eyes — as much as they can be, anyway. His expression is somber. The quiet humanity is palpable.
The armor is off. The tubes and slots where the tech fits are laid bare. You think of Cyborg as this hard thing. Bumpers between you and he all over his body. Shiny silver carapace. Here, beneath the bleeding edge of protection, the monofilaments that connect person to prosthetic look easy to break. His brow is a SCSI port straight to the skull.
It’s a genius way of bringing perspective to Stone as a character. First, showing a tender Vic, the heart inside the ribcage. The broken arm that sits inside the cast. Second, showing the literal connection between Victor and Cyborg. The armor is him. Not a suit, but skin. Canete’s work on the covers for this series has been fascinating, and this may be the most compelling one he’s done yet.
Eleanor & the Egret #4, by Sam Keith. (AfterShock Comics)
BD: Eleanor & the Egret has been a visual, albeit eccentric (or even plain loony) stunner of a book. Even in Sam Keith’s shadowy, incomplete rendering of Eleanor’s face on this cover, you can see something of her Bjork-esque battiness shine through – an “As long as I keep squeaking and fluttering my lashes, they’ll never suspect the truth” kind of gaze. But Detective Belanger is bound to snap the pieces together soon, stitching the patchwork of Eleanor’s capers together with the Tetris-like precision of a Mondrian painting. This cover departs from the fanciful Nouveau dreamscapes and sets Eleanor’s unfinished face against five De Stijl-influenced bars. The artist’s hand hovers over the protagonist’s sweetly smirking mug, poised to finally expose her true colors.
Harley & Ivy Meet Betty & Veronica #1, by Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts and Adam Hughes (DC/Archie Comics)
MJ: Harley and Ivy meeting Betty and Veronica is a helluva idea, and the two covers for the crossover’s first issue are as inspired a duo as the iconic couples themselves.
Amanda Conner illustrates the regular cover (colored by longtime collaborator, the talented Paul Mounts) and though she has years of experience as Harley Quinn’s cover artist (and co-writer) she manages an image that is adorable, hilarious, and, of course, beautifully drawn. Conner takes the famous image of Veronica, Betty, and Archie sharing a milkshake and puts Betty and Veronica in the back, replacing them with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy at the straws. And while Ivy sips wholesomely to Archie’s right, Harley is seated to his left, chugging milkshake through three straws. She holds Archie’s gaze with a challenging stare. I can almost hear her thinking, “I drink your milkshake, Andrews.”
The variant cover is by the inimitable Adam Hughes, who recently finished a short run on Betty & Veronica himself. Both duos are standing in a police lineup, Harley and Ivy posing hammily in full costume. (Hughes gives Ivy enormous 80’s hair — which might be my favorite thing I’ve ever seen — over her come-hither glance.) Next to them, Betty and Veronica stand aghast. It’s here where Hughes gets to exercise his talent for amazing expressions: Betty grimaces at the two crazy criminals to her right, while Veronica is past mortified, asking for someone to call her father.
Both Conner and Hughes are masters of composition, visual gags, and rendering. Both artists are perfect choices for the exteriors of Harley & Ivy meet Betty & Veronica.
Savage Things #8, by John Paul Leon. (DC/Vertigo)
JJ: The cover to Savage Things #8 is a chilling thing. An act of horror slowing into the stillness of a crime scene.
Look at the use of color here. Centered around the house, a white-hot aura, there to signify how fresh this act of violence is. How recently it happened, how severe it must be. A blast of trumpets, a shock of sound, spiraling outwards into white noise. You’re stunned, but you don’t know exactly why yet. The image forces our eyes to lower to the entrance of a garage, where blood from a pair of boots melts into the snow outside. The whiteness begins to darken into a haze of slate. There’s the perpetrator, posture slumped, arms dangling at their sides. The sounds of violence have fallen to the quiet of nature. All is still.
Just listen. You can almost hear the crunch of freshly fallen snow now, the walk of a killer towards darkness. Brr.
And that’s it! Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below.