Undercover, or: Five covers from this week that we won’t live without
By Molly Jane Kremer, 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.
The Mighty Thor #700, by Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson. (Marvel Comics)
MJ: The Marvel Legacy re-numberings are kicking off with seemingly random digits: 672, 593, 166, etc. Lucky for The Mighty Thor, the cumulative amount of previous issues adds up to 700! And for such a momentous anniversary, Marvel made sure there were a lot of really gorgeous images gracing its covers.
The regular cover is a wraparound by series regulars Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson. Most every Thor you can think of is represented here, all charging into battle. Sublimated in the far left, Loki, Mangog and Hela hover menacingly. The dynamic composition and energy of the piece is another testament to Dauterman’s prodigious talents in draftsmanship. As always, Matt Wilson’s colors are arresting and beautiful. Swathes of bright white-blue lightning surrounds Jane’s Mjolnir on the regular cover, centered within the fading sky—melting from a warm sunset orangey-pink to a deep purple in the background.
Kid Lobotomy #1, by Frank Quitely, Tess Fowler and Tamra Bonvillain. (Black Crown/IDW Publishing)
JJ: Kid Lobotomy is the talk of the town. The opening salvo of Black Crown, the flagship book of a bold new imprint –you’ve heard it from us before, and you’ve definitely heard it from everywhere else. IDW rolled out the red carpet for its new enterprise, so naturally the covers were gonna be pretty. Considering Shelly Bond was the editor doing the corralling, you just knew top talent were gonna give us their best.
Case in point: Tess Fowler does the heavy lifting in the standard cover to Kid Lobotomy #1. It’s an intro image, where we meet the eponymous Kid, sporting his propane raygun and fuck-with-me-at-your-peril attitude. Fowler surrounds Kid with his supporting players, denizens of The Suites, each of whom we’ll meet in time. Fowler imbues this image with the requisite lunacy, expertly placed at the edges of reason. It’s here where Tamra Bonvillain plays with our eyes, giving the hallucinogenic parts of the cover the same hues as everything else. A rock-n-roll group shot, given Kafkaesque form. Look deep enough, and you’ll find the madness that gives Kid Lobotomy its thrust.
Then there’s Frank Quitely’s variant. This is the mission statement of Black Crown, exemplified in one decadent pièce de résistance. Kid, arms splayed out in an exhausted, vaguely euphoric daze. Naked as the day he was born, lips chapped, sweat in beads all over his flushed forehead. It’s the details, oh my, the details. The red raw rub of the phone cord wrapped about his neck. The empty bottles of Black Crown leaving droplets all over the hotel sheets. He has the effortless rockstar hair going for him, the bloodshot eyes, and, of course, his trusty raygun, likely just as spent as he is. Quitely is a mad scientist. At the mercy of Bond, he provides us a beautiful Frankenstein.
Batwoman #8, by Michael Cho. (DC Comics)
AOK: Michael Cho is one of those guys whose art is instantly recognizable. A flawless minimalist, his illustrations are the definition of bold. He’s distinct. Not beholden to an era or style. Not easily comparable to other artists. Cho knows where to put details, where to lay down a ton of black (everywhere), what elements to include to elevate a character to maximum cool.
Case in point with his variant cover for the eighth issue of Batwoman. All Cho needs is red. The hair, the bits of costume, and the sky (save a pristine white circle of moon) are a flat crimson that plays dynamically with the solid black silhouettes and crisp white accents. Batwoman herself is joyous perfection, but check it: the cape claims almost a third of the page. The coil of rope she swings down on, another proof that basic Bat-Gear is the most iconic. And cradling it all is a Gotham City alleyway. Antennas, a fire escape, the symmetric angles of windowpanes. Cho grasps the essence of the Bat and gives you the where, the how, the who — what a who! — with such power and panache you don’t need the why.
The Mighty Thor #700, by Adam Hughes. (Marvel Comics)
MJ: Adam Hughes also has a variant for Thor #700 (one of the one-in-one-hundred variants of course). This one features Hela, one of Marvel’s best-designed villains, soon to be menacing the big screen in Thor: Ragnarok. She poses delicately yet powerfully, her ominous grin beneath half-lidded white eyes can’t help but threaten. She laughs, a rattle of dry bones. Hands upon hands reach up to grasp at the goddess of death, each of them gorgeously, meticulously rendered. Only Adam Hughes would dare add dozens and dozens of grasping, twisted hands to a composition, and pull it off so flawlessly.
And that’s it! Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below.