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.
Lark’s Killer #3, by Jill Thompson. (Devil’s Due)
AOK: Jill Thompson nails the concept of Lark’s Killer dead to rights with her cover for the third issue. Something soft, pretty, charming, and childish, depicting a story whose intent is as dark as a dragon’s cave. Thompson’s gentle lines sing a song of arched eyebrow, swirling locks, freckles, shining eyes. Delicate details worked into armor. See her exquisite watercolors bring to life the cherry blossoms in a warrior’s tattoo, the gold and azure trappings of a Byzantine hunter queen. The knives that pin parchment portrait to table are jammed through a little girl’s face. Every element of this gorgeous piece of artwork illustrates what Bill Willingham’s writing does best: a storybook world of fantasy told to chill the blood. Thompson is the perfect choice to tackle Lark’s Killer. She’s a vet at cutey scary, and it shows, it glows, it cannot be denied.
Wonder Woman #33, by Jenny Frison. (DC Comics)
SR: There is something about Jenny Frison’s variant cover for Wonder Woman #33 that takes my breath away. It’s unfussy and not bogged down with too many details. Just Wonder Woman riding Pegasus across the sky. Where are they going? What is their purpose? No real clues give that away, but we see on Wonder Woman’s face a thoughtful determination and slight urgency. Like always, Frison draws her with a great balance of beauty and strength. Most of her body hidden by Pegasus’ giant brawny wing, though his legs and head provide a feeling of forward motion. The color choices for this cover are also more subtle and subdued. Instead of the bold reds, yellows, and blues one usually associates with Wonder Woman, we get earthy soft realistic tones. That choice enhances the overall feel of this cover as a piece of art, rather than just a cover for a book.
Silver Surfer #14, by Michael and Laura Allred. (Marvel Comics)
JJ: There’s Norrin Radd, the Silver Surfer. Throughout the ages he’s known many titles: Sentinel of the Spaceways, Herald of Galactus. Doom-bringer. Messiah. Explorer, adventurer, lover. Hovering along the coast of Anchor Bay, Norrin Radd is once again a loner. You can see it, it’s plain on his face, his expression distant as usual. Maybe he’s pondering some galactic riddle? No, no… no, he’s thinking about Dawn.
She’s there, lingering in a dream, his memory of her rippling in the waters beneath his feet, stretching outward into nothing. The nebulae crackling behind them as Norrin presented Dawn some new cosmic wonder, her eyes filled with joy, curiosity, and — was that love in her eyes, then? Was it just one of Euphoria’s many tricks? Who can say.
Michael Allred has made saying goodbye to his run on Silver Surfer an especially painful thing to endure thanks to this melancholy cover. Laura Allred tints the imagery with a maudlin blue, our eyes drawn to two specific things, clues that may lead Norrin Radd to the object of his affection: Dawn’s polka-dotted blouse, and the houses along Anchor Bay. Maybe Dawn’s there now. Maybe she’s waiting. Will he look for her? The Surfer’s only alternative is to return to the vastness of space, the beyond only just prepared to swallow his grief.
Lark’s Killer #3, by Gene Ha. (Devil’s Due)
AOK: Gene Ha is a freaking genius. No one can convey the DGAF attitude of a reckless young lady, her guardian, and their ride than this action movie poster arrangement, heads side by side, oozing cool, horse wearing sunglasses wrong. If you haven’t died from laughing yet, keep drinking in these details with me. Our heroes three, stoic, posing, lit as if they are watching their own adventures on a big TV (in the den, with the lights off, while wearing sunglasses), done up in a palette of blues as cool as, well, they are. And as if things couldn’t get any more Veronica Sawyer, sailing up from the background is a lilac declaration of Ye Olde Awesome. This cover is utterly delightful. The most attitude, so much so that there’s none left for anywhere else on the shelves this month, Ha has tapped it to its core and used up every drop.
Batgirl #16, by Joshua Middleton. (DC Comics)
MJ: This is Joshua Middleton’s fourth variant for Batgirl (he’s been slaying on variants for Aquaman too), and though each has switched up on style, they’ve all been consistently stellar. All four have been some of my favorite covers this year, hard as that is to believe.
Similar to last month’s Batgirl variant, Middleton opts for a contrast-heavy black, red, and white palette, but imbues this cover in only those three stark, flat hues. None of his frequent (and beautiful) painterly flourishes are here, just incredibly clean lines amongst bright alarming red, which screams across the black and white chessboard setting. And looming in the background, a villain fittingly named “The Red Queen” reaches down to move Batgirl—a literal pawn in her game—across the board.
Joshua Middleton needs to do some interior art stat, because if his awe-inducing covers are any indication, this guy has worlds upon worlds to express across a variety of techniques, and I want to see and read them all.
And that’s it! Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below.