Undercover, or: Five covers from this week that we won’t live without
By Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, Kaitlin Beer, 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.
Keep reading all the way to the bottom of this piece to learn how to score free DoomRocket stickers!
Secret Weapons #0, by Sija Hong. (Valiant)
KB: There is something about a story regarding psiots being portrayed with such elegant muted coloring that makes this cover by Sija Hong stand out. The colors are soothing, juxtaposed by the frantic avian flight and the aggressive gaze given by the human subject. The way the face is given shape by the surrounding birds makes it a beautifully striking image. This person may be hiding, but they are definitely ready to fight. It’s graceful while maintaining the fierce undertones I hope to see in this new title.
If Secret Weapons #0 can convey in the issue what Sija Hong did with this variant cover, this is going to be one heck of a comic. Do yourself a favor: once you have taken in all of the extraordinary detail, go look at this artist’s other work. It is too stunning to pass up.
Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1, by Ben Caldwell. (DC Comics)
CH: Artist Ben Caldwell’s work has included numerous cartoons-to-comics projects, like Justice League Unlimited and Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He’s also been involved in animation development projects, as well as toy design. So, his cover for Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #1 might seem a natural fit, updating a vintage Hanna-Barbera cartoon character in a style reflecting more modern cartoons. But no.
Instead, he’s brought to the anthropomorphic grimalkin a more realistic style, which fits the tone of the title beautifully. Based solely on the previews, this clearly ain’t your Saturday morning Snagglepuss between the pages, beginning at the cover.
The patriotic homage, substituting our hero for the Statue of Liberty (and her torch for a martini), is flawless in capsulizing the parameters of a scenario set amidst 1950s show business, the Cold War, and McCarthyism. Heroes come in many stripes, even humanoid felines who refuse to conform before villainy, be they wrapped in Red, or red, white, and blue.
Secret Weapons #0, by Sibylline Meynet. (Valiant)
AOK: Everyone’s favorite ornipath is given the yé-yé treatment. There are gauzey sheets of color laid behind and on top of Nikki Finch, with a sprinkling of stardust, in somber tones of pink and the grey. The wings on Finch’s eyes are a dynamite choice in so many ways. Yet those fingerless gloves and torn tights, the sportscoat top, the aesthetic is go-go retro but the style is unmistakably modern. The feel is now and then and timeless.
Sibyline Meynet casts a spell here with the lighting. Finch is bright, but shrouded in smoke. Celestial fog. Her birds surround Finch, casting crisp shadows, eerie and dreamlike and beautiful. The birds themselves are half-masked by trade dressing, mysterious, lively, lovely Audubon studies. Simple but detailed, each feather a testament to the joy of drawing, loving each brushstroke. Meynet is a magician, Finch so much more than a pin-up. And this cover, perfection.
The Shadow/Batman #4, by Kevin Nowlan. (Dynamite)
CH: The balance of Kevin Nowlan’s cover for The Shadow/Batman #4 is both brilliant and unique. If anyone could out-shroud Batman, it would be The Shadow, and so having the Dark Knight a harbinger of light (probably moonlight, but still) poised against the crumbling Gotham City skyline while The Shadow embraces the murky street below succeeds in its juxtaposition. Batman occupies the space usually reserved for Superman, and based on the recent history between these noirish heroes, that’s quite appropriate. The gilt edgings of the bat symbol and utility belt firmly seal the aesthetic.
If you live for detailed backgrounds, this cover will sustain you. The terraced brownstones, the Gothic architecture, and the sooty smokestacks are painstakingly represented, vivid as a third character. All that’s missing is a gargoyle. But with the unusual, though appealing, addition of an organic, skeletal framework beneath Batman’s cape, Nowlan’s given us that as well. He’s compellingly captured a moment, two nightstalkers on the prowl, each following a very different path.
Secret Weapons #0, by Raul Allen. (Valiant)
JJ: One of the more interesting hooks to Secret Weapons #0 — aside from it being another killer Harbinger saga from Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer, that is — is that it gives us the origin to Valiant’s newest and truest hero in a bold and excitingly different way. Each panel relates to us a single day in the life of Nikki Finch on her way to becoming the latest Harbinger Foundation recruit — and not every day is a pleasant one, I can tell you that.
Raul Allen’s cover to this one-shot sets the reader up for the intriguing story beats inside. Best bit? He does it on his own terms. Allen shows us an abridged version of what Nikki’s journey might look like, framed in panels shaped like power outlets floating in a shock of pink. The story begins with our hero as she was and ends with an image of what she ultimately becomes. In-between is where the drama happens. A photo booth strip of agony and rebirth. Sequential storytelling on a cover. I’m into it.
And that’s it! Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below — the best comment scores a free DoomRocket sticker!