By Molly Jane Kremer 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.
Astro City, Vol. 3 #23, by Alex Ross. (Vertigo/DC Comics)
JJ: Something happens to me when I see something cute. All the artifice of my put-upon demeanor washes away, the angle of my eyebrows become inverted, and my lower lip creeps behind the top row of my teeth. And then I say, “Aw.” This doesn’t happen nearly as often as it should, but Alex Ross’ absolutely adorable cover to Astro City #23 made me melt into my Doc Martens. Look at that fella! He’s a fella! Let those chumps stare; that gorilla is pumped.
Space Riders #2, by Alexis Ziritt. (Black Mask Studios)
MJ: “A comic featuring art by Alexis Ziritt“: this is one of the most wonderful phrases in the English language. His colors are vivid, fluorescent neons, his renderings are wild and imaginative, his inks are heavy and detailed and gorgeous. His cover to Space Riders #2 has a metal-bikini-clad green lady, an awesome-looking robot, a mandrill-headed guy, freaky monsters, swathes of spacescape and, um, a forest of mushrooms? And oh, hey, that’s some pretty perfect Kirby krackle there. I cannot get enough of Ziritt’s art, and this cover is a perfect representation of his enormous talents.
Storm #11, by Stephanie Hans. (Marvel Comics)
JJ: When I think of the heavy-hitters in the now-defunct Earth-616, of those who can call upon the heavens to offer either catastrophe or plenty to the world, there are only a select few that come to mind. Ororo Munroe is definitely at the top of that list, and Stephanie Hans’ cover to Storm #11 is an exquisite example as to why: Hans gives the Mistress of the Winds a pitiless gaze that is at once a beautiful and harrowing reminder that if you wrong those Ororo loves, she will bring a maelstrom to your doorstep. That’s the kind of power that demands respect.
Convergence: Catwoman #2, by Claire Wendling. (DC Comics)
MJ: This is a cover that has a beauty belied by its simplicity. Despite very little in the way of background, the meticulous rendering of Catwoman herself grabs the eye, from the gleaming leather of her boots to her twisting locks of hair. Artist Claire Wendling depicts Catwoman twisting away from Batman’s grasp midair, in a pose that’s both artistically satisfying and slightly sexy. Although I do use that term comparatively: considering this specific costume was most famously drawn by Jim “Tarot” Balent, this cover is actually rather…demure by those standards (if you’d call them that). But — in art especially — the cleverly suggested hint is always, always better than the graphic and blatantly obvious.
Howard the Duck #4, by Joe Quinones. (Marvel Comics)
JJ: You want to have an incredible morning? Here’s what you do: get up around eight, brew a pot of coffee, pour yourself a bowl of cereal (your choice!) and put some Mel Blanc-era Looney Tunes on your television/laptop. For a grown-ass human like myself, there is nothing that beats the incalculable lunacy that occurs with each animated short, but if there was one thing that could distill its ebullient havoc into a single image, let Joe Quinones’ cover to Howard the Duck #4 be it. Go ahead. It’s only appropriate that you stare.
Convergence: Justice League International #2, by Paul Renaud. (DC Comics)
MJ: I will always be a sucker for the golden eagle armor that Wonder Woman donned in Mark Waid and Alex Ross’ 1996 miniseries Kingdom Come. Even better? This cover also has Kingdom Come Jade, Blue Beetle, Captain Marvel, and Martian Manhunter too. Paul Renaud can always be counted on for drawing beautiful women (his art is reminiscent of the great Adam Hughes at times) but everyone within this cover’s layout looks great (even if Wonder Woman’s foreshortened legs are a tad… wonky). For the eagle armor… I forgive much.
Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #6, by Stephanie Hans. (Marvel Comics)
MJ: Stephanie Hans’ art has been gracing the exterior (and interiors) of Angela since its first issue, and her art hasn’t once disappointed. This cover is no exception: Hans’ gorgeous rendering of flames along the bottom edge mirrors Angela’s flowing red hair at the top, with her massive wingspan – red as well, of course – wrapping around and about our entire visual expanse. Add to this the almost painterly aesthetic of Hans’ art, with its gilded scarlets and flares of gold, and you have an arrestingly glorious cover.
Howard the Duck #4, by Jason Latour. (Marvel Comics)
MJ: Marvel’s Howard the Duck covers have been both plentiful and beautiful with its many, many “What the Duck” variants, but it’s nice that Mr. The Duck’s own series boasts the greatest ones. Artist Jason Latour’s excellent grasp of visual humor isn’t always apparent in his dramatic and serious Southern Bastards, but it’s so very obvious (and amazing) on this cover. Latour’s instantly-recognizable style shows Ant-Man peeking over Howard’s desk to catch him taking a sneaky snooze, Doctor Strange thoughtfully kills time on his iPhone, and the chuckle-inducing details like a “Private Duck” mug and spilled “Six Claw” beers are a nice touch too. Not only does Latour excel at all this funny stuff, he’s even made a cover that’s – dare I say it – pretty darn cute.
Agree? Disagree? What covers are rocking your world this week? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.