By Molly Jane Kremer, Clyde Hall, Brendan F. Hodgdon, Mickey Rivera and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Mark Brooks’ fiery ‘Detective Comics’ variant to Michael Kennedy’s layered cover to ‘Tumult’, here’s what we’re loving this week.
Detective Comics #988 by Mark Brooks. (DC)
CH: Like a moth to a flame, so has the candle singed many a nocturnal flutterer. Maybe a Fledermaus or two have been included, given Batman’s classic and unarmored uniform here making him much more vulnerable to such concerns. Fire resistant cloth notwithstanding, artist Mark Brooks has certainly poised the hero between frying pan and flame for his variant cover of Detective Comics #988. Brooks’ work with Sideshow for their 1:5 scale statue sets makes it easy to imagine his covers rendered in three dimensions, and a Batman figure reflecting this pose and costuming would be a quality addition.
Nothing against variant Batman outfits or special operations gear, but it’s bracing to view this simple and iconic uniform as presented by Brooks. Perfectly bordered by the light of the bat signal and the radiance of the inferno, the monochrome blends of deep shadows, charcoals, and grays celebrate the archetypal cape and cowl. Brooks’ added shifts in the fabric, plus details of the utility belt fasteners, the protective and traction-designed rubber soles of the boots, all promote added realism to the image. It grounds our Dark Knight Detective who’s dressed for the back streets, even while he’s caught amidst the glow of a Gotham-scape pyre.
Runaways #13 by Kris Anka. (Marvel)
MJ: Kris Anka was already one of my favorite artists before taking on the job of revamping the Runaways—no small feat, following the likes of Adrian Alphona and Takeshi Miyazawa, to name a few. He’s knocked it out of the park though, and made these kids completely his own in one of Marvel’s strongest ongoing series. The cover for Runaways #13 is one of the prettiest he’s created yet, and let’s face it, that’s some pretty stiff competition in and of itself since he’s absolutely killed on the past twelve covers too.
The star of this cover is not only Karolina Dean (one of Mr. Anka’s self-professed favorite characters—and deservedly so), but the extravagant and exquisite gown she wore to the gala with Nico last issue. Anka (like all great modern comic artists) knows how to make a character’s wardrobe choices really reflect their personalities. The dress’s shining ombré pink, floral details, and starry-constellation pattern complement Karolina’s galaxy-patterned skin and hair and the flashing paparazzi flares behind her. She’s a star, baby, in more ways than one, the galactic babe supreme.
This cover brings to the fore the depth of Anka’s painstaking and breathtaking visual reimagining of these characters, and how much of the series’ success is due to his stellar (no pun intended) presentation and talent.
Catwoman #3 by Joëlle Jones (DC)
BFH: It’s common for athletes to cool down in an ice bath after a particularly painful or exhausting match. In that light, an ice bath represents a momentary balm to sooth a deep ache and soften ugly bruises. At the same time, I’m sure we all know the unpleasant shock and discomfort that cold showers can bring, and the all-encompassing numbness that can follow. Icy water hurts just as much as it helps.
All of this is what makes Joëlle Jones’ choice of composition for the cover to Catwoman #3 so clever and layered. Selina encasing herself in a bucket of ice suggests that she’s trying to recover from a bruising fight. But it could also speak to her poker-faced demeanor, as she withstands the all-encompassing cold around her. It captures the physical (and emotional) limits to which Selina has pushed herself these last few months, and her ability to recover from and withstand them. It’s a smart piece of work that reminds us that Jones is just as clever and talented as her black-garbed protagonist.
Tumult HC by Michael Kennedy. (SelfMadeHero)
MR: I haven’t read it yet, but what I’ve garnered from reviews tells me Tumult is a book about the interplay of doubt and identity, and the treachery of memory. To that end, the Dadaist Russian nesting doll giving us a side-eye on this cover illustrates the search for that elusive true self beneath layers of posturing, defense mechanisms, and pure nonsense.
This image has a haunting quality I can’t place. Maybe it’s the woman with languid black hair at the center, who’s single eye stares askance at the viewer. Maybe it’s that skeletal, leather jacket clad outer layer—a biker grim reaper acting as a guardian to the inner identities. Michael Kennedy’s style has evolved from the fluid asceticism of his work on Spiritus to this inky cartoon realism. It’s certainly an upgrade.
Superman #3 by Adam Hughes. (DC)
JJ: Stop right there and marvel at this DC stunner from Adam Hughes. Superman is under new management these days and Hughes is along for the ride, knocking out new, innovative images for this brave Bendis era. Goodness, his creativity. A building in flames, its residents flee in terror, this looks like a job for Superman. But instead of bombast Hughes pulls in for the intimate, examining the fleeting seconds when a person makes that life-affirming choice between doing nothing and saving the day.
It’s a portrait of first response, when all seems lost yet hope remains. The shock of red in the back is what makes it. The primary colors, the sheer button-down barely obscuring that world-famous ‘S’, the innate handsomeness of its subject, it all comes together in a vibrant blast of pop art. It’s practically a Warhol. It reminds us that urgency still means “move your ass” even for those who move faster than a speeding bullet. The second the raging light of the flames hit Clark Kent’s spectacles, you know he was already tugging at his necktie. You just know. Hughes considered a moment of transformation and allowed us to appreciate the selflessness of one of the world’s finest.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below. Best response wins a pack of DoomRocket stickers!