by Molly Jane Kremer, Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall and Mickey Rivera. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists.From Jenny Frison’s wicked ‘Blackbird’ #5 to Tradd Moore’s undulating ‘Alien 3’ variant, here’s what we’re loving this week.
William Gibson’s Alien 3 #4 by Tradd Moore. (Dark Horse Comics)
AOK: A sexuality recognizable but foreign to our own. The smooth phallus of a head is the one uncluttered space on this cover. The proboscis is engorged. The whole xenomorph is in a rare position of obedience, ribbed thighs ride a curving, sectioned stingray spine of a tail. Boudoir colors, of bruise, of insides.
Techno-organic. Run your hands along its carapace and not only will you find ridges, veins, webbing, but buttons, switches, inputs waiting for a plug. What is Alien but us at our most base, our most animalistic: an unknowable, awful body hardwired to replicate. Aesthetic and philosophy link hands here, in this inspired tribute to the essence of HR Giger’s dark dream.
The star beast floats in space, inside an egg, a TARDIS, a tab of acid on the tongue, one where vents, nodes, ridges, nodules, texture reflective of the alien’s body falls away from the eye, swirling into forever, knotted over itself. Giger would have his monster fit perfectly into a niche in the background, but Moore has it gliding like a drop of oil on the surface of water, reflected and reflecting the total chaos beneath.
This is perhaps the finest piece of Alien-related art I have ever seen. Tradd Moore understands the essence of evil, the impossible act of pulling the thread of man through an utterly inhuman eye of the needle. It is Moore, his lines, his style. And it is the idea of Giger, not reinterpreted, but reborn.
Blackbird #5 by Jenny Frison. (Image Comics)
MJ: Sam Humphries and Jen Bartel’s Blackbird has utilized some of the comic industry’s top cover artists for its variant covers—Fiona Staples, Mingjue Helen Chen, Loish, Sana Takeda—not to mention Bartel’s stunning A-game for the “A” covers. With a roster of talent that impressive, it was only a matter of time before Jenny Frison, cover artist extraordinaire, was included.
Frison’s variant for Blackbird #5 feels less solemn and imposing than some pieces from her twice-monthly gig on Wonder Woman, but no less iconic. Frison taps into the book’s magical contents (and the current fashion zeitgeist of “witchy af”) and draws protagonist Nina creating a glowing pentagram of floating crystals, their blue-white light illuminating the entire cover. A sliver of moon frames Nina’s head in a stylized halo, her cat Sharpie perched on her shoulder—for what sorcerous rendering would be complete without a black cat Familiar?
Jenny’s vivid use of color is eye-catching as well, paying homage to Bartel’s trademark jewel tones, with a dripping wash effect that adds splashes of fuchsia contrast to the teals, blues and purples that make up most of the piece. Like the Blackbird variants previous, Frison’s cover matches the book’s entire aesthetic and magical feel, helping to create a visual consistency that has make every issue (inside and out) one of the prettiest comics on the stands.
Thor #10 by Mike Del Mundo. (Marvel)
MR: This is just the jolliest fucking thing I’ve ever seen. Thor #10’s cover speaks to two of life’s most beautiful and inspiring things: beer and rainbows.
The former speaks for itself. Under ideal circumstances, with the right mix of company and vibes, alcohol can make chums of even the most ornery All-fathers. Rainbows? Judeo-Christian mythology says rainbows symbolize the promise that God will never again get so pissed that he just drowns nearly everyone on the planet. In the Norse myths (and possibly also in Mario Kart), the bifrost, a rainbow road, leads to the magical party realm of the Gods. Either way you slice it, rainbows are a sign of better times ahead.
Many of Mike Del Mundo’s covers for this run of Thor are infused with iridescence. They have been action-packed, colorful, and all-around utterly amazing. But this one’s a slight departure from hardcore badassery, choosing instead to hang back and take a moment to laugh at itself and at the universe at large.
The Long Con #6 by M. Victoria Robado. (Oni Press)
CH: The phrase “sacred cows make the tastiest hamburger” has been attributed to Mark Twain, Abbie Hoffman, and Chicago humor journal Aardvark. The Long Con is still the best value in sizzling monthly helpings of smirky verboten beef when it comes to the institution of pop culture fandom. This week’s issue #6 is largely a flashback to the 1980s, when superhero comics Editor Supreme Helvetica Caslon was just a staff writer for the Trek-ian sci fi show Skylarks.
Which is why I did a doubletake on seeing the cover art by M. Victoria Robado. She’s composed a praise-worthy homage to Patrick Nagel’s offshoot Art Deco style, a style which once graced 1980s Playboy columns and the cover of Duran Duran’s Rio. Above, a porcelain model with windblown, raven locks peers behind cool shades reflecting a mushroom pillar of Cold War ash and smoke. Below, Robado has applied the Nagel touch to mucho stylized renderings of protagonists Victor and Dez. It’s a clever device, preparing the reader for this installment with touchstone imagery that immediately resonates and reconnects us to the era of Fraggle Rock, Rubik’s Cube, and the Sony Walkman.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below!