by Clyde Hall, Brendan Hodgdon, Mickey Rivera, Sara Mitchell, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Art Adams & Matthew Wilson’s ‘War of the Realms’ to Liam Sharp & Steve Oliff’s ‘The Green Lantern’, here’s what we’re loving this week.
War of the Realms #1 by Art Adams & Matthew Wilson. (Marvel)
JJ: What makes an event an event? Pandemonium. The feeling of helplessness in the face of an oncoming force and the swell of foolhardy courage that comes soon after. Giant fucking trolls. Art Adams’ & Matthew Wilson’s wraparound cover for Marvel’s latest intergalactic dust-up has all of the elements you’d want from a major comics event, and even more than that.
Details? Please, this is Art Adams. He’s got details for decades. Captain America deflects Helfire with his mighty shield just as he jams the face of a dark elf into the dust. Luke Cage busts the jaw of some forsaken beast, and Blade looks dead-set on turning what remains into a katana-kebob. Iron Man melts the ocular cavity of a frost giant, effectively turning it into a grunting swimming pool. Every instance of action could be a cover on its own, but Adams chooses to spoil us. The result is exactly the kind of widescreen insanity we’ve always appreciated from the artist; packed with Kirby-sized ambitions along with George Pérez’s eye for excruciating minutiae, it’s mean, it’s mesmerizing, it’s Marvel.
It’s also magic. Every hero committed to this fracas utilizes every trick in their respective arsenal and Matthew Wilson is doing it too. Adams’ meticulous cross-hatching lends the piece an expansive array of textures and idiosyncrasy but Wilson gives it dimension, depth, daring. The fires of war, the beams of superheroic resistance, the choking smoke of a battle fought fiercely, Wilson’s contributions to Adams’ renderings reminds me of Reubens’ Battle of the Amazons, a vicious and violent blast to the senses, here to Baroque you like a hurricane.
Mirror #10 by Hwei Lim. (Image Comics)
SM: Over the past three years, Mirror has asked the question—do you have to be human to be a person? And over the past three years, through the eyes of Hwei Lim, we’ve traveled across the vast universe and into the minds of characters coming to grips with their identities, wrestling and rebelling, trying to answer that question.
Hwei Lim is nothing if not ambitious. Mirror has been a luxuriously beautiful endeavor, with stunning covers worthy of a place on the mantle. Her covers have been dense with color, texture, and emotion. So it’s funny that today, with the long-awaited final installment of the series, we get a pallid palette. Funny because Mirror has taken place in the not-so-human world full of magic and mystery and the richness of color that comes with it; today we find ourselves amongst humans and their pleasantries, and it’s washed out the life.
The Six Million Dollar Man #2 by Michael Walsh. (Dynamite)
MR: The mysteries of the human body have largely been revealed, and a dour conclusion can be made based on the available evidence: Human beings are messy, fragile, and in dire need of an upgrade. Our under-powered eyes perceive only a fraction of the electromagnetic spectrum. Skin, our allegedly protective outer coating, can’t even withstand temperatures too far above 100 degrees. And though the vast majority of the universe is a vacuum, you would last less than 20 seconds outside of the atmosphere of Mother Earth.
Besides being a pricey hunk of experimental warfare technology, Steve Austin is also an evolutionary step forward, a grasp at making the human body less pathetic. Michael Walsh’s cover to Six Million Dollar Man #2 demonstrates the merger of man and technology laid out with diagrammatic clarity—our roadmap to a Darwinian edge. Protein-based arterial tubing and sensory wiring feeds into platinum and palladium circuitry. Muscle fiber weaves into data fiber. The heart is re-engineered into a knot of flesh and servos. Despite the upgrades, it’s important to stay grounded, to remember your roots. To that end we have Austin’s beaming face staring back at us, surrounded in a halo of signals, broadcasting that all-natural, million dollar smile.
Conan the Barbarian #5 by Esad Ribić (Marvel)
CH: The Cimmerian never comes through an Esad Ribić composition unscathed. It’s a very scathed Conan sharing a sea voyage with dead men on his cover for Conan the Barbarian #5 this week. If Conan felled the crew, there’s a new longship captain on the high seas. If foes meant to dispatch the entire compliment from afar, they missed one. Oversight will, for them, become a brief and blood-stained regret.
Ribić’s Conan is hardened, scarred, his hide covering a frame lean and athletic, the consistency of seasoned leather burnished from the sun, the wind, the elements. His surroundings here aren’t spoils of splendor or majestic hallways. The cloud cover distributes a blustery mien worlds away from any tropical breeze. The slate waves are unforgiving swells you can feel striking and lifting the craft, a wet and rutty ride for someone who’s clearly had worse. The artist’s devilishly good craft comes with the small details. Salt crust on the sail ring is freed by friction from the tether rope. The edges of the canvas show wear. Planking pitted and cracked from wear and from battle.
Amid it all, the lone ferryman, Conan. Transporting the fallen, undoubtedly collecting more souls along the way, one hand gripped to an oar perhaps as a makeshift tiller. To earn a seat costs no coin. You need only accept a foot of broadsword from the grim helmsman.
Green Lantern #6 by Liam Sharp & Steve Oliff. (DC)
BFH: When it was announced that Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp would be launching a new Green Lantern title, it was very easy to imagine a book filled with bizarre concepts illustrated with intricate, gorgeous detail. And thus far, that has very much been the case. With this cover to The Green Lantern #6, Sharp and colorist Steve Oliff have crafted a stark, poster-worthy image that fits right in with the Morrisonian storytelling tradition.
The cover easily hearkens back to classic pulps from the legendary Al Williamson. The ornate scenery and the looming, pure-white star against the black sky recall Williamson’s Flash Gordon work, using visuals to implicitly recall the space adventure tradition that both Hal Jordan and Adam Strange helped continue in the Silver Age. The primary colors that Oliff uses on the characters’ costumes creates a firm contrast against the more subdued hues he uses for the scenery, while Sharp continues to nail the classic ideal of superhero physique with his strapping heroic figures.
One of the keys to Grant Morrison’s work is his aggressive embrace of past stories to add depth to current ones, and such storytelling is best served by artists who know how to draw on old stylistic tricks to do the same. With this cover, Sharp and Oliff remind us why they are an ideal team for this title, and pay homage to the past in a bold and lovely fashion.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below!