by Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, and Mickey Rivera. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From David Marquez’s ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ to Juan Ferreyra’s ‘War of the Realms’ Punisher variant, here’s what we’re loving this week.
Guardians of the Galaxy #4 by David Marquez. (Marvel)
CH: Your dead-end dreams don’t make you smile? Try out this cover. Cosmic Ghost Rider, Phyla-Vell, Groot, Star-Lord, Moondragon, and Beta Ray Bill take the MCU suit-up stance in homage. For the most part, cosmic contenders replace cosmic misfits for this iteration of the Guardians, but the spirit endures. Castle may not channel the furry swagger of Rocket. He still shoulders a blaster rifle with imminent menace to warrant a Lock and Load montage backed by The Runaways.
Artist David Marquez’s composition displays a beautiful bespattered technique to make star fields burn intensely. He depths it with layered nebulae by variation, less distinct splatter emulating starlight through haze. A few of the brighter celestial bodies still manage to blaze through and bring a filmy realism to the backdrop.
His new Guardians carry themselves with pure TCB purpose. Armed and centered, they’re on a mission to deliver someone worlds of woe-craft. Marquez’s flooring creates another opulent veneer to their ascent, with a reflective quality grittier than mirror imagery. The Guardians cast long shadows. They wield more sheer power than previous rosters. But they have prodigious space boots to fill.
Calamity Kate #2 by James Stokoe. (Dark Horse Comics)
AOK: There’s so much Stokoe-brand ocular monster bloodbath orgy on the top of the page that I can’t help but let my eye settle on Calamity Kate, stepping straight out of my 90s small press heroine dreams. Look past the subtlest of light halos around her edges, past the uncanny shade about her eye, down to a sword being sheathed, dripping, so close to the snicker-snack legion limbs and bisected heads still in midair. Wayne Barlowe peaking on potent acid.
In addition to being an unholy smorgasbord of monster details, James Stokoe has given us an informed staging posing as mess. The eye treads over a field of chaos to shining reason and then bounces back, comprehending the nature of violence after being turned on to its source. Sophisticated, too, are his color choices. Apricot pie with blueberry whip is not most folks’ go-to choice for painting the inhuman slaughterhouse. There’s only one James out there. Relish it when he comes ‘round.
War of the Realms: The Punisher #1 by Juan Ferreyra. (Marvel)
MR: The first thing you’ll notice is the muzzle flash: A blinding starburst of actualized pressure released from the barrel of a gun nearly as big as its wielder. Frank Castle and a stony mythological beast with sharp stony teeth are mid-orbit around that flash like constellations brawling around a sun. If you took the fight away this cover would be quite serene. There’s a sunset beauty about those perfectly straight rays of light shooting outward in a circle past every edge of the frame.
The choice placement of that magnificent firearm reminds us that Punisher is the archetypal comic book hero for the brooding aggro-bro inside us all, who yearns to prove how big and valorous their gun is. Frank Castle is just some dude with a massive amount of willpower. A veteran who is damn good with guns and military gear and is good in a fight. A marine, for sure, but a mere mortal with no X-genes or divine lineage at all. As much as this mouthful of firepower must hurt this monster, worse may be the embarrassment of having been bested not by an Asgardian Hero or God, but by an exceptionally tough guy from Brooklyn.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below!