by Clyde Hall, Brendan Hodgdon, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Kevin Eastman’s ‘Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III’ variant to Max Sarin’s cracking good ‘Giant Days’ cover, here’s what we’re loving this week.
Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III #1 by Kevin Eastman. (DC/IDW Publishing)
BH: As the DC/IDW crossover of the Dark Knight Detective and the Heroes in a Half Shell reaches its unlikely (but welcome) third volume, it is continually gratifying to see TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman’s ongoing involvement in his creations’ lives, and to see the scope of his work expand to include one of DC’s most iconic characters.
This cover is classic Eastman, maintaining the rough, punk-noir aesthetics that defined the original TMNT comics. He finds ways to capture the Turtles’ personalities (Raphael’s confrontational brandishing of his sai, Michaelangelo dangling casually from the fire escape) while unifying them through the shadows falling over their faces and the daredevil grins that gleam through the dark. But what’s refreshing is the IDGAF attitude that Eastman brings to Batman in this image. The pugnacious sneer on his face and the canted crossed arms send a message of “What do you want, punk?”, a far cry from Batman’s usual stone-faced stoicism, but more than fitting in the context of this cover.
Eastman’s aforementioned use of shadows is complemented by his careful use of color, from the subtle hints of the Turtles’ trademark headbands to the old-school blue of Batman’s costume to the orange glow of a setting sun at the far end of the alley. Eastman captures the moody, urban decay vibe that unifies both Batman and the Turtles, and reminds us why this bizarre crossover works well enough to warrant eighteen quality issues exploring it.
Deadpool #12 by Scott Hepburn. (Marvel)
JJ: Wade Wilson’s having a bad day. Wise-ass mercenaries tend to have those fairly often. Nothing a pair of katanas and a expertly-placed bon mot can’t take care of—you’d think, but take a close look at Scott Hepburn’s cover to Deadpool #12. Wade’s blood is up. He’s not joking or smirking or farting or whatever ‘Pool tends to do when the fur does fly. He’s out to hurt something, in a fashion befitting the way he’s clearly been wronged. Are those… feelings you’re having, Wade? Nawww.
But yes. A yellow-orange sear of color sizzles behind our mercurial merc, articulating the fury at play here. Hepburn’s got Deadpool killing at dusk. That moody, Tarantino-as-Leone kind of shit. But the worms of blood wriggling in the gravity of slo-mo, the tatters of that ridiculously marketable jumpsuit, the Peter Chung-esque elongation of limbs and perspective, that’s Wade as we like him: A loony toon out for bloody satisfaction. What Hepburn accomplishes here pushes the concept of Deadpool—a tea-bagging oddball from the gnarlier corners of the Marvel Universe—juuust a bit closer towards immortal pop iconography.
Red Sonja #4 by Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts. (Dynamite)
CH: “Sonja, Death’s beloved.” It was part of a con job in issue #1, and Red Sonja called her fawners out for stooping to it. But the con is on, and into this, our heroine was destined to bear the antlered crown of Hyrkania upon a troubled but competent brow. Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts once more join talents, forgoing the sweaty sinew and sabulous sandal routine for something fetchingly fatal. Their cover for #4 lends weight to the sycophantic observation.
They specialize in working her scarlet mane into other sources of red. Fire, for one. For another, as here, blood. She’s looking regal with their detailing of weapons and finery. Coloring is reduced to my favorite combination of red, black, and white fields. The pale nature of Sonja’s skin is outlined by gentle detailing of her pelt cloak, making for an alluring form but one devoid of the usual cheesecake clichés. Their Sonja is dramatic, stately, and beautiful. No less is she calculating and deadly, her visage an effigy of stony wrath. Behold, Queen Sonja. She may not be Death’s beloved, but she is a senior field rep.
Giant Days #50 by Max Sarin. (BOOM! Box/BOOM! Studios)
JJ: In Giant Days, character is queen. John Allison sets us up with ludicrous scenarios, Max Sarin knocks us dead with impeccable flourish. The series—easily one of the best of the last decade—is populated with bullseye social commentary, boundless wit, incredible people, all of whom live out those formative days that come to define the rest of our adult lives. It’s such an incredible book, I can’t even tell you.
For Esther de Groot, Susan Ptolemy, and Daisy Wooton (seen here left to right), life is the most. Occasionally sloppy, at-times terrifying, some navigate the communal obligations of university more ably than others. Heartache and hilarity, that’s what Giant Days is. And it celebrates 50 issues of greatness this week with a downright absurd cricket match; no double-length melodrama beyond the pale, just typical, ridiculous, lovely Giant Days. But Max Sarin made sure the cover to this anniversary issue at least boasted the series’ trinity. The results are sweet, indelible, nothing short of iconic.
Sarin’s deep vaults of elastic expression give Giant Days its nigh-limitless appeal, and here they’ve gone and broken the bank. There’s mean, magnificent Susan, who went to the trouble to recruit a rag-tag group to fill out her mustachioed beloved’s cricket team for an especially vital match. Of course Esther and Daisy showed up to offer their awkward support: Esther’s goth lipstick blasts past her ghostly pigmentation, which is under direct threat of a proper cooking under daylight’s setting sun. Reliable Daisy, she’s brought her shades, with a sporty cap turned backwards, ready to work, ready for love. And again, Susan. Wielding a cricket bat with the zeal that can only come from pre-domesticated passion. Woe betide those who oppose McGraw’s cricket ambitions.
If character is Giant Days‘ secret weapon, this cover is the cannon’s roar.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below!