by Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, Brendan Hodgdon, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Ramon Villalobos’ ‘Young Justice’ variant to Yasmine Putri’s ‘Nightmare’ take on ‘DCEASED’, here’s what we’re loving this week.
Young Justice #6 by Ramon Villalobos. (Wonder Comics/DC)
JJ: A smart artist upgrades their heroes’ super-gear but a shrewd artist accessorizes. Here, buckles, patches, spikes and athletic wear are as much a part of the arsenal as domino masks, capes and crowns. Qualified cool, that’s what Ramon Villalobos brings to Young Justice, a classic DC team cover injected full and brimming with a next-level 2020 aesthetic.
All this heat-bringing yellow suggests sunshine, hot, just an hour away from ducking behind the skyline to make room for the purples and magentas of dusk. Crime is a pain even at rush hour, however, and Artemis’ gem sword crackles at the potential of the long night ahead.
Crackling too is Bart, buzzing about with a razzmatazz fuzz, but even though there’s a fight brewing in front of his team his grinning mug remains plastered on that daffy-ass face. Tim’s also coming around to the idea of a rumble; his wizened smirk diminishes just a bit as his posture begins to shift towards a battle stance. Jenny Hex mentally takes aim—and takes note of her speed-force-absconded hat, as well.
The team’s flyers, they’re only just arriving from their leisurely hover over the scorching pavement, though the combined might of Krypton, Themyscira, and Oa are about to tip the scales before a fist is even thrown. Villains the world over can chortle all they like at the name “Young Justice”, but they’d be well advised to remember that these kids know how to scrap.
Marvel Team-Up #3 by Marcos Martín. (Marvel)
AOK: You only need to follow the rain down the city’s hunched shoulders to discover the burden that troubles it. “Spider-Man No More!” I am besotted with Marcos Martín’s take on an iconic moment, Marvel history. After a personal decision of titanic proportions, Peter Parker has to carry the weight in a sea of city folks, and no one notices, no one knows.
Martín’s patient brush draws out the 60s look of the original Marvel Milestone moment of doubt. From the fire escapes to the weathered deco storefronts to the taxi bumper and pavement, drawn spare and precise, Martín opens the story up for the whole city of New York to play its part. What I see here is a striking reminder that Spider-Man lives in our world and so his trials are our trials, too.
Batman #72 by Michael Golden. (DC)
BH: When one thinks of the Batcave, it can be easy to see it as an externalization of Batman’s mind. It’s a physical monument to his ability to foresee and prepare for every possible outcome, and to the many experiences that made him who he is. But even acknowledging those parallels, it’s rare to see a depiction of the Batcave that recognizes not just what Batman’s mind contains, but also how it works. Enter Michael Golden and this unsettling cover for Batman #72.
Here, Golden throws in some of the classic accouterments of the cave—the Tyrannosaurus, the big penny—mostly to help pin down the setting. But the majority of the frame is filled with wires and cables, running every which-way and criss-crossing at random, eventually all leading back to Batman at the center of the image. Through this design, Golden highlights the intricate web of knowledge and tactics that makes up Batman’s mind. Everything is connected and all of it goes through him, allowing this Dark Knight Detective to be the highly-prepared, five-steps-ahead genius that he is.
What’s more, Golden blends the usual purple-black tones associated with shadow and night and underlines them with a diffuse red light. This emphasizes the rage that lurks beneath all of Batman’s cold analytical thinking, anger at injustice and long-lost parents. Golden captures these contradictions with aplomb, and gives the metaphorical nature of the Batcave a whole new energy along the way.
DCEASED #2 by Yasmine Putri. (DC)
CH: Artist Yasmine Putri’s homage to the original Nightmare on Elm Street movie poster by Matthew Joseph Peak boosts the appeal of DC’s six-issue horror event, DCEASED. Sure, we’ve been zombied to death by every imaginable locus. But Putri’s technique captures the creepiness of that iconic Freddy Krueger introduction vividly as a nightmare come true. She mirrors the poster’s layout, including text where the original billing block sat.
Putri pays due to the original composition while perfectly wrapping it in Gothamnalia. Ivy’s positioning mirrors Nancy Thompson’s. Her facial expression belongs to a villain panicked by the concept of Batman as a murder machine unhampered by morality or empathy. He might not invade your dreams, but Poison Ivy realizes the Corpse Crusader’s potential for ruling his zombie apocalypse realm.
Putri’s Batman occupies the Krueger catbird seat at the top of the composition. She utilizes Freddy’s conceptual over on-screen image, true to the poster. It’s a frightening amalgam. The only justice her Bat-mare’s interested in comes drop by bloody drop.
Enjoy this bonus Undercover entry, courtesy of DoomRocket contributor, Clyde Hall!
Spider-Man: Life Story #3 by Aco. (Marvel)
CH: The Force of Pop Art is strong with Aco. His tenure on Nick Fury at times out-Steranko’d Steranko. His talent at capturing an era so profoundly makes him a natural for this variant for Chip Zdarsky’s Spider-Man: Life Story #3. The black Spidey suit has never looked more 80s than by Aco.
“But wait,” you say. “The black Spider-Man uniform was from the 1980s!”. True. Yet Aco’s use of reflection across the opaque eyelets suggests pulsing music video illumination. The abrupt color of shading fields denies the suit its typical bottomless inkwell appearance. The artist has taken the iconic suit of that time and made it one with the decade.
The Wall-Crawler hitches a ride on a helicopter gunship in a Blue Thunder callback. Mary Jane’s high and mighty hair suggests a modeling session filled with product and fashion fit for aerobicizing. The warhead shower becomes a breathless moment in the last gasp of the Cold War. The lettering style is album cover/video sleeve cheesy perfection. The closer comes as a sprawled New York skyline at night, streaming more wattage than an MTV awards show. Aco stokes us for the story by creating a cover profoundly gnarly with righteousness.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below!