by Clyde Hall, Brendan Hodgdon, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Mike Perkins’ scorching ‘Lois Lane’ #1 cover to Jenny Frison’s iconic variant take on the same, here are the covers we love the most this week.
Lois Lane #1 by Mike Perkins. (DC)
CH: Lois Lane premiered during the era of hard-drinking, chain-smoking journalists who chased after big stories with bulldog determination. Most were guys, guys who knew where the best gumshoes went to get re-soled and added to the cobbler’s trade. Newspapers fielded men of words who navigated public relations minefields, resisted interference from Halls of Power, and uncovered the truth. They raced against competitor newshawks to get their stories in print first. Reporters went questing daily with too little sleep and too much caffeine, and frails reputedly could not maintain the pace.
Then came Lois Lane. Like her sisters in the real-life Fourth Estate, she set the pace, one few other journalists dared. This made her a perfect candidate to be saved by Superman, but it also established Lois as someone not above the assist, but not in any way reliant on it.
Now Lois takes her place as the greatest investigative journalist in the DCU, and Mike Perkins’ cover to Lois Lane #1 marks her arrival with proper grit. Perkins plays with shade and shadows as few others can. His urban noir here rises like steam from a manhole cover. The building behind Lois resembles stacks of papers awaiting delivery. She peruses the Late Edition, last act of a reporter laboring long and hard to put her story to bed. Ink from fresh copy undoubtedly adorns her nails.
Her expression is hidden. Perhaps toughened satisfaction? She has been subjected to a super fly-by, but that’s just another part of her workday. Lois’s business is unearthing truth from obscuring layers of hearsay, rhetoric, and deception. Backed with sources and verification, she organizes them into black and white compositions informed readers can follow and make their own determinations. Is this system broken? Did our officials lie? How can we do better?
The singed copy she holds is a reminder that she’s not treading the quest for truth solo. She shares the thorny path with a partner conducting his own intersecting quest. Company may not make the going easier, just infinitely less lonely.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #6 by Alexa Sharpe. (BOOM! Studios)
JJ: In the pages of Buffy the Vampire Slayer those fanged denizens of the dark have just cause to fear the light. The monster and the monster slayer—in fiction it’s a battle that’s waged for centuries. Wherever the vulnerable lay exposed to the exploitation of the unthinkable, there have always been those brave few who will willingly, happily, stand in the way of the hunt.
Alexa Sharpe renders such a contest with her variant cover to Buffy #6. It’s a fittingly dramatic affair—two nemeses poetically framed in a polarity of power and helplessness. Here, Sharpe uses contrasts to convey the scene, a battle of darkness and light, a cartoon chiaroscuro, her dimensions warped, elongated, operatic. The night sky is a deep jade, mysterious, dangerous, the province of the damned. And the light that hurtles from the scene’s balcony to meet it, in a golden blast of heroic trumpets, may as well be from the heavens themselves.
The character work on this cover is savagely well-crafted. Our hero stands boldly over her quarry; whether this was a precision-timed trap or a matter of happenstance, she’s there to thwart bloodlust with the same ferocity of her assailant. She pulls the vamp’s aristocratic garments tight—now it’s a tether, a straight line to guide her stake towards its ultimate resting place. No hesitation, no quarter, just slaughter. And as for that vampire, the light has sent him recoiling to the balustrade, his lifeless eyes fixed in terror at the point that will soon end his immortal crusade. You sauntered onto the wrong balcony this night, my odious friend.
The Green Lantern #9 by Jeff Dekal. (DC Comics)
BFH: Perhaps the most fascinating element of the Green Lantern mythos is the way that it serves as a metaphor for creation. While the Green Lantern’s ring is very famously driven by willpower, the way its energies manifest often depends on the imagination of the ringslinger who wields it. That combination of determination and expressiveness is also the core of any good artistic endeavor, up to and including Jeff Dekal’s fabulous cover for The Green Lantern #9.
Here, against an unassuming backdrop of stars, we see Hal Jordan in repose. His bowed head suggests a calm serenity, while the tight pinprick of his eye staring forward highlights his deep focus. Along with his upright posture, Dekal captures Hal’s quiet strength as he prepares to face off with the unknown dangers of the cosmos. And swirling around him in a ghostly green we see the power he will use to fight those dangers. That such manifestation takes on the appearance of a pride of lions highlights both the imagination that helps define Hal’s will, but suggests the degree of power roiling within his even-keeled exterior.
Imagination and willpower: two things that everyone has, but that many struggle to control. Often it’s when they are deployed together that the most is made of either, and the Green Lanterns demonstrate that as well as any piece of popular fiction. Dekal captures this particular aspect of Hal Jordan as well as I’ve ever seen.
Lois Lane #1 by Jenny Frison. (DC)
JJ: Hit the streets, find the truth. There are plenty of liars out there. Crooks, too, out to pinch the last two dimes from the working class with a wink and a smile, who then have the gall to ask for a vote. The privileged few thinking they have the edge over everyone else, allied with soulless profiteers who exploit the disenfranchised and look the other way when families are destroyed, children are traumatized, just because it’s good for the machine to keep people under heel. The world needs a hero, someone who will stand for the downtrodden, a beacon of light in the endless black of status quo cynicism. Their only weapon? The written word.
That’s Lois Lane: A hero, now an icon courtesy of Jenny Frison. It’s a piece of pop culture symbolism imbued with a resolve of steel, something to be posted on the walls of journalism classes the world over the way “We Can Do It!” ultimately became the defining image of female empowerment in the 1980s. The look—a trenchcoat, a fedora with the dog-eared press pass stuffed into the side—is classic, a romanticized visage of the press. The attitude? That’s pure, modern Lane.
Frison has Lois stare outwards from under the brim of her hat to the reader, her gaze piercing through the fog of spin and deceit to the root of all things: Truth. Justice. Elusive concepts these days, which makes this cover important. It’s a boost of optimism, a symbol of integrity, draped in the crimsons of heroism, iconic.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below!