by Clyde Hall and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Ben Oliver’s daffy variant to ‘Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen’ to Christian Ward’s vertigo-inducing take on ‘Blade Runner 2019’, here are the covers we love the most this week.
Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #2 by Ben Oliver. (DC)
JJ: What a ridiculously wonderful thing this is. A mid-morning sail through the skies of Metropolis in that true, ought-to-be-patented James Bartholomew Olsen style. Being an ace photog for the world-famous Daily Planet newspaper, not to mention being Superman’s pal, can (and often does) bring calamity to the young man’s life. Reckon it’s times like that when it pays to have a sonic signal watch.
Zee-zee-zee. Ben Oliver’s variant to Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #2 has a carefree zeal that matches his subject. Olsen’s various jaunts through comicdom over the ages have ranged from the ludicrous to the poignant, and Jimmy’s doofy grin has led us through them all. Here is no different, as our resident Man of Steel takes time out of his day of alien invasions and death rays to help Olsen out of a jam and Jimmy’s loving every second of it. Pretty girls are likely watching, and our guileless chum (check the oversized helmet, the high-water khakis, and that legendary bow-tie) is definitely aware of the situation. So Oliver slaps that doofiness all over Olsen’s cherubic mug.
The grin’s infectious. Oliver’s Olsen glides overhead and over both the ludicrous and the poignant towards a level of twee that is fittingly obnoxious. Like “Yakety-Sax” played through a ukulele, you can’t helped but succumb to the natural charm of this. The more impressive display of super-natural powers is gently nudged out of the cover, sure, but it’s deliberate; Ben Oliver wants to position Jimmy Olsen as the center of our attention and affection, and I’m a sucker for it.
Marvel Tales: X-Men #1 by Jen Bartel. (Marvel)
CH: “The green one is Bill, and Don is blue.” I almost missed the lobster on first viewing this retro-fantastic Jen Bartel composition. Inside are reprints of X-Men #58, Fallen Angels #2, and Uncanny X-Men #272. Mostly, Bartel sticks to giving us the Neal Adams versions of those 1969 X-uniforms, including Angel’s. By today’s standards, his doesn’t exactly fit with the others, including the best Marvel Girl up to that point. (Decide on a color, willya, Warren?) But to the 7-year-old comic book fan that was me, the Avenging Angel was unspeakably cool.
Bartel, in her adept way, has appropriately repackaged the coolness here. Her simple line quality lets the colors breathe. The textured power blast manifestations grant cohesiveness and join the lower border nicely, tying everything together. Stuffed shirt Scott sporting the least-updated version of the classic team costume defined his character in those early years. Yet Bartel burnishes his holdout suit to shimmer alongside Lorna and Jean and Bobby. With lessened black bands on Angel’s cuffs, even his prismatic wardrobe works.
Including the psychic mutant lobster Bill from Fallen Angels completes the nostalgic enchantment. It’s a labor of love that makes celebratory 80th Anniversary issues worthwhile.
Blade Runner 2019 #2 by Christian Ward. (Titan Comics)
JJ: The skies are scraped by metal and glass monstrosities adorned with titanic adverts blasting neon Coca-Cola in every direction to meet the gaze of millions of floating passers-by. It’s the futuristic world of Blade Runner and thankfully, for the sake of my easily-triggered vertigo, it looks nothing like what 2019 looks like today. But on this cover, it looks like a billion bucks. A sophisticated bit of Christian Ward brilliance, delicately rendered with porcelain grace and dizzying ability.
There’s a thin vertical streak of sickly purple at the top of this piece, though I’m not certain that’s the night’s sky. It’s better, somehow, to consider that bit to be yet another grotesque structure further down the skyline, burning violet so brightly that we can see it from all the way over here. Which means, through the borders of this cover, we’re ensconced by darkness and a million points of LEDs. It’s comforting in a strange way, being wrapped up by a city. And there’s Ward’s subject, hurtling from one globular gargoyle to the next, likely thinking the same thing as the canyons below open wide to swallow them whole.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below!