by Brandy Dykhuizen, Clyde Hall, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Lorenzo de Felici’s ‘King of Nowhere’ to a double blast of Steve Pugh wackiness, these are our picks for the best covers of August 2020.
King of Nowhere #4 by Lorenzo De Felici. (BOOM! Studios)
CH: Lorenzo De Felici submitted multiple variant covers for BOOM! Studios’ King of Nowhere #4, but I’m glad they chose this one. Law enforcement-noshing giant iguanas and psychedelia embody the surrealism of this series, and De Felici’s eye-opening imagery taps the long-standing bad trip/reptilian connection.
If you’re following the title, you know the kind of messed up mind voyage protagonist Denis is on. De Felici’s iguana harkens to other pop culture altered states of consciousness, from Stacy Keach’s baked DEA agent toking with an iguana in 1981’s Nice Dreams to Hunter S. Thompson’s hallucinogenic Lizard Lounge in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.
Those were clearly representations of better-life-through-chemistry experiences overdone and meandered down the rowdy way. But Denis doesn’t wake hungover. Nor does he pass out and undergo reality reframing. All of which makes him question how real his ‘visions’ are.
As in De Felici’s image, the hero desperately requires a blink for realigning his sensors. The world of Nowhere, like his iguana jockey, doesn’t give him that chance. The composition, hypnotic swirly eyes to reptilian French kiss, similarly captures our attention with kaleidoscopic colors. Denis’s predicament, held in thrall by a world stunningly weird but simultaneously wondrous and unescapable, becomes our vicarious position.
Wonder Woman #760 by Joshua Middleton. (DC)
JJ: The tiara rests on her forehead like it was always meant to be there, a symbol of strength and unity, power and patience. It was, it is; after all, this is Diana of Themyscira, hero, Justice Leaguer, Wonder Woman, icon.
Joshua Middleton’s latest slate of variant art pieces have most recently blessed the covers of Wonder Woman, and they’ve been as varied and striking as you’d imagine them to be, considering the artist in question. For issue #760 Middleton goes for broke, aims for the Met Collection, absolutely gets there. It’s a ludicrously regal example of the power of iconography, that such an image could reach out to the eyes scanning a comics stand, pull them close, introduce them to the adventures and messages contained within. It’s a perfect cover, yes, but so, so much more.
It’s beautiful like fine art, pop-infused like a million-dollar ad campaign, inspiring to some, impactful to all. Middleton positions his subject in a power stance, provocative (note the twist of the hand holding the sword) but welcoming (the grip on the shield is loose). This Wonder Woman is prepared for battle but ready for peace; the language of the pose says precisely this.
Then there’s the expression. Move past those otherworldly cheekbones and dwell on the eyes. On this face those eyes glint with the memory of endless war, the tranquility of ancient wisdom, the determination of a diplomat undeterred. Bronze symbolizes strength, and she has it, haloed around her face with a sense of divinity and reverence. Middleton didn’t have to go this hard in the paint for a comic book cover, but he did. This one’s for the ages.
Billionaire Island #4 by Steve Pugh. (AHOY Comics)
BD: The great thing about satire is that is usually constructs a world in which everyone experiences an existential hell far greater than your own. And if it’s worth its weight in windmills, that hell is navigated by slapstick-driven bundles of absurdity. Steve Pugh’s cover of Billionaire Island #4 takes a momentary break from the grisly events on the island to explore what the wealthy really signed up for—a day on the boat.
It’s tricky business conveying the nuances of human folly on the faces of animals, but Steve Pugh lays it out flawlessly. The pups hit the sea with all the ‘Gram-worthy accoutrement: a captain’s hat, a shiny boat, taggable accessories. Noses are carefully poised in the air, sun trickling down—all that’s missing is a selfie stick. The perfect, privileged day, aside from that small-craft advisory flag flying from the stern… and is that lightning in the background? No matter; you don’t need to understand the rules when you’re rich.
Billionaire Island #5 by Steve Pugh. (AHOY Comics)
JJ: Brandy doesn’t get to have all the Billionaire Island fun this month. See, I’m lucky; Steve Pugh knocked out two brilliant covers for AHOY’s scintillating (and *shudder* incredibly timely) social satire Billionaire Island and AHOY had the good taste to run both in August. Lucky me. Lucky all of us.
The president is a dunce. Also, this cover is hilarious. (*three-point throw, bank, fist pump* Yesss.) In Billionaire Island, the most wealthy thing in the world is a dog and it really looks like Kid Rock is the leader of the free world. (After all, why not?) But for the cover to the latest issue of Mark Russell & Pugh’s riotous first arc, AHOY taps the breaks. Pugh doesn’t get to flex his caricature muscles for Macomb County’s Darling for the cover. But he goes for broke anyway, maximizing the daffiness of this looney world by rendering this fictional Commander-in-Chief to look like a maximum dingus.
How does such a nimrod get elected to the highest office in the land? By appealing to the lowest common denominator, natch. Wrapped in the stars and stripes—a violation of the Flag Act, sure, as if it mattered—a patriotic babe swaddled in canned virtue addresses his nation with righteous platitudes and laughably empty rhetoric. (Monosyllabic, so as not to mystify the herd or trip up the orator.) The quacky visor and dangling aviators are clutch, compounding the surreality of this, erm, “unlikely” situation. But it’s the expression Pugh paints on this dope that makes the cover feel like a proper entry port towards hell.
You’re left wondering about the evil monsters behind this dweeb, the ones who are stuffing those words into his widening maw. You get the feeling they succeeded in convincing over 40% of the electorate that they could have a beer with this dummy.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers, from this month, from any month, in the comments section below!