by Clyde Hall and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is where DoomRocket takes a moment to gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Jenny Frison’s Alice Ever After #1 to Jim Terry’s West of Sundown #1, these are our picks for April’s coolest covers.
Alice Ever After #1 by Jenny Frison. (BOOM! Studios)
CH: The clashes of a Two-Charles era, Dickens and Darwin, are central to the themes of Alice Ever After #1. Jenny Frison’s variant cover echoes similar contrasts in a most engaging fashion.
Alice from the Wonderland adventures has grown into a young British woman of the Victorian era here. The status came at the time with certain expectations regarding gender, status, and societal norms. And, while Frison’s young lady Alice seems fashionably in compliance, remnants all around her indicate she hasn’t put aside childish things.
Captured in this portrait, Alice’s reality yet bends to accommodate smiling striped felines, white rabbits, ticking pocket watches, and smoky hookahs. Her stylish garden hat bears the familiar price tag of ten shillings and six pence. But atop it all rest the roses. A thorny crown once in the pink, now ominously splashed with scarlet deep as any heart-suited playing card.
Bioripple by Nir Levie. (Heavy Metal)
JJ: A bio-punk offering that’s described as Blade Runner meets Brazil that trades in themes of personal autonomy, authoritarianism, and technological dependence—yeah, Bioripple is bound to be a cerebral work. It is and, openly judging by its cover, it looks it.
Bioripple is a story about push and pull. The Powers That Be pursuing those who would defy it. And when everyone is booted into a central AI, this game of cat-and-mouse can feel like it takes place in some obstinate maze, filled with stymieing dead-ends and unexpected paths. Nir Levie articulates this pursuit with a blistering cover that wriggles and shifts while standing perfectly still: meticulously constructed (fitting, considering Levie is an architect), this cover succinctly conveys how easy it is for one to lose oneself in the pursuit of things, even the things we—capital-W We—desperately need. Like freedom.
It’s an eye-popper that’s seems designed to stop you in your tracks, crack the book, and discover what this could possibly be about. And the best bit? The art is even more energizing, impactful—and, yes, colorful—inside.
Black Widow #15 by Adam Hughes. (Marvel)
JJ: The life of a mercenary superhero bon vivant cannot be a simple one. Traipsing across the globe, living out of a duffle bag, kicking an untold amount of ass between sips of vodka and pressing debriefs at the Avengers compound, Natasha Romanoff is the kind of person who travels light.
Which makes moments like these so galling. Engaging a room full of covert ne’er-do-wells is typically a cakewalk for the Black Widow. A jolt from her widow’s sting here, an expertly-thrown escrima stick to the forehead there, the room generally thins out within seconds. It’s routine.
But then some cosmonaut gets it in his head that it’s wise to pull a knife and take a swing at the Black Widow, at the rare instant when her attention is directed elsewhere. A slash, a rip, a thick trickle of blood, and suddenly Nat’s one outfit for this field mission is done for. And, look at it, it is done—just not as thoroughly as the dude who just used that knife is about to be.
Adam Hughes tells us that Natasha’s all business through the pain—after all, her blood spells the title and latest issue number for her series, not “ouch”—but the look he puts on her face assures us that someone is about to pay for this battlefield gaffe. And pay dearly.
Action Comics #1042 by Julian Totino Tedesco. (DC)
JJ: Bold, bombastic, and blue—Julian Totino Tedesco does iconic like few can. His variant cover project for DC’s Action Comics is already one for the books (coffee table art book when, DC?), his images capturing the Man of Steel in moments of repose, duty, discovery, and with issue #1042 of Action, defiance.
It’s his turbulent mixture of Fleischer and Donner that sends Tedesco’s Superman over the edge into the annals of legend. While the suit is pure 70s eye candy and the elemental simplicity of his visuals is uncanny, Tedesco’s Superman is very much his own. Throughout his Action Comics run, he has had an opportunity to explore the multitudinous aspects of the superhero distilled through his own filter of personal reverence for the cape and shield: a quiet snuggle with Lois Lane, a (super-) boyhood dream of the future, exploring the expanses of space, and here, a George Reeves-esque display of brio as he stops a hail of bullets from hurting anyone, anywhere. You can almost hear the horns from John Williams’ score just looking at this.
West of Sundown #1 by Jim Terry. (Vault Comics)
JJ: I sure hope you’re reading West of Sundown, a vampire Western tale from Vault that feels like it was forged from the darker elements of EC Comics’ archives and the yellowing pages of Charlier & Moebius’ Blueberry. With artist Jim Terry at the drafting table, it looks like it, too.
Terry understands drama, nails it in his compositions. The impact eyes have, the stories they tell with nary a glance, that power is front and center on his cover to West of Sundown #1. The scars elaborate a bit more about this grimacing character, and the ferocious way his long, dark strands of greasy hair whip about his face give us the impression that that six-shooter has just been freed from its holster.
But what brings this whole image together is the giallo-tinged hues that are painted across his face. This melded shock of crimson and indigo gives this piece an aura of danger—and, naturally, horror. It tells us that we are in the midst of an instant where someone is about to meet their maker, regardless whether they’re living or undead. A deadly demonic duel told with one Leone-styled close-up.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this month (or any month!) in the comments section below!