By Molly Jane Kremer, Clyde Hall, Brendan F. Hodgdon, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. Each week, we single out the most striking covers that grace comic book stands and gush all over them.

American Gods: Shadows #9, by David Mack. (Dark Horse Comics)

American Gods: Shadows #9, by David Mack. (Dark Horse Comics)

CH: Bast is beautiful, as represented by David Mack in his nod to the storyline’s secondary deities in the American Gods: Shadows series. Mack’s distinctive mixed media style is a perfect fit for the novel’s comic book adaptation. The palette of contrasted yet overall subdued colors, the patterns of hieroglyphs and design comprising the feline form, and that form’s watercolor and acrylic blending into Bast’s mortal seeming create a visual feast.

That watercolor and acrylic fusion, especially in Bast’s skin, is quite simply masterful. Melding the cat’s eye to the corresponding gaze of the goddess’s humanoid form is a satisfying linchpin to the composition, bringing a balance to the work as subtle and as final as a scale weighing one’s heart against the feather of righteousness. And while some of Mack’s work can be stark, employing areas of pure white, here he summons a warmth radiating the ancient suns of Ra.

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #2, by Michael Allred and Laura Allred. (DC's Young Animal)

Bug! The Adventures of Forager #2, by Michael Allred and Laura Allred. (DC’s Young Animal)

MJ: Bug! The Adventures of Forager, since its start, has been a loving tribute to Jack Kirby’s DC creations. Lee Allred and Michael Allred have featured every King-made character at a steady clip (and hoo, boy, it’s a lot) and issue #5’s cover centers on OMAC: the One-Man Army Corps himself, Buddy Blank. Michael Allred draws him in his original costume (of course), replete with golden bracers, rad mohawk, and a wide open eye on his chest, spewing Kirby Krackle in white and bright blue.

OMAC is standing amidst piles of aquatic sealife, and Allred renders each creature down to the tiniest detail, from octopus to spider crabs to blowfish to things I don’t even know the names of. Most appear rather in distress, seemingly (and upsettingly) dumped on dry land, and the artists manage to communicate agitation and worry in all these varying beings. Laura Allred’s colors are gorgeous, bold and bright as always, with the perfect amount of detail and dynamism to complement Michael’s inks. The bright-white lens flare she adds to OMAC’s chest-eye ties the entire cover together. The Allreds are more-than-worthy heirs to carry on the legacy of Kirby.

Darth Vader #8, by Francesco Mattina. (Marvel Comics)

Darth Vader #8, by Francesco Mattina. (Marvel Comics)

BFH: Star Wars is defined in many ways by the saga of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader, and yet there’s a huge portion of it we don’t know anything about. At the end of the Prequel Trilogy, Darth Vader is a broken, tragic figure who has lost everything to his own flaws. But by the start of the Original Trilogy, Vader is an unambiguous force of power and evil. Soule & Camuncoli’s ongoing Darth Vader series aims to chart the journey from the former to the latter, but with this cover for issue #8 Francesco Mattina has represented the dichotomy of Darth Vader so well that the series itself almost seems extraneous.

At the center of the image is the man once known as Skywalker, scarred, naked(ish) and alone. But he’s in the background, all but obscured by the swirling pieces armor, cape and mask. It’s as if even in his most private and vulnerable moments, Anakin is trapped behind the identity of Darth Vader. And the only thing ahead of him is a burning sun, representing the rage that gives him purpose and power. You can almost feel the last blooms of little Ani from Tatooine wilting in the face of this scorching heat, leaving only the hollow shell of Darth Vader behind.

Wrapped Up #2

Wrapped Up #2, by Ian McGinty. (Lion Forge/CubHouse)

JJ: Milo the Mummy-Boy rolls deep in this Ian McGinty variant to Wrapped Up #2. His blazer sleeves are shoved up to his elbows as he rides with his wizard partner to the tune of “In the Air Tonight”. Collins’ moody synths edge us closer to the image. An electric guitar drops a chord on us. Mummy and Wizard, Crockett and Tubbs, cruise the palm tree-lined streets looking for a bust. It’s pizza mayhem out there. Michael Mann atmosphere with the energy of Dave Scheidt and Scoot McMahon. McGinty doesn’t simply pay tribute to these storytellers; his powers are capable of far more than just that. With this cover, McGinty unites Mann, Scheidt, and McMahon in a pop confection of cartoonish brilliance. Call it Miami Slice. “Well the hurt doesn’t show, but the pain still grows/It’s no stranger to you and me.” Cue the air drums.

And that’s it! Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below.