By Brandy Dykhuizen, Clyde Hall, Brendan F. Hodgdon, Mickey Rivera, 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.
JLA/Doom Patrol Special #1, by Frank Quitely. (DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal)
MR: Superman is known for being top-notch mensch — polite, good with children, never curses. Most people I know say it’s this underlying wholesomeness that makes him their favorite character in comics, as though saving the world on the regular were just icing on the cake. The JLA/Doom Patrol Special looks to take that wholesomeness to its dysfunctional extreme, showing us what would happen if an evil corporation co-opted the Man of Steel, creating their own ultra-clean, ultra-healthy, ultra-strong commercial mascot.
The result is Milkman Man, the shining beacon of milk-fed purity you see here. Frank Quitely is riffing on his own cover illustration for the All-Star Superman TPB, floating Milkman Man in the sky amid rays of sunlight as he smiles beatifically. If that original cover was meant to emulate the ascension of Jesus, it’s hard to say what this pop-art remix is supposed to signify. Regardless of what it all means, this cover is the perfect blend of the Doom Patrol spirit with the most iconic superhero in comics.
Jessica Jones #16, by David Mack. (Marvel Comics)
CH: David Mack turns in his version of a J.M. Flagg “I Want YOU” recruitment cover for Jessica Jones #16, but Zebediah Killgrave doesn’t want us. He wants Jessica, and for that we should feel fortunate because the history of this amoral, mind-controlling villain leans toward a decidedly Fifty Shades of Purple bent. Once again, Mack commands his water colors and acrylics, nearly a metahuman power itself, to make an unblinking, unyielding portrait of one very sinister, single-minded sociopath.
The filmy translucence of the upper part of the cover, as it captures the ethereal quality of Killgrave’s subtle power, is anchored by the bottom collage, solid pinstripe fabric buttoned-down in place. The patented Mack signature as a tie pin is a smile-inducing touch. Would a victim experience the Purple Man this way? An almost dreamlike presence, but grounded in the miserable reality of what his suggestions force you to do? For all its understated tranquility, and because of it, the artist has created one unsettling cover.
Hungry Ghosts #1, by Paul Pope. (Dark Horse Comics/Berger Books)
BD: So Anthony Bourdain has his own comic, and it’s a wild one for sure, but what the hell ever – Paul Pope has cooked up the kind of cover that leaves you for dead. First of all, yeah, that bowl of ramen looks incredible and makes me really hungry. Let’s not forget with whom we’re dealing. And that scary blue-tinged siren is about to sing a song I don’t want to hear. Even the chef in the background has more than a few reservations. He knows what stringy, crazy hair means to the horror genre. A fire may burn between them, but he’s going to keep his distance. All that being said, I still really want those noodles.
The Flash Annual #1, by Howard Porter. (DC Comics)
BFH: If this Howard Porter cover is any indication, the original Wally West appears to be facing a crossroads in The Flash Annual #1. Holding the classic Flash and Kid Flash costumes (both of which he’s worn in the past) while wrapped in his current Rebirth garb, one wonders if Wally will be confronted by some sort of identity crisis in the ensuing adventure. That alone intrigues me with the possibilities.
Beyond that, this image also feels like a microcosm of this era of DC as a whole. Here’s a classic hero, gussied up for a new generation, agonizing over the icons of the past. It speaks to the Flash’s story going back to the Rebirth one-shot, it speaks to the friction at the heart of both Doomsday Clock and Metal, and it speaks to the nature of Big Two comics overall. And any image that can evoke that much is certainly worthy of celebration.
Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #4, by Alexis Ziritt. (Black Mask Studios)
JJ: Alexis Ziritt is a monster-class artist. A beast with a pen. He has such sights to show you. Space-faring renegades, titanic vessels constructed in the grim visage of Death Itself. And here, a monolith, staring you dead in the eye, its eyes screaming, “End of the road.” Space Riders‘ second mini-series is coming to an end, sadly, but Ziritt sent us packing with a grin on our faces.
This cover is the stuff of memory. The memory of comics you couldn’t find when you were growing up if you tried. Heavy Metal Magazine, Zap!, 2000 AD — these were myths, the kind of comics you’d only hear about in song and legend. The kind of books that would piss your mother off good and proper. Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality is that kind of comic. And Ziritt is that kind of artist. A Frazetta in black light. A legend in his own right.
And that’s it! Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below!