By Molly Jane Kremer, Stefania Rudd, Clyde Hall, Brendan F. Hodgdon, Kaitlin Beer, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Joe Quinones’ ‘Spectacular Spider-Man’ to Paulina Ganucheau’s variant to ‘Eternity Girl’, here’s what we’re loving this week.
Supergirl #19 by Jorge Jiménez and Alejandro Sanchez. (DC Comics)
SR: When people ask the question, “If you could have any superpower, what would it be?” I always choose teleportation, but after seeing Jorge Jiménez’s cover for Supergirl #19, I may have to change that answer to flying.
This is how I imagine the power of flight to be. From her face comes a feeling of pure joy — free from worry, a power that only flight can provide. The sun shines so brightly behind her, lighting the path both for her and her new friend, Lee. In Lee’s gigantic grin, you feel excitement, too, and know they are amazed to be up there with her. There’s too much heartache and turmoil on the ground; it’s better to glide among the clouds. So Supergirl soars above National City with its skyline — and the troubles contained within — looming large in the background. She soars higher still.
Vampironica #1 by Greg Smallwood. (Archie Comics)
CH: The Greg Smallwood cover to Vampironica #1 had visions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer dancing through my mind. No, literally; his insightful work here resurrected the “Once More, With Feeling” musical episode, a vignette scene akin to ‘They Got the Mustard Out’ or ‘Parking Ticket’ which would have added to the perfection of that television event. My praises don’t come much higher, and Smallwood’s take on the she-devil debutante is worthy.
As with their other horror titles, Archie Comics takes the updated but classic charm of their Riverdale gang and upends its familiarity into something frightful. Smallwood taps that pulse (or lack thereof) to playfully, monstrously, sup the scarlet nectar of life like a fine wine. I can truly imagine a jubilant, well-fed, and vampiric Veronica ending varsity football practice early, then taking a moment to revel in her excess with an impromptu pep rally. The overall tone of the book is more serious, but it has these moments as well. Smallwood aces that facet of his story with this cover. Now, when’s the poster coming out?
Mister Miracle #7 by Nick Derington and Mitch Gerads. (DC Comics)
BFH: The dichotomy between Mister Miracle covers has always fascinated me. Nick Derington’s style could not be further from Mitch Gerads’, and seeing Tom King’s psychologically riveting scripts represented by both the former’s colorful cartoonishness and the latter’s visceral grit has been one distinct element in a series full of them. While the inherent tone of Derington’s covers might not seem to speak to the nature of the series as a whole, they do provide an essential link back to Jack Kirby’s initial iteration of Scott Free and his world. Gerads summarizes his work on the issue proper in an unapologetically direct and semi-naturalistic fashion.
The covers for Mister Miracle #7 demonstrates this as well as any issue this far. Derington’s depiction of Darkseid’s minions is pure Kirby, capturing the zany alien nature of the denizens of Apokolips while also driving home their sinister nature. Meanwhile, Gerads captures a primal image, a father holding his child. Even with Scott’s colorful costume and the child’s holographic distortion, the human reaction this image compels is a powerful one. If anything, the illusory comic book elements heighten its real-world emotionality. Combined, these two covers convey precisely what makes Mister Miracle such a remarkable work of art.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #301 by Joe Quinones. (Marvel Comics)
JJ: Imagine for a moment that this was the first time you’d ever seen a “Spider-Man”. This cover. Right now. What would you make of it? This acrobat with a death wish, caught in midair over a bustling metropolis. Wrapped snugly — perhaps too snugly — in patchwork underoos. Whatta maroon, or whatta… not-maroon?
Thing is, this is a damn-near perfect intro issue cover. First impressions, Joe Quinones has ’em. And whether Spider-Man has long been an omnipresent pest in your life or you just have a mild awareness of Tobey Maguire crawling up some walls a couple of times back in the day, Joe Quinones’ cover to The Spectacular Spider-Man #301 is about as exemplary a superhero reveal as there has ever been.
Quinones frames our hero in a reliably bat-shit display of aerial gymnastics. Because this is a Zdarsky book, Joe’s Spidey waves at us — but his fingers curl just so, as though the wave ended just after we noticed him, like he was trying to get our attention and awkwardly missed the mark. I dunno if that’s the case, but it’s an endearing thought — and it’s remarkably on-brand for The Spectacular Spider-Man. That’s just how Joe Quinones does it — he takes on an iconic character, makes it his own, and shows us an image that looks as though it’s always existed. A burst of nostalgia, grace, and character. And, in this case, wonder.
Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #20, by Adam Hughes. (DC Comics)
MJ: Since few in the comics industry draw women (or anything, let’s be honest) as beautifully as Adam Hughes, it’s a foregone conclusion that he’d be a perfect fit on a Birds of Prey cover. Even though he’s no stranger to Batgirl (having done a slew of covers for the New 52 run) or Black Canary (his Justice League of America #6 variant from 2006 is iconic enough for DC to have made a statue of it), Hughes is a master and keeps his compositions fresh and sharp.
His use of bright light and shadow is magnificent in this underlit shot—with illumination originating from the same place as a well-crafted logo-slash-Bat-Signal in the sky. Each of the three ladies have faces and expressions that fit the characters’ personalities—and personally, I love that one of Babs’ signature yellow Docs is the closest object to us in the foreground. Though the series is ending in May, it’s lovely to see a gorgeous image like this gracing the cover of one of its last issues.
Vampironica #1 by Djibril Morissette-Phan. (Archie Comics)
CH: Veronica is not my favorite member of the Archie gang, owing to me gagging on my Kool-Aid as a Saturday cartoon-addicted rugrat every time she called him “Archiekins” in that saccharine-sweet Southern accent. Only to then turn around and pull something from her designer mynx bag to do poor Betty dirt. She was the teen Delores Umbridge of my childhood, okay? But artist Djibril Morissette-Phan has managed to validate co-writers Greg and Megan Smallwood’s plans to show a heroine rising from the superficial fashionista with just this cover.
His is a portrait of lost innocence, evoking empathy for a character who doesn’t always inspire it. Without the horror trappings, it could be a beautiful but vulnerable Veronica caught in a moment of serious contemplation. With the fang-baring lips, the sanguine background, the Christopher Lee eyes, she’s a regretful revenant, sated but solicitous. That inference dovetails with the tone of this series launch, and in the hands of Morissette-Phan, it does so fetchingly.
Eternity Girl #1 by Paulina Ganucheau. (DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal)
KB: Paulina Ganucheau’s variant cover for the opening issue of Young Animal’s Eternity Girl is sickeningly lovely. Her work always is, but this cover is a unique departure from her normal style. Presenting a story of an immortal trying to grasp the fact she cannot die, this cover looks like it is living and dying ad infinitum. There is an obvious sadness constrained by a thick red outline around the subject. Ganucheau has Eternity Girl watching her own hands like foreign objects, while her mind floats out in splashing pastel ribbons, escaping her binding form.
The use of texture stands out and makes the viewer wonder, are those bruises? Perhaps decay? Is she disintegrating? Not being able to pin down the source creates an element of movement and shifting beauty. This cover is limitless in its intensity and is a great start for a unique and promising series.
And that’s it! Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below. Best response wins a pack of DoomRocket stickers!