By Molly Jane KremerArpad Okay, and Clyde Hall. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Joshua Middleton’s ‘Batgirl’ to Russell Dauterman’s show-stopping cover for ‘The Mighty Thor’ #706, here’s what we’re loving this week.

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #303 by Joe Quinones. (Marvel Comics)

CH: Who hasn’t dreamed of doing what comprises the current story arc of Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man? Travelling back in time, or to a convenient parallel dimension, and guiding a younger version of yourself to prevent regrets of your past. If indeed it is a parallel timeline, you need not even pull a Barry Allen and high center your own reality. You could just be satisfied that there’s a world where your doppelganger didn’t mess up. Or messed up in a whole different way. So long as you didn’t make things worse.

Artist Joe Quinones gives us a cover that embodies that ‘different isn’t always better’ possibility with an homage to Gil Kane’s final panel splash from The Amazing Spider-Man #121. Taking the place of Gwen Stacy is the younger version of Peter Parker, boding poorly for his survival prospects, being held by Peter Prime as the latter angrily shakes his webbed fist at the responsible party. The Green Goblin would be the usual suspect in the reality we know, and it tracks with what’s happened the last couple issues. But having the villain out of the picture whets the appetite for full disclosure.

As with the recent interiors, the classic Spider-Man style is lovingly represented and makes a striking contrast to the modern appearance of our main character and his entourage. Quinones gets extra points, bless him, for showcasing those underarm webs on the junior wall-crawler. His cover to issue #303 undertones what happens when dreams of rectifying the past turn into nightmares.

Undercover: Dauterman & Wilson's 'The Mighty Thor' is breaking our hearts

The Mighty Thor #706 by Russell Dauterman. (Marvel Comics)

MJ: The best ongoing superhero comic in publication bowed out beautifully with its 706th issue. The Mighty Thor is ended. (No, I’m not crying; it’s just dusty in here.) Russell Dauterman’s mighty art talents have graced the covers (and even some of the variants) of all thirty-eight issues featuring the Goddess of Thunder, each one of them worthy of acclaim. I’ve written about it before (because c’mon), but the cover to issue 706 has an especially graceful resonance. Why? For one, it’s a poetic visual echo of Thor #1’s cover. That was, for most of us, our first glimpse at Jane in the Thor helm (though we wouldn’t discover that it was her til issue #8).

Issue #706’s cover sees Jane without that helm. Though her placement is a direct reference to Thor #1, the imagery of and around her is the complete opposite. Instead of a set jaw surrounded by a thunderous display of shockingly blue-white lightning bolts (Matthew Wilson’s colors cannot be oversold), here Jane is Jane in all her human frailty, as we’ve rarely seen her on covers. Her chemo-induced baldness and gaunt cheeks replace the goddess’ glamorously blonde veneer. She is suffused in a soft white glow, posed as though in a coffin for funerary viewing. It’s a little morbid, and more than a little sad. (The storyline was called “The Death of the Mighty Thor”, after all.)

But it is a beautiful tribute to one of the best comics out there, and to a character who has come to mean so much to so many. Farewell, Jane Foster. Verily.

Undercover: Dauterman & Wilson's 'The Mighty Thor' is breaking our hearts

Batgirl #22 by Joshua Middleton. (DC Comics)

AOK: A great cover is a huge, frozen moment that sends a lightning bolt of action from the shelf to your eyeballs. A great cover has a dozen tiny details that you can zoom in to. Joshua Middleton is sending me there. He’s catapulting me.

This killer leap is essence of Batgirl distilled. A legs up, arms out, fingers spread jump, doing a Batman thing (parkour), but in such a reckless and self-confident and quintessentially young way. She’s not even thinking about what she’s doing. She’s focused on where she’s going.

How can you not love the Burnside Batgirl costume? Those boots and their laces. Oh, but you start picking out details and the avalanche begins. Translucent bat wings. Sun colors and cloud textures and the way Batgirl is lit is flawless magic hour realness. Middleton’s cover looks like a still from some magnificent retro cell animation I desperately wish existed.

Undercover: Dauterman & Wilson's 'The Mighty Thor' is breaking our hearts

The Prisoner #1 by Colin Lorimer and Joana Lafuente. (Titan Comics)

CH: It was a difficult call. Titan Comics has six variant covers for The Prisoner #1, and one consists of Jack Kirby art for the incomplete first issue Marvel commissioned in 1976, with Mike Allred. But the cover by Colin Lorimer and Joana Lafuente sent me back to the summer of 1968, the summer when my pre-pubescent mind was officially blown away by the travails of Number 6 as he plotted to escape The Village. I’ve never been quite the same since. Well played, Lorimer and Lafuente.

The elements that terrified, mystified and inspired are all present. The menacing, featureless retriever called Rover. The distinctive fantasy architecture of Your Village, carefree and roguish until you know the strict control underlying the façade. And standing implacably against the forces of Orwellian dystopia, unbending and unmutual, Number 6. Almost in silhouette here, almost overwhelmed visually by his surroundings and his captors, but still defiant in his braided blazered, boat shoed resistance. Fifty years later, and there’s still a resigned secret agent who has yet to be filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered.

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!

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