Undercover: Dilraj Mann slays with crimson & ink-black variant to ‘Punks Not Dead’
By Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Dilraj Mann’s ‘Punks Not Dead’ to Nimit Malavia’s second cover for ‘RoboCop: Citizens Arrest’, here’s what we’re loving this week.
RoboCop: Citizens Arrest #2 by Nimit Malavia. (BOOM! Studios)
CH: Once, RoboCop was the future of law enforcement. In his new series, he’s 30-year old retired technology while Omni Consumer Products has phoenixed into the future of lucrative corporate exploitation. OCP’s branding is saturated into the hearts and minds of the consumer, and the new ‘RoboCop’ is a phone app that lets citizens pay to file a complaint against each other while entering the reporting party into a big money sweepstakes.
Artist Nimit Malavia’s cover for RoboCop: Citizens Arrest #2 flips the past status of Alex Murphy as a cyborg struggling for his humanity while serving and protecting in a very human population. Now surrounded by citizens eagerly assimilated into the OCP Cloud and all the cyber interaction it bestows, RoboCop is perhaps the most real and human entity present. A sea of ghostly patrons washes around him, all part of the OCP projected profit flow. An image which Malavia uses to remind us that alienation takes many forms.
Isola #2 Karl Kerschl and Msassyk. (Image Comics)
AOK: Behold the wolf girl, a single book under her arm. The locale is a devastated library. The sun streams between cracked columns to catch motes and illuminate shelves only browsed by ghosts. Call her wolf girl not so much because of the fur that tips her bandaged limbs but the company she keeps. They are an escort of giants, a pack with eyes that glow in the half-light of the ruins. There’s sorcery in the fabric of Isola, and Karl Kerschl knows how to weave like Arachne.
Color is light, and Msassyk paints masterfully with both. The seabed palette and luminous shafts give me goose bumps like my first time finding the Kokiri Forest Temple. Those ruby wolf eyes are the definition of magic. Every detail screams legendary fantasy, Kerschl’s art unbelievable, Msassyk’s colors otherworldly. If this doesn’t get you hyped to read comics. Nothing. Else. Will.
Justice League: No Justice #1 by Francis Manapul. (DC Comics)
JJ: Group shot covers tend to be old-hat snoozers. Francis Manapul posits the question: Do they have to be? With his widescreen wraparound cover to Justice League: No Justice #1, the answer is absolutely not, and not ever again.
Easter egg color palette. It’s a good look on this crew — and what a crew. Superman, Starfire, Martian Manhunter… Sinestro, Starro the Conqueror? Sure, why not. The universe is at risk, again — check the omni-being in the background, reaching out to our protectors, probably not for a snuggle. This is an all-hands-on-deck affair. That “Panic in the Sky” kinda stuff where hero and villain alike have to set aside their differences, lest there not be a reality (or future) for their particular brand of dust-up.
Manapul artfully dodges the flat approach to the group shot, opting for a zero-gravity dutch angle. Finding the horizon would only induce vertigo. And the colors, my goodness. Turquoise nebulae take form around our cosmic terror. Our super-team? Decked out in neons and pastels, shining beacons on a journey into mystery. Tremendous, iconic, bodacious. My heart is ready for the resplendent Justice League revolution.
Punks Not Dead #4 by Dilraj Mann. (Black Crown/IDW Publishing)
JJ: Music, that’s what drives Black Crown. The humming rhythm of some esoteric track, scorching senses, making knees weak. That’s the lifeblood of this juggernaut imprint, potent enough to keep it moving with a momentum that leaves others gasping for breath. History plays a part, as well — music history, comic history, both on full, blistering display with Dilraj Mann’s variant to Punks Not Dead #4.
Tell me you don’t see Jaime Hernandez in there. You know the cover. “The Night Ape Sex Came Home To Play.” Love and Rockets #24, December 1987. Considering who’s running this ship, Mann’s crimson and ink-black cover — with blasé attitude to burn and bass strings in our faces — can’t be a coincidence. (Don’t forget: Hopey was a bass player, once.) Even if it is, Mann’s personal style provides its own kind of verve, its own voice, its own iconography. Here Mann presents twin devils, a duo who appeared seemingly from nowhere and beguiled all within ear (and eye) shot. Who took zero prisoners, no compliments — only cash.
I generally cannot stand posting covers with trade dress in this feature. With Black Crown, the way that it wraps its banners around every cover, perfectly hued, expertly placed, maximum slay — I wouldn’t have it any other way.
New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #23 by Bernard Chang. (DC Comics)
CH: Bernard Chang has perpetuated a lasting sense of fun in this series with his often chock-fulla-characters variant covers depicting the heroes socializing, making sly observations on their iconic namesakes, or blazing their own brand of very modern heroics. Or by mixing all the above. Issue #23’s cover finds the JLC and fellow superheroes in the throes of a metahuman karaoke session. Chang’s composition is busy and colorful, but it also reveals details about each character depicted.
For every hero struggling to attain and maintain that desired bouncy ‘C’, several more are staking their individuality on sampling the food, discussing a good book, or finding a seat to best take in the rest of the floor show. It’s a bit of Norman Rockwell fused with a bonus feature, giving us a view beyond the presented heroics inside the book while affirming the various relationships between the protagonists.
Chang keeps this communal moment engagingly, memorably, mirthful. Super-Man and Bat-Man vie for lead vocal dominance, while Katana vents her inner turmoil and I-Ching warbles for dear life. Now I want a book-and-record variant edition, so we know if our heroes are belting out ‘New Everlasting Love’, or ‘Those Bygone Years’.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below. Best response wins a pack of DoomRocket stickers!