Undercover: Clarke & Villarrubia take us on ‘A Walk Through Hell’
By Arpad Okay, Clyde Hall, Mickey Rivera, Jami Jones, and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Andy Clarke & José Villarrubia’s striking cover for ‘A Walk Through Hell’ to Hayden Sherman’s ‘Cold War’, here’s what we’re loving this week.
A Walk Through Hell #1 by Andy Clarke and José Villarrubia. (AfterShock Comics)
MR: When we see cop lights our preservational instincts kick in and we scope out our surroundings and our situation. Is there blood? Was someone hurt? Did someone die? Society created police lights as much to draw attention as to deflect it. It’s our way of delineating the collapse of common order, our way of indicating that something has gone wrong.
The take away from this cover to A Walk Through Hell #1 is that something fucking big has gone wrong. Artist Andy Clarke and colorist José Villarrubia manage to whip up a sense of dread and imminent danger with just two main elements: the splattering of cop cars and officers, and a gigantic warehouse with an open door. The high angle perspective gives us all a hint at just how much trouble might be waiting for us in that building, which looks to be nearly the size of a city block. The ice-blue of night isolates the lights and figures even further. Those brave souls heading straight into the darkened maw of the unknown are in for something much bigger than any of them. This cover is a perfectly executed minimalist tease, revealing nothing specific while giving us just enough to be nervous about.
Batwoman #15 by Rafael Grampá. (DC Comics)
CH: Rafael Grampá possesses an impassioned, dramatic style that impresses, one that’s graced many covers and made their books the better for it. But his variant for Batwoman #15 channels another innovator of the comics medium, Tsutomu Nihei. Says so, right on the cover. And Grampa’s homage is a worthy variance of his own distinctive line quality to channel Nihei brilliantly.
The Nihei attention to architecture is here, serving as a savory backdrop banquet. But it’s Grampá’s fusion of Nihei and his own imagination into the figure of Batwoman that dominates. It transforms Kate Kane from masked vigilante into a creature of the evil-doer’s nightmare. Grampá has tailored an entirely different vision of Batwoman, from the flared mask that borders on murky Hawkwoman (not at all a bad thing) to the unique but familiar spikes of her gloves and the divergent boots.
It’s the living, organic folds of her cape that reap a viewer’s attention, though, so animated one hears the leathery slap of wings as the night wind whips it about her. This title has enjoyed some of the most varied and munificent cover art of any recent DC publication. So much so, it’s difficult to imagine how the next artist, and the one after, can possibly add to the gallery. Grampá turned that challenge into opportunity, with a daring departure from all that’s come before.
The Wicked + The Divine #36 by Babs Tarr. (Image Comics)
AOK: Spiraling out from the skull-eyes-glowing-death-glare of Persephone are a myriad details that are all Babs Tarr doing what she does best, a fashion plate that launch’d a thousand ships. Fierce brows and a heartbreaking sneer, and hair that glows as the skulls do, like the ethereal tendrils that snake out of the bed of lambent flowers upon which she poses.
The jewelry is chains and silver bands and spikes, matched a hundred-fold on a fuchsia biker jacket. Those strappy hints at a top could melt your face off, not that you’re ever getting close enough to see it. The bike in the background is cyborg angel wings, the helmet a blockade, or the world. This shit is rich. Fashion is more than hot rags, it’s an extension of character. No surprise then that Tarr nails it; she serves up a slice of sass and raw power that kidnaps the eyes. Persephone demands nothing less than to be remembered forever.
All-New Wolverine #35 by Elizabeth Torque. (Marvel Comics)
JamiJ: The sequel to Deadpool means that it is once again time for Marvel to roll out a month of Deadpool variants. Instead of just inserting Deadpool into the cover or costume of the main character of the title, Elizabeth Torque spotlights All-New Wolverine’s Gabby Kinney for issue #35.
Instead of a busy background, Torque chose to put the focus on Gabby and her companion Jonathan; Gabby in Deadpool garb largely obscured by a large, and angry, (lowercase) wolverine. Torque’s warm tones and color saturation make it seem like Gabby is wearing Deadpool’s costume at a slumber party. The chill vibe is ruined by Jonathan’s obvious agitation, but that only serves to showcase the surprise of an only slightly jaded child clone assassin.
I didn’t know I was in desperate need of some Gabby and Jonathan Lilo and Stitch-style capers until I saw this cover. All-New Wolverine is a book that can lean grim at times (see current arc, Old Woman Laura) so it’s refreshing to see a bit of child-like surprise.
It is not easy to make a Wolverine descendent seem utterly huggable, and to do so while highlighting Deadpool ups that difficulty level, but Torque makes it look easy. She incorporates style and vision and gives heart to what could have been just another theme month variant. Now, it’s so much more.
Cold War #4 by Hayden Sherman. (AfterShock Comics)
JJ: Hayden Sherman provides us a candid glimpse of post-battle romance. Look at this. Two lovers perched atop a glass structure, clearly relieved to have survived another day in this war-scorched hellhole. The building they’ve made their own scenic trysting spot? Clearly existing during its better days. What’s even more interesting is what we see reflected in the window panes below. “Over there” is another story all together.
Sherman scrawled out a grid and then told us a story in-between the skinny lines. The edifices across the way are all shades of fucked. Crumbling masonry, girders jutting out every which way, smoke billowing through what used to probably be far too expensive office space — or worse — condos. Whatever these two crazy kids just fought through, they’re clearly the victors, somehow. This is dystopia as I like it: violence done to the forsaken remnants of a decadent society as two people blast, war, and love, the sky behind them blazing in a sickly neon glow. The world’s falling apart put passion remains. It’s marvelous.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below. Best response wins a pack of DoomRocket stickers!