By Molly Jane Kremer, Clyde Hall, Sara Mitchell and Jarrod Jones. Undercover is our opportunity to lovingly gaze upon gorgeous works from magnificent artists. From Nick Derington & Mitch Gerads’ covers to ‘Mister Miracle’ to Alex Ross’ ferocious cover for ‘The Immortal Hulk’, here’s what we’re loving this week.
Mister Miracle #10 by Mitch Gerads (DC)
CH: Signposts that a comic book has transcended the normal measures of quality and entered the realm of phenomena? The publisher announces the next issue will be pushed back two weeks, and overwhelming reader response is an affirming tryptic of, “We will wait. Don’t rush this. Take your time.” Trifling little honorifics for work on the series by writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads, like Best Writer and Best Penciller/Inker Eisners, respectively. And inescapable covers. Before the ink is dry, these most anticipated covers paper the internet, a holdover fix for readers jonesing to have the next issue adorning the shelves of their LCS.
Gerads’ variant cover for Mister Miracle #10 has haunted me, stalked me, fascinated me, and captivated me for weeks. I blame the Batman imagery, an ongoing part of the storyline when it comes to the infant Jacob thanks to nanny Funky Flashman. Kid me had that Batman mask, courtesy of Ben Cooper costumes. The bursting balloon, significant to the bursting bubble of the narrative regarding Barda and Scott, throttling their lives together into a façade of normalcy while still managing wartime duties as New Gods. And of course Gerads uses the brightest of balloons as the sacrificial one, his nuanced and reserved coloration paling in Mister Miracle’s uniform, other party favors, and minimizing down to almost spectral chips and hats.
Gleeful celebration degraded into abject loss and misery, still festively attired. Second cousin in impact to a First Lady, yet dressed in obscene parade finery, standing next to her fallen husband’s coffin. And yet, Gerads still managed to fit in someone’s misplaced scrawl of a caped Krypto under the party banner. More than any previous, this cover stands as distilled essence of the series entire, embodying its mesh of jocular tragedy.
We impatiently long to feast on the birthday cake slice of issue #10, to witness again the maddeningly precision pairing of King’s words and Gerads’ imagery, and to cry over them until we laugh. This cover is its Dark Knight chocolate buttercream frosting.
Mister Miracle #10 by Nick Derington. (DC)
JJ: There is no cosmic horror without pants-shitting existential dread. Nick Derington remembered. Defy sanity and meet the gaze of this despot, his eyes emanating the Omega, your end mere milliseconds away. *shudder*
Perhaps the end is already here. Derington’s portrait of Darkseid is a study in foreboding, of shadow, the abyss given form. The vile essence of his subject glows from between cracks of age and violence, his massive form dissipating into the ink-black forever that lies here and beyond. You! You who would face Darkseid, behold your end. And before you go, consider what that means: Before you were nothing. Then he regarded you, briefly, as you might regard a fly. And in that fleeting moment, you were among a legion, a countless number of victims laid low by the Omega beams of the great and terrible Darkseid. And now you are dust. Nothing. Forgotten. Your name won’t merit a mention in the titanic Apokoliptian histories and no one will mourn you. You, lost to the expanse of time.
I don’t know how Nick Derington made this happen. I don’t have the training to parse out the skill on display here. I can only relate how this piece makes me feel, and I feel cold, the only appropriate way to feel in the presence of Darkseid. I regard this cover with awe, and my imagination can only conjure the worst. Well done.
Shade the Changing Woman #6 by Becky Cloonan (DC’s Young Animal)
SM: Where does our ability to connect to another person end? Is it at the end of our fingertips; at the surface of our skin? Or does a part of our selves expand beyond our physical boundaries, and into theirs? If we could see it, would we all be walking around like venn diagrams? What happens when you’re connected to a dangerous person? Is there any way to take all of those parts of your self back that you’ve let out?
Shade, The Changing Woman is a great lens through which to examine these questions. In this final installment of her story, Shade must come to terms with where she fits into this life and her body, all while facing the horrible secrets her mentor has been hiding from her. She’s tested the limits of how far she can remove her self from her body. Now it’s time to reconcile the two.
Seven to Eternity #10 by Jerome Opeña, Matt Hollingsworth and Erika Schnatz. (Image Comics)
MJ: After a hiatus of nearly a year, Seven to Eternity is back for its long-awaited third storyarc, along with this astonishing cover from Jerome Opeña and Matt Hollingsworth.
As always, the cover is formatted like a Seventies-era movie poster, and Erika Schnatz’s production design makes for a flawless resemblance. Opeña keeps this structure in mind with every cover, his Struzan-esque montage always expertly rendered, balanced. Here, the detail, from facial expressions, hair, and fabric to, well…everything, is captivating. Opeña proves himself one of the best cover artists in modern comics again and again.
The warmth of Hollingsworth’s colors suggests the dusty desert settings of the old Westerns this series often calls to mind. The floating balloon city of Skod dreamily billows above, its light pastels complementing the bolder reds and earth tones of the detailed foreground characters. Opeña and Hollingsworth are an incredible team, and this series’ return to a regular schedule is a boon to art lovers (and readers) everywhere.
The Immortal Hulk #4 by Alex Ross (Marvel)
JJ: I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but Alex Ross has been quietly accomplishing some of the best work of his career in the last couple years. Marvel benefits greatly from it. So do we.
Maybe it’s the years of painting the same characters set in every conceivable, impossible angle again and again and again that’s done it. Maybe through this diligence Ross has cracked the code, found the most elemental facet to these characters. His formal training allows him to go absolutely insane on the page, but these days? It’s poetry. His cover to Captain America #1, as DoomRocket contributor Brendan Hodgdon so aptly put it, belongs in the Smithsonian. Every successive cover he’s done for The Immortal Hulk, Marvel’s premiere horror title and also one of its best, is a display of Bruce Banner’s primal savagery let loose on the world.
Here Ross embraces a more kinetic presentation than the preceding three issues, pulling in a bit of Hulk iconography while he’s at it. Two pieces of automotive machinery become little more than boxing gloves against whatever monstrosity the Green Goliath faces off-cover, his movement accelerating the closer your eyes get to the bottom. The next instant from this image is calamity—explosions, cracked pavement, radioactive blood spatters. But for now, spare a thought for the poor sap who would take on a resurrected (and very, very pissed off) Incredible Hulk. And relish another wonderful piece from a comics master.
Don’t forget to share your favorite covers from this week in the comments section below. Best response wins a pack of DoomRocket stickers!