Written by: Joey Esposito, Special to CC2K
Every month, dozens of books are released, sometimes with five different covers. What's in a cover? Well, comics are one of the few mediums where we can literally judge a book by its cover. Sure, the art on the inside may not be by the same artist, and often times probably not even close to the same quality. But, what is it that attracts us to a book we've never noticed before? Exactly – the cover.
There are some artists who make their living simply doing covers for a series on a monthly basis. In many ways, the cover is one of the most important parts of a book. It draws you in, it sets you up for the mood of the story inside, and it makes a certain unspoken promise about the quality of the book to follow. In a nutshell, it's the first thing we see as readers. That's why CC2K is introducing a new monthly feature putting together the five best covers from the past month.
June saw a plethora of quality releases and covers to go along with them, but these are the cream of the crop, and unusually, they are all mainstream superhero books that take the cake this month!
Runner-up: Ex Machina #37 (seen above)
Cover by Tony Harris
Tony Harris' work on Ex Machina and every other series he's been featured on has always been phenomenal. Very rarely does he disappoint, and when he does it's really only to a small degree. That said, his covers are always very creative and attention grabbing, and issue #37 is no different. Right away, the front and center Republican Party Elephant should grab your attention, mixed in a montage with the Great Machine and the new "freak" that has recently been introduced in the latest arc. What's really great about Harris' covers is that they are not misleading, what you see on the outside is truly what's in store for you on the inside.
5. Nightwing #145
Cover by Andy Kubert
Dick Grayson is a badass. And it's a good thing that Andy Kubert knows it. Ever since Dick ditched the pixie-style Robin costume and the original God-knows-what-the-hell-that-was Nightwing outfit, he has had a black and blue jumpsuit of badassery since. I'm not a regular reader of this series, but this cover does it's job well and intrigues me to want to check out what's inside. Of particular interest to me is the classic angle up on Nightwing as he stalks the city, suggesting not only his menace and intimidation (shades of Batman anyone?), but his emergence as a force all his own. Also interesting is Kubert's composition as he stacks another character on top of Nightwing, thus suddenly making this villain the more menacing as she hovers violently over him.
4. Wonder Woman #21
Cover by Aaron Lopresti
Since Gail Simone has taken over Wonder Woman, the series has been very much instilled with the sort of majestic sensibilities that one would expect from the character. And while I truly did enjoy the Dodson's work on the series' covers previous, Lopresti brings to light Simone's take on the character and this cover is a great example of that. I love the selected nature of the composition, as well as the mystery that the mutated hand provides. Moreover, my favorite part of this cover is, strangely enough, the border and the use of the lasso. It's such a simple idea that adds much to the character of the cover, surrounding Wonder Woman with things that are so essential to her nature. Here's looking forward to a great many wonderful covers from Lopresti.
3. Runaways #30
Cover by Jo Chen
God dammit, the Runaways covers are beautiful. This one in particular really has nothing to do with the plot inside, but this washed out image of Nico and Chase standing back to back alongside an old withered tree is simply stunning. If you look closely, you'll see how finely detailed the line work is in things like their clothing and hair, and the coloring is simply gorgeous. The soft glow on each of their faces brings out their wonderfully detailed expressions and portrays great characterization. I realize that this month has been generally DC-sided, but this cover to Runaways #30 more than makes up for Marvel's lack of awesome covers this past month. Now they just need to make their covers available without their obnoxius red band watermark.
2. Superman #677
Cover by Alex Ross
What can be said here? If you are looking for iconic, look no further than an Alex Ross painting. His work is instantly recognizable to comic fans across the globe, and this issue of Superman continues Ross' trend of showing our favorite heroes in some of their most iconic images. In this case, the familiar image of Superman holding up the destroyed globe of the Daily Planet building in the streets of Metropolis. The thing I love about Ross' cover work is that nearly every cover he paints could be mass produced as an art print or poster and displayed on a wall. To me, that's the chief indicator of a great cover artist.
1. Catwoman #80
Cover by Adam Hughes
Yes, I am biased towards Catwoman. So, is this list fair? Probably not, but don't worry – her book only has one issue remaining. Regardless, Adam Hughes can draw females like no other (clearly). And it's not that he draws great cleavage that attracts me to his work (though it helps), it's that his cover designs are truly creative and portray amazing characterization in both body language and facial expressions. There's a reason that DC assigned Hughes to draw the gorgeous "Women of DC" piece, and this cover is one of those reasons. Though not my favorite of his Catwoman work, the mischief he manages to bring in this image of Selina Kyle is second to none. Note that saying it's not my "favorite" doesn't really say much: there is not one bad cover in all of Hughes' run on the book. These covers, along with the stories inside, will be sorely missed.