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Judging (DC’s June) Books By Their Covers

DC’s June solicits have been up for so long that July’s are just now upon us, so let’s make some prejudgments based just on the covers (as we all love to make prejudgments, don’t we?).

Let’s begin!
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Strong design by Gary Frank for this Action Comics cover.

When Frank is drawing covers that are not as active, he is a really strong cover artist.
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Can’t say that I exactly get what is going on on this Shane Davis cover for Superman/Batman.

Also, what’s on Batman’s lower torso? It looks like a ring for…some reason, I presume, I just can’t think why.
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Very nice design work on this Supergirl cover by Drew Johnson.


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Is this even the first time these two characters have been on a cover using this particular homage?

Still, I do love how Rafael Albuquerque draws Robin on this Robin/Spoiler one-shot cover.
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I dunno exactly what about this Freddie Williams Robin cover that puts me off…

perhaps it is the stance Robin is in – it doesn’t look like lifting Batman up like Robin is doing on the cover is taking an exertion. It’s strange.
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This Nightwing cover is one of the stronger Andy Kubert covers I’ve seen as of late…

Although I did enjoy Andy Kubert’s contributions to Countdown last year.
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Decent Jim Calafiore drawing of the Penguin.

I think the large poster formed from these Gotham Underground covers works well, actually.
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Standard enough Kelley Jones cover, but a standard Kelley Jones cover is still a good one!

Interesting layout and bizarre cover ideas (I especially like the candles on Batman’s neck).
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Dougie Braithwaite’s covers for Batman and the Outsiders are getting less impressive each month, it seems.

Still a good cover, though – nice core image, with a nice satellite of interesting visual pieces.
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Decent Yoshinori Natsume cover for the latest Death Mask issue.


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I appreciate Alex Ross trying different things with his Batman covers, but I don’t think the design works.

It’d be awesome, though, if it was Looker guest-starring! Remember when she showed up fairly randomly in an issue of Grant/Breyfogle’s Detective Comics in 1990 or so? Has Batman’s Outsiders tenure been referenced in an issue of Batman since then?
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I’m not thrilled with his Batman, but Jim Lee’s Robin continues to be awesome on these All Star Batman and Robin covers.


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GREAT DUSTIN NGUYEN DRAWINGS THAT I DON’T THINK WORK AS COVERS

First, a nice drawing of Batman on this Detective Comics cover…

and next, a nice drawing for this Supernatural cover.


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Not much to this Eddy Barrows’ Teen Titans cover, but what IS there is done well enough.

Hey, is the Copperhead on the Terror Titans the original Copperhead, or a new one?
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Once again, in the parts of the cover where the Flash and Donna Troy are arguing – that’s more life and charm that I ever expect to see in a Joe Benitez cover, so I’m impressed.

I’m less thrilled with the odd figure work with Nightwing and Starfire, which is fairly prominent on the cover, not to mention how goofy Cyborg looks.

And finally, it’s an awfully odd stylistic choice to have Beast Boy not be in green. Unless that’s not Beast Boy, of course. ;)
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Decent Joe Kubert Spirit cover, although that has got to be one of the weakest workings of a logo into a comic book cover that I recall seeing.

The momentum, the force of the punch, the positioning – it all looks off. Almost like the logo idea was added after the fact, and not part of Kubert’s original cover drawing.
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Another nice looking Simon Dark cover by Scott Hampton.

I really don’t get the idea of trying to tie Simon Dark in with the Batman books, since Batman is not part of the title like, at ALL.

Seems like it defeats the purpose of attempting to package the book as a “Bat-book.” Being in Gotham City is not enough to be a Bat-book.
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Impressive work by Matthew Clark for this Reign in Hell cover.

It’s a much different style for Clark. I dig it.
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One of the more restrained Liam Sharp covers for the return of Manhunter.

Picking up Gaydos to draw the interiors was quite a coup for DC.
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Pretty bland Legion of Superheroes cover by Frances Manapul.

It didn’t have Manapul’s usual flair.
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I’m not enjoying the washed look Ross is using for his JSA covers.


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DC has really got to get Doug Mahnke some regular work.

He’s way too valuable to be wasting him on a title (JSA Classified) that DC is canceling with this issue.
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Another good Bernet Jonah Hex cover.


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Hmmm…well, kudos to the Justice League of America computer graphics guys!

The wind effects are cool looking.
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Fair enough Pete Woods Infinity Inc. cover.

This book is really running out the string, isn’t it?
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Odd cover design by Matthew Clark for this Huntress cover.

No real flow between the two pieces.
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Pretty unimpressive Freddie Williams Flash cover.

I think his work really needs a lot of energy to work, which is fine, as Flash is a book that usually has a lot of energy, but when the book needs a quieter type of story – he doesn’t fit too well.
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I like a lot of the character drawings by Giuseppe Camuncoli on this cover, and for the most part, this DC/Wildstorm crossover cover is pretty good, but parts of the match-ups don’t seem right to me, particularly the most prominent figures, Batman and Zealot.

Is she she ducking? She doesn’t look like she’s ducking, but she has to be ducking, right?

And what is Midnighter doing?

Oh, and who’s fighting Hawksmoor?
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Damion Scott is one of the few comic artists whose covers would fit in well on the wall of a college dorm, like this trippy Raven cover.


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I’m quite disappointed by Ryan Sook’s latest cover, released in conjunction with the Reign in Hell storyline.

For a guy who does amazing character designs and even more amazing cover layouts, both areas seemed lacking on this cover. Generic character looks and a bland cover layout.
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A definite step up from Ken Lashley’s last Cyborg cover.


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Is that Quinn the Eskimo from GI Joe?!?

I loved that there was such a blatant Dylan reference in the pages of GI Joe.

You wouldn’t think that Checkmate covers would be where you’d find ass-shots, but Manuel Garcia proves me wrong.

By the by, let me point out how silly I think it is to not only not take the hand-picked successor of the writer who made the book what it was, but to also use the first storyline of the NEW writer to introduce a possible spin-off character!!!

Chimera might be a cool character, but it seems absurd to use Bruce Jones’ very first Checkmate storyline to introduce the guy!!
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Weird art style by Roux for this Birds of Prey cover.

It’s dynamic, which is great, but Black Canary looks way weird.
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I really do enjoy Rafael Albuquerque’s style, although I have some issues with how he laid out this cover. He did GREAT work on the background, but seemed to do less work on the FOREground, which is usually the opposite of what you’d think an artist would do.

The background is nicely detailed, but the foreground figure doesn’t seem to be all that interesting looking.
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Good Scott Kolins Brave and the Bold cover.

Strong cover design.
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Ladrönn does a fine job on the new Chronos.

She looks suitably strange.


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Another extremely cute Tiny Titans cover by Art Baltazar, but it remains a slight concern for me that he is continues to make these references that you would only get if you followed the Titans comic book.

The book often feels like it is being written for adults.
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Cool Alexander Serra cover for the Legion book, introducing Impulse.

How much longer will there be a Legion comic book?
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It is sad to see Justice League Unlimited go – it was a very strong comic book.

I’d prefer a cover more befitting a final issue, but as a standard cover, this Zach Howard cover is a good one.
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Another strong Batman Strikes cover by Christopher Jones.


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Very cute Cartoon Network Block Party cover by Jay Stephens.


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Interesting Cartoon Network Action Pack cover by Travis Kotzebue.

What is Secret Saturdays about?


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This World of Warcraft cover by Samwise Didier is interesting, because most of the cover looks perfectly fine, except for when Didier adds the character to the drawing, then it looks completely fake.


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A clever Texas Chainsaw Massacre cover by Dave Taylor.


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I think I see a sailboat on this CP Smith Programme cover!!!


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This Ryan Kelly cover is one of the strongest Minx covers I’ve seen so far.


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Good Ivan Reis cover for Number of the Beast.

Reis is working the Ross/Djurdjevic “use strange angles to get interesting visual looks” technique, I see.
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This is a fairly standard cover idea, but at least Lee Garbett executes it well on this Midnighter cover.


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Suitably vampire-y looking cover by Jonathan Wayshack for the Lost Boys.


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I really don’t like how Carlo Barberi draws Casey Blue (the titular character of this book), but damned if those guns hanging in the air don’t look cool!!


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Fair enough Jack Hawksmoor cover by Cully Hamner.


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These solicits for Lapham’s Stray Bullets are not fun, because you know this is not going to be the final cover image.


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Interesting character work on this Vinyl Underground cover by Sean Phillips.


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Pretty uninspiring Un-Men cover by Tomer Hanuka.

I do like that he has moved past simply showing freakish people on the covers.
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Is this Bolland’s rough sketching for a Jack of Fables cover?


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This is a pretty scary House of Mystery cover by Sam Weber, but I think it’d be scary if he was a bit clearer as to what he was drawing.


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Clever cover concept by Lee Bermejo.

I especially dig the fire in Constantine’s eyes.
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Good ending to the series by Philip Bond.


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Another strong cover design by Brian Wood.


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HONORABLE MENTIONS
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When I see this American Splendour cover by Darwyn Cooke, all I can think of is imagining Harvey Pekar re-enact “Goodnight Moon”.

That would be awesome.
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A flying pie is about to hit the Super Friends?

Oh, J. Bone, how I love you.
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I really enjoy the odd cover design for this Final Crisis cover by JG Jones.

It’s the sort of thing that throws the reader off, but in a good way.
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As everyone knows, dinosaurs on the cover of comics usually rocks.

This Starlin cover for his Rann/Thanagar series is no exception.
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Impressive Matt Haley cover for the Tangent storyline.

It’s more impressive if you know that the top character is the Tangent Universe’s Joker, giving the cover an interesting dynamic of Joker and Batman.
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I think Aaron Lopresti will never draw Wonder Woman’s full face on his covers.

That said, this is a very well-designed cover. The frame looks good and makes sense, and the hand is highlighted nicely. This is probably the best cover I’ve seen from Lopresti so far in his career.
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A lovely Fables cover by James Jean.

It’d be in the top five, but I think it’s a bit TOO subdued. Still, a very good piece of art.
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I really dig the design work by Jock Tim Bradstreet on this Scalped cover.

It’s beautifully intricate.
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Perhaps a bit of a step down from the sheer power and energy of last month’s Northlanders cover, but still a strong piece of cover work by Massimo Carnevale.


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Jurgens has been having some iconic looking Booster Gold covers as of late.


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Love the Plastic Man on this Black Canary/Green Arrow cover by Cliff Chiang.


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An imposing Green Lantern Corps by Pat Gleason.


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Good Adam Hughes Catwoman cover, but I think that it needs a bit more personality.

For now, the pearls are the only thing giving the work a bit of flair, and that’s not a lot.
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Kubert delivers again with a sound Tor cover.

I’d REALLY be into them if he just made the center image a bit more interesting – this is two covers in a row where the cover is well designed, but then the main image is just a standard Kubert Tor drawing – do note that “standard Kubert Tor drawing” is still quite good, just not great.
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A great Kevin Maguire cover, made even greater if you recall last month’s Batman Confidential cover.


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TOP FIVE
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5. I have been loving Karl Kerschl’s Teen Titans Year One drawings, but I especially love them when they tie into the plot of the comic, like this one.

Extremely effective work by Kerschl.
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4. A great introductory cover for Madame Xanadu #1 by Amy Reeder Hadley (Matt Wagner is doing the VARIANT cover, I see).

The details – the design, everything is just spot on.
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3. I’ve long been impressed by Scott Gross’ use of perspective on his covers, and this latest Looney Tunes cover is no difference – look at the way he brilliantly creates depth on this cover!!

Add to that a fairly humorous concept (okay, it’s not THAT funny, but it’s a great visual, at least), and this is a winning cover.
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2. Dinosaurs on covers rock, especially if they are drawn by Brian Bolland and fighting a Viking Prince, like this The War That Time Forgot cover.


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1. One of the best Alex Ross covers that I’ve seen in quite awhile.

One of the great iconic Superman images, and Ross’ pulls it off brilliantly.
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That’s it for this month! Feel free to share your prejudices (and YOUR top five!)!

40 Comments

All the Terror Titans are new versions of old characters. There’s even a Persuader. who’s a girl. I guess she would technically be the first Persuader.

Midnighter is clearly boogying on that DC/Wildstorm cover.

Tor – Why is the tiger looking into the camera? Shouldn’t he be looking at his prey?

DC vs. Wildstorm – I think that’s Karate Kid fighting Hawksmoor.

Also, I don’t think kids will care about knowing the references on Tiny Titans covers. As a kid, I wasn’t particularly concerned with getting every single allusion, as long as I could follow the plot. Kids will go along with it, and then if they read back issues as a later age, they’ll retroactively get the reference.

That Scalped cover is Tim Bradstreet, I believe. Which actually makes it more impressive, I think – I expect awesome design from Jock, but from Bradstreet I generally expect some guy standing up against the wall. It’s a really nice cover – I really didn’t think Bradstreet had that kind of talent.

All the Terror Titans are new versions of old characters. There’s even a Persuader. who’s a girl. I guess she would technically be the first Persuader.

Has that been said, thought?

That’s why I actually asked about whether it was a new Copperhead, because, as you note, all the rest are new versions of established characters, but I don’t believe they ever actually SAY that in the comic, so it could be that they are all new versions except for Copperhead, because the old Copperhead is still around.

If it’s been said, though, then that works. :)

The Madame Xanadu cover is by Amy Reeder Hadley.

That Scalped cover is Tim Bradstreet, I believe. Which actually makes it more impressive, I think – I expect awesome design from Jock, but from Bradstreet I generally expect some guy standing up against the wall. It’s a really nice cover – I really didn’t think Bradstreet had that kind of talent.

Oh crap, you’re totally right!

I didn’t even look at the credits. And yes, agreed – nice to see Bradstreet be this creative.

Thanks for the pick-up!

Isn’t Looker still dead? I mean, I would love if it was Looker, but wouldn’t they have to explain why she’s alive?

You wrote “Stray Bullets.” You meant to write “Young Liars.” Unless you were making a joke, as Young Liars is similar to Stray Bullets and Lapham ought to be working on Stray Bullets.

Is that Wagner, or Hadley? It doesn’t really look like Wagner all that much. Did he design it and Hadley pencil it?

It’s been said in some interview or other.

And I agree with Dan on the references. The old ALF comics were full of references I didn’t get at the time (sometimes whole stories were built around them), but it didn’t really matter to me.

Copperhead got turned into a human/snake hybrid (and died, I think), while the one in Teen Titans looks like a guy in the original snake suit. That and the fact Clock King’s other goons are clearly new versions of old villains points to this being a new guy.

There’s also been a present day version of the Persuader before, he got killed in 52.

Old Copperhead isn’t still around, actually. Died in an early issue of MANHUNTER.

Really? That Superman cover? Meh. Not only have we seen it before, but the majority of the central figure is in shadow. Realistic, sure, but interesting, no.

It should probably be mentioned that Karl Kerschl’s Teen Titans Year One cover is an homage to a classic Nick Cardy Titans cover.

Wow!

What were the chances of all the dudes on the Booster Gold cover being the same height?!

My pick? The Teen Titans Year One cover. Loves it.

Thanks Brian!

Also, I don’t think kids will care about knowing the references on Tiny Titans covers. As a kid, I wasn’t particularly concerned with getting every single allusion, as long as I could follow the plot. Kids will go along with it, and then if they read back issues as a later age, they’ll retroactively get the reference.

But i think whole jokes of the comic are based on stuff you’d only get if you read the comics.

Other stuff, though, is funny period!!

The Madame Xanadu cover is by Amy Reeder Hadley.

Thanks, Mike! Fixed!

Isn’t Looker still dead? I mean, I would love if it was Looker, but wouldn’t they have to explain why she’s alive?

Looker is not dead, she’s Infinite Crisis #7 dead. It’s different.

I don’t count most of those Infinite Crisis #7 deaths, because they made little to no sense – and a lot of them were indecipherable. Unless someone did a story after that issue discussing their deaths, I presume they’re still alive.

Especially since Looker was a vampire when she was Infinite Criss #7 killed – aren’t vampires pretty resilient?

You wrote “Stray Bullets.” You meant to write “Young Liars.” Unless you were making a joke, as Young Liars is similar to Stray Bullets and Lapham ought to be working on Stray Bullets.

Clever, no? :)

It’s been said in some interview or other.

I wonder if it will make its way into the actual comic.

Old Copperhead isn’t still around, actually. Died in an early issue of MANHUNTER.

You’re right!!

I totally forgot.

Man, why kill off Copperhead? Dude was awesome!!

It should probably be mentioned that Karl Kerschl’s Teen Titans Year One cover is an homage to a classic Nick Cardy Titans cover.

Thanks for mentioning it, John! :)

Andrew Collins

April 15, 2008 at 1:02 am

Brian,
If it assuages yours doubts about Looker any, she’s listed as the guest star in the new solicits for Batman And The Outsiders #9 that just came out on Monday. So, apparently getting blown up in IC #7 was only a temporary setback for ol’ Looker…

And I remember her appearance in ‘Tec all those years ago. It was during the “Mudpack” storyline, except it wasn’t really her, but one of the Clayfaces impersonating her.

I’ll never forget the exchange between Batman and the security guard as they spot Looker (Clayface) on a security camera monitor:

Batman: “Looker”
Security Guard: “She sure is!”
Batman: “No, that’s her name…”

You know, I buy Marvel and DC equally, but what does it say about DC’s covers/artists/ (characters?) that I look forward to the Judging DC Books entrry more than I do the Marvel entry. I get a real sense from DC that they are trying to do something different and *gasp* perhaps something artistic with their covers, where with Marvel I often think the theme to their covers is “Here is some stuff that happens in the book this month.”

Andrew: It was Clayface as Looker originally, but she did eventually show up and rescue Batman later on.

…despite the fact that Looker was depowered at the end of “Outsiders”. ‘Sokay, though; the Mudpack arc was better than Outsiders’ “Millenium” crossover-slash-swan song, so ‘Tec wins.

The Calafiore/Penguin cover rocks.

I like the Lopresti/Wonder Woman cover, too, but his best cover art so far was for Sword of Red Sonja: Doom of the Gods #4. You wouldn’t know that, though, because you don’t review the comic covers to the little guys.

(I love your cover reviews. I really want you to expand this thing.)

Here’s where I let my nerd out for the day: I’m pretty sure the Titans cover (w/the odd Nightwing/Starfire figure work) is an homage to the Star Wars Episode II movie poster, w/Nightwing and Starfire in analagous positions to Anakin and Amidala, and the same “black border with a warm background and sunburst effect” motif that was used in all three of the prequel posters.

“Also, what’s on Batman’s lower torso? It looks like a ring for…some reason, I presume, I just can’t think why.”

It’s a fabric wrinkle, not something you see often on a super-suit.

All_STAR_BUMWIPE

April 15, 2008 at 1:57 pm

Homage to Star Wars or not, Cyborg looks like an idiot on that Titans cover.

(I love your cover reviews. I really want you to expand this thing.)

You see how timely I am with the Big Two? ;)

Imagine adding multiple companies to the list! :)

That is a fantastic James Jean cover to Fables, but it’s the kind of cover that put me off to the series initially. It is so different from the style of the comic, it makes the book look more high-concept artsy than the story really is.

But it is an awesome cover.

What is Secret Saturdays about?

An interracial family of cryptozoologists.

It should probably be mentioned that Karl Kerschl’s Teen Titans Year One cover is an homage to a classic Nick Cardy Titans cover.

Specifically, Teen Titans #14.

Cyborg does indeed look ridiculous (and vaguely humiliated) on that Titans cover.

And *another* new costume for Donna Troy? Really?

The washed-out Ross covers- not a fan. Not entirely sure what he’s going for with this look.

I really like that Hellblazer cover.

JLA cover- The whole team has been knocked out apart from Wonder Woman who takes the opportunity to work on her lingerie-moddeling pose….

(By the way- still loving this feature! I really look forward to it. )

I think the artist credits for the Cartoon Network covers may be reversed. Jay Stephens drew the Secret Saturdays image.

As far as the premise goes, on his “Monsterama Blog” the artist has said the series focuses on a family of explorers who both protect the world from unknown menaces, and protect unknown creatures from the outside world.

Hey Brian, are you ever going to get around to doing the Marvel June covers article? I mean the August solits are almost around the corner

I understand you’re busy and everything, I just look forward to these columns each month

well keep up the good work eh.

Hear hear!

I too look forward to these columns… dearly!

Add another vote to “would like to se more judging by their covers” quite soon! Feel…depleted and empty. I really enjoy these…

We’re in extreme danger of having to Judge Marvel’s June books by their contents, and we all hate to do that…

Why only one of the Huntress covers. Two per month for that mini.

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