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Judging (DC’s December) Books By Their Covers

DC’s December solicits are up (and January is right behind 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!

Wait a sec…wait a sec…is that supposed to be David Cain on this Batgirl cover by Andy Clarke?

If so, it’s David Cain by way of Lennie Small…

Adam Kubert’s sketches are awesome.

I dunno what this Batman: Cacophany cover will look like, but this Kubert sketch, in and of itself, is quite cool.


Not a huge fan of this Stephane Roux Batman Confidential cover.

I think it’s the gun, mostly, it seems kinda odd, and since it the centerpiece of the cover, it throws it off for me.

I love the anatomy of Batman on this Kelley Jones’ Batman After Midnight cover.

How, exactly, is he moving his knee like that?

Gotta give them credit for doing a Batman and the Outsiders comic book without Batman in it.

Jim Calafiore’s cover is not too bad, although I half-expect the book to be pulped for a new cover where it is now “Lit COLA.”

I haven’t done critiques for every other Nightwing cover ever published, so I will be respectful, and not critique this Nightwing cover.


Cool Robin cover by Freddie Williams.

Nice to see Anarky again.

Much…find…color of kryptonite…that…will…make….Ross draw…these Superman covers….dynamically…


This is a cool Tom Mandrake cover, but man, how could they miss the opportunity to extend the title?

Batman and Superman versus Vampires and Werewolves and Demons and I Think Maybe This Other Guy Who Is Really Hairy But Is Likely Not Actually a Werewolf

Lost opportunity, DC! Lost opportunity!!!

Generally speaking, I dig this Phil Noto cover for this Superman/Supergirl mini-series, but it’s not exactly a dynamic cover shot is it? And that is not always an issue, but when a cover is specifically depicting movement, when it is not dynamic, well, that’s kinda odd.


Similarly, this Doug Braithwaite Brave and the Bold cover also comes off as a bit stilted.

I quite like the design, though.

Rafael Albuquerque gets better and better all the time.

Definitely one to watch!

Good cover by Dan Jurgens, but am I nuts or has he used, like, a very similar design before?

I even vaguely recall it involving Booster Gold, too…


Go me!

I like the new cover much better – so good on you, Dan Jurgens!

Very strong Phil Hester El Diablo cover.

Even cooler if you know who Lazarus Lane is!

Nice, solid figure work by George Perez on this Legion of Three Worlds cover.


Could we be seeing the end of bearded Spectre soon?

That’d be sweet.

Fair enough Philip Tan cover for this Final Crisis: Revelations cover.

I’ll let my pal Adam Knave handle this Stelfreeze cover of Flash…


Interesting Ladrönn cover for Black Canary/Green Arrow.

Very Scott Kolins-y.

Pat Gleason, I love you, but what the heck, dude?

This Green Lantern Corps cover makes un-sense.

I know less about the issue having seen this cover than I did before looking at it.

What’s a Green Lantern?

I like Sandra Hope inking Shane Davis better than his previous inker.

That said, I still wish Davis would loosen up a bit – the guy has tons of talent and can have TONS of character in his work, and I’d like to see more of that rather than this generic looking stuff on this Green Lantern cover.

A valiant effort by Dr. Light to blind the reader’s eyes before having to see this Justice League cover by Ed Benes, but sadly, she forgot she is just a comic book character and her light powers do not extend past the cover.

If only, though, if only…

Also, what’s up with Superman ripping off Icon’s domino mask look? Oh, wait, that’s not supposed to be a mask? Oh Benes….

First he somehow only gets 2/3 of the female Leaguers to show their asses and now this?

I loves me some Jordi Bernet, but his Jonah Hex covers have been downright average as of late.

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Just like this one.

I mean, it’s not BAD or anything, but nor is it particularly good.

“Quick, everyone on this JSA cover, follow me into this old Starman cover spread!!”


Francis Manapul tends to be dynamic!

Can’t say that I love the cover concept of this Legion cover, but at least Manapul totally nails the dynamism aspect of it!

Damn, I never knew Manhunter hated Ron Howard films that much.

Fine Brad Walker cover, otherwise.

I like the cover setup on this Rann/Thanagar War cover by Starlin.

Thanos looks ominous, as well!

Woah, Justiniano sure draws some scary looking Pez dispensers!

Strong Reign of Hell cover.

I was in a candy store the other day, and the choices for Pez dispensers was sorely lacking. The fish head guy from Pirates of the Caribbean? Wha?!?

I know, Sarge, that IS a scary looking Pez dispenser!

Seriously, very cool Billy Tucci Sgt. Rock cover.

If he could just un-pretty his art a LITTLE bit more, he’d be amazing for this project.

Scott Hampton has a replacement part for the Pez dispenser!

Wow, 15 issues of Simon Dark already? Good on you, DC! Good on you!

Nice cover by Hampton, by the by – catchy little thing.

Did I see people knocking Paul Smith recently?

How do you not like Paul Smith?

The guy’s awesome!

This Spirit cover, for instance, is not nearly his best work and it is still quite good!

Cute Secret Six cover idea by Nicola Scott, but it is not all that striking of a cover.

I’d have made the van take up more of the cover – making it small like this was an odd decision and not one I think helps the cover.

I think Brad Walker has been progressing quite well as an artist.

This Tangent cover is a strong piece of work.

Decent Terra cover by Amanda Conner.


I like tertiary villains a lot – I think they fill an important little niche in comics, so it irks me when they keep getting killed for little or no plot reasons.

So I’m all for Bolt coming back to life – his death was poor.

Pretty good Joe Bennett cover featuring Bolt and Bolt Jr.

Hmmm…that’d be a nice name for this Terror Titans series, no? Tertiary Titans….

I like Howard Porter’s cover layout here, although I think his figure work still needs some, well, work.


I think far too many of these Trinity triptychs are coming up with very bland, colorform covers.

Mix it up some!

Last month’s covers were clever, so it CAN be done!

Hehehe…tertiary titans…that’s classic.

Ahem, okay, not a bad Eddy Barrows cover here.

Although I think the idea for the cover outstripped the execution of the cover.

I like this Joshua Middleton cover for The War That Time Forgot.

It’s like he’s taking the basic cover motif of his Vixen covers and applying them here!


Is Nemesis going undercover as Jimmy Olsen?

Otherwise, this is a fine Wonder Woman cover by Aaron Lopresti.

Clever Jay Stephens cover for Cartoon Network Action Pack.


This Andy Suriano cover for Cartoon Network Block Party is pretty bland, though.

Very colorform-y.

Very cute Supergirl cover by Eric Jones.


Terra throwing rocks is such a cute gag by Art Baltazar.


I’m intrigued by Simon Coleby’s thought process on the design of this Authority cover, but I don’t think the colors work for what he’s trying to achieve – it’s not clear enough.


Jonathan Wayshak definitely seems to achieve what he set out to do with this Ferryman cover.


I really love Mike Huddleston’s artwork, but I am not thrilled with his Gen13 covers.

They definitely show his strong artistic abilities, but they have not been all that dynamic and/or striking.

They’re certainly not bad covers, but I expect more from an artist as awesome as Huddleston.

I actually enjoyed some of the Gears of War covers so far, but this Brandon Badeaux cover is a bit of a mess, all in all.

Unless, I dunno, do all the Gears of War people have the anatomy of old He-Man figures?

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If so, my apologies, Mr. Badeaux! You did the best with what you had to work with!

Brian Stelfreeze can draw a cover like this blindfolded while underwater with sharks nipping at his legs.

I expect a little more from him, to be honest. It’s an all right cover (the book is called Mirror’s Edge, by the way), but I know Stelfreeze can have the strong figure work of this cover and add it to an interesting background, and not just a flat one like this.

I like Mario Alberti, but I don’t think this cover for Push is getting across the concept he means to convey.

At least, I believe we are supposed to get a bit of a scary/spooky vibe from this, and instead, it’s just a well-drawn cover of a woman with a migraine – or telepathy (I always mix those up, visually).

Definitely an interesting Storming Paradise cover by Butch Guice.


A bit of a “interior panel” cover here by Leandro Fernandez for this Stormwatch cover.


Nice Top Ten cover by Gene Ha, although it is not all that striking.

Still, it’s Gene Ha art, it is typically going to BE good.

Decent Wildcats cover by Neil Googe.


I like the cover idea that Ludo Lullabi is going with here, but I think it could be delivered a whole lot clearer.

Then again, perhaps it is just that his particular art style does not necessarily translate to these types of covers – it is a bit hard to get across certain concepts when you’re using cartoon-y artwork.

Fine drawing of a monster by Chris Robinson.

I don’t think it would make anyone want to buy an issue of World of Warcraft: Ashbringer, but it is a fine monster drawing!

Tony Shasteen definitely did a photo likeness of David Duchovny for this X-Files cover.

Is that just really easy to do nowadays, though?

Can computer make it so you can basically transfer faces simply from one medium to another?

Getting down to the nitty gritty here on 100 Bullets!

Very spooky Dave Johnson cover.

This is a lovely piece of artwork by M.K. Perker for this Air cover, but it is also not striking in the least bit.

Yet another “interior panel” cover.

Cute Dean Haspiel cover for the American Splendor trade.


John Paul Leon took over cover duties from Brian Wood so smoothly that I didn’t even notice!

Both fellows are great cover designers, and this DMZ cover by Leon is no exception.

Decent Greatest Hits cover by Glenn Fabry.

Definitely a Fabry-esque cover, huh?

This Glenn Fabry cover for House of Mystery mixes his usual style up a bit with the added “face against the glass” bit.

Good cover.

Henry Flint quickly gets the point across on this Haunted Tank cover.

Nice work.

Intriguing cover by Brian Bolland for Jack of Fables.

I have no idea what is going on, and I am interested in what the deal is, so congrats, Bolland!


An interesting use of perspective by Amy Reeder Hadley on this Madame Xanadu.

I think it might be just a tad TOO odd, perspective-wise, but if so, just a tad. It’s a good cover.

Whether I like this Unknown Soldier cover or not, Igor Kordey certainly delivers a striking piece of work.

Striking good or striking bad is the question, I suppose…

David Lapham is one trippy dude, as shown by the latest Young Liars cover.



I dunno why, but this particular Veitch cover for Army@Love amused me a bit more than previous ones.


A great cover for a great idea by DC – collecting all their Ben 10 stories from Cartoon Network Action Pack into a trade paperback!

Only, they waited until the Ben 10 show was replaced by a new show starring a teenaged Ben 10.

And they’re not released this book until two weeks after Christmas.

So…hmmm…I guess I should say….

A great idea by DC for Christmas 2007!!

Striking Middleton Vixen cover.

Part of the striking nature IS the eeriness of the whole thing, but still, it’s striking!

Straightforward cover concept for this Superman/Batman cover by Rags Morales, but the simple concept was executed wonderfully.

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I really dig this Gary Frank Action Comics cover featuring the Creature Commandos.

Frank’s almost always a wonderful layout artist for his covers, I usually just have a problem with the stiffness of his figures, but when dealing with monsters, it totally works!

So great cover.

Striking work by John Paul Leon on the late and lamented (or rather, should I say lamented because it is so late) Winter Men.

I sure do love me my usage of negative space.
Very clever cover idea by Alex Ross for this Batman cover.

The execution is a bit on the bland side, but the idea is quite clever!

Also, cool to see Bullock on a cover! That’s quite rare!

A bit out of season (this would work great in February), this Scott Gross Looney Tunes cover is still a strong, dynamic piece of work.


I know it’s only a simple change, but darnit, it’s cute!

Like the old story about Edison, it’s knowing where to put the nail!

Another striking Middleton work.

He really has an eye for the dynamic.

I wish I could see him do some more interiors.

I don’t think the color wash helps this Ex Machina cover, but overall, an extremely clever and cute cover by Tony Harris.

In another month, I could see this in the Top Five.

Massimo Carnevale’s Northlanders covers are so visceral – it’s amazing.


Jock should, like, teach a course on awesome cover layouts.

This Scalped cover is deceptively simple, yet elegant in its tragic repose.

Hilarious Darwyn Cooke cover for Ambush Bug.

Cooke is so awesome.

Walt Simonson matches Middleton with his own striking cover work, for the new Vigilante series.


Before we go any further, do note that I have an extreme bias that pops up whenever December covers are at hand – so take that into mind that I love Christmas covers!


5. J. Bone continues his trend of excellent Super Friends covers with this Holiday themed cover.


4. Robert Pope creates an awesome cover image for this Scooby Doo cover.

The perfect type of cover for a parent looking for a Stocking Stuffer – it is bright, filled with cool looking characters – great cover.

3. Frank Quitely also likes to fill his covers with lots of cool stuff, and this Birds of Prey cover is no exception.

It’s practically Where’s Walso-esque with the level of attention given to the background!

And an awesome dynamic shot, too.

2. A stunningly somber and beautiful piece of work by James Jean on Fables.

I suppose Jean can help teach Jock’s cover class, too.

1. This Lee Bermejo cover had all the things you need to appeal to me – it is a cool anniversary issue cover AND it is a Christmas cover!

What can I say? I love Christmas covers!

That’s my top five! Share YOUR top five and YOUR prejudices, as well!


Understanding the Green Lantern Corps cover requires some prior knowledge and making the right connection. It’s the particularly loathsome Sinestro Corps villain Kryb:

That “Air” cover by Perker seems to be an homage to the famous painting “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth.

Take a look for yourself:

I don’t know that it impacts your criticism at all, but the choice of homage likely impacts how striking the cover can be if you don’t catch the reference.

I know less about the issue having seen this cover than I did before looking at it.

Huh. I can’t tell if you are being sarcastic or not. I think if you know the premise, that cover is actually very well done and fairly creepy (it’s an issue about Krybb, a Sinestro Corps member who steals children of GLC members and stores them in his body, and the cover is clearly from the point of view of a baby trapped inside Krybb.)

I dunno, do all the Gears of War people have the anatomy of old He-Man figures?

Yes, actually. Gears of War is pretty much the most laughably excessive (see also: chainsaw bayonets) game franchise I’ve ever seen, especially considering how seriously it takes itself.

The usual notepad compilation follows (longer than usual, I think…)

– That Nightwing cover has a lot of coins on it… that must be common on all Nightwing covers, and DC covers as a whole.

– Was that GL / Plas / Booster cover the “Booster and Beetle start a delivery service using the JLA teleporters” story? If so, that’s a GREAT story (and another one of those GL stories that only work with Kyle as the lead character, since he can be the straight man while being funny).

– Why would Wally wear socks in the boots to begin with? Sure, the boots would stink, but the entire costume gets the air sucked out of it anyway to fit in the ring so it’s not like there’d be too much smell. Dammit, thinking this through is gonig to bug me for like a week now.

– Thanos would really be high up on the list of Marvel characters that’d work better in DC, wouldn’t he? I mean, sure, he’s very Darkseid-ish, but he always seems to outgun the entire Marvel Universe save the Surfer.

– The bullets on the Spirit cover look like they’re slicing his arm into bits. You’ve got (x) number of colours and you make them the same colour as the background? Bad, bad colourist (and, yes, I get that the bad guys are monochromatic).

– I’m assuming that the Secret Six cover isn’t a final, since the newest member isn’t on it.

– $20 says that it’s not actually the Trinity on that Trinity cover. Although… is that the Batman Begins version of Wayne Tower in the background of the Wonder Woman one? Has that change been made official?

– The Gears of War characters make He-Man look like he’s cycled off HGH for a couple of months.

– Geez, how the heck do you do a third-person Mirror’s Edge cover? Talk about missing the point (if you wanted to show the lead character, show her in a reflection or something).

– Since Looney Tunes is primarily a newstand title… would the cover show up at the right time with delays / etc.? Maybe that’s the reasoning. Although seeing the other Christmas-themed covers later, I guess not.

– Geez, the Fables funeral won’t be until December?

Thanks, Thok!

I still don’t think the cover is a good one, but at least now I understand what Gleason was going for! Thanks!

Thanks to you, too, Dave!

So my apologies to Mr. Badeaux!!

I would guess the Batman: Cacophony cover will say “BANG”, although I think that may have been done on the cover for #1?

Checking out DC’s solicits for the series, “Walt J. Flanagan” is doing the art. Is that his buddy that runs Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash? If so, I didn’t know he’d done comics before.

Might as well take next month off, Brian – although having it be THEME COVER MONTH (in this case, villains on black backgrounds for “Faces of Evil”) may be neat, you’re not going to have much to work with. :)

The AIR cover is an homage (or whatever) to Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World,” no? Which I’m sure will result in sales of, oh, approximately zero extra copies …

It’s the same Walt Flanagan, Josh.

He has done some art work over at IDW, but this is his biggest comics project so far.

Nevermind on both counts.

Cover #1 says “Snap”, and I’ll stick with “Bang” for #2. Although it kind of ruins what i hoped would be a snap, crackle, pop triptych.

It is Smith’s friend doing the art. Thanks google!

Yes, Dan, it is.

Might as well take next month off, Brian – although having it be THEME COVER MONTH (in this case, villains on black backgrounds for “Faces of Evil”) may be neat, you’re not going to have much to work with. :)

Heck, it might make things easier! :)

- That Nightwing cover has a lot of coins on it… that must be common on all Nightwing covers, and DC covers as a whole.

I was going to respond, but then I thought, “Wait, a response to an analogy responding to an analogy? That’s too complicated!” :D

That cover for “Air” is referencing Andrew Wyeth’s “Christina’s World”


My very first thought when I opened the page and saw a glance of the first cover:

“Why is Toad attacking Batgirl?”

(Although, I don’t actually know who David Cain is, so that probably helped my confusion.)

I think the Quitely cover is the best. It manages to capture everything great about comics in one image.

“Much…find…color of kryptonite…that…will…make….Ross draw…these Superman covers….dynamically…”

Ha! That’s laugh-out-loud funny. Good one, Brian.

In other matters: I used to enjoy these “Judging Covers” posts a ton, and I still do — but only sorta. I have a problem: I can’t see a good quarter or so of the covers! The ones that drop out are mostly near the end of the post, which means all the covers that Brian actually ranks are just tiny blue icons with question marks on them. I’d guess that maybe there’s too much to download on this one CSBG page, but that never used to happen on my computer before, and obviously everyone else can see them, so … WTF? Do I have to change some sort of setting? Thanks to anyone who can help me see all the pretty pictures.

Am I the only one who’s wondering why someone hasn’t connected Lazarus Lane to Lois Lane yet? Because that’s exactly the kind of thing writers like to do; he even has double L’s.

I was about to disregard the Cooke cover until I saw the Atom pointing and laughing too.


October 20, 2008 at 8:06 pm

At least, I believe we are supposed to get a bit of a scary/spooky vibe from this, and instead, it’s just a well-drawn cover of a woman with a migraine – or telepathy (I always mix those up, visually).

I dunno man, if this is tied into the movie Push, then going by the trailer, having any sort of vibe whether scary/spooky or anything, is definitely not on the agenda.
Looks like one bland piece of shit trying to tie into the ‘Heroes’ meme, but trying to ignore the fact that it’s audience has seen Heroes, and so seen everything done in the film done in the show (if not the six thousand times other shows, films, books and comics that have done it before).

(Honestly, they are being hunted by a division of the government called ‘Division’??? That’s so shit…)

Wow that Tiny Titans cover is adorable. I think I have to pre-order it just for that cover.

If for any reason Wonder Woman gets killed, I’d hate to see Donna Troy taking over. I mean, this plot has been hinted to death and it just doesn’t work :s

Can’t argue with the Hellblazer cover as the best, but i’d have also ranked that beauty El Diablo piece and Butch Guice’s Storming Paradise. The Birds Of Prey cover was also really fun (is that a plastic man sighting?) and the return of the Creature Commandos makes me all kinds of happy on the inside, even if i thought the actual image was kind of lame.

Thanks for doing this, Brian, good stuff as always…

Wait. You LIKE Simon Dark? It’s the second-worst DC comic of the decade after Countdown. And twice as pointless.

I don’t personally like it, but I like that DC is willing to give it time before canceling it.

It always impresses me when companies allow low-selling books time to gain an audience.

Sue and Omar’s comments were caught by the spam filter, so that’s why they don’t seem to make sense in the context of the comments (just as a warning for any future reader of this comment section).

Hey, guys !

Brian, why is it the December solicitations when DC just released the january Solicits ??
Wasn’t this column in synch with the solicitations, why is it a month later now ?

Not that important though.
Good job, I wonder how much time does it take you to come with a commentary for each cover ?

My 1rst though for the Kelley Jones’ Batman After Midnight cover & the anatomy thing, was that that’s what you get when you have a tied woman as a Christmas gift for the godamn Batman, very Tex Avery, hehe.

How is it each time that I see a Alex Ross cover, I think “Soon available as a very expensive litho !!!” should be added to the cover ?!

If that Flash cover was adaptated to a cop, that would be a cool cover with a gun & a badge but when it comes to the Flash, it’s pretty stupid.

Just love the drop of blood on the Sgt. Rock cover… Justiniano’s really reminds me of Tim Truman… And I think I’d prefer Truman’s version…

The best Alex Ross cover is definitely the Batman one… Agree with your Top Five, though I’m surprised you didn’t bump the All-Star Super-Santa up… (Is that for some kind of All-Star Special?)

Thanks for the Flash love. The problem is I don’t think you can make that idea work as an image. No socks and it’s a blinking and stoppage of play type moment. But with socks would, honestly, be worse. I don’t know the right way out of that except to maybe show him in full normal clothes carrying the whole costume?

I won’t be the eighth person to point out the “Christina’s World” homage, but I will mention that, much like the “Gears of War” comic, the “Mirror’s Edge” cover sticks very close to the design and color scheme of the video game it’s based on. It looks a lot like the screenshots I’ve seen of the game, although from a new angle.

The Looney Toons cover appears to be an homage to Prizzi’s Honor:

I’m blanking on who the albino goth chick squaring off with Saturn Girl is. Costume looks similar to one on Shadys, but otherwise I’m at a loss.

Some nice work here but not all of it works in cover form.

The Morales Superman/Batman cover is some fine artwork but tells us nothing of interest. To me, it looks like a pin-up…and that’s what it should have been. Alex Ross never seems to do less than good work but he’s not bringing much new to the table. One exception (you liked it, too) is the Batman cover with Gordon and the bat. Again, it’s as much a pin-up as anything else — it doesn’t draw you to buy the comic, does it? — but it’s good stuff.

Love the James Jean cover for Fables. I’m sorry to hear that he’s leaving. And the Northlander cover? Absolute art, man, and great to see. But my favorite DC cover of the month? The Gary Frank/Creature Commandos piece. Wow!

Are we going to see the top 5 covers for the year at some point in the near future?

Probably, David – that’s why I made sure to, at the very least, do Top Fives for each month, to preserve the covers for a future “Top Covers of the Year” thing.

Last year I did them in the form of an advent calendar, but I won’t be doing that again this year – so I dunno what I’m going to do – we shall see!

Thanks – will we be looking at the January covers soon?

cada desenho mais lindo que o outro! estou fascinado com tanta arte maravilhosa! adorei o desenho da vindix correndo entre os animais! agarota de cabelos pretos muito gata acho que é a Terra! e os Wildcats onde aparece um chifrudão e uma gostosa! e o sexteto secrteo com o homem-gato em cima do furgão! very fantastic!

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