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CSBG Archive

Judging (DC’s August) Books by Their Covers

First off, thanks for all of the great comments last month — and the surprising lack of “Bring back Brian” e-mails. Now, let’s get to judging DC’s August covers by terribly unfair and harsh standards.

As always, the format:

  • Title, issue number, artist

  • Cover image
  • Comments
  • Covers are in the order they are solicited, for the most part
  • My top five are at the end of the post

Blackest Night #2 by Ivan Reis and Oclair Albert

This is a very, very good cover. The use of green and the pencils is just wonderful. Part of me thinks this isn’t the finished cover and I hope I’m wrong there, because this is just lovely.

Blacket Night: Batman #1 by Andy Kubert

I like it. Nice action shot that could have been drawn from a number of POVs, but this one works.

Blackest Night: Superman #1 by Eddy Barrows and Ruy Jose

Striking and intriguing image that presents the reader with a great idea of what’s inside.

Blackest Night: Titans #1 by Ed Benes and Rob Hunter

I like the concept and the rougher linework is good on Black Lantern Terra, but not so much on Beast Boy. Then again, I’m not a fan of Ed Benes’s pencils or Rob Hunter’s inks, so what do you expect?

Green Lantern #45 by Doug Mahnke and Christian Alamy

Sinestro’s skin colour works to the advantage of this image, making his yellow uniform stand out very well in a sea of violet/purple/pink. It gives the cover some much needed pop since it’s a boring, standard, two characters fighting image.

Green Lantern Corps #39 by Patrick Gleason and Rebecca Buchman

Like the cover to Blackest Night #2, I love the rough pencils and colouring. The image here is much more scary/creepy than the other cover, though. It’s also a bit more dynamic.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run! #4 by KAKO

I like the two characters, very clean linework and colours that jump off the page, but it’s very static and boring at the same time. I’m usually a fan of the use of negative space to draw attention to an image, but in cases like this, simply having the background drop away for two characters standing around itself what I’m talking about.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Escape #4 by Scott Hampton

This series has had some great covers. This isn’t one of them. I understand the use of computer images given the central image — but, the focus of the background being the centre while the character runs towards something else… it just doesn’t make sense to me.

Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance #4 by Stanley “Artgerm” Lau

Not terribly original, but well executed. The way Lau draws their injuries is really well done. And why is the police ID bar in Well-Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash’s mouth?

Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #4 by Brian Stelfreeze

After last month’s mundane tattoo-centric cover, this is a welcome change. Bolder and demonstrates the Tattoo Man’s powers more explicitly. EDIT (May 28): This is actually the second page of Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink #1, not the cover to issue four. Still, it would make a decent enough cover, don’t you think?

Batman: Widening Gyre #1 by Bill Sienkiewicz

Restrained work by Sienkiewicz, but also very engaging and detailed. The sketchier, more “out there” style is saved for Batman, which sets him apart. Very nice.

Batgirl #1 by Phil Noto

A cover we’ve all seen for quite some time and not bad. It works as a teaser image online or as an ad, causing buzz surrounding the identity of Batgirl, but as a cover… I’m not sure.

Batman and Robin #3 by Frank Quitely

Great angle that leads the eye to the centre where Batman and Robin fight this swarm of identical men. Quitely is an expert on this sort of POV.

Detective Comics #856 by JH Williams III

The fur on the animal in the background makes the foreground image that much clearer and emphasises it superbly. Another winner by Williams.

Batman: Streets of Gotham #3 by Dustin Nguyen

The billboard is a nice touch to an otherwise boring cover. Very well drawn and the odd border for the picture is nice, but it doesn’t really draw me in.

Gotham City Sirens #3 by Guillem March

A sexy tease cover that maintains some standard of decorum, going for a more suggestive look than explicit. Reminds me of an old pulp image more than anything.

Batman Confidential #32 by Guillem March

Not nearly as good as his Gotham City Sirens cover, but decent enough. I do like how March can vary his style so much and this is a solid action pic.

Outsiders #21 by Tom Mandrake

A clever image, but a little too busy and vague in execution. The ice, as well, looks more like water than ice.

Adventure Comics #1 by Francis Manapul

A solid concept, showing the two sides of Superboy and spotlighting his return. I will say that this cover does make me want to go on my “So what if Lex Luthor’s genetic material was part of Superboy’s make-up?” rant.

Superman Secret Files 2009 #1 by Aaron Lopresti

A nice concept that ties into the “Secret Files” nature of the comic.

Superman Annual #14 by Renato Guedes

A montage image that doesn’t really work for me. It’s a bit too busy and confusing. The actual artwork is nice, but the composition is a mess (and, for me, the composition of a cover is as important as the art itself).

Superman: World of New Krypton #6, Action Comics #880, Supergirl #44, and Superman #691 by Fernando Dagnino and Raúl Fernandez




A nice concept and a great way to spotlight that these four issues are part of the same story. It also sets up the two sides of the conflict. I like them.

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special #2 by Pere Pérez

Jimmy Olsen in trouble cover #8576. It still works, though.

Superman/Batman #63 by Rafael Albuquerque

HA! Funny, engaging image. The “GRODD” at the top adds well, particularly the lettering.

The Red Circle: The Hangman #1, The Red Circle: Inferno #1, The Red Circle: The Web #1, and The Red Circle: The Shield #1 by Jesus Saiz




Getting one artist to do all four covers is a smart idea — I would have liked a bit more of a unified visual theme, though. None of the images are that engaging or striking. If I were to rank them: Hangman, Web, Shield, Inferno.

Doom Patrol #1 by Matthew Clarke

Fantastic concept, mediocre execution. More of the original cover, a better sense of the trio of characters breaking through — both would have made the cover stronger. It’s kind of blah right now.

Booster Gold #23 by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund

This should work, but… it just reminds me of a shirt design I’d expect to see in Previews that I would never buy. Or wear if given to me.

The Brave and the Bold #26 by Michael Wm. Kaluta

The art on the Spectre is great, but the rest of the figures look rushed and incomplete. A strong design, though.

The Flash: Rebirth #5 by Ethan van Sciver

An homage/allusion cover that works well, because it takes the basic design/story idea of The Flash #123, but distorts it to tell a new story with its image.

Justice League of America #36 by Fabrizio Fiorentino

Great concept and the execution is pretty good, for the most part. Another pencil-heavy cover — is this a new trend at DC or are they falling behind? If it’s a new trend, I approve, because it’s been done a very effective manner so far.

Justice League: Cry for Justice #2 by Mauro Cascioli

The foreground image is great, but the rest leave me cold.

Justice Society of America #30 by Jesus Merino

The speckled colouring effect on Dr. Fate and the background is cool. Fate himself is an imposing/intriguing figure. The villains at the bottom seem like an afterthought, though.

JSA vs. Kobra: Engines of Faith #3 by Gene Ha

I’m not sure what to make of this. The art is great and the cover draws me in. The sky has a water effect that you wouldn’t expect. Huh.

Dead Romeo #5 by Ryan Benjamin

A touching cover, nicely done. It doesn’t make me want to buy the comic, though.

Jonah Hex #46 Cristiano Cucina

A decent image. Nothing special really, but competently done.

Green Arrow & Black Canary #23 by Ladrönn

What is up with the women’s hair? The colouring just doesn’t gel. Their poses is also a bit bothersome since they’re both capable women who are cowering while Ollie does the job. Odd.

The Last Days of Animal Man #4 by Brian Bolland

Okay, this is just gorgeous work. There is something so unsettling about the manner in which Bolland does the shattering/fragmenting effect. The rest of the image is pretty standard, but that effect really elevates this cover.

The Mighty #7 by Dave Johnson

The colouring on this cover is disturbing, which works with the image. Very striking.

R.E.B.E.L.S. #7 by Kalman Andrasofzsky

Good combination of computer effects and regular pencilwork. The drawing is very well done.

Power Girl #4 by Amanda Conner

She is pissed off. Conner’s facial expressions are unmatched. The lack of any sort of background hurts this for me.

Secret Six #12 by Daniel Lu Visi

Gotta love a composition that makes sure there’s just enough room for both sets of breasts on the cover, eh?

Solomon Grundy #6 by Scott Kollins

Kollins’s rougher, cruder linework is very appropriate for these undead characters and this is a great action shot.

The Spirit #32 by Gene Ha

Uh oh! The Spirit is in some capital T Trouble! Something very basic about this that’s also very effective.

Strange Adventures #6 by Jim Starlin and Rob Hunter

This adventure sure looks strange, so this cover lives up to the title. An offbeat composition and image with some Weird balloons. Pretty good.

Titans #16 by Angel Unzueta

WHERE IS THE BACKGROUND?!? WHERE, DAMMIT! (And why does the Flash look like he’s concentrating on looking cool?)

Wonder Woman #35 by Aaron Lopresti

A cool-looking design. No background, but it doesn’t require one.

Vigilante #9 by Walter Simonson

SIMONSON!!!!!!!! Great design, engaging image, I like it.

Warlord #5 by Mike Grell

A classic fantasy cover. Well executed and well designed.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold #8 by Scott Jeralds

Batman versus Yeti! YAY!

Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam! #7 by Byron Vaughns and Ken Branch

This gets the basic concept of the book across, but not much else.

Tiny Titans #19 by Art Baltazar

Very cute cover that makes me feel all mushy deep down inside where I’m soft like a woman.

Cartoon Network Action Pack #40 by Jay Stephens

Flying glowing worms? Cool! Nice cover.

Looney Tunes #177 by Scott Gross

It’s like a complete story in one cover. Great design, great execution.

Scooby-Doo #147 by Vincent Deporter

The contrast between art styles for the dragon and the gang is very striking and nice.

The Authority #13 by Simon Coleby and Cliff Rathburn

A decent fight scene. I do love Coleby’s style.

Gen13 #31 by Mike Huddleston

Kind of cute and boring. Plus, this really doesn’t match up with the solicit text at all. Not even close.

Wildcats #14 by Ryan Sook

Well drawn, nice execution — the background image seemingly coming out of Tao’s head is a cool touch.

Astro City: The Dark Age Book 3 #4 by Alex Ross

A little too washed out for my tastes. I know that’s a purposeful effect, but it doesn’t work. The image itself has a very classic feel.

Ex Machina #44 by Tony Harris

A pulpy sort of cover. Solid image.

Red Herring #1 by Philip Bond

Not as engaging as I like to see in a first issue’s cover, but a nice enough concept — plus, it’s Philip Bond! BOND!

Free Realms #1 by Jon Buran

Totally not to my tastes, but seems appropriate for the book and its content.

Gears of War #10 by Liam Sharp

Decent composition, nicely drawn.

Killapalooza #4 by Trevor Hairsine

Great action cover, well executed. I like the perspective a lot.

Prototype #5 by Darick Robertson and Matt Jacobs

I love Robertson’s art, but this cover is just so damn boring and dull.

Freddy vs. Jason vs. Ash: Nightmare Warriors #3 by Shane Davis and Sandra Hope

Oh, so these covers connect! That… doesn’t help at all. Hated last month’s cover, hate this month’s.

North 40 #2 by Fiona Staples

There’s a lot going on here and I’m liking all of it. Strong image with lots of small, interesting elements.

World of Warcraft #22 by Mike Bowden and Tony Washington

Where does this take place? Why is there a wooden support beam? Bad cover!

Starcraft #4 by Federico Dallocchio

Fight scene! No background! Pass!

Peter & Max: A Fables Novel by Steve Leialoha

While very appropriate and well designed for a novel cover, it also would make a great comics cover. Striking and simple in its design.

Jack of Fables #37 by Brian Bolland

Nice looking cover. A bit boring, but very well drawn.

Fables #87 by Joao Ruas

Strangely unsettling. Very nice.

Air #12 by MK Perker

Nicely symbolic and composed. Very close to making the top five.

House of Mystery #16 by Esao Andrews

Creepy, simple and strong.

Hellblazer #258 by Simon Bisley

Great painted cover. Bisley can really draw his ass off when he wants to.

Greek Street #2 by KAKO

Very busy and messy. Too busy and messy.

Northlanders #20 by Massimo Carnevale

Strong, central image that catches the eye. Very nice job.

Madame Xanadu #14 by Michael Wm. Kaluta

Kaluta’s linework is very impressive, but the image is a little bland.

The Unwritten #4 by Yuko Shimizu

I like it. Tom in the middle of the fictional sea. Great concept and nice looking cover.

Unknown Soldier #11 by Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson’s style recently seems rougher than I remember. Not the most exciting of images.

Top Five!

5. Batman #689 by Andy Kubert

Another seemingly incomplete cover that I hope remains this way. The black and white water colours look is beautiful. The image itself draws focus in a clever manner. One Kubert’s best covers.

4. DMZ #44 by John Paul Leon

Fantastic concept, composition, and execution. Haunting and engaging.

3. Super Friends #18 by J. Bone

HAHAHAHAHA! Bizarro JLA run other way! I love it!

2. Red Robin #3 by Francis Manapul

I love this cover. A lot of elements are combined here that could have clashed, but Manapul integrates them all nicely. Not only that, but the central image is very well drawn. A step up from his previous work and I hope he keeps this up.

1. Young Liars #18 by David Lapham

Perfect cover. I’m sad already. Goodbye, Young Liars.

31 Comments

That Titans cover is one of the worst “drawings” I’ve ever seen. Who thought that would be a good cover?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 20, 2009 at 5:25 pm

BRING BACK BRIAN!

HAHAHAHAHA! Bizarro JLA run other way! I love it!

AHHHH… I had no idea why people thought this cover was good until now… they am Bizarros.

CHAD CAN STAY!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

May 20, 2009 at 5:28 pm

I’ve got to disagree about that Geek Street cover – I think it’s quite lovely.
Nice use of iconic images from Greek mythology, given a modern looking design treatment… looks nice to the eye, and encapsulates the series concept.

That Red Robin cover is fantastic. I especially like the textures used throughout. Looks like thumbprints in the sky or something. Very cool.

Also, although I agree that the overall posing on the Gen13 cover is a bit lackluster, I really dig those new costumes. They’re so on-the-nose and ridiculous, sending up classic hero garb (domino masks! matching watches! a wrestling belt! pouches!). They perfectly match the light-hearted tone of the series. And, the identifying icons on each suit are wonderful pieces of graphic design in their own right, streamlined and self-explanatory. I’d buy t-shirts featuring those symbols, for sure. Can’t wait to see what Huddleston has in mind for Freefall, provided the costumes even appear in the issue (or ever).

Ian, I hadn’t noticed the thumbprints. Good eye. There’s some much in that cover you can keep discovering.

Did CBR have that Kubert cover?

I don’t recall seeing it.

It IS quite good.

Indeed it did, Brian. I download the covers from Newsarama, because their versions don’t need to be resized, but use CBR for the order and credits of covers. What I find odd is that there is ALWAYS disparities of some kind between the two. I wonder why.

For me the most disturbing part of the Blackest Night: Titans cover isn’t that Ed Benes couldn’t even avoid the impulse to draw an ass shot on a rotting corpse and more that he decided to cover Beast Boy’s face in so much dripping translucent fluid that it looks like Terra is snowballing him.

So, DC is finally jumping on the Zombie bandwagon….

I’d have to say that the most effective cover for me this month was, surprisingly enough, the Scooby Doo cover. When I saw the small thumbnail, the cover looked nothing at all like what I would expect from a Scooby Doo book, so I stopped and had a look when I usually just skip right over the Johnny DC books.

When I first saw that Kubert cover, I coulda sworn it was by Nguyen. Has Kubert used that style before?

I’ve figured out what I don’t like about the Super Friends cover – why is only GL’s costume the “evil” version? Shouldn’t Flash be dressed like Zoom or something? That would make it more obvious; as it is, the only real visual cues are Wonder Woman’s skin tone, the subtle reverse “S”, and GL dressed as Sinestro.

Batman: BATB is a Batman / metal guy from The Great Ten team up? Okay, that’s awesome (and needs to be done on the TV series, stat).

That Red Robin cover is indeed something special, and very different from the tone you’d normally associate with the character.

Those Superman covers remind of the Emporer:Joker series fromthe alte 90s. those were cool, too.

Cheers,

B

Such a great cover by J. Bone. It’s the little things that sell it for me, not the general concept that they are going the wrong way. Bone really sells that the Flash is trudging…. so… slowly. And he gives Aquaman a snorkel!

“That Titans cover is one of the worst “drawings” I’ve ever seen. Who thought that would be a good cover?”

Oh come on! Go look at any number of comics that Marvel put out in the glut of the 90s if you want to see some of the worst “drawings” to ever be put down on paper.

And I know that Young Liars is a critical darling (heck, I even have the first 5 issues) but that cover has NOTHING over some of the others on the list.

I think you missed the concept of the JSA cover. The top part is a perspective from underwater of dead Kobra agents which is why it looks watery.

Overall I think you were on the mark with the covers this month though I seem to be more OK with iconic covers like the Batgirl and Booster Gold than you are and I am not as big a fan of busy covers (Gears of War). I hate all the Superman covers though. I know who all the heroes are but the other halves don’t stand out well enough for me to ID or care about them. Blacknest Night has no depth and I find DMZ yet another boring composite.

My favs in no order are Detective Comics, Batman, BN: Batman, Looney Tunes, and Wildcats

Speaking of possibly incomplete, is DC editorial still debating what dates to put on Johnathan Kent’s tombstone? Because leaving it blank like that looks really, really bad. (If you have to be coy about the years [which you don't, really; just make it the current version and nobody will care that it doesn't fit the timeline five years from now], you really need to put something in front to obstruct where the dates will be…

That Batman and Robin cover is truly hideous

“I’ve figured out what I don’t like about the Super Friends cover – why is only GL’s costume the “evil” version? Shouldn’t Flash be dressed like Zoom or something? That would make it more obvious; as it is, the only real visual cues are Wonder Woman’s skin tone, the subtle reverse “S”, and GL dressed as Sinestro.”

He’s not dressed as Sinestro; he’s Yellow Lantern, the Bizarro Green Lantern.

That Batman and Robin cover *is* hideous, but that is precisely what I love about it. It’s the sort of thing that would’ve freaked me out as a kid but I’d still find compelling. Sometimes I think kds these days aren’t being freaked out enough by their popular entertainment.

I’ve seen a lot of complaints about the Batman and Robin cover, but nothing beyond, “it’s hideous,” or “it sucks.” Can someone please elaborate on what’s wrong with it? I’m being serious here, not snarky – what about it offends you?

I don’t think it’s hideous, but beyond the novelty of the framing device, it didn’t really grab me for a few reasons. The bodies of the baddies kind of blend together. Are they supposed to be Raggedy Andys (tell me if I pluralized that correctly)? The action is far in the background, and it’s not really clear what Batman & Robin are supposed to be fighting on top of, there’s no real context for their battleground.

It’s a good drawing, good perspective. But I can see where some people may feel that it is lacking.

Ok, maybe “hideous” was over-stating it somewhat, but there are many, many things wrong with that cover in my opinion, not least that it takes some looking at before you can work out exactly what youre seeing, which defeats the whole object of a cover.
Also, it looks incredibly “scetchy”, which is a technique which can be fantastic when used well, but it doesn’t work for this image.
Finally, that green background looks completely out of place and messes with the feel of the image as a whole.
A shame, since I’ve actually been quite an admiror of Quitely ever since that JLA Earth 2 GN he did with Morrison.
All that said, I do think the fact that Batman and Robin are recognisable despite being so small is a nice touch.

The Red Robin cover is amazing. Manapul may be one of DC’s best finds in recent years. Which means it will only be about another six months before Marvel signs him to an exclusive. But my biggest question is: who is Batman fighting on the Blackest Night: Batman cover? Is that Deadman? I know Didio was quoted as saying that Boston would have a prominent role in Blackest Night…and why does Black Mask have Batman’s skull on the Blackest Night # 2 cover? Overall, looks like great stuff.

I actually prefer the more dynamic Kubert cover for the “Blackest Night” Batman mini than the one you ranked. Also, Bolland’s awesome “Animal Man” deserves to be Top Five.

And (although I know it would spoil the symmetry of the “Young Liars” cover): Despite its nickname, Mars is nowhere near a RED planet. More like orange. Or amber, to be more precise.

What’s with the gratuitous Flash-ass on the Titans cover?

[...] Judging (DC’s August) Books by Their Covers (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) [...]

Blackest Night Superman #1 cover is actually drawn by Shane Davis. You can tell by his signature on the cover.

Everything looks like trash to me. I´ve been reading comics for almost 40 years and the American comics scene never seemed so bad to me. It´s not surprising that I mostly read manga these days. Next year, I will continue to do so (besides fucking the lovely Cecilia, pregnant or not).

Jonathon Riddle

July 13, 2011 at 2:21 pm

Ew. Those split/image covers are absolutely awful.

Superman: World of New Krypton #6,
Action Comics #880
Supergirl #44
Superman #691

I know mnothing of any other works by of messers Dagnino and Fernandez, but those were just terrible.

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