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CSBG Archive

The Top 75 Most Iconic Covers in DC History – Day 6

Okay, in case you didn’t see the introduction, the concept is that each day up to and including the 23rd of November, I’ll be posting four iconic covers from DC Comics’ 75-year history. On the 23rd, you folks will get a chance to pick your Top 10 out of the 90 choices. I’ll tabulate the votes and I’ll debut the Top 75 Most Iconic Covers in DC Comics History on November 30th. In the meantime, feel free to e-mail me (bcronin@comicbookresources.com) with suggestions for covers for me to use!

Here’s the next four covers! And click here for the master list of all the covers posted so far!


I sense a theme …

Today’s selections are all important comics, but I’m doubtful they’re all “Iconic Covers”.

Ooh, the first appearance of The Whip and Cliff Cornwall. :P

Red, red, green, and red & green. It’s an early Christmas theme!

got to go with the flash of two words cover for it showed that there is a mutiple universe in the dc world. and also like the xmas threme with covers. red and green. nice touch

All extremely key, extremely iconic. Good choices, all.

I suspect that the 15 covers that don’t make the final cut will be heavily “character debut” covers…

Tom Fitzpatrick

November 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

Too bad I’m not a fan of the Flash or Green Lantern (either Golden, Silver, or Modern age).

Anything from the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, or 00’s would probably have more siginificance for me.

I know, I know, I’m such an illiterate snob. ;-)


If nothing else, the Flash 123 cover is iconic.
i personally think all of these have become very iconic. could be just me tho’

What in Kirby’s name is “iconic” about the All-American cover?

Here’s a hero who can fly, plus he’s invulnerable to everything except wood. This cover doesn’t even show him using his powers. Surely you can find a hundred Green Lantern covers more iconic than All-American 16.

Or do you think all First Appearances are automatically “iconic”? Or do you think this cover is “iconic” merely because it has been reprinted ad nauseum? Or do you just think every cover you like is therefore “iconic”?

This column — THE TOP 75 MOST ICONIC COVERS IN DC HISTORY — is a farce. Because some people don’t know what “iconic” means.

I’d like to know what Iconic My Butt thinks “iconic” means. I’m guessing it means any cover HE likes.

Wow, some haters are popping up. Maybe you wanna define “iconic” for the masses, Brian? (Not to appease Mr. Iconic My Butt, but to help everyone else keep something of a uniform standard in mind when they’re actually voting. Just a thought.)

I’d call this a very nice quartet of covers. And that first one shown above — “Flash of Two Worlds” — is definitely going to be on my Top Ten list. (It’s so iconic, Josh, it was recently a plot point on some new sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory.” I didn’t see it, but a friend of mine couldn’t wait to tell me about it.)

In fact, here’s a nice rundown about its importance:


IMB: Note that this column is presenting 90 candidates for the top 75 Most Iconic covers. In the voting, the 15 least iconic covers among them will, presumably, fall by the wayside…(presuming that the electorate have a decent idea of iconicisity at least.)

i?con?ic ??
/a??k?n?k/ –adjective
1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an icon.
2. Art. (of statues, portraits, etc.) executed according to a convention or tradition.

Well, that didn’t help. Let’s try this:

i?con /?a?k?n/
1. a picture, image, or other representation.
2. Eastern Church. a representation of some sacred personage, as Christ or a saint or angel, painted usually on a wood surface and venerated itself as sacred.
3. a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it.
4. Computers. a picture or symbol that appears on a monitor and is used to represent a command, as a file drawer to represent filing.
5. Semiotics. a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance or analogy to it.
Also, eikon, ikon (for defs. 1, 2).

1565–75; < L < Gk eikn likeness, image, figure

There, clearer?

I like original Green Lantern’s blouse haha. I’d forgotten about that!

Really love these updates. Older comic art is so fun!

Came back to apologize for the bad attitude in my prevous post. Blame it on an empty stomach. Had dinner now. Sorry.

Let me explain how the Showcase 22 cover is iconic.

It shows what made this character unique (unique for that time, anyway). It shows this new Green Lantern guy flying! Flying higher than you’ve ever seen a super-hero fly! And he has a ring that shoots some sort of ray! Can he actually stop the missile with his ray? The missile (and sheer height of the scene) tells you this character’s milieu is space-age, science-fictiony. This cover is iconic because it shows what made that character unique — his powers and the world he lives in. Wasn’t Gil Kane great!

The cover of Showcase 22 defined the Silver Age Green Lantern — we see something of his powers and get a BIG look at the world he inhabits. We might even get a whiff of dizziness from that height! What more could you ask for on a cover? (except a gorilla and go-go checks?)

Compare that to the All-American cover, which shows a guy with a shadowy face and dark cape, like Batman, running along a steel girder. With no indication of height, it isn’t very frightening. The cover doesn’t state what makes Green Lantern special. There is no demonstration of his powers. This darker, non-powered runner-on-steel-beams bares little resemblance to the superhero in the stories. With all the shadows, he looks more like a mystery-detective character. So this cover doesn’t convey the true character of the hero, or show his milieu, or share the flavor of his stories.

And the threat the hero faces… One guy with a machine gun? Pah. There were already hundreds of non-superpowered characters in pulps and comics who could do better than that. And this thug has the most bored expression on his face — he isn’t even looking at the hero. How disinteresting.

And even if we know who this Green Lantern is “and what makes him unique”, the cover still doesn’t work. This is a hero who can fly. Why should we care if he’s running along a steel beam? And the ring makes him invulnerable to bullets, so why should we care about the tommy-gun?

To me the Green Lantern on the cover of All-American 16 looks more like another clone of the Shadow or Batman. It fails to capture the flavor of the series. But those artists and writers were finding their way, discovering the character as they went on. You can’t blame them if they were unable to define the character on the very first cover.

But no, I can’t call All-American 16 an iconic cover. I actually do love the cover. But only in the way that I love ALL the bad old comics covers! I love their crudeness and simplistic innocence.

So how do YOU define an “iconic” cover?

I’d have thought Flash #92 more iconic (Black Canary through the paper circle). Got copied a lot over the years, including, IIRC, Detective 557?



I have to agree – just being the cover of an important character’s debut does not make a cover iconic, and the cover to All-American Comics #16 isn’t “iconic” by ANY criteria that I can think of. It’s not memorable, it’s not a good representation of who the character is, and it’s not even a particularly good cover.

While I understand the desire to put together these thematically-linked covers, only the first three of these four deserve to be considered iconic. There may be tons of historical value to the cover of All-American Comics #16, but that doesn’t make it iconic. At best we could say that it’s a historic cover, if we’re being generous.

Of course, Brian is putting this to a VOTE for us, so that’s your opportunity to NOT VOTE for All-American #16.

I’d recommend Brian put up the Lobo “faces” cover purely so that nobody has to vote for it.

I’ll vote for FLASH #123.

Geez, I remember a previous poll where Brian excluded first appearance covers and some complained. Now he includes them, and people complain about that. Oh well.

I don’t see any solo covers for the following Silver Age JLA members yet:
Enlongated Man.
Green Arrow I.
Martian Manhunter.
Red Tornado.

Black Canary II.
Wonder Woman.

A lot of those characters don’t HAVE iconic solo covers, David.

But some of them do, and you’ll see them in the ensuing days!

I’m finding, as a Marvel, fan, Iconic DC covers are eaiser for me to pick. I just have to ask myself “have I seen this before somewhere”. I’m on the Flash of two worlds bandwagon.

Mrjayberry my idea of Iconic is along the same lines as you. I AM a life long DC fan and I just have to ask myself what covers imediately come to mind when I think of a character. Thats why, for me, All American 16 is iconic because if I think of a GA Green Lantern cover thats the one that comes to mind.

Two most overused words in popular culture reporting: homage and iconic.

Adam said:

i?con?ic ??
/a??k?n?k/ –adjective
1. of, pertaining to, or characteristic of an icon.
2. Art. (of statues, portraits, etc.) executed according to a convention or tradition.

Well, that didn’t help.

No, I think it does help. Apparently a lot of people think iconic means something much more specific than it really does.

Biggles’ idea of an iconic cover most closely matches my own. Do I think of that cover when the character (or title) is mentioned. ALL-AMERICAN #16 does jump immediately to mind when thinking of the golden age Green Lantern (along with GREEN LANTERN #1).

Is ALL-STAR #3 iconic? Not according to Iconic My Butt’s restrictive definition, they’re just sitting around a table. JUSTICE LEAGUE #1? No, they’re just standing there, and judging by the expressions they’re all wearing, they could be the bad guys. WATCHMEN #1? No, it’s just a smiley-face button, with what looks like bean juice on it.

Covers can be iconic without even having a person on them. When I think of the Spirit, the covers (or technically splash pages) that come to mind don’t include Denny Colt, they’re the ones with the title spelled out elaborately in the picture itself. Don’t tell me those aren’t iconic.

Except for the first cover, not that iconic. There’s no chance covers #2-4 will be in the top 10.

I’m sure we’ll see one or two Wonder Woman covers. But the other heroes David listed? Elongated Man? Zatanna? If you stuck to Superman and Batman comics alone, you could find 100 covers more iconic than anything featuring these second-raters.

If by iconic we mean the cover that springs to mind when you think of the character or concept, then I think only Flash #123 is iconic. Whenever I think of the multiverse concept, that is one cover that comes to mind. The other three, not so much. I like Hal Jordan, Jay Garrick, and Alan Scott, but when I think of them, I don’t think of those covers. In the case of the two Golden Age characters, I think my mental image of them only encompasses the post-James Robinson interpretations.

Hal Jordan is a very important character, but this cover isn’t iconic in the way the first appearance of Superman, Batman, and Robin are iconic. If anything, the debut covers of Byrne’s Man of Steel and Perez’s Wonder Woman are more iconic than this Hal Jordan cover.

There are ten more iconic Hal Jordan covers than this one. Both Flashes were excellent choices and are definitely iconic. Th All-American is iconic because it probably the best known cover featuring Alan Scott.

I vote for the issue of Justice League where Black Lightning calls Superman a jive-turkey.

I think that there are better covers than the ones picked. But this is not the Best Covers. It is the most iconic. When people think of an Alan Scott cover, it is more likely that All-American Comics #16 springs to their mind than any other. Even with a more popular character like Hal Jordan, the only cover I think more people associate with him is the cover where he is evil and has all the Green Lantern rings. And I doubt the nitpickers here would be satisfied with that because he’s not clearly showing a weakness to yellow of love of Carol Ferris or some other character trait they find essential for a cover to be iconic.

Flash 123 will probably be in my top 10.

I’m not sure why this comment got posted:
“If you stuck to Superman and Batman alone, you could find 100 covers more iconic than anything featuring these second raters.”
Since when were Zatanna or Elongated Man second raters?

Second-rate only in iconicity, David.

They’re both very good characters, though!

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