Issue #6: Some Staples of Comic-land

Greeting, again, from Music City, my friends! So… who’s ready for 1000 different Spider-Man #800 covers? What, no hands? Well, if wading through the variant muck is getting to you, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s appreciate some super-sweet and inexpensive covers, together, shall we?

This past weekend, in Nashville, I was able to attend Walker-Stalker/FanFest: Nashville and I learned one very important fact; Walking Dead fans are WAYYYY crazier than sci-fi and mainstream comic nerds. One woman got autographs from Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan) and Norman Reedus (Daryl) on her actual real-life body. Not SO bad, right.

Well, that’s what I initially thought, too… that is until I saw her later and she had gone to a tattoo booth and gotten tattoos done over the top of the signatures so they would be permanent. Like, forever. How long do we think it takes for her to regret that choice?

Hey, to each their own, right? Who am I to judge? I buy little colored booklets of stapled paper for way too much money. Hey, maybe I’ll get Stan Lee’s signature tattooed on my butt and send it off to CGC for a yellow label. I have no hope of a 9.8, though.

There was a serious take-away from the show, though. Edward James Olmos is an amazingly nice and generous guy. He was legitimately happy to meet and chat with fans. He and I spoke about BSG, funny stories, and life both in and out of Hollywood.

For a celebrated actor such as he is, he easily could have been aloof and standoffish or, worse, put on that fake smile and just signed things. That is decidedly NOT Mr. Olmos. He was clearly there to show sincere appreciation for his fans. It was a genuine pleasure to speak with him. He actually seemed to appreciate that I wasn’t there for an autograph.

My other super-positive take-away from last week was that Domino #2 regular Land cover that looks like it should be an incentive variant and worth a ton, already… but it’s NOT!!! It’s is just a beautiful cover by a solid artist that everyone can afford and enjoy (more on Land and this particular cover, below).

Is this a sign that the publishers are getting the hint? I certainly hope so. Inasmuch, if you haven’t yet read Clint’s Article “One Year Later: The Chicken or the Egg” from last week pertaining to similar topics, I highly suggest it. It really brings up some amazing issues for us all to think on.

Anyhow, back to comics. This week, we look at a few tried-and-true artists and their associated unsung work. A couple of these are among my favorite covers, ever, and I have held them back until now. I am really happy to finally include them, this week.

 

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1. Saga #18 (and really every other issue in the 51-issue 2012 series)
PUBLISHED: Image Comics – January, 2014
ARTIST: Fiona Staples

 

Obviously, the title of this issue refers to this one and it’s not by accident. This cover almost went on my first list from two months ago, but I had to cut something. Honestly, Staples may perhaps be the most under appreciated artist working, at the moment.

No one ever really seems to talk about her or rank her in the top cover artist category. Saga is clearly well thought of from a story perspective and that retailer summit #1 variant is off-the-charts expensive and continually going up and up (man do I wish I owned one of those), but that is mostly due to rarity and its reputation as a “grail.”

The only other issue that’s even worth a thing is the regular #1 and, in my opinion, it’s probably the worst of the series’ 51 covers. I find that mildly ironic. This Lying Cat cover strikes me every time I see it. It is just a masterful piece of art, however, almost every single cover in the run is amazing.

There are very few “duds.” If this one doesn’t strike your fancy, I highly recommend #5. Either way, this is a simple and striking depiction of a cult-favorite character and it just pops. No frills, just solid and beautiful work with a perfect palette and layout.

 

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2. Nightwing and Huntress #4 (1998 Series)
PUBLISHED: DC Comics – August, 1998
ARTIST: Greg Land

 

To be perfectly frank, Greg Land is hit or miss for me. However, I wanted to spotlight him, this week mostly because of the gorgeous Domino #2 regular “A” cover from last week (as mentioned in my intro). It may be my favorite cover of the year; regular or variant.

If you have not yet seen it, please, do yourself the favor. It was so refreshing to get a regular cover of that quality. Bravo, whomever made that decision at Marvel. Land’s work is often overlooked as “stock” comic art and he has very few stand-outs from a monetary standpoint. Of course, the prices for his Edge of Spider-Verse #2 variant is off-the-wall, these days, but his work is often cluttered and static.

Additionally, his covers are often the victims of terrible trade dress and, unfortunately, inappropriate coloring that drown out his designs. However, with that all said, I like Land and when he has a great cover, it is really excellent (see Domino #1 regular cover, as well).

This Nightwing/Huntress #4 choice is one of my favorite Huntress covers. It is a bold, simple cover without clutter. I actually wish it were just Huntress on the cover without Nightwing, but his presence doesn’t damage the overall appeal, here. The juxtaposition is actually quite nice and adds a great perspective.

All of the focus, however, is on the beauty, flow and serenity of Huntress. This may also be Land’s best use of light on any cover he’s ever done, although, it is probably more of a side-effect of Sienkiewicz’s inks. Land also did the Birds of Prey #8 cover which also features these same characters and that one has seen nice gains over the past year or two.

In my opinion, though, this cover is much better. This one is probably lurking in a lot of dollar bins. The other Land covers in this run, especially #1 where Nightwing is the focus and Huntress is pushed backward, are also excellent.

 

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3. X-Men Unlimited #47 (1993 Series)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 2003
ARTIST: Josh Middleton

 

Man, this cover is simply stunning. Middleton’s work, over the years, has been a little all over the place and I like that he’s experimented with other styles. He does them all very well. Sometimes he looks a little Adam Hughes-ish, other times, quite Michael Turner-esque.

It is this muted style of his, however, I love the most and, for me, best presents itself in the NYX series (especially in the #3 issue which is, of course, the first appearance of X-23 Laura Kinney). Obviously, NYX #3 (and even #4) won’t come cheap, these days, but this one certainly will. There is no clutter, the space is utilized impeccably and Psylocke looks angelic, here.

There is a fluidity and almost an innocence to the work. Even though she looks sexy, she has not been turned into a sex-pot. It is just pure and lovely. The color is subtle and there is a delicate feel to the entire piece. The floral center panel, in the background, accentuate Psylocke while also accentuating the soft contemplative nature of the subject that has a very “Eastern” feel.

It is masterful work. For more recent mastery from Middleton, check out his “B” covers for Aquaman #32 and #33. Those two blow me away. Honestly, one can’t really go wrong with anything from this guy.

 

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4. IVX (Inhumans vs. X-Men) #1B (2017 Series)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – February, 2017
ARTIST: Michael Cho

 

Boy-oh-boy do I think this guy is SEVERELY underrated. His 2015 run of 1:20 variant covers for every All-New, All-Different Marvel title are freaking simplicity at its most classic. They are all timeless covers, but many of them will run from $30-$100 and many of them are pretty rare.

His Civil War “poster-style” covers are also cool, albeit a bit cluttered at times, but this IVX #1 “B” cover is an encapsulation of everything that is beautiful about the 1950’s/1960’s advertising aesthetic. As such, covers like this one are all wholly modern while having a very “Silver Age” appeal. It is simple.

It pops, the layout is stark and there is nothing unnecessary. Everything has a place. In proper Mondo fashion, the negative space is just as important (if not more so) as the positive and the color is used as more of subtle nudge than an in-your-face assault like so many clashing covers these days where it looks more like the colorist dropped the palette instead of choosing the colors.

These are types of covers that look more like museum pieces than they do comic art. Technically, this was a variant, but it was a “B” cover and was cover price on release day. It can still be had for cover price or less. Normally, I’d save this one for an article on hyper-moderns, but since all of Cho’ stuff is recent, I wanted to include him and have wanted to for weeks.

 

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5. Captain Marvel #5 (2012 Series)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – December, 2012
ARTIST: Terry Dodson

 

With the comic world going Ape-$#!+ bananas for Avenging Spider-Man #9, I thought it might be nice to highlight a slightly lesser-known (and MUCH cheaper) Dodson cover of the same ilk. Much like Greg Land, above, Dodson is often thought of as a “stock” artist and his work is all-too-often glossed over.

If Adam Hughes and J. Scott Campbell had an artist baby, I think Dodson would be it (which is a compliment if it didn’t sound like it). Everything has that shiny/wet Campbell look (which some people are adverse to) while simultaneously having the design consciousness of Hughes.

Dodson’s line work is clean, his perspective is superb and his sense of movement is fantastic. I could easily have chosen about 20 Dodson covers, but I went with this one, particularly, because I actually like the cover for Avenging Spidey #9 a lot and this one ticks all of the same visual boxes (other than being a key, of course).

With that said, everything Captain Marvel is exploding right now and I, for one, am gathering up all of my favorites before it’s too late to get them cheaply. This one will only set ya back cover price, at the moment.

Well, that about does it for another week. I am very excited about next week’s issue and the one after that. Next week is similar to this week in genre and the week after that, I’m thinking of doing Copper Age covers. So, saddle up, enjoy Deadpool 2 and I’ll hit ya’ll back in a week to catch up.

As always, feel free to sound off in the comments section and, again, thanks for your time.

Happy hunting!
Mike M

 

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