ISSUE #18: Fantastic 4 x 2 = 8
Hello from Music City, my fine CBSI fam. This week has been a much calmer week than last, all around, and I was able to get some great digging done. Amidst that, I was able to get my grubby little hands on a Fantastic Four #48 (1st Galactus) and with the new FF book dropping, this week, many of us have our fingers crossed from both a story perspective as well as a spec perspective, that it will be a success.
Let’s face it, FF needs a win and it needs it in a big way. With Fox having been acquired by Disney which finally gives them rights to add Fantastic Four material to the MCU as well as this new series, I think we can all agree that this better hit home hard and quickly.
If it doesn’t, we may not see another Fantastic Four book for a VERY long time. Longer than last time, I’d wager. Of course, major key FF books are immune to the spec market and will always have value (a few of them as blue chips like #1, #5, #48 and so on).
FF is the legacy of Marvel. It all started there and so many 1st appearance happen in the Silver Age issues. It was always a seminal title. However, I’m sure I’m not alone in the practice of getting to a run of FF in a longbox and largely skipping it. There just isn’t much many of us want from FF past #100.
As for the films, I tried to watch them again, recently, and while not nearly as poor as I remember them (nor as poor as people like to say they are), they are still not very good films. They are merely entertaining and that isn’t saying much. All-in-all, FF is on life support and in desperate need of a shot in the arm.
However, Fantastic four has a litany of well designed characters and the main title series as well as satellite titles have some really awesome and cheap covers. Let’s take a look at a few, this week.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 2013
ARTIST: Adi Granov
One would think that there a ton of fantastic Galactus covers, right? Well, not so much, in actuality. To be sure, there are many that we remember to be great like FF #49, but many of those are really fairly poor covers from a layout and composition perspective. That brings me to a side-note:
A friend and I were chatting this weekend about whether we think we have become programmed to think covers from key issues or key artists are great covers when, in reality, many of them are actually not so great. We merely like them BECAUSE we feel obligated to; because the market has dictated that we should like them and pay dearly for them.
I think some of the earlier Galactus FF covers fall into this category; if they weren’t keys would we still see them as iconic covers? Probably not. Luckily, we have this Granov gem from a rather overlooked Hunger series that actually is great cover.
This is an imposing, albeit slightly static, moment, but we get all of the elements that make Granov a great and underrated artist all in one cover. The meticulous line work lends a beautiful intricacy to a character that deserves such treatment. The backlighting draws Galactus forward and creates depth and perspective.
The glowing eyes of Galactus draw us to his face and then, the brightest “moment” of this cover is Galactus’ finger which ties the trade dress into the composition quite nicely. Again, as I always say, I could do without the color strip at the bottom of this era of Marvel, but I can overlook it for such a great cover.
Another super-cheap cover and one of the few solid Galactus covers than can be gotten that way.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 1986
ARTIST: Bill Sienkiewicz
I know, I know… I’m a bit like a broken record when it comes to Sienkiewicz. A CBSI buddy of mine told me not to include this one, but I love it so I included it, here. What I really like about this particular cover is that very few people know about it and it falls squarely into that timeframe where Sink was doing his famous work on the Demon Bear run on New Mutants and other amazing covers like those 3 or 4 from What-If.
I find this one in dollar bins fairly often and it is usually beat to hell. I wouldn’t be so bold as to say this Sink’s best or most striking work, but it is really the only truly abstract rendering of the whole team.
There’s something about it that I’m particular drawn to and, for the life of me, I cannot place it, exactly. Perhaps it’s the fantastic use of all of the space in a way that doesn’t feel cluttered. So many full team covers just become noise. This one does not.
Perhaps it is the uniformity of color with a splash of contrast from Torch that makes this one scream out at me. Perhaps it is just that it’s Sienkiewicz and that I’ve fallen for the phenomenon I mentioned earlier. I don’t think this is one of those covers, but because I love Sink so much, I might be a little blinded.
When all is said and done, though, I think it is the simplicity and fluidity that I like so much. Each image is born out of the next creating a situation where each element fits within the construct of the piece. With any one element missing, the whole cover would fall apart.
To me, this points to an other-worldly mastery of composition. No one single element is really all that mazing, but the whole piece, when combined, is.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 1994
ARTIST: Alex Ross
I’ve always loved the look of this entire series. Perhaps it’s the prestige format of these books with the clear window outer trade dress cover (which is nice in that, when you flip that back, one is essentially left with a virgin cover). Perhaps it’s also Ross who for some reason we all agree doesn’t get enough love, yet we still don’t show him that love because we’re all convinced they won’t be ever be worth anything, yet we are the ones who would set that market, yet… ahhh… you get the picture. Poor guy. His art is still freaking amaze-balls, though.
On this cover, we get a sleek, modern take on what feels like an old horror book. This is a more loose style for Ross and it doesn’t suffer from “middle-aged face” which I’ve heard some folks complain about, lately. The layout perspective is superb and I feel it is the hand in the foreground that really provides this cover’s depth.
While everything on this cover except for Torch is very “Ross” in that it feels beautiful-but-safe, it is the flames themselves on Torch that are the real draw. The masterful color work adds enormous pop to the cover in that he stands out as bright amidst an otherwise dark cover. From 100 feet away, this still screams Human Torch. One would never mistake it for anything else.
It is dramatic and beautifully rendered.
Additionally, even though I didn’t choose it because I already chose a similar cover, below, from Dell’Otto, the Marvels #3 Silver Surfer/Human Torch reflection cover is also exquisite. Check that one out, as well. These are always floating in the bins for around cover price or less.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 2004
ARTIST: Steve McNiven
Sometimes, I just love a simple comic book cover. Nothing too, too fancy, just a well-conceived, well-composed cover. This one is that. I’ve never featured McNiven in one of my lists, before, but really, his work on this whole run is pretty damned great and his body of work is also. This #6 is the standout though.
It has a bit of a “Turner” feel to it, but it also has variables that set it apart as unique from that. It’s all about the pose and the shadows. The lines of this cover are all perfect. The demure sexiness of Sue and the heft of Thing are all clearly evident in the figural work and provide perfection in juxtaposition. Each is a foil for the other, visually.
The lighting employed on this cover are the most striking, though, providing daring contrast and feeling. I feel many artists are frightened of using dark as negative space, whereas McNiven does not suffer from that, here. Just a great cover that can be gotten from the dollar bin on the regular.
5-8. Annihilation (Multiple Series and #’s – See Below)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 2007
ARTIST: Gabrielle Dell’Otto
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 2006
ARTIST: Gabrielle Dell’Otto
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – March, 2007
ARTIST: Gabrielle Dell’Otto
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 2006
ARTIST: Gabrielle Dell’Otto
Alright, so this entire set of covers from the various Annihilation series are ridiculous. All from Dell’Otto, one is better than the next. I chose my four particular favorites from the more-than-40 covers in this event, but I could have easily chosen any number of them and been completely satisfied.
There is very little I can say about Gabrielle Dell’Otto’s mastery that I haven’t already said in previous issues of Cover Tunes, but, for our purposes in this issue, I will focus on a few key components of each.
First on the list is one of the toughest, most bad@$$ covers ever (by any artist, really) in Annihilation #4. Thanos peering down on Drax. Honestly, one of Dell’Otto’s best ever covers, incentive variant or not. It is quite simply a flawless cover and should be worth a ton more than it already is.
Of the series, this one has caught the most heat and cannot be gotten for cover price any longer. It has become the toughest to find cheaply and copies have crept up to the $15-$20 mark, but comparing that against similarly styled incentive variants from Dell’Otto, that is still an amazing deal. I wouldn’t sleep on this one for much longer. I think it will soon be out of the low-end price realm, very soon.
The Super Skrull and Nova covers I love for equal reasons. They are both superb single-character compositions that a show perfect proportion, rendering, color and life. The tense nature of both and the depicted strength in both are astounding to me. Look at that mist coming off of Nova! Man, that is killer.
Only a master could accomplish that. I think these are next up on the hot commodities from this series of books, especially if we see the Skrulls and/or Nova in upcoming MCU films like many of us expect we will.
I saved the best for last. The Silver Surfer cover crushes. I mean I can feel the speed and the emotion in this cover not to mention the exquisite contrast of light and dark to create the extremely realistic look of actual silver. Amidst all of that, it is also a study in perspective perfection.
This cover has the integrity of fine art. As a matter of fact, the entire 4-issue run of Annihilation: Silver Surfer covers are all equally as amazing. This one spoke to me a little more than others, but they are all worth grabbing. They’d look ridiculous together. Much like the Skrull and Nova covers, if we see Surfer in an MCU film, I suspect that this cover will become highly sought after. Right now, it’s an easy get at cover price.
I fear that will not last long, though.
Again, it is time to sign off. I hope you enjoyed this issue, that there was a little something in it for everyone and that you enjoy today’s issue #1 of the new Fantastic Four. As always, please, please, please sound off on your thoughts in the comments section, be well, thanks for reading and happy hunting.