ISSUE #37: Do You Believe In Magik?
Welcome to the 2019 Cover Tunes kick-off, fine folks. Here’s to hoping you had an amazing New Year and can remember most of it. Let’s get underway with a special 4-part series before I go back to my old format. Because we are about to embark on an another epic year of fanboy films, I’m going to toss out some amazing unsung gems from the eight major comic-related films dropping this year.
The Disney/Marvel MCU drops Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame on us, DC tosses out Shazam and The Joker, Sony continues with the next Spidey installment, FOX finishes up their ownership of X-Titles with Dark Phoenix and New Mutants and we get a new Hellboy. There looks to be a little something for everyone.
Which are you looking most forward to? For me, it’s New Mutants and Dark Phoenix. It is about time we see the New Mutant characters on screen and the horror twist is quite compelling for me. As for Dark Phoenix, this is FOX’s second chance on this storyline and it is one of the best in comic history. I hope FOX does them both justice.
With all of the delays and reshoots, though, I will be happy with mediocre movies even though I’m holding out hope for classics. Either way, as a kid, I never thought I’d even see these things on screen at all. Thus, I will be happy with whatever we get. Unlike the modern movie-going public, I don’t need every film to alter the axis of the earth. I just want to be entertained.
Anyhow, while the spec market zigs toward crazy ratio variants, I thought we would zag and look at what lurks in the dollar bin shadows. This week, since they are the ones I’m most excited about, let’s look at New Mutants (with the focus on Magik) and Dark Phoenix, first. Three for each.
Abra Cadabra and away we go…
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – February, 2009
ARTIST: David Finch
Man, if Illyana goes Darkchild on us in the New Muties flick, this is going to be the cover to own. Even if she doesn’t, this is STILL the cover to own. This one is always overshadowed by the J. Scott Campbell variant, but I actually think this is a WAY better cover. Dark, sexy, powerful and just… well… DAMNED SEXY! Everything that Finch is great at is fully out to play on this cover.
Finch has a ton of sought after variants, especially those really tough 2nd print Messiah Complex variants and his Wonder Woman stuff, but this one is just as good or better than all of them. One of my bar-none favorite Finch covers. He went to the dark place on this one in all manners of speaking and it crushes! This is an easy get for cover price or less. Do yourselves a favor and snag one.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 2013
ARTIST: Chris Bachalo
This just feels like variant art to me and if it had been, it would be worth a ton more. As it is not (and perhaps because of that dreaded “Marvel Now” color strip and extra trade dress) it isn’t worth much. Try not to let that distract or detract too much, though, from this amazing cover. This one should be lurking in most bins. I love the simplicity and duotone nature of it. The figural work is tough and alluring and the layout is superb. Bachalo can rock a good cover even though he rarely gets recognition, these days.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 1987
ARTIST: Bill Sienkiewicz
For those that still appreciate a solid Copper Age cover, this one has it all. If you’re sick of me choosing Sink covers, go ahead and look at New Mutants #34 (Steve Leialoha) or #50 (Rick Leonardi/Dan Green). Those are awesome, too, but not nearly as amazing as this #52.
Sienkiewicz was much more widely known for his “painted cover style” which he epitomized on New Mutants #18–#31 (also, see his Phoenix cover, below), but his more manic line-art style (which was used widely on his sequential interior art) was utilized on a few later covers like this one. For me, the two styles are equally indicative of Sink in the 80’s, but some prefer the painted stuff. I feel as though this “wild” side of Sink fits much more squarely with the intended mood and moment of this cover. It feels untamed and fierce like Magik is in this instance.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – November, 2010
ARTIST: Dave Wilkins
Wilkins has a lot of fans (I am among them) and while this cover is amazingly gorgeous, in many ways it could kind of be a depiction of anyone which is why I decided to place it as a bonus and not feature it. Yes, there’s the sword and the armored hand and the blonde hair with bangs, but it’s still just a touch too “generic angry girl” for me to have it in one of the top three slots.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – March, 1984
ARTIST: Bret Blevins
I’m not even entirely sure why I love this cover. It’s not fantastic from a compositional standpoint, but something about it seems awesome to me. Additionally, it is the first time Illyana turns to Darkchild. Thus, it is a minor key even though it’s largely worthless.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – March, 2005
ARTIST: Greg Land
Damn, Land is sooooo underrated it’s criminal. He has a ton of awesome covers that no one ever talks about (and one that EVERYBODY talks about… yeah, unhooded Gwen, I’m looking at you). This one should be up there as one people look for. Just the fire alone is, well… fire. However, the expert foreshortening and wild fury depicted, here, is among Land’s best work. The line work is crisp and clean where it needs to be and simultaneously manic where it should be. It is, quite frankly, an amazing cover that can be gotten for cover or less in your local bin diving paradise.
If this were a recent incentive variant, it would command a ton more. Be aware that there were two different versions of this cover; one where she wears red and one where she wears green.They go for roughly the same pocket change, but the green one is a little rarer and marked as “limited” even though it’s just the “B” cover.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – April, 1984
ARTIST: John Byrne
It can be tough to NOT just think of Uncanny X-Men #101–#137 as sporting the only great Phoenix covers. To be sure, those are epically classic, but that is not the only material as this above cover and the next selection will highlight.
This one is by Byrne, as well, and it’s hard to go wrong with that. It has all of the elements that make his X-Men cover run great, but out of the dollar bin, instead. Graphically it is a compositional gem that aptly and simply explores a limited palette with punch and feeling. It feels like the red-headed stepchild (snarky parallel intended) of Copper Age Byrne Phoenix books.
(AKA: Uncanny X-Men Graphic Novel #2)
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – May, 1984
ARTIST: Bill Sienkiewicz
I know, I’ve heard it a thousand times. Go ahead, lay the Sienkiewicz jokes on me. So what if he’s my man-crush, he’s a legend and it shows on this cover. All of the action is so visceral, here. There is emotion and movement and no wasted space. It is the definition of composition. Obviously, Phoenix is the focus, here, but the framing done with Wolvie’s claws and Cyclops’ visor beam along with the foundation of Colossus’ strength is expert and necessary to complete the perspective. Sometimes, there is just no substitute for a master cover craftsman and Sink is definitely that.
As far as I’m aware (and, please, correct me if I’m wrong), this cover art only exists on this TPB cover. I have not been able to locate it as having been used on anything else. This one may cost a bit more given the nature of its original price, but it shouldn’t top $15 (even though some sellers will try to snag more out of it).
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 2003
ARTIST: Ethan Van Sciver
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 2008
ARTIST: David Finch
And here we are again at the end of the journey for another week. Next week, DC’s entries into the 2019 film onslaught; Joker and Shazam. Until then, be well, be kind to each other, thanks for reading and happy hunting.