ISSUE #38 – Why So Serious?

 

Welcome back, CBSI, to another edition of 2019 Cover Tunes. This week, in part two of the 2019 film-related covers, we tackle DC entries into this year’s cinemas. Last week, there was great response to the Magik/Phoenix issue and it seems clear that both of those characters are poised to see some market action in the coming months. There are a ton of beautiful covers (both variant and regular) for both characters and I expect to see some of the better ones rise out of the ashes (pun intended).

As we turn our focus to DC week, we have to be honest with ourselves. DC has faltered greatly in their DCU films. In desperate attempts to keep up with the Cinematic Marvel Juggernaut for the past 10 years, DC has struggled mightily. Even Aquaman which has done well from a box office perspective has received quite polarizing reviews. Consensus is that it was cliche, predictable (I mean, even I can tell the plot from the trailer and I haven’t yet seen the film) and had some really cringe-worthy moments. My real gripe based on the little I know is how are there no bubbles when characters speak underwater? Nitpicky? Sure. However, things like that do tend to ruin suspension of disbelief.

While many comic die-hards seemed to enjoy it, most positive user reviews say things like “Best DCU film…” Well, that is not a resounding compliment. Regardless of your opinion of the film, the simple fact is that DC fans really want great films to go along with their favorite characters and it’s not unfair for them to expect MCU-level stuff. However, they’re just not getting it. The bar has been set and DC doesn’t seem to ever really get there. Even Wonder Woman, which I liked immensely really only had its high level of success because of the compelling nature of its lead actress. Without Gal Gadot (or someone like her), that film would have been mediocre, as well.   

Will 2019 finally be the year for DC? I certainly hope so. Shazam looks like it will be a nice change of pace with a much-needed light-hearted and comedic twist a-la Guardians of the Galaxy. Meanwhile, The Joker film looks to be a dark entry into the DC film roster. I really hope (as I’m sure many of you do) that they do this one justice. Since Heath Ledger’s passing, it has been a character that “can’t ever be done correctly, again” in the minds of many. Akin to Wolverine/Logan being played by anyone other than Hugh Jackman, it’s tough to visualize anyone playing the Joker as well or better than Ledger did in The Dark Knight.

With that, let’s turn to some unsung/cheap covers for Shazam and The Joker with some drive-by descriptions…

 

*****

SHAZAM

 

*****

 

JSA #73 (1999 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – July 2005

ARTIST: Alex Ross

 

This whole little run of Ross covers for JSA is among my favorite work from this WILDLY unsung artist. Many people talk often about loving ross, yet so few of his covers have legs. I know I sound like a broken record, but Ross deserves more love… like A LOT more. Just look at the texture on that cape; that is exactly how satin falls and plays with light. The shadow work is impeccable and the calm poise and strength of the character is shown in beautifully masterful detail. Whereas this character is often shown in a very silly manner, Ross has taken Shazam seriously, here, and has done so expertly.

 

Billy Batson & the Magic of Shazam #2 (2008 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – October, 2008

ARTIST: Mike Kunkel

 

This is just a fun one and there’s not a ton to say about it, but I love it. The simplicity of this cover and the “comic-ness” of it is refreshing to me. I don’t always like Kunkel’s work, but for the Shazam character it just works. It is lighthearted much like the film looks like it will be. Not everything needs to take itself so seriously.

 

The Power of Shazam #15 (1995 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – June, 1996

ARTIST: Jerry Ordway

 

I really love this entire run of Ordway covers. They have a certain late Golden Age/early Silver Age feel to them that I love. They sort of feel like Buck Rogers covers and are all masterfully painted. Ordway barely ever gets talked about, but this one just has it. Expert composition and technique.

 

Superman/Shazam: First Thunder #1 (2005 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – November, 2005

ARTIST: Josh Middleton

 

Here’s a little Middleton mini-series (4 issues) that flies under the radar. With all of the Middleton talk over the past year, I have literally never heard this series mentioned. It is in his older style prior to him flexing his muscles and exploring different styles, but it is the look that originally made us fall in love with Josh and it is extremely effective, here, on this cover.

 

*****

The Joker

 

*****

 

There is almost an endless array of amazing Joker covers. I featured many of my favorites in Cover Tunes #27 (“No Laughing Matter”) so, if you’d like more Joker, head over there to satiate your appetite. When I did that feature, I left off a few of my faves and a few more have popped up over the past year. Here are a few of them with yet a few more runners up.

 

Batman #451 (1940 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – July, 1990

ARTIST: Norm Breyfogle

 

Okay, you all should be proud of the fact that I avoided Sienkiewicz, this week. However, I did choose this one which has a decidedly “Sink” feel to it. There is the wild mania in it and I love the action within the line work. This is a crazy cover that really stands out amidst a sea of meh covers on 90’s Bats books. This is my overall top pick of the week.

 

Batman and Robin Adventures #18 (1995 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – May, 1997

ARTIST: Ty Templeton

 

Sometimes simpler is better. Templeton has become synonymous with these “Adventures” titles and they are all simplistic gems. This one is, perhaps, his best in its starkness and contrast with crisp/clean lines and color. There is depth in this character even within the sparsest of renditions.

 

Birds of Prey #16 (1999 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – April, 2000

ARTIST: Jackson “Butch” Guice

 

This joint is just creepy and an awesome study in shadow and negative space. It is also a perspective gem. The subtle use of the glass to create depth is really cool and lends to the feeling that you’re glad you’re on this side of it.

 

Suicide Squad #9 (2014 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – August, 2015

ARTIST: Jim Lee

 

Another awesome Jim Lee Joker to add to your collection. I’ve featured others before (Batman #614 in Cover Tunes #27) and he just did that awesome one for Justice League’s #8 “B” cover and sketch variant. I think this one is just as good or better than those and shows why Lee has so many fans. When he hits, he hits hard. This one is no exception. I don’t have one, but I certainly want one.

 

JOKER RUNNERS UP

 

Batman Annual (1992) #16 (1940 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – August, 1992

ARTIST: Sam Kieth

 

You all loved that Batman: Secrets #3 from Kieth I chose for Cover Tunes #27, so I added another as a runner up. Also super weird and cool just like that one was.

 

Gotham City Sirens #24 (2009 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – August, 2011

ARTIST: Guillem March

 

Super-cool depth and perspective, huge guns and creepy Joker face. Win-win-win!

 

Batman Confidential #11 (2007 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – January, 2008

ARTIST: Denys Cowan

 

Such a unique sketchy style. I really dig this one. I figure many of you probably don’t love it which is why it’s a runner up, but I definitely need this.  

 

Batman Beyond #26 (2016 Series)

PUBLISHED: DC Comics – January, 2019

ARTIST: Viktor Kalvachev

 

Too new to really be featured (just came out a few weeks ago), but man I adore this cover and had to add it, here. I look forward to more amazingness from this artist in the future.

 

*****

 

Well, that will do it for another week. I hope there was a little something in here for everyone. If not, never fear, there is always next week. Next time, Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel in part three of the 2019 film-related covers. Until then, be well, be kind to each other, thanks for reading and happy hunting.

 

 

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