ISSUE #41 – Widow-Makers

 

Welcome back, fellow cover aficionados. Confession time. I bought a stupid book this week, but sometimes you just can’t help yourself. I got the Mexican Mole version of Siege #3 (The Campbell one with the gold chains and the girls). My buddy who tells me I wasn’t able to conceive a child until I put a Sienkiewicz painting above my bed is the one who brought it to me. He suggested I should swap what’s over my bed, now, with this Campbell issue.

I’ve made a concerted effort to purge all things Campbell from my collection save a copy of X-Men #205, the most recent Domino incentive variant and a copy of Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1, 2nd print (which is the black and white sketch version of this same Siege #3 cover). I just could not resist this color version. So, take all the shots at me you want about this one, but I just love that stupid cover. It screams Deadpool and is my favorite Campbell cover. If you wouldn’t mind though, my fellow cover hunters, please, let’s keep it between you and me (and don’t lie, some of you love that cover as much as I do).

This week, let’s brush off that waste of time that was the colossal bore of a Super Bowl and turn our entertainment attention to some awesome covers, instead.  I’m going to put a little hiccup into our 2019 movie-related covers segment (which I will get back to, next week) and instead, focus on some future film-related news.

Black Widow looks like she has the green light for an upcoming Marvel film project which has Scarlett Johansson landing a $15-million contract to play the character she has become synonymous with. There is also some discussion over a possible “R” rating which would be the first MCU film to have such a moniker. I, for one, am excited by all of this and hope the film does the character justice. It appears as though it will be a prequel which tells Natasha’s origin and escape from Russia.  

With that news, let’s explore some unsung Black Widow covers that should be seeing more love as the film progresses. There’s a little something in here for all eras of the modern costume version of Black Widow that was initially introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #86 (which is also the version Disney/Marvel has decided on using for their filmed adaptations). The version given to us in Tales of Suspense through the 1960’s is quite a different design and largely not associated with the modern idea of the character (even though it is the same person).

Further tangents aside, let’s get to the covers, shall we?…

 

Daredevil #83 (1964 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – January, 1972

ARTIST: John Romita Sr.

 

I love this era of Black Widow art. Romita and Colan and the like managed to draw her essentially naked and let the colorists add her “costume.” I love that they got away with that during the comic code era. This is just a fantastic study in line and space on a nice early Black Widow cover, drawn by a master. It can be gotten all day, every day for under $10.

 

Daredevil #188 (1964 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – November, 1982

ARTIST: Frank Miller

 

Ahhh, remember when Frank Miller’s art looked cool like this rather than being so freaking tweaked that you have no idea what the picture is actually of? The use of negative space, here, is brilliant. It is all about the shadow work and contrast. This entire run on Daredevil which made Miller famous and brought DD back into the spotlight is one of the most iconic runs in comic history. This is one of my all-time favorites.

Some people call this a “key” in that it is the return of Black Widow since her earlier DD appearances. In between, Miller brought in his own invention of Elektra and when she was killed off, brought Black Widow back in. It didn’t last long as Miller’s run would only last another dozen issues. I recommend trying to pick up the whole run, but it is a bit pricey to do so since there are 3 or 4 legit keys in the group. This one is one of the cheap ones, though.

 

Marvel Fanfare #10 (1982 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – August, 1983

ARTIST: George Perez

 

I had admittedly never seen this cover until I went down the Black Widow Rabbit hole over the weekend. I got so excited to see a Perez piece for Black Widow and this particular one is a gem. It accomplishes a lot of what the DD #188 does, above, but very much in Perez’s own way. It bellows from the rooftops that the Copper Age has arrived and that things are going to look different from here on out (for better and for worse). I love it and can’t wait to pick one up on the cheap.

 

Journey Into Mystery #517 (1952 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – February, 1998

ARTIST: Randall “Randy” Green

 

The 90’s didn’t have a whole lot to offer as far as decent Black Widow covers were concerned, but there is something about this one that I love. Granted, it screams 90’s (which is generally a decidedly NOT good thing), yet there is something alluring about this cover to me. It has a comic book-ish quality that is largely gone from comics; a certain fiction and characterization that many collectors still long for and it is that which keeps artists like J. Scott Campbell in business (see intro, above). Exaggerations of body parts, lots of “shine” and strange muscle proportions, gravity-defying hair, doll-like facial features which, when put together in a composition, seem to actually work in some strange reality-altering manner. I can’t explain it, but it is accomplished really well, here. Of course, there is the added issue of too much trade dress, but that is nearly impossible to escape during the 90’s and early 2000’s.    

 

Black Widow #1 (2004 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – November, 2004

ARTIST – Greg Land

 

I say it all of the time and I’m happy to say it again… Greg Land does not get enough love. The market focuses too much of their attention on his one Gwen cover and seems to ignore the rest. Possibly, because so many of his covers are on regular non-variant books and those generally don’t have value, people ignore him. I have no idea what the reason is, but he churns out quality cover after quality cover, year after year. Check out the early Domino covers from the current series. Those may be the best covers of 2018.

Inasmuch, this Black Widow cover is also fantastic. It has enough realism to have personality, enough allure to be sexy and a huge gun to make it… well… sexier. It also has snow and we do love us some snow. Additionally, I love that this cover has an appropriate backdrop rather than so many modern covers that are just solid colors which always seems cheap and lazy to me. The stark color palette lends a nice fluidity into the trade dress while simultaneously allowing the figure to pop. It’s a great cover that can be had for a song.

 

Black Widow: Deadly Origin #2 (2010 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – February, 2010

ARTIST: Adi Granov

 

By far my hands-down favorite cover of the week. Talk about an artists who continually gets the recognition shaft, Adi Granov has some of the best covers in comics. There is a white costume variant of this cover, as well, just so you’re aware. Both are cool, but I tend to lean toward this version in that it is more in-line with the character concept and seems to work better.

Granov’s style is very unique, intricate and highly-detailed. There is a smooth, sleak quality to his work and it almost has a three-dimensional feel to it. It is a full composition rather than just some phoned-in figural work and it has all of the attitude I want in this character. Overall, just an exquisite rendering of a great character. And, again… snow and a really big gun. Yay!

 

Black Widow #5 (2010 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – October, 2010

ARTIST: Daniel Acuna

 

Here is a really cool cover in a very different style that employs awesome color choice to get the message across. It has a mod/espionage feel to it and uses similar technique as the Noto featured below, but in a decidedly unique manner. Most Black Widow covers employ dark color palettes and that generally fits the mood pretty well, but this one with the bright yellows and oranges really pops and works for me. Not every artist could pull it off, but Acuna does it expertly.

 

Black Widow #13 (2014 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – February, 2015

ARTIST: Phil Noto

 

Noto, the artist who does so much with so little. This is one tough=@$$ cover. The fantastic use of reds that blend right into the background is a really cool and subtle nod to violence and that “don’t F with me” attitude. The smoking guns give the great impression of frozen live-action which I love. Static covers get so boring, these days. I love the fluidity of Noto’s brush strokes that give the impression of boundaries without really having any. It is a great showing of efficiency and mastery. His entire BW run is pretty cool, but this is the stand-out.

 

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THE HYPER-MODERN CHOICE

 

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Black Widow #1 Fried Pie “BAM” Cover (2016 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – May, 2016

ARTIST: Stephanie Hans

 

At this point, I don’t think any of us really consider these Fried Pie covers to be real variants. They were always cover price and every BAM had them (and still had them all the way up to getting rid of comics, altogether). There are few stand-outs from the entire Fried Pie run. Most were actually pretty poor. This one might be the best of all of them and it’s because of Stephanie Hans’ art that is just awesome. With the popularity she has garnered over the past couple of years, this one might start to dry up once people realize it’s a thing. For now, though, it can still be snagged for cover or less.

 

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PAST COVER TUNES SELECTION

 

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Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her #2 (2005 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – December, 2005

ARTIST: Bill Sienkiewicz

 

For my full write-up on this one, visit Cover Tunes #13. An all time favorite Sink and the best in the series, in my opinion.

 

*****

 

There you have it, folks.  Next week, we will close out the 2019 movie-related covers with Spiderman, Masters of the Universe and a surprise or two) Before you sign off for the week, though, drop me a line in the comments and let me know your favorites. Until next week, be good to each other, thanks for reading and happy hunting.

 

18 comments

  • Martin Fairlie

    Great article Mike. I agree with you about Land and Granov. Not enough love for either of them.

    Even though the Land book is part of a mini series, you have the bonus of Sink interiors and it was also written by Richard K Morgan, who was the author of Altered Carbon.

  • Avatar

    That Black Widow #6 Campbell Variant goes for a pretty penny..

  • Ben C

    Damn, awesome covers and great info this week Mike, thanks!!

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    I was pretty stoked to get George Perez to sign my Marvel Fanfare 10 (& 11) at this pas DragonCon. It’s such a great cover.

  • SkillzWeldon

    I have the White Granov I grabbed it for $5 at a One-Day Con.

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    In general, I agree with you about Land (check his Birds of Prey covers!), but that specific cover is I think, a great example of why so many people hate him. The head and body look like they’re referenced from completely different sources; it creates a bobble-head like effect.

    Dear god, that Billy the Sink cover is GORGEOUS.

  • Dell18

    Agree about Land and Granov. I do like scoring their stuff cheap often though. I like the Randy Green too. I remember liking his run on something I own but can’t remember what. I own a bunch of Marvel Fanfare issues. A lot of great covers, interior art, back cover art and often stories. Many by Chris Claremont. The Acuna might be my favorite though which is saying something when the competition includes Miller, Perez, Land and Sienkiewicz.

    • Mike Morello

      Dell, you’re right, that is tough company, but I agree that Acuna is excellent. Is the Green run you’re thinking of his Witchblade run?

      • Dell18

        Y’know, it is the Witchblade run. Thanks. On the Miller Daredevil note, I almost like his run with Mazzuchelli as much as his own art. Same with Year One vs Dark Knight. I know that’s almost sacrilege but still….

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    Great article. That Miller covwr is one of my favorites. The short hair at the time screamed Russian agent. Granov covers are alwaya a classic. Till next week.

  • Avatar

    Great article. That Miller cover is one of my favorites. The short hair at the time screamed Russian agent. Granov covers are always a classic. Till next week.

    • Mike Morello

      Thanks, my friend. I agree, that Miller is one of my favorites from the whole run and that’s saying something from such a classic group of covers. Always appreciate the support, man.

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