ISSUE #51: Swipe Right
Greeting from Music City, CBSI! Welcome to a brand-spankin’-new Cover Tunes. This week, under the suggestion of a dear friend and reader, I thought I’d take a look at some cover swipes that have long since been neglected. Thanks, John, for the excellent idea.
There are, of course, many swipe/homage covers in the market with more and more hitting every day. There are a few which are almost as famous as the original inspiration such as Batman #227’s amazing swipe of Detective #31 which was accomplished by Neal Adams. However, even a book like Bats #227 isn’t affordable to most people and, therefore, doesn’t belong in a Cover Tunes conversation.
Also, MANY homages/swipes have been used as incentive variants and can be rather expensive such as the X-23 #15 swipe of Daredevil #181. Store variants such as the recent “Shattered” variants and the 500-billion Spiderman #300 homages, a similar number of Hulk #181 homages and plenty of the same title swiping its own cover such as Spiderman #301, Hulk #393, Swamp Thing #33, Giant Size X-Men #3, etc. My focus today won’t be on any of those, but instead on tried-and-true homages/swipes that can be gotten inexpensively and are as good or better than the original (well, nothing is ever as good as the original, really).
NOTE: Technically, a swipe is theft where the artist claims the work is originally their own idea when it isn’t (see today’s final entry). An homage is just that; an artist paying tribute to an earlier influential/important work. Unfortunately, the hobby has chosen to use these two words interchangeably even though they shouldn’t be.
I came up with over a dozen of these that I absolutely love, so I’m going to split this into two parts both this week and next week. I hope you enjoy them. With that, let’s get to the first round…
PUBLISHED: DC Comics – September, 2006
ARTIST: Adam Hughes
PUBLISHED: First Comics – September, 1987
ARTIST: Frank Miller
We start off with a weird one, here. Often considered to be the “dud” of Hughes’ Catwoman run, this #57 is actually a really excellent (and amusing) homage to Lone Wolf and Cub #5. I particularly like the attention to color by Hughes in order to make it look like an antique print on rice paper. This gives it an appropriate eastern feel. (NOTE: Deadpool Merc With a Mouth #11 does a great homage to this same Lone Wolf cover). While it doesn’t garner the payday that Catwoman books like #51, #70 or #74 do, it is still part of an epic and famous cover run.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 2007
ARTIST: Greg Land
PUBLISHED: EC Comics – April/May, 1954
ARTIST: Johnny Craig
This is one of my all-time favorites and it is so often overlooked. I quite often find it in dollar bins and so will you. Of course, I’m a sucker for horror books, so I’m drawn to this one more than I might otherwise be. It is still a fantastic cover and fits extremely well with a Wolverine book. So many homages have nothing to do thematically with the original, so this one gets an extra point or two in my book for being relevant. I harp on this all the time, but there are some amazing Land covers that get completely ignored. This is definitely one of them. Technically, it was a variant, but it was a regularly-priced “B” cover, so it does fit our format, here.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – December, 1997
ARTIST: Nathan Massengill
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – August/September, 1962
ARTIST: Jack Kirby (pencils) & Steve Ditko (inks)
Next, we move on to a more mainstream swipe on a book that gets swiped quite often: Amazing Fantasy #15. Attempting to list them all would be folly, but the most notable example is probably the extremely valuable Ditko variant for Amazing Spider-Man #700. For our purposes, though, let’s look at a more affordable option on a book that people do still want (just not as much as the Ditko variant). This Deadpool #11, like most of the early Deadpools, won’t be found in dollar bins, but it is a fairly easy get for $10-$15 fairly regularly. With that said, I have found it for under $5 pretty frequently in shops. It is a simple, clean swipe done by Nathan Massengill that pays wonderful homage to the original in a fun and very “Deadpoolian” way.
PUBLISHED: DC Comics – June, 2017
ARTIST: Lee Bermejo
PUBLISHED: DC Comics – August, 1999
ARTIST: Alex Ross
I don’t normally feature hyper-moderns, but this is a worthy exception. It is almost two years old, though, so it’s acceptably “seasoned” by now. This was a regularly-priced “B” cover upon release and was hot, at first. It has since cooled down to around cover price. With the upcoming release of another homage of the original Ross cover for DC’s DCeased series (one that the community seems to be rebelling against due to “Big Joker Hands”… don’t worry Arthur, you get some love from me, next week), I expect folks to circle back around to this Bermejo cover. The original Ross is one of his best covers and a worthy one to pay tribute to. It is a magnificently rendered piece worthy to be alongside the original. With the love Bermejo has recently received from his Batman: Damned work, this is a great time to get this Suicide Squad #16 on the cheap.
PUBLISHED: Image Comics – February, 1993
ARTIST: Todd McFarlane
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – August, 1990
ARTIST: Todd McFarlane
If I were to list all of the Spawn covers that are homages, I’d run out of memory on my computer, but this #8 is a true homage to Todd’s own work (although, #220 – #229 are most of the other good ones). In my opinion, this Spawn is just as good (if not better) than his own original Spidey cover. Frankly, in my opinion, this #8 is the best early Spawn cover.
As a matter of fact, I loved this Spawn cover so much when I was younger, I actually entered a contest and submitted my own recreation of it and was lucky enough to be chosen to have mine published in Comic Values Monthly #94 (see below). Please, don’t judge me too harshly. I was 15 years old, but I was smart enough to give credit to McFarlane right in the art. So, if anyone is ever looking for Mike Morello’s first published comic art, this is the one. Ha!!!
Okay, back down to business. If I was honest enough to give credit in a drawing I did when I was 15 years old, why is it so difficult for others to give credit to their inspirations? With that said, I give you this next and last one for the week. An artist who likes to curse and moan to people about how awesome and original he is when his originality is questionable. At least he’s good at pouches, though. Thus, I give you…
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – March, 1990
ARTIST: Rob Liefeld
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – March, 1976
ARTIST: Gil Kane & Dan Adkins
So, here’s the fun one… in light of Rob Liefeld’s recent antics pertaining to Spiderman/Deadpool #47 vs. his very expensive exclusive variant for Major X’s first appearance, I thought I’d point this one out which isn’t known to many collectors. This past week, he seemed to really like to curse out anyone who even mentioned that he wasn’t first to market with his Major X character, but I think maybe we need to remind Rob of the actual definition of “first.”
New Mutants #87’s cover gets swiped a lot, right? Even Rob has swiped it from himself, right? Well, Liefeld has said that he swiped his own NM #87 work for Transformers: Dark Cybertron #1 (IDW – November, 2013. Pictured above). HOWEVER, in the true definition of swiping (which is theft where one claims the original idea is their own when it is, in fact, not), good ol’ Rob seems to have clearly taken the idea for New Mutants #87 from Avengers #145 whether he admits it or not. It was published seven years earlier than NM #87. Maybe his memory just isn’t great. I can understand a moment of “mis-remembering,” but see and decide for yourself. Avengers #145 can be had for $5 or less. I wonder what Liefeld paid for his copy back in 1976.
For more homage/swipe goodness, check out DC’s great run of movie poster variants or Marvel’s Hip Hop variant run. There is also the very fun cover run for Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth that pay homage to many film posters, as well.
With that, I leave you for yet another week. I hope you enjoyed this one as much as I did writing it. I’ll be reporting back from Star Wars Celebration, next week, but will be doing Part 2 to this feature. So, until then and as always, drop a comment to let me know what you’re thinking, be well, thanks for reading and happy hunting.