The Usual Suspects #43
Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. This week I wanted to look at a forgotten great artist, J.G. Jones. Last summer Jones announced that he was taking an extended break from his work as a writer and artist due to health issues. I wish him well and hope for a speedy recovery as I know we all would love to see more of his work. But in the meantime, I thought it was worthwhile to look back at some of his work and spotlight an underrated cover artist.
J.G. Jones began his comic career 25 years ago. He made his debut in the comics industry in 1994 by drawing Dark Dominion for Defiant Comics. Defiant Comics, remember them? They did Warriors of Plasm, The Good Guys, and Charlemagne. I’m sure you’ve passed plenty of these in the dollar bins.
The 90’s, what a decade. For comics there was so much product, it was nuts. Everyone wanted to be the new Image or Valiant. New publishers came out not with an entire universe all at once. I mean we had Malibu, Chaos, Crossgen, and Defiant to name a few. They came fast on the scene and they disappeared almost as quick.
But Defiant was Jim Shooter’s baby after he was forced out at Valiant. But that’s a story for another time. Dark Dominion was the second ongoing title from Defiant following Warriors of Plasm. And near the tail end of its 10 issue run, a new artist named J.G. Jones came on to do art for issues 7, 8, and 9 with Len Wein. The art had that house style that was very reminiscent of early Valiant titles, which I am sure was by Shooter’s design. But you could see a hint of the style that JG would come to share over the next 2 decades.
JG has been around the block having worked consistently for the big 2 as well as Image and some other indie publishers. This article isn’t meant to be a retrospective as I anticipate we have plenty more great art to come, but it’s easy to forget how many big titles he’s worked on that most people might’ve forgotten about.
Even with the news that FX is no longer moving forward with a Y the Last Man series, which is still a great book and a key #1. J.G. happened to do the covers for issues 1 through 17. And let’s not forget he did the entire series of Wanted with Mark Millar, a great Wonder Woman Run following Adam Hughes, and the mini for Marvel Boy with Grant Morrison.
Those were some big titles and some big name creators that J.G. has worked with. But it was during the 2000’s that he really shined at DC. DC tried something unheard of at the time in deliver a weekly series that ran for an entire year called 52. Jones provided all 52 covers.
He followed that up by working again with Grant Morrison on DC’s mega event Final Crisis. While he did receive some help finishing the interiors on the last few issues, the bulk of the series and the gorgeous covers were all J.G. Jones.
J.G. jones is quite versatile. As he can do pencils and provide painted work as well. Not many artists can deftly move between both art styles without a loss in quality. He can deliver traditional comic art action as well as realistic photo realistic work. Just check out some examples below.
So with that said…let’s get into it.
1:25 Incentive Variant
So for our first choice let’s take a look at this HTF Steam punk variant cover. This is most certainly the most sought after Steam Punk variant in the series of 1:25’s from DC in April of 2014. For a full list, check out this CBSI article.
Steam Punk has its place, but not everyone is a fan. Personally I can be into some parts about the culture; but not everything. That said, some folks are just straight up against it.
Now, regardless of your feelings on Steam Punk culture, I feel it’s pretty hard to argue against this cover. It’s gorgeous and different for a Wonder Woman cover. And really, calling this Steampunk is a bit of a stretch to me. Sure it has the Top hat and goggles but this is far from Infernal Devices or The Greyfriar.
Looking at the Wonder Woman cover, this appears more like something out of the old west and Wonder Woman is a Madame at a saloon brothel like Thandie Newton’s character out of Westworld.
That said I was always more partial to Al Swearengen’s The Gem. But that place is probably a bit too low class for how Wonder Woman is portrayed in her fancy get up.
But enough about brothels and salty language filled saloon owners. The art on this 1:25 is outstanding. But again, even though this is a Steampunk variant it again just looks like the old west to me with the six shooters and saloon doors. You take away the top hat and goggles, it isn’t steam punky at all. In fact, I look at it and all I can see is Wendy in Porky’s The Next Day.
Active Listings: Only 3 copies of this available right now, and 2 of them are a German editions so it’s really only. With foreign editions all the rage these days, if you want to drop $100 on a German edition, you go right ahead.
But if you need that regular edition then your only option is a CGC 9.4 for $349.99 from Graham Cracker Comics.
Market Analysis: Not a lot of sales, but a CGC 9.6 sold for $400 a couple weeks ago, which isn’t that far off from the last CGC 9.8 sale back in the fall. Definitely not an easy book to find, as evidenced by raw prices being not far off from those high grade slabs. Last raw sale was for $350, so any copy has potential to hit a new high watermark for sales.
1:50 Incentive Variant
So Spider-man 2099 has seen a lot of renewed interest as a result of the end credit scene in Into the Spider-verse. And this book here is probably his most sought after variant. Just a really great cover. But while that end credit scene has sparked interest in Miguel O’Hara as a character, it really has not translated into higher sales. Prices are down recently, but it could turn around with news of inclusion in the sequel.
They did set the stage for utilizing him in the sequel. I mean this wasn’t just a throwaway appearance. They did get Oscar Isaac to voice him. So you probably don’t waste Poe Dameron on a one-off jokey end credit scene. That said, I could waste this opportunity to give you some perfectly fine Poe Dameron clip, instead of this awesomeness from Ex Machina. Lucky for you, I always lean towards awesomeness.
And speaking of awesomeness, have you taken a good look at this 1:50 variant. The lighting effects and texture make it seem like you can just reach out and feel this costume. Live action film? Look no further, here is your costume design. Plus he looks like he’s ready for the MCU already in this image. Wakanda Forever!
Active Listings: With only 2 copies available, one would think prices would be higher. But right now your only options are of two raw copies for $135 and $115 respectively. With a print run that was in excess of 89k copies, this 1:50 variant would seem to have a lot of potential copies available. But I’m not sure that is the case given the lack of options on the market.
Market Analysis: Even if you look at sales, you would expect more than 41 tracked sales since its release in 2013. Prices over the last year are way up on average, but those most recent sales traded well below the average market. Not sure if the moment has passed for now, and perhaps this is the time to buy.
I mean if you look at that most recent CGC 9.8 sale at $240, and compare it to a sale for $400 made just after the release of Into the Spider-verse in theaters in December, this book seems to have been forgotten about. Bad for sellers, good for buyers.
1:25 Incentive Variant
If you ask me, this would’ve been a better option than the Birds of Prey movie we are getting. Don’t get me wrong, there is some potential still in Birds of Prey: The Emancipation of this title is way to long for any to hold their attention, oh look Harley Quinn or whatever it’s called. I am nervous with what they’ve shown in the teaser.
Sure Harley is great and Cassandra Cain may be the next X-23. But Ewan McGregor’s Black Mask looks like Johnny Cage from the Mortal Kombat movie from the 90’s.
Speaking of the 90’s, Victor Zsasz here could be Jonny Lee Miller’s stunt double for Hackers.
Black Canary might as well be Desperately Seeking Susan. While the Huntress took her costume from the early 2000’s TV show and feels a bare midriff is the best way to tackle crime on the streets.
And did they cast Rosie Perez back in the 90’s and she’s remained in the role all these years? I mean seriously, this is not how I expected the role to be cast. I never saw Renee Montoya as a 54 year old cop. Yes she played so-so convincing cop in Pineapple Express, and that was 11 years ago. But who knows? Maybe this won’t be a dumpster fire.
But I still firmly believe Gotham City Sirens was the better path. I mean look at that trio on the 1:25 variant above. Who wouldn’t prefer spending 90 mins to 2 hours with Harley, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy? Getting into some hijinks and dealing with a bigger bad than them. No so much out of a sense of good and righteousness but maybe a bit of revenge and self-preservation. And if they would’ve left Black Mask in his actual mask like in the video game below, they’d have something truly interesting. I mean look at the below. Without words a video game clip emotes with just the eyes inside a terrifying skull mask. It could be done. At least that’s my opinion.
Active Listings: Half a dozen active listings on this one. A CGC 9.8 and a CBCS 9.8 both up for over $800 with shipping. Following that, you can get a CGC 9.6 or a raw for around $400. Cheapest copy is a raw for $350.
I had a shot to buy one for $240 from an LCS a couple months back. It was on the wall forever. I prob could have made a deal and grabbed it for $200, but I kept hemming and hawing and putting it off until I had some extra loot so it wouldn’t have been so much of a hit on the ol’ wallet. Then one day, it was gone.
Market Analysis: Prices are up across the board on this one. $800 seems to be the going rate for a 9.8 on it. Raws are getting harder and harder to come by and the prices are climbing.
1:25 Incentive Variant
Another Steampunk variant from JG. For a second I thought he did all of these 1:25’s because these were the only two I knew and I knew he did them both. But realistically these are just the best two in my opinion.
This one at least looks more Steam Punk to me. From the background framing to the motorcycle, to her old timey mechanized get up, this actually looks like something out of Jules Verne.
Atmosphere. That what sells the Steampunk vibe to me. The atmosphere and this image creates that. At least more so than the Wonder Woman. Put all the gears, top hats, spectacles, goggles, and high collared Victorian shirts on that you want. Without atmosphere, you will just look like this guy.
Or, if done right you can get something really cool looking like Lady Mechanika from Joe Benitez.
Active Listings: Only 7 active listings on his one. Highest asking price right now is $649.95 for a raw copy. Following that are a pair of CGC 9.8’s for $550 and $600. $450 can get you a CGC 9.6, or you can grab the cheapest option which happens to be a VF+ raw for $200.
Market Analysis: Less sales on this than the WW #28, even though there are potentially a few more copies of this one out there. Prices over the long term are up but we haven’t had a graded sale since last June.
About $200 is the cost of a raw these days which is the same as the last completed CGC 9.8 sale back on 6/27/18. That could’ve been a steal as you can see on the current market prices. Who blinks first to get another sale on the books?
1:50 Incentive Variant
This book is very Low print and reminds me of Jessica Chastain a bit. With a reported print run of just north of 28k, there may be less than 600 copies of this one available. Prices seems well below the rarity of this one. With a movie on the way this one might have some room to grow.
JS Campbell may get all hype, but JGJ delivers the mood and ambience with his work. The JSC’s could be Danger Girl covers or just some pin up cheesecake covers. They are great for what they are but they could really be about anything. You might like the below cover, but is it just for the image on the cover? Do you have any idea or desire to actually read what’s inside?
Now I will probably get back to that JSC cover at some point because it is very nice. Who stands leaning over like that? I don’t know, but it looks pretty.
Now look back at this 1:50 cover above. JG Jones work really sells the espionage and mood of a spy thriller to me. It looks like a movie poster of a movie I want to see. So I want to see inside this book and actually…god forbid…read it. Crazy, I know.
But that’s what the job of a cover used to be. Now it’s just an excuse to sell even more books regardless of the content inside. Most covers these days have very little to do with what occurs inside the pages. That’s an op ed for another day.
Active Listings: Only 2 raw copies available right now. One for $200 and the other for $350.
Market Analysis: A Raw just sold on 4/15 for $175, and that may be a steal. I’m not sure why prices are so low on this cover. The trade dress works beautifully with the cover image almost giving the illusion of a virgin cover. Only 4 graded sales and none for over $100, this ghost has been a bargain buy.
With the movie on the way all variants will see an uptick as more and more news begins to trickle out. Keep an eye on this one.
Ok that’s it for this week. Hopefully this has given you some interest in going back and checking out some more of J.G. Jones’ work. Those were some big books and may not fit everyone’s budgets. But I still have a few more books to share with you in Person of Interest.
So in this issue of Detective Comics features the beginning of a great run with Batwoman as the feature character.
Batwoman was successfully introduced to the Arrowverse on the CW this past year and she is apparently getting her own series. Apart from her reintroduction issues in 52 issue #7 and #9, this Incentive variant would be the book to own.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 59
CGC 9.8 – $130.00 on 2/8/19
Raw – $19.50 on 4/8/19
This book started a great run with Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne as Batman & Robin. Their dynamic was insanely entertaining and I wish we had them for a bit longer together.
Once again, this Incentive variant would be a great book to own if you enjoyed that run as it is an incentive variant. Not impossible to find being a 1:10, but still worth a few bucks if you have them to spare.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 196
CGC 9.8 – $22.50 on 4/6/19
Raw – $17.95 on 3/16/19
Didn’t she have her own animated series on CW’s the Seed or something?
Regardless, I enjoyed her character on Legends of Tomorrow. Underrated series in my opinion. Cheesy and goofy, but why can’t superheroes be fun? They don’t all need to be sad and sulky DC. Look at Shazam.
Anyway, gorgeous cover and very cheap. Cheaper than it should be.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 38
CGC 9.8 – 24.10 on 3/6/19
Raw – $1.70 on 1/3/19
This is the best Final Crisis cover, by far. If this were an incentive variant, this would be $$$.
However, lucky for us fans of art, this was only a B cover so this is plenty easy to find. You may have to pay a few extra bucks, but look at it. It’s absolutely worth owning.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 34 across 2 covers
CGC 9.8 – $133.50 on 9/7/18
Raw – $8.00 on 3/20/19
This is a recent super High ratio book that is not easy to find. Not many 1:200 variants lying around as not every LCS can afford 200 copies, even for a book like Jason Aaron’s Avengers.
But there is a trade dress version too that is cheaper as I believe it is a 1:25. So if you want a deal, go for that one, but collectors want the rarest version so it will always be second fiddle to this virgin version.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 2
CGC 9.8 – No Sales
Raw – $124.99 on 2/18/19
…I just want you to know it’s over….