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Judging (DC’s April) Books By Their Covers

by  in Comic News Comment

DC’s April solicits have been up for awhile, so let’s make some prejudgments based just on the covers (as we all love to make prejudgments, don’t we?).

Let’s begin!
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Another awesome cover layout by Phil Hester for Superman Confidential.


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John Mellencamp best not tell Superman and Batman that they can’t play “This is Our Country” if they feel like it.


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Come on, Supergirl, digging through chocolate pudding is not going to cure cancer!!!


Otherwise, fine cover by Drew Johnson.
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I dig this Freddie Williams Robin cover.


Gets the effect he is looking for over well.
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I admire Rags Morales and Michael Bair for trying to get a lot into this Nightwing cover, but the layout of the images does not strike me as visually pleasing.


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Best look alive, Gordon! Spoiler’s going for your belt!!


Decent Calafiore cover for Gotham Underground. One of the stronger Gotham Underground covers, actually.
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Very appropriate cover by Yoshinori Natsume for his Batman: Death Mask mini-series.


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Combining these two old Simone Bianchi covers for this Batman/Two-Face trade works pretty well.


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I like the “target” motif Rags Morales has been using for this Batman Confidential storyline.


It seems like something I’ve seen before…a cool point to the first person who can tell me of a series of covers using the “target” theme like these Batman Confidential covers. Maybe a Punisher storyline?
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Okay, am I missing something on this Alex Ross cover?

How are the shadows working on this cover?


Is it that Batman’s body is covered only in shadows, and the only part NOT in shadows is his bat insignia? Is that it?

That makes probably the MOST sense, but that does not make much sense.
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Jim Lee has been drawing an excellent Robin lately.


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I know he’s done plenty of fine work since then, but I can’t help but think of his JLI days every time I see a Kevin Maguire cover.


Nice layout on this Action Comics cover.
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Nifty take on a classic Wonder Woman motif by Bernard Chang.


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For crying out loud, Mellencamp, you won’t even let Uncle Sam use it?!?!


Nice Dave Johnson cover.
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After three amazing covers, I think Karl Kerschl stumbles a bit on the fourth Teen Titans Year One cover.


Well drawn, of course, but seems like more of an interior panel than an actual cover.
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Man, Eddy Barrows really messed up on this Teen Titans cover. DC really ought to let Ed Benes give him a stern talking to.


Eddy, if you have a chance at drawing a female character’s ass on the cover, you TAKE it, man!!

What’s the point of having Wonder Girl on the cover otherwise?!?!
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It’s funny, Ian Churchill is really a very nice cover designer. My only problems with him ever is stylistic choices he makes in the execution of his designs. And the funny thing THERE is that it is clearly a conscious decision – Churchill does not HAVE to draw like that, he’s extremely talented enough to draw in a better way, but, as George Perez said about Churchill , “I know the fans like Ian, and it’s always nice to have the fans on your side,” so there ya go.


Nice Titans #1 cover.
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Another nice Carlos Pacheco cover for the Tangent maxi-series.


No matter how many times I say it, “Tangent maxi-series” still just sounds wrong.

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SHARDS BATTLE…BEGIN!!

John K. Snyder gets off to a strong start with his manic Suicide Squad cover featuring a shards of glass motif.


Extra points for using the shards to depict other stuff that’s going on (as opposed to just drawing three boxes on a cover, a la this month’s Nightwing)

However, Scott Hampton meets the challenge easily with his stylized Simon Dark cover, as he ALSO uses his shards to depict other story points, but his cover just has a cooler vibe to it all together.


Mostly because HIS shards are shards of flesh being held together by stitches – that’s pretty darn cool, no?
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Loser has to continue appearing in Salvation Run!!


Otherwise, a fine cover by Sean Chen, although I have been wondering for awhile, what the heck is Luthor wearing? Did he just watch a bunch of Miami Vice DVDs?
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You have to love Damion Scott’s design skills.


I dunno if I dig this Raven cover, but I bet there’s plenty of tattoo artists out there who would love to try a Damion Scott piece on a customer.
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Duncan Rouleau! You have disappointed me!

Still a good Metal Men cover, but seven is, like, the easiest number to work into a cover, and THAT’S how you chose to do it?


BORING!!!

Well drawn, of course, but boring!

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I often give Koi Turnbull some guff, and yet he has a very similar style to Frances Manapul, who I rarely give guff to, but I think a cover like this is a good example of why Manapul is the much stronger artist.


Look at the control and carefulness in this cover – Manapul is an energetic artist, for sure, but he never lacks control, which makes all the difference, I think.
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When people look for a financially sound investment, financiers refer them to investments known as “Sean Chen” investments.


Which he shows again with this JSA Classified cover (although he threw in a little bit of flair into this one!).
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I’m thrilled to see Ross bringing his action game to this JSA cover, but I think it falls into the 33% of Ross action covers that are just too busy.


But boy, when he strikes the right balance? Gorgeous stuff.

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I loves me some Jordi Bernet, but this Jonah Hex cover looks pretty fugly.


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Finally, a cover that accurately captures the feeling one gets while looking at Ethan Van Sciver covers.


I kid, Ethan, I kid! Give me a break! I haven’t teased a cover of yours since, like, September!!
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This Infinity Inc. cover reminds me of how Alvin and the Chipmunks tried going to the movies, or how the Smurfs tried traveling through time.

Why hire Peter Milligan when you apparently didn’t want a Peter Milligan comic book?


Nice Pete Woods cover!
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I’m digging this new style Ivan Reis has been using.


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Another strong Freddie Williams cover. I think he’s been doing a sort of Pat Gleason style lately, and it works really well.


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On the whole, I like this Jim Starlin cover for the finale of Death of the New Gods, but man, what emotion is Superman showing here?


Is it supposed to be rage? If rage, what’s he doing in that pose? If it is sorrow, the pose makes sense, but then the facial expression doesn’t make sense.

Is he, like, doing the “crush your head” bit from Kids in the Hall?
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I like this Mike McKone cover for this DC/Wildstorm crossover.


It’s energetic without losing coherence, and he goes with the tried and true method of action covers – always depict them right BEFORE they actually hit each other!

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I like his Eclipso on this Countdown to Mystery cover by Ethan Van Sciver, but I don’t get what he’s holding.


Is that supposed to be a black diamond?
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Clever of having one Kubert brother start the Countdown covers and having the other one finish it up.

Good cover.


That said, has a company gotten less out of a pair of exclusives than DC has gotten out of the Kubert brothers?

It’s almost been three years since their three-year deal was announced (I do not know when the deal officially began), and yet, in that time, we’ve seen, what, less than ten total issues between the two, right?

Weird.
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Impressive Checkmate cover by Kalman Andrasofszky.


The mysterious rooks look as imposing as they should.
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This Stephane Roux Birds of Prey cover looks a LOT different than standard Roux covers.


Weird.

So, is Manhunter just totally done as an ongoing or what?
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This is a disappointment. I loves me some Zach Howard artwork, so the fact that he’s being given a shot on mainstream covers is great news for me…


but this cover?

I’m not loving it.

All the special effects obscure the point of the cover, which is strange, as Howard is usually a much clearer cover designer.
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Strong George Perez cover.


Could someone please fix Metamorpho? PLEASE?
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Is this seriously a new cover for this Four Horsemen trade by Van Sciver, or am I forgetting when this cover was used on the original series?


Fair enough layout.
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Has Cassie been used on the cartoon show? If so, what do they call her? Do they call Donna Troia?


Pretty good Todd Nauck cover.
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Very cute Baltazar Tiny Titans cover.


Few things beat penguins with rockets on their backs for coolness (that reminds me of the SNL bit where Poehler plays the secretary that correctly identified almost all of the NCAA tournament, and when given her reason for why the Butler Bulldogs upset the Maryland Terps, she says, “I don’t know what Terps are, but NOTHING is cuter than a bulldog! Except turtles. “).
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I like J. Bone’s cover for Super Friends (by the by, is this why J. Bone left Spirit?)


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Nice drawing by Scott Neely, but seriously, it’s a bit highbrow for a Scooby-Doo cover, no?


I didn’t know there was a hyphen in Scooby-Doo.
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Good work by Scott Gross on this Looney Tunes cover.


The perspective work is enough for the cover to standout.
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Dario Brizuela laid out an impressive JLU cover.


Visually appealing cover.
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I like that Stephanie Gladden is telling a story with her cover for Cartoon Network Block Party.


I’d like it more if it was a more interesting story.
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I dig this Travis Kotzebue cover for Cartoon Network Action Pack, starring Ben 10 – this is a reasonable problem for a guy who sometimes turns into monsters, no?


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Christopher Jones impresses with his intro of Superman into the Batman Strikes world.


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Not to thrilled with Ross Campbell’s Water Baby cover.


I don’t think it really draws in the reader.
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Inaki Miranda does a stronger job catching the reader’s eye with her cover for Burnout.


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Samwise Didier actually sneaks some sequential action into this World of Warcraft cover.


Not a bad job of it, at that!
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This is the tenth issue of The Programme, but I think CP Smith has used some variation of this cover already 28 times.


Still a good cover!

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DAMMIT, MELLENCAMP!

You’ve gone too far!!!



Seriously, a fine pair of covers by Chris Sprouse for this Wildstorm crossover mini-series.
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I apologize in advance, J.J. Kirby, but this New Dynamix cover looks neither “new” nor particularly “dynamic.”


Seems fairly standard stuff.

Not badly drawn, mind you! Not at all. It’s totally a fair enough cover by Kirby, but what distinguishes it?

I wouldn’t blink an eye if you told me this was the cover to, say, the Tangent maxi-series (STILL sounds weird saying that), and I know the Tangent characters.
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Decent Lee Garbett cover for Midnighter.


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I love the use of the poster in this Cully Hamner cover for Jack Hawksmoor.


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What is going on on this Michael Lopez Gen 13 cover?


Are they posing or what?
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Suitably creepy Brandon Badeaux cover for Friday the 13th.


Always nice to see a suitably creepy cover!
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Nice to see Tomer Hanuka mix stuff up a bit on his Un-Men covers.


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Another strong Frusin cover for Loveless.


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This is interior artwork from Jack of Fables, and not the cover, right?


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Lovely to see Lee Bermejo back on Hellblazer covers.


I always dig the use of silhouetted figures like this.
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Bit of a downer for this Fables cover of the Good Prince storyline, no?


Was this a cover from the story that I totally forgot about?
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Great Philip Bond cover for the last Exterminators storyline.


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You can always count on Brian Wood for a strong DMZ cover.


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Decent JH Williams cover for Crossing Midnight.


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Okay, I’ll cop to it – I’m not saying Philip Bond did anything wrong with this American Splendor cover, I just don’t understand it myself.


I’ll cop to me just being too slow – what’s the joke on this cover? That the nurse was expecting Harvey to be better looking? If so – huh? So it has to be something else, so, well, what?
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Interesting Dave Johnson cover for 100 Bullets.


Not one of my favorites, but still a good piece.
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I wonder if they missed the best time to release $300 Sandman bookends.


Nice design by Mark Buckingham, though.
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So, what’s the deal here? Terry Dodson just drew a couple of DC heroines, and they were all turned into busts?


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Can you even tell this was based on George Perez’s Batman just based on the figure?


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I love the idea of All Star figures, but isn’t it weird that the Batman appears to be based on the Frank Miller version, not the version that actually appears IN the comic book?


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HONORABLE MENTIONS
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Good to see Sean Phillips be given some more freedom with these Vinyl Underground covers – this design is quite impressive (and spooky).


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Not as strong as last month’s cover, but I dig this Fables cover by James Jean.


Nice energy (I think it’d look cooler if they were just about to engage).
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Great Bruce Timm cover for Spirit.


I love the whole layout of the piece.
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Dan Jurgens sure is good at iconic superhero poses.


Striking Booster Gold cover.
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I really dig this Ladronn cover for the Atom.


He achieves the sci-fi feel perfectly.
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Here’s an Alex Ross cover with shadows where the shadows make sense.


Nice iconic piece.
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Wow, that’s some impressive energy by Adam Hughes on this Catwoman cover.


It more than makes up for the whole “me not liking covers where people are engaged in fights” thing!
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I continue to love Dougie Braithwaite’s post-working with Alex Ross style.


Could someone please fix Katana’s costume, though?

Yeeeeee-uck.
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Please, someone give Cliff Chiang a cooler book to draw.


Still, he’s making do with what he’s got.

Another fine Green Arrow/Black Canary cover.
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David Lapham is doing a great job so far with his Young Liars covers.


Really gripping stuff.
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This Massimo Carnevale cover was a tough omission from the Top Five.


What an ethereally wonderful cover.
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TOP FIVE!!!
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5. I’m thrilled that they’re giving Peter Tomasi’s Black Adam such a nice treatment for the trade, with a new Alex Ross cover!!


This IS a new cover, right?

Anyhow, quite a powerful Ross cover.
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4. Just a posing cover for this Supernatural cover, but Dustin Nguyen puts SO much detail and personality into the piece that it leaps off the page.


It is striking that Supernatural has gotten such amazing cover talent so far (heck, just between Nguyen and Sook!!).

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3. Walt Simonson in full on kickass mode.


Beautiful Bat Lash cover.

The negative space really helps the cover pop even more than it already does, with the impressive stampede.
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2.

A. Clever concept (two murder investigations get tangled up in each other)?

Check.

B. Great execution of the clever concept?

Check.

C. Jock drawing it, who is almost physically incapable of a bad cover?

Check.


Good checklist for a great cover.
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1. And then there’s Sook.


These Countdown Special covers have been an utter delight, and this Kamandi cover is no exception.

Can’t wait until I see what cover assignment Sook takes on next!!
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That’s it for this month! Feel free to share your prejudices (and YOUR top five!)!