Epic Covers: Venom and Batman by Clayton Crain

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Venom as a patriotic, flag-waving hero? Stranger things have happened, I suppose. At the very least, Clayton Crain juxtaposed the black and white of the Venom character with the bright colors of Old Glory for this C2E2 exclusive variant cover for 2020’s Venom: The End #1.

This cover is pretty epic on its own. But what brought it to my attention this week was the recent revision Crain did for it on his Instagram page, featuring yet another “dark” hero in the same pose with the American Flag…

Who wore it better? You make the call.

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Epic Covers: Daredevil #3 by Marco Checchetto

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I hopped aboard the recent Daredevil relaunch a couple months ago, and have thus far enjoyed the ride. This cover was a nice little bonus.

What sealed the deal for me on this one was the whole blood drops/puppet strings motif. I can’t recall if I’ve seen that done before. But if I have, it wasn’t executed this well. It fits Daredevil and his world to a T. Plus, the blood red color goes with his costume.

Daredevil 3, cover, 2022, Marco Checchetto

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Epic Covers: The Joker #15 by Brian Bolland

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

With Batman Day coming up this weekend, it may or may not be an appropriate time to feature the Clown Prince of Crime…

With The Killing Joke in 1988, Brian Bolland cemented his status as one of the definitive Joker artists of all time. So any time Bolland draws the character, it’s noteworthy. We were treated to Bolland’s latest rendering of the character with a variant cover for The Joker #15, which came out last month.

I talked recently about my fondness for single-color backgrounds on covers. This cover meets that criteria with a basic black background. We also have the Joker’s fake eye, which is a byproduct of recent events in Batman. So the character obviously has a different look than we’re used to getting from Bolland.

But what I dig more than anything about this cover is that it’s a modern take on Bolland’s classic cover for The Killing Joke. If The Killing Joke were released today (Which it would never be…), the cover would look something like this, given the advent of smartphones.

The Joker 15, variant cover, 2022, Brian Bolland

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Epic Covers: Atom Smasher by Kaare Andrews

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I don’t normally do two installments of “Epic Covers” in a week. But this one from Kaare Andrews was enough to sway me.

I dig the point-of-view, combined with the pose Andrews puts Atom Smasher in. But I think what really clinches it for me is the texture of the character’s costume. That level of detail adds a certain realism to an image that otherwise is very unrealistic.

Black Adam the Justice Society Files Atom Smasher 1, cover, 2022, Kaare Andrews

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Epic Covers: Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4 by David Nakayama

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Does Zatanna get enough love? Probably not. She’s DC’s resident sorceress, and has powers that rival pretty much anyone in the DC Universe. Plus, she’s got that classy, vintage pin-up girl vibe going for her. There’s a lot to like.

David Nakayama does his part to show Zatanna some love this week with a variant cover to Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #4. There’s an obvious sexiness to it. But what I like is the pose, with the hand reaching out at the reader, combined with the star effect. The character also looks good in blue, which is a contrast to the black hat and coat we usually see her in.

Interestingly enough, Nakayama opted to give her pants as opposed to her trademark fishnets. Call it a more modern look.

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths 4, variant cover, 2022, David Nakayama, Zatanna

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Epic Covers: The Avengers #59 by Mark Bagley

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I have no idea what’s happening in The Avengers nowadays. Thankfully, you don’t need that knowledge to appreciate this recent variant cover to The Avengers #59 by Mark Bagley, paying tribute to 900 issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. He’s one of the best Spidey artists of all time, so to see him drawing so many of the character’s various costumes from over the years is, to say the least, epic. We’ve got black suit Spider-Man, Scarlet Spider, Iron Spider, the Superior Spider-Man, just to name a few.

Amazing, indeed.

Avengers 57, variant cover, 2022, Mark Bagley

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Epic Covers: Spidey as Green Goblin?!?

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Over in The Amazing Spider-Man, Spidey’s getting some tech help from an extremely unlikely source: Norman Osborn, a.k.a. the Green Goblin. Thus, the very Goblin-esque look he’s sporting on the cover of this week’s ASM #8.

I like this cover by John Romita Jr. (with Scott Hanna on inks and Marcio Menyz on colors) because it creates instant intrigue. In giving Spider-Man visual traits that line up with his arch nemesis (the glider, the green lighting and…is that the Spidey version of a pumpkin bomb?), the reader instantly has questions about what’s going on. Thus, a desire to open the issue.

I’ve been a critic of John Romita Jr’s in the past. But this one is a winner, right here. Easily the best cover of his to come out of this new ASM volume thus far.

The Amazing Spider-Man #8, cover, 2022, John Romita Jr, Scott Hanna, Marcio Menyz

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Epic Covers: Batman – One Bad Day: The Riddler #1

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Embrace the hat. That’s my unsolicited advice for artists developing their take on the Riddler.

Of course it’s dated. But somehow, he’s just not the Riddler without his trademark bowler hat. (That gives you some insight into what I thought of “S&M Riddler” from The Batman.) Plus, when you embrace it, it can really work for you.

Such is the case with Mitch Gerads’ cover for this week’s Batman – One Bad Day: Riddler #1. The blood red question mark, not to mention the splatter in the background, give it the ominous horror-ish vibe it’s going for. But the hat, as well as the pinstripe suit and glove, give it a touch of that flamboyant vintage supervillain vibe that’s part of the Riddler’s charm. The contrast really works, and creates some nice intrigue for whatever Gerads and King have planned for us…

Batman One Bad Day Riddler 1, cover, 2022, Mitch Gerads

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Epic Covers: Superman as an Angel

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Superman as a God figure. Superman as a stand-in for Christ. Superman as a saintly presence. It’s hardly a new idea. But slapping red angel wings on Big Blue really drives the point home, wouldn’t you agree?

Superman #659 was, in execution, a fairly unremarkable issue. But to this day, I absolutely adore the premise. Written by Kurt Busiek and Fabian Nicieza, it sees an elderly woman become convinced that Superman is an angel sent from heaven. She then takes it upon herself to sic him on Metropolis’ criminal element. Superman, of course, is simply trying to save this woman who continues to put herself in harm’s way. There’s a lot of meat on that bone, which makes me wish they’d done more with this idea than simply use it for a filler issue.

While Peter Vale and the artists do a fine job with the interior, it’s  Alejandro Barrionuevo’s cover that has always stuck with me. The combined elements do a tremendous job creating that element of divine grandeur you’d want for a story like this.

Many would-be readers cry that Superman isn’t relatable enough. This premise doesn’t do him any favors in that regard. But I love that they played with the idea a little bit.

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Power Rangers Spotlight: Jordan Gibson

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m a huge fan of all the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers variant covers you’re going to see here. That’s why it’s somewhat embarrassing to say I just recently discovered they’re all by the same guy: Jordan Gibson.

Issue #28: Jason remembers. This is the first Gibson cover I can remember seeing. It’s downright touching, actually. A Zeo era Jason gazing fondly at his old Red Ranger costume in the Power Chamber. It’s very easy to read a nostalgic fondness on his face. Ironically, the same feeling those old MMPR episodes evoke from so many of us. For some reason, the placement of his hand on the glass goes a long way in that regard as well. It’s funny how much a simple hand placement can do.

Issue #31: “Forever Red.” I’m convinced this is a nod to another famous comic book cover. I just can’t figure out which one. At the very least, it captures that epic vibe that a lot of covers go for. Certainly as fitting a tribute to “Forever Red” as there’s ever been. My only complaint? I would have put the Red Wild Force Ranger in the center, as opposed to Red Turbo. It was a Wild Force episode, after all.

Issue #33: Dr. Tommy Oliver. Conspicuous by his absence in this year’s big Shattered Grid event comic was the Tommy we saw in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. The Tommy that acted as a mentor to his own team of Rangers. As the villain, Lord Drakkon, was an evil alt-universe version of Tommy, it would have made sense to see those two meet. The closest we got was this variant cover from Gibson. To his credit, this thing is friggin’ awesome. It catches Tommy in the final miliseconds of his morphing sequence. The orange background is really what makes it, capturing the same color scheme they used for most of the morphs that season.

Issue #34: “Once a Ranger.”

“Once a Ranger” doesn’t necessarily get a lot of love from longtime fans. I can see why. Operation Overdrive wasn’t exactly a critical success. But the two-parter still had its merits. At the very least, it was fun to see all the former Rangers back. Gibson tips his hat to said alumni with this variant cover to issue #34.

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