Thursday, 24 December 2009

Top Ten: Covers of 2009 [To me, at least]

Last post before Christmas, mainly because I have a much bigger thing to work on that needs doing, but also because CHRISTMAS! So enjoy, and see you back here in a couple of days. NO WAIT READ THE ARTICLE!

Oh, top lists of the year/decade, do you ever end? No? Shame, as most of you are hopelessly generic and pander to a mainstream view of what deserves to be placed in a top ten. And as we've all learned I'm the sort of idiot who will be the only person to vote something as the number 1 comic book storyline, so take from that what you will.

Anyway, here's one of my requisite lists of ____ of the year, with a basic twist. What twist you may ask? Well, I'll tell you:

This year was the first full year I've been back into comics.

So much of this year has been shaped by the various things to do with comics that affected me, and something that decided what comics I would in fact read was often the covers. In fact you could say that comic covers defined what comics I would be into and what sort of comics fan I would become (though in the end aren't we all just angry comic book nerds?). So it's with a head held high that I highlight some of the ten most important covers to my formation as a comic fan this year.

So let's dive in to one of my most important and insightful top tens that is purely about what I like and what shaped me rather than any critical opinion by HITTING THE BLEEDING JUMP!

10. X-Factor #200 by Esad Ribic
This one's actually a little sneaky. I mean it just came out. But its significance isn't any smaller than the others on this (for once totally in a ranked order) list. As soon as I saw this cover in the solicits I was reminded of why I love X-Factor, why the new direction would be nothing to worry about, and why Esad Ribic is one of the best artists about. My year of full integration into comics suddenly had clarity on how the whole comics industry has the capability to both be art AND captivate in the way only good exciting imagery can. But outside of all that boring personal stuff this is really just a flippin' awesome cover and deserved a mention whilst it's still easy enough to buy in everyone's local comic shop.

9. The Great Unknown #2 by Duncan Rouleau
In a perfect world this would be issue 3, but that NEVER CAME OUT. Still, it WAS this issue that made me realise that independent comics could be awesome, even if it was the next issue image that really sunk that idea into my brain. This cover is beautiful and captivating in its simplicity (as is issue 1, but that's not the example here) and is a great draw in to a great comic if you let it absorb you in the blueness. Also light bulbs!

8. Mighty Avengers #27 50s Decade Variant by Howard Chaykin
I HATE HOWARD CHAYKIN. He's quite a shit artist. In fact he ruined Punisher War Journal for me. Like RUINED. Completely and utterly fucked up what would otherwise have been really enjoyable. So when it came to seeing one of the many brilliant decade variants (seriously I could have done a list just of those) it was with a massive amount of shame that I realised how much I loved this cover. It taught the valuable lesson that no matter how much you hate something there will always be something good to do with them. Like, really good. Same goes for Bendis (ooh deja vu. No seriously not about moaning about Bendis, moreso this entire sentence *ahem* anyway), Loeb and Liefeld (the latter of which ACTUALLY KILLED ME WHEN I REALISED). So yeah, for the sheer importance of this cover, it gets to make it onto this list! That and Hank Pym and Jocasta are adorable in this. Adorable is a manly word right? Good. MOVING ON!

7. Black Panther #3 by J. Scott Campbell
This is a hard one to make sound deep. Because it isn't. No, this is just an example of how one beautiful cover can make me buy something I'd never otherwise touch. And boy was it worth touching. Cover art is a powerful draw and sometimes just being beautiful can be enough to make people pick up something that whilst not life-changing can still influence their interests in a significant way. In fact this cover in particular should have been on the front of the hardcover. Maybe then it'd have sold loads and volume 2 would be a hardcover too (hint: no it wouldn't have been but I'm just destroyed by the lack of HC for volume 2).

6. Superman #686 by Andrew Robinson (I think?)
I can't say I even liked the idea of superman outside of his awesome tv stuff from the 90s (animated, Lois and Clark) at any point ever, so when I say that I love the Superman title now to anyone who's known me long enough it's fairly normal to expect them to be surprised. Then I follow it up by pointing out that Mon-El and the Guardian are the main characters now and they just blink, confused. Still that's not the point (especially now I LOVE Superman, especially Kryptonite and All-Star), the point here is that this cover pulled me into the world of both these obscure characters and I have yet to look back, simply because my GOD is Mon-El awesome in this picture. And in fact the whole series. This is just the incredibly pretty point that pulled me in.

5. Lockjaw & the Pet Avengers #1 by Karl Kerschl

.... What? That's not fine logic? Well how about the fact that.... SHUT UP!

4. X-Men Noir #3 by Dennis Calero
When most people bring up how they discovered a love for white space covers they'll usually mention Immortal Iron Fist's covers by David Aja. Well screw those people, because I learnt what I wanted from a cover from this. Which is white space, low detail and a weird amount of depth to the image. In this case we have Eric Magnus, the X-Noir universe's Magneto and Chief of Police, showing his darkness, his brutal abuse of authority and sick pleasure in such an abuse of authority(amongst other things) in just a single image. It's awesome with layers. What more could you want?

3. Detective Comics #855 by JH Williams III
Oh as IF Detective Comics wouldn't make it onto this list. There's nothing much to say about this than that everyone ever thinks that JH Williams has made this series into art and the covers are the definitive proof of this. Especially this one which just hit me straight in the face and the bruise of artsy love has yet to fade. Wait... Is that almost a metaphor for spousal abuse? Man, I should stop writing before I put my foot in my mouth by saying something about kitchen's and sammiches.

... Except I have two more to list.

2. All New Savage She-Hulk 90s Decade Variant by Juan Doe
Wait, this seems familiar. Didn't I declare this my favourite example of a good comic cover a long, long time ago? I DID?! AND I STAND BY IT?! GOOD GOD WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME!

No joke though, whilst my opinions from back then are mostly redundant, this stands as an example of a cover just blowing me away and holds a helluva place in my heart that no other comic cover will replace. Yet it's in at #2. So perhaps I should shut upa and just say that it kicks all sort of arse and is the best decade variant Marvel did this year. That and the obvious significance here is that it's one of the first covers I ever wrote about and the fact that it has continued to stay amazing to me (probably because of said early blog usage) has earnt it its place at #2.

#1. Nomad #3 by Rafael Albuquerque
Well, if you've been around the site long enough (and none of you have) you all know why this is here. I am a MASSIVE fanboy of Rikki Barnes. In fact I'm a massive fanboy of Lyra too, explaining this top two (And of Batwoman... Wait is this a pattern?). That and this is amazing. All the covers to this limited series are, utilising Red, White and Blue to great effect to make covers that arrest the eyes. This one wins out over everything ever though for actually having the ability to make me just stare at it mindlessly for ages. But as we all know, the real reason this is here is because Rikki Barnes has been a crucial part of this blog's history and her Nomad series just happened to have flippin' amazing covers. I can't emphasise how much this has been a part of my first year back in comics and just how much I like this cover. So I won't. I'll just finish this post.

Honourable mentions go to Ambush Bug: Year None #6 (never came out but by GOD is it pretty), all the covers to Chew (which I learned of too late so didn't count really) and about a million others. Now I must sleep. HARD.


  1. Interesting choices, you're right, not the usual dreck, but no New Mutants, what's up?
    I'd do one of these but it would take me way too long because I like way too many cover,s but I'll be writing about my favourite comic of 2009 very soon, keep watching the skies young friend!

  2. New Mutants was never a case of covers pulling me in (though the variants are amazing), so it kinda skipped out on this list. Kinda weird considering its presence high up on the next top ten but still.

  3. Good list, Mr Flipper. Marvel did a good job, I think, this year with their decades variants. Variants are often overdone but generally the quite witty decade variants worked really well. As well as your Mighty Avengers cover, I loved the 80s disco Uncanny X-Men, the cute 30s Ms Marvel cover and, best of all, the 90s Rogue Vogue!

  4. Howard Chaykin's art makes me sad.

    I can usually get past bad art if the story is worth it, but his work in the Iron Fist Annual and then in Punisher ruined any chance of me enjoying those titles.